Daniel Elkin: Seriously everybody, there’s just so much that goes wrong in Crisis on Infinite Earths #9, isn’t there?
I mean … Wow
Before we start though, know that I get it. I’m no fool, I understand that this was a CROSSOVER EVENT from the mid 1980s, and, given that context, I can almost read the “can’t keep it in his pants” misogyny of Beast Boy, view the appearance of the Confederate Flag on the Haunted Tank, witness the inclusion of “the cosmic treadmill” (Come ON!), and be introduced to every fucking possible superhero and supervillain ever in this issue — (why do I need to see Jack Ryder — heh — activate his “molecular transducer” — double heh — to become The Creeper and then never really see him again except to let us know that he “trusts no one,” especially the ladies?) — without setting this book on fire in some sort of desperate purgative plea to whatever higher power is punishing us for our past sins.
But the play by play commentary provided by Brainiac and Lex Luthor as so many faces are being punched on three separate Earths? That shit is just about fucking unforgivable. I mean, this is a comic book, right? Words and pictures working together? Remember that whole thing?
I mean, seriously, what kind of lazy ass, take-me-out-of-the-story, wet brown bag of a narrative stylistic choice is that?
(And also, once again, in a comic full of people punching each other, The Human Bomb doesn’t punch anyone AND, really, if you are going to put Solomon Grundy in your comic, you better let him say something like, “Bug Head has made Grundy mad!” otherwise what’s the fucking point?)
This whole issue is such a clusterfuck of timing and narration and layout and gobbledygook that I so want to start savagely tearing into this thing panel by panel with deliberate and spiteful abandon burning everything in my wake.
But I was at SDCC a little while ago, and I saw Marv Wolfman, and I can never say a mean spirited thing about him again (regardless of what I just said above).
Picture it: There it was, Sunday afternoon, and Comics Bulletin Publisher Jason Sacks and I were wandering around Artist’s Alley, killing time before our interview with Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon. At the very end of the area, all the way in the very back, alone behind a long white table, sat a very fragile, a very broken, a very sad looking Marv Wolfman. Nobody was standing in front of his table. He seemed to be staring at the wall like you stare into the refrigerator when you’re not really hungry, just bored. Detached, unaware of your surroundings or even your sense of self.
I would have had no idea who he was were it not for the folded cardstock nametag there on his table with which the convention so thoughtfully provided him.
Wolfman is only 69-years-old, but he seemed so much older, weak and wizened and withered, sort of like Alexander Solzhenitsyn after a decade of imprisonment and exile. There emanated a seemingly profound despair from his eyes.
Spread before him were oversized copies of covers of comics that he had written (not drawn) that he was willing to sign for a price. More interestingly, he also had xeroxed copies of scripts he had written over the years, carefully hole punched and held together with those classic brass brads that pretty much nobody uses anymore. He was selling these as well. For a little extra, he’d sign them for you.
And it broke my fucking heart.
This is, as I’m sure you realize, an enormously subjective and speculative account of what I observed. I’ve been doing a little bit of internet stalking, and, while it seemed to me that he exuded the classic portrait of a “Why am I here as I’ve been already chewed up and spit out by your soul sucking need to be entertained” washed up and sad former someone, from what I’ve seen of Wolfman’s digital gameface presence, he seems pleased with the experience he had at SDCC.
But he’s a writer, a story-teller, a creator of fictions, so who knows.
What is a fact, though, is that when I saw Wolfman there with all of his xeroxed and bradded scripts, I noticed that of the cornucopia of titles splayed before him, not one of them was CRISIS. As a person who actively engages with social media, my mind quickly jumped from this single instant to the wholly unsupported general conclusion that, yes, it was obviously Crisis that had broken this man.
So fuck you, Crisis. Not only for what you have done to us as we’ve written about you, but, more importantly, for what you did to Marv Wolfman. What value do we assign our diversions that destroy those who create it? Can we honestly feel good about our entertainment when we know its costs? Who are you, and what kind of person do you want to be?
Mark Stack: I will just say that I attempted three times to read this issue and I couldn’t get through it. That’s all I’ve really got to say about that.
Elkin: Succinct criticism you’re tossing out there, Stack.
Ray Sonne: I used to believe that being a critic meant finding something to say about anything no matter how difficult finding that something was. Now, I understand that when you have nothing to say, it’s better to admit it than pretend otherwise.
So Crisis On Infinite Earths #9 is the 9th installment of a series that I agreed to read for reasons that seem very weak now. I read it. We all read it. We wish we hadn’t. And that’s all I have to say about that since creator rights is not an appropriate topic to delve into here.
Michael Bettendorf: Crisis on Infinite Earths #9 seemed to be a filler issue more so than any of the others. No important deaths happened until the end and even so, it just resulted in putting one more bad guy in charge. Nothing has changed except the face of the enemy. Everything is still thrown into chaos, Earths are in trouble, heroes are struggling. Who cares who is behind it? Nothing of importance changed the actual reality of what’s going on.
This sort of thing makes me wonder what the environment was like when this issue was being completed. Were they rushed? Were deadlines not kept up very well? Was it simply a matter of laziness or filling the gap until the next “big” reveal/plot-point?
Elkin: Crisis fatigue has apparently set in here, first-timers. I’m disappointed in all of you, but I understand. Really, I understand.
I mean, how long can you write about superheroes before everything else in your life begins to feel hollow, passionless, devoid of truth or beauty?
This beast has dug its claws into us and has been draining our systems ever since.
Or maybe it’s the booze…
Whatever. We must be stronger than this thing.
We don’t want to end up like Marv Wolfman.