A few years back my friend and roommate Alex Segura started up a pretty successful comics blog called The Great Curve by assembling some old Wizard talent, much like today’s Cool Kids Table or Topless Robot. I only wrote a couple pieces, but here’s one on DC’s confluence of Crises. Not sure when it posted, but probably late-2005.
I’m probably alone in this, but DC has done a remarkably expedient job shedding me as a reader via these Crisis events.
They’re disappointing. Identity Crisis was a letdown, Countdown only works if everyone acts completely out of character, and Infinite Crisis is just a big wad of fanboy. Follow me, while I examine why shaking things up is a good idea poorly executed.
Identity Crisis dovetailed a fantastic, emotional story in a crash-ending pulled from the worst Agatha Christie novels. Stories are a con-game that work on trading facts with the reader, so a previously unrevealed mental illness should never surface in the conclusion. It’s only okay to pull an ace out of your sleeve if you flashed it to the audience while you were shuffling the deck. Having the killer out him/herself with a slip of knowledge was as huge a cliché as stabbing someone with an icepick, but no inherent sin, unlike the detective fingering the killer without any actual detective work (probably the worst example of Batman’s undeserved omniscience in memory). Most frustrating were the red herrings, which were not only never dismissed separate from the true conclusion, they were never even followed through. That’s not the way to spin off new material, gang. That just sours me on a cool idea and leads me to ignore it so you don’t try doling one story into several crossovers. I’m not going to be your junkie.
Having said all that, Identity Crisis was a book I mostly enjoyed. The first six issues were captivating, moving and all the more painful for their betrayal by the final installment.
Then came Countdown. Now if there’s any book I should like, it’s this. Conspiracies are my brain’s favorite junk-food, and please pass the apocalypse when you get a chance. But what a stumble we have here, as a hundred characters over or underreact by a wide mile to what’s happening around them. Too many cooks? Beats me, but I got a sick feeling from page one’s opening “I’m a bug,” mini-sequence. The images and the text don’t play off each other without strain, and that’s a pretty good idea of what’s in store for the rest of the issue. There’s an overall sense of self-loathing to this story, and I don’t mean the main character’s self-esteem. It doesn’t feel intentional, but it’s just pap. Wretched cynicism that doesn’t feel very provoked or justified.
Again, let me say, I like dark material. I like big changes and an end to soap opera. Wax a bunch of characters, make new ones, give me a grand epic like life. The Greeks had the stones to kill their heroes. But don’t dump grist into the mill so fast you clog the works. Infinite Crisis is an insular lump of plot that caters to the
Now we have Infinite Crisis, or rather, you have it, because I gave up after two fat letdowns. But as described to me, it’s the worst day in Avengers history. Come on, DC, get with the times, that was last year’s gag (though you both ended the 2004 summer with a “Dames are crazy ‘cause their hormones make them emotionally needy” resolution, so I guess this balances DC and Marvel out with a mutual premise).
Obviously I can’t critique a book that I haven’t read. It could be brilliant. My point is that after two overhyped duds, and based on what I’ve read and heard, I don’t want to come back for one grand mess spun out of the two previous. Despite the talent involved, DC hasn’t sold me a lone reason why this isn’t more noise and thunder, though I suppose if they did, admittedly I wouldn’t care as much as the average reader. I’ve been steadily losing interest in this stuff, but like I say: this is just me, not a case for why everyone should feel this way. All I see is a big self-indulgent fanboy party in this crossover, and I don’t even want to give it a shot.
Now esotericism is not a wholly unwise move on DC’s part. Younger readers aren’t joining comics, so why not pour continuity on their core universe like syrup on pancakes if it’s what the fans want? If a kid picks up anything, it’ll be the unaffected All-Star titles anyway: stand-alone, status quo tales that inevitably restore normalcy like the early Silver Age tales did.
But me, I just don’t get excited by what’s happening. I want to steer clear of it. I don’t need to see Sinestro grinding up random heroes as part of some vague, pervasive meltdown. I admire the build-up, the set-up, the slow burn they went for with titles like Villains United, but like Countdown, it was a good idea that didn’t succeed in its form (the build-up, not Villains United as a title). All that gas, and no launch.
The only stories I have any interest in are pretty Crisis-free so far, and even then I’m onboard for the special dispensations to Grant Morrison and Guy Gardner under a capable writer (who I’m pleased to say is confidently realized by Dave Gibbons).
So DC? I’m glad you’re breaking down the columns of your temple, but you shouldn’t stand in the building while you raze it. Failed executions belie the grand scheme of the glorious destruction you keep touting.