Monday, January 16, 2012
Reading Crisis, Part 9: War Zone
When I was driving into work this morning, I was sitting a light about to make a turn and what did I see? The skies were red. Clearly someone up there likes my work on this blog series.
Anyway, after the slam-bang of the death of the Flash last issue, we are off to a slow start with this one. There is a lot of setups for characters and tie-ins I am not really interested in (GL, Titans, Firestorm) and have no real intention of ever tracking down or reading. This is a common criticism of modern big crossover epics, so I am little surprised to see it applied here in such a manner. Did contemporary readers really think the main crisis was over?
The "super-villain team-up" segment of the story was an uptick for me if only for the always fun "spot the character" game we have had on this series. (Of Hawkman badguys, I only managed to spot Matter Master; Copperhead is more of a latter-day Hawkfoe.) I also liked Brainiac killing Luthor of Earth-2 to put over our main baddies as dudes you don't want to mess with. Similarly, the tightly packed pages of panels with the implications about the three Earths being conquered is very subtle and effectively creepy.
Unfortunately things sort of come off the rails after that. The scene at the UN is boring and pretty unbelievable, really, even amongst the insane goings on of this story. And then the dispersal to the conquered worlds by the heroes is really sort of by-the-numbers sort of superheroics. I don't know, but it just didn't get me excited the way some of the bang-ups have earlier in this series. Honestly, the big desperate battle played better to me in Infinite Crisis. I am going to catch flak for that but that's my opinion. (By the same token, I can now also say that yes, the timing of the big supervillain battle in that series is a direct callback to this series.)
Luthor's corny narration doesn't help. Him calling Brainiac "pal" gets a little strange after a few instances. I liked how the different worlds were conquered in different ways (Earth-S being frozen by the ice villains, for example), and there were some nice scenes (Dr. Phosphorus trying to murder the Earth-2 Hawkman!), but overall it left me flat. An odd note: When Warp teleports Steel "someplace else," I think that I have actually read that story -- it's in an issue of Justice League of America which I actually own!
One note I should say is that the return of Wally West was very welcome. This is where it all starts, huh?
I will say that the twist surprised me quite a bit. I thought that the figure hiding in the shadows was the Joker (the chin and the "Ha ha ha!" being the clues), but it obviously wasn't him when he showed up on Earth-X. So having Psimon pop up out of the back was funny and a surprise. It's also funny to see Psimon and Brainiac together because I read Tiny Titans, and any Tiny Titans reader knows that Psimon gets called "Brainiac" by every single character in that series, much to his chagrin! Although I have to ask: Is Psimon really powerful enough to blast the robot Brainiac like that?
Another odd note: the last page teaser with The Spectre from last issue is not mentioned anywhere in this issue. Too strange!
Anyway, this issue had some highlights but overall was not nearly as good as the previous two. It's sort of a padding issue, puffing the story out so that they can hit that magic number '12.' I'm hoping that the all-out war between the heroes and villains will be played out and that we can get back to the high levels of the previous issues.
Next: Death At The Dawn of Time!
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I liked all the pan-Earth battles in this one, especially since the absence of standard villains throughout the series to this point was rather dubious. The Green Lantern tie-in issues were swell, for the record. Not only was it a valid portion of the Crisis, but it also wrapped the ongoing storyline about the return of Guy Gardner and Hal Jordan being replaced by John Stewart. No Red Skies lameness there.
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