Infinity Gauntlet #3

With all the talk of Thanos the last couple of months, let’s jump right into the middle of his previous most notable appearance: I’m talking about the Infinity Gauntlet mini-series. Thanos is still planning on destroying the universe in an effort to impress Death.

Back on Earth, Nick Fury, SHIELD and the rest of the Avengers are trying to save people from the looming apocalypse. There’s a one page long sequence of Black Widow failing to save an elderly lady from falling to her demise that is kind of awkward. It doesn’t necessarily do anything to advance the story.

Anyway, Adam Warlock is building a coalition of Earth’s mightiest heroes (and Doctor Doom) to combat Thanos, alongside some cosmic types like Drax the Destroyer, Firelord and Nova. But then there are some odd choices. Don’t get me wrong, Namor and Cloak of Cloak and Dagger fame are along for the ride. But at the same time, why them? And this is coming from someone who really likes the characters.

Getting back to the story, Adam Warlock makes an appeal to the most cosmic deities in the Marvel Universe to help him save everything. So after begrudgingly getting them on board, it’s off to save the day.

This issue, and the whole series in general, works thanks to the creative team. Jim Starlin’s writing works so well with this, as he either created or revamped most of these characters at some point. On the art side, George Perez does a heck of a job. He really does an amazing job at handling all these characters.

Infinity Gauntlet is a really fun super crossover that I kind of forgot about. It makes me feel really old remembering it came out twenty-one years ago. Time flies when you’re having fun.

Green Arrow #2

How did this issue of the new Green Arrow series compare to the last one? Well, to quote Matt Sharp of Weezer when Al Delvecchio asked how the fish sandwich was, “Not so good, Al.”

This second issue has Green Arrow still fighting the game of celebrity obsessed super villains from the last issue. They really don’t get much characterization for their leader Rush. Anyway, there plot is to show how evil they are by beating up (or killing, they’re not picky) Ollie on a YouTube like website. When he’s not wearing his quiver, our hero is feuding with some of Quinn Industries’ higher ups who are mad that he’s not as involved with the company as he should be.

Green Arrow #2 was a bit of a yawner, so there’s not much to go into. JT Krul’s take on the character and his new world works in theory, but this story just isn’t connecting. Maybe its cause the villains are pretty flat. I just don’t know.

On the art side, Dan Jurgens and George Perez are fine. I’m digging the art, so at least there’s that. The one thing that kind of freaks me out is the way they do Ollie’s face. He doesn’t have his trademark goatee, which is fine. But they draw him with stubble–only where the goatee would be! Make up your mind, either have him clean-shaven or not!

Basically, the less that’s said about this book is better. I’m not digging Krul’s writing that much. Does anyone recommend anything of his?

Green Arrow #1

This is a big week for DC fans and me, as you get the second of my New 52 reviews! A longtime coworker reader was able to hook me up with a copy of Green Arrow #1 which introduces us to the revamped emerald archer.

Where the classic Oliver Quinn represented the mid school super heroes (with someone, say Wildcat or Alan Scott being old school, and Kyle Rayner and Wally West being new school), the new version is much younger. Gone is his Robin Hood look, and replaced with a more modern super hero film inspired look.

Oliver is the young CEO of Quinn Industries, and he’s much more interested in his top secret Q-Core division which he uses to fund his super hero exploits, much like Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne do. He is aided by two of his Q-Core developers Naomi and Jax, who respectively serve him in a Barbara Gordon/Oracle information gathering and Microchip (Punisher’s weapon maker) capacity. Quinn is also now based in Seattle, as it seems that his previous home in Star City seems to not have translated itself in the new status quo.

This first issue was a lot of introduction and exposition, like how he’s more concerned about his vigilante project instead of his company and setting up its first story arc with him fighting a gang of super villains who look straight out of an early 1990s image comic. The art on the book is can’t miss, with Dan Jurgens on the pencils and George Perez on the inks. To me, it seemed like a weird team up. I think they should have gone with a more traditional Jurgens inker, like Brett Breeding or Josef Rubinstein.

Script wise, JT Krul’s story is just kind of average. It’s certainly not as intense as the last book of his I read, which is a good thing. But it felt like it was just trudging along. This reminded me a lot of the 1980s Blue Beetle series, which was about a rich guy blowing off his corporate responsibilities to play hero. It should be interesting to see what direction this book takes after issue #3, as Krul is leaving the title.

