Monday, June 6, 2011

Crisis * INF = INF.

This cover really gives you very little to go on.
This week it's all about Infinite Crisis, the most readable of the three core Crises. It's a reasonable sized 264 pages, going for sub $15 USD at Amazon, which tells you a couple things:

  1. it's shorter than the original Crisis on Infinite Earths; and
  2. it still sells for resale (meaning it's not so bad it's being offloaded on the cheap, and it's not so good that it's warranted a price bump - though Amazon seem to be on their last couple of copies before restocking).
There's a few other things that are important about Geoff Johns' Crisis though, and they're important to know before you pick this book up. First, it's an "event" book (the comics equivalent of the last part of a movie trilogy in that it's must see/read, wraps up the series thus far, and plants seeds for further movies). Second, it ties in to DC history (though not so much as CoIE, or many other crossover events). Third, it was the centrepiece of the DCU for the time it was being published (including events both before and after), so there are a bucket of lead in books you could choose to read (I read none), books that chronicle events tied to a handful of characters during the Crisis, and books that deal with the ongoing events following the Crisis. Finally, it's now 6 years old, and if you recall what I said about Iron Man Extremis consider what time may have done to this book.

Does NOT happen in Infinite Crisis.
The book itself picks up (20 years of publishing later) where CoIE left off with Superman and Lois of Earth 2, Superboy of Earth Prime and Alex Luthor of Earth 3 trapped in their "paradise" and greatly displeased with what they've seen the superheroes of New Earth doing (eg killing, fighting amongst themselves, turning evil, using bad language, disrespecting people's mothers and the elderly, and behaving like annoyingly sad twits). This combines with the Justice League of America disbanding due to trust issues, and the generally unhealthy events going on (see the lead up series for these). As a result Alex, Superman 2, and Superboy Prime work towards building a tower to recreate the DC Multiverse (collapsed to a single universe during CoIE). What isn't revealed until much later is just how many of the recent events Alex has instigated, and just what Alex is aiming to do. Adding further interest, it's clear that Superman 2 is not as involved in the plan as Alex or Superboy, because while he believes the Earth needs to be replaced, he's also open to the idea of helping make New Earth a better place (although it won't save Lois 2).

If you're confuse, you needn't be. The book explains all this in a much more straightforward manner than I have. What you do need to keep in mind though is that really there's only three other plot elements:
  1. the New Earth heroes fight back (predictably) and incur some losses (predictably);
  2. Superboy turns evil; and
  3. Alex is actually trying to create a perfect Earth by mixing the best of each of the alternate Earths.
And pissing this guy off is never a good
step on the road to getting your own way.

Alex's plan all comes undone when Superman 2 (and to some extent Power Girl) fight back against Alex,  and Superboy Prime becomes obsessed with simply returning Earth Prime as the sole Earth.  Yes, it really is a Pokemon level solution of "team work and friendship wins the day", which really is the basis of an Event book.

Now that's fine, that's dandy, but it took 7 issues to do it, and the major shakeup that could have happened to the DCU with the reinstating of the Multiverse never really seemed to take off. I've never really been that big on DC, and to be honest the reboots have nothing to do with it. See DC could do a reboot whenever they wanted, and they don't need a Crisis to do it, they can simply decide to tell most stories on another reality. It meant that CoIE was unnecessary, and gave reason to Infinite (beyond "it's been 20 years since CoIE"), but then what follows it? Same old, same old? Have we as fans gotten that lazy/stupid/apathetic ? Do we really need the ongoing history to accept comics any more? (Anyone reading Indy comics would likely say no, as would anyone who wishes to delete the late 1990s from their minds as far as comics went.)

The art (from Phil Jimenez, George Perez, Jerry Ordway, Ivan Reis, and Andy Lanning) is wonderful, nay, sensational. It's clear, it's concise, and it captures the chaos brilliantly. My only criticism (and this goes for the writing as well), is that there's so much going on that the magnitude of the struggle is lost in the shots where all and sundry have been injected to keep the fans happy.

Earlier I mentioned the ageing problem that Iron Man Extremis had, and this is a bit similar, in that the status quo going into (and coming out of) Infinite Crisis is so far gone that it's no longer required reading unless you're reading other books of that era. I'd go so far as to suggest that its best function is to establish the starting point of 52, but even then there's a slight gap in time. I'm being harsh here, because unlike Extremis, there's still some meat on the bones of this story (something Extremis never had), but for any Event book there's always a shelf life, unless it is so astoundingly brilliant that it does become a classic. Unfortunately I can't say that's the case for Infinite Crisis.

I'm happy to recommend this book to people, it's good value for money, but to be honest I can't do so with the enthusiasm that might be required for someone to actually spend their money on it.

Next week... I can't commit to picking a book. So until I get home Thursday night (roughly between 5:30 and 6pm Australian Central Time) it's up to the readers to choose from the following. If no-one votes, I'll pick whatever I want.

Seriously, there's one of these I'd want to read.
Let's see how much you want me to suffer.


  1. Both Infinite and Final Crisis definitely read better in trade than they did at the time. I agree, though, that the reinstatement of the multiverse turned into a non-event. DC never committed to really exploring it. I wonder if the "new" DCU will have a multiverse???

    Great review as always Westy! For the next review, I vote for Powerless!!

  2. Seems to me like the whole reboot is going to be off in another part of the DC multiverse so they can pick and choose what is kept and what is not. At which point the Infinite Crisis had a point, but it doesn't make it any more directly relevant.