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CW Will Give DC Comics’ ‘Crisis’ a TV Twist

The CW will enter “Crisis” mode during the 2019-2020 TV season.

The TV network will tackle one of the most complicated stories in mainstream superhero comics next season, using the annual cross-over it orchestrates among its various superhero dramas to take on “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” the landmark DC comic-book series that radically changed the publisher’s storylines and resulted — in the four-color pages of DC’s sundry publications — in the deaths of both Flash and Supergirl.

Both those characters anchor individual series on the CW and will no doubt figure prominently in any multi-show endeavor. But many TV series based on comics tend to take liberties with storylines, as AMC’s “The Walking Dead” has done for multiple seasons. The “Crisis on Infinite Earths” storyline will take place over five episodes slated for broadcast in December and January, CW President Mark Pedowitz said Friday — three in late 2019 and two in early 2020.

The CW announced the crossover concept during a presentation Thursday to advertisers, but executives did not offer many details about the plot or concept. The network unveiled plans to launch a new series centered around DC’s Batwoman and to wind down its long-running “Arrow” with a 10-episode season plus a retrospective. CW also airs series based on Flash, Supergirl, Black Lightning and a loose team of characters such as The Atom, White Canary and John Constantine.

“Crisis” has its roots in a 12-issue miniseries DC published in 1985 and 1986. DC used the story to winnow down an unwieldy “universe” of characters the publisher had accumulated over decades: World War Two-era heroes like Johnny Thunderbolt, the Sandman and the first Green Lantern, for example, were relegated to “Earth-2,” while a collection of characters associated with DC’s acquisition of Charlton Comics — Blue Beetle, Captain Atom and The Question, among others — took up residence on Earth-Four. Characters DC acquired through its purchase of Fawcett Comics — including Captain Marvel, Bulletman and Spy Smasher — took up residence on Earth-S. And figures who grew popular at Quality Comics lived on Earth-X, where the Nazis won World War Two and were opposed by heroes such as Uncle Sam, the Human Bomb and Phantom Lady.

If you’re confused, don’t be. DC used “Crisis on Infinite Earths” to blow up its “multiple worlds” and reshape its comics landscape so all its heroes lived in the same time and space.

There is already robust online speculation about what the CW series might mean for modern storylines, with fans predicting the end of “Arrow” might mean that show’s protagonist meets some sort of ultimate fate in the crossover event. Indeed, the new crossover was teased in this season’s event, so producers have likely spent 18 months or more mapping out their plots. No matter whether CW’s “Crisis” mirrors the event of the comics, its story arcs are likely to be world-shattering.

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