Sunday, April 09, 2006

Infinite Crisis # 6 –Not A Terrible Issue

Hello faithful reader! We’re back our day job took us to sunny San Diego, California in time for a regional cold snap. We’re back in time to review the latest Infinite Crisis.

The upshot from DC Comics: Which events in this continuing epic will lead us to One Year Later? What worlds live? Which hero dies?

We suppose the best thing we could say about Infinite Crisis #6 is that it didn’t suck.

The thing is that “not sucking” is a benchmark that could pass in an Elseworlds book or an edition of Secret Files where standards and expectations are usually (and deservedly) lowered—but this is Infinite Crisis, the alleged DC Comics’ “event” of the decade and the would-be torchbearer to the original and classic CRISIS on Infinite Earths—we’ve been conditioned by the endless type to expect much better than what so far has been delivered.

To be fair, IC6 is indeed a much needed improvement from the jumbled mess of the previous two issues, if for no other reason than the plot is finally moving to the climax.

What we liked:

--The scene between the two Supermen where Kal-El joins Kal-L in mourning of Lois’ death was touching and finally an exchange of mutual respect. Artist Jerry Ordway did a good job conveying the visuals of this scene given the limited dialogue and space within the issue’s larger canvas.

--The interplay between Black Lightning and Mr. Terrific as they snuck aboard the Brother Eye satellite.

--The gross but creatively and efficiently brutal way that Black Adam killed Psycho Pirate. We’ve been waiting 20 years for that whack-job to bite the dust.

--One page later Black Adam getting (literally) knocked out of this world by Superboy Prime—he’s had that coming for a while.

--Alex Luthor losing a finger—finally Donna Troy’s little cosmic field trip contributed SOMETHING to the plot.

--The kinder gentler Batman. Ever since his “come to Jesus” moment following his confrontation with the Earth-2 Superman (and perhaps maybe a little bit because his invention, Brother Eye, has been used to kill and destroy on a multi-universal scale) he’s been down right cuddly.

What we didn’t like (we’ve pared down the list):

--Despite the touching seen between the two Supermen and Wonder Woman too, they’ve been TALKING about snapping into action for four issues ...just do it already!!!!

--Other than Star Sapphire biting the dust, what was the point of the magicians summoning the Spectre…or even wasting 3 pages on the magicians—this advances the plot how????

--Superboy Prime’s super-gay battle armor. The only thing this is designed to do is sell action figures.

--Superboy spoilers—Bad enough that we knew that Superboy Prime would survive imprisonment in the Speed Force at the end of IC 4 thanks to the SPB action figure solicited the same week as IC 4 came out, but as we picked up IC 6 at our comics store, we saw the spoiler variant cover of Teen Titans #34—the Superboy memorial statute.

Just as during IC #4, the last issue with a major battle, the battles in issue 6 were dull and uninspired and just plan hard to follow. Far too much going on in too small story panels.

When drawn and choreographed correctly, comic book battles should be visually compelling and should contribute to the story every bit as much as the spoken word—much as with motion pictures.

This is the problem with the art-by-committee approach to Infinite Crisis. Although the story was 40 pages long, the art chores were divided between four primary artists (pencilers) and TEN finishing artists (inkers).

Because of this division of artistic labor, primary artist Phil Jimenez (with Andy Lanning) had only 3 pages to convey the issue’s climax—all in “tight shots.” We literally had to read the issue and those pages four times to figure out exactly what happened.

Ironically, after this issue was the smoothest visually of the artist committee. The style transition between artists and pages was much less jarring for what it was worth.

We find we weren’t the only ones who were confused. During his “Crisis Counseling’ session at Mile High Comics ‘Newsarama forum, DC Comics Executive Editor Dan DiDio fielded many “what happened” questions

Even the Newsarama guys who do “Crisis Recovery” the page-by-page play-by-play the IC issues were stumped as to what happened in a couple of places.

Any story that is not self-explanatory should rightly be considered a storytelling failure.

Following last month’s Infinite Crisis Secret Files and the compelling back story it provided, we had high hopes these last two issues of IC could pull together what so far has been a convoluted artistic and editorial mess.

However, with one issue to go, we have a tough time trying to figure out how this series will ever be more than “not terrible” rather than a victim of its own multi-universal hype.


Blogger Matt Guerrero said...

I have to say that my biggest problem with infinite crisis, as it stands now, is that there is NO way that Johns can wrap it all up in issue 7, and because of the 52 and One Year Later nonsense, he doesn't have to.
The main fear I have is that we get to the end of ALL of this, and it's all just back to status quo. I, for one, think it would have been fascinating to have Conner Kent, Dick Grayson, and Donna Troy step up to fill in for the absent Holy Trinity (maybe I just think Donna would look cute in the suit).
Anyway: that brings me to another annoyance I have with IC: all they ever do is TALK. The big battles have been with Superboy-Prime, Superboy, the Flashses, the Titans, the Day of Vengeance kids, but NOT the big three! All they've done, like you and so many others have said, is sit around whining or resolving to stop whining. Ugh.
And I really thought they were going to do more with Nightwing, especially with all of Batman's talk about how good a man Dick Grayson was.
Identity Crisis works because it's self-contained, but had ramifications throughout the the DCU organically. The changes here seem too forced.

3:55 PM, April 15, 2006  

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