Review: Infinite Crisis and Infinite Crisis Companion trade paperbacks (DC Comics)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

[Contains spoilers for Infinite Crisis and related titles]

Reading the Infinite Crisis hardcover in conjunction with the The Infinite Crisis Companion actually added more to the experience than I had originally thought. The Day of Vengeance Infinite Crisis Special seemed somewhat tertiary to Infinite Crisis as a whole, but included some fantastic magic-based-hero cameos (including Empress, Traci 13, and Freedom Beast); the Omac Project Infinite Crisis Special was more an introduction to the new Checkmate series than an Infinite Crisis crossover, but it did have an interesting element of following Batman's team of heroes from the end of Infinite Crisis #6 through to the Villains United Infinite Crisis Special, and then in to Infinite Crisis #7--for fans, especially, of the new Justice League of America, each of these specials showcase Black Canary, Black Lightning, and Vixen, among others. The Villains United Infinite Crisis Special was otherwise more of just a hodge-podge to me--some startling violence, yes, and plenty of cool cameos on both the hero and villain sides, but only a loose plot, really, that seemed more like filler to me than any of the others--though I did like the hero-villain standoff in the end.

It was the Rann/Thanagar War Infinite Crisis Special, of them all, that I felt packed the most emotional punch. Though overall it still left me a little cold (maybe it's the Ivan Reis art, which has always been too "sketchy" for my tastes), the death of Jade was truly a show-stopping moment, including both Kyle Rayner and Alan Scott's shared pain. this was almost worth, I think, putting in Infinite Crisis itself--Superboy's death affects Superman, and Robin and Wonder Girl--and therefore their respective mentors--but Jade's death cuts through both the Green Lanterns and much of the JSA; it might almost have been worth showing both deaths in Infinite Crisis #6, instead of just Conner's. Insead, we have a somewhat jarring change in Kyle Rayner's appearance in Infinite Crisis without any explanation; the Rann/Thanagar War Infinite Crisis Special offers that explanation.

While I am in favor of the revisionism that DC's employed with the Infinite Crisis hardcover--perhaps against popular opinion--I don't know that the major changes really enhanced my enjoyment of the story. Certainly I'm pleased with the finished Phil Jimenez "red sky" fight scene, as well as the George Perez wrap-up page; at the same time, the "Nightwing is still alive" page reeks of having been shoehorned-in when Robin is still crying over Nightwing's body pages later. And I'm all for super-hero crowd scenes, but the extra page in the church just made me go "Huh?"--there's more Agent Liberty in Infinite Crisis than in the past ten years, but are those two women Cadmus Clones from Joe Kelly's Superboy days? Is that bat-thing a Metal Man? Who's the kid with the teddy bear, and why is the Joker's Daughter growling at some long-haired guy? It's very weird. Not to mention coloring errors abound that weren't fixed--at one point, I think a figure colored as Captain Marvel was meant to be Junior, since Cap is already in the Rock of Ages; in the Companion, when Alan Scott says Jade is "[her]self again," I get the sense that Jade's skin tones were supposed to be normal there, not green--and someone needs to be reminded, in a couple places, that Empress is African-American.

But these are small items, and all told, Infinite Crisis and the Companion together make a nice story. Andy Khouri, in the Comic Book Resources Year-End Round-Up Top-Five List, sums it all up nicely:

"Infinite Crisis" - I'm not sorry. The last time I had this much fun reading comics was when I was twelve years old. From "Identity Crisis" to "Countdown" to books like "Rann-Thanagar War" and "Villains United," the entire Infinite Crisis saga was such a ride. I love "Crisis On Infinite Earths" and this sequel was exactly what I wanted. Alex Luthor tries to destroy the universe! The original Superman, the first superhero ever, is murdered! By Superboy Prime! Now the single most deadly villain ever! To say nothing of the sweeping commentary of superhero comics, of DC itself, and of fans. "Infinite Crisis" was totally mental, and so well-executed, I just can't in good conscience pretend this comic by Geoff Johns wasn't at the top of my reading list during its run.
I also thought that George Tramountanas, in the Comic Book Resources Year-End Round-Up Trends, Part Two, offered an interesting examination of Infinite Crisis and 52 in terms of how DC's using fill-in artists to make books ship on time, and then fixing any errors when the books go to trade. Frankly, it sounds to me like the lead-time offered by trades is really what most series need--something we've discussed in terms of recent delays with Wonder Woman, among others----and make it trade-only, offering, say, six issues or so every six months in a trade. I don't know if the unit costs are less or more, but it might just keep the title alive.

Well, we're far afield now. My advice: if you're going to get Infinite Crisis, get the Companion, too. Off now to read the tie-ins. Later!
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3 comments:

  1. I thought the VU Special was by far the best of the lot. Maybe you had to read it when it came out. That was the story that made me think that Gail Simone should have written Infinite Crisis. She seems to write "epic" rather well, and I'd love for DC to give her a shot at a bigger event book.

    And yeah, Infinite Crisis was a fun story, in spite of all its faults. With all the changes in the collection, though, would you recommend it for anyone who already bought the issues?

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  2. Would I recommend the collection if you already have the issues? Well ... I mean, financial considerations aside, the hardcover seems to be the "official" version of the story; that is, when read with 52, Countdown, and etc., DC has added lines to the hardcover that'll have resonance later on. And there's the whole updated art, etc. Will it probably really matter all that much to your reading enjoyment? Probably not. But I like it.

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  3. although i have a lot of respect for superboy and his death...but dammit why did they have to kill him. DC, you better have him come back (whether by Robin recreating him and his memory in some amazing way or cheating death). everything was just starting to hit off with him and cassie, being proud and proving himself to be a "real" superboy..you cant kill superman same should go for superboy. there wasnt even kyrptonite involved..a replacement wont cut it either..who will be the next superman and continue the legacy? there cant be one without Kon-El

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