Thursday, January 19, 2006

Quick Thoughts On Infinite Crisis #4

Call me an old softie, but Infinite Crisis #4 was one of the more emotionally affecting comics I have read in recent months. At the very least, Geoff Johns, Phil Jiminez, and George Pérez know which middle-aged fanboy buttons to push.

SPOILERS FOLLOW

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First off, dropping Chemo on Blüdhaven? Genius.

Next, the Nightwing/Batman scenes really captured both how I view the characters and how their fictional peers view them. Given what he’s been through during the Devin Grayson run, is it ironic that they still trust Nightwing?

The big fight with Superboy-Prime was chilling, with a bit of gratuitous violence (oh sure, rip apart the Titans nobody likes), but his reaction to it was almost heartbreaking. Remember, this was the kid from “our” Earth, where the only superheroes were fictional – but by the same token, this kid grew up with the perfect fictional ideal of Superman. Not just the Superman of Julius Schwartz, but of “Super Friends,” George Reeves, and Christopher Reeve (and before Superman IV, too!). Imagine a young “Clark Kent,” who grows up looking like his namesake, and upon discovering he can fly, almost literally runs into the real thing (or at least one of them). Talk about a reader-identification character!

Naturally, by the time of Infinite Crisis, he’s been isolated for who-knows-how-long and fed a constant diet of good ol’ days reminiscing mixed with growing frustration. Sure he’s come unhinged; but Johns, Jiminez, and Pérez made me feel for him. Never mind whether he represents some segment of the DC audience whose mind has been warped by the unrealistic expectations of the older fans – from the beginning he’s been in over his head, and in hindsight it’s a wonder he lasted this long. What’s more, he’s not done yet, if his new DC Direct action figure is any indication.

Still, the sequence that haunted me in this morning’s wee hours was the Pérez-drawn “deaths” of the Flash and Kid Flash, with special appearances by DC’s honored dead speedsters. Obviously I don’t believe there’s anything permanent about the fates of Wally or Bart, and I would be very surprised if there were. Nevertheless, when Jay Garrick said the Speed Force was gone, it told me that DC was serious about putting its speedsters out of action at least until the summer.

Oh, and Detective Allen becoming the Spectre? Who had this issue in the pool?

Time will tell whether Infinite Crisis #4 was the start of an epic struggle that truly rivaled its predecessor, or just a collection of emotionally manipulative scenes. If it’s the latter, for me the manipulation was skillfully done.

5 comments:

Jhunt said...

I share a lot of your thoughts on this most recent issue of IC, and also now havea sense of "cautious optimism" regarding the series.

I still fear that Geoff Johns will regress back into his "speechifying" about the sorry state of the DCU, but polt-wise, things seem to have gotten on track.

Filipe said...

The Bruce/Dick scenes were great. And I'd agrre that they get into the heart of both their relationships and how they're seen. One thing about Dick is that he is one of the more obviously likable carachters in the whole DCU, that's why people hates Grayson run on Nightwing. I also really like what's Johns is doing with Batman, it's making a lot of the build up (as annoying as the batman, the ultimate jerk were) worth it. I guess by the "next in" that Bruce will go to Hal asking for help which makes for the Batman is a jerk moment at the end of Rebirth (altough I have a thesis that Bruce was there as a stand in to every reader who wasn't very much into Green Lantern mythology and thought that the whole Parallax thing impossible to buy).

I was really shocked when Superboy-Prime punched Pantha head off, I don't remember reading such gorefest in a mainstream comic. I was troubled less by the graphic violence but by the way obscure Titans were used as cannon fodder. I'd had liked the whole fight better if at least one of the very gory deaths had been of a better-known Titan (let's say Terra, not that I want Terra dead). But the whole thing becomes effective thanks to how well Johns wrote SB-Prime there, one can sense how he is losing it and how he really didn't want to do any of that. He's an out of control teen, but one more powerful than Superman right now. Speaking of our absentee, I also think this fight get very much inyo how hard is to be Superman.

The Flash material might be one of the best Flash stories I ever read (and ironically makes more use of Waid's run than the 62 Flash issues Johns did). Perez art here is amazing and Johns push all the right buttons (except for Jay being played as an also ran to Wally and Bart as usual). The Wally/Linda scene was wonderful, if that was the last you've seen of Wally (and at the moment that I read it it did felt as a send-off), I'd be happy, and I do think Linda just won the award of best comic book wife ever (but I felt bad for the twins). Then comes the Bart scene and Barry (I do wish we could have seen Bart's face when he said Grandpa) and Max and Johnny Quick! Everyone expecting a Barry cameo, but Max and Johnny was something I never really thought about. And then Barry said that Wally was expecting Bart and I knew Wally was alright. Great! Great!

I was already expecting Crispus to get the Spectre job, but Johns did again great work here, very strong scene.

Tom Bondurant said...

...not that I want Terra dead...

I'm not sure you're in the majority on that one, Filipe. It shouldn't be too much longer before the Teen Titans recaps get into the Terra issues....

Robin said...

I completely agree with the effectiveness of the scenes that you mention. I was surprised the response that they created in me. I almost misted up when Bruce was looking to Dick for confirmation that things weren't that bad, as well as when Barry popped up to help Bart.

Thanks!

Avi Green said...

"First off, dropping Chemo on Blüdhaven? Genius."

Mainly because it's out-of-character for Deathstroke, who's got some involvement in it, just as it was when he assaulted the Justice Ladies in Identity Crisis. That's still yet more wrecking of a character who works best as a three-dimensional installation, NOT as a mere plot device.

(And let's not forget that Dr. Light was being written out-of-character as well, which can make it hard to appreciate Light as a villain in retrospect. Nice going there, DC.)