Damn, this is getting good!
When I first read Infinite Crisis #1, I was afraid DC was going to reverse the effects of Crisis on Infinite Earths or make the story even more complicated. Instead, the story addresses one of the biggest loose threads from the original Crisis: What happened to the survivors of the multiverse?
I’m hoping you’ve already read the issue. If not, this will come as a major spoiler. Alex Luthor of Earth-3 and the Superboy of Earth-Prime are revealed as the masterminds behind many recent disasters. They claim they’re trying to recreate Earth-2. Their true goals are probably much more sinister. Alex Luthor has been impersonating Lex Luthor to organize the Society of Villains. He’s been collecting superbeings for his device, a vibrational fork left over from the Crisis. Superboy destroyed the Watchtower and kidnapped the Martian Manhunter for this project. The Ray, Black Adam, and now Power Girl have also been taken.
The Superman of Earth-2 believes they’re trying to bring back Earth-2. It’s his only hope for saving his Lois Lane. Superman’s talk with Batman to persuade him to join them is a great scene. Batman is given the chance to live a life he never dared dream for himself. But of course he doubts it; he’s always been a cynic. And he won’t take it if it means other people will die.
Meanwhile, the Amazons leave Earth rather than risk further run-ins with the OMACs and the world. The Spectre destroys Atlantis in his war on magic. Donna Troy’s team of heroes joins the intergalactic war that’s erupted around the growing space rift. And a teenager finds the Blue Beetle scarab. How all this fits together remains to be seen, although I have a sneaking suspicion than most of this is just coincidence. Alex and Superboy probably have something to do with the space rift, but the OMACs and the Spectre’s war look like bad timing. Unless all of this is shown to be connected, I’m going to think DC just wanted to make a universal disaster even more dangerous.
That’s my main complaint against the story. There’s a lot going on at the same time. And while you can follow it pretty easily, it feels like too much is happening, like three different crossovers are coming together. Is Brother Eye’s campaign against superhumans relevant to the destruction of magic, or Luthor and Superboy’s plots to remake the universe? Apparently not. Unless I ’m shown otherwise, those stories are just taking up space.
Otherwise, this is shaping up to be a fine series. We get some solid character dialogue, major emotional moments, and some good old-fashioned nostalgia, (Anti-Monitor)! And when has Phil Jimenez ever done a bad job at art? Well worth the $4.
Now this issue isn’t too bad. The art has a much less busy and over-rendered look to it than in previous issues, although anatomy, particularly faces, still has a certain wonkiness. And it’s nice to see that something is actually happening in terms of plot, now that Johns has got all the setup out of the way. But all that said, there are still a number of major problems, and they’re all to do with the writing.
For a start, there’s far too much going on, and as such there’s a very noticeable loss of narrative focus, as we’re shown a couple of panels of what’s going on in one part of the DCU, then a couple of pages of some events elsewhere, and so on, with the end result being that it’s difficult for the reader to engage properly with what’s going on; there’s no time to immerse oneself in the situations and truly capture the impact the creators intend before being rushed off to check up on events elsewhere. I’d rather see more pages devoted to each situation and see those situations updated less often than this scattershot approach. Johns has let the story get away from him, and the impression is less of a vast crisis occurring on many fronts, but more that the story is too big and complex for the writer himself to keep up with. Instead of being worried for the heroes, we’re worried for Johns and his ability to keep up with his own story.
The comic also suffers from some frankly atrocious dialogue; it has a sense of earnest desperation to it, and it’s clear that it’s supposed to come across as a set of iconic, memorable lines, but they seem forced and calculated. Stuff like the Flash’s declaration that he’s the luckiest man alive but that the world needs the fastest man alive is quite clearly supposed to resonate, but comes across more like clumsy fan fiction.
The plotting too has that sense; we know that the Superman/Batman conversation is supposed to be an important focal scene for the issue because of the characters’ iconic status and the small matter of it being the cover image, but the actual scene comes across more as a casual chat, partly because Johns doesn’t give it room to breathe with all the cuts to elsewhere, and partly because it’s so very conventional; here’s a Crisis, so here’s Batman and Superman chatting about it in the Batcave. Where’s the excitement? Where’s the pizazz? Similarly, we know that Themiscyra disappearing is a momentous occurrence because we know of the island’s importance in the DC mythology, but we really don’t get any sense of it from the scene itself. Johns seems to be relying too much on the intrinsic importance of his characters and situations, without working to make these moments exciting and important in themselves, a mindset that suggests that a story about Superman walking his dog would somehow be by default exciting merely because it’s Superman, and not because of the content of the story.
