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Infinite Crisis Hardcover: George Lucas Edition
by Doom and Bruce Banner
guest starring Dan Didio
special thanks to RoboCop
The contents between the cover are even more boring and confusing.
I've been meaning to write this article for literal years. The idea started when RoboCop (RIP) sent me a meticulously researched list of changes which occurred between the original comics comprising Infinite Crisis and the hardcover edition. I told him I'd work on it with him once I received the chance to read the hardcover version for myself. Unfortunately, this took so long to happen RoboCop vanished before I had the opportunity to collaborate on any article. I owe it to him to complete it, and I need to justify stealing that Infinite Crisis hardcover from Barnes & Noble all those many months ago. Plus, this'll afford Banner and myself the venue to lay out our critique of the entire miniseries (you'll remember I only wrote #1 and #7 and he only wrote #5 and #7). And the venue for me to apologize for my disturbingly not-hateful review of Infinite Crisis #1. So let's get this shit started!
Let me first say that if you hated the original, you'll hate the hardcover. For those of you who never read the original in comic book form, it's an incoherent bunch of crap that made no sense whatsoever. DC built up several storylines - a few of them intriguing and worthwhile - and then pissed it all away in a fucking sequel to the most overrated event ever, Crisis on Infinite Earths. The four Multiverse characters spared, Alex Luthor, Superboy-Prime, Earth-2 Superman and Earth-2 Lois return and are pissed off by the moral relativism the heroes increasingly display. These "heroes" beat up the other "heroes" but eventually E-2 Superman sees the error of his ways when Lois dies and it's his fault rather than the fault of the one Earth's heroes. But Alex Luthor and Superboy-Prime remain evil as the plot gets more and more convoluted and idiotic, if that's even possible. Long story short, a lot of no namers die, Superboy dies, E-2 Supes dies, Alex Luthor dies, Superboy-Prime's imprisoned, and Alex Luthor's attempt to recreate the Multiverse fails (or DOES it...buy $130 of comics to find out). The big 3 resolve to become better heroes again after this, even though their idea for accomplishing that is going on one year sojourns. How will shirking duty protect the planet from threats? Will Batman feeling better psychologically somehow stop crime in Gotham in the year he's away? Will Superman not bothering to find a way to regain his powers really help Metropolis ("sure, the city's besieged by supervillainy, but Clark Kent's been turning in some great newspaper articles! A worthwhile trade-off, I say!") Clearly Superboy wouldn't have died if Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were all bumming around on cruises instead of doing their fucking jobs...
In the next panel, Superman punches Batman's head off.
The central problem with the premise of Infinite Crisis stems from DC being unable to coherently articulate which viewpoint in the Crisis survivors and the Post-Crisis Earth is the correct one and the one DC intends to follow. The basis for the conflict lies in the survivors thinking the new Earth is corrupted and in need of changing. The new Earth denizens contend that no, they are not corrupt and evil and wrong and worthy of forcible alteration. In the end, Alexander Luthor and Superboy-Prime are shown to be mentally unbalanced, thereby theoretically proving new Earth was in the right. And yet in interviews and other press pieces at the time of Infinite Crisis' release, writers and other DC staff continually hammered the point that the DCU had become too dark. Need I remind all that these are the same people who darkened the DCU and made it similar to Marvel in order to raise sales in the first place. It is not as though Dan Didio and Paul Levitz did not greenlight Identity Crisis. The darkening of the DC Universe was a conscious decision and not an accidental byproduct. And the tone of the universe has not markedly changed as a result of Infinite Crisis; there is just as much, if not more, meaningless and gratuitous death and violence and rape. The sole difference is moral complexity has been removed, with Batman becoming blander and Wonder Woman never killing again. So now DC is violent in an Image way...without any nuance or purpose behind it. Yes, Infinite Crisis has ushered in a return to the days where heroes were paragons of character. The failure to elaborate on the idea of this darkening corrupting the characters leads to a lack of thematic resonance for Infinite Crisis. The events incur no changes to the important members of the universe.
9 out of 10 DC fanboys recommend masturbating to this image.
