SPECIAL GUEST COMIC BOOK REVIEWER
REVIEW: Countdown to Infinite Crisis #1
WARNING: This review contains profanity, sexual descriptions, and major spoilers.
Prepare for "Countdown" to be shredded, scorned, scandalized and MOCKED as no single comic book has ever been before! Don't read this review at work, because you'll bust a gut trying not to laugh too loud. True fact! Comic book reviews will never be the same after...
Going in, my expectations are so fucking low, I look at this as paying $1.00 to just flat out laugh at an over-hyped piece of shit. Cause it really does feel like the sequel to Identity Crisis. I mean, it's a crossover starting with the "tragic death" of a superhero, which was a fucking cliché in 1994. Now, its not even a cliché, it's just ... it's like after New Kids and then Backstreet Boys and n'Sync, the next time you live through a boy band fad of that magnitude, you think, It'll be fun to watch, the way an ant farm is fun to watch, you know?
I'm going to start reading now.
Cover: yuck. They should give the accounting software that generated the hackneyed logo of this book a debugging. And I just don't like the composition of the cover at all. Too many elements, placed seemingly at random. Wildly dull color.
I like that Superman's staring at the dead body, but Wonder Woman is just staring off into space. Is she thinking about makeup? Oh, and don't look at Wonder Woman's neck too long -- it's waaaay fucked up.
TWO artists combined couldn't come up with one genuinely interesting facial expression? I like Jim Lee, but when I see his stuff, I want to see it in pen and ink. Alex Ross: What more can be said? I love that this tragic event happens under BRIGHT BLUE SKIES!! It's the happiest death image I've ever seen.
It's sad that this is how I enjoy myself... so sad.
Page 1: Oooh, this all happened TWENTY MINUTES AGO. I was wondering when the events of this comic happened. But wait, I bought it at noon, on my lunch break. So did it happen 20 minutes before then, or 20 minutes before now? Or 20 minutes before it was drawn or inked or colored? This comic just started, and there are already so many mysteries to unravel! Make mine DC!! Excelsior!
Blue Beetle. I'm confused how a character who's been around since the 60s grew up with laptops... is Blue Beetle a teenager now? Did they reverse-age him like they did once with Iron Man? Oh, right, we're still all pretending kids read comics. Right. Nudge, nudge.
"They came smashing into our room, staring at us with these big glowing GOGGLES."
Oooh, goggles. what the fuck? Big glowing goggles? Fucking lousy prose!
"It turns out it wasn't the army; it was an irradiated hydrocephalic swim team."
Oh, because he wears big glowing goggles, like in the art, so... the U.S. military who harassed him when he was a teenage hacker inspired him to wear... glowing goggles? Is that what they're trying to convey here?
Page 3: Whoever they got to draw this thing can't draw Bruce Wayne (see pic right). I think that's what you'd call an omen.
There's a dinner scene with Maxwell Lord, former behind the scenes leader of the Justice League, and yep, I'm already disgusted with my fellow man. What an unbelievable piece of shit this comic is. It's just funny how things that are charming and funny people in comics hate and apologize for, and then they hold up this soulless, personality-free hackery like it was a fucking trophy. (Man, that was fast! I thought I'd get much further before I lost my initial intended tone of snarky bemusement.)
I have a question for Jim Lee, Alex Ross, Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, Judd Winnick, Rags Morales, Michael Blair, Moose Baumann, Ed Benes, Hi-Fi, Jesus Sais, Jim Palmtotti, Paul Mounts, Ivan Reis, Marc Campos, Guy Major, Phil Jiminez, Andy Lanning, Steve Firchow, Nick Napolatano, Jann Jones, Dan DiDio, Brad Meltzer, and Paul Levitz -- subsequently referred to as "The Committee to Create This Comic."
My question: When did comics become so concerned with who's a first stringer and who's a "second stringer?
Have you noticed that this concept has snuck into lots of comics lately? Everyone in them just sits around and worries about where they rank in the superhero hierarchy.
