And you thought the New Order entry last week was showing high nerd levels… Previously, on Snappish Thoughts, I went into far too much detail about a comics series called Crisis On Infinite Earths, aka 'The series that changed Everything', aka "OMG! THEY KILLED KARA ZOL-EL AND BARRY ALLEN SAVED THE UNIVERSE! OMG!" I also mentioned that twenty years on, DC are producing a follow-up to that story, with the very different title of Infinite Crisis. Issue #1 shipped this week. And I would like to vent rage upon it. So, if you'll allow me a little indulgence: What has come before: Identity Crisis: Jean Loring decides that she wants to get back with her ex-husband, The Atom. To do this, she eschews the common method of compliments, some chocolates, and perhaps, perhaps, a visit to the movies or two, instead going for the more esoteric option of stealing her husband's shape-changing belts, shrinking herself down to a microscopic size, and walking on Sue Dibney's (wife of Ralph Dibney, Elongated Man) brain. When this ends up with the rather unfortunate result of a dead Mrs. Dibney, Jean burns her body with the flame-thrower that she handily brought with her and flees, leaving the JLA to discover Sue's corpse. I will pause here so you can marvel at how stupid that sounds. I would also like to point out that this plot was conceived by an author who has made the New York Times Bestseller charts. The mind, clearly, boggles. Anyway, during the JLA's investigation, it is REVEALED, in a SHOCKING flashback, that Sue Dibney, part of a comedy duo with her husband, was once savagely raped by the villain Dr. Light (for those less nerdy: it was like an episode of Friends, if said episode opened with the cast finding Phoebe's blood-spattered corpse on the hallway between the apartments). To pile on THE TRAGEDY, it turns out that Sue was pregnant when Jean decided to play a game of hopscotch in her head (at which point, readers started betting on what horrible event would retroactively be inflicted on Sue throughout the rest of the series). BUT! In a further shocking development, it turned out that when the JLA of that time caught Dr. Light after the rape of Sue, they decided to mindwipe him, so he'd no longer be a threat to humanity. As Zatanna was casting a spell, Batman arrived at the satellite, catching them in the act. As you might imagine, Batman - not a fan of mindwipes or summary justice. So, the JLA mindwiped him too. By the end of the series, it's fairly clear that Batman knows his mind was tampered with, and Is Not Happy. Superman is rather annoyed at the old JLA members who did the Erase and Rewind thing with Dr. Light, and Jean confesses to The Atom, saying she did it all for him. Because she loves him. No, really, a New York Times Bestseller. Superman is also Not Happy with Batman, for no real reason that I can remember. But it's important for them not to like each other, as we'll see. Okay, so that was earlier this year. Four mini-series began soon after, all leading into Infinite Crisis, aka "Fanboys, Open Your Wallets!". These were The Rann-Thanagarian War (BIG SPACE BATTLES!), Villians United (Lex Luthor manipulates a group of supervillains, including Mike The Parademon, Priest's loving rendition of Mike Chary, noted USENET wag, who sadly dies (BOO, GAIL!)), Day of Vengeance (Jean Loring, now offically Completely Nuts and having been spurned after her tapdancing frolics, does the only proper thing: she becomes a supervillain! Who seduces The Spectre and gets him to start a war on MAGIC! I'm sure it made sense in their heads), and OMAC (One Man Army Corps), which is probably the most important (although MAGIC was destroyed in DoV, thus seriously injuring Paul Zenon's attempt for a new series of Tricky Business). Now, I must confess that I didn't read OMAC., so I may be missing a few points, but here's the basic plot: there's a guy called Brother Eye (who Batman seems to have created, in another misunderstanding of Morrison's BatGod concept, but there you go), in a satellite above the Earth, who sends out nanomachines that can turn humans into killer automatons. Classy! Oh! But I've left something out! Countdown to Infinite Crisis, an 80-page comic which introduces the OMAC threat. To sum up, everybody makes fun of Blue Beetle, who then stumbles on the secret controller of the project, his old boss, Maxwell Lord (who has spent most of his comic life being a comedy figure. But, we forget, THIS UNIVERSE IS DARK AND WRONG, so he has to be evil). Who then kills him. w00t! Anyway, back in OMAC, the Big 3 (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman) bicker a little, and then! Max Lord uses mind-control powers on Superman, and has him fight Batman and the rest of the Justice League. THE BIG SCENE! Batman and Wonder Woman have tracked down Lord, and are trying to stop him, while Max taunts them. As Superman comes closer and closer to returning to fight the pair, Wonder Woman gets impatient and throws a shoe at Max Lord. Or slits his throat with her magic tiara. One of those, anyway. Batman and a freed Superman are horrified, while WW is all like "whatEVER! I just saved the world! Now make me a sandwich!" (oh, the OMAC project is not completely stopped, so there's still thousands of OMACs out there) And thus, the scene is set for Infinite Crisis! Distrust amongst the heroes! A sense of things have gone wrong! It's too dark and gritty! (Possibly, just possibly, because in the past year, the DCU has been thrown off the rails to make everything as depressing as possible. After all, even in the darkest days of the 1990s, the idea of having Sue Dibney, of all people, raped would seem absurd. But apparently not now). Still with me? I'm sorry.
