Ray Sonne: Reading this series only gets harder and harder with each issue. Oy vey.
Crisis of Infinite Earths #3 opens with a veiled confession to readers that Marv Wolfman knows what’s going on in this event as much as anyone else does. The Monitor sits for about 10 full panels in front of Alexander Luthor Not-Baby basically declaring, “WHAT. IS. HAPPENING?” like Mark Wahlberg in The Happening except with a lot more words, no evil tree twist, and a hell of a lot less unintentional humor.
Even the lettering is becoming unreadable. Why do you forsake me, John Costanza? How am I supposed to feel the least bit intimidated by White Word Talky Shadow Guy when I can barely see what he’s saying?!
I’m going to have to get an emergency alcohol stash to deal with future installments of this. You think I am joking, but you know the old adage: “Some comics can only be read while drunk.”
Well, it’s an adage now.
So what happens next is glorified cameos for even more superheroes you may have heard of, this time the Teen Titans. You’re not given an in-story reason to love them, but who has time for that? Oh and thank God, Superman and Batman have shown up and 9 pages into the book they seem to have spotted the plot!
Oops, and a page later it’s gone again.
(Aside: soon after that there’s the speech bubble where Costanza splits up the word “cockroach” so it looks like a character says “oversized cock” and I feel like he’s on my side.)
Then the superheroes The Monitor collected deal with Nazis. It’s uninspired. Still more inspired than that The Avengers scene, however. Then again, it’s not hard to be more inspired than most Marvel movies. Also, I took German in college and hate the word schnell because it sounds like the opposite of what it actually means. It seems to be the only German word Marv Wolfman knows, though.
It’s around this point that I realize that the reading app I’m using cuts off the bottom row of panels on each page and yet I keep on forgetting to scroll down because I never feel like I’m missing anything. Yikes.
So then a BUNCH of people get introduced. The Losers, some section of the military, get brought in. Then some cowboys and “Indians” come in too, for some reason. Common sense dictates that smushing together completely different genres from your Golden Age into one story is completely idiotic, but evidently even 30 years ago DC had no common sense. The only character I’m happy to see is my favorite Green Lantern, John Stewart, which proves that you have to be a fan of the characters in this story previously in order to derive any enjoyment from it whatsoever. Before Legion of Superheroes kills that enjoyment, that is.
This issue is so EMPTY thematically and progresses absolutely nothing plotwise that hadn’t happened in the last two issues. Ugh, you guys. Ugh.
Daniel Elkin: Remember what Superman — the one with the dashing gray around his temples — says in this issue, Sonne, “We must stay together or we’ll all perish alone.”
And I agree with you. This issue does little to temper my anger. If anything, it makes me hate superhero comics THAT. MUCH. MORE!
And you’re right, Sonne. It seems like this thing is just coming apart at the seams (which, in a way, makes it kinda seamy). Nobody seems to know what the hell is going on. From The Flash asking, “Wh-what the hell is that?” to Jackie from Easy Company saying, “Somethin’ crazy’s goin’ on here, Rock.” to the Monitor himself stating quite clearly, “There is no answer. Indeed, there can be none.” this book has gone so far off the rails that it’s flipping boxcars, boxcars, boxcars racketing through snow toward lonesome farms in grandfather night… Who’s Howling here now?
Still, what do you expect from a Crossover Event in which NOTHING WILL EVER BE THE SAME AGAIN?
For this issue, I really wanted to spend some time dissecting the iconography of Nightwing and his binoculars because he seems so proud of his binoculars, or at least George Pérez seems so proud of those binoculars, but instead I got distracted by that quick three panel scene in which Halo rescues the girl from the collapsing tenement in Brooklyn (I assume Brooklyn, given that Beast Boy makes a Dumbo joke).
First off, I have no idea who Halo is, but in this beast of a book, shit like that doesn’t really matter (especially given the fact that every one of these characters are basically interchangeable at any given moment). Second, the whole thing smacks of some off-kilter “stranger danger” moment.
Let’s look at these three panels closely, shall we?
Panel #1: Halo climbs through the child’s bedroom window. The child is seen underneath his or her crib, with his or her hands over his or her face. Halo says she hears crying, instantly shames the parent (“Someone left a child here?”), and quickly assumes that this child must be a boy. Dunno why. Guess negligent parents were particularly negligent to young boys in 1985.
Panel #2: From the child’s perspective, in the shadows under her crib. Halo’s thigh-high black boots are all the child sees (yikes!). Halo, in an attempt not to “frighten” the child pretends that they are playing hide-and-seek, declaring the little girl the winner. I don’t know about you, but the old “Come out, come out, wherever you are” line is nightmare fuel in my worst child abduction horror stories. The little girl in her fuchsia jammies and matching headband informs Halo that “Mommy told me to wait for her.” But screw negligent Mommy, Halo is here to help.
Panel #3: The Child’s POV — Close up of Halo’s face with her left hand, palm up, reaching towards us. In “Gesture: Visible Action as Utterance,” Adam Kendon of the University of Pennsylvania informs us that the “Open hand Supine (or “palm up”) family gestures … are used in contexts where the speaker is offering, giving or showing something or requesting the reception of something.” What is Halo offering? “Take my hand and we’ll have fun.You ever fly?”
This is a rainbow accented blonde haired, smiling young woman asking a frightened little girl if she’s ever flown.
“…the brown acid that is circulating around us isn’t too good. It is suggested that you stay away from that. Of course it’s your own trip. So be my guest, but please be advised that there is a warning on that one, ok?”
