Your Guide to Infinite Crisis:

The Rann / Thanagar War Special

Over the past months, we’ve examined a hell of a lot of Infinite Crisis. In the process, this study has come to exceed 160,000 words! In fact, our coverage of the Rann-Thanagar War alone runs 40,000 words — and concludes here.

Shockingly, while we’ve covered most of the basics, there’s still more to consider.

Between the “Crisis of Conscience” storyline and Rann / Thanagar War: Infinite Crisis Special #1, Donna Troy’s contingent of heroes had joined the heroes of The Rann-Thanagar War in space. This was seen in a few scenes in Infinite Crisis itself.

The most recent issue of Infinite Crisis prior to this special was Infinite Crisis #4. In that issue, Alex Luthor had revealed that he and Superboy were responsible for setting into motion the events of all four Countdown to Infinite Crisis mini-series, including The Rann-Thanagar War. Late in that issue, Donna recruits Air Wave and Firestorm were apparently killed, which is why they do not appear in this special.

It may also be worth pointing out that the official title of this special does indeed beginRann / Thanagar War, not The Rann-Thanagar War, as the mini-series was titled. The special’s cover logo, however, still uses the hyphen — and never included the word “the.” Such are the vagaries of comic book titles.

Rann / Thanagar War: Infinite Crisis Special #1: “Hands of Fate”

Dave Gibbons script; Ivan Reis and Joe Prado pencils; Marc Campos, Oclair Albert, and Michael Bair inks; Dave Gibbons and Michael Bair cover; cover-dated April 2006

The original artwork of the cover to Infinite Crisis Special: The Rann-Thanagar War #1.

The special begins not with the cast of The Rann-Thanagar War at all, but with Donna Troy and her band of outer space adventurers. They have arrived in the Polaris system, the new center of the universe (as seen in Infinite Crisis #1). Supergirl, still inexperienced, is amazed by what she sees. Donna and Alan Scott recall how the Titans of Myth predicted the universe’s end but also said that a few seconds could change everything. Jade chimes in to support her father, Alan Scott.

Green Lantern Kyle Rayner isn’t able to get answers about the anomaly from his ring, but Kilowog notes that the rift has finally gotten the Thanagarians to drop their war with Rann. Hawkgirl wonders if Onimar Synn has returned, and Hawkman wonders if the culprit might be “that other demon” Adam banished, a reference to Starbreaker and the recent Adam Strange mini-series. For his part, Adam Strange rejects these ideas.

It’s then that we see what they’re all looking at. The rift is positively huge, and — just as seen in Infinite Crisis proper — huge hands that appear to be made of stars are reaching out of it. Whole fleets hover on its outskirts, as does Donna’s New Cronus.

Red Tornado hovers over New Cronus, watching the anomaly. Animal Man, Shift, Bumblebee, and Mal are all on board New Cronus, where Cyborg is outside, checking the hull for damage.

Meanwhile, Vril Dox of L.E.G.I.O.N., on his ship, is unable to even get projections because the rift is making his ship’s computers malfunction. On his viewing monitor, Captain Comet is equally perplexed.

Elsewhere, on Sardath’s ship, Adam Strange’s wife, Alanna, confronts her father, the Rannian scientist Sardath. She does so carrying her and Adam Strange’s baby, Aleea. What she wants to know is what so many Thanagarians suspect: did Sardath’s Omega Beam (seen in the Adam Strange mini-series) somehow cause the rift in space? Sardath replies that his Omega Beam actually did less than they suspected — it did destabilize Thanagar’s orbit, but not enough to destroy the planet. Sardath’s calculations now show that something else seized that opportunity to move the planet Thanagar. Readers of Infinite Crisis #4, published less than a month prior to this special, had revealed that Superboy-Prime had vaguely manipulated events, moving planets to spark the Rann-Thanagar War and to open the rift at the point where the center of Earth-2′s universe was.

On the Grand Mor’s ship, Queen Komand’r assures the Grand Mor of exactly the opposite — that Rannian technology really is to blame, not only for Thanagar’s destruction but for the rift. But the Grand Mor’s suspicious: he sees the giant hands visible inside the rift as something supernatural. Komand’r reassures him that this is a Rannian ruse, designed to play on Thanagarian superstition, and goads him into a renewed attack on the Rannians.

Donna Troy’s contingent — consisting of Donna, Alan Scott, Jade, Starfire, and Supergirl — debates whether the few seconds that will make all the difference, as predicted by Donna herself, have already passed.

Kilowog decides that he and Kyle Rayner should join Donna’s party, asking if this is a problem. Kyle understands that this refers to Donna and Jade, both Kyle’s ex-girlfriends, but assures Kilowog that this isn’t a problem — at least for him.

