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The ’80s Revisited: Crisis on Infinite Earths #12

crisis_on_infinite_earths_0012Final Crisis

Writer/Editor: Marv Wolfman
Co-Plotter/Penciller: George Perez
Embellisher: Jerry Ordway
Letterer: John Costanza
Colorist: Tom Ziuko
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: March, 1986
Cover Price: $1.25

This is a large, convoluted issue with way too much going on to really summarize and address in any great detail in the general length I allow myself, and to do so without having to go into a lot of detail. Essentially, an infinite multiverse has been condensed down to one universe, though a bunch of heroes from parallel universes remain, having been outside time when that consolidation occurred. They’re split up to address issues on multiple fronts…namely the Anti-Monitor. Said villain just refuses to go down and STAY DOWN, rising multiple times from seeming defeat. In the course of this, a number of elements get loosely addressed, we have some characters killed off, others get a sendoff, and others simply get brief appearances with loose/quick details "setting stuff up" for moving forward (such as Wally learning of Barry’s death and becoming Flash instead of Kid Flash).

While I tend to like and appreciate Wolfman‘s art, and certainly enjoy Perez and Ordway both, reading this issue was a chore. I first read it about a decade ago–sometime around Infinite Crisis, if I recall correctly–having "finally" sought out the collected volume to actually read the "original Crisis" for myself given its 20-year anniversary had cropped up with a "sequel" of sorts (yet, amazing to consider yet another 10 years have passed and we’ve had a 30-year anniversary edition!).

Given what it is, and dealing with an entire universe and wrapping up stuff from a year’s worth of issues and all that, I have no real problem with the story…it’s just dense and seems like it has a huge amount of ground to cover in its limited pages despite being an extra-sized issue.

The art, of course, is fantastic–Perez and Ordway teamed up? Doesn’t get much better than that!

The creative team as a whole packs a heckuva lot into this, which I do like; but I can only imagine what I’d feel about it if it were a brand-new issue in 2016.

While we do have the "ultimate defeat" of the Anti-Monitor in this issue and a bit of an epilogue explaining a few things, overall this issue itself caps off the series, and I feel like I missed a lot by not reading the previous couple issues, and lost the scope or "epic-ness" of the story jumping in on this alone. As the story has been a "complete, full story" for three decades, I don’t think I’d recommend this as something to just sit down and read as an isolated issue. It’s sort of neat to flip through and see just the isolated chapter rather than the final segment of pages in a collected volume…but I think Crisis works much better read as a whole than just grabbing an issue.

For a 25-cent issue, it’s not a horrible read…but there’s certainly a lot of nuance that I am not picking up on given the decade’s space between this and when I last read the earlier issues.

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Crisis 30th Anniversary Edition: Acquired

When I first got into comics, it was via Grandpa’s old Silver Age stuff. When Mom bought me my first few brand-new comics, I knew there was a LOT of stuff between Grandpa’s comics and what I had in-hand (if only the 3-400-some difference in issue numbers!). It would be several years before I learned of the existence of the major story that “split” the continuities…for much of my time as a comics person, DC could be referenced as “Pre” and “Post” Crisis.

coie_older_edition

It was at least another decade before I ever actually READ the story myself, getting it first-hand…and that came sometime after reading Wolfman‘s novelization of the thing.

I think it was another couple years before I finally acquired a copy of my own…of course, I was happy at the time with the edition I got–with the Perez/Ross cover.

coie_30th_deluxe_20151207b

Then, just last week I happened across a 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition. I recal seeing something about it, so its existence was not a surprise…but seeing it for myself, it was just this beautiful volume, and though I’d intended to hold off at least a couple weeks, I opted not to put off ordering it (justifying it as a birthday present to myself).

coie_30th_deluxe_20151207a

This new edition is an oversized hardcover, and dwarfs its earlier paperback edition…length, width, thickness.

coie_30th_deluxe_20151207c

The physical size is accounted for with the price…this weighs in at a hefty $49.99 cover price (to the paperback’s $29.99 most of a decade ago).  This certainly makes the paperback the better value solely for the story…but I am quite happy with my purchase (I was able to order the volume for 45%-off that cover price).

This is a volume that definitely illustrates where I feel DC is by FAR Marvel‘s superior when it comes to pricing stuff. Where DC‘s far physically-smaller paperback is a whopping $20 (60%) cheaper than its massive, oversized hardcover counterpart…I can’t help but remember my shock at seeing the similarly-paired editions of the Planet Hulk volumes. The hardcover was $39.99…while the paperback was a mere $5 cheaper at $34.99. If $5–barely more than a SINGLE-ISSUE COMIC–is all the difference, then for me it’s a no-brainer: I’ll pay that slight bit more for the superior edition. (While generally speaking, such a $20 difference would certainly prompt me to stick with paperback).

