Zack Davisson: Don’t tell me I have to start this one off? Alright then. Let’s do it. I’ve been reading the First Timer’s Review, and something I can’t help but notice is the difference in general tone. We tend to be more optimistic and enthusiastic, while they tend to be more cynical and pessimistic. Clearly a generational thing, but I wonder if it is just an attitude towards superheroes? I grew up reading comics in a world where superheroes were bright and bold and happy and most of all … good. I just accept that, from the get-go and without question. These are the good guys. They’ll do their best. They may not succeed, they may have flaws, but they are ultimately the good guys. Maybe at the time comics were more of an escape than a reflection. Or maybe it’s just pure, naïve nostalgia. I don’t know. Either way, I love this issue of Crisis.
Kyle Garret: I think the first timers are just better read than we were. It’s like eating hamburger your entire life and never knowing what steak is, or vice versa, in this case (and I’m a vegetarian). If anything, I’ve noticed that some of them actually enjoy that kind of impossible pillars of good type thing we always got with pre-Crisis DC which, of course, were ultimately totally boring because it was the same thing over and over again — like eating hamburger, but never know what steak is.
Jason Sacks: We do know what steak is, but we also remember that wonderful feeling of enjoying a good, greasy hamburger without worrying about it clogging our arteries or giving us heart disease.
KG: I also think the success of something like All-Star Superman suggests that modern day fans are still on board with bright and bold and happy superheroes as long as the story is good. The problem with Crisis is that for every issue that’s fantastic, there’s an issue that’s just kind of there.
Daniel Gehen: Though I’m part of the “old-timers” group, I’m pretty close in age to our “first-timers”, so I don’t know if the optimistic/pessimistic attitude is a generational thing. The writing is just dated. Wolfman’s slow, methodical, and exposition heavy world-building (and world-destroying) is diametrically opposed to today’s culture of instant gratification – or at the very least how stories are told in the medium today.
ZD: That’s a good point. Although I personally prefer that slow, methodical style. In both books, films, and comics I like things that take their time getting there. And I like how for all it’s grand scale it is contained in the story.
JS: It’s funny because on one hand you can say this comic has a slow, methodical style, but on the other look how much happens in this issue. It’s far from decompressed. It has a vast canvas.
DG: An event of this size and scope certainly will never be published in this form again – just look at the structure of Convergence and Secret Wars. There’s a core series that has the most basic plot elements that move forward issue-by-issue, and all the ancillary stuff can be found in tie-in minis and one-shots. With Crisis, it’s all in these twelve issues, meaning each issue is dense, even bloated at times.
KG: I’ve got to interject here because I feel like we’ve gotten a little revisionist. Bendis single handedly spread decompressed storytelling to the world. I don’t think the modern sensibility is anti-long stories. If anything, at least Crisis isn’t 24 pages of people talking to each other (and both having the exact same speech pattern, but I digress). I don’t think decompression is the issue.
I think the problem is that Wolfman clearly wanted to give each corner of the DCU time to shine, which is great, but what if you have no interest in these characters? The multiverse, for me, was exciting and new. But I can’t imagine that being the case for anyone who’s read it in the last ten years. A modern audience has no reason to care about any of these characters, due in no small part to the fact that most of them having been MIA for the last thirty years.
JS: That’s part of my frustration with Convergence, too — I’m not given any reason to care about the characters that are featured in their solo series beyond nostalgia, and given very little reason in the comics themselves to care. Wolfman does an adroit job here of making readers care about obscure characters.
ZD: Its that exact point that to me is a strength of Wolfman’s writing in Crisis. He took a bunch of characters I had never heard of and had no interest in, and got me to care about them with a few panels. Then killed them.
I mean, come on. Cowboys? WWII soldiers? Talking gorillas? As a Marvel reader it was all so bizarre coming from my world of Kitty Pryde and Wolverine and Cloak and Dagger and Spider-Man. Especially the war comics. I’d seen the war comics on the stand before, and thought they were the lamest of the lame. Who the hell would want to read war comics? And yet …
Look at the death of The Losers. That single scene embodies everything I love about Crisis, and the genius of Marv Wolfman. In 1/3 of a page Wolfman and Pérez made me care enough about these lame-ass characters that I actually got chills when they died. I still do. I love the way he introduces each of them, name by name, and then capstones it with his perhaps overdramatic language: “They were called the Losers. But they were winners to the end.”
DG: I really enjoyed this issue, but it certainly has its faults. The main problem is that, despite being crammed with characters from all corners of the DC Universe, not a lot happens in terms of progressing the overall plot. There’s also a lot of attention given to Geo-Force, which is unforgivable. Seriously, he’s the worst. But I’m okay with that because there is so much other stuff – specifically character work – going on here.
ZD: Ha! I hated Geo-Force too! I don’t know why, but something about him just pissed me off. I had no idea who he was, so I made up my own name to go with the “GF” on his chest. It wasn’t very nice–even less so by modern standards … for some reason I really liked Kole though. I knew even less about her, but I dug her character. Maybe because she reminded me somewhat of Kitty Pryde.
JS: I’ve wondered for years how you pronounce Kole… but Geo-Force is a good example of a character that made sense in the context of the times but hasn’t aged well at all. That “GF” on his chest is so cheesy…
DG: As mentioned, we get some wonderful work with the Losers, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. We get to see the [New] Teen Titans saving the day with an assist from Superman. The Flash gets to once again act as a harbinger of doom. More is revealed about the mystery villain that has Lyla working behind the Monitor’s back. Worlds and timelines are collapsing in on each other, and no one (other than the Monitor) seems to have a clue as to what’s going on. It’s the kind of insanity that fills me with warm, fuzzy feelings with each turn of the page.
KG: Yep, the insanity is what I loved about pre-Crisis DC. Crazy things happen because, hey, it’s comics, and that was all we needed. I miss stories like that.
I will say this, though: I disagree that we get a lot of character moments. We see a lot of different characters doing things, but none of it tells us much about those people. The Titans and the Outsiders (two teams I have a soft spot for) save a bunch of people, but none of it tells anything about them. We’re not getting a ton of depth here. But, again, that shouldn’t really be expected with a book like this. Heck, even now it shouldn’t be expected from event comics. It’s just not what they’re about.
ZD: I felt like this issue really raised the stakes with the death toll. Even they were all minor characters, we saw a lot of people fading away into that sweeping white. I think it was this issue where I realized things were getting serious. That these characters weren’t coming back.
Strangely enough, the Harbinger reveal at the end had no impact on me. Reading this series cold I had no background on her or The Monitor. That mattered the least to me.
KG: I don’t think you were alone there, Zack. Neither Harbinger nor The Monitor had any real screen time prior to Crisis, although I suppose if you add up all the one to two panel appearances leading up to this, they probably appeared in a few comics’ worth. Still, they were always shrouded in mystery, so focusing any of the drama on them is ultimately a bad move because no one cares about them.
Honestly, I don’t know that anyone would really care about them even if we had seen them on a regular basis up until this point, as they’re both just vehicles for a larger story, involving the mystery villain.
JS: Who will be [SPOILER] the ANTI-Monitor. What the what? That will be fun to delve into…