Some kind of scarab crawled into me and put this suit on me and now… I’m in space with Batman. Looking for an invisible satellite.
–Blue Beetle, evidently having one of those, don’t ask sorts of days.
The saga that began with Infinite Crisis #1 comes to a somewhat disappointing conclusion. The finale promises some interesting developments for the DC Universe, but nothing that required this highly confusing story as their harbinger. It’s the comic-business as usual; routine retcons, super-hype, and a few good moments.
Title: Infinite Crisis #6 and 7
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Phil Jimenez, Andy Lanning, George Pérez, Jerry Ordway et al
The multiverse reappears. With each division, the fabric of things grows weaker. One team of heroes destroys Alex Luthor’s tower, causing the ever-multiplying earths to reform. Unlike the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, however, this leads to minor continuity tweaks, rather than a reboot of all reality. Indeed, many of the changes have already happened, since the “reality ripples” created by Alexander Luthor and Superboy’s past meddling apparently explain several continuity glitches and tweaks that have occurred over the past two decades.1
Meanwhile, Batman’s team takes on Brother Eye, Villains United take on Metropolis, and an assortment of characters with “S” on their chests take on the now adult and scarily psychotic Superboy-Prime. This battle takes the lives of the Golden Age Superman and the present-day Superboy’s, but they die heroically
The series ends with DC’s big three—Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman—taking the year off to rediscover themselves.
WONDER GIRL: Should we free Black Adam, too?
SUPERBOY: Are you kidding? Hell, yeah!
The idea of DC’s big three exploring and rebuilding their identities works, and has been handled differently than most other metafictional moments from past event comics. I especially like the idea of Bruce Wayne going wandering again— this time accompanied by Dick Grayson and Tim Drake.
Even for a comic, the final issue features some spectacularly ridiculous and unnecessary dialogue. At a critical moment, Alex Luthor starts listing off minor continuity tweaks of the reformed earth, apparently feeling we require this narration. Superboy-Prime, on his way to destroy the entire universe, laughs a goofy “heh” when he thinks he has escaped the two Supermen.
Perhaps the worst instance of unnecessary, ill-suited dialogue occurs at the end of a conceptually interesting scene. Several pages into #7, both Supermen take on Doomsday. If DC wants to distance itself from the darkness that has pervaded comix in the last twenty years, having Superman triumph over the creature that killed him trumpets that intention. In the comic, this victory becomes a rallying point, and Superman leads the heroes into battle with several other villains. All of this works reasonably well, as such things go. Unfortunately, Johns felt the need to end the scene by having Superman deliver obvious expository dialogue, in the form of a short speech that ends with “like hell.” A single, suitably heroic line would have worked better here, if he had to say anything at all.
Originality: 2/6. Crisis on Infinite Earths was confusing and messy, but the idea of a comic-book universe providing an elaborate, internal justification for the tweaking of its continuity seemed original in the mid-1980s. It’s not original now.
Artwork: 5/6. Overall #6 has better art than #7. The style varies. Although the Batman-centered sequences have often been rendered in a superior fashion to other parts of the story, the Golden Age Superman’s death receives a well-executed, moving panel.
Emotional response: 3/6. So, who is the white-clad variation of Captain Marvel who appears at the end? If the original, Jay Garrick Flash is the only speedster left, who’s that man wearing a Silver Age Flash uniform? Can Uncle Sam succeed as a character, even if he’s wearing a more restrained costume? Is Black Adam reformed?
How interesting are any of these questions, when the much-hyped series that introduces them lacks a story that holds together? If you’re going to make a mini-series to advertise in-house changes, why not make it a good story? Unlike Identity Crisis, this fizzles.
In total, Infinite Crisis #4-5 receives a score of 24/42.
Post-Infinite-Crisis, we’re clearly in some variation of the Silver Age. Heroes aim to be heroic. Green Lantern and Green Arrow act like best buddies, and discuss the Yankees’ next seasons. Lex Luthor2, who has spent the last two decades as a corporate manipulator and corrupt politician, is running with the Joker.
Of course, the Joker kills someone in a highly unpleasant fashion in #7. Identity Crisis hasn’t been retconned away (so far as can be determined), Hal Jordan’s dark moments get referenced, and the final issue shows more blood than ever would have been allowed by the old Comics Code. DC seeks to find a compromise among the different trends.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Past Reviews for this series:
1. So it wasn’t hypertime? Does hypertime still exist, or have they retconned an explanation for retcons?
2. You know, I still chuckle over Luthor’s transformation from American President to purple-and-green-suited supervillain. How do the DC Universe’s Encyclopedia Americana or high school history teachers or Disney’s Hall of Presidents handle that one? “Lex Luthor, probably our most controversial president…”