Buy Now!

Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

Infinite Crisis #2

Infinite Crisis #2

Scheduled to arrive in stores: November 9, 2005

Cover date: January 2006

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Phil Jimenez
Inker: Andy Lanning, Norm Rapmund, Marlo Alquiza and Larry Stucker

"The Survivors"

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey and Nick Newman

Click to enlarge

Infinite Crisis #2 Animal Man says goodbye to his family and heads to join the Cyborg on New Cronus. There he meets with Starfire, Cyborg, Red Tornado, Supergirl and Airwave, all preparing to join the fight against the entity at the center of the universe.

Firestorm hears voices in his head. Supergirl comforts him, telling about how she's having a hard time fitting in.

The society, including Giganta and Clayface, attack Power Girl. As they do, the clouds part and a familiar blue and red streak flies in to save the day.

It's the Superman of Earth-2.

At the Daily Planet, Perry calls Lois away from a call to the Kents to have her work on a new developing story. Black Condor, Phantom Lady, and the Human Bomb have all been found strung up on the Washington Monument, with The Ray and Uncle Sam still missing. It's a war.

Lois goes to Clark, who stands before the picture of his own death. He tells Lois that Bruce was right about him not being a hero since his own death.

Luthor (Society Luthor) appraises the situation with his Society. They're unable to find members of the Marvel family, and Calculator is still struggling to find the source of the OMACs. Luthor tells them to forgo the Marvel family and instead to bring in Black Adam.

Lex Luthor, green eyed, wanders in the arctic in his power suit. He debates whether he is Lex Luthor with himself, wonders why he is wearing the armor, wonders what is wrong with himself. Above him, Power Girl and Superman of Earth-2 streak by.

His eyes focus on them.

Superman of Earth-2 explains that Kara is not alone, and never has been, and that all will be explained. Inside a cave, Alex Luthor of Earth-3 and Superboy of Earth Prime introduce themselves to Power Girl.

Alex postulates that Power Girl might have fallen through a crack in reality, or that her interaction with the Anti-Monitor left her protected from the shifting timelines.

Power Girl remains perplexed, so Superman explains the multiverse and two parallel universe Superman origins (one is the Golden/Silver Age craft, the other is Birthright, as opposed to the Eradicator Matrix).

Superman continues to explain the differing dimensions, including how Superman of Earth-2 became part of the Justice Society, while Superman of Earth-1 became part of the Justice League.

Both eventually met.

(For more on this, see the Superman Homepage's Crisis Primer).

(Reviewer's note: Wonder Woman has been replaced by the Black Canary in the JSA envisioning. Make of that what you will, those of you who know what it means.)

Earth-3, Earth-Prime, and Earth-X are explained, along with note of the others.

The Anti-Monitor's plot to destroy the multiverse is explained, along with the destruction of his plans at the cost of the multiple Earths, with Superman of Earth-2, Superboy-Prime, Lois of Earth-2 and Alexander Luthor being the only ones spared in a Heaven-like structure of Alexander's own design, while other heroes of Earth-2 and other Earths folded into the current DC continuity.

Superman explained how he watched the universe play out, at first wary, but sure the Earth was in good hands, and then with the events of Countdown and Identity Crisis, he could no longer stand idly by, breaking from his prison, which had begun to warp with the strain of the events.

Superman of Earth-2 and Power Girl head off to talk, while Alexander tries to figure out what's going on with the villains.

Superman shows Power Girl Lois Lane, laying in a bed, and tells Power Girl that she is dying.

On the moon, Booster Gold returns from the future. He's late, the watchtower has already been destroyed. He finds that he cannot return to the future because what he's done merits a death sentence, so instead he goes to seek out Blue Beetle's Scarab.

At the Flying Pig Casino, Joker questions King (from the Royal Flush Gang) as to why he's not been invited to the Society. The King laughs, telling him that it's because he's too unstable. Joker fries him with his electrocution buzzer and leaves, saying that it isn't funny. All around him are the rest of the (dead) Royal Flush Gang.

Power Girl goes to touch Lois's hand, and when she does, her memories flood back, all of the years before the Crisis. Lois wakes up to tell Power Girl that she's like a daughter to them.

