You know how I knew Crisis On Infinite Earths meant something? That it was a sea-chance in the DCU, and nothing would be quite the same again?
That's how I knew.
A story that still stands as a landmark in comics, and that ended an era. Crisis set things up, but Alan Moore's story of Superman's Ragnarok put the period at the end of the sentence and announced that something new was coming.
So - as the One Year Later experiment starts to roll out tomorrow, what did we get as a farewell to this DCU? In those final issues before the jump do any stand as the great goodbye to what was and the welcome to what will be?
This is a snapshot of what happened just before "One Year Later".
Gotham Central #40 was thisclose to being a classic. Greg Rucka put the cast through their paces, and headed them to the grim and gritty resolution the series called for. Sadly, editorial concerns robbed the tragedy of its punch. We didn't get resolution, only a coda. And a coda that was dissonant with what we'd seen so far.
Outsiders #33 was a prime example of the thumb twiddling that has marked much of DC's output the past few months. I like Jen Van Meter, and have been impressed with her writing so far. I just happen to think that one of the ground rules here is that a fill-in writer, fill-in artist, and a issue that reads like Infinite Crisis 3.5 does not qualify as the denouement I'm looking for.
When Brad Meltzer takes over JLA this summer, it's going to be hard for many to not compare him to the last relaunch the title saw. JLA #125 was part of a brilliant gambit by DC to deflect that criticism. There will be no cries of "It's not as good as Morrison!" ... rather, the masses will cheer that "Anything is better than Harras' arc! Viva Meltzer!"
Without knowing where Infinite Crisis is heading, it's hard to be sure what kind of impact JSA #82 will have. If this story is the last we see of the Earth-2 JSA with Batman and Superman as members ... it's fitting. It's s slight story, but feels very affectionate and authentic towards the old done-in-one caper comics of the pre-Crisis days.
Set in a brief timeslice between issues of Infinite Crisis, Firestorm #22 is a very enjoyable postmodern diversion as writer Stuart Moore lays bare his thinking on how to build a better Firestorm by literally "Building A Better Firestorm". I expect many would find it too-cute-by-half, but I completely enjoyed a glimpse into the decision making process involved in a character reboot. This is a title that easily could have become aimless, considering the demands the overall Infinite Crisis storyline places on the character. Moore didn't let that happen, and probably provides my favorite issue of this "One Month Before One Year".
Batman #650 wraps up much of the Red Hood storyline, has some great Joker scenes, and ends with a nice cliffhanger that adds some suspense to One Year Later. Winick seems to be the butt of a lot of jokes, but I'm enjoying his Batman. This is one book that never seemed to struggle to make it to the One Year Later break, and the fact we'll skip a year after the conclusion to this arc feels very organic.
I missed the controversy over Hal punching out Batman. Green Lantern #9 largely exists to address that controversy, and somehow set things right. There were some nice character moments, however - the discussion over methods of transportation was stupid fun, and I like the active choice of Batman holding onto his grief. It was a nice coda on two of the pivotal characters in the DCU, and left what should be a clean slate for this title to gain some momentum.
I don't follow Catwoman, and so it follows I didn't read Catwoman #52.
After reading Melchior del Darien's interesting posts on this particular issue (here and here), I think I may have missed out on something important.
Wonder Woman #225 was closure, and issue #226 was postscript. Wonder Woman is being cancelled and relaunched, and Rucka ties up the story pretty well in #225. #226 felt a bit like a "very special clipshow", but I still enjoyed the issue. It dealt nicely with the Wonder Woman/Superman relationship, and sounded the leitmotif of "The Trinity" that's been running through Infinite Crisis.
When I saw the solicits for "This Is Your Life, Superman!", the idea of a guest writer coming in and writing an arc across all the Superman titles that would serve as a summation of the character, a reflection on his history, and just so happen to feature some fantastic artists ... well, I couldn't help but think of Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?
That's not quite what we're getting here. The last issue ships today, and perhaps the arc will make some sense, but right now it features some wonderful artwork set amidst unintelligible continuity issues. Lots of promise, and perhaps haunted by an unfair milestone: not everyone is Alan Moore and Curt Swan.
This is not an exhaustive list, as I don't read DC exhaustively. DC's been playing a bit of a shell game, and I've bought in. With the promise of One Year Later (and the further promise of new creative teams a bit later, and new series a bit later than that), I kept reading and reading titles that often seemed to be killing time. I hoped for classics, for resolution ... and got a lot of filler.