Infinite Crisis #5 review

March 18, 2006

Infinite Crisis #5 was another enjoyable issue of Infinite Crisis; this, better than issue four, and issue four better than the first three. I'm coming to find that I'm enjoying Infinite Crisis more if I stop looking for a universe-encompassing story like Crisis on Infinite Earths, and instead treat it as a remarkable story about DC's Big Three — Superman, in particular.

In the wake of a second Earth appearing above our own, and the heroes from a number of teams suddenly disappearing, the remaining heroes gather to pray. On the second Earth, the Earth-2 Superman is stunned by his Lois Lane's death, despite the promises made by Alexander Luthor. The Earth-2's Superman's screams draw the attention of the Earth-1 Superman, who the Earth-2 Superman attacks. Only the intervention of Wonder Woman — spurred on by the spirit of the pre-Crisis Wonder Woman — can end the fight, and her lasso causes the Earth-2 Superman to recognize Luthor's betrayal. As he returns to Luthor's base, Luthor creates even more Earths, and the Earth-2 Superman splits into infinite counterparts. Meanwhile, Booster Gold and the new Blue Beetle gather a team of mostly non-powered heroes in the Batcave, where they plan to take on Brother Eye; Nightwing and Superboy team-up in an assault on Luthor's base; and a Flash returns, heralding the coming of Superboy-Prime, cloaked in the armor of the Anti-Monitor.

Geoff Johns touted this issue as, in the words of Mr. Terrific, "the calm before the storm," and I liked it a lot. The opening sequence really worked for me, with Terrific, Ragman, Hal Jordan, Blue Devil, and the Huntress — these are the kinds of random super-hero groupings that I expect from something called a "Crisis." While the team gathered in Batman's cave is just a little too Brave and the Bold for my tastes (Batman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, AND Black Canary? It feels like it's been done before.), I'm very eager to see a team of heroes go all out against Brother Eye. And the Nightwing/Superboy pairing is ingenious; it makes you wonder why no one's put these two legacy heroes together before, and I'm eager to see how that plays out in Teen Titans: Life and Death.

One of the best parts of this issue, however, was the eight or nine pages of pure Jerry Ordway goodness. Though at times the Earth-2 Superman's face appeared a smidgen puffy (bruises, perhaps?), Ordway's depictions of the JSA, and Superman and Lois Lane, shown. He has a clean, classy style, comic book-y without being cartoony, that really worked, and doubly-so as a representation of Earth-2. It looks like Ordway has a couple of covers and an issue of JSA coming up; here's hoping DC gives him even more to do, soon.

It was interesting to hear talk on the Internet that people thought the Flash that returned was Barry. Me, I totally thought it was Wally (I guess your first Flash is always your Flash). Looking back, however, I will grant that it's Barry's costume — the ears, the belt — but I'm still holding out hope that it's Wally behind the cowl. All things must end, and a lack of change would make things stagnant, but Barry had about a thirty-year run, and Wally's only had twenty; surely there must still be story potential in Wally somewhere.

Overall, however, the themes of Infinite Crisis still disturb me. To put too fine a point on it, we essentially have five issues of the Earth-2 Superman, arguably the first and greatest hero ever, being lead around by his nose by a Lex Luthor. Not only does it not portray him in a great light, but frankly, I don't even think it portrays him consistently with the way he was portrayed back in his regular adventures. Essentially, it might look like the Earth-2 Superman, it might sound like the Earth-2 Superman, but it's not him, and so it makes it tough for me to feel very much emotion for him. The point of Infinite Crisis seems to be to say that the modern heroes are just as good as the old ones — but you know, frankly, I never really had a lot of doubt about that to begin with. I don't think that people who think "modern heroes suck" are really in the majority. So while I'll be glad if the well-written, well-drawn Infinite Crisis can give the Superman titles a dose of confidence and the Batman titles a shot in the arm, I'm not convinced that it needed to be done at the cost of the Earth-2 Superman being remembered as the guy who let the Pantha-killer loose from limbo. But I'm still eager to see what the next two issues bring.

That's it for me. Various Superman and Green Lantern goodness on the way in a little while.


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