In no way do I think Wolfman and Pérez meant anything other than to show how wonderful Halo is as a character: emphatic, calm, kind, a real hero. But these three panels just serve to creep me the fuck out as a parent and as a product of our 24 hour news cycles which constantly remind me just how DANGEROUS THE WORLD IS FOR CHILDREN.
And given how much I am already hating every moment of this book, this scene just amps up my adrenaline to eleven.
But I’m obviously nit-picking. There is so much more to hate in this book. Like how Wolfman used the character Bat Lash in this issue. This ain’t the Bat Lash I knew and loved.
Then, of course, there was Sgt. Rock and Easy Company. Rock was a staple in my childhood household, mostly because my older brother was a WWII freak and this, plus The Unknown Soldier, were the comics he read. Once again, in the context of this Crisis bullshit, Rock comes across as a buffeddled mess and his powerful anti-war statements are muddled and corny and forced and shit here.
And don’t get me started on the “touching moment” between Kamandi and Solovar the talking gorilla…
Or the teary hug between Starfire and Superman as they both acknowledge the loss of their homeworlds….
Every emotional beat in this book is ham-handed or off-putting or creepy or insipid. The rising tension that should be occurring as shit gets real boils into a miasma of missteps or alarming idiocy.
It’s an Emotional Crisis on Infinite Earths! And there isn’t enough brown acid on this planet to make me enthusiastic about reading nine more issues of this. That Emergency Alcohol Stash you mentioned earlier, Sonne? I’ve already broken into it and we’re going to need a lot more booze
Ray Sonne: That scene between Kamandi and Solovar is the definition of “sentiment” and how it is the most ineffective, useless kind of writing.
Daniel Elkin: It’s the Hallmark Card school of “emotion”. Which, when you think about it, is a pretty successful business model. So…
Kristopher Reavely: I’m overjoyed to know I’m not the only reader that is having issues with Crisis. After doing a little reading I now understand a little better the enormous task that Wolfman and Pérez took on. DC Comics had an insane amount of continuities all battling to be considered the best. The problem being that in this pool of pure excrement there can only be turds and those covered with liquid waste. DC didn’t have an idea what it was creating years ago and so they must not have thought continuity was important at all.
Wolfman is attempting to craft a tale that links all of these worlds together in one horrific monstrosity, and that’s exactly what this story is. It’s a Frankenstein’s Monster of characters and places, none of which make much sense to anyone unless the reader actually used to read those original tales. I don’t know if I’m trying to wear rose coloured glasses or if I’m just an idiot for hoping this will get better. I remember watching a movie with my wife once called Ultraviolet. It was the biggest piece of crap I had ever watched and yet I watched it, I watched it thinking “this has got to get better. ” It didn’t. So far neither is Crisis.
It is humorous the way that the Monitor casually tosses Blue Beetle back to his doomed universe once he’s of no use, to me at least. I also laugh every time someone uses Psycho Pirate’s name as if it’s not the dumbest name since Infinitude.
After downing a couple glasses of Irish Mist I can tell you that I missed out on Ray’s oversized cock experience (did I just write that?) I’m reading the revamped version of Crisis which has had all of the technical glitches repaired, you know except for the horrible storyline and pointless characters. Now that I think about it I might want to purchase an old copy just for the fun of it.
Michael Bettendorf: Kristopher, you can have my files if you want. I mean, I know I can share them with you AND keep them, but I’ll pretend I can’t. I don’t want them anymore, but I’ll probably hang onto them…why? When my wife and I eventually decide to have children, I can use these as time-out reading materials or to show them, “look how far comics have come. Be glad…be so glad…”
The first thing I see is a naked boy (Lex Luthor of Earth-3) trapped in a glass ball. Ya couldn’t have given him some clothes? I get it, he’s a science experiment and apparently that means nudity. Sure there isn’t any exposure of any sorts, but to quote one of the most morally corrupt fictional characters, “you know…because of the implication…”
Just. Why? Is that nit-picking? Anyone else find that creepy?
As I read this, I did find myself admiring George Pérez’s massive undertaking in this book. Despite how terrible the story is, you have to hand it to him. There is so much going on in these panels that it must have taken him a ridiculous amount of time to produce all of the artwork. That and some of Sonne’s alcohol stash. I wonder what he thought as he was given the script?
I noticed that (at least for issue #3) Marv Wolfman was both the writer and editor. Really? This is probably one of the biggest problems. How could he trust himself to edit something this large, convoluted and twisted? Of course it makes sense to him. He wrote it! But as for the rest of us…
My theory is Wolfman was told to write something chaotic, only to be used as a conduit (ploy) for people to buy all of the tie-ins (I’m assuming there were tie-ins) to actually understand what’s going on in Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Sonne – I find it funny that the oversized-cock…roach…comment was made on the page with the penis pylon. Coincidence? I think not.
Scalphunter? The “colored” Green Lantern…at least Marv tried to make the characters fit the times…? Yeah, I can’t do this…
It’s pretty easy to sum this up. As Wonder Girl says to Superman, “Do you have any idea what’s happening?” and his reply, “Not even the foggiest.” Well said, you and me both Superman, you and me both.
Elkin: I’d just like to remind all of you that we have NINE issues left in this series…
You better be restocking that booze stash, Sonne.
Sonne: I’m planning on taking a shot from now on for each penis pylon or example of “oversized cock-roach”ing that shows up. It’s the only way to survive those 9 issues.
Elkin: I’ll set up the hemodialysis machine.