Infinite Crisis generally just feels like a half-assed sequel to a story from 20 years ago that never needed a sequel in the first place. It's entirely unnecessary for both the remaining Multiverse characters and the post-Crisis Earth. Do you really need to know the original Golden Age Superman rode off into the sunset with the love of his wife...and then 20 years later got manipulated by Alexander Luthor and had to fight Superman and a lot of other heroes until he came to his senses and got killed by a version of himself from another Earth? I'd say it cheapens the original story if I thought Crisis on Infinite Earths had any value to begin with. Remember Secret Wars II and how it was abysmal and a horrible follow-up to the admittedly dubious Secret War? I believe the same relationship applies for Crisis/Infinite Crisis. The original wasn't great, but even it did not deserve, as in the Crisis case, a version of Superman going crazy and murdering in cold blood several obscure and worthless Teen Titans. Nor did it deserve Alexander Luthor using giant hands to smash the various Earths together. No story deserves that kind of follow-up.
He'll be back when some fanboy-writer thinks the comics industry just needs more comics about a half-Superman/half-Lex clone.
Hell, one could argue Infinite Crisis is not even a story so much as a shambling attempt to set shit up for the then-new revamp of DC's books. This speaks to a trend I'm tiring of in modern superhero comics - stories are no longer done for a storytelling purpose but rather to enact all the changes necessary to take the publisher's line from where they are now to where they went to be for the new revamp. In essence, stories become little more than advertisements for subsequent stories, which are themselves advertisements for more subsequent stories, and so on and so forth. While one sorta expects a bit of that in the days where comic books are dying and events are the only way to increase sales, that doesn't make it right, and eventually some of the rubes will realize they're being had and, well, they probably won't stop buying, but they might. Infinite Crisis sets up One Year Later, the new Blue Beetle and in the hardcover the new Multiverse, and pretty much everything that followed was a hideous failure. 52 did sell well, though. But that led to Countdown to Final Crisis. This miniseries was also a sales success, and DC had an opportunity to build on that for better sales for the rest of their line. But Didio and company pissed it all away with Male Model Nightwing and a fucking Martian Manhunter miniseries.
That's the third gayest thing I've ever seen.
For sake of providing a complete picture of the mini's suckiness, I'll reiterate what I've said about Geoff Johns many times before: his work of late brings to mind fanfiction. (I say 'of late' because I don't want my Flash memories ruined by rereading his run.) Yep, fanfiction. Doesn't "Superman, Superboy-Prime and Alexander Luthor come BACK FOR REVENGE!!!" sound like something which would occur in fanfiction more likely than a professional comic book overseen by adults with at least theoretical business skills? I could totally buy some fan nerd in the early 90s writing his own sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths and posting it on fanfiction.net several years later when the Internet became more prominent. Besides the sheer idiocy of the idea, Johns' writing also mimics bad fanfiction in that it seems designed entirely around a couple of 'cool' moments and filled with pointless cameos by D-listers no one but Geoff Johns and Roy Thomas have heard of before. I suspect Johns' scripts was a lot of blank lines and "BATMAN TELLS SUPERMAN THE LAST TIME HE INSPIRED PEOPLE WAS WHEN HE WAS DEAD" and "KRYPTO TOTALLY STARTS FIGHTING SUPERBOY-PRIME" and "BATMAN HOLDS A GUN BECAUSE BATMAN DOESN'T NORMALLY HOLD GUNS SO ISN'T THAT AMAZING". Besides those brief, easily understandable faux badass moments, none of it fucking makes any sense. (If it makes sense to you, it's an indication you're one of those guys who wears irregular underwear and posts "WHY IS THE JLA SO BLACK NOW" on the DC message boards.) I'd say his main skill is translating Heroclix matches ("dude, like what if Superman...FOUGHT SUPERMAN?!!?!!? THAT'D BE LIKE TOTALLY FUCKING, MAN") to the comic book page. If you even want to call that a skill...
Oh, who gives a shit.
