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Infinite Crisis #1

Infinite Crisis #1

Scheduled to arrive in stores: October 12, 2005

Cover date: December 2005

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Phil Jimenez
Inker: Andy Lanning

"Infinite Crisis"

Reviewed by: Nick Newman and Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

Infinite Crisis #1 Superman flies down to the moon, landing in the rubble of the recently destroyed Watchtower. He tells Batman that there is no trace of J'onn anywhere. Batman pulls the security black box from the rubble; it should reveal who's responsible for the destruction. Wonder Woman steps from the shadows and Bruce tells her she doesn't belong there. The world is scared of all of the heroes because of what she did. Everyone on Earth has seen her execute Max Lord.

In Smallville, Conner Kent watches scenes from around the world as the Titans fight the OMACs. His communicator won't stop beeping. For a moment he begins to take off his disguise, but then he stops. He's afraid of the programming Luthor might have put in him. He sits back down and ignores the call for help. Somewhere else, a group of figures watches him and others throughout the world. They know that if they don't get involved, Earth is doomed.

Donna Troy and Starfire say goodbye to Nightwing as they prepare to leave to confront the danger in space with Supergirl. The three leave and Nightwing swings away. In an alley, two policemen attempt to apprehend the Ratcatcher when a nearby man suddenly turns OMAC. The OMAC incinerates Ratcatcher before turning skyway. Rising from the alley, the OMAC sees Nightwing, but at that moment the 'Truth and Justice' protocol overrides their programming. Nightwing watches as thousands of OMACs gather above the city.

Out in deep space, Kyle Rayner and others continue to fight the interstellar war. Guy Gardner contacts Kyle, telling him that if the Guardians aren't going to do something, Guy's going to take charge of the Corps. Inside their fortress, the Guardians reflect on the fact that Oa is no longer in the center of the universe and the shift in balance is throwing the universe into chaos.

Riddler stands above Gotham directing his troops when suddenly the Rock of Eternity appears over Gotham and explodes. Captain Marvel smashes into the ground, mumbling about the Spectre killing the wizard. The Spectre hovers above Gotham as the seven deadly sins descend on the city.

Outside of Metropolis, the Freedom Fighters investigate a warehouse that reportedly housed a meeting of villains. As they open the door they are greeted by a group of villains ready to fight.

The three heroes prepare to leave the moon when Superman hears a heartbeat. A punch sends him flying into the atmospheric shield around the ruins as Mongul steps out to confront Batman and Wonder Woman.

The Freedom Fighters put up a good fight, but they are quickly overcome by the villains.

Diana jumps at Mongul with her sword, but he slaps her away. With a boom Superman rejoins the right, blasting Mongul with his heat vision, but another punch sends him flying.

As more of the Fighters fall, Human Bomb realizes that Phantom Woman is dead. With a scream, he tears open his containment suit and explodes in a desperate attempt to avenge her. As the blast fades, Dr Polaris is down, but Bizarro leaps onto the Bomb and savagely beats him to death.

As Mongul prepares to crush Batman, Kal returns with a savage rage and a few punches later the alien is down. Diana leaps with her sword raised, ready to execute the villain. Superman grabs her blade inches above Mongul's head. She pulls her sword away, slashing Kal's hands. Superman says he doesn't even know her anymore, and she responds that she is who the world needs to be. With a surge of strength Mongul leaps to his feet and dashes away.

As the villains take down Uncle Sam, Damage attempts to come to his rescue, but the Psycho Pirate fills his mind with content thoughts before dragging the subdued hero away. Luthor needs him alive. Sam continues to fight until Sinestro drops him with a bolt of energy.

Superman returns from his search, but Mongul found a teleporter and got away. Holding his hands, Superman confronts Wonder Woman. She defends her decision to kill Lord, sometimes there's no other choice. Bruce tells her that thinking like that is what caused the mindwipes. He tells her that she should have remained in Paradise, and Wonder Woman counters that he needs to stop judging everyone but himself. Batman tells Superman that he needs to stop relating to the humans, he's Superman. He shouldn't even be on the moon right now, the world needs him. Kal tells them that he's not a god and he won't control everything, but Bruce tells him that the heroes need him as an inspiration and the last time Superman inspired anyone...he was dead. The three walk away from the watchtower.

The shadowy figures continue watching, realizing that they need to take a role if anyone is going to be saved. One of them begins pounding on a barrier until it shatters away. Superman, Superboy, Alexander Luthor, and Lois Kent stand there, ready to reenter the universe for the first time since the left it at the end of the Crisis.

5Neal: Story - 5: This is one of the hardest reviews to write, the review for the EVENT. You don't know what's going to happen. You don't know whether the next sick issues will be the biggest pile of suck since, well, whatever's pulling the heroes of Rann deep in space, or the biggest rock since Shazam decided to get ripped and fall on Gotham City.