As a Ollie fan since he returned in the early 2000s, I do miss his extended family of characters, like Black Canary, Arsenal, his son Connor and even Mia. But in this new incarnation they’re completely missing. Naomi and Jax have some big shoes to fill in being his supporting cast.

So will be getting the next issue? Definitely. As we all know, I’m a super Dan Jurgens fan, so that’s enough of a reason for me to continue. And I do like the re-imagined Green Arrow, so this will be added to my pull list.

Now if some one could finally get me that copy of Hawk and Dove

30 Things I Like About Comics—#15 Crisis on Infinite Earths

 

We're Gonna Have A Crisis Tonight!

With all the talk of DC’s latest continuity reboot Flashpoint, let’s not forget the first time they tried to re-launch the company. Yes, we’re talking about the continuity fixing Crisis on Infinite Earths. They may have had other major crisis (Zero Hour, Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis, I’m looking at you), but my favorite was the original.

But before we get to that, let’s go over the backstory.

Since its inception, there were some continuity problems in DC. Characters’ powers and origins were changed back and forth as creative staff came and left the books. Things like Clark Kent as Superboy and how Robin never aged caused some early continuity headaches. But all of this was acceptable; this is super hero comics we are talking about.

In the late 1950s/early 1960s, DC began revamping their Golden Age characters under the direction of Julius Schwartz. The new Flash, Green Lantern and atom had nothing to do with their predecessors, other than their names and similar powers. Then in 1961’s Flash #123 everything changed. The current Flash, Barry Allen, wound up getting stuck in a parallel universe inhabited by the original Flash, Jay Garrick, and the heroes of his era. Since Barry’s Earth was the current one, it was called Earth-1 and Jay’s became Earth-2. The two earth’s respective super hero teams, the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America, would visit each other’s universe from time to time, as would their villains. Everything seemed to make sense…

As time went on, other Earths were introduced thus creating the DC multiverse. Earth-3 was ruled by super villains. Earth-C was straight out of a funny animal cartoon and inhabited by Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew. And that was just the beginning. As DC bought out its competitors, the characters formerly from Quality, Charlton and Fawcett would each get their own Earth. To make things confusing, not only were there multiple versions of the characters (Superman of Earth-1, Superman of Earth-2, Superman of Earth-324) but they would “switch” universes making everything way to complicated.

To celebrate DC’s fiftieth anniversary and to solve the continuity questions once and for all, writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez (with help from Len Wein) had the duty of putting together the ultimate crossover, called Crisis on Infinite Earths.

The story, in brief, was that originally there was only one universe. The Oan mad scientist Krona winds up travelling to the beginning of time to see how it all began. Unfortunately he messes up and causes the then forming universe to split into a million parallel versions of itself. This winds up also creating two godlike beings, the matter loving Monitor and the anti-matter loving Anti-Monitor.

Anti-Monitor goes on a bender destroying the universes and makes him more powerful. It’s up to Monitor to recruit the super heroes—and the super villains—of all the various Earths to team up and stop the Anti-Monitor, saving their realities. After twelve issues of battling the Anti-Monitor, this quantum physics violating cosmic epic ends with the Anti-Monitor being thrown into an exploding sun, resulting in a Big-Bang like effect that merges all the Earths into one. Everything is merged back together into just a single universe and none of the characters are the wiser about their past alternate versions, creating a perfect starting point for the new DC.

This George Perez cover has become one of the most iconic images of Supergirl.

Along the way, Supergirl and Barry Allen are among the many characters that sacrifice themselves to save the universe. The cover of Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 is one of the most well-known comic book covers of all time, showing Superman’s anguish as he carries the body of his fallen cousin.

What was I talking about again?

Anyway, I love Crisis because it’s a great problem solving story. It resolved the issues of having a multiverse in a tidy manner, all the while giving a fresh start for characters. The resulting John Byrne run on Superman and the Justice League International are some of my favorite comic stories of all time.

Crisis also leads to the History of the DC Universe two-issue series, where Monitor’s assistant Harbringer chronicles the new history of the universe. It’s by Wolfman and Perez, and is a series of splash panels with paragraphs explaining the new continuity of DC’s Earth.

Let’s hope that Flashpoint works out this well.