To bolster the case against the idea that Geoff Johns has talent or showed any talent in writing Infinite Crisis, here's some of our 'favorite' lines or exchanges from the 7 issues of Infinite Crisis. Not since my last Loeb quote round-up have I felt so embarrassed to read comics...
Jesus fucking Christ. See, this is why I don't like Geoff Johns comics. His dialogue isn't that good and his plotting makes his dialogue great via comparison. He likes to write stories showing how iconic and significant the heroes are while not showing them do anything that would cause anyone to see them as iconic and significant and heroic and so on. I've read this fucking bullshit and nowhere in there do we discover why the Trinity should be treated as more important than all the other heroes. They just are. The only positive of this miniseries is its epic scope means no narration boxes from some C-list superhero masturbates in awe to Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman like in the execrable Countdown to Infinite Crisis that began this spiral of inanery. But there's still bullshit like namedropping of every iconic phrase, from world's finest heroes to Earth's mightiest mortals.
This speaks for itself.
In spite of some alterations to the art, it's still very inconsistent and shitty since the deadlines presumably forced typically good to mediocre artists like Phil Jimenez to rush their work out the door, seeking to just finish it rather than finish it well. In addition to Jiminez, Infinite Crisis sports three other artists, George Perez, Ivan Reis and Jerry Ordway (four in the original single issues - Joe Bennett did a two-page spread the hardcover replaces with a new Perez one. I like that. Bennett helped them out when DC needed him and DC repays him by cutting him out of Infinite Crisis and presumably giving him no cut of the TPB sales. He's the David Prowse of DC!). I suppose the positive of the multiple artists is it feels vaguely like classic DC art. But the downside lies in the fact that classic DC art is generic and boring looking, reminding one of those godawful Silver Age comics in which Kid Flash fought ruffians and Green Lantern couldn't handle colors such as yellow. There's so much annoying detail crammed into small panels one doesn't feel compelled to bother to find out what the fuck is going on.
The hardcover makes a lot of revisions for every issue (excepting #2 for some reason). For ease of use, I offer RoboCop's list to you at this link. These changes, as you'll see, vary from minor and unneeded alterations in dialogue (which seemingly just dumb things down for the stupid readers by adding unnecessary clarity) or art to fairly major changes which fit the mini in the post-Infinite Crisis continuity. Let me explain. Infinite Crisis established New Earth, a slightly modified version of post-Crisis Earth where a lot of people now have the memories of their past Earth counterparts in addition to their own. Follow that so far? Well, the original mini in comic form did not specify Alexander Luthor succeeded in bringing back the Multiverse. The hardcover alters that and makes it explicit the Multiverse is indeed back. Frankly, the idea to edit Infinite Crisis to explain to the dunderheaded readers there's multiple Earths again is retarded. Perhaps they should've put that in there in the fucking first place if they sought to foreshadow to readers the return of multiple Earths. I think the most amusing example comes in the form of changing Earth-2 Lois' final words from something vaguely poignant to cryptically providing some exposition about the Multiverse's return. That pretty much fucking says it all about the point of this "story". Infinite Crisis doesn't exist to tell a story, it exists to further a bunch of plot elements for the purposes of foreshadowing the next bullshit DC wants you to buy.
OH KEWL BADASS
The other significant extra of the hardcover, the post-series commentary, continues the fine DC tradition of self-fellation for little purpose, since we of course know Infinite Crisis does not stand as a laudable accomplishment. A humorous accomplishment, perhaps (although the Powers That Be will never admit it as such). But laudable? Not so. The contributors to the pseudo-roundtable discuss the changes made for the hardcover and their favorite moments of the series and how it was an unabashed commercial and critical success comparable to its precursor, Crisis on Infinite Crisis. The interview states the creative "talent" wanted the story to take the Trinity "back to their iconographic status", as if most DC comics are not already about that. Also interesting to note is Geoff Johns lays the blame on/gives credit to Jeph Loeb for the idea of the four heroes from Crisis returning. Yes, Loeb is partially responsible for Superboy-Prime. You heard it here first. The interviewer, a Collections Edition Editor, gives all the bias and simplicity needed for a puff piece such as this with flattering remarks like "[t]his series really captured all the stuff I love about big "event" books" and "that's genius", the latter in reference to the dropped idea of the new Red Hood being Earth-2 Jason Todd who would become Deathstroke's Robin. That idea is something, but it is not genius. I suppose it is unfair to harp on the softball questions and obvious bias of the interview when this could have easily have been conducted by, say, Vaneta Rogers of Newsarama, without any significant changes to the questioning. From this commentary one sees that Infinite Crisis was indeed what readers thought it to be: a ramshackle of scenes which switched around or were moved out or from tie-in miniseries with little regard to the coherency of the greater narrative. The apologia does nothing to properly defend that or explain that (although Geoff does whine about having enough pages. He whines a lot in the interview, even defending Doomsday, Bane, Death of Superman and Knightfall and pointing out no reality changing wall punching occurs in Infinite Crisis.). An assistant editor caps the discussion off with "this is what making comics is all about". If that is the case, comics are in big trouble.