It's like the writers are anxious about their own royalties and it's bleeding through to the characters. It's like when they write "We're second-stringers, and quite frankly that's our own fault," it really means "If only I was writing Batman, I'd be getting higher residuals."
Middle panel above: Hahahahaha! They gave a reaction shot to this artist! A shot of Blue Beetle acting... disappointed? Truly the best moment in this comic so far. The artist can't draw RECOGNIZABLE HUMAN EMOTIONS on a face. So it's just this panel of a face with... like.. is that a frown? I don't even know. What is he trying to draw??? Is Beetle sad? Angry? Oh man, this is hilarious.
The dialogue: "Take Care of Yourself, Booster... it's what you do best." How many comics have had that line or a variation of it between this moment that we're sharing right now, and... let's say... 1971? I would argue about two quadrillion. And it took three guys to write that line! Three guys!!! What a fucking brilliant cutting-edge bit of dialogue.
Do you think Booster Gold just might show up later on, and redeem himself by reaffirming that their friendship matters more to him than immediate financial gain? I wonder if that sprung like Minerva out of one of the three guys who wrote this comic's head, or if they just ripped-off Star Wars and/or a billion other things which have used that clichéd plot. Hacks.
Batman is apparently a HUUUUUUGE asshole who doesn't like hearing facts about crimes anymore -- what an awesome detective!!! He's such a good detective that he doesn't even let people tell him about crimes!
The colors are also hackwork. Could they pick a less fun palette, please? Watching them try to do lighting effects is just sad. Did they fire everyone who colored good to save money or something? Is that why this comic only cost a $1.00?
Moving right along, Batman says some stuff I don't understand because I didn't read some earlier comic (accessible!) and then "chapter 1" ends.
Which is interesting because they never set up that I was READING Chapter One. It's like there's just this random panel saying "End of Chapter One." Oh, okay. the Committee to Create This Comic needs to work a little more on transitions, I think.
Oh, and it really bears repeating: the Committee to Create This Comic needs to do something about these horrendous colors. They're muddy, nothing pops, they're not tuned into the emotional mood of the scene at all -- they've got Blue Beetle standing in front of a Batcave that's dark green ... you know, like all the other dark-green caves you've seen in your life.
Am I supposed to like Blue Beetle? The whole comic's theme, so far, is: "This guy is a loser-- a girl won't fuck him." Aaah, see how far the v-word goes into the comic psyche -- that's how they convey that Blue Beetle is wretched -- they show a girl who doesn't want to fuck him.
So far, the theme of the comic is: (A) Blue Beetle sucks, and (B) Batman is an asshole.
Chapter TWO: Fifteen minutes ago. So, wait, is that fifteen minutes before ten days ago, or fifteen minutes before me now reading it or... I guess the latter. Oh, wait, we're back in the original scene. Okay.
Okay, wait... wait! The art has gotten worse, somehow. Different penciler, I think. I just turned the page, and it's a shot of all these superheroes standing around and ... well, they're mostly just standing around. I think its a crime scene. Power Girl is being helpful and checking a dumpster.
The colorist has at least cheered up.
Awesome dialogue #a million: "Green Arrow and Hawkman steer clear of one another. Like two dogs marking out their territory." Uh: dogs do that with URINE!!! Unless this turns into the BEST COMIC EVER and we get to finally see some superhero urination action... I think that's ... pretty fucking ridiculous. But I bet Green Arrow pees awesome.
Okay, different writer, too, because this narration just got fucking WRETCHED: "Nightwing called in some of the Titans, including Starfire. Everyone she flies past can't help but stare. It's like she's carved out of glowing gold." What is glowing gold??? See, the way a simile works is you compare X to Y, so that the person reading can go, "Aah, X is like Y." But when Y = GLOWING GOLD ... then it DOESN'T FUCKING WORK.