Batman attempts to check the black box from the Watchtower. Alfred comes to patch up his wounds from Mongul. Bruce shouts at him, telling him that he has to wait. Alfred chastises him, saying that his father never wanted to be alone.

Brother Eye interrupts Bruce to tell him that the flaw which got 60 percent of the OMACs has been patched, and asks Bruce why he's trying to stop Brother Eye, since it is doing what he asked, destroying people like Wonder Woman, who have gone rogue.

On Themyscera, Wonder Woman does battle with the OMACs, who have decended. Wonder Woman tells Artemis that the OMACs have humans in them. Artemis asks if they should not attack, and just let Themyscera fall. Wonder Woman says that she doesn't know.

Superman of Earth-2 explains that Lois is dying of old age, but the end of the utopian prison was enough to exacerbate her condition. He discusses the joyless condition of the DCU, and the way its heroes kill, wipe memories, and don't live up to Superman of Earth-2's expectations.

He tells Power Girl, now Kara, that they have to make the current Earth forgotten, so that the old Earth can return.

5Neal: Story - 5: Incredible work. Captivating, emotional, and yet it spans the entirety of the DCU. I'm still impressed. Unlike Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis involves the whole of DC, concerns real and lasting consequences, and I feel, thusfar is adequately exploring the emotional conflicts involved.

That's not to say there aren't issues, but most of them will be resolved, I am assured, knowing Johns's work, over the course of the series, especially given the nature of the project and what it has to be in order for DC to put such a stake behind it.

Where House of M has felt less like a re-alignment of a universe more than a story (though it will re-align the universe, no doubt), this story is playing like a re-alignment, but will likely be just a really good story. That's my guess, so far. Some things will change, but it's becoming clear to me, as was stated, this is not a re-alignment. This appears to be a story to explain away the nagging differences and continuity errors presented by the Crisis on Infinite Earths, and it is due.

I'll save my speculation for a moment, and just talk the scenes in the book. There wasn't a single one I didn't like, which, for those of you who know my reviewing style, is near miraculous. There were some where I questioned the motivation, but, as I said, I do believe all will be explained.

The Animal Man scene, where he went up to New Cronus, felt very evocative to me of the spirit of the original Crisis, and I think that's intentional. That's the eighties epic as designed and initiated in the Crisis on Infinite Earths paradigm. You get the heroes together at some random place, send them off to do the task, and boffo! Epic.

Things are much more complicated now, and yet altogether similar. Before, they'd stand around, give their names, define their powers, and then go to work. Now, we know who they are, or are somewhat expected to, so a lot of time is devoted to character as opposed to plot. Notably, Supergirl comforting Firestorm, Airwave's dilemma, and the reaction to New Cronus as opposed to a large, textual introduction.

The origins that Superman describe reflect the (UGH) Birthright continuity, which I despise, but which is, nonetheless, termed correct of late. I hope this series at least explains Birthright. I don't pin that one on Johns, though. I pin that on Waid and Berganza.

Superman's reveal to save Power Girl was just INCREDIBLE. Unexpected, and totally incredible. I expected Superman, Supergirl, I did not expect Superman of Earth-2, which is weird, because looking back on the story now, it makes total sense.

Clark and Lois at the Daily Planet was also touching, and evocative of what all of the heroes involved are going through. Not pointing their fist at an Anti-Monitor, but rather, looking inward at the things which make them heroes.

Do I believe that Clark, that Superman has not been inspirational since Doomsday?

No. Categorically no. In fact, most of my Superman experience and in my opinion, the best Superman stories written have happened since he died, with rare exception.

Do I believe that Bruce saying what he said would have that reaction on Clark though? You bet I do. I think Clark is the ultimate self-critical nerd, just like me, so I identify with that. It's not true, but then, Bruce probably doesn't believe it wholly either. He said it to motivate Clark by being a @#$%, and that's what Batman does. He solves problems by any means necessary, which is his flaw. It's what drives him to be alone, as excellently hammered home by the Alfred scene.

It's playing the audience up, I believe. We see Superman telling Power Girl that this world is negative, dark, and has to be destroyed. Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are all showing this to be the case through their character failures.