Also in space, the Hawks and Adam Strange seem to join Donna’s group as well, though Adam has the idea that Sardath and the Rannians should retreat, if only to stop the continued fighting that’s distracting everyone from the rift.

It’s soon a moot point: as Adam Strange talks to Tigorr of The Omega Men, Tigorr alerts the space adventurer that the rift is about to flare up. Adam Strange barely has time to warn the others as the rift sends a surge of energy surging outward, exploding all nearby ships. Curiously, the giant hands that seem to be within the rift, pushing it outward, now appear to be golden.

Donna Troy’s contingent, flying over New Cronus, reel with the exploding force waves. Sardath and the Grand Mor seem to have finally realized the seriousness of their mutual situation, and both pull back — the Grand Mor doing so over Queen Komand’r's objections.

The rift now seems to be shooting tremendous lightning bolts out of it, directed by poised golden hands. The lightning bolts are trashing ship after ship, but the super-heroes’ powers are protecting them — for the time being. Kyle uses his powers to shield Donna herself from a bolt, though she dismisses her aid. Kyle’s other present ex-girlfriend, Jade, tells him that she’s under a lot of stress.

On New Cronus, Cyborg steers the flying planetoid away from the rift and notes that repairs of the massive ship have been initiated. Animal Man, Bumblebee, Mal, and Shift are also present. Shift notes that the Thanagarians are finally pulling away, and Donna orders Cyborg to track them.

Inside a Green Lantern force bubble, Captain Comet, Adam Strange, Kilowog, and the Hawks briefly discuss what those hands might actually be — but come up with no answers. They break up, with Adam Strange and the Hawks flying to join Tigorr and The Omega Men. Then Kilowog receives a call from Salaak, a fellow Green Lantern, who orders Kilowog — on behalf of the Guardians of Oa — to go to Thanagar because the regeneration they triggered there is now being threatened.

Kilowog and Captain Comet then approaches Kyle Rayner, in a Green Lantern force bubble with Donna, Jade, and Alan Scott. Kilowog informs Kyle that, while Kilowog’s supposed to go to Thanagar, Kyle’s been ordered to remain in space with the others. Kyle agrees, but Alan Scott and Captain Comet volunteer to come with Kilowog. Jade tells her father, Alan Scott, to take care.

Donna tells Kory (a.k.a. Starfire, confusing not pictured at the time) that the two of them will follow the retreating Rannians while Supergirl and Red Tornado follow the retreating Thanagarians. Donna then contacts Cyborg and Animal Man on New Cronus, telling them to contact Vril Dox of L.E.G.I.O.N., Sardath, and the Grand Mor, advising all of them to work together against the rift. Kyle Rayner and Jenny (a.k.a. Jade) are the only two unassigned, and the ex-lovers head off to tackle the hands themselves, one hand per hero.

The Hawks and Adam Strange now reconnoiter with Tigorr and The Omega Men, whose ship is hiding out amidst some debris in order to make repairs. Hawkgirl spots a device amongst the debris, one that Hawkman wonders is a cocoon. Adam Strange informs them that this spot in space is a LaGrange point, “a natural gravitational nexus where debris collects” (these really exist). What Tigorr summoned them to show them isn’t the apparent cocoon, however, but a device that looks like a large mine with a Thanagarian symbol on it. Adam Strange explains that it’s a surveillance satellite. Tigorr wants to show them something the satellite recorded and plugs a computer into the satellite.

The recording, displayed on the computer, shows Rann materializing near Thanagar. Then, though we don’t see the image, there’s apparently a blur, as noted by Hawkgirl. Hawkman is shocked, and Adam immediately wants to send the recording to Sardath.

Queen Komand’r, now apparently back on her own ship, has spotted the ship of The Omega Men as well as Adam and the Hawks. Komand’r orders an immediate attack, but her crew notes the transmission to the Rannian command, and Komand’r wants to see it.

The transmission has reached Sardath, who’s typically cocky. As Adam talks with Sardath, we now get to see the surveillance recording: a blue and red streak zooms towards the two planets. Tigorr freezes the image. Apparently, the satellite had terrific resolution and Tigorr has zoomed in, because what he shows Sardath is none other than Superboy-Prime pushing on a planet — none other than Thanagar, causing that planet’s destruction.

Sardath now has an explanation for what he noted earlier — that the appearance of Rann wasn’t enough to throw Thanagar so completely out of orbit that the planet would be destroyed. Alanna points out that, after this evidence, the Thanagarians can no longer blame Rann. But on Komand’r's ship, the queen orders the transmission kept secret and orders the planned attack on The Omega Men, Adam Strange, and the Hawks.

