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TALES FROM THE LONGBOX!
"Crisis on My Wallet"
Part One: DC's Infinite Crisis
8/30/05

by: Protoclown

It seems that nearly every year for as long as I can remember, Marvel and DC have both had big summer events, usually in the form of obnoxiously contrived crossovers that annoyed more than they entertained. Some years the events are bigger and more annoying than others.

This year Marvel and DC both have huge events that demand an insanely exorbitant amount of money be spent in order to fully understand the whole story. This frustrates me to no end since both big events interest me a great deal, and I know that with the money I'm spending to keep up with them I could buy a shiny foreign sports car, or lots and lots of Vegas hookers.

But, seeing as how I have nothing better to do with my money than spend it on shitloads of comics, and given that I don't mind sharing what has transpired in these stories, you readers have the lucky opportunity to benefit from my status as a sucker easily parted from his money.

I'm going to be flat out talking about the plots for both of these big events here, so if you haven't read them yet and you are worried about spoilers, this isn't the right place for you to be. But seeing as how all this material has already been published and you could have read it if you wanted to, I don't really consider any of it to be all that spoilerish anyway. Don't worry, I'm not going to give away anything that hasn't already appeared on the comic store shelf yet; I haven't glimpsed the future or gone to the astral plane with Doctor Strange to see what will transpire, so any discussion about events yet to come is pure speculation and hearsay off the internets.

So let's break it down then and discuss the two major comic events of 2005: DC's "Infinite Crisis" and Marvel's "House of M".

DC: Infinite Crisis

DC's "Infinite Crisis" event is most likely going to turn out to be one of the most ambitious (read: destructive to the loyal reader's wallet) events in comic book history. This supposed sequel to 1986's "Crisis on Infinite Earths" has allegedly been years in the making, if you believe the editors at DC. They say that they've been dropping clues for a long time if you just know where to look. I haven't checked myself, but I hear that if you go through "Mr. Mytzlplk's Bikini Special" with a fine tooth comb, you just may find some important clues dangling around. The actual event itself hasn't even started yet, and the 30-some issues of prelude titles leading up to the event are actually quite a lot longer than the 7-issue event itself will be.

Background:

The most obvious and direct genesis for this story was DC's biggest event of last year, "Identity Crisis". DC just can't get enough crises, apparently, and it only gets all the more confusing when they give them similar titles. Anyway, to summarize the relevant events of this story, way the fuck back whenever, when the villainous Dr. Light discovered the secret identities of some of the Justice League heroes and made threats regarding the lives of their loved ones, a small faction of the team said "Oh, fuck no!" and used Zatanna's magic powers to erase that knowledge from his mind, which more or less lobotomized him (oops!) and turned him into a goofy villain best left foisted on Teen Titans.

Batman stumbled in on this hot brain rape action and said "Oh, no you di'int!" and tried to discipline the naughty faction of JLA members with a Bat-beatdown.

Batman catches his super friends being naughty and prepares to pummel the shit out of them.
Batman catches his super friends being naughty
and prepares to pummel the shit out of them.

So after a brief scuffle, the Lobotomy Crew subdued Batman and decided to wipe his mind too, because he's like the angry dad of the JLA who just caught them stealing cookies out of the Justice Jar. Batman has since rediscovered the fact that his mind had been tampered with, basically said "fuck you guys" and more or less quit the league.

JLA member Zatanna makes Batman forget about the cookies.
JLA member Zatanna makes Batman forget about the cookies.

That's a bit of background. The proper buildup to the "Infinite Crisis" event officially started in special "Countdown to Infinite Crisis" issue, which was only $1 for 80 pages of material. This was DC's way of saying, "Hey, we realize that you're going to have to take out a second mortgage on your home or sell a couple vital organs to follow this whole story, so we're going to give you guys a little break! Aren't we nice?"

Anyway, to summarize the story, a crappy hero that nobody cares about, the Blue Beetle, was investigating some funds that had been stolen from his company, nearly bankrupting him.


The Blue Beetle really kind of sucks.

He tries to get the Justice Leaguers to help, but no one cares. After doing some investigation on his own, he learns that Maxwell Lord, the head of an organization called Checkmate, has hijacked Batman's Brother I spy satellite and is spying on all of the major superheroes, whom he has decided must be eliminated. The story climaxed with Max Lord shooting Blue Beetle in the head, killing him. As if it didn't suck enough to be the Blue Beetle already.


Now the Blue Beetle sucks even more.

Spinning out of this event are four 6-issue mini-series that showcase different aspects of the DC universe that are all supposed to interweave and directly tie together into the events of the Infinite Crisis series. I'll talk about each one separately below.

The OMAC Project
(or Maybe Batman's Computer Where He Had Detailed Files
on How to Kill All His Friends Was a Bad Idea After All)

First off, the claim that this is a six-issue series is a blatant lie, since if you don't get a 4-issue Superman/Wonder Woman crossover that takes place in between issues 3 and 4 of OMAC, you won't know what the fuck is going on and why everyone suddenly hates Wonder Woman. I DID read it all and I can't figure out why everyone hates Wonder Woman, but more on that later.

