You’re reading The Complete Infinite Crisis, a Comprehensive and Encyclopedic look through the universe-changing superhero event published by DC from 2005 to 2006. Shelfdust are proud to provide a complete overview of the story, and everything that happens in it. We’ve had to get some experts in though – there’s so much going on that needs to be explained!

Things are getting cosmic now, as we’re almost halfway through the first issue! Phil Jimenez has thrown a whole galaxy of different warring species at us – now we know about Thanagar’s deal, but what about Rann? Matt Terl, there’s nobody we trust more than you to deliver the answer!

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Matt! We’re heading off into the outer galaxies, and it sounds like these two planets “Rann” and “Thanagar” are having a war. I’d like to focus on Rann for now though – what can you tell me about the planet, and the people who live there?

Matt Terl: Despite having read hundreds of comics featuring Rann and its citizens, I am horrified to realize how little I understand about its history. Rann has always seemed more like a metaphor than a place, and a slippery, malleable metaphor at that. Not unlike how mutant powers are a bombastic allegory for for puberty, or how Superman is a cosmic retelling of an immigrant story, or how Spider-Man is an operatic metaphor for the dangers of pursuing a career in amateur wrestling, Rann is, in the main, a big science-fiction-y tool for exploring the divide between personal and private life.

The most important thing to understand about Rann is that it is absolutely NOT Mongo. Mongo, as depicted in the Flash Gordon comic strip (and subsequent  serials, cartoons, and Queen music videos) is another planet with an Earth-friendly atmosphere, governed by mad scientists and also populated with exotic characters such as winged “bird-men,” on which an ordinary Earthman becomes a hero.

Rann, by contrast, is something totally different: It is a planet with an Earth-friendly atmosphere, governed by scientists (mad and otherwise) and, at the time of Infinite Crisis, also populated with exotic characters such as winged “hawk-men,” on which an ordinary Earthman becomes a hero, that is also the intellectual property of DC Comics. Totally different thing.

Who are their most famous citizens? Are there any… Rannians? We might know? 

Terl: Oh, there are many. The most important Rannian, of course, is Adam Strange, who is originally from Earth, not Rann. (That’s why he’s the most important, to our Terra-centric read on this story.) The only reason we ever started caring about Rann is that Strange stumbled across it while doing archaeology in Peru, became a hero of two worlds, and started bouncing back and forth between Earth and Rann via something called a “Zeta Beam”.

The other Rannians you should definitely be aware of at this point in the DC chronology include Alanna, Adam’s Rannian wife, who is also the daughter of Sardath, Rann’s chief scientist and general Zeta Beam head honcho. Adam and Alanna have a daughter, Aleea, although I don’t think she does anything particularly noteworthy in this story. There’s a wide variety of other DC Universe spacefaring types (and their deities) involved, but I think that’s the bulk of the Rannians of note.

From their perspective, why are they at war with Thanagar? What’s their justification?

Terl: Well, that’s simple: a group of rogue Thanagarians teleported the entire planet of Rann into Polaris, the Thanagarian system, for … reasons. I think it was supposed to provoke a war? Or maybe destroy Rann? Or maybe they would’ve been fine with either outcome? I’m honestly not entirely clear.

Either way, it didn’t work. Instead it knocked Thanagar out of orbit and caused it to fall into its own sun. (This crucial plot point is the culmination of an eight issue Adam Strange series, written by Andy Diggle and with art by Pasqual Ferry, that preceded Infinite Crisis. Unfortunately, there was literally no indication anywhere in or on those eight issues that the story was tied in to anything, or that it continued anywhere. Oh well!) A

s much of the Thanagarian population as possible was evacuated to Rann (except for some holdouts who, in a bizarre and totally unrealistic twist, refused to take simple action that would save their own lives). There they live in refugee camps, and lots of zealous fringe groups plan to instigate war to get revenge on the Rannians (who, again, did nothing but get their whole planet teleported). In a way, isn’t this just a metaphor for how all wars start?

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Thanks so much, Matt! That’s brilliant, and probably the most anybody has ever thought about Rann in decades. I have to admit though, I zoned out after you started talking about Mongo. What’s Mongo??

 

Matt Terl writes about comics at Wait, What, and about actually popular subjects like “sports” for The Washington City Paper. You can find him on Twitter here!