But in context, out of context, no matter how you put it, this issue rocked the house.

Oh, not in that lone issue of Superman way. Not in that "Well, that's a neat twist of plot" kind of way. All of which can carry an issue to a five.

But in a HOLY MONKEYS, WHAT IS GOING ON? kind of way. A, "Holy crap, they might just kill anyone and everyone." kind of way.

Not the "Oh, they killed Aquaman, but he's gonna be back next year." Not, "Yeah, everything's gonna change forever because Lex Luthor now has B13 tech."

This is event for keeps, you can tell just from the tone, and it 's taking what Identity Crisis did and vastly improving upon the scope, the drama, and the characters involved.

That's just my impression from the FIRST ISSUE.

No, DC isn't paying me. Yes, I raised my expectations very high, like with Star Wars, and expected to be disappointed. I was not.

There is not a single moment in this issue that does not POP mythology.

There is not a single moment in this issue where I did not say, "I'll be reading this again.". To be honest, this is the first comic since the Death of Superman that I have read more than five times since I bought it.

I didn't have that with Identity Crisis. I didn't have that with Imperiex.

This is the first time I've felt like I'm in the middle of something TRULY epic, not just categorically cool, in a comic book world in forever.

Scoff if you will. This is the first really tightly packed story that I haven't rolled my eyes and said, "Aw, man, they're just cramming it in there for the sake of extrapolation." Every sentence in this work has a point. It seems, to me, very painstakingly crafted with love by a guy who knows this universe. Just seeing the Gotham Central characters encountering Shazam was enough to get me going.

Then there's the reveal, at the end, of Superman of Earth-2, coming back from obscurity to perhaps save the day, along with Superboy, Earth-3 Lex, and Lois. They've been gone for 20 years, and now they're back.

People asked me what I thought about bringing back the multi-verse.

I was initially against it. I said to myself, "It was taken for a reason."

But consider. It was taken at a time when Dark Knight Returns was a new concept. When the serious take on a hero was all accomplished in one issue, pretty much, or not at all. Fans were kids, and they didn't have the time, energy, or resources to figure out what the heck all of these Earths and continuities were (though many did, not to disparage them, but I' m just saying, I see why they did what they did.). It made sense. The world, I believe, couldn't handle a continually expanding storyline in a marginalized single issue world.

Now, we are in the world of extrapolation. You have six issue to tell a story. Your audience is largely captive or gone. They are devoted or absent. They have an internet to look up every character, and a thousand fans like me willing to fill in blanks for them.

This is the perfect atmosphere for a continuing, fully expansive series of infinite and expanding universes and concepts in the hands of hundreds of creators all focused on making it vital and interesting.

This issue is step one.

How do I feel about the Freedom Fighters getting whacked? Sad. It hurt to see Bizarro go murdering. It hurt to see Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman at odds. I hated to see the heroes flailing.

You know what, though? It all made sense. It was all poignant. It establishes this dilemma, this huge dilemma.

To answer the criticism I've been hearing, is Superman whining? No. I don't think so. There's a difference between lamenting your powers, considering yourself an alien, and threatening to pop people's heads off arbitrarily. That's Austen and Azzarello. And then there's building up a dilemma you can't stop for six months (what happened with Lord and around the whole universe), an unstoppable agony for all the heroes involved, and then having Superman react to the failings of idealism with a little distress. I don't think that's whining. FOR TOMORROW is whining.

There are a ton of homages you can see here. Mongul with Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman is an obvious reference to "For the Man Who Has Everything", where the heroes are all stuck fighting Mongul, and because of their love for each other and their individual characters fighting against the things that would destroy them, they manage to conquer Mongul. Here, they barely succeed, because they're so fractured that they can't work together.

There's an interesting bit of symbolism...I saw Greg Rucka at Olympic in Lacey yesterday, and he pointed out that the original plan was to have WW shlop off Max's head with the sword she has there in Infinite Crisis, but the problem was that in Sacrifice she had a broken wrist, and the situation didn't lend itself to a sword no matter how you played it. But when she brings it down on Mongul, that's even more symbolism as to Wonder Woman's shift. Superman says, "I don't know you any more.", and that sword is another factor in that...

The ending is all we could hope for, and I'm desperate, begging for the next issue.

It's everything I hoped for and more. You all know me, I could find a reason to hate Mother Theresa. But for Infinite Crisis, I am ON BOARD.

Johns, you da man.

5Nick: Story - 5: Reviewing a story like this is extremely difficult, because what we're essentially doing is watching the DCU be retooled for the next twenty years. Do I believe it's going to be a full reboot, no I don't. I do believe, however, that it will fundamentally change the universe. And let's face it, it's not a horrible idea. The first crisis was a fantastic idea that was never brought to its full potential, and the Zero Hour fix failed to fix much of anything. Regardless, I don't think its fair, to Geoff Johns or DC as a whole, to view this story negatively just because I'm afraid of where the DCU might be a year from now. By issue four or five that may be possible, but for now I'm going to review these stories as stand-alone, without commending or degrading based upon the implications for the DCU.

