Existential Crisis on Infinite Earths

Graham: Superman, Wonder Woman, thanks so much for heeding my summons. And — er — Congorilla, well, I actually thought this Crisis Alert Ring only called the Big Three. That’s kind of what the cartoon on the Fruit Loops box implied. Anyway, I’m sorry I don’t have a chair large enough for a gentlem — …gentleape of your stature.


Superman: Thank you for alerting us, Graham. Congorilla is interning with us this summer. He’ll be listening in, if that’s okay.

Graham: Oh — oh, wow, that’s great. The “Justice League!” will look so good on your resume. So…yeah. Can I offer you some tea or coffee or a banana (can he understand me?) while we wait for Batman to arr —

Batman: <Hh.>

Graham: JESUS CHRIST! <Ahem.> I’m sorry, Batman, I didn’t see you there…lurking in the shadows above my refrigerator.

Batman: Let’s just get this over with.

Superman: You’ll have to excuse Batman. He’s my oldest friend and ally, but everyone avoids him in the morning. Now why don’t you tell us about this Crisis you summoned us for?

Graham: Thanks, Kal. I can call you Kal, right? I don’t even know where to start. This Crisis, it’s big. Bigger than I can deal with alone. Maybe even huge. And looming? It feels like it looms. Malevolently so. As if it were a costumed vigilante perched gargoyle-like on the top of a fridge.

Superman: An alien invasion? I’ve been monitoring some activity in the sloth-nebula.

Graham: That — well, I can’t rule that out. Lately I’ve been feeling — yeah, I guess nebulous. Or nebular? (Is that even a word?) Also, I nap a lot? So, slothful too. Oh God. Is that how they operate? With weird, fuzzy feelings and nap attacks?

Superman: Usually it’s laser-beams.

Graham: Oh.

Wonder Woman: It could be demonic possession. A foul princeling from the Court of Hades making inroads into the Earthly Realm …

Graham: Maybe, Ms. Woman. As in, can I totally and confidently dismiss that? On the one hand, I feel that you’re — you’re way off. But, like, on the other hand, demonic possession would explain why I’ve been so grumpy lately. And maybe why I’ve been binge eating.

Batman: I suspect you’re experiencing the early stages of a serious — and possibly criminal — psychotic break. I could administer a beating.

Graham: Uh, yeah — actually, I think the term “Crisis” is throwing us off a little. It sounds judgmental. My therapist doesn’t like judgment. She decreed a “No No’s Zone” around me this week. So maybe we could call it — yeah, how about an Episode? That has a nice, non-judgmental ring to it.

Superman: Graham, with my SuperVision I can see over 4000 types of radiation and I can’t see this “No No’s Zo — “

Graham:  It’s just that, when I was young, I thought I could be anything. I thought I could be you. But I’m about to turn thirty-one and I’ve gone nowhere. I had to move back in with my parents. And I’m not so sure my internship at the Cutting Edge Glass Emporium™ is fully leveraging my Cultural Anthropology degree from Dartmouth.

Congorilla: Oooh ah-ah oooh oooh!?! Eeee eeek eeeee ee. [Translation: Wait. You’re still an intern at thirty!?! Should have gone for the STEM degree, you dumb, liberal arts bastard.]

Graham: …does he need to be let outside or something? I don’t want him messing on the rug.  

Batman: By your age, I had trained two wards and pacified half of Gotham.

Graham: Yes! Wards! I thought I would have, like, five wards by now! It seems like everyone I knew in high school has three wards already. They’re all over my Instagram feed. Let me put it this way: it sorta feels like I’ve been sentenced to the Phantom Zone. I’m bereft of the enjoyment of my senses, locked in a prison that obscures direction and saps motivation, cursed to watch life move around me while I remain, essentially, unmoved.

Superman: So this is an…Existential Crisis?

Graham: Existential Episode, Kal. I’ve found that there’s some overlap between the “No No’s Zone” and the Phantom Zone.

Batman: I spent all morning crawling through your air-ducts to get into position above your refrigerator…for this?

Superman: I think what Batman means, Graham, is that we’re not exactly equipped to deal with…Episodes. We usually solve problems by punching things, or flying them into the sun.

