INFINITE CRISIS #7: Otherwise known as: The Issue That Outstayed It's Welcome. I read IC #7, and thought, "Holy cow, that was bad!" That didn't seem like it could be right, so an hour later, I read it again. Same thing. Then I decided to read #1-6 again, to see where it went off the rails -- and, no, I liked those issues to greater or lesser extents. And it made me understand I didn't like #7 because the main story should have STOPPED at the end of #6, leaving this just for wrapup and explanation.
In some ways this issue is perfectly encapsulated by the double page spread on pages 2 & 3 -- everyone is sort of just standing around and posing, heroes and villains all mixed together with no difference between which one is who and why or what they're doing. That sketchy background, looking half-finished, and hastily colored, as if someone in production said, "FedEx is about to leave the lobby, I don't care if it's finished, we have to ship it NOW!" That rushed, confusing, muddled feeling is how I felt about this comic.
I understand that some of the thrill of the super-hero comic is in the big, epic battle -- witness the scene in IDENTITY CRISIS where Deathstroke takes on the entire JLA -- but the corollary to that is that you need to be able to tell what's going on! Between pages where hard-to-identify characters maim other hard-to-identify characters and the hugely missed opportunities (I winced when Batman confronts Deathstroke, the scene cuts away, then cuts back to Batman's "Hah, I won!" without showing a fight we might have all actually wanted to see; or how about the cover's promise of Robin vs Bizarro?) this was absolutely unsatisfying on the action score.
Reading #7 after immediately reading #1-6, the whole Every Villain Hits Metropolis thing is completely out of left field -- it makes no sense in the context of the story presented to you unless you also read the VILLIANS UNITED special. I really resent that as both a reader and a retailer: it isn't playing fair with the audience.
It is also used to very poor effect, and lots of illogic -- like on the 2-3 spread where you see Sivana as one of the combatants. A 70-year old man whose greatest power is to say "heh, heh, heh"? Yeah, he'll last 6 seconds against Aquaman. Or how about the big money shot with Doomsday and the Supermen? Where'd Doomsday COME from? Sure, they busted him out of his cell at Riker's, right?
But if there's a core single problem with this issue, it's Superboy Prime. Simply put, he's not an interesting enough antagonist to have him come back, Jason Vorhees-style, again and again. His arc through the first six went well enough, but he too should have perished when the tower was destroyed last issue (or, rather, he probably should never have come out of the Speed Force in the first place)
Speaking of that, WTF on the whole Speed Force thing? Up until now, it hasn't been portrayed as a "place" that someone could be "imprisoned", nor as one where time "passes" -- but Bart Allen ages to the point where people mistake him for Wally, and Superboy Prime isn't now "Superman Prime"?
I also really could have done without the gory beating to death of the GA Superman. It's not so much about the action (though, given that "Earth Prime" was originally meant to be OUR earth, which makes Superboy Prime US, beating to death the Golden Age is probably an interesting [if unintended] metaphor for comics today), as the DEPICTION of that action. Why do there have to be red red blood splatters everywhere? Why do, for that matter, do we have to see the effect of the acid on Alexander Luthor's face? It's unnecessary, and I think it's a real mistake that you really shouldn't hand this series to, say, an eight year old. Superhero comics are supposed to be for kids, too!
A significant part of the ultimate failure or success of this book is wrapped around the "Big 3" and how their arcs parse. We've a mixed report in that case. The good news is that Batman's arc works really well, and taken as a whole through the 7 issues was the one shining spot of this series, breaking him down as the High Asshat of the DCU to someone who is going to wrestle his demons with his friend's help.
For Superman, I'm a little iffy. The charge leveled at him was "inaction", of not being inspiring, and so on. Except, that charge doesn't really stick in the first place so any purported change in the character is muted at best.
Finally, Wonder Woman's arc is a complete mess. In issue #1 she's apparently going to kill Mongul... well, just cuz, I guess. But that's a completely different circumstance than the killing of Max Lord - that was staged in such a way as to have been the right thing to do -- she didn't have any choice, and she didn't seem to relish it, or be in any way anything other than pragmatic about it. No, what's at issue here is her public perception of her actions. I mean, forgive me if I'm wrong, but isn't she a fugitive from international justice? As well as no longer an Ambassador, since her nation is no more? We were shown that the public seems to fear and hate her, yet at the end of #7 no one is talking about any of this, and lalalalala, she's just blithely hanging around the docks with Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne, in front of the entire crew of Bruce's steamer. Mm.
Her "It's not worth it" rings utterly false as the epiphany for her -- of course one doesn't slaughter a helpless and defeated opponent; but that was never her issue in the first place. Regardless of anything else that happens, and whether the friendship can "heal", I made my disbelief saving throw that Clark and Bruce wouldn't insist Diana immediately deal with the charges, and not go off and "find herself".
I also kinda have a problem with the "new earth" concept -- first off the original CRISIS showed how well it works to retroactively change backstories in an interconnected universe, and we've had 20 years building a new continuity, and now it's in question again? Ugh. I also find this problematic because it is accompanied with the One Year Jump, leaving me felling hit at both sides. I sure hope 52 is really good.
For the most part, INFINITE CRISIS held up to what it was meant to be -- a big, 'splody universe-spanning thingy. Read as a chunk, I thought #1-6 were a decent example of that kind of a story. Overall, I'd probably give the first six a very high OK, maybe reaching a low GOOD at points. But, ugh, #7 was AWFUL, sorry.
Maybe more later....