This review, like all my reviews, assumes the reader has READ the comic! It is FULL of spoilers!
In fact, there's practically a spoiler in every sentence. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! Proceed at your own risk as...
|Infinite Crisis #1
Written by Geoff Johns
Pencils by Phil Jiminez
Inks by Andy Lanning
DC and Marvel weren't always the "big two." In the Golden Age and beyond, there were dozens of competing comic companies. As time passed, many of these companies were bought or acquired by DC, and as DC amassed a formidable array of popular characters, these characters began to meet each other. They all became well acquainted... familiar even. They teamed up in the JLA and other books.
But more time passed, and DC got the rights to even more characters, and began to introduce them into the DCU. This created a problem: How come the existing DC heroes never heard of the new characters? These were major heroes who had starred in their own books for many years, such as Plastic Man and Captain Marvel! EVERYONE knows Captain Marvel, for God's sake. You can't not know him. You just CAN'T.
The solution: Let's say the new heroes had existed on another earth, in another dimensional plane! They were just now crossing over into the current, modern DCU dimension, inappropriately dubbed "Earth-1." Each time the DC superheroes met a hitherto-unknown hero, that hero's world was given a new designation. Soon there was an Earth-2 (Golden Age heroes), an Earth-Q (Plastic Man, Uncle Sam, Human Bomb and other characters from the defunct Quality Comics line), an Earth-S (Fawcett's Shazam Captain Marvel and company), and the list goes on. And on. And ON!
It got so bad the universe was positively JAMMED with earths. Their number seemed almost infinite. DC needed a major housecleaning. This they accomplished -- seemingly -- in the classic "Crisis on Infinite Earths." At the close of this seminal comic book epic, all dimensions were destroyed save one, and all DC characters were unified into a single universe.
But then, fans demanded the return of certain characters and ideas anyway, and eventually the whole "unified" approach was abandoned in favor of Hypertime, which stated that "it's all real." Now, DC has decided to do yet another continuity revision, a seven-issue series called "Infinite Crisis."
Reader -- if you think THAT'S a lot of back story, try reading Infinite Crisis #1 and attempting to comprehend ITS massive back story. Your head will explode! It's like trying to memorize the encyclopedia, because in order to have a chance at understanding Infinite Crisis #1, you need to read and memorize the following Crisis-related comics:
Identity Crisis #1-7
Some JLA members brainwash villains to protect their loved ones. The villains' memories are later restored, and they vow revenge. The art is horrible, Elongated Man looks like no Elongated Man you've ever seen in your life, and the story, by big-shot "real writer" Brad Meltzer is a total trainwreck. No superhero acts in character, Deathstroke is elevated to the point where he can take down the whole League single-handedly in two minutes, and the solution to the big "mystery" of who killed Sue Dibney is mundane and ill-prepared for. Whatever. But still, the book sells huge. Who benefits? Brad Meltzer, and DC's accountants. Rated: Historically noteworthy.
Countdown to Infinite Crisis #1
Batman made a bunch of super-robots called OMACs (One Man Army Corps) to use in case the JLA ever went berserk. Maxwell Lord, former power behind the Giffen-era Justice League, is now evil. He takes over the OMAC robots, then later shoots Blue Beetle in the head for no good reason, initiating events that will lead to the crisis. (See DIAL B for BLOG #59 for a complete review of this comic.)
The Rann-Thanagar War #1-6
Dreadfully convoluted, completely pointless space-tripe featuring a galaxy of DC space characters, none of whom could ever sustain their own title (for a very good reason -- they're all walking ennui factories). DIAL B for BLOG was born in the heat of this war. Sadly, the actual series was never anywhere NEAR as exciting as the blog wars surrounding it. Rated: Unreadable. (The Neal Adams cover pictured below has nothing to do with the Rann-Thanagar War series, I just like it.)
The OMAC Project #1-6
Batman's OMAC robots turn against the superheroes. The story resolves with the heroes eliminating "bazillions" of OMAC robots, and now having to contend with ONLY a few hundred thousand. As in, "Hey! Now we can do this exact same story-line all over again, but this time with lots more KILLING!" Rated: Mildly interesting.
Villains United #1-6
Uses the old DC series "Secret Six" as a starting point for a villain vs. villain melee secretly masterminded by Mockingbird a.k.a. Lex Luthor. Good art, but a so-so story that included some of the most horrifically violent torture scenes ever seen in comics. Not for kids! Some great moments, but in the end, this one felt like an exercise in futility. Rated: Should have been a single issue.
Day of Vengeance #1-6
The best of the "Crisis" preludes, in my view. Why? With a cast that included Nightmaster, Detective Chimp, a revamped Ragman, and an Eclipsette-influenced Spectre as the bad guy, it was FUN to read! The art had an interesting and unusual texture to it, and the story was full of surprises, including the death of the wizard Shazam. No big deal though -- Shazam has actually been dead since his very first appearance! I guess now he's really, really, REALLY dead. (Until someone brings him back.) Rated: I liked it!
