This is post #5200…

§ March 19th, 2021 § Filed under dc comics § 4 Comments

…and you have no idea how much I kicked myself when I realized my birthday/New 52 post was #5197. Man, how perfect would that have been if I had that total convergence of 52s for that. Well, crud.

Anyway, I’ll likely continue the New 52/rebootery theme next week, but I did want to drop in one point I was sort of thinking about regarding Crisis on Infinite Earths. As can be inferred from some of your reactions, and my reaction, to DC’s continuity-sweeping series, it’s pretty clear the series loses much of its impact removed from context.

I wrote about how startling it was for Earth-3 to be wiped out in the opening pages of the series. It immediately raised the stakes and there was a sense of permanence. “Worlds will live, worlds will die, and nothing will ever be the same!” shouted the ads, and we had no reason to disbelieve them. We’d never seen anything quite like this, on this scale, knowing that big changes were coming. If you were a DC fan at all, you had to read it because this is where All The Shit Was Going Down. It was literally An Event that we, fans reading comics in the mid-1980s, were experiencing in real time.

Going back to look at it, years, decades, later, the immediacy of this story’s content is no longer a factor. The importance of the changes are no longer noteworthy, except maybe in a strictly historical/academic view. The shocking deaths are no longer so shocking…Barry Allen and Superman’s cousin both seem to be alive and well, nowadays. And like I said, the main conceit of the series, that the idea of a “multiverse” would be going away, has been undone with DC dragging the concept back into existence.

“Thou shalt not read Crisis for the prose,” as today it exists primarily as an artifact of publishing strategy, not as a standalone story with a coherent plot. (Though the George Perez art still is beautiful, of course.) None of that is Marv Wolfman’s fault…well, okay, maybe some of the weird plot holes are, but the series succeeded in what it was meant to do…grab the attention of fans and slap a new coat of paint on things. It doesn’t stand the test of time because it wasn’t meant to.

Again, not to say there isn’t good stuff in there…there are fun interactions here and there, exciting action sequences, tiny one-panel showcases for characters both major and forgotten. And as noted, it’s all wonderfully illustrated. But a big part of what made Crisis work was how vital it was to stuff going on in the now of the 1980s, diminished with the repetition of character “death” fakeouts and universal rejiggerings and generational transitions of super identities in succeeding event series. Plus, of course, with the subsequent undoing of everything that was “never the same.”

A commenter noted that these sort of events create reader excitement and interest in related and forthcoming books, and that’s definitely right. It’s good to shake things up and/or get all your properties together for a big super-party once in a while. It doesn’t always make for a tale to stand the test of time, and frankly, it doesn’t always need to. A lot of what drives my own love for the story of Crisis is pure nostalgia, a remembrance of how I felt encountering these events for the first time. That’s a tough feeling to translate over time to new readers to the book.

TL;DR “back in the olden days we had to walk miles uphill in the snow both ways to see Lady Quark fight the Anti-Monitor”

Okay, like I said, more on this stuff next week. In the meantime, a reminder that I’m putting up short audio posts on my Patreon, on a variety of comics-related subjects. Most are about 2 to 4 minutes long or so, and…well, I think I’m slowly getting better at it. I’m not…a natural public speaker, and thank goodness for editing tools to cut out the “uhs” and “aaaaand” and whatever else. Oh, and my issue-by-issue cover of Swamp Thing comics will be returning, too.

Thanks for reading, pals, and I’ll see you Monday.

4 Responses to “This is post #5200…”

  • Caat says:

    The part about crisis that stands out the most to me now is the opening on earth 3 and the haunting ending with the psycho pirate. The rest is very dull and very drawn out. Say what you will about follow ups like Infinite Crisis or Final Crsis but atleast the authors involved had more ideas to shove in then the anti monitor having 5 different plans.

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    “It’s good to shake things up and/or get all your properties together for a big super-party once in a while.”

    Hey, that’s an idea. How about one of these events being more light-hearted and fun? Why does “big” always have to equal “dark”?

  • Pete says:

    I loved Crisis reading it as it came out in “real time” and always will. Any series that brought every DC character from it’s inception to the current day of the mid-80’s was going to grab my attention (like the concurrent Who’s Who series did). Even if the changes didn’t last forever, it was great fun and had such beatiful art by Perez and Ordway so what’s not to love?

  • […] I’m aware of the storytelling shortcomings and the very much “ya hadda be there” requirement for the proper impact. I do love the series, I treasure that fancy slipcase edition from when it […]

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