Collected Editions 2005 Trade Paperback Year-in-Review

Friday, December 30, 2005

The 2005 trade year stands out to me foremost for the new positive predictability in DC’s trade output. It used to be very difficult to determine what would be trades and what wouldn’t. Nowadays, we can more or less count on Teen Titans and JSA, at least. And we saw trades like Superman: Unconventional Warfare and The Wrath of Gog that collected six issues of a run, followed later in the year by the other six issues. All in all, I’d say that’s a step in the right direction.

The big winner this year, hands down, was JSA, with three trade collections. Granted, one trade was a crossover with Hawkman, but to have JSA’s name out there three times, plus a special Identity Crisis tag on JSA: Lost, is really saying something. The steady strength of this title means that DC can’t help but position it as the flagship team of the DC Universe, and I think some of the big gun talent we’re seeing on JLA right now is in direct answer to that. If JSA is beating JLA, no wonder JLA is being relaunched.

I started to call Outsiders this year’s big loser trade-wise, with only one end-of-the-year trade, but when you consider the massive size of the Outsiders trade, and the fact that it runs right up to a Teen Titans crossover, Outsiders didn’t do too poorly (not to mention the early 2006 trade). Even Hawkman got two trades, even if one was the aforementioned JSA crossover. Titles that received the trade-shaft this year, I think, are Gotham Central, Birds of Prey, and Green Arrow, all of which I’m pleased to see are receiving early 2006 trades. DC touts Birds of Prey as a steamroller, and yet it’s trade programming is falling behind; Green Arrow, too, received hardcovers in the beginning, but was largely absent for 2005 -- fortunately, the next Green Arrow trade is unusually large. And Gotham Central: Half a Life is the big “for shame” trade this year, padded with issues that are already collected elsewhere; it’s heartening to see a Gotham Central trade solicitation for 2006 already, even though the title’s been cancelled. Hopefully we’ll have a better showing from all of these titles next year.

We saw a couple new trends in trades this year. One positive was crossover trades, like JSA: Black Reign and Robin/Batgirl: Fresh Blood; it’s a fun two-for-one deal. On the negative side, however, we saw the rise of the aforementioned trade padding, where both Teen Titans and Gotham Central contained extra issues that seemed to “pad out” the trade. If you read my review, you know I’m not a fan. Not only does Justice League Elite Volume 1 contain an already-collected “padding” issue, it’s also the first of two volumes, something we see with Batman: Hush, Superman: For Tomorrow, and DC: New Frontier, as well. I can’t say I’m a fan of that, either; so far, the massive Seven Soldiers of Victory, with two volumes for 2006, seems the only title that really deserves it.

Another trend was Absolute Editions, including Batman: Hush, Crisis on Infinite Earths, Watchmen, and more. I actually believe that this year’s rise in Absolutes was something of a coincidence; my guess is that we may not see much more than Absolute Superman: For Tomorrow and Absolute Sandman next year. Of course, it will be interesting to see how DC collects the 75 issue Sandman series, in how many Absolute volumes, and whether they’ll be released all at once or staggered.

Some surprises: a second, large Wonder Woman trade, when it almost looked like there’d be only one for the year; a second Majestic trade, suggesting that the first one did well; a new Batgirl trade, with a significant jump from when the last trade left off; and just under the wire, the Countdown to Infinite Crisis miniseries trades, a wonderful end of the year present from DC, and a suggestion that faster trade turnaround is on the rise.

Finally, consider some trades to watch out for next year. My first “one to watch” is Hawkman. DC collected all the Geoff Johns issues, but will they collect the Palmiotti/Gray team, or skip straight to the One Year Later Hawkgirl? Similarly, will we see any of the Aquaman "Sub Diego" storyline collected before jumping to One Year Later? And if there was ever a time to collect Geoff Johns’ first Flash story, "Wonderland," it’s now as Johns leaves the Flash.

