Settle down, class; it’s time for another dose of Tact is for the Weak, the column that tested positive- for the truth (and herpes simplex A)!
There comes a point in every man’s (and self-realized, independent woman’s) life when an unexpected event occurs that obliterates all sense of reality and forces you to re-evaluate what you believe about the world around you. Typically, this life-changing event manifests itself in the form of “the morning after,” from which there is no escape (an inconvenience that is further exemplified by the broken contraceptives on the floor). However, there are one or two possibilities where the previously-mentioned revelatory event may not include alcohol or sexual intercourse (although the good ones usually do). Sometimes, one’s entire world perspective can come crashing down or totally re-aligned after a brush with death, the passing of a loved one, or the cancellation of a television show (I tip my hat to the brave men who gave their lives in the tragic massacre following the cancellation of Living Single. Queen Latifah, stop making horrible movies with stodgy white supporting actors and get back to the small screen this instant!). And, once in a great while (okay, more like every other month), the world of comic books reflects these life-changing cataclysms with “Crossover Crises” of their own.
In DC Comics’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, regarded by most as the first and best true crossover crisis, the purpose of the series was obvious: condense and simplify the bloated, confusing DC Universe (Multiverse?) into a single, more unified place. While each subsequent crisis (including those from other companies) did affect their respective universes, only DC’s recent Infinite Crisis even came close to achieving the sense of purpose (in intent, if not in execution) that the original Crisis had striven for. In the wake of this latest “universe renovation,” there are many historical and current truths that have been erased or rewritten to suit DC’s current needs, truths that DC promises fans will make themselves known over the course of time. And, to further examine these new truths, DC has brought back not only one, but a veritable gang of Monitors (the omnipotent “good guy” from the original Crisis) to investigate why certain historical events did not occur as they should have (for example, why the character Jade died in Infinite Crisis when it was supposed to be Donna Troy).
“Well, whoop-dee-do,” you might be sneering, “the universe has been altered. AGAIN. This is not new news! Why is this important?” Let me first say that, despite being a now-overused plot device in the comic book universe, altering history is a time-tested method for shaking things up, breathing new life into stagnant characters and stories, and (most importantly) boosting sales. However, I agree that this latest restructuring of the universe seems a bit half-hearted. What big changes have we witnessed so far? Batman knew the identity of his parents’ killer sooner! Superman did a little flying around in Smallville as a child! Wonder Woman’s role as a founding member of the Justice League has been restored! Jeepers; I’ve lost all sense of space and time! I don’t know up from down anymore! EVERYTHING has been changed!
…Or not. Personally, if I was presented with the opportunity to rewrite history, I would take full advantage of the situation and make some real changes! “What kind of changes, Brian?” Glad you asked!
George W. Bush would not have become president in 2000. Regardless of my political leanings, I have always felt that in gaining a president,America lost what could have been the single greatest rodeo cowboy ever.
In addition to leaping tall buildings and the like, Superman’s original powers would have included the ability to SPEAK RUSSIAN, thus preventing fifty years of Cold War tensions.
By the same token, Captain America would have been Captain France, giving the French people not only a national hero (let’s face it: Jean Val-Jean’s time has come and gone), but an incredible soccer player that doesn’t head-butt guys on other teams.
Adolf Hitler’s parents would have sent him to fat camp as a child, thus preventing the childhood torment that spawned the fragmented psyche that not only led to world war and the Holocaust, but also to his horrendously-written book that simply rehashed all things Machiavellian with no plot or character development whatsoever. BOR-ing!
Alan Moore would have been raised in cold, cold Siberia, thus giving him a reason for wearing five pounds of hair on his face.
The rest of the world would have called “Bullsh**” on Imperialist America’s ridiculous “Manifest Destiny” concept, thereby preventing the national ego trip we all ride to this very day.
James Bond would be very real and very deadly. He would patrol the streets of Gotham by night as the mysterious vigilante known only as “Mr. Connery.”
