Tagged: Crisis On Infinite Earths

MINDY NEWELL: Paging Dr. House

This past Tuesday, August 30 to be exact, the New York Times ran an article by Dave Itzkoff about the “new” DC reboot. It was called “Heroes Take Flight, Again.”

It’s an interesting article. And its tone is that of a penultimate eulogy. To quote Itzkoff, “Within the DC universe, this new status quo is the result of efforts by the fleet-footed Flash to alter the course of history. But in the real world it is a last-ditch plan to counteract years of declining sales throughout the comics business.”

It’s rather like an episode of House, isn’t it? He wants to try a risky, dangerous, could-kill-the-patient-instead-of-saving-him treatment and everybody around him either has an opinion or just wants to avoid the whole subject. Cuddy is worried about the lawyers and the reputation of Princeton-Plainsboro Medical Center. Wilson is busy psychoanalyzing his friend’s penchant for walking on the edge. Foreman objects mostly because he didn’t think of it first. Chase, having forsaken the medical principle of “first do no harm” a few seasons ago when he killed a dictator who was under his care, pretty much shrugs his shoulders. Cameron is too busy in the ER to get very involved, other than to shake her long blonde hair and hot tush in House’s face and say, “you’re just gonna do what you want anyway.” Taub is caught between his Torah – he who saves a single life, it is as if he has saved the whole world – and probably causing the patient even more suffering if the treatment is allowed, and “Thirteen,” facing eventual horrible death herself thanks to the Huntington’s Disease that stalks her, thinks House is right, because she sees herself in the patient, and she wants to live.

I remember when I first heard of Crisis on Infinite Earths. I was upset. I didn’t understand why DC had to go messing with my childhood. But under the able hands of Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, it was, frankly, a thrilling story. To me, when Marv and George killed Supergirl – and I’m still mightily pissed off about that! – that was it, man, I knew this was going to be a classic.

The only trouble was, it started off a wave of “mega-reboots” over at DC that sounded like “good business” at the time. And now, after some 30 years, only seems to make me, and everybody else, yawn.

Infinite Crisis. Final Crisis. Crisis, My Ass. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Tell me something I don’t know.

‘Cause most of these reboots, start-overs, begin-agains are so obviously an attempt to “save the life of the patient” that it’s insulting to the reader. Jim Shooter is quoted in the Times article as saying “This whole attitude of, ‘Oh, go ahead, start over, reboot,’ people get tired of that…as storytellers, I don’t know where we wandered off to.” I totally agree with him.

S-T-O-R-Y. A narrative. An account. A tale, yarn, legend, fairy-tale, chronicle. Something that stays with you. That for whatever reason strikes a resonant chord within.

Was The Lord of the Rings a business decision? Was Grapes of Wrath? A Tale of Two Cities? The Three Musketeers? Alice in Wonderland? The Man in the Iron Mask? Peter Pan? If I keep on going this will be a column about the Book-of-the-Month club.

I’m hoping this works for DC. I’m hoping the company doesn’t stay alive just to feed the licensees. I’m hoping that I’m thrilled again.

I’m hoping that Dr. Gregory House can pull another miracle out of his misanthropic hat.

TUESDAY: Michael Davis

MARTHA THOMASES: Bill & Ted’s Excellent Flashpoint — Not!

This is the week when everything is supposed to change. The first of the New 52 comics is on the stands. Since better  folks than me are weighing in on the new stuff, I want to talk about what went right before.

Specifically, Flashpoint.

While I like team-up stories, I’m not a big fan of “After today, nothing will ever be the same again” hype. Not because I’m against change, but rather because change is constant. After every day, nothing is ever the same. In reality, this hype usually means a bunch of characters will be killed. Death is the substitute for drama in modern comics.

I didn’t like Supergirl’s death in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Kara has always been one of my favorite characters, even though she was rarely written well.  Her love interest was named Dick Malvern, for crying out loud, which I always understood to mean Bad Green Penis. I thought her death was a symbolic admission that the men who wrote comics at the time didn’t understand girls.

Ever since, there have been company-wide, month long crossovers where nothing will ever be the same. This year, the promise was backed up by 52 Number One issues that will be published the month after the crossover ends.

So what happened in Flashpoint? Damned if I know. As near as I can tell, it was a five-issue Bill & Ted adventure, except that instead of Bill and Ted remembering to travel back in time to leave themselves a note telling themselves what to do in the past, there was Flash, a Cosmic Treadmill, and no George Carlin. And a lot more carnage.

Why is this necessary? I mean, I actually enjoyed the Flashpoint mini-series, but they would have been just as satisfying as Elseworlds, and that would have allowed the creators to let loose even more. Is it really this complicated to jump through these hoops to wipe a slate clean?

Why can’t we just agree that the old continuity is gone, and get on with telling stories? And if, for whatever reason, some of these stories aren’t successful, why can’t we let a new creative team come in and start from scratch again?

When I first started writing comics, an editor (sorry, I forget who) told me that no one wanted to read comics written by someone’s mom. In this case, though, I think comics could certainly use someone who simply said, “Because I said so.”

Dominoed Dare-Doll Martha Thomases thinks there should be more George Carlin in comics, and everywhere else. Read her political stuff at michaeldavisworld.com every Saturday.

Some Thoughts on DC’s New World Order

In 1986, as the Crisis on Infinite Earths was winding down, Marv Wolfman made the radical suggestion that DC indicate the universe had truly changed by altering the numbering on all the titles and restart everything with a #1. For a number of reasons, it was a great idea but the timing couldn’t allow the move. Years later, Dick Giordano indicated it as one of his greatest editorial regrets. However, he can’t be blamed since the Crisis was wrapping up while DC was still negotiating to relaunch its flagship heroes. At that time, only Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli had been lined up for Batman: Year One while John Byrne was still being wooed for Superman, and very late in the process, Greg Potter and George Perez were circling Wonder Woman.

Had the stars aligned, it could have avoided two decades of constant revisions to the reality.

It now seems DC’s executive team has spent the last year moving the stars around. Today’s bombshell announcement indicates the rebooted line will kick off in September, with Justice League #1 previewing the new order on August 31.

I can only hope that DC has its house in order and can avoid embarrassing fill-ins and radical creative team changes early in a title’s run – problems which have plagued the core titles for the last few years.  The worst example may well be Batman: The Dark Knight, written and drawn by David Finch. After debuting in November, the fifth issue of this monthly series is not coming out until August and only then with a fill-in artist.

That aforementioned new Justice League book is coming from DC’s two busiest executives: Geoff Johns and Jim Lee. Sure, it’ll read well and look great, but will it be a monthly and for how long will the talent remain intact? At minimum, these new titles, all 50 of them, need consistent talent on board for at least the first six issues and fill-ins need to be carefully integrated. (more…)