A few statistics:

Three trades: JSA

Two trades: Superman titles, JLA, Catwoman, Wonder Woman, Majestic, Flash, Plastic Man, Superman/Batman, Batman, Nightwing

One trade: Birds of Prey, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Gotham Central, Outsiders, Manhunter

One of my favorite trades this year was Catwoman: Relentless. I just can’t get over the second title page for “No Easy Way Down.” It was a nice touch, and a nicely designed trade overall. I thought Superman/Batman: Absolute Power was just fun; I enjoyed it more than I thought, finding out how it tied to the series overall. And of course, faithful readers know that I was a big fan of Justice League Elite Volume 1, and I’m very much hoping there will be a Volume 2.

So there you go. What were your favorites? Suprises? Let me know!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all, and I’ll see you next year. Cheers!

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!

It's coming ...

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Collected Editions 2005 Trade Paperback Year in Review! Watch this space ... it's coming ...

Manhunter: Street Justice review

When you see just how ... wonderfully wrong Kate Spencer's relationship is with her son in the middle of Manhunter #2, you'll find you can't help but enjoy this series. And then when you reach the issue 2 cliffhanger ... you'll be hooked. After reading this quirky, challenging trade, I can say without a doubt: Viva le Manhunter! Here's wishing this series a long and successful life.

Kate Spencer, who cameos in Identity Crisis #5, is a federal prosecutor tired of the revolving door on the DCU's prison system. When a convicted Copperhead escapes custody, she decides to go after him, stealing weapons and armor from federal lock-up. Her actions bring her to the attention of the Shadow Thief and, after Shadow Thief kills Firestorm in Identity Crisis, the JLA. Meanwhile, Kate blackmails a reformed crook to help upkeep her weapons, and deals with a custody battle over her young son.

I don't think I spoil too much when I state one of the driving concepts of this story: Kate kills. And this has the danger, perhaps, to make for a short-lived, or at least one-note, series: Kate kills, and we all know killing is wrong, so at some point Kate will have to learn the error of her ways. From there, perhaps, she reforms, dons a cape, and becomes like every other super-hero out there. But if we agree that no writer creates a character with the intention of making them boring, and if we also agree that the strength of Mark Andreyko's writing is such that it's obvious he knows what he's doing, then we have another possibility: Kate never learns, and keeps on killing.

In this, we find the delightfully disturbing charm of Manhunter: we like Kate, despite all her flaws--or perhaps because she handles all her flaws with such sarcastic aplomb--and to an extent, we like her violence--even though we know it's wrong, and even though we know there's a better way. Kate is not Superman, nor is she even Batman--a point well-made through the trade's dream sequence--and yet we instinctively know that she has a place in the DC Universe, even though we already have a Superman, and even though we already have a Batman. That Kate should fit so well despite her flaws and despite her "wrongness" is concerning--it speaks to a vacuum in the DC Universe that this too-short trade (and at five issues, it leaves you very much hungry for more)--but also makes the series that much more compelling.

Wonder Woman killed Maxwell Lord while he held Superman in thrall, an act that seems much more justified--and yet has earned Wonder Woman more flak--than any of Manhunter's attempted murders. Guy Gardner killed Major Force back in 1995, as Force threatened to go after Gardner and Kyle Rayner's families. The differences in both these cases, perhaps, is that Wonder Woman and Guy Gardner killed their enemies in battle, under arguably direct threat; Manhunter goes after villains when they might otherwise leave her personally alone. Additionally, for Wonder Woman and Gardner the killings were one-time, special actions, whereas Manhunter makes killing her goal. While Kate could therefore argue that her actions aren't unprecedented, the length to which she takes them likely is. For this trade, at least, Manhunter remains mostly under the JLA's radar; should they notice her, however, we can guess from similar situations that they'll immediately be trying to stop her. This also creates an interesting, ambiguous situation, as the JLA sides with their enemies against the "hero" Manhunter. As hero/villain relationships change in Identity Crisis, JLA: Crisis of Conscience and elsewhere, I'd be eager to see this play out.

