The big problem with One of the biggest problems with One of the many, many vast problems with the 2005 crossover ‘Infinite Crisis’ is the way that everyone acted so wildly out of character. And I do mean everyone: The series started with the premise that Alexander Luthor, posing as his…um, father-ish thing…Lex, has organized almost all the super-villains in the world into a single cohesive group by using their fear of being brainwashed like Doctor Light. Yes, that’s right, Black Adam, the guy who rips criminals in half, is standing up for a serial rapist. Oh, and Captain Nazi and the Penguin are working together on this one, and Psimon has decided he’s comfy being one of the rank-and-file, as has Doctor Sivana, and Chemo is just fine lying in wait until they’re ready for him, and Doctor Psycho has really toned it down to work with the group. Because that’s Doctor Psycho in a nutshell, a guy who’s really capable of restraining his baser impulses when needed.
And the heroes? Batman’s gone completely off the deep end into paranoia, creating a giant satellite to “watch over” Earth’s superhumans and make sure they don’t get up to any mischief. Unsurprisingly, it goes berserk and causes more problems than it solves. (Batman is never held culpable for the many, many deaths caused by his creation, of course.) Wonder Woman has become murderously ruthless (although the collected version retcons away her attempted murder of Mongul by changing the line, “What do you think I was going to do?” to “I was going to tie him up, what do you think I was going to do?” Future collections will change it to, “I was thinking about giving him a guided tour of our headquarters, followed by tea and crumpets and a sincere discussion of the ethical problems inherent in his behavior. Why, what did you think I was going to do?”) And Superman merely waffles, consumed with self-doubt over his hopes at making the world a better place.
Power Girl is captured by Alexander Luthor, and it turns out he’s working with…the Psycho-Pirate! But according to Alexander, he’s not using PP’s emotion control powers at all to influence the heroes! They’re just like that already, because of how imperfect the world is. Using the unbelievably powerful emotion-manipulator to manipulate the emotions of his allies and enemies to help his master plan along, why…it simply wouldn’t be sporting!
Obviously, the whole plot makes a lot more sense if you assume that Alexander is making use of the Psycho-Pirate to keep his army of murderous, treacherous, violent sociopaths from turning on each other, while turning the heroes against each other. But actually, you can go even further than that. Think about the last time you saw Alexander Luthor, Kal-L, and Earth-Prime Superboy, back in ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’. Did they really seem all that hateful, evil, and obsessed with bringing back the Multiverse? Why, no, they didn’t. Was there another character out there who was evil and obsessed with bringing back the Multiverse, one who’d actually tried it once before in Grant Morrison’s “Animal Man” run? Why, yes, I do believe there was.
‘Infinite Crisis’ makes the most sense if you work on the assumption that it was the Psycho-Pirate behind it all. He was the one who planted the seeds of obsession that grew in the exiles from the Multiverse, all in pursuit of his goal of making the universe the way he remembered it. Tragically, he wouldn’t live to see his success, as all his emotional manipulation couldn’t stop Black Adam from squishing his head like a grape. (Look, kids! Comics!) It still has a lot of problems as a series, but at least it makes sense on a fundamental level.