Once this is established and hammered home, provided they're not going to destroy this dark universe, the game is to show how that is categorically not the case.

Superman will realize that he's been an inspiration and quit questioning himself, Batman will find solace in his family, which he needs, and my guess is that Wonder Woman will decide to buy the "no killing" thing, and/or break off and become a free agent of some kind. I don't know. Point being? I do believe that this will resolve itself in this series, and I don't think they're heralding the end of these heroes, as some have suspected, nor do I think Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman will be replaced.

Luthor's dementia is curious. I'm not sure how it fits into my theory ahead, but I'm interested to see if he's being manipulated. It makes sense if the pre-Crisis or blue-eyed Luthor has taken his place that he'd monkey with the other Luthor's brain to try and stop him from stopping him. Really cool scene, and then to see Superman and Power Girl above him, I can't help but think that'll factor in later.

Booster coming back was neat. Him hunting for the scarab leads me to believe that he'll take his friend's place, and who better?

The Royal Flush Gang brutally murdered by the Joker, finally answering the question of why he wasn't in Villains United, and showing that he'll be playing a part in the ensuing... great.

Themyscera being attacked ties in well to Wonder Woman, and shows the severity of Brother Eye's hatred of Wonder Woman. Makes you wonder if Society Luthor wants to know who's in charge to take it over and direct it, no doubt.

It also allows you to play a little dilemma off of Wonder Woman's character shift. She's admonishing them not to kill the OMACs, but aren't the OMACs using lethal force, and thusly should be killed as Medusa or Max? Artemis calls her on it, and it's a tense moment.

I note that if Superman of our Earth is a total pessimist and thus not worthy of the mantle of a hero in the Superman of Earth-2's opinion, what the heck is he, for having watched all of the badness happen without trying to escape, and then determining that instead of returning the Earth to its former glory the only goal is to make the dark world forgotten, well, that's questionable motivations. More on that in a second.

This issue has a double-edged sword in it that I have to address. That is the enormous amount of time and space devoted to explaining the DCU pre-Crisis and what happened during the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

It's good, because it brings us all, even those of us who have not been reading the story thusfar, into the story. It also explains what may be coming, shows us who the characters are pretty early on, and gets all of the summary out of the way so we can jump straight to the story.

It's also old hat to anyone who knows the DCU.

I admit a certain vicarious thrill at sitting through it again in an INCREDIBLY written summary. It felt a lot like reading the early Flash issues, where Johns humanizes and gives credibility to his villains by refreshing their story and bringing you to square one with the past.

This has the benefit of getting us there, but it also has the detraction of making it take longer and being more decompressed.

Here, I don't believe it hurts the story at all, because likely, this will be collected and remembered and read in sequence with Crisis, Identity, and then Infinite, respectively, so a summary and evaluation of what's happened since is somewhat necessary.

But here's the beef. For those of you who read my Smallville reviews, you know I have big issue with something that they do in the middle of every episode. They stop and give you a short summary of what happened so far. This is because people who watch Smallville also watch other shows that end halfway through Smallville, and then tune in.

In an effort to accommodate those people, they do the summary, which really doesn't tell you anything you don't already know, and doesn't necessarily draw you in any more than you would be if you planned to watch any way.

This issue is essentially a summary in the middle of the story. The reason it works so well as opposed to the Smallville summaries is because it is played in a touching, unique manner, in a context where the characters are seeking to understand these events, and it's also strong work based in character.

That said, there's the obvious motive to bring everyone up to speed, and I'm not sure how that sits with me.

When I was a kid, it was a real pain in the butt to pick up stories like Zero Hour mid-stream and not know what was going on. I didn't have the Superman Homepage, or eighty other places where I could find summaries online. Heck, I didn't have online. I either had the stories, or they had to summarize for me, or I had to ask someone and hope they knew. That's the origin of the comic book guy, the one who knew what was going on and why.

Now? Now there are, by my count, approximately a million summaries out there for every comic, and for EVENTS like Infinite Crisis, there are articles in comic magazines (which we didn't have back in the day, really), internet articles, message boards, just ALL KINDS of places to get caught up. Everyone can be the comic guy. Heck, DC even releases periodic cheaper summaries of the stories as they go on (The Countdown trade, Infinite Crisis primer, etc).