Graham: I was class president in high school. <sob> Now I sit and count the days until my neckbeard forms an isthmus with my chest hair. What am I doing with my life?

Wonder Woman: Clark! Bruce! We took an oath to help all those in need, even the most pathetically pitiful! Graham, on my Island the Amazons have a saying, “A man’s seed is planted long ere his crops grow.” Stop giggling, Batman. Perhaps if you two share what inspired you long ago, it might help Graham find his path.

Superman: I’ve never been great with words, but I’ll try. …My birth parents painted the crimson canvas of a dying sky with contrails of their love. I streaked across the unfeeling void to a gold-flecked world where I was taken in by caring, gentle folk and taught the value of hard work, compassion, and sacrifice. I knew my life would be dedicated to others. I bet your parents taught you the same.

Graham: …Sure! Sure. Well, it was more long division. You know. Tax returns. And there was this awkward thing about an anteater and its grub hole that I don’t really care to go into in front of Ms. Woman. But, yeah, sure, that helping people and love stuff too.

Batman: <Heh.> My parents taught me about the real world. I listened as their dying gasps and sputters became as insubstantial as a charitable notion in a bad town; I watched as their blood raced towards the shadows like a tsunami toward a darkened shore. Their lesson was simple: we are forever alone.

Graham: I — uh — wow. Whoa. That was…so dark. I…completely get it. Except for that whole dead parents part. I just made mine go upstairs while I have friends over.

Batman: <threatening sobs>

Superman: This Crisis is spreading! Not even Batman is immune! We need a new plan, Diana.

Graham: Ep-I-Sode, Kal. If I wasn’t sitting in the middle of this NNZ, I’d be judging you.

Wonder Woman: Clark! What about The Lasso?

Superman: Of course! The Lasso!

Graham: The Lasso?

Wonder Woman: The Golden Lasso! It compels all those it touches to speak their heart’s truth!

Graham: So you’ll be tying me up? Very well, I accept.

Batman: I knew…<guttural sniffle>…he was a pervert.

Wonder Woman: Tell me, Graham, what do you really want to do with your life?

Graham: Ouch. Is it supposed to be that tight? OK. Let me think. Yeah, when I was a kid I wanted to be a paleontologist. That’d be fun. Who doesn’t like dinosaurs? But then digging in the dust might trigger my asthma. Let’s come back to that. Hmm, alright. Firefighter. Pros: helping people; women would love me; I’ve always wanted to be in a calendar. Cons: deathly afraid of fire. Sort of a toss-up. Oh! I know! United Nations Special Rapporteur. Granted, I don’t have any experience in international diplomacy but —

Wonder Woman: By the Gods! The strain is enormous! I’ve never felt this level of indecisiveness!

Graham:  — the kind of person that thrives on solitude, so the Park Service certainly has its charms. But, again, outdoor asthma. Was I too hasty about the Glass Emporium™? Sure, I keep finding these slivers of glass buried in my fingers but, if I gave it twenty more years, who’s to say I couldn’t be CEO? I mean, with my cultural anthropology background I —

Superman: HOLD ON, DIANA!

Graham: Rancher? Marine Biologist? Should the Lasso be glowing like that? Patent Attorney? Professional wrestler? Shinto priest? Senator from Rhode Island? Rule-breaking detective? Editor at a humor blog?

Superman: GREAT RAO’S GHOST! The Lasso snapped!!!

Wonder Woman: My Lasso!

Graham: Ah. I am so, so sorry. Let me get some glue or something.

Wonder Woman: NO! No, that’s — not necessary. Actually, yes, I think I heard a distress signal. We should probably be going.

Graham: Really? I didn’t hear —

Superman: Um, yes. I heard it, too. Using SuperHearing.

Graham: So you’re just leaving me here? I need your help!

Superman: Of course not, Graham. We’re heroes.

Wonder Woman: It’s just that this particular Episode might be better suited for someone with more life experience with failing, being the butt of jokes, etc.

Batman: <fearsome hyperventilation> …like…Aquaman.

Superman: I hear he leads a great Aqua Yoga class. Also, there’s the Marine Biology connection!

Graham: Aquaman?!?! I’m … doomed.