30 July 2014

Faster than a DC Bullet: Project Crisis!, Part XXVI: Superman: Infinite Crisis

Comic trade paperback, n.pag.
Published 2006 (contents: 2006)
Borrowed from the library
Read June 2014
Superman: Infinite Crisis

Writers: Marv Wolfman, Joe Kelly, Geoff Johns, with Jeph Loeb
Artists: Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway, Cam Smith, Art Thibert, Nelson, Ed Benes, Mariah Benes, Howard Chaykin, Renato Guedes, Kevin Conrad, Dick Giordano, Jose Marzan Jr., Ian Churchill, Norm Rapmund, Phil Jimenez, Andy Lanning, Lee Bermejo, Doug Mahnke, Tim Sale, Tom Derenick, Wayne Faucher, Kark Kerschl, Duncan Rouleau, Dale Eaglesham, Drew Geraci, Ed McGuinness, Dexter Vines, Ivan Reis, George Pérez, Dave Bullock, Kalman Andrasofszky
Colorists: Jeromy Cox, Guy Major, Renato Guedes, Dave Stewart, Tanya & Richard Horie, Rod Reis, Tom Smith, Michelle Madsen, Kalman Andrasofszky, Dave Bullock
Letterers: Travis Lanham, Pat Brosseau, Nick J. Napolitano

Like the Infinite Crisis Companion, this plugs some gaps in Infinite Crisis. The first story here shows what time in their "paradise dimension" was like for the Alexander Luthor of Earth-Three, the Superman and Lois Lane of Earth-Two, and the Superboy of Earth-Prime. Though it doesn't really help me comprehend Luthor's motivation, it does help make Superboy and Superman's actions more palatable. It's by Marv Wolfman, who revisits his theme that the new universe created after the Crisis on Infinite Earths was intrinsically darker.

It helps explain more clearly what all the Countdown to Infinite Crisis stories had to do with the main event. It's interesting to note that one of things Superboy-Prime observes from the paradise dimension that causes him to think the new timeline is too dark is Wonder Woman killing Maxwell Lord, but when Superboy-Prime crosses over into New Earth, he meets Blue Beetle during the events of The OMAC Project-- obviously before Maxwell Lord was killed. Superboy and Luthor manipulate events somewhat, but I think their manipulations must precede even this, as their interference was the reason Maxwell Lord was able to create OMACs to begin with. So it's all a little bit predestination paradox, but I wonder if this isn't a commentary in and of itself: just like Superboy and Luthor commit violent actions to rewrite the universe to eliminate violence, so too do authors like Geoff Johns depict awful violence in order to write stories about how awful violence isn't necessary for good stories.

One should also note that this is the origin of the infamous Superboy-Prime "retcon punch": as he hits the edge of the universe in frustration, he causes time and history to shift. We see changes to the form of baby Kal-El's rocket, the Legion of Super-Heroes, Jason Todd's death, Power Girl, Hawkman, Wonder Girl, Fury(!), and so on. I kinda both love and hate this. Like, it's both incredibly elegant and incredibly stupid!

Like the Companion, I think it would have worked better as part of the main story than on its own like this. Heck, if you chucked this story plus the four Companion stories in with the main miniseries, you'd have twelve issues: just like the original Crisis. Perfect!

The rest of this book fills in some of Infinite Crisis from the perspective of the Supermen of New Earth and Earth-Two. First we see some snippets from the eve of the original Crisis on Earth-Two, as Lois gives Clark a scrapbook she's made of his greatest moments, illustrated by Tim Sale with his usual flare and skill. Most of it is the two Supermen trading blows, causing them to experience each other's lives-- and make changes to them. It's a neat conceit, showing how each Superman perceives a simpler morality than the other: Superman-Two thinks New Earth is too dark and tries to act to correct it more forcefully; Superman-New thinks Earth-Two is innocent but that too many wrongs are allowed to happen. Both discovers nothing is quite so obvious as that, that the other universe is just as complicated as his own, and that each of them probably did the best they could, given the circumstances. It's not essential, but it slots nicely between the pages of Infinite Crisis and gives us some insight into both Supermen.

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