by Brian Truitt)
Gamers have their choice of champions from various worlds in the multiplayer online game Infinite Crisis. Comic-book writer Dan Abnett, however, gets to play with them all at the same time.
A tie-in to the game, the DC Comics digital-first series Infinite Crisis follows Batman and other familiar heroes as they form teams with alternate versions of characters from 52 different universes in order to defeat a mysterious menace threatening the entire Multiverse.
The weekly series launches on Monday with its first chapter on digital platforms such as the DC app, and an enhanced version with sound effects and motion is available via the Madefire app. Chapters will be collected into print issues later — the first six covers, each representing a different world in the Multiverse, will combine to form one large image.
Abnett's story is closely linked to the game but is also "spiritually" connected to grand comic events such as Crisis on Infinite Earths that DC has done in the past, he says. Some characters and worlds are also being pulled from various Elseworlds comics such as 1989's Gotham by Gaslight — a tale featuring a Victorian-era Batman — that have been released over the years.
"It's a great adventure with huge things happening," Abnett says, "but it's also a wonderful way of exploring various characters and seeing how they bounce off each other when they encounter these different iterations."
The first chapter (featuring art by Carl Potts, Larry Stroman and Trevor Scott) begins with the Batman of the Prime Earth — the original-recipe Dark Knight that fans all know and love — investigating an occurrence that leads him to unlock the extraordinary secret of the Multiverse and become one of its champions, according to Abnett.
From there, the series will move to parallel story lines with other familiar heroes such as Green Lantern and Superman as they go looking for Batman when he goes missing and encounters characters from other places.
"We'll slowly realize how they connect to each other and how their paths cross and how the sheer scale of the threat ramps up and up and up," Abnett says.
Infinite Crisis 1
"Infinite Crisis" writer Dan Abnett is playing with iterations of characters from 52 different worlds.(Photo: Dan Pagosian/DC Comics)
Infinite Crisis is still in open beta for gamers, and Abnett at first is focusing on the detailed places that are playable so far: the steampunk Gaslight world; the post-apocalyptic Atomic world; the Tron-like Meta world where everybody's a robot; the Nightmare world, which is pretty much how it sounds; and the magical fantasy Arcane world.
In the first story line, Batman is paired with strange yet familiar folks such as Atomic Wonder Woman, Arcane Green Lantern ("an almost chivalric character with a suit of armor like one of King Arthur's knights," says Abnett), and the rebellious Nightmare Robin, who hates the Batman of his world.
"To put him alongside the real Batman and see how they work together as a duo sounded like a fun idea. It was even more fun when I started to do it," says the writer, who was handed a huge amount of characters and material from game developers.
One of the best things about the comic and the game for Abnett is that, because the threat is so huge, the recruiting of champions to defend the Multiverse crosses the line between heroes and villains. (The overarching villain is also putting together his own army of baddies.)
"It will affect everyone," Abnett says. "You will find hypothetically find the Joker and Lex Luthor fighting alongside Batman and Superman against a common foe."
Fiddling with the game a few times has helped the writer — "If I played it too much, I wouldn't get any work done," the former Guardians of the Galaxy scribe quips — and Abnett's also found that characters he's suggested introducing in the comic will find their way into the Infinite Crisis game.
Because it's a story of "mindboggling" proportions, however, he's been doing a lot of cherrypicking from different universes.
"I didn't want to take everything from the game and throw it at the reader," Abnett says. "I've chosen key interesting characters that will really resonate with each other and increase them incrementally as the story goes on."