INFINITE CRISIS hits ten issues this week, and has officially been running for over two months. While it’s still got a few months to go, I think that we safely describe INFINITE CRISIS as a series that’s not a justifiable must-buy. Does that look to change very much? Well, let’s be honest. Grant Morrison’s MULTIVERSITY is coming out in just a few months, and I think comic fans will always take a passion project vs. a marketing ploy every time they’re given the option.
My previous reviews on INFINITE CRISIS have all sort of centered on who shows up in the series and if it’s doing a particular “thing” I think it set out to do. That thing is giving readers satisfaction in delivering a glimpse at alternate Earth’s and heroes. We’ve seen a lot of The Two Faced, a mutated version of Harvey Dent from the post apocalyptic Earth that’s been featured heavily, but not a lot of anyone else. Is that too much time with one villain for a weekly? I’m not going to fault a weekly for moving too fast – that’s sort of the idea. The problem that INFINITE CRISIS has faced has mainly been in how the comic is paced and how it’s structured.
The pacing problems come in the way we drop and raise action to different levels almost every single issue. INFINITE CRISIS has an almost bipolar tone in that there’s never truly been a minute that fully calms down the action or allows us to learn anything really substantial that sets these characters apart from their prime earth counterparts. That pacing issue is caused by the structure: INFINITE CRISIS is trying to tell two stories at once, and both of those stories are not at places that intersect.
So instead of two competently told stories, we’ve kind of got one partially told and another one that lags behind. INFINITE CRISIS #10 (Dan Abnett, Tom Derenick & Alejandro Sanchez) takes us back to that leg of the story through a jaunt through a more sci-fi inspired hi-tech version of Metropolis, starring The Flash, Cyborg, and Zatanna. Does it finally hook up with the rest of the story, or is Dan Abnett and company committed to keeping these stories apart?
The last time we saw The Flash and his team of dimension-displaced dependents, my complaint was that they had such a great concept for the team but decided to waste the issue on a two-page appearance by Vampire Batman and a healthy dose of exposition. INFINITE CRISIS #10 lets you know that our heroes are in trouble a couple of pages in, and that that trouble is going to be really big. This issue gives us Mecha Superman, and in a single stroke does a better job with its alternate-earth superhero than the other story has done with say, Atomic Wonder Woman.
What this issue does is A) set up that this world is incredibly different, so its hero is going to be different and B) tell us that the hero representing it IS different, just in his introduction. Basically, through clause B, the issue further delivers on clause A. Seeing The Flash whip through this version of Metropolis at super speed writes the point home that we’re not looking at ‘our’ Metropolis. (I will say that this story is off to a better start because the villain introduced in this issue is a lot more credible than Lobster Claw Bane. I will also never not take a moment out of an INFINITE CRISIS review to make fun of Lobster Claw Bane.)
The threat in this issue is rendered well by Tom Derenick. I wont say any more because I consider the villain this issue kind of a surprise, but I think the monster being used here is rendered better than any of the protagonists by this artist. That can be as much a strike against the issue as an argument for it, but I think it’s worth flipping through just to see what one half of our Justice League is going up against.
Giving readers an appropriate kaiju-sized threat (and appropriately a mecha themed superhero) to face off in the coming issues is promising things I’m not sure if INFINITE CRISIS can deliver, but I hope it can. INFINITE CRISIS has yet to really deliver on its initial premise. I still couldn’t tell you what’s different from Nightmare Robin besides the way he looks: his personality is a close analogue to the regular Damian Wayne. I understand that they can’t change the characters too much, but we could be told what motivates them or why we should care about what they do.
These characters should be inherently interesting enough to carry a story like this on its own. So far though, they haven’t necessarily proved to be. INFINITE CRISIS is riding fast on fumes from a gas tank that seems empty, throwing one possible threat after the next at the people reading it while hoping that the narrative arc is constant enough just to sustain itself by being there.
Recently, one of the team members from EARTH 2 left the book. They cited the format of the weeklies as the reason for the decision – they felt they couldn’t tell the best possible story they could. I feel like that’s what INFINITE CRISIS seems like to me, from a reader’s perspective. The creators are struggling to keep up with the demand of drafting and formatting an entire story on time every week, and maybe it’s one with which they would like to aim a little higher.
INFINITE CRISIS is riding fast on fumes from an empty gas tank. The driver is hoping the passengers don’t notice any time soon, because it has a destination to reach.
Maybe in a perfect world, INFINITE CRISIS would be a weekly counterpart to something like MULTIVERSITY instead of a video game that it’s not even trying very hard to cross-market with.
Maybe this is also the first time in comics history someone has complained that something isn’t enough of a marketing promotion.