Humor does a large part to drive this trade. I especially liked the exchange between Kate and her "sidekick" Dylan (My favorite line: "... A federal prosecutor is gonna blackmail a protected witness into re-breaking the law?"). There's also a great amount of tripping-and-falling, literally, that Kate does in her first nights on the job, both endearing us to the character and cementing the more realistic tone. Jesus Saiz pencils clear, fast, moody action sequences, but seems to shift easily to Pete Woods-type dialogue sequences. I look forward to seeing more of his work when I read The OMAC Project trade.

So read Manhunter, and then start a campaign--from what I understand, they need you (yes, you!) if there's going to be a second trade produced. Me, I'm on to a big ol' Legion-Titans-Outsiders-present-future-Identity-Infinite smorgasbord--maybe we'll see reviews before the beginning of next year, maybe not. But what we will see--BIG ANNOUNCEMENT TIME--is the 2005 Collected Editions Trade Paperback Year in Review. It's new, it's big, it's coming soon, so whatever you do, watch this space!

Review: JSA: Lost trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

JSA: Lost reminded me very much of JSA: Justice Be Done and JSA: Darkness Falls, and not just because of the presence of Extant. In the five stories presented here -- two one-shots, one three-parter, and two two-parters, all tied by common subplots -- we once again see the JSA split off into small teams, following up on multiple facets of a case. And like those first JSA trades, these vignettes are all about the legacy, all about tying up JSA plotlines both recent and old.

After the one-two punch of JSA: Princes of Darkness and JSA: Black Reign, I found JSA: Lost incredibly satisfying. It was during "Wake the Sandman" that I felt JSA: Lost really shined, as half the JSA traveled to the Dreaming while the other journeyed to the center of the Earth. After bringing back Fury in the last trade, JSA continues to integrate Vertigo's Sandman mythos into the DCU with Brute and Glob, among others. There's action, romance, and the art of comics stalwart Jerry Ordway, to boot. JSA: Lost is heavy on good emotion, and I was impressed with how, even as the various stories stood on their own, themes of faith, especially, followed throughout.

This trade is unmistakably Hourman's story, despite the focus on both the Spectre and Sand. Rex Tyler's hesitation to see his wife now that he's been resurrected continues in the first chapter, and the choice that he makes -- prompted both by the hunt for the missing Sand, and Mr. Terrific's coming to terms with his own wife's death -- is only the precurser to the final two-parter, which deals with the time-lost Hourman once and for all. Though I enjoyed the time-travel aspects of "Out of Time" (and the Memento approach to the opening chapter of this book), I found myself less enchanted with both Hourmans junior and senior as the story went on. Rick Tyler, who seemed bold and heroic in his Stealing Thunder debut, appeared all too quick to commit suicide here to save his father, rather than seek out another solution. This, combined with his concerns about falling off the addiction wagon in Black Reign, have made the character more human, but also somewhat whiny. I'll be watching him closely again during Black Vengeance.

Another character I found suprisingly whiny, too, was Hal Jordan. The Spectre returns in the first storyline, which also brings back JSA-villain the Spirit King, and spotlights Mr. Terrific. Longtime Justice Society fans will see where that's going immediately, and I appreciated the nod to JSA lore. But knowing that Hal Jordan would be next to appear in Green Lantern: Rebirth, I was surprised to find him spending much of his time in this story on his knees, whimpering. I'm having a hard time really getting a handle on Jordan's character, and I hope Rebirth shores it up for me. Better in this story was the spotlight on Dr. Mid-Nite's and Mr. Terrific's friendship, Mr. Terrific coming to terms with issues of faith, and lush artwork, including some incredible church scenes.