“Meteor Man,” Robert Townsend’s 1993 flick about an African-American superhero who gets his powers after being hit by a meteor, would have become a cultural icon and resulted in two sequels, a five-season animated TV show (although really, after the second season, it just lost its edge), and a line of cooking appliances that kicks the George Foreman Grill to the curb (hey, you’ve never lived until you’ve tried cooking a burger at the “Meteorific” setting!).
Wolverine would turn out to be not just some hundred-year-old hick farmer, but the lost Romanov child.
And finally, Kevin Smith would finally step forward and admit that it was he, along with Judd Winick, Grant Morrison, and Neil Gaiman, who crash-landed in Roswell, New Mexico when their spaceship ran out of gas.
Sigh…if only I had the power to set these things right… well, at least we can take solace in the fact that the heroes of the DC Universe now remember the multiverse, right? RIGHT? Seriously, though: nowadays, history-altering cosmic crises seem to be the popular thing to do when comics sales are low. While the concept is an interesting one, it has been utterly sucked dry over the last few years (much like Kevin Federline). If the changes are all going to be superficial and unimportant, let’s just be mature about it and not go through the trouble until there is something important that needs to be fixed (note to Marvel: Spider-man’s new costume would be a great starting point).
Hey, what’s that sound? It sounds like a…BOOM!
TACTLESS NEWS BULLETIN: I wanted to let all my readers know that, in the process of writing this column, a universal crisis has occured, and while you may remember all of what you’ve just read, the fragile fabric of history and time has been irrevocably altered! The previous column was written about, and has always been about, the religious implications behind the reformation of the Justice League. You see, there’s the whole “trinity” thing, along with Wonder Woman’s mysterious “immaculate conception” following her meeting with Superman and Batman…trust me, there’s plenty of humor here!
And now, the one constant on this and ANY earth: the handing out of this week’s Tactless Book of the Week Award! This week, the award goes to DC Comics’s Battle for Bludhaven #6 (you all can just keep on reading and forget the fact that I don’t know how to make the little German two-dot thingy that goes over the “u”). We’ve been talking a lot about big crises and rewriting history (oh, wait; no, we haven’t), so it’s almost eerie that this week’s award-winner has earned the distinction because of that exact concept! For the past five issues, the mini-series has trudged on with very few A-list characters, almost no real primary plot development outside of bigger and bigger fights, and more unknown characters and subplots than can be counted. However, this final issue not only shoots the series to ultra-important status for DC; it fixes one of the most infamous wrongs in comic book history. As readers of Sequart.com’s Anatomy of the Crossover will already know, the big-time villain Monarch (from DC’s Armageddon 2001) was revealed to be one-time hero Hank Hall, A.K.A. Hawk. However, this was not the original plan; initially, the Charlton Comics immigrant Captain Atom was supposed to don the blue-and-gray armor, betraying his fellow heroes. However, this twist was leaked to the public, and determined to save face, DC rushed an alternate ending to the presses. Well, purists can breathe easier now; in this week’s final issue of Battle for Bludhaven (just shut up about the German dot thingy, okay?), in order to contain a radiation-leaking Captain Atom, scientists quickly construct a containment suit for the leaky hero: the Monarch armor! Upon waking up, Captain Atom (“Monarch”? Is it too soon to just call him “Monarch”?) is in a state of shock, and upon finding out that his nemesis, Major Force, is in the area, he tersely commands all other heroes in the area to evacuate so he can deal with his foe. And then…boom. Pow. Zango. If the city was torn apart before, now it’s in smithereens. Apparently, a feature role in the very first Superman/Batman storyline and his very own 8-issue miniseries in the Wildstorm Universe weren’t enough to keep the good Captain tethered to reality; now he has to start blowing up cities. Well, at least Hawk and Dove fans can rest easier now.
Well, that about wraps it up for this week. And, be sure to check in next week for even more zany, madcap adventures of the tactless variety! Poof!