Thursday, January 19, 2012

Reading Crisis, Part 12: Final Crisis

Crisis on Infinite Earths -- Part 12: Final Crisis

Darkness!  Amazing how in a story which has included everything from living shadows to whole universes being consumed to worlds and beings made of antimatter, something as simple a pure darkness can be the most unsettling and scary thing.  This plays on the some basic human psychology -- fear of the dark.  The "true world war" which erupts afterwards is equally impressive, thematically connecting with all of the fights against first the Shadow Demons and then the villains across the various Earths.  It's one more chance for Perez to showcase as many characters as he can!

Speaking of which, Geo-Force in Markovia!  Yeah baby!  

I really liked Harbinger grabbing the two Supermen.  Because let's face it, these guys need to be front and center when all the chips are down.  I don't have anything clever to say about this, just that I appreciated this scene getting put in there.

I have to say that seeing Brainiac and Darkseid together (coupled with the Brainiac and Luthor interaction from previous issues) is all very "Super Powers Collection" to me! I would chalk this up to the fact that I was a little kid in the 1980s and had the Super Powers Lex Luthor figure, and I think my brother may have had Brainiac.  So when I think of those characters, this is who I see them, very often.  Of course, Darkseid doesn't have his cape so it's not perfect.  Speaking of Darkseid, I did like that his appearance actually means something in this series, unlike some of the other asides which were handled in other titles.  

I also liked that everyone has some role to play -- this has been one of the central themes of the series.  A trope which gets trotted out a lot when talking about superhero comics is that "everyone is someone's favorite," and this series is evidence to that point.  Even if it's only for a panel, Wolfman and Perez try to give everyone that they can a little spotlight.  

The other theme which ties into this is the heroes "vast and great powers dwarfed only by their infinite courage."  Again, pretty standard superhero themes but sometimes the obvious choice is the right choice.  In the context of all of the death and destruction on display, it means something and it resonates with those of us who love superheroes.

Speaking of death and destruction, while there is a lot of carnage in this series with all of the Earths destroyed, when you sit down and reflect on it, there really wasn't that many character deaths in this series.  I compare this negatively to Infinite Crisis, where there's wholesale slaughter of characters in several scenes.  Here, the deaths of the characters are sacrifices, and have an impact on the reader.  Compare this to how the Freedom Fighters are ripped apart in the beginning of Infinite Crisis and we see how far we have come.  And I like Infinite Crisis, too!

The final battle on Qward builds on the previous Anti-Monitor battle, and takes it in a new direction at the same time.  I always like a big superhero brawl where the heroes have a plan and execute it properly.  Of course, that doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of thing, but seeing everyone working the plan was impressive.  

The Anti-Monitor like The Terminator!  He's got more lives than a bag of cats.  I like how he gets more and more monstrous with each time that he comes back, until he finally is little more than a ball of living fire (akin to to the Fire Monster from the end of Destroy All Monsters, in my mind).  Similarly, the increasing level of Earth-2 Superman's attacks and anger was impressive.  The final extended encounter with the Anti-Monitor, besides being a great capstone for the series, is also a catharsis for all of the readers, who have seen Anti-Monitor wipe out universes for 12 issues and cheat death time and time again, in addition to wiping out lots of favorite heroes.  When Superman finally destroys him for good, it's a huge release.

Honestly, I am actually shocked that Pariah doesn't die!  Not sure what the heck this guy can do from this point onwards, but I have to admit for a character I actively disliked at the start of this series, he has grown on me by this point.  At least he has stopped crying.

Looking back on the series, there is one thing I can say: This book delivered on its promises.  Worlds lived, worlds died, and the DC Universe never was the same again.  But beyond that, this series also delivered on being the most epic of widescale superhero epics I have ever read.  I don't think I have ever read a 12 issue story which involved so many different characters, settings, plot points, twists, and sweeping changes and retained it's ability to both entertain as well as make sense.  Other than a few points here and there, I could follow along just fine.  And Wolfman managed to make all of the characters "sound" right while Perez of course made everyone look great.  Its the sort of one-in-a-million combination of creative collaboration, storyline, and editorial gravitas which I don't know if we'll see in comics again.  One can hope that at some point we'll stop rehashing things from the past and create something which builds upon the past but forges creatively fresh ground like we do here.

I don't know that I will pick this up and read it again casually, but, for instance, when the Two True Freaks! get to Crisis on Infinite Earths in their Tales Of The JSA show, I will be reading along.  

I'm glad that I put it out there that I had never read Crisis, and I am thankful for Andy Leyland for sending me his trade paperback so that I would have the chance to read it.  I can strike this off of my Comic Book Bucket List, and now, hopefully, The Irredeemable Shag will respect me.  I have read Crisis on Infinite Earths, and I hope that this blog series will serve as inspiration for anyone else out there who has not done so to seek out this book and read it.  As a comic fan, you owe it to yourself.

Not the end; the beginning of the future.


The Irredeemable Shag said...

Luke - Great final thoughts! I've really enjoyed reading your take on CRISIS. It's been a real joy experiencing it again for the first time through your eyes.

I'm really glad you enjoyed it. Not everyone who reads it for the first time nowadays enjoys it (ask Vanessa over on Girls-Gone-Geek).

Again, great review. Now... will I respect you? C'mon, I think you're asking too much. ;)

The Irredeemable Shag

A Leyland said...

Hi Luke

Just finished reading all 12 of these and I really enjoyed them. I think Crisis really holds up well in comparison to similar stories of the time but also against comparable stories now. It reads very well even if you don't know all the characters and is never confusing. It is, as you say, a perfect synthesis of writer, artists and editorial working together as a team, not to further their own ego or agenda.

Take care.

Andrew Leyland