And let me make special mention of what can only be called an "art cameo" in JSA: Lost -- "art cameos," perhaps, being something indigenous to sequential art that makes this medium so great. In this case, whomever snagged Tom Mandrake to draw selected pages -- whether it was Geoff Johns or the editor -- it was a moment of absolute genius. Again, I won't spoil it, but readers familiar with Mandrake's recent work can probably figure it out. By and large, I couldn't tell most of the artists in this trade apart, which is good; given the large amount of artists, it's nice when their styles mesh, instead of jar. And again, it's always great to see Jerry Ordway.

JSA: Lost is also notable for two text pages that set the scene for Identity Crisis. The Crisis tale in this trade relies heavily on the miniseries itself, with less explanation and less real weight than found in the Flash trade; it's strange for this reason that DC chose to mark the front of the JSA trade as an Identity Crisis tie-in and not the Flash trade. For this reason, the two text pages have to work very hard to balance the very sudden "I know who killed Sue Dibny" that comes at the end of the trade. "The Autopsy" is good, even if it only repeats the "heroes snuggle up to their familes" moral of Identity Crisis. A short two-page scene between Superman and Power Girl stands out now, however, in the wake of Infinite Crisis.

If you were turned off, perhaps, by some of the indomitable blockbuster action of previous JSA trades, I highly recommend giving JSA: Lost a try -- it's the kind of tone I'd like to see for further JSA stories. Me, I'm on to Manhunter, as everyone's been raving about it, and then maybe a little past and future with Legion and Teen Titans. Will you join us?

Timeline update 12/12/05

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Collected Editions trade paperback timeline has been updated with Superman: Sacrifice, JSA: Black Vengeance, JLA: Crisis of Conscience, and Birds of Prey: Between Dark and Dawn, among others. Happy reading!

DC Comics March 2006 Trade Solicitations

Ladies and gentlemen, presenting the good, the bad, and the ugly from the DC Comics March 2006 trade selection. Take a gander now, and I'll be back later this evening to sing praise and call names (any guesses on which trade has me riled?):

UPDATED: Now with comments in bold.

Written by Bill Willingham
Art by Damion Scott, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Scott McDaniel, Pop Mhan, Sandra
Hope and Andy Owens
Cover by Chris Brunner
It's a brand new start for Robin in this collection featuring ROBIN #134-139! Before our hero can fully recover from the recent deaths of his father and Spoiler, he must come face-to-face with the Penguin, the Dark Rider, the Veteran, and a mysterious archer who seems to want Robin dead!
Advance-solicited; on sale April 5 ? 144 pg, FC, $14.99 US

I'm quite surprised to see another Robin trade; I didn't think this title was doing so well, and I expected that the trades would jump until after One Year Later. Nice to see this.

Written by Steve Englehart
Art by Marshall Rogers & Terry Austin
Cover by Rogers
Don?t miss this 144-page collection featuring the 6-issue miniseries reuniting one of the great Batman creative teams of the 1970s! In DARK DETECTIVE, The Joker enters a gubernatorial election using the campaign slogan "Vote for me or I'll kill you!" Will it persuade voters?
Advance-solicited; on sale April 12 ? 144 pg, FC, $14.99 US

I was excited when this series was first announced, but from what I've heard, the story doesn't have much resonance on modern times. This might go on a wishlist for someone else to buy for me.

Written by Devin Grayson
Art by Phil Hester, Cliff Chiang and Ande Parks
Cover by Hester & Parks
Dick Grayson is a made man in this trade paperback collecting NIGHTWING #107-111! Ex-cop Grayson feels his life spiral out of control after being adopted into one of New York City?s crime families. Can he escape this new odyssey into the depths of the criminal underworld?
On sale March 29 ? 128 pg, FC, $12.99 US

Boo! I can't tell you how disappointed I was to see this. Any Nightwing trade is good, but this is a jump from issue #60 to issue number #107. I very much hoped that DC would finish collecting Chuck Dixon's run, at least, but it seems not to be. As you can no doubt guess, this trade crosses over with Villains United.