For further insight, since he does not appear in the roundtable "Infinite Discussions", here's Dan Didio, Executive Dictator of DC:
Correct: I prefer the name Il Duce. Rolls off the tongue better when captives are begging for their lives. Anyway. So what you're wondering is why we at DC made numerous dialogue and artistic changes for the hardcover of Infinite Crisis. Well, we did it for a few reasons. One, I wanted it to happen and I'm Dan Didio and at the Reich people fucking DO WHAT I SAY. Two, we wanted to get Infinite Crisis in single issues at predetermined times and didn't care if Phil Jiminez did the art well so long as it got fucking DONE. Three, the genius of the hardcover is we made enough changes for all of you suckers-er, members of DC Nation to feel compelled to put down $30 for a copy. That way the hardcover sells just as well, if not better, as the single issues. We didn't even have to put any money in restoring the issues for the hardcover. Those additional pages? I drew 'em. The dialogue? I took white out and put in the modified dialogue. Basically, we got tons of work for doing very little. That is the BEST kind of money. Well, I suppose money earned through killing the Sandinistas and funneling drugs out of South America and into the hands of Nigger Americans is better. But still. You gotta love DC's profit margins, DC Nation. I SAID. LOVE IT.
DON'T MAKE ME KILL YOU ALL! I'LL DO IT! I'LL MURDER ALL OF YOU MOTHERFUCKERS FOR YOUR LACK OF LOYALTY TOWARDS THE DAN
Oh, Dan. I never tire of implying the executive dictator at DC is in fact a revival of Italian-style fascism. Didio does have a point. Business-wise, the decision to fix problems in the hardcover as opposed to delaying the single issues a couple weeks to make them 'better' is rather brilliant. I mean, they could have taken their time and made it decent. But then it'd fuck up their schedule for OYL and 52. And people would have little incentive to purchase the hardcover, considering the story sucked and they already owned a copy; with this method, suckers/DC fans feel compelled to buy this shit so they're able to understand the new continuity as well as marvel at the slightly better art. Pretty ingenious, Dan. You found a way to do a shit job while still making more money for doing a shit job. I wouldn't be surprised if DC released 'updated' hardcovers of Infinite Crisis every couple years littered with vague clues to upcoming stories. As Nightwing looks at all the OMACs, he'll say "boy, this sure is the BLACKEST NIGHT I've ever seen!"
Infinite Crisis the hardcover editions turns out no better than its sequential companion. In fact, it's worse, since they had several months to tweak serious errors, like continuity errors, logic flaws, stupid characterization and story being what the story is, and countless other problems...and they didn't fix any of it. ANY of it. Even the rejigged art still looks shitty. Infinite Crisis the story is far from a love letter to the DCU; it's ugly and pointless, as shown by the original Superman being killed in a stupid fight with a whiny teenage version of Superman who punches reality and large swaths of characters killed just for cheap shock value. It'd be more accurate to classify it as DC's hate letter to its own mythology. Shit like this shows why DC became Marvel's bitch again. At least Identity Crisis didn't have giant hands smashing together duplicate Earths. I fucking miss the days of tiny footprints in someone's brain.