I suppose the next thing is for DC to publish several oversized hardcovers collecting the Crisis on Multiple Earths series…which would certainly have my interest!

Convergence #8 [Review]

convergence008Last Stand

Writers: Jeff King and Scott Lobdell
Pencils: Stephen Segovia, Carlo Pagulayan, Eduardo Pansica, Ethan Van Sciver
Inks: Jason Paz, Scott Hanna, Trevor Scott, Stephen Segovia, Ethan Van Sciver
Colros: Peter Stiegerwald
Letters: Travis Lanham
Cover: Andy Kubert, Brad Anderson
Special Thanks: Geoff Johns, Beth Sotelo, Mark Roslan
Asst. Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: Marie Javins
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: July 2015

[Please note that I WILL be “spoiling” this issue in this review. If you have not read it yourself and/or do not wish to know how the issue–and Convergence itself in general–conclude, you’ll want to stop reading; though I have about 2 1/2 paragraphs before I truly get to “spoiler” territory.]

I think I left off about six weeks ago–I’m pretty sure I jumped off after #2, never picking up #3 of this series. And though my enthusiasm quickly, almost totally tapered off…I again found myself curious about how this would wrap up, particularly given recent rumors at certain comic sites, and wanting to see/experience it for myself instead of just reading about it.

Of course, that was not truly worth the $4.99 cover price (at this point, that means I’ve bought THREE $4.99 issues and only one $3.99 issue of Convergence proper, which is absolutely disgusting to me). The cover also is quite generic and basic, not impressing me at all.

The story itself is relatively basic, and I certainly lack context of the past few issues. A group of heroes has gathered, to make their last stand. Someone named Deimos has just been killed by Hal/Parallax resulting in the planet becoming unstable, and its destruction threatens the Multiverse itself. A few remaining time-travelers (specifically Booster Gold, his sister, and Waverider) show up…and their solution is to bring Brainiac back. In turn, Brainiac’s solution is to absorb the temporal energy that’s been unleashed and return the heroes home, while having himself restored and the Multiverse fixed. Part of fixing the Multiverse is preventing its total collapse in the “first” Crisis. And fix stuff they do, and all the worlds are restored, the many many worlds of a Multiverse.

I mention that the story is relatively basic, and that’s in the “heroes are gathered, a last-ditch solution arrives, is executed, and we get page after page of “moments” to end the current series/event while not truly capping things off” sense.

Essentially, it seems that in a way, this means that Crisis on Infinite Earths is given a different ending, in which the final five Earths, at least, do not collapse into one single Earth, and generally that anything and everything that has ever happened in a DC comic has a place in the multiverse and is still out there somehow.

[The way I choose to interpret it is that we’re seeing the creation of a divergent branch OF the multiverse with worlds where Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour, Flashpoint, Infinite Crisis, etc. all happened or will happen existing amidst worlds in which none of those happened, and so on.]

The issue’s art is a mixed thing, with a bunch of pencilers and inkers involved. Fortunately, though seeming much like a “jam piece,” dealing with multiple versions of characters and various Earths and all that, I didn’t honestly consciously “notice” that overly much…I noticed some differences here and there but mentally wrote them off as nature of the story.

While the series didn’t hold me week to week, knowing now how it ends, I do expect I’ll still be interested in a collected volume–I half considered that it’d “only” be 5 issues to fill in my “gap,” but with DC‘s rather reasonable pricing, that $20 for 5 issues will probably be 2/3 or more the price of the inevitable hardcover of all 9 issues, so I expect to try to “hold out” for that.

Unless you’re like me and just want to get the immediate gratification of “experiencing” (reading) this issue and its place in DC History right now, or have already kept up ith the rest of the series…you’re better off waiting, I think.

This isn’t the worst ending of an event, but I wouldn’t consider it great, either as it seems to throw wide the doors on things than it does close them on even this story in itself. It does set up the new Earth 2 for the ongoing “primary”/focal part of the DC Multiverse (formerly The New 52) and leaves the entirety of DC history open such that it seems “possible” that anything/everything that’s ever been at DC is now “available” to be used in DC comics in general. Whether this ultimately proves to be good or bad, I don’t know.

I can’t say I’m thrilled with the issue in and of itself…but I am glad to have gotten to read this immediately, and be given some small “hope” of interesting self-contained stuff down the line. For the immediate present, though, this serves as a jump-off for me.

Convergence: Booster Gold #1 [Review]

convergence_boostergold001Ride the Wave

Writer: Dan Jurgens
Penciller: Alvaro Martinez
Inker: Raul Fernandez
Letterer: Corey Breen
Colorist: Chris Sotomaor
Cover: Dan Jurgens, Danny Miki, Hi-Fi
Assistant Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: Marie Javins
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: June 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

I was all set to just pass entirely on Convergence this past week. But after how thrilled I was to get my Blue Beetle Showcase volume recently, and seeing the familiar "classic" Booster Gold AND Blue Beetle logos on issues this week…I wound up buying ’em. And I was especially sold on this issue seeing Jurgens‘ name there.