At the Thanagarian surveillance satellite, Adam Strange no sooner points out that they need to secure the satellite, in order to stop the war, than Komand’r's ship attacks, blasting the satellite and nearby debris. Tigorr, Adam Strange, and the Hawks scatter, with Hawkman catching a surprised Hawkgirl in a romantic pose (that reflects the developments in Hawkman‘s “Coalition in Crisis” storyline). Meanwhile Broot of the The Omega Men reports that their only partially repaired ship still lacks steering. Things look bad, but then another energy wave comes from the rift. Komand’r's ship, hit with a wave, goes careening into the satellite, which explodes. The heroes have been given a reprieve, but have lost the evidence. Fortunately, Adam Strange has a plan.

The story then cuts to Kyle and Jade as they head towards the hands. Jade notes that the hands are made of energy and clearly guided by something intelligent. The plan is simply to get close and hit the hands with Green Lantern energy, hopefully forcing their owner back. Jade notes that the two of them working together in space feels good, reminding her of old times. He agrees, but only after noting how they both have new lives. The lightning strikes again, now more powerful and primarily targeting Kyle. Kyle wants to summon others for help, but then Jade is suddenly struck.

Kyle rushes to her, his ring informing her that she’s dead. She’s speaking faintly, however explaining that all that’s left of her is her lantern energy — power Kyle once gave her. Kyle protests, but she’s resigned to her death. She wants to give him back her energy, noting that he won’t survive the next wave of lightning without it. She notes that they once felt that they were meant to be together — and maybe they are, though in this new way. She wishes her father were there.

On Thanagar, Kilowog, Captain Comet, and Alan Scott face a group of landing Thanagarian ships. The Thanagarians, however, recognize that the Grand Mor has been led astray and pledge to help rebuild Thanagar. Kilowog quickly moves to help them as they unload.

Then Captain Comet gets a telepathic message for Alan — about Jenny (a.k.a. Jade). Alan doesn’t need to hear more and streaks into space. The Thanagarians note Zeta Beam activity nearby, but Kilowog persuades them to resist their anti-Rannian impulses and heads off to investigate alone.

In space, Alan Scott streaks to New Cronus, where Donna intercepts him. Kyle, with long face, is holding Jade’s body. Alan takes it and asks only to be left alone.

Then Mal, inside the planetoid, warns Donna of another build-up of energy within the rift — this time stronger than before. A new wave pounds the heroes, whisking Jenny out of Alan’s hands and breaking her dead body into dust. As Alan mourns, Kyle appears suddenly changed — in a new costume with stars running down from his eyes, like a mask, to under his uniform. He tell Alan that Jenny’s energy survives inside Kyle. They hold hands and Kyle says that her energy also lives in him. Alan’s eyes stare in shock as he feels the energy, though whether some of it literally enters him is not entirely clear.

On Oa, the blue-skinned Guardians of the Universe note that the power Kyle gave to Jenny has returned to him but has been somehow changed while it resided in her. They note that Kyle himself is changed, becoming their “crucible” and “the first of a new breed, the next step in the evolution of our cause.” One worries about how much power Kyle now has — more than any Green Lantern. Another notes that Kyle once had this power before, when he was known as Ion a few years before (as collected in the trade paperback Green Lantern: The Power of Ion). Another Guardian notes that, unlike before, the Guardians themselves are present to monitor him. Yet another Guardian says that they have no choice “if our great purpose is to be fulfilled.” This ambiguous scene, more suggestive than informative, would lead into the 12-issue mini-series Ion, slated to debut a couple months after this special but in DC’s “One Year Later” time period.

Back on Thanagar, Kilowog approaches the Rannians detected by the recently-landed Thanagarians. It’s none other than Adam Strange, the Hawks, Sardath, and Alanna. Kilowog informs them of the danger of provoking the Thanagarians — a danger the landing party knows well. Adam tells Kilowog that Rann wasn’t responsible for Thanagar’s doom, but Kilowog wants evidence. Alanna says that this is exactly why they’re all there and leads the group over to a spot at the center of a crater.

In the center are two handprints, pressed into the rock — prints of hands we readers know to be those of Superboy-Prime.

The story then jumps forward a bit without warning. All the various parties — including Donna’s recruits, Adam Strange, the Hawks, Kilowog, Vril Dox, Sardath, the Grand Mor, and Queen Komand’r — have apparently gathered on New Cronus. Notably, Firestorm and Airwave are still not present — though a couple characters looking suspiciously like (1) Ultra, the Multi-Alien, and (2) Jemm, Son of Saturn, can be seen in a large group shot. Both Ultra and Jemm would later be shown more clearly with the same group in Infinite Crisis itself.

