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Arts & Living

Marv Wolfman revisits the 'crisis'

by Bill Radford, The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

April 11, 2005

It was an unparalleled crisis for DC Comics heroes _ and a must-read for comics fans.

In 1985, the 12-issue "Crisis on Infinite Earths" transformed the DC universe by eliminating the concept of multiple Earth's parallel worlds with different versions of DC's heroes.

In the process, some characters, such as Supergirl and Barry Allen, a.k.a. the Flash, were killed. Many more were simply wiped out of existence.

Whether the sprawling series by writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez achieved its goal of simplifying the DC universe is debatable. But its impact is undeniable.

Twenty years later, Wolfman is revisiting "Crisis" with a novel being released this month by ibooks.

But don't look for a simple novelization of the famed comic-book series.

"There was no reason to replicate in prose what was in the comic, so I had to come up with something that was far more interesting than that," Wolfman said in a phone interview from Tarzana, Calif.

The result is "very much a brand-new concept in many ways," he added.

The hook he found was to have the Flash narrate much of the story. In this case, dead men do tell tales. Though the Flash is killed off about halfway through the comic-book series, his ability to move through time means he could visit the story at any point, even events that happened after his death.

"I wanted to do a story about what it's like to actually be the character," Wolfman said. "These books are told at a distance, especially something like `Crisis,' which had 400-something characters.

"But this, this is a very personal story. It's about Barry."

It's not just the Flash's point of view that is different. Although the major scenes from the comic-book series are still there, such as the death of Supergirl, Wolfman also added much new material.

The last time he had tackled a novel was 30 years ago, so he was a bit daunted by the challenge. "I really wanted to make sure it was well-written. A novel is more internal and more descriptive than a comic book. Comics visualize the story for you. Here I had to visualize it for readers who had never read `Crisis.'"

You don't have to know decades of DC continuity to understand the novel, Wolfman said. "It's very much the type of story that someone brand new can enjoy."

Meanwhile, DC is building up to a new crisis, "Infinite Crisis," in the fall. The company is mum on the details, but the just-released "Countdown to Infinite Crisis," a tale encompassing much of the DC universe, makes clear that something big is in the works. As DC says, the clock is ticking.

WHO IS YOUR WONDER WOMAN?

Silver Pictures recently announced it had signed Joss Whedon, creator of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," to write and direct a movie featuring DC Comics' Wonder Woman.

The movie looks to be in good hands. Whedon knows how to craft stories featuring strong women and he knows comics: Check out his topnotch writing on Marvel's "Astonishing X-Men."

So now the big question is: Who will play Wonder Woman? Whedon told TV Guide that casting is the furthest thing from his mind, but it's not too early to start speculating. A few years ago, my first and only choice would have been Catherine Zeta-Jones. I still wouldn't mind seeing the 35-year-old actress in the role _ if she can be torn away from those T-Mobile commercials _ but Whedon says he'll probably be looking for someone in her 20s.

Who's your choice? E-mail your casting suggestions to me at comics(AT)gazette.com.

Marv Wolfman revisits the 'crisis'

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