Though set amidst Convergence itself, this issue basically sees the pre-Flashpoint Booster and co. meet up with the New 52 Booster as they try to piece together what’s going on. We learn a few things about the timeline (such as the fact that Booster is Rip’s father in one timeline does not guarantee it’d be so in another) as well as that while pre-Flashpoint Booster has thought he was bouncing through time, he was actually being bounced through the various domed cities. Though the group manages to get to the surface they find themselves caught up fighting Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes before the older Booster is pulled away, to be greeted by a familiar city…and ally.

Despite the fight with the Legion keeping this "grounded" in the realm of "just another Convergence tie-in," overall this issue felt a lot more like its own independent thing. Still very much a part of Convergence, but with the time-travel stuff and the recent (post-52 Weekly Series) status quo for Booster this stands apart. The Futures End month Booster Gold issue last year also stood alone a bit and seemed to indicate there was something more going on with multiple timelines’ Boosters…and this picks up where that left off, thematically.

It’s a bit of a tease, and likely not in a good way, being able to follow "my" Booster Gold this way. But it definitely gives the appearance of a long game and Big Stuff to throw Booster into the mix with his own issues like these despite having no solo ongoing book since Flashpoint.

The story’s good, and plays quite well with established continuities–at least for me–and far more than any of the other Convergence issues or tie-ins, I actually"feel" like I’m getting a momentary continuation or revisitation with "my" Booster rather than a glimpse of characters purported to be the ones I knew that somehow seem more like they’re "based on" than actually being those characters.

I’m not overly familiar with the art team, but the art on this issue is quite solid and looks really good overall. Some of the colors seem a bit dark and heavy, but overall this looks like what my memory says could be an issue of the last Booster Gold ongoing, and with Jurgens continuing to write the character…it feels a lot more "true" to me.

Whatever Convergence as a whole holds, I would be quite comfortable with considering the New 52 Futures End: Booster Gold issue and this mini to be a direct continuation of the 2007 Booster Gold series…and that alone makes this well worthwhile.

If you want something that isn’t just another fight book or loosely based on characters from a scant handful of previous continuities, this is one issue that seems like it’ll actually "matter." Even if I pick up no further Convergence tie-ins, I’ll definitely be back for the next issue of this.

My thoughts on ‘Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths’ part 3: The Extras

A “bonus” feature (as far as I can tell, included with the barebones DVD, the special edition DVD, and the BluRay) is an animated short starring The Spectre.

This is a bit of an unusual piece to me–I’ve really only known the character as the primal/cosmic/universal force-of-naturehe’s been for the last 10 1/2 years. This short focuses on the character with Jim Corrigan as his “host,” where Corrigan grounds the Spirit of Vengeance a bit.

This short delves into some dark, disturbing territory…whether intentionally going there or taking advantage of less restriction due to being packaged with a PG-13 animated film, I’m not sure.

Not being particularly familiar with a down-to-Earth Spectre, I found it to be less interesting than I’d prefer in and of itself…but it’s still fairly interesting being exposed to this version of the character.

There’s also a preview of the next DC Universe project…Batman: Under the Red Hood, which is based on the 2003/2004 Under the Hood arc in the Batman comics.

While I have never bought into the “Return of Jason Todd” and everything that’s been done with that character for more than half a decade…as an animated project, it looks like this one has potential…at the least, this preview/”First Look” sold me on the concept. A large part of that, I think, is that it looks like the film will include material taken from A Death in the Family, which will more closely tie the Under the Hood story to that prior one, making it work as a unified whole in the film where it still has not for me as a comic story that essentially undid a key story in the Batman history.

Finally, there’s a short documentary that looks at the recent history of DC Comics, with brief interviews with the likes of Paul Levitz, Dan DiDio, Geoff Johns, Brad Meltzer, and others discussing Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis, and Final Crisis, and a lot about how the stories were crafted and made to build toward one another. The interviewees also discussed what got them into comics, and their influences…and in general, made for a very enjoyable piece.

Of course, it was also interesting to see several of their roles/titles, given changes announced last week for the organization at DC.

I’m a sucker for such documentaries/interview pieces…I enjoyed the Death of Superman retrospective, the Green Lantern/Blackest Night piece on the Green Lantern: First Flight release, and of course this one.

_____________________
My thoughts on Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
part 1: What Came Before
part 2: The Movie Itself

My thoughts on ‘Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths’ part 2: The Movie Itself

Now we have the second Justice League movie. Though it is the second under the Justice League header, it’s really no sequel to New Frontier. This one is based on some classic Justice League stories known to me under their contemporary heading of Crisis on Multiple Earths.  These comics–as I understand my comics history–were largely regular team-ups between the Justice League and the Justice Society…then situated on different Earths in DC‘s multiverse.