"Sacrifice" (Superman #219, Action #829, Wonder Woman #219)
To stop him from possessing Superman and wrecking the world, Wonder Woman kills Maxwell Lord (panel pictured). This is one of the major events leading up to Infinite Crisis, but DC didn't feel like telling anyone that it would be related beforehand. So it's now a "sold-out collector's item" that no one can find or read. Until the Trade Paperback reprint edition, that is. Ah, marketing. Rated: A real neck-snapper!
DC Special #1: The Return of Donna Troy
Oh dear God, no! NO! Please don't make me try to summarize this monstrosity. My head hurts enough as it is. Suffice to say that if attempting to comprehend the Infinite Crisis #1 back story is like trying to memorize the encyclopedia, then attempting to comprehend "The Return of Donna Troy" is like trying to memorize every book ever written. While standing on your head. In a dark closet. With ... oh never mind. You get the idea. BTW, this was the first book to feature the awful new DC logo. Rated: Headache-inducing.
JLA #115-119: Crisis of Conscience
The Justice Leaguer members are split over the whole mindwipe thing. Some dig it, others don't. In a hissy-fit of epic proportions, the "World's Greatest Heroes" decided to disband the JLA. Of course, the individual JLA members routinely get possessed and/or mindwiped about once a week, but never mind that. Rated: Blame Zatanna! (Sung to the tune of "Blame Canada!")
See? It's SIMPLE! Just find, buy and read over a hundred dollars worth of crisis-related comics, and understanding "Infinite Crisis" will be a snap! But for the sake of argument, let's assume that I've done just that. Which I have. What did I, Robby Reed, creator of this blog and author of this review, think of Infinite Crisis #1?
I found Infinite Crisis #1 to be an interesting and mildly enjoyable starting-point for DC's latest continuity revision/ explanation/ advancement, although the art was adequate at best, and the story read, at times, like it was an ad for the numerous mini-series which had preceded it.
There was no humor of any kind in Infinite Crisis #1, and the drama, such as it was, derives both from a highly contrived blow-up between Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, and from the senseless slaughter of any number of minor superheroes and/or supporting characters. But I enjoyed this book anyway -- not for its art or dialogue, but because it is advancing the grand, overarching story of the DC Universe.
However, I must admit that some of the book is very stupid. The big argument between the "three pillars" of the DC Universe, Supes, Bats, and WW, is especially stupid. They meet in the ruins of the JLA satellite to have an extended Oprah show called "Superheroes Who Can't Get Along."
"You're trying to help people you can't even relate to, Diana," Superman admonishes WW. "And you relate to them too much. You're not human. You're Superman," Batman reminds Supes, who answers, "I know that." (Panels pictured above.)
I ask you reader, could Shakespeare himself ever have written such a golden, immortal exchange? The entire world is in a state of growing chaos, but the "big three" still find have plenty of time to trade unnecessary and insipid barbs. Wouldn't it be funny if, in the next panel, Batman said, "And... I'm Batman!" and then he took off his mask and it was Michael Keaton?
Then there's Superman's bizarre reaction to Wonder Woman's intention to kill Mongul -- "I don't know who you ARE anymore," Supes laments. What, did Geoff Johns write this story while watching daytime TV or something? Next, Superman will turn to the studio audience and scream, "You don't know me! You don't know who I am anymore! Don't judge me!"
Excuse me for mentioning it, Supes old boy, but didn't you once off a whole TRIO of Kryptonian bad guys? You did! And wasn' t the killing actually pre-meditated, as in Murder One? It was! It happened in Superman #22 by John Byrne, and here's the cover right here, so don't try to deny it! YOU KILLED THREE PEOPLE! "Oh Superman, Superman, Superman! We... we don't know who you ARE anymore." Talk about holier than thou. Climb down off that pedestal, Super-KILLER Man! Super-LIFETAKER Man! Super... oh never mind.
I'm starting to sound like I disliked the book, and I actually didn't. So let me mention two of the plot points I found most intriguing. First, the news that someone has "rearranged the universe" so Oa, Home of the Guardians of the Universe and the Green Lantern Corps, is no longer at the center. Wow. Who could do THAT?!?! Galactus maybe? Oops, wrong company.
And second, the appearance of the "real" (Golden Age) Superman at the issue's end. "We've given them a gift they've thrown away," laments the original Man of Steel, in reference to today's sordid and violent DC heroes. And how right he is! Rife with murder, violence and rape -- what a sad, dark and depressing place the DC Universe has become of late. What a terrible contrast between the modern DCU and the Silver Age DCU as seen here on DIAL B for BLOG! It's like comparing a sunny day to a pile of stinky garbage that rapes and hates other piles of stinky garbage sitting next to itself. Or something like that.
To sum it all up -- in a strange way, what I didn't like about this book was exactly what I liked about it. In other words, I disliked its dark tone of cynicism and ultra violence -- but I sensed that the core of this storyline will be the "real" Superman and company returning to finally set things right in the DC Universe. What a welcome development THAT would be! As I said earlier, I enjoyed this book because it is advancing the story of the DC Universe -- and that is my home universe. And reader, love it or hate it, there's no place like home.
COMING NEXT on DIAL B for BLOG
Vampires and Bats!