Written by Greg Rucka & Ed Brubaker
Art by Michael Lark & Stefano Gaudiano Cover by Lark
An amazing collection featuring the acclaimed GOTHAM CENTRAL #12-15 and #19-22! The Joker terrorizes the city at Christmastime when he begins randomly executing people with a rifle, and no one from the Mayor on down is safe! A second story focuses on an old case and unfinished business for disgraced detective Harvey Bullock.
Advance-solicited; on sale April 26 ? 192 pg, FC, $14.99 US

This trade contains two mainly-Ed Brubaker Gotham Central tales. Nice to see it, even after the cancellation of the series; hope it keeps up.

Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Karl Kerschl, Darryl Banks and Adam DeKraker
Cover by Kerschl
Another trade paperback collecting Greg Rucka?s run on ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, including issues #640-641and 644-647! Ruin, the man who has been out to destroy Superman and his loved ones, is revealed to be someone near and dear to him!
Advance-solicited; on sale April 12 ? 144 pg, FC, $14.99 US

I'm glad to see the Superman collections continue with these important issues, but hey -- whither Superman: Strange Attractors?

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Carlos Pacheco, Ethan Van Sciver, Darwyn Cooke and others
Cover by Alex Ross
A new hardcover collecting GREEN LANTERN #1-6 and GREEN LANTERN SECRET FILES
#1! Hal Jordan is back from the dead ? now watch as he re-establishes his life as a pilot. Standing in his way, though, is one of the deadly Manhunter androids followed by the Shark.
Advance-solicited; on sale April 19 ? 176 pg, FC, $24.99 US

I'm somewhat surprised to see this as a hardcover collection, but with the writer and artists attached, it makes sense. One would wonder whether the next will be a hardcover, too, a la Green Arrow.

Written by Judd Winick and Jen Van Meter
Art by Matthew Clark, Dietrich Smith and Art Thibert
Cover by Daniel Acu?a
A new volume collecting OUTSIDERS #29-33, plus select scenes from various DCU books, showing Donna Troy recruiting heroes for her mission! The Outsiders are left reeling following a betrayal by one of their members. They must face a rematch with the Fearsome Five and Sabbac, who now has the power of the Seven Deadly Sins!
Advance-solicited; on sale April 19 ? 128 pg, FC, $12.99 US

Now this is cool. The Outsiders trades continue, and this one follows up on Teen Titans/Outsiders: The Death and Return of Donna Troy with some extra-DCU action, too. Let's see ... I bet we get a Firestorm scene ... what else?

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Simone Bianchi, Cameron Stewart, Ryan Sook & Mick Gray and Frazer
Cover by Stewart
The brilliant mind of Grant Morrison (THE INVISIBLES, JLA, ALL STAR SUPERMAN) is showcased once again as the collections of his most groundbreaking and ambitious project yet! Comprised of seven different 4-issue miniseries and two bookend Specials, this colossal 30-part tale of death, betrayal, failure, joy, loss, romance, triumph and redemption is being collected in 4 volumes!
This second volume features the continuing exploits of four of the seven soldiers, and collects KLARION #2-3, SHINING KNIGHT #3-4, GUARDIAN #3-4, and ZATANNA #3. Independently, each of these characters is featured in a story arc that redefines their purpose in the DCU. But their stories also interweave with the other Soldiers' tales, and tells a grander story of a devastating global threat to mankind. Together, these reluctant champions must arise and work together to save the world...without ever meeting one another!
On sale March 22 ? 176 pg, FC, $14.99 US

Seven Soldiers purists will no doubt be up in arms about this trade, too -- my home, upon reading, is that this will work as a stand-alone volume as well as part of the greater tale. I'll be interested to see. The quick turnaround of these trades is nice, though.

Have a good day! And a pleasant tomorrow!

Special announcement ...

Friday, December 09, 2005

Keep your eyes on Collected Editions ... in just a few weeks, we'll be featuring our first ever Trade Paperback Year in Review! Stay tuned!