Both Thanagar’s Grand Mor and L.E.G.I.O.N. have already received and confirmed the evidence that some super-human physically moved Thanagar. Kilowog’s ring has identified the culprit as Superboy-Prime, the first time that name is given in the story. Vril Dox encourages all to combine forces to confront the hands because calculations now show that the rift will destroy the entire Polaris system, including both Rann and Thanagar, within three hours. Donna Troy objects to Vril Dox apparently taking the lead, however. Queen Komand’r (a.k.a. Blackfire) briefly tries to convince the Grand Mor that the evidence of Superboy-Prime was fabricated, leading both Hawkgirl and Starfire (the latter being Blackfire’s sister) to interject angrily. Kilowog shuts everyone up, and Sardath shakes hands with the Grand Mor — while Komand’r scowls.

The war is at last over, or –as Mal notes — replaced with a new war, now against the rift.

Vril Dox says that L.E.G.I.O.N. will coordinate the attack on the hands, but smiles smugly (as usual) as he offers Donna the job of taking point in the actual attack.

Next, we get a massive shot of many fleets — including those of L.E.G.I.O.N., Rann, Thanagar, and New Cronus — approaching the golden hands and the rift.

All that remains are a few character notes. Adam Strange congratulates Hawkman on his restraint, but Hawkman notes that Komand’r will pay later for killing Shayera (a.k.a. Hawkwoman), as seen during The Rann-Thanagar War. Kilowog mourns Jade even as going into battle.

On New Cronus, Donna’s hooked into the ship’s technology, ordering people around. Animal Man notes that she seems disappointed not to have been the one to cause the peace between Rann and Thanagar, and Shift notes that she’s not leading the attack on the rift either. Both show lingering questions, which the reader may share, about Donna’s prophesied role.

On the last page, the heroes streak into space ahead of the fleets. Central in the image is Kyle Rayner in his new costume, who may well be leading the charge in Donna’s place. Responding to Alan Scott, Kyle insists on being called Ion again and ends the issue with a call to the charge.

The special as a whole is a mixed bag. Yes, it concludes the Rann-Thanagar War itself, tying the whole storyline into Infinite Crisis proper. It also features Jade’s death and Kyle’s transfiguration, though neither is all that thrilling. Instead, the images of Superboy-Prime (who doesn’t appear in the story at all, at least in the flesh) steals the show, particularly the image of Superboy-Prime moving the planet an the revelation of his handprints — which are just cool, old-school super-hero stuff, however much they violate the laws of physics, now done in a mature, cinematic fashion.

On the down side, the issue feels pretty crowded. The Rann-Thanagar War problematically juggled an enormous cast, but now that cast has had Donna Troy’s contingent added to it. Gibbons nonetheless works into the tale many nice character moments, right down to Hawkman noting his lingering need for vengeance against Komand’r. Nonetheless, the destruction of the surveillance satellite seems unnecessary, prolonging the rather dense plot — though this development does lead to the memorable image of Superboy-Prime’s handprints. It’s almost inevitable that some characters don’t seem to get enough screen time to explore their personal issues. Only one tiny image of Hawkman catching Hawkgirl, after the surveillance satellite is first attacked, even suggests their budding relationship, as seen in recent issues of Hawkman. Donna Troy, too, doesn’t seem to get enough screen time, and the very interesting apparent failure of the prophecy that a few seconds will make all the difference is only suggested by a couple comments in the ending.

While not minor complaints, these are certainly understandable, given the space allocated for the special and how much it had to include.

One other problem with the issue is the artwork, which is generally quite good but occasionally inconsistent. It is important to note that the excellent penciler Ivan Reis had been called to help out onInfinite Crisis itself, perhaps necessitating Joe Prado to assist on pencils. Though Prado’s good, some inconsistency does result — a situation that one can only guess was not aided by the presence of three inkers.

Well, that’s it for The Rann-Thanagar War, which has no tie-in issues following this special.

Read the Rest

“Your Guide to Infinite Crisis” attempts to spell out and outline the whole of this sprawling, complicated crossover. It has several other installments, organized by the narrative thread under discussion:

The OMAC Project

Day of Vengeance

Villains United

The Rann-Thanagar War

The Return of Donna Troy

Crisis of Conscience

PowerTrip

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

In 1996, while still an undergraduate, Dr. Julian Darius founded what would become Sequart Organization. After graduating magna cum laude from Lawrence University (Appleton, Wisconsin), he obtained his M.A. in English, authoring a thesis on John Milton and utopianism. In 2002, he moved to Waikiki, teaching college while obtaining an M.A. in French (high honors) and a Ph.D. in English. In 2011, he founded Martian Lit, which publishes creative work, including his comic book Martian Comics. He currently lives in Illinois.

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