So does it make sense to summarize mid-stream like that?

Further, this is DC pandering to people who are NOT hip to the jive, who don't pay eager attention and buy every issue of OMAC, Villains United, Day of Judgement, Return of Donna Troy, Rann/Thanagar, Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, etc. So what makes sense, to give a flowing, unbroken narrative to their die-hards, or to segue with summary for those just joining us who don't spend too much on comics?

Were the summary not so well done, that would have collapsed this issue for me, and made it a total waste.

Which is what makes it so remarkably good. It takes the summary, it makes it relevant in context, and poignant, and the narrative is unbroken. It seems like it should be there. For a continuity nut like me, so far this has been the story of stories.

Now, my theory. Probably crap, so bear with me.

Superman of Earth-2 wants current Earth gone. A strange new Luthor has appeared and is organizing a Society of villains with the goal of wiping the minds of the heroes.

What do you think the odds are the Superman of Earth-2, with his high perch, is aware of this? And what do you think the odds are he might try and get ahold of that device and turn it to his own ends, restoring the "joyous" DCU?

And what are the odds that this might be one of the things that leads to the fight with our Byrne Superman as shown on the cover of issue five?

Just some thoughts there.

5Nick: Story - 5: I loved this issue. Absolutely loved it. The first one was great, but this absolutely blew it out of the water. I read that Dan Didio told Johns that this was his best work, and I'm inclined to agree with him.

Infinite Crisis continues to focus on minor characters in the DCU, but it chooses these minor characters well. Animal Man for example, played a key role in the post-crisis DCU in Grant Morrison's (fantastic) run on the book almost twenty years ago. Using Airwave and Jade from All Star Squadron and the prevalence of the Titans (DC's top selling book immediately leading up to the first Crisis) continue the feel. The whole series is just starting to feel like Crisis, and I like it a lot.

And then, of course, the best page in the book. The return of the Earth-2 Superman. I'm not someone who really misses the Earth-2 Superman; I'm far fonder of the "real" pre-Crisis Earth-1 Superman. Regardless, it's great to see Kal-L back.

And then Superman realizes the truth. Maybe Batman's a little extreme, but he's right. Finally, our hero recognizes that the world is spiraling out of control, and he needs to do something about it.

Mind-wiping villains! Let me clear up that ambiguous grammar: villains who are intending to mind-wipe others! I don't know how a Marvel (or I guess Black Adam) will make this happen, but it does bring something to mind. I'm sure I'm not the only one who remembers a possible Superman revamp back in the late 90s. It was proposed by Grant Morrison, Mark Waid, Tom Peyer, and one more writer that I can't think of at the moment. Regardless, it involved Brainiac erasing everyone's memory of Superman, except Superman's, and Clark would need to restart his life as Superman. It was shot down at the time in favor of the Loeb/Kelly/etc creative change of late 1999, but might it be reappearing in a different form here? I can't help but notice that both Waid and Morrison have editorial positions now, and along with Rucka and Johns are charged with leading the post-post-Crisis DCU (us fanboys are really going to need a better term than that). I was against the revamp seven years ago, but things have changed. Also, this would be a great way for DC to enact a revamp without actually erasing the last 20 years of books (just no one remembers it). Maybe I'm right, maybe I'm not. Regardless, the idea of Luthor (whichever one this is, I can't keep them straight) brainwashing heroes is an appealing one.

Then Kal-L takes Power Girl to his fortress (which sure looks like it appeared in last weeks Superman) for the best part of this issue. Look kids, you don't need to go out and read Crisis and History of the DCU (although you should), because Geoff was kind enough to fill us in here. I'm sure some people thought this was just filler, but I thought it was fantastic. Even for someone who knows the history, this stuff can get confusing, and this explanation was great. I especially liked the perspective on the post-Crisis DCU. First it was bright. Then things began to go wrong. Of course, everything they show going wrong didn't last. Jason's back, Superman's alive, Batman's healed, Artemis is gone, and Hal is back as GL. Doesn't seem like too bad of a universe to me.