And what a story this was. I've said many times before that Johns is the best guy at DC right now, possibly the best in the industry as far as superhero books are concerned, and I couldn't be happier to have him at the helm of Crisis.

This is the first time that the big three have gotten together since the execution, and I really love the interaction between them. Clark's response to Bruce's black box shows how paranoid he's become. And I absolutely love the way Diana is being portrayed. Throughout the issue her dialog is spot on, and the inclusion of her cape and sword really emphasize her change as a character.

I really have to wonder why Conner isn't out fighting with his friends. Yes, I realized he almost killed his best friend and his girlfriend, but now he's watching the same two people fight for their lives on TV and he won't go to help them. It just seems a little off to me.

The OMACs continue to threaten the planet, but their response to Dick Grayson is very interesting. Why did spotting him trigger a new protocol, and why are they all gathering over Bludhaven? This does seem the best place to mention the fact that the one thing this book is missing is a look at the impact on the DCU. Maybe it'll be covered in other books, and it's not like there's a lot of spare room in this one, but I really want to see what the rest of the planet is doing as OMAC soldiers are attacking heroes all around them.

I'm still not crazy about the end to Day of Judgment, but the seven sins worked pretty well in JLA/JSA a few years back, so I'll give it a chance.

The death of the Freedom Fighters shows us a lot, and was one of the best moments in the book. It's fantastic to see villains finally actually be evil. There is, of course, the problem that if they stay like this, everyone but a handful of heroes will be dead by the end of this, but at least this shows they mean business. I especially liked Bizarro beating the Human Bomb to death. You'll notice that he lost his "#1" sign during the fight, signaling the arrival of a newer and more dangerous Bizarro (and after that abysmal race between Zoom and Bizarro, I say it's about time). I'm sad to see DC killing off heroes (I actually liked The Ray), but if it gets us better stories then I am all for it.

By far the best part of this issue though, is the confrontation with Mongul. First there is the very clearly homage to "For the Man Who Has Everything". When I turned the page and saw that panel I realized how great this issue would be. Diana continues to become the warrior she needs to be. By far the best line though was Bruce's comment. The last time you inspired someone, you were dead. Maybe a little harsh, but given the years of Superman whining and soul-searching, its not that far off. If Crisis accomplishes nothing else than making Superman the head of the DCU again, then I'm all for it.

I can't tell you if I want the multiverse back, and I can't tell you if I think all of these deaths are going to turn out well, but I can tell you that is a great story. I completely agree with Neal. This is truly epic. This is something that is going to change DC comics.

5Neal: Art - 5: I don't even have to say anything. Look at the level of detail in every single motion this comic takes. The spreads are all posters. Each individual page is a world in peril. Even the small scenes, like Mongul, take you for a ride.

I've rarely seen art on this high of a scale. It's like peeking in on the best movie ever made. The lighting, the color, everything is just amazing. I'm sold on this work.

5Nick: Art - 5: Phil Jimenez is one of the finest artists out there, but I will admit I generally have a problem with his art. That was definitely not the case here. Every single panel is beautiful. I want about six of them hanging on my wall (so if you happen to be reading this, I'll be happy to store that original art for you). The Man Who Has Everything was made that much better by the fantastic art. The pencils are only half of it though. The coloring was just gorgeous. It achieved 'lighting' affects that most comics couldn't even hope for. Look at the death of the Human Bomb. The light effects add so much to that page. The subdued colors on the moon were perfect as well. Every now and then a book comes along that I need to own a page of. This is definitely one of those books.

5Neal: Cover Art - 5: When I saw this in the previews, I wasn't that impressed. Now that I see it in the context of all things involved, and with the cover, and with the excitement, maybe I'm swept away, maybe I just got a good chance to actually really knuckle down and look at it, and all of the hard work that went into it. There are a number of characters, all in appropriate poses, and it makes total symbolic sense now that I've read all of the lead-ins.

I only buy one cover, so I bought the one with Superman looking down in the focal point.

5Nick: Cover Art - 5: Unlike Neal, I did buy both covers, mainly because by this point DC pretty much owns my soul (ask me how many copies of Identity Crisis #1 I own). The Lee cover is great. Batman and Diana are perfect and I really like the background. Superman, however, looks pretty bad. This cover earns a five, but only barely. The Perez cover on the other hand, is a masterpiece. The composition of this cover is just perfect. The three 'families' arranged amid the crises facing the DCU was a perfect cover. This one earns the highest five I can give.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2005

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