Though the multiverse has long since perished and recently been reborn, those stories still hold quite a bit of weight.

And so we have this movie, in which a Luthor crosses from his Earth to that of “our Earth”–that is, the Earth in which we find the DC super-heroes–and reveals this multiverse. He convinces the Justice League to help him on his world, to “free” it from the evil that terrorizes it. Whereas on our Earth, the most powrful beings are heroes, on Luthor’s Earth, they’re villains.

There’s a LOT to like about this movie.  The animation is nice and clean–plenty of detail for what it is, without being overly detailed or trying to be some sort of “animated live-action.” The visual style doesn’t seem to imitate silver age comics that I’m aware of, nor does it exactly imitate contemporary comics. There’s something to it that reminds me very much of the Batman, Superman, and Justice League animated series–probably in part that Bruce Timm is heavily involved in this movie as he was with those series.

I was initially disappointed that we had more new voices for familiar characters…but as the movie kicked into gear, I didn’t really even think about it, other than to note that the characters all sounded perfectly fine and no one seemed out of place…I heard the characters, and not the actors…which for me is an important thing for any animated project.

To me, The Flash had several of the greatest moments–a comment about Luthor’s state when they meet him; a Star Wars reference, and a nice play on things when rushing out of the Crime Syndicate’s place after his teammates. Owlman had a great Harrison Ford moment, which I’m not sure was intentional, though it almost seems it had to have been. And toward the end, Wonder Woman’s “spoils of war” is just about my favorite silver age reference ever–legitimizing a concept I always saw as ludicrous.

The “meat” of the movie was solid stuff, as well. Granted, with a team movie, there’s not a lot of room for character development, especially in the relatively limited timespan for these animated movies. The only thing that really felt forced to me involved a romantic interest for the Martian Manhunter (even if there was a bit of payoff in his final comment on the matter).

This isn’t a character study on any single character…it’s an action/adventure pitting many familiar characters against many similar/opposite characters. There seems to be plenty drawn from the original 1960s comics…and yet, a strong dose of contemporary story-telling.

These DC Universe dvd movies just keep getting better and better, and though I haven’t yet digested this one long enough to decide if it surpasses the previous ones…it certainly keeps up with the best of ’em.

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My thoughts on Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
part 1: What Came Before
part 3: The Extras

My thoughts on ‘Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths’ part 1: What Came Before

While in many ways, an animated/movie adaptation of ‘The Death of Superman REALLY gets to my core as a comic person–it was largely that story that fully submerged me long-term into the world of comics, and so it has a special place in my memories–that first movie from DC Universe is probably my least-favorite. To this day, several years after-the-fact, I tend to hold that its only redeeming quality is the retrospective documentary on the Death of Superman in the comics. (It doesn’t help that they LATER released a special edition, while subsequent movies have had simultaneous “bare bones” dvd release and a Special Edition release).

Batman: Gotham Knight was an interesting piece, giving a taste of Batman with the anime style…I actually enjoyed it for the most part, and while that is not a style I’d care for long-term for Batman, it definitely worked.

Justice League: A New Frontier became an instant favorite for me. There was something to its story–and perhaps the fact that I had not read the comics first (and yet, had had them repeatedly recommended to me). I read a one-shot DC put out around the time of the movie’s release and enjoyed it, and shortly after bought the TPBs of the comics, and greatly enjoyed those, such that as a whole, the New Frontier is a definite DC classic to me.

A combination of things led to my NOT picking up the Wonder Woman movie, though I Netflixed it, enjoyed it, and numerous times now would have bought it, if any stores would stock the “Special Edition” WITH the stupid cardboard box/slipcase thing. (Petty, sure…but that’s a story for another time).

Green Lantern: First Flight sorta crept up on me, but with Blackest Night then just barely kicked off, I was on a Green Lantern high, and was very excited for the movie. Though it was kinda strange in its depiction of Abin Sur and others, in and of itself I recall really enjoying it–especially the use of Sinestro, AND his Sinestro Corps costume…as well as the way it was left open for “sequels.” That it came with an exclusive Hal Jordan DC Infinite Heroes figure (well, if one bought the boxed version at Best Buy, anyway) was an added bonus. I’ll also always remember buying a new DVD player the same day in order to watch the movie, as the old DVD player my roommate and I had been using refused to recognize the new disc.

A little over two months later we got Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, and in anticipation of that one, I re-read the original comics, and thus both enjoyed and yet nitpicked it a bit more than I may have otherwise. I particularly enjoyed the voice casting, getting the “original” actors from the Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series to voice Superman, Batman, and Luthor. That the art was so similar to the original made it even more of a treat.

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My thoughts on Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
part 2: The Movie Itself
part 3: The Extras

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