And why would superheroes gawk at Starfire when the artist has drawn the thin bit of fabric that barely covers Power Girl's labia gently crawling up her ass? Is that not like vibrating platinum??? I like that they make the Flash photoshop-blurry. That's kinda cool. Do they do that in his own title now?
This panel is SO fucking awful! Nightwing was trained by the master detective who doesn't bother asking questions about crimes anymore, right? So how does Nightwing investigate the warehouse robbery? By standing on boxes, and looking through a window into the warehouse. Uh, what the fuck??? "Yep... it's empty!" No shit! Hey Nightwing, there's a giant opening about one foot away from you -- you can actually go inside!!
Why isn't this comic over yet? Can't Doctor Fate can't cast a magic spell that'll show what happened? Of course he can! He's Doctor Fate. But he doesn't. Lame.
And oh man, the art... there's a shot of Superman -- what the fuck is wrong with his arms? Superman looks like that steroid-armed guy that they always show on The Daily Show. The Committee to Create This Comic really needs to think about what they're doing with their careers, because they are just not very talented.
Superman makes Blue Beetle feel useless and important at the same time." That's what it SAYS. Ughhhh. I mean, I really can't even read this anymore, because of how awful this narration is. When did heroic fiction comic books become so explicitly about hero worship??? What the fuck is that??? Okay, you won't believe me, but this is another actual bit of narration: "It doesn't matter how many times I've met him. It's always like the first."
You know what the Madonna song Like a Virgin is REALLY about? It's all about this chick who's a regular machine. I'm talking morning, noon and night. Then one day she meets this guy, and it's like, whoa baby! Now, she's gettin' serious action and she's feeling something she ain't felt since forever. Pain. It hurts, just like it did the first time. Hence the title, "Like a Virgin."
That's what this scene with Superman is like:
"What's in the warehouse?"
"My Kryptonite collection. Sometimes, I come here on a rainy day and shower myself in Kryptonite. I rub it all over myself. I rub it in my bellybutton. Touched for the very first time..."
Is this seriously the plot of this comic??? The Committee to Create This Comic just fucking radiates contempt for their audience, don't they? Do the fans who read this understand that The Committee is plainly pandering to them, and doing that pandering by making the viewpoint character the biggest fucking REJECT they can? I mean, do they even realize they're being fucking insulted? (Like The Committee to Create This Comic was so cool in high school. And for the record, I had dates to my prom, even though ... let's just say that it wasn't the greatest date I've ever been on.)
Oh good, an action scene. I was worried the bad art wouldn't get to the level of incoherence. Then ... Ugh. The "Han Solo" scene with Booster Gold happens, and it SUUUUUUCKS:
Booster: "Hey those bad guys plainly know stuff that'd help us solve the mystery of what's happening. I know-- I'll blast at them with my ray hand, and then let them run away! Yay!"
Announcement: Playing the role of Lex Luthor tonight will be Professor X. End of Chapter Two.
I don't understand this. I guess you had to read Identity Crisis to understand this. Why. Why did The Committee to Create This Comic price it at just $1.00, then make the story inaccessible to new readers?
Why am I even surprised? The Committee to Create This Comic really shouldn't surprise me at this point, and yet they do anyway. God, God, God, these colors. Fuck, this is an ugly book.
Chapter 3. The drawings have gotten a little better, so now the colors have gotten ten times worse in order to compensate and not make the other pencillers feel bad. The Committee to Create This Comic is such a team that way.
They're setting up the next Blue Beetle? I think DC fans like legacy heroes. I remember liking that a lot when I read this stuff as a kid. You know what crossover I liked? That one where the sun went out [Final Night]. I think Stuart Immomen did that one. I thought that was fun. I think one of the Kesels wrote it. My favorite of all time is Invasion. This? This isn't Underworld Unleashed bad (that was fucking amazing bad), but it's bad. I'm very bored. But then...
A sudden explosion! Blue Beetle's computer had an exploding mouse? Wait -- did the mouse not explode until that moment, or does the Committee expect me to believe that Blue Beetle was on the computer that whole time and never clicked the mouse until that moment? Lame.
