…I need the rest of the multiverse back… Worlds I can sift through like sand, one grain at a time, combining and mixing until I find it. Until I find the perfect earth.
If you’re from this earth it can’t be perfect,because a perfect earth doesn’t need a Superman.
–Superman to Superman
Infinite Crisis #1 began perhaps the most publicized “event series” in comic-book history. The story continued in #2-3 and, in #4-5, recalls more than ever the original Crisis on Infinite Earths: confusing and convoluted, but with clever touches, and an appearance by a possibly dying Flash with a warning to give.
The debate on the nature of comix incorporated in this series starts to focus on Superman. Alexander Luthor, meanwhile, plays god– and the ultimate fanboy.
WARNING: At this point, no attempt has been made to avoid spoilers.
Title: Infinite Crisis #4 and 5
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Phil Jimenez, Andy Lanning, George Pérez, Jerry Ordway et al.
Chemo explodes over Bludhaven, Superboy battles Superboy, Batman and Nightwing join forces again, and Batman gathers up an elite team. The scarab transforms the new Blue Beetle. Heroes die, and a cathedral holds a mass for earth’s metahumans. Alexander Luthor brings back Earth-2, but it’s rather lacking in population, and it doesn’t save Earth-2’s Lois Lane.
Then something really strange but entirely expected happens.
1. The battle over Smallville in #4, and Batman’s discussion with Nightwing, capture much of the appeal of the genre.
2. The debate about the genre continues. The comments of various characters on the events surrounding Infinite Crisis reflect fan debates about the pure escapism of many older comics versus the strained darkness of more recent ones, among other concerns. Alexander Luthor plays god, but his desire to sift through thousands of earths in order to find a perfect one makes him seem a little like a fickle reader searching a comic shop. The Golden Age Superman’s realizations in #5 are those of a nostalgic fan realizing that memory often misrepresents our past pleasures.
3. Shadowpact in a Catholic church: this is a nice, funny touch. It’s also good to learn that religious diversity exists among the super-folk.
Too many things occur which cannot be understood without knowledge of the various crossover titles. I expected that Infinite Crisis would require the Comic Book Guy’s knowledge of DC history to understand, but one should be able to follow a story without reading every current DC title.
Originality: 3/6. More and more, this resembles events comics past. The writer’s awareness of the current comic culture and its debates and concerns makes it work– but not for all readers. The effects of Infinite Crisis may attract more people to comix, but the series itself will not.
Artwork: 5/6. The fourth issue and the final pages of the fifth feature some of the series’ most interesting artwork. The strength of #5 lies in its many echoes of iconic images from DC’s history: the cartoony lines of the Golden Age Wonder Woman, a clear imitation of Superman’s first cover appearance, a dire warning from a dying Flash.
Story: 3/6. Next month, DC comics start to present post-Infinite Crisis events, one year later. That should (one hopes) eliminate the impossibly convoluted crossover storylines which make #5 so difficult to follow.
Characterization: 3/6 Nightwing and Batman have clear internal motivations, but this cannot be said for everyone else. At times, the characters act too much like they’re playing parts in this grand pageant. Plausible personal motivations are obscure, at best. Too many people– including a couple with “Super” in their names– act like deranged lunatics.
In addition, nearly every DC character extant appears in these two issues. It’s kind of difficult to handle characters effectively as the mini-series devolves into commercials for DC’s titles.
Emotional response: 3/6. Once again, the long-time reader of comix will appreciate a story that also functions as a debate over the nature of the genre.
Flow 3/6 The flow holds for #4; it even improves. We finally get an explanation for what has been happening behind the scenes. The fifth issue, for reasons discussed previously, is a mess. Fortunately, for reasons already noted, #6 and 7 should make more sense. Indeed, the final pages of #5 move in that direction.
In total, Infinite Crisis #4-5 receives a score of 24/42.
Reviews of this series will conclude with #6-7 (April).