Greetings, my brothers and sisters! It’s time for another heaping helping of Tact is for the Weak, the column your girlfriend wishes you could be!
A little over twenty years ago, a cosmic event was released upon an unsuspecting world, forever eclipsing the rest of the world in its enormity and importance: I was born. The aftershocks are still felt around the world…
…But, in addition to that, another fairly important event took place just over two decades ago: DC Comics published Crisis on Infinite Earths, a 12-issue maxi-series that effectively redefined the entire DC Universe as one cohesive, functionally unified world. As promised, the series had, in fact, changed things for good; “worlds lived, worlds died, and nothing was ever the same.” At least, until someone decided to show up and f*** it all up.
Since Crisis first came out, the concept of a company-wide, “continuity-altering” event has been oft-imitated. Trying to capitalize on the popularity of Crisis, DC published crossover after crossover, but with each attempt, the “essential” flavor-of-the-year stories yielded diminishing returns and minimal success. Initially, quality events such as Invasion! were rare but very real; as we continued into the 1990′s, pale imitations of the original Crisis (such as Zero Hour, Millennium, and Armageddon 2001) dominated DC’s crossover landscape. Finally, entering the new millennium, utterly forgettable swill such as Joker: Last Laugh was the best DC seemed capable of doing.
Enter Geoff Johns.
Many people may not recognize that Johns’ first foray into the DC crossover arena was actually Day of Judgment (a.k.a. the infamous “let’s bring back Hal Jordan by whatever means necessary” story. But to be fair, Jordan had never played an important role in a crossover before. Certainly not Millennium or Zero Hour or Final Night!). However, Johns managed to transform from awkward nostalgic to seamless revamp sage virtually overnight, as he successfully breathed new life first into Stars and Stripe, then JSA, The Flash, and Green Lantern.
So, it came as no surprise as the chump-turned-Champ of the Revamp was tapped to write Infinite Crisis, the “official” sequel to the as-yet-unsurpassed Crisis on Infinite Earths. Rather than imitating the cosmic-ness of the original Crisis, Johns actually tapped the untouched and sacred virginal dangling plot lines of that original event, not really mimicking the scope and vastness of the story, but actually adding to it. There would be no copying here; this would be a bona fide extension of that first essential event.
However, as with any purported universe-altering event, there needed to be ramifications, and big ones. While the admitted focus of Infinite Crisis is on the “Big Three” (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman), the event has been billed as the universe-defining event for the next two decades across the DC Universe. In order to ensure that, unlike the ramifications of events such as Genesis or Joker: Last Laugh, the effects of this latest crisis would stick, DC needed a plan to make sure this event wouldn’t soon be forgotten. Sure, some characters featured prominently in the story would be affected by these events, but to give this event the same permanence and timelessness as the original Crisis, there needed to be some sort of schtick that crossed into all titles and affected all characters.
Thus, One Year Later was born.
The basic principle of One Year Later (or “OYL”) is that, in the year following Infinite Crisis (a year that will be documented in the upcoming 52 series), the DC Universe has been changed on all fronts, and when the readers pick up any title, drastic changes have been made to the stories, supporting cast, and main characters themselves.
However, some titles have fared better than others amidst this OYL turmoil. For instance, Aquaman became Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis, a sword-and-sorcery underwater epic featuring an amnesiac Aquaman and a grateful fan base hungry for action. Other titles benefiting from this change include Green Lantern (who, in the missing year, spent time as an overseas P.O.W.), Blue Beetle (the new kid that’s being picked on by Guy Gardner), and all of the Superman and Batman titles (who have both been missing over the “past year”).
Unfortunately, some titles have suffered, rather than prospered. Here’s a quick look at some of the flops of OYL, be it due to the superficiality, unimportance, predictability, or downright absurdity of the changes (of course, there are some SPOILERS):
Firestorm: the Nuclear Man: Jason Rusch has forsaken Ronnie Raymond, Professor Stein, and now his friend Mick for the least likely of all co-hosts: Lorraine Reilly, a.k.a. Firehawk! My question: why? What purpose could this serve? Perhaps DC thinks that by adding a D-lister to a B-lister, they’ll come out with a winner? My Magic 8 Ball says”no.”
Outsiders: Judd Winick’s latest attempt to raise the perennial pinch-hit super-team’s coolness level: now, they’re undercover! No one knows they exist! My problem here: this screams of Justice League Elite knockoff, and Judd Winick is no Joe Kelly. Unless there’s STDs or questionable sexuality concerns afoot, Winick isn’t known for his brilliantly original work. And I’m still waiting for the trade paperback of JLE vol. 2!
Blood of the Demon: It’s Etrigan vs. Satan! My opinion: terrific. But what’s next?
Hawkgirl: After so much effort to bring Hawkman back, and then DC gets rid of the headliner? That’s like dropping Superman out of Action Comics and focusing on Perry White!
Green Arrow: Some more Judd Winick-y goodness. Sure, having a superhero as a mayor is a great and new concept, but does Winick stop there? NO! Suddenly, Star City is the next New Orleans, with a wall erected to separate the black and white parts of the city and chaos reigning supreme on the South Side (guess which color that is?). Green Arrow doesn’t even appear until the final panel of the book (some perspective: in Green Lantern OYL, he had four times the amount of face time!), but it’s all okay, because now we all get to indulge Judd Winick’s latest moral commentary. Oh boy.
Now, you might say, “well, I still like OYL. It’s a good idea, and it hasn’t been done on this scale before!” Well, readers, you’re ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! It is a good idea, and I can’t wait to see where it all goes, and how it all got there. However, DC still stands guilty of a heinous crime: exploiting the obsessiveness of comics fans. By showing the events of the missing year exclusively in the upcoming 52 series, anyone who considers themselves a serious fan of virtually any mainstream DC Universe character will be forced to pick up the extra book if they want to maintain any semblance of continuity. Despite the overwhelming “special discount” subscription of $100 for the entire series, it’s still a hundred bucks that most people weren’t planning on spending, and tying everything together into a package that essentially needs to be collected in its entirety only further compels many fans to buy these books that may only have one or two character-specific, relevant pages per issue. True, the ultimate decision rests in the hands (and wallets) of the readers, but either way, we’re likely looking at the world’s largest case of buyer’s remorse. Granted, with luminaries such as Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and Keith Giffen helming the show, it will probably be a good read. However, $100 out of pocket is still $100 out of pocket, and that’s a pretty hefty leap of faith for many. Perhaps DC should focus on getting rid of “fluff” issues in its regular monthly titles before committing to a 52-part weekly series (once again, I’m looking at you, Judd “Star Orleans” Winick).
Well, to wrap things up, it is once again time to hand out this week’s Tactless Book of the Week Award!
This week, the award goes to… DC Comics’s The OMAC Project: Infinite Crisis Special. In the last issue of Infinite Crisis, heroes were gathering to finally shut down the evil Brother Eye satellite. DC’s website had even bumped the solicit page of this book to the main page, and if you hurry right now, you will see that book is still listed as “on sale this week!” The problem? For whatever reason, the book never made it to the shelves! Once again, DC’s ineptitude at maintaining a solid delivery schedule has hampered the progress of a story already in motion, and now the title will (hopefully!) come out no sooner than the next issue of Infinite Crisis. But, according to DC’s website, we all must be fools, because the book is on sale this week! I guess I was just looking at the “invisible cover” variant…
Well, that’s all for this week. For next week, I’ll tease you with two simple words (I’ve been dropping hints all over this column already!): Judd Winick. C’est la fin. Good night and good luck, motherf***ers!