Infinite Crisis #2 review

The second issue of Infinite Crisis focuses less on the various Countdown miniseries that lead up to it – or at least, integrates them better – and instead explains the plight of the Earth-2 Superman. His origin will be a revelation to casual readers, though there’s not much new or surprising here for steady DCU aficionados. Then again, there’s just something about seeing George Perez draw Krona and the Oans in the Perez-penned flashback tale that always gets my nostalgia blood flowing. For the second issue, Infinite Crisis still creeps just a little too slowly for me, but I’m interested, even as I’m wary of the direction the story is headed.

The Earth-2 Superman and Lois Lane, Superboy-Prime, and Alexander Luthor have all broken through to our Earth, in an effort to stem the rampant corruption that they see here. But rather than having a stern talking to with our Superman, as I surmised last time, it seems instead that the Earth-2 Superman wants to replace our world with his. Which seems to me kind of Parallax-evilish, but it’s tough to tell from the artwork how we’re supposed to react to this. My hope is that Power Girl’s first line in the next issue is “You’re crazy!” so that it’s not just I the reader who thinks so.

If I were a Golden Age fan, I’d be getting a mite bit concerned right now. Because it certainly looks like we’re headed for a knock-down, drag-out fight where the Earth-2 Superman is in the wrong. I appreciated this time that his reasons for dismay about our universe were more than just Countdown-related items, instead including the death of Superman, Knightfall, Wonder Woman: The Contest, and Emerald Twilight. But I can just as soon see the good points to our universe that Superman glossed over: Superman’s rebirth, Bruce Wayne forgiving Jean Paul Valley, Wonder Woman’s friendship with Artemis, and Hal Jordan’s redemption. And for our Superman to defeat the Earth-2 Superman – heck, even for the Earth-2 Superman to play the misguided bad guy for a while – it does seem to spit down the necks of Golden Age fans just a tad, maybe enough that it would have been better not to go there in the first place. Me, I’m rooting for our universe, but I imagine some people are just on the border of deciding whether or not they should be offended.

Frankly – and I could be very wrong – I can’t conceive of an outcome to Infinite Crisis where the Earth-2 Superman becomes integrated back into our universe. Would we have two titles, one with old Superman, one with new? Would they team up? Will new Superman go to old Superman for advice in defeating Brainiac? Will they share leadership duties during the next universe-wide crossover? To me, it seems repetitive and redundant, even if that’s the way it actually was for nearly forty years. I’m open to being convinced that it could work again, but I’m having difficulty picturing it myself.

At the same time, let’s pause for the conspiracy theory: at one point, Power Girl asks Superman if his other dimension started to decay because of us, and he doesn’t really answer the question. The center of the universe has shifted because of something crossing over, and meanwhile we have three Lex Luthors running around. I get the sense something more is going on – whether the Earth-2 Superman has something to do with it or not, I’m not sure.

And no doubt the Anti-Monitor is around here somewhere.

I do like the idea of a truly cohesive DC Universe, where the characters know that once upon a time there used to be a Multiverse, but now there’s not. It’s not such a difficult concept to introduce; the JLA in Crisis Secret Files from a while back presented that same sort of timeline (here’s a link with more info on that Secret Files). I heard on Comic Geek Speak about a scholar who’s writing his dissertation on why we needed Crisis on Infinite Earths in the first place, and it’s a fascinating question – consider, comic book fans are such that when DC decided they wanted to start some of their titles over, they had to come up with a fictional story to gloss over the reasons for a mostly financial decision – and it’s even more interesting to see that same knot work itself out in Infinite Crisis. No longer, really, would we have pre-Crisis and post-Crisis; instead, it’s "from the Multiverse" and "not from the Multiverse." No less confusing, perhaps, but at least then all the events of the DC Universe actually did occur to someone, somewhere, somewhen.

So I’m looking forward to the next issue of Infinite Crisis, in hopes that things do finally hit the fan instead of just leading that way. Controversial reading, sure, but good reading, too.