Like I said already, Max Lord, head of the organization of chess enthusiasts with ambitions of world domination known as Checkmate, has taken control of Batman's spy satellite and decides to use the knowledge contained therein to destroy all of the superheroes. It turns out that the Blue Beetle managed to hack into Batman's satellite database and delete all of the files just before being shot in the head. But it doesn't really matter, since Max Lord pretty much knows who all of the major heroes are by this point anyway.


Batman discovers his computer has been hax0red
while trying to load a game of FreeCell.

Batman's Brother I satellite is also capable of creating deadly blue robotic drones with fins on their head, called OMACs (Observational Meta-human Activity Construct), which are being used to attack and kill some of the heroes who turn out to be Russian, so nobody really cares.


Batman takes on Cyclops from the X-Men with a blue fin on his head.

But Max Lord has also managed to take over Superman's mind with the amazing power of LSD, making him hallucinate that his wife Lois Lane is in trouble and causing him to attack innocent people who he believes to be villains like Brainiac or Darkseid who have just killed his wife.


Green Lantern John Stewart watches a holographic security recording of Superman kicking Batman's ass. (Not the same Jon Stewart of the Daily Show).


Shit, Superman beat up Batman!? Where's Frank Miller when you need him?

After Supes beats Batman to within an inch of his life, believing him to be the villain known as Ruin, Wonder Woman decides this shit has got to stop. She learns that Max Lord is behind the whole thing and in her attempt to try to stop him, she is attacked by Superman who believes her to be someone a lot uglier and more villainous. After an intense battle, she realizes that if Max Lord isn't stopped, Superman will end up killing all of the heroes of the DC universe. She slaps the lasso of truth on Max Lord, asks how she can stop him and he responds with a sneer that the only way to do so is to kill him, knowing that she is far too heroic to have the balls to go through with that.

Unfortunately for Max, he forgot that Wonder Woman in fact does not have balls at all. Upon hearing his solution to the problem, she pretty much says "Alrighty!" and snaps his neck without a second thought, leaving a gaping mouthed Superman staring in shock at what she has done.


OMG! WTF! Wonder Woman has crossed the line, man!!
SHE'S CROSSED THE FUCKING LINE!

Now what is really stupid about all of this is that the rest of the Justice League pretty much seems to hate Wonder Woman now. They're all pretty much like "Fuck you for saving the world, Wonder Woman!" and continually give her hollow rhetoric about how she's "crossed the line and there's no going back". I had thought comic books had matured past the point of simplistic black-and-white morality, but apparently I was wrong.


Day of Vengeance
(or The Spectre Becomes Momentarily Confused and Thinks He is The Punisher)

In this series, the Spectre, an undead spirit of vengeance supposed to represent the wrath of God, has gone insane and is wreaking havoc across the DC universe in an effort to destroy all magic. He has no host ever since Hal Jordan recently went back to being a Green Lantern, so the villain Eclipso has easily influenced his mind and convinced him that all magic is evil and must be destroyed. So off he goes, killing any and every magic-wielding hero or villain in his path.


Spectre and Eclipso make out in outer space in
between slaughtering thousands of innocent people.

But fortunately a team of mystical heroes calling themselves the Shadowpact, led by a talking chimpanzee who dresses like Sherlock Holmes, are out to stop him. Part of their team splits off to find some random teenage girl who apparently has the power to stop the Spectre, while the rest of the group try to channel their magical powers into aiding Captain Marvel, who, at the behest of the wizard Shazam, has stepped up to the plate in an effort to pummel the Spectre into giving up and going home.


Captain Marvel consults with the wizard Saruman before going into battle.

The fight isn't going so well for Captain Marvel until the Enchantress channels the magical energies of nearly every willing magical character in the DC universe to feed Captain Marvel more power, allowing him to beat the tar out of the Spectre. But the power drives her insane and evil, and she attacks the rest of the Shadowpact until they manage to knock her out. In the aftermath of this, a very wounded Spectre and Eclipso escape to regroup.


Captain Marvel prepares to drop the Atomic Elbow on the Spectre.

While the heroes are recovering in the Oblivion Bar, in a secret pocked dimension between worlds, they learn that Black Alice, the teenager they picked up to help their cause, can temporarily steal the magical powers from other people. They set a trap for the weakened Spectre and Black Alice steals his powers, only to discover that without his powers he is completely incorporeal and no one can hurt him. So now they're at something of a standoff and they haven't quite figured out how to defeat him.


Black Alice steals the Spectre's powers while the artist steals most of her clothing.

Villains United
(or Lex Luthor's Got a Posse)

In this series, the villains do what they should have done years ago: team up so that they can more easily kick the heroes collective ass. Former US President Lex Luthor has decided to form a fraternity of villains so that not only can they hang out in a cool clubhouse and play cards together, but they will also be able to stop getting their asses handed to them by lame heroes like Aquaman. Naturally, a lot of villains didn't want to go along with this, so Luthor sent his enforcers Deathstroke and Black Adam out to whoop the ass of anyone who decided they'd rather remain solo, until all but the most badass and stubborn have signed on board.


