It’s DC Event month over here at Blastoff and, as we celebrate the Rebirth of the DC Universe, I figured I’d take a look back at an event that I missed when it was first published. Infinite Crisis – written by Geoff Johns and drawn by a team of heavy hitting artists including Phil Jimenez, Ivan Reis, Jerry Ordway, and George Pèrez, is the second in DC’s trilogy of reality-shaking Crises that began with 1985’s classic Crisis on Infinite Earths and ended with Grant Morrison’s polarizing Final Crisis. DC dropped the first issue of Infinite Crisis in 2005, at a time when the DC Universe and its characters were in a very, very different place than they are now. Let’s see how it holds up!
It’s clear from the first few pages that there was a lot of build-up to Infinite Crisis that features integral story elements you need to understand what is going on in the pages of this event. Some of it is concisely explained, such as how Wonder Woman has murdered Maxwell Lord, a crime that has somehow been broadcast worldwide. Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman spend most of this issue fighting Mongul and arguing with each other on the moon, while all hell is breaking loose on Earth. Those scenes are where I found myself a little lost, which led to some quick research. Even though this is the first Infinite Crisis issue, there was an oversized Countdown to Infinite Crisis special as well as a bunch of other lead-in titles, which explains why I feel kind of like we’re dropped in the middle of things.
The Teen Titans seem to be at a crossroads, with Donna Troy on the cusp of a big decision and Nightwing and Starfire sharing an emotional goodbye. Things are even worse for the Freedom Fighters, led by Uncle Sam, are attacked by the Secret Society, who completely obliterate them. Even though I was a bit lost at this point, this scene was visually stunning. The villains let off an impressive display of power as the structure of the issue slows down and focuses in on this fight and the conflict between DC’s Trinity on the moon.
Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman broach a conflict that anyone with a Twitter account and a passing knowledge of Mark Waid and Dan Slott’s existence is already tired of: Can superheroes kill? Superman and Batman fall firmly on no, while Wonder Woman is kind of in the “Screw it, why not?” place right now. She had to chose between letting Superman (under mind control) kill Batman over killing a murderous villain, and she chose the latter – here, she stands her guns while both Batman and Superman team up on her in this philosophical debate, only to turn on each other when they disagree about Superman’s relevance and what he should be doing, considering the turmoil on Earth.
And then, the end of the issue pulls the rug out from under us as the group of characters that had been banished to the paradise dimension at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths break free… uh-oh!
Overall, Geoff Johns’ master characterization of the DC superheroes is as stellar as always, and Infinite Crisis seems to be utilizing Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman’s unique conflict here to make a statement or, rather, pose questions about the nature of heroes and the stories we tell about them. Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman matter as symbols, but what happens when the person who has elevated that symbol to the status of a legend, or a cultural icon, falters? Does the symbol fade? Should the person step away from the mantle? What really makes a hero? That was what interested me most about Infinite Crisis, even though much of the rest of it left me wondering what I’d missed. The answer is, apparently, a lot. So, and this advice is SO the epitome of event comics… and yet I still love them. Here we go:
If you pick up Infinite Crisis, be sure that you don’t start at #1.
PAT SHAND writes comics (Vampire Emmy, Hellchild, Van Helsing), novels (Iron Man, Charmed), and pop culture journalism (Sad Girls Guide, Blastoff Comics). He can be found in local cafes with a look of intense terror on his face, mumbling incoherently about deadlines and convention season.