Booster's back, and it looks like he did spend some time in the future between OMAC and this book and Joker's pissed that everyone thinks he's too crazy to work with. Great stuff.

Then when Kara touches Lois, everything comes back to her.

The OMAC threat to Themyscira is fantastic. The destruction of paradise is a nice touch to the already dismal book. And Truth and Justice is the elimination of all Amazons. I suppose that fits rather well. Diana killed Max, so it's only justice to go after her.

And of course, what would an IC book be without a shocking final page. Kal-L wants his Earth back, and he'll erase the current Earth to do it.

I don't want to speculate too much on the plausibility of them doing this, I'll save that for this month's Kryptonian Council, but I will say its going to make for a great series. Overall this whole book just impressed me. They managed, at least in my opinion, to write a story dealing with the multiverse that doesn't end up confusing anyone. If I wanted to explain pre- and post-Crisis to someone I would show them this book. In a year filled with fantastic stuff, this was probably my single favorite issue. Fantastic stuff.

5Neal: Art - 5: I recall reading Johns joking that even if the whole project is a wash, at least we'll have something to look at.

Truer words. This art is just incredible. Dr. Psycho is a little off, and Power Girl seems a little different, but they're all still distinctive. The spreads, the splashes, everything in these pencils scream epic.

It's like that opening battle with Hulk in Ultimates, where you see the double spread of the roof coming in on everything and you just stare, and stare at the page before reading anything. This comic brings that in abundance. Every panel is distinctive.

5Nick: Art - 5: I could comment again on the great work Jimenez is doing, but I did that last month. So instead I'll comment on a few pages that stood out. Kal-L's appearance was great. This is exactly the right place to use a splash, and this one was great. His rendition of the Planet, similar to McKone's from six years back, was great.

By far, the best panel in the book is Clark's transformation to Superman. I can tell I really like a page when I want to own the original art and hang it on my wall. This is one of those pages.

The entire multiverse flashback was great, not only for the art, but for the composition of the panels. The mirroring between Earth's 1 and 2, the separation of the other heroes that were incorporated into the main Earth was extremely well done, and notice how many of those "other" heroes have already been involved in IC. Beetle's dead, the Marvels are down, the Freedom Fighters are half dead, and something is sure to happen with Superboy Prime before this is over. The "shards" of the modern DCU were also fantastic. I only wished that they had included a panel for the DCU circa-1999, when things started to look better after the dark days of the early-to-mid 90s.

The splash of Themyscira was fantastic, and then when they zoom into the street-level fighting we see a fiery war zone.

Back in Countdown, or maybe in OMAC, I said that Jimenez was the perfect artist for this book, and I think this issue proves it.

5Neal: Cover Art - 5: I got the Power Girl looking at the past cover.

I'll lose a point because Power Girl is just a little out of proportion on the page, but otherwise, this is an incredible assortment of DCU history, evocative of continuity and attentive to everything the last year has concerned.

I'll give that point I took back because of the fact that this cover has the Matrix escape from Krypton over the Birthright one. Woooooooooooootah and amen.

5Nick: Cover Art - 5: It's this kind of effort that makes Pérez a legend in the comics industry. Just look at the level of detail he puts in every one of the fragments. And the fantastic thing is, every one of these shards is an event. It's not just a picture of random characters; it's a history of the DCU on a cover. If you actually take the time to study them, you'll see the beauty of this cover. DC: get Pérez to expand this concept to a poster and I'll be first in line to buy it.

The Lee cover gets a 4 rating though... As mentioned many times previously, DC owns me, and therefore I buy every alternative cover that's out there. And just like last month, I'm not impressed with Jim Lee's work. The art itself is fine, but there are a few things that detract from the cover. Kara looks a little weird, and Lois-2 looks way too young. Considering she's dying in the book, drawing her to look like a supermodel just doesn't fit. I mean, she's over 50. I realize that's what Jim Lee does, but it just doesn't work here. It's still a fine cover, but it just doesn't compare to the stellar Pérez cover.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2006

February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006

Back to the Mild Mannered Reviews contents page.

Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2006.