Infinite Crisis #3 review

Friday, December 23, 2005

On the whole, I liked this issue of Infinite Crisis. We had a couple of big reveals here – less surprising in learning who the villains are than seeing one surprising – and familiar – component of the supposed “mind-wiping” machine. And still, for what is said to be the biggest DC Universe event in years, I still find myself missing a sense of the DC Universe, the grand scale that would really make this feel like a Crisis.

In Infinite Crisis #3, we learn that the Secret Villains Society’s Lex Luthor is actually the presumed good guy Earth-3 Alexander Luthor (reducing our Luthor count from three to two), and that he and Superboy-Prime are actually building a machine to bring back the multiverse – a machine that appears to contain pieces of the Anti-Monitor. Meanwhile, the OMACs attack Paradise Island, forcing all the Amazons to depart our reality except Wonder Woman; a guilt-stricken Batman is visited by the Earth-2 Superman; and the Spectre crushes Atlantis, possibly killing Tempest among others.

We know now that Alexander Luthor and Superboy-Prime have duped the Earth-2 Superman; the big question is whether this is a recent development, or if the two of them have been “bad guys” since Crisis on Infinite Earths. We might also wonder how long Alexander Luthor has been “our” Lex Luthor – just through Villains United, or in post-Identity Crisis issues of Superman Teen Titans, and Countdown to Infinite Crisis, as well? Have we even seen our earth’s Lex Luthor since his defeat in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies? It’s an interesting development, though not nearly as shocking as the big honking Anti-Monitor at the end of the story! It wouldn’t be Crisis without him.

Given Luthor’s new role, we now see how Villains United ties in to Infinite Crisis. And now that we know that both Superboy-Prime and Alexander Luthor have crossed over to our universe before, I continue to think that’s the source of the disruption on the Rann-Thanagar front. The OMAC Project, if nothing else, serves as a plot catalyst for Batman and Wonder Woman; the only Countdown miniseries that still doesn’t fit to me is Day of Vengeance. While the Spectre’s destruction was shocking, I still don’t see its role, short of bringing in the new Blue Beetle. And of the Beetle, at first glance, so far I’m not impressed with what I see – another reluctant kid superhero with an attitude – but again, it’s only a first impression.

Which brings me to one aspect of Infinite Crisis that somewhat disappoints me, and that I’m somewhat sorry to see. Does anyone remember back in Zero Hour, those miniscule scenes that flashed in on the Primal Force or Theodore Knight in the hospital with his sons? Those scenes that were so short, so gratuitous, that you couldn’t help but recognize them as advertisements, breaking up the flow of the story? We see them here in Infinite Crisis, both with Blue beetle and with Corrigan in issue one. Identity Crisis, I felt, handled these rather well, perhaps because it was a murder mystery – I didn’t wonder about the scene with Lex Luthor’s suit outside Identity Crisis, even though it appeared later in Teen Titans. These are the trappings, I think, that make crossovers fail, bogging them down in marketing; for something as significant as Infinite Crisis, I hope they stop.

And yet, there’s one aspect of Zero Hour, and even Day of Judgment, Panic in the Sky, and other crossovers, that I’m still awaiting: the big crowd scene. We’ve seen Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, and small flashes of Superboy, Nightwing, and the heroes gathered by Donna Troy. But whither the Outsiders? Wherefore the JSA? When will we see a splash page with the entire gathered DC Universe, all the heroes together in one place? So far, Infinite Crisis does seem rather insular; I’m waiting for it to explode.

Finally, however, what we saw handled very strongly and well by Geoff Johns in Infinite Crisis #3 was DC’s Big Three, as each came to a, well, crisis point. Batman seems ready to break under the strain of his own paranoia, perhaps signaling a change toward the brighter in his future. Wonder Woman abruptly realizes the effects of her own violence, and sends the entire island of Amazons to another dimension, rather than risk their lives; I wondered how DC could relaunch Wonder Woman without killing the main character, and this might be it, making her the last Amazon on the planet (but how long can that last, really?). And with Superman, more subtly, we receive a giant splash page as he halts a falling skyscraper; a nice artwork opportunity for Phil Jimenez, perhaps, but also possibly a signal of his return to greatness – Superman as big, bold, and heroic. When the Big Three come together now, there’s the suggestion that might now be unstoppable.

So I’ll say one thing for Infinite Crisis – it leaves you wanting more. After the third issue, we have more, but not a total picture, of what’s going on. After next issue, it’ll already be half-over (!); I’m looking forward to what surprises come next.

Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good night!
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2 comments:

  1. You want to know what annoyed me about that really nice full-page "Superman holding up a building" illo?

    "I got it."

    Terrible language choice by Geoff Johns. It's flip, doesn't fit the situation, and it's just plain not the way Superman speaks. It wasn't quite as jarring as if Supes had said "don't strizzle yer pizzle, fizzle." but it was bad regardless.

    It was coolspeak, and Superman doesn't use coolspeak.

    "I've got it." would have been such a better choice. And with that, I have written my most petty comment ever.

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  2. Jhunt -- I hadn't considered it that way. An interesting thought. I'll have to watch more carefully; does Johns use "coolspeak," as you say, consistantly with Superman, or just that once? Does it occur with any of the other Big Three? That'll be something to watch.

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