Overview

Infinite Crisis #1

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Infinite Crisis #1

Credits

  • Words: Geoff Johns
  • Art: Phil Jiminez
  • Inks: Andy Lanning
  • Colors: Jeremy Cox & Guy Major
  • Story Title: Infinite Crisis
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Oct 12, 2005

When reality is torn asunder, when heroes are either corrupted or destroyed, and when the darkest days grow darker still, only one word can describe what has finally arrived: CRISIS.

Though not quite infinite in number, unlike twenty years ago, there’s more than one crisis looming in the DC Universe. With the end of reality itself coming, Donna Troy assembles a band of heroes, including Supergirl and Starfire, to save it. Hundreds of thousands of OMACS are still on the loose, and as they descend upon Blüdhaven, Nightwing can only watch and as they receive new instructions from Brother Eye. The Guardians see the impending universe-level threat as well, while the Rann/Thanagar War rages on at what is now its new center, a 95-million mile wide tear in reality itself. Gotham cringes as debris from the destroyed Rock of Eternity shower the city. The Freedom Fighters, lured into an ambush, are in a fight for their lives against villains led by Teth-Adam. Up on the moon, amid the ruins of the JLA Watchtower, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, the trinity upon which the DCU has been built, duke it out with Mongul, but save their best shots for each other. And all the while, someone is watching everything, perhaps the only person now who can show the superhumans of the world what it means to be a hero.

It clocks in at thirty pages that read like fifty, and yet reading it feels like a ride on a bullet train. While the first half of Geoff Johns’ script picks up and adds to threads from the other IC prequels, every one of them ending on strong, "Holy s&*^!" moments, three new storylines form the core of the issue.

First, there’s the confrontation between The Freedom Fighters and members of Luthor’s villain society. While the point of the scene is clear—the villains need The Ray as they needed Firestorm in Villains United—there’s also something deeply tragic beneath the surface. No way would I bet on The Freedom Fighters in a throwdown with Teth-Adam, Deathstroke, Cheetah, Bizarro, Zoom, Sinestro, Doctor Light, Psycho-Pirate, and Polaris. Such a heavy-hitting group is more the JLA’s caliber, who should’ve been there. But because they weren’t, Uncle Sam and company are easy pickings in this brilliantly planned ambush. They’re heroic enough, but not good enough, while those who are good enough aren’t heroic enough, and the whole scene is a metaphor for what heroes once were, but, at the moment, are no longer.

Next, there’s the Trinity, struggling with the very notion of heroism while other heroes are simply struggling. Each has a major beef with the other two, the enmity and mistrust between them already close to the breaking point when Mongul begins his assault, then growing even deeper as Wonder Woman tries to deal with Mongul as she dealt with Max Lord. While the conflict between Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman has been triggered by circumstances that could break anyone, the true source of their differences now is what they are much more than what they believe or have done. What they are once fell right in line with what they stood for, but now has become a blindspot that gives us true insight in their character. Superman now is as alienated from Wonder Woman as he is from himself. Batman’s need for control has spun things out of control. And Wonder Woman, so pragmatically intent on being what the world needs her to be, has reverted to justifying ends by any means available to her. Some part of the crisis is their own making, and yet, each of them is as right as they are wrong. Consequently, their strengths having become their weaknesses, that each probably wouldn’t have done things any other way gives their part of the crisis an air of inevitability that’s as tragic as it is riveting.

Finally, the world needing its best heroes right when those heroes are worlds apart, the third storyline is centered on the first-person narration of someone watching these events along with a few others. At first, from the distant, almost smug tone the reader might think that the narrator is a villain, perhaps whoever is truly behind all of this. But the tone changes as the story progresses, and the narrator’s eyes become ours as the narrator becomes more intent on doing something. The build-up to who this narrator is is so expertly managed that when he is revealed, hope remains long after the shock has worn off.

With so much happening, so many threads to tie together, so many themes to touch upon and suspense to build, Infinite Crisis #1 quite easily could have been a thirty page mess. But like a master craftsman, Geoff Johns makes every one of his writer’s tools work for him. The pacing is tight, the scenes are constructed with both dramatic and technical precision, and the dialogue gets down to who these characters are while also crackling with intensity. Most notably, the three central storylines are layered—the Trinity "on top" of The Freedom Fighters, the narrator’s presence on top of that—and, with nuanced resonances among them, are unified by one theme seen from three different viewpoints. More shockers and surprises are to come, but in Infinite Crisis #1 the story’s heart is already marvelously laid bare.

George Perez is by no means done, but if he were to pass the mantle on, Phil Jimenez could pick it up and run without a misstep. Every image is crammed with density, detail and energy, every emotion is raw and honest, and every panel pushes the story forward, with not a line or stroke awkward or out of place thanks to superb inks by Andy Lanning, and intense, gorgeous colors by Cox and Major. What impressed me is the finely tuned naturalism in Jimenez’s line work, conveying the nuances of anatomy while still adhering to the conventions and expectations of superhero comic art. But more impressive is his mastery of both the epic and the personal, the scale and scope of the story, the world-rending threats, the huge cast and non-stop action balanced with smaller, personal moments in which characters become people and inject the action with more drama and meaning than can ever be found in the battles raging on the grand stage.

For me, the nature of this new crisis, who’s behind it, who will die, what will be revealed, and how the post-IC DCU will look, though interesting, are of secondary importance. Instead, I plunked down my $3.99 this past Wednesday thinking that if Infinite Crisis #1 can hit me in my gut, then leave me with the sense that things will get much, much worse before they have the slightest chance of getting better, then the wait, the preludes, the speculation, and the financial investment will prove to have been well worth it.

It does. Beautifully.

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