Friday, May 05, 2006

Infinite Crisis #7—Finale, Finally!!!

The upshot from DC Comics: The awe-inspiring conclusion to the miniseries event of the year!

That’s one way of putting it. We suppose the best thing that could be said about Infinite Crisis is that it’s over!—this “event” has finally, mercifully come to an end.

Issue 7 of Infinite Crisis turned out to be better and worse than we had expected.

Mile High Comics’ Newsarama as usual provided a page-by-page breakdown of Infinite Crisis #7—check it out here

We were initially excited at first reading because the heroes FINALLY stopped talking and got down to action. But upon closer inspection, the “action” is little more than a pig-pile of costumes. Why is everyone fighting? Because it’s the climax and writer Geoff Johns told them to.

Worse: Readers who failed to pick up last week’s Villains United: Infinite Crisis Special were no doubt even more confused as to the origin of the mayhem—a global metahuman prison break apparently engineered by Alex Luthor for….world domination????

Egad…how much more can it suck when the story’s co-main antagonist resorts to stealing moves from Dr. Evil’s playbook?????

Ironically, the visuals by the committee of artists—Phil Jimenez, George Perez, Ivan Reis and Joe Bennett credited with pencils & layouts and Andy Lanning, George Perez, Ivan Reis, Jerry Ordway, Sean Parsons & Art Thibert on inks/finishes—was the best since the emergency art collaboration began in issue 4—when primary Jimenez, with Lanning on finishes, couldn’t handle the load solo.

However, even with the assistance—the limited number of pages that Jimenez DID end up handing looked for the most part second rate.

Jimenez’s worst sin is the splash page on pages 2-3—it’s unfinished!!!! He attempts to replicate the thorough detail of original CRISIS on Infinite Earths artist George Perez—but he fails…miserably.

The colorists (plural—even the colorists have to work in committee on this train wreck book) make an admirable attempt to artistically camouflage the unfinished background combatants and skyline with a red color curtain but upon close inspection one can see the unfinished pencils.

For crying out loud….this is the opening action shot and he f**ks it up! That single splash page and the half-finished result is the perfect symbolic illustration (ok…sort of pun intended) of Jimenez’s poor artistic performance through the entire series.

By coming to the rescue, original CRISIS veterans Perez and Jerry Ordway provide best art of the issue—bar none. Ordway’s splash page on pages 8-9 with the two Supermen vs. Doomsday, while busy, was still breathtaking.

One thing that Infinite Crisis has been good for has been to clear out a lot of deadwood characters—either by retro-conning them out of existence or more directly killing them off in the most brutal manner possible that one of the committee of artists can fit into a single panel (with only a handful of exceptions did “D” list character’s death rate more than a single panel).

Oh yeah, the Flash returned—turns out it was an older Bart Allen wearing “Grandpa’s” Flash uniform. After years spent in the Speed Force, Bart says Barry’s costume was the “only thing that could survive the trip back” and Bart was the only one who could still run. So Wally West, his wife Linda and their twins are still somewhere…out there.

Hey wait-a-minute, Grandpa FanBoyWonder may be showing our age here but as we recall during the original CRISIS on Infinite Earths, issue 8, when Barry died while destroying the Anti-Monitor’s anti-matter cannon, his body literally disintegrated (later we found out his spirit/energy/chi or whatever went into the Speed Force) and all that remained was his Flash ring and his uniform which Wally West later found.

And another thing—Superboy Prime also spent “years” trapped inside the Speed Force, but he didn’t appear to age the way Bart has. But after giving SBP a few hits, it turns out Bart is tapped out of speed, leaving Jay Garrick the first and only Flash (until the new book in June).

Thanks to Jay’s metagene, he still has moderate-super speed…about the speed of sound…wow…Déjà vu all over again. We’re just glad they didn’t try to kill off Jay (again)…but we remain ever alert for the Silver Age-loving, Baby Boomer DC Comics editor who thinks any character that arrived before they began reading comics (i.e. the Golden Age) is no good.

On to the madness—after his minor whooping from Bart Flash, SBP decides he’ll just fly at light speed to Oa, center of the universe, crash into it and create another universe-altering big bang—Huh???????

This leads into SBP vs. the Green Lantern Corps. Ok we’ll suspend our disbelief and assume that Superboy Prime is able to speak in airless space because the Green Lanterns are using their rings to communicate with him but he uses his super-breath to death freeze two alien GLs—amazing that he could draw a breath in the airless vacuum of space but more so that he could make his super-breath colder than Absolute Zero (minus 273 degrees Celsius).

But we forget, SBP comes from the pre-CRISIS universe where things like moving planets around (without the ground crumbling in his hands) by pushing was old hat for any and all Kryptonians.

