Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Infinite Crisis #1

I know I am seven days late, and many monetary units short. But I fear my comic blogging license will be revoked if I do not comment on Infinite Crisis.

Sometimes, you need to review what something is ... not what you wish it was. And you need to review the thing itself, apart from the hype and event. Of all the critiques of Infinite Crisis I've read so far, the one that really seemed to hit the mark for me was Ian's (and, by extension, Dorian's):

Dorian'’s definition of this stuff I find more apt. That is its all "big dumb super-hero melodrama." Call me crazy, but that makes these books sound much more appealing than what Greg Rucka and Dan DiDio are selling to us in The New York Times. ... can I defend reading this stuff? No. It's "“big, dumb super-hero melodrama" done in an entertaining fashion and nothing else.

To attack Infinite Crisis for being a huge, corporate, continuity-driven crossover event is like attacking Harvey Pekar for writing autobiography. Like it or don't .. but if you want to examine it, you really need to ask two questions: "What's it trying to do? Does it execute that well?" I certainly didn't go into Infinite Crisis expecting Optic Nerve. I went in wanting a good, high-stakes, operatic mess of a crossover. One that conjured the same grandeur and excitement that the original Crisis did those many moons ago.

And that's what I got.

It has a grand scope, and Geoff Johns effectively races through the apocalypse. He neatly introduces most of the threads that have been building in the various miniseries, and introduces some new wrinkles. There's definitely some fat that could be trimmed (see Mongul) and some ham-fisted expository dialogue (see the Trinity on the moon). There's also some moments of wonder, where the page opens up and we see the immensity of the situation. I don't know where things are going or what's going to happen, but it feels already like events are afoot that will deliver on the hype. And that's why I'm buying it: the concepts and situations. There's room for a lot of stories in the superhero genre, but one is the Story Of Ideas. It's been said that in true science fiction, it's the idea that's the protagonist, not the character. The same can be said of crossover events, and I don't mind some character missteps or awkward storytelling if the meaty ideas in the center are good.

When the art team was announced, I had some hesitation. I like Jimenez a lot and felt that it was completely appropriate that George Perez' spiritual heir was producing the sequel to one of his signature works. Andy Lanning's another favorite, who always does great work. I just couldn't imagine how their styles would mesh. It turned out to be a got-your-chocolate-in-my-peanut-butter kind of thing. One of the few flaws I find in Jimenez is that his work is so composed, so graphic, it seldom feels truly alive. Like Erté or Klimt, it exists on the page only, and these images have no life beyond pencil, ink, and color. It's always beautiful, but is sometimes lacking in emotion because the characters are so set as graphic elements, they fall apart as figures of empathy. There's a roughness to Lanning's inks that really serves to counteract that, imbuing emotion and vibrancy without losing the layouts that set the epic tone of the book. It's a great match that manages to keep the story both immense and intimate.

At the end, the first issue of Infinite Crisis is what it is. I came into the issue with high hopes, but an even higher readiness to be disappointed. I wanted a companion to Crisis On Infinite Earths, and it's a hard measure when you are up against nostalgia. The repercussions can wait, and can be judged when they arrive. For today, Infinite Crisis delivered in it's promise, and that's about all I can ask for.



Kevin said...

I enjoyed IC #1 a lot. I had to read it twice because at first it was pretty overwhelming due to the scope of the crisis. I loved the four returning. I can't wait for their interactions with other heroes and villians.

Mark Fossen said...

I've tried to read it three times, never without interruption.

I really wish that Absolute Crisis was out already, since I don't think I've read COIE since it came out. I know there's a TPB available, but why bother when I'll just be buying the big edition next month?

Jeffrey said...

I never really thought about it, but you're right about Jimenez's art; I never really warmed to his run on New X-Men. I could tell it's well drawn, but I just couldn't feel it. Whereas the art does feel more alive in Infinite Crisis. Like a lot of people, I haven't given inkers enough credit for the work they do.

Kevin said...

yeah I can't believe they didn't rush Absolute Crisis out before IC started. I have the original 12 issues, but I didn't dig them out. I just read 3 or 4 in depth summaries of the series on the Net to refresh.

Gardner said...

Interestingly, Lanning also inked Jimenez on New X-Men.

Jeffrey said...

...okay, so either he inked differently or I'm just blind. Great.

Shane Bailey said...

"What's it trying to do? Does it execute that well?"

Exactly. A lot of reviewers don't ask that question anymore.

You're right about Jiminez too.

Great post as always.

I'm anxious to see Jim Roeg's reaction to Infinite Crisis.

Mark Fossen said...

I just pulled out my New X-Men hardcovers, and looked through. The credits are removed in that reprinting, but Jimenez looks great there.

Though, comparing it side-by-side, Lanning does seem to be using thicker, looser brushstrokes in IC.