All in all, I have to say Johns is the wrong person for this job. I know he has his fans, and that DC is especially fond of him but his style does not fit for this kind of story. His strength is in solid, if bland, character work, not epic universe-shattering plot-driven stories, and it shows in the erratic and confused storytelling. When DC have Grant Morrison working for them, someone who thrives on this kind of story, assigning Johns to something like this is a baffling decision, and it becomes increasingly so with each issue of this weak and shambling miniseries. The DC Zombies (does DC have zombies? Revenants? Ghouls?) will love it of course, and it’s better than both House of M and The Other, but a story event like this needs to be the best it can be, not just better than the competition, and this is a long way from that.
Dan Didio told us in a recent interview that by the end of issue #3, the threat facing the DCU would be single and cohesive. However, we still have the Spectre fighting all magic, Brother Eye using OMACs to destroy the Amazons, the Crisis characters causing mischief, and the widening hole at the center of the universe, none of which seem as yet to b
I’m still waiting for this Crisis to really become cohesive and exciting. I’m also disappointed by the fact that DC’s comics line isn’t nearly as affected by this Crisis as it was by the last one. DC’s line seemed much more tightly knit during the last Crisis, when almost every title was either a direct crossover, or at least severely impacted by the Crisis. Now DC has titles that seem to have their own storylines going on, completely unaffected by the Crisis.
The art is better in this issue than the last. Power Girl doesn’t look quite as manly, and there’s plenty of detail in the larger shots. The colors are also very rich and vibrant.
Overall, I like the twists and turns, but I really hope things start to come together before everything’s all said and done. We have been teased that one single entity is responsible for all of the things occurring, and I don’t want that to be forgotten.
Plot: Yeah, about that, uh … more below.
Comments: On the surface, this series is offering what was promised. Convoluted glimpses at all aspects of DC continuity, as in (the original) Crisis? Check. High quality art that is up to the level of detail required, in the manner of George Perez from Crisis? Yes. George Perez himself, providing covers and doing other sorts of “special guest” duties? Checkaroonie!
But these days I have to worry where all this is heading. The past two years has taught me not to trust even formerly favorite creators, as the demands of the marketplace repeatedly trump anyone’s most creative vision. Comics have become a short attention span theater these days, and that’s even in as busy and packed a story as this. We never get final scenes; we just get beat after beat after beat of beginnings. It’s hard to keep track of, but I gotta try, right?
The rundown: The Specter wreaks vengeance on Atlantis for some reason, Mera’s alive again, the Amazons come up with a solution to the OMAC onslaught that doesn’t involve killing the foot soldiers, the wrong-headed Superman tries to seduce the irrevocably wronged Batman to his creepy and fascistic cause, the real Superman helps out the surprisingly interesting Shadowpact, Alexander Luthor and an even wronger-headed Superboy try to lead Kara down an icy garden path, something’s going on in the “Polaris galaxy” (whatever that might be) that calls for a profusion of Firestorms, the two Luthors face off inconclusively, Flash has twins, and Kara gets some really bad news from the Martian Manhunter.
Lots of that is interesting, but it’s pretty much a blur. The only really important story occurrences involve Paradise Island retreating from Earth yet again (yes, they flee, but it’s not the worst choice), and Kara learning that her supposed friends may be reviving some of the Anti-Monitor’s plans. I think. Also, Superboy’s a jerk!
Jiminez is doing a great job of unearthing the emotional elements in this tale where he can find them, but these brief glimpses don’t quite a story make. With all these goings on, there should be some sense of going somewhere, and some answers as to why. Is it all just the Luthors vying for control, or is it something more? Compared to these stunningly beautiful patchworks, Power Girl’s recent JSA: Classified origin tale was crystal clear. And believe me, it wasn’t.
Okay, so there are about 327 different reviews of IC #3 out there on the Internet, so I might as well add to the general buzz about it with my usual insightful review. Ready for the great insight? I liked it.
I liked the battle for Atlantis, and I even like that most of the story is continued in this month’s Aquaman – that’s cool epic action stuff. I liked the Amazons and their Purple Death Ray – that’s just wacky fun superhero crap. I liked the Earth-2 Superman visiting Batman and somehow trying to persuade Bruce that things would be better if he was dead or something – that was just crazy stupid comics logic. I liked the Earth-1 Superman saving a building in a way that completely violates the laws of physics – again, wacky comics stuff. I liked Luthor vs. Luthor and that crazy tower with the Anti-Monitor and the evil Alex Luthor.
Fun comic. I liked it. Now go read the other 326 reviews out there on the ‘net.