Explosion sound effect? "Ca-Koom." The Committee can't even come up with a good sound effect? (I wish I'd called The Committee to Create This Comic The Executive Committee to Create This Comic, instead. I think that'd have been funnier. Ah well.)
Wait, wait, wait -- it wasn't an exploding mouse. It was a bolt of lightning! A YELLOW (I shit you not) YELLOW bolt of lightning. Oh, ca-koom = lightning sound. No wait, that would be thunder.
I love the way regular people act totally unrealistically in superhero comics. There's a fireman who tells Blue Beetle that he can't ride in the ambulance because that's only for family.
(A) Do firefighters really care who rides in ambulances?
(B) NO ONE WOULD CARE if a superhero asked for a favor because their BEST FRIEND got hit by an inexplicably yellow lightning bolt! It took three guys to write this shit.
Maybe The Committee to Create This Comic should have hired a fourth writer, is all I'm saying.
Description of Fawcett City: "It's so clean. Old fashioned. A shiny dime. Sort of like the hero that protects it." A shiny dime? Have you ever in your life heard anyone describe a city by using the phrase "a shiny dime?" Because that's a new one on me.
What the fuck? The wizard Shazam shows up to tell Beetle, "You could not comprehend the answers. Except to say that the lightning that struck out at you was not a vessel of magic. It merely laid claim to be. Goodbye, Theodore Kord."
WHAT THE FUCK?? Uh, that guy's right. I DON'T comprehend the answers. Oh, Committee to Create This Comic ... what the fuck are you even talking about??? What the hell is the plot of this fucking comic??? There's no plot to this thing. What a piece of shit.
Chapter 4: Oh good, we're back to someone who can't draw at all. The guy who was almost-good got my hopes up, but he couldn't deliver from being almost-good to actually being good. Sort of depressingly mediocre. I'm happier being back in the warm embrace of ugly yuck-work. Who needs lines with halfway decent line-weights? Not The Committee to Create This Comic!!! Take that, people who like good inking! Fuck, this is fucking ugly.
In this chapter, the writing rises to new levels of badness, to compliment the bad art. "I'm a bug. like I said. But I'm also a man. A man of SCIENCE. A man with skills and smarts -- more skills and smarts than the average bear-- but a man all the same. I'm not like Marvel or Superman-- or her. Hell, no one is like her. The most powerful, most beautiful woman in the world."
That is just stunning in how bad it is. What a rambling, nonsensical ... what the fuck is he talking about? "I'm a bug. I'm also a man. I got needs like a man. I am smart, smart like a college professor. But I'm not like a woman. I'm like a man. I wish I had a vagina like her, though. Sometimes, I like to drink coffee. It makes me feel awake. I am smart. I am a man."
This is not writing, it's typing. It's just incoherent babble. You can't be a man with "smarts" and refer to yourself as a man of "smarts," for starters. And I can't even begin to follow the logic of I'm a man. Not a woman."
Next, Martian Manhunter joins the "All DC characters are assholes now" club, then the comic totally turns into some incoherent space opera -- just for a second -- to advertise an unrelated miniseries [The Rann-Thanagar War]. Then it becomes this "I am tired of my life, just like you are tired of reading this comic about Superloser" moment.
Then Blue Beetle goes to see Booster Gold so they can babble on incoherently about a robot named SKEETS from the future, who has not appeared in this or any other comic I've ever read in my whole life. Awesome.
Chapter 5: Where do they find these artists? And can they send them back there now, please?
Okay, the whole comic is predicated on Blue Beetle trying to call various superheroes, and the superheroes not returning his calls or answering the phone. Because he fucking sucks. Good choice to create 80 pages about a character who sucks-- that really got me energized to read more about your other characters that suck, Committee to Create This Comic! What's more exciting than overwrought self-loathing???