One of the perks of joining the Society of Villains
is playing games like Metropolopoly among friends.

There's one rogue faction of relatively lame villains called the Secret Six, comprised of Catman, Deadshot, Cheshire, Parademon, Scandal, and Ragdoll (guess it's not much of a secret anymore! Whoo!) who have not joined Luthor's fraternity, because they've all been blackmailed by a mysterious character calling himself Mockingbird into doing his dirty work instead.


The deadly Catman leaps into battle. I'm not making this up.

Luthor didn't like the fact that they refused to join his little fraternity, so he had them captured and tortured in an effort to learn who this Mockingbird is.


One of the more insidious tortures was being strapped
into a chair and forced to watch "Battlefield Earth".

After being tortured for a day or two, the Secret Six manage to break free and vow that Lex Luthor will die by their less than capable hands. I'm sure he's just a'quakin' in his big green ridiculous power armor.


How can you not laugh when THIS is staring you in the face?

Rann-Thanagar War
(aka War Between the Space Nerds and the Bird People That Nobody Cares About)

This is the series I care least about. I've never been interested in keeping up with all the various cosmic happenings or ridiculous alien races in either the DC or Marvel universe, and this convoluted story certainly isn't going to make me start caring either. But, I'm buying it, mainly because I'm a tool, but also because I'm hoping it'll at least give me some greater understanding of the events to come in the Infinite Crisis series.

Basically there's a space war going on between the Bird People (Thanagarians, of which Hawkman is a member, even though he looks human) and the Rannians (of which Adam Strange is a member), who look like they're dressed to appear as extras in a Devo music video. The war got started because a crazy rogue religious group of Bird People somehow transported the planet Rann into their solar system, which caused their planet of Thanagar to fly into the sun and be destroyed (whoops!). So now there's a big war between the surviving Bird People and the Devo Extras for possession of the planet Rann. There's a lot of flying around and zooming from planet to planet in space ships and shooting things with lasers, for those who are interested in that sort of thing.

While all this is going on, the crazy religious cult is busy resurrecting some golden statue who happens to be some evil death god who plans to eat the universe or some such.


If I was a god who looked like C-3PO, I'd probably want to kill everyone too.

Green Lantern Kyle Rayner and Generic Space Guy are investigating this and end up battling the golden death god, but the death god ends up running away instead of eating them because apparently he's not yellow enough to defeat the Green Lantern with his least favorite color. Honestly, I'm pretty confused and end up putting down each issue wondering what the hell just happened and why the hell I keep buying it.


Thank god Generic Space Guy is here to help!


A truly epic battle of both sides zapping each
other and the rays just bouncing off harmlessly.

Infinite Crisis

As for Infinite Crisis itself, DC is promising that it will have lasting repercussions on the DC universe and will change things for decades to come. Considering that a lot of the events in "Crisis on Infinite Earths" were pretty major in scope and still hold true nearly twenty years later, it seems likely that DC isn't just blowing smoke up our asses and actually does intend to shake up the status quo a bit.

Some of the things they're promising are that the alliances between a lot of the heroes will be broken and they won't all be friends anymore. The Justice League as we know it will end (though I doubt the title will be cancelled, they'll probably just be replaced with a new lamer team), heroes and villains will die or retire, and a lot of current titles will end and new ones will spring up in their place. I don't so much mind that they're placing a lot of tension on the heroes' relationships, but honestly this whole deal with Wonder Woman "crossing the line" seems awfully contrived and pretty damn weak as a foundation for the heroes no longer talking to each other (if indeed that is the single event which leads to this).

What worries me is that a lot of people are suggesting that Bruce Wayne will retire as Batman as a result of all this, and Nightwing's Dick Grayson might take his place. If DC ever thinks they can get away with replacing Batman or Superman and still retain readership, they are insane. Bruce Wayne IS Batman. Accept no substitutes.

One cool idea that DC has is that between issues 6 and 7 of the series, they're going to release all their major books with a "One Year Later" banner, where you'll get to see the after effects of the Crisis a month before you actually see the climactic event that brings on said aftermath. Then the books will just carry on a year down the road and you'll slowly have to figure out what happened in between. It's a neat gimmick now, but years down the road it won't amount to much for people going back and rereading the books because they'll just read the Crisis series straight through anyway.

But what REALLY pisses me off about this is that DC just announced a series called "52", a weekly title that will be published next year and will fill in the gaps of the missing year following the Crisis in great detail. So this brings the total number of issues for this story, if you count tie-ins and spin offs, to well over 100. Given that the normal cover price is $2.50 per book, with the larger Crisis issues certainly being more expensive, it's going to cost more than $250 to follow this entire story. And who says that comics are just for kids? What kid could afford THAT? Hell, how many adults who live outside of their parents' basement would be willing to spend that kind of money on this?

OH YOU THINK THAT'S IT? WELL YOU THOUGHT WRONG!

CLICK HERE TO READ PART TWO:
MARVEL'S HOUSE OF M!

 

 

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