Comics Ate My Brain

October 6, 2005

Idenfinite Crisis at about the 2/3 mark

Filed under: crisis — Tom Bondurant @ 3:22 am
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.

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