Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Idenfinite Crisis at about the 2/3 mark

Here's a new-comics-day essay which doesn't talk so much about the new comics. I did read the final issues of Rann-Thanagar War, OMAC Project, and Donna Troy, not to mention the new Wonder Woman (which follows the conclusion of OMAC, although nothing warns you to read OMAC first), so it looks like Infinite Crisis is just about ready.

This whole strange digression into grim 'n' gritty started last June with Identity Crisis. Now the start of the payoff is right around the corner -- but Infinite Crisis won't be over until April 2006, and then the magic will continue until April 2007 with the 52 sequel/spinoff/tie-in. By next April or May, the new status quo will be revealed, and if Mark Waid is to be believed it will look less gloomy -- so whatever of the grim 'n' gritty remains for the 52 flashbacks to tell, it should be tempered by the current books' lighter mood. Still, all that time...!

On one hand I have to admire DC's ambition. Tearing down and rebuilding its core characters ought not to be a simple affair, and DC may well feel like the process was botched when they did it the last time. On the other hand, though, reading all these books over all these months has been exhausting. Today I was glad for Gotham Central, a really great end to the "Dead Robin" storyline. It featured a classic Batman scene to boot. In a perfect world, GC would set the tone for the Bat-books, instead of being an exception or aberration. Of course, GC can afford to use Batman to maximum effect, because it doesn't have to deal with him every issue.

Really, it's the "every issue" part that gets to me. Since last June, the whole Identity/Infinite Crisis paradigm has been harder and harder to escape. Parts of it have been fun, and parts have been unpleasant (either in content or execution, or both). Moreover, DC must feel that what it has planned is so radical as to justify all the buildup -- kind of like the continuity gymnastics Geoff Johns performed in Green Lantern: Rebirth.

One suggestion has been the return of the DC Multiverse. In light of DC's strict no-takebacks policy in the late '80s and early '90s, having one of its characters even acknowledge the multiverse has been something of a radical act. Zero Hour couched its alternate timelines carefully, to avoid setting up circumstances where they could easily be accessed. Likewise, Hypertime was introduced as the continuity equivalent of the good china -- you needed special permission to use it, and only for special occasions. If the multiverse is coming back, even without altering the main post-Crisis DC timeline, that would be yooge.

I like the multiverse, and not just because I'm a crusty old dope who apparently belongs to DC's core demographic. The concept allows DC to exploit fully its 60-year publishing history -- even more so than Elseworlds, because it doesn't close off the alternate timelines or make them prohibitively difficult to access. However, DC also put a lot of effort into streamlining its stories 20 years ago, and I doubt it will reverse all of that with Infinite Crisis.

Whatever happens, at the end of the day, I just want the Earth(s) featured in DC's books to be an attractive escape from our dreary old Earth-Prime. I hope it's not a long wait until next April.


Aya Ayuvara said...

Well, I totally digged the OMAC Project and all the stuff happening before infinite crisis. I like the gloomy atmosphere, although IMO this still is nothing compared to for example the Legion of Superheroes at the end of the 80s, where they tried rbuilding the Legion against all obstacles.

It is indeed a bold task to redo all the heroes and concepts and start it all over - I wonder where DC will be going then.
A lighter mood might be good for some fans, probably for many fans, but I liked the grittier themes of this year a lot. There were adventures and challenges that were problems for everyone, even for Superman/-boy or Wonderwoman. I doubt that we will see something this intense soon again.

I just fear, that with a lighter theme the stories just won't be as intense again. Of course such a pace like at this moment can't be kept up forever so there need to be more relaxed moments again. However it seems to me that tougher challenges push the heroes to their limits (so far its only logical) and better display their true persona. It's hard work that the heroes have to do to solve the challenges. Wow.
Still, I hope for the best.

Especially the OMAC-project set quite an interesting idea in my mind. The Marvel universe always had the sentinels to hunt for mutants. Why shouldn't DC get their own (quite capable) Meta-Human-Hunters? Every now and then a storyline relying on angst, relying on the fact that we fear what we don't know is a good thing. Can also serve to get the feed back on the ground when things once more went too wild.

Tom Bondurant said...

I have enjoyed some of the grim, gloomy stuff, and it is one way to look at what's in our heroes' hearts, but I am looking forward to the lighter fare too. After two years, I think a change is appropriate -- and the light stuff probably won't stick around forever either.

iamza said...

More's the pity. I like light. :-)

Seriously, I like heroes who occasionally get to enjoy being heroes. There's got to be a payoff in it for the heroes, or they'd all have retired from the superhero stakes ages ago.

It doesn't all have to be blue skies and sunny days, but it's going to be really nice to get away from the grim and gritty, everything sucks, my life is in ruins atmosphere we have at the moment....