INFINITE CRISIS #4 (Dan Abnett & Tom Raney) makes me realize that the best thing this book probably has going for it is that it changes artists every issue.
Ditching Szymon’s super film-inspired art style, we get Tom Raney giving the book a kind of cartoon like look to the adventures of the characters featured, The Flash, Zatanna and Cyborg.
While INFINITE CRISIS is mainly an ‘origin story’ behind the characters involved in the videogame, I can’t help but feel like had this been timed better (or just differently)
using the comic itself to announce new characters would have been a much better idea. Instead, the Comic is being released seemingly independently of the game for now – with only the barest of plot threads tethering them together.
Maybe when we get some more Elseworlds characters involved in the videogame INFINITE CRISIS (my fingers are crossed for JLA Liberty Hourman) the comic will be used to debut them; after all the deal is sort of sealed. What I mean about that is that anytime a character gets some face time with readers in the pages of INFINITE CRISIS, they’re going to be expected to show up in the videogame. This means that most likely, if anyone is expecting a storied Elseworlds jaunt to see just how far you can bend DC’s archetypes, they’ll have to wait for Grant Morrison’s latest project because I doubt DC will commit to characters not in the game itself.
During my last review of INFINITE CRISIS I think I was a little too hard on Szymon’s cinematic artstyle. What I was essentially trying to say is that his art didn’t necessarily lineup with the type of story they were trying to tell. His renderings of Batman and Gotham were great, what we got to see of them! Yet when it came to depicting the monstrous Atomic Two-Face the book fell flat. Raney takes over on art here and at the very least fits the story a lot better.
Raney’s art style is super cartoonish without verging off into caricature, which means that for an issue with a lot of expanded panels of characters talking, his facial expressions shine through quite well. Zatanna’s makeup and heavily shaded features means she probably gets some of the best expressions here, but it feels unintentional; like Raney was just drawing to fit the story and didn’t really get anything that his art could’ve shined with.
INFINITE CRISIS #4 gets a lovely appearance from Nightmare Batman Man, who’s a few details away from being the version of Batman from RED RAIN, popular Elseworlds story that his appearance is based on. Raney’s cartoonish art style make him looks like the mutated villain of an 80’s cartoon, which is honestly perfect. So we get lumpy-gross Vampire Batman hissing and clawing his way through the last few pages of this book.
INFINITE CRISIS is probably the book that’s selling short of it’s full potential that I’ve read in The New 52, at least so far. From the concept, even if you took it completely as a game tie-in, it should be doing a lot…more. I know it’s tethered to the plot of the game and serves as a kind of cross promotion, but there could still be a lot more going on. When you have The Flash, Zatanna and Cyborg toe off against Vampire Batman, it shouldn’t be a short jaunt that lasts a handful of pages and then wraps up nicely. Let’s readers see some fangs get bared and some blood be drawn, otherwise you’re wasting an otherwise neat appearance.
Most of the problems with this book have to do with the way the story is paced – there’s no “Batman! The monster has tricked me!” writing like the last issue had, there’s no still-frame motion shots of monsters that the artist can’t quite capture effectively. Hitting a high note in a book after a low one is actually way harder than it looks – a lot of times a series might start to plane out and just stay there. If INFINITE CRISIS is going to be rescued from where it’s currently at, there needs to be certainly a lot more ‘oomph’ to each book.
As the story moves slower into concepts like The Bleed and an inter-dimensional nexus hinted at in the last few pages, we might see some more action and drama that’s worth caring about.
Until then, INFINITE CRISIS is more or less a bunch of exposition wrapped up in an art package that makes the whole experience a little jarring sometimes.
INFINITE CRISIS #4 is losing your friends at a comic convention and having them talk about it.
I mentioned a little up there that if you’re looking for a jaunt through extra Earth’s exploring more concepts in The DC Universe that you’ll have to wait until Geoff Johns new title comes out, and that’s still true. INFINITE CRISIS is starting to seem like it may be able to deliver – if it can stay away from hilariously awful comics writing and some better presentation issue to issue, it might soon become a series that
becomes an instant buy. Until then, at least they have nice covers.