This article offers a reading of DC's groundbreaking 1985 series Crisis on Infinite Earths in order to think about the history of event comics and their importance to the comic-book industry. Working from a position that favors a media studies approach to understanding the history and development of franchises and media industries, I present two arguments about Crisis. First, Crisis responded to a cultural sense of crisis and calamity in the US through a narrative that featured the destruction of dozens of universes and that killed off multiple prominent characters. Second, in addition to voicing late-Cold War anxieties about global capitalism and the generalized, easily marketable woes of postmodernity through the trope of a calamitous event of unprecedented proportions, Crisis also exhibited anxieties about franchising in the comic-book and media industries in the 1980s. This maxi-series gave voice to both the cultural and economic anxieties of the comic-book industry, while inaugurating the event comic as a publishing tool for rebooting and revitalizing fictional universes.


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pp. 171-190
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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