Do you see what I see? The whole comic is predicated on no one in the DC Universe ever having heard of e-mail. It took three guys to write this, and not one of them said to themselves, "Why doesn't he send anyone an e-mail?" Not one. Oh, Committee to Create This Comic ... you need to hold more meetings. I know you probably held a bunch and charged a lot to the company card, but you should have held one more.
Awesome fun-fact: Chapters 1-4 had no indication on their first pages that they were the first page of the chapter. You just get to the end and it says, "end of chapter." But chapter 5? They just decided "Now's a good time to start saying Chapter 5." The Committee to Create This Comic doesn't sweat the details, I guess.
Can I just stop a moment and say to people who whine about Bendis' Avengers: please stop. Cause I've read that, and its not great or anything, its nothing I'd want to read, but ... it's readable. While this thing -- it's unreadable tripe. This is fucking incompetent. Bendis' avengers -- it's just not very fun. This -- it's seriously nonsensical.
Oooh, they're ripping off Matrix for the bad guys. How 2003!!! OK, here it comes ...
... the money shot. Blue Beetle's brains getting splattered on the last page. That's fun for people? Why is that fun for people? I don't know. Not fun for me. I don't get it. Do you get it? I don't get it. I just plain don't get it. God, that's Phil Jiminez's art? What happened to him? Ugly... bad colors... was it the printing? I mean, Phil Jiminez can draw so ...???
The text page: Listen to the Committee to Create This Comic's self-delusion "Consider this comic a throwback to yesterday (when was the last time you bought an original 80-page comic for a buck?) but more important, a herald of things to come. While we can't sell comics at the prices they once were, we can renew our commitment to telling the types of stories that make comics great." He sounds like the salesman in Mr. Mom. Remember that guy blathering the nonsense Teri Garr wrote for him, about America and whatever the fuck? Was that in Mr. Mom???
How staggeringly awful. I haven't even mentioned that the bad guy is Maxwell Lord, and just how plain stupid that is. Or just how INSULAR this all is. just stunningly insular. To understand it all, you'd have to have read a particular comic, what, 10 years ago??? More. More than 10 years actually -- like 12 or 13... that's the only way to understand this comic is to have read that comic from 13 years ago [Trade Paperback of that comic, namely Justice League, pictured left.].
Which -- if you read it? You'd HATE this "Countdown" thing. Cause it just shits all over Countdown. It's a comic that hard-core nerds hated because it didn't wank over the characters like these talentless assholes pretend to in order to ingratiate themselves with fans they just radiate contempt for, in the actual comics themselves. What's wrong with wit? What's wrong with fun?
I'm going to read the new Giffen/Dematteis book "Formerly Known As The Justice League," too, and I can guarantee I'll laugh my ass off and have a good time reading it before I put it away and forget it. What's wrong with that? Why don't people think that's a worthwhile thing? I think that's a terrific thing.
It's funny, I picked up Batman Year One by Frank Miller recently. I hadn't read it since I was 13, when I was at camp. It fucking ROCKED harder than anything. I'd already read "Dark Knight Returns," but "Year One" was BETTER. The art was awesome. [Click on the "Batman Year One" splash page to the left for a bigger version that you can actually see!]
The Committee to Create This Comic must have read the same comics I did, and must like them-- why else would they work so hard to get into comics, suck up to editors, work for years ... just so they can do the Blue Beetle Snuff Comic Crossover Experience? I guess when you get older, you forget that good feeling you got from comics originally.
"We are counting down to INFINITE CRISIS, the sequel to CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, one of the greatest comic stories ever told. Its changes will be far-reaching and its effects, everlasting. Promise." Uggggh. Oh well, everyone's got to make a buck, I guess.
SUMMARY: Everyone involved did an awful job, especially the colorists. Let's list them off: Moose Baumann, Hi-Fi, Paul Mounts, Guy Major, and Steve Firchow. Thanks guys, for taking a really bad comic book and making it even worse -- muddy, gloomy, joyless, over rendered and SOULLESS.