DANGER! DANGER! "THINGS AREN'T WHAT THEY USED TO BE" NARRATION!
IC#1 opens on the moon, in the ruins of the JLA Watchtower (I guess somebody blew it up. I'm sure it happened in an issue of something, but I have no clue what). Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman argue about what's happened (she wanted red peppers, but Superman was stingy and just bought the sandwich from outside the Daily Planet).
Back on Earth, RED SKIES! JUST LIKE LAST TIME! OMACs are attacking all over the place, but Superboy's sulking because, er, he's a clone of Lex Luthor mixed with Kryptonian DNA. You can see his point, really. The narration gives him a tongue-lashing. And THEN! FOUR! SHADOWY FIGURES! WATCHING! THEY'RE THE NARRATORS!
My heart sinks. Because I know who these people are.
After a weird bit with Nightwing (Dick Grayson, the original Robin), we go COSMIC with the Green Lanterns and the Guardians of Oa! They're concerned that the universe is dying, and more importantly, Oa is no longer the centre of the universe! All those maps! Ruined!
Then, Uncle Sam (yes, that Uncle Sam) leads the Freedom Fighters into a trap! Cue more death.
(By the way, if you're looking for non-exploitative use of female characters in all this, well, I'd sit the next few months out, to be honest. TINY FOOTPRINTS ON THE BRAIN!)
But! back on the moon! While the trio are arguing, Mongul shows up for, well, I guess he's got a reason, and gives us an excuse for another fight! This goes okay, but then Wonder Woman tries to kill him. Tsk. Tsk. It's almost like she has a taste for it!
So, then, another argument. And the final wedge driven into the group, as Batman snaps at Clark:
Oooh, GET HIM!
(We're obviously meant to forget Superman leading the planet against a Martian invasion, him holding the moon in place, fighting against a vessel of angels that were prepared to destroy Creation to hide their Secret, that when the population of Earth were given superpowers to fight against the Anti-Sun Mageddon, they came because 'they owed Superman one', or that this Superman lives to the 852rd century, inspires the generations of Supermen, becomes the greatest Green Lantern ever, and saves the universe from Solaris. All of which Batman knows about. But Geoff Johns doesn't like this Batman, so whatever)
The final two pages, then. The ending to the first part of a series that will change everything! A series promoted as the start of something new! Gaze in awe as the four figures break through the wall, REVEALING! REVEALING!
A Superman with white temples, a ginger guy in a gold suit, a Superboy, and a middle-aged Lois Lane.
Yes. IT'S CAPTAIN YESTERDAY! HE'S BACK TO SAVE US ALL!
At the end of the original Crisis, Superboy, the old Superman from Earth-2, Lois Lane, and Alex Luthor (Lex's son from Earth-3), realising there was no place for them in the new, combined universe, disappeared into a portal, heavily suggesting that they were heading off to Heaven. But now they're back. Because Things Have Gone Wrong.
Sigh. Yes, I know. But this series, and the rationale behind it irritates me a little (hahaha, well, perhaps a bit more than just a little, as you might have guessed). The writers seem convinced that the Silver Age was full of light fun, and the current stories aren't. So to take us back there, they've spent the best part of two years making the DCU a miserable place. Which, to me, is stacking the deck a bit. I don't have a problem with them bringing back the multiverse; while I prefer the current system, I'm not all that attached to it; I just think that spending thousands of pages of comics watching the Silver Age fans get their revenge on DCU Editorial of 1985 isn't all that entertaining.
Why couldn't they take a leaf out of Mr. Grant Morrison's hat? Instead of moaning that things need fixing, he brings that oft-discussed "Sense of Wonder" back into the DCU, but as something contemporary, not just the old sensibilities (His DC1,000,000 series cannot be read without MANLY NERD TEARS as you get to the final few pages).
Also, a tip. If you ever find yourself involved in a Crisis, make sure you're not wearing a Flash costume. It's bad for your health.
Finally, the cover to Infinite Crisis #2:
IMPLANTS ARE OUR ONLY HOPE!