The pre-Crisis rules continue as the Supermen, thanks to a GLC space warp, fly-tackle SBP to the remains of Krypton (surrounded by Kryptonite that’s harmful only to the native of this universe, Kal-El), they fly SBP through the red sun, burning off his super-gay battle armor and all three land on Mogo, the living planet and universe’s largest (known) Green Lantern.

R.I.P Clark Kent/Kal-L 1938-2006.

Under the red sun, all three Kryptonians burn away their yellow sun charged powers in battle. Earth-2 Superman/Kal-L lands a telling blow against SPB but before he’s beaten senseless by a berserk SBP while Kal-El, surrounded by Kryptonite that can only affect him, appears to be (relatively) unfazed and is the one who knocks out the little punk.

Only a master like George Perez could make this look thrilling and believable as he does an incredible job with what he is given to work.

Even better was the next scene as Kal-L lies dying in the arms of his cousin Power Girl, the former Kara Zor-L. The anguish in her face is heart-wrenching, faced with the prospect of being all alone in the universe again after having just found her true origin and her family—she begs him not to die. We shared her anguish. We didn’t want him to die either.

The panel from a dying Kal-L’s point of view as he sees the far away star and calls out “Lois” was somehow more powerful than Perez’s death of Supergirl in the original CRISIS. Together again and forever with his Lois.

But of course Kal-L had to die. We knew he would die by the end of this series as soon as we saw him bust out of Limbo at the end of IC1. It would have been too much to expect that DC be daring and unpredictable by allowing two Supermen to exist in the DCU.

Yet it remains an enchanting possibility. Kal-L, in semi-retirment, could have been an elder statesman, a peer and friend to the JSA, continued to be a surrogate father to his cousin Power Girl and a mentor to Kal-El. Alas Not.

One last absurdity we must mention—we were surprised (but NOT displeased) to see Dick Grayson hale and hearty at the end of the issue. During the battle, Alex Luthor nailed Nightwing with an anti-matter blast full in the chest (before Alex’s powers crap out without explanation) and we saw Nightwing lying dead/dying or bleeding.

Yet without comment, but we see him at the end of the book about to sail away with Bruce Wayne and Tim Drake without a scratch????? Is there an editor in the house???

The bottom line: While it provided some amusing moments and there was a lot of (unfulfilled) promise to this story, this Crisis Infinitely Sucked!!!

Yet it will be seen as a success. It was definitely a success commercially, as we kept on reading and we will continue to read the Crisis aftermath in the form of –Brave New World, One Year Later, 52 …etc. So far, we like where we’ve ended up but it was torture to get here.

But Infinite Crisis is NOT a story that will stand up over time after the hype dissipates. No one will still be talking about this story in 20 years (at least complementarily) the way we still do about the original CRISIS.

Heck in a year, none of the major players will have “Infinite Crisis” on their resumes—more’s the pity as we KNOW both Geoff Johns and Phil Jimenez are capable of much better than this.


Blogger Matt Guerrero said...

Wow, amen, brother.
I didn't think Crisis sucked as bad as you did, but I had no expectations of it going in.
I did find the whole thing a bit dreary, though. And I don't know if I like the idea of Wonder Woman and Batman just walking away from fighting crime for a year. Supes doesn't have a choice, they still do.
Or did I miss something? 'Cuz I felt that way contantly reading this issue, it's just all over the place.
I remember seeing Matrix 3 and enjoying it, in spite of all its flaws, because I had expected the worst movie of all time and found just a C-rated stinker at worst. That's kind of how I felt here.

6:05 PM, May 06, 2006  
Blogger FBW said...

Hey Billy,
Thanks for your comments and your readership.
I didn't have many expecations going in either..heck I didn't even know that much about the series...despite Countdown and the like.
The biggest sin in my eyes was that it sought to be a sequel to the original CRISIS but it didn't have the goods.
And it didn't have the goods, not for a lack of planning or preparation, but totally avoidable flaws of execution.
I admit that I did get a bit worked up about this book but I think that's in part DC's fault for its impossible hype.

7:17 PM, May 06, 2006  
Anonymous Capitol Ideas said...

It took them seven issues, but Geoff Johns & co. finally gave me a reason to care about this book. The final moments of Kal-L were some of the most touching I've read for a while.
And, the lecture/fight between Superman and Superboy-Prime about what it means to be a hero was also quite poignant.
It was nice to see The Big Three finally getting back to their roots. I have especially high hopes for Batman, and it looks like, in James Robinson's hands, that it's starting to come to fruition.

12:26 PM, May 07, 2006  

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