Saturday, October 15, 2005

Crisis, The Absorbascon way...

The Absorbascon has its own way of looking at things. This week, in celebration of the beginning of "Infinite Crisis", we turn that look toward its revered and industry-shaking predecessor, "Crisis on Infinited Earths" (COIE).

Which remains one of the worst things I have ever read in my life.

The Plot

Despite a multiverse teeming with thousands of an interesting characters with decades-worth of reader-resonance, the plot is instead based on five add-ink-and-stir "Living Plot Points" (a term I learned here from an Asorbascommenter): the Monitor, the Anti-Monitor, Harbinger, Pariah, and Alexander Luthor (plus, for no apparent reason other than someone's sexual fixation on Suzanne P
owter, Lady Quark). Why did an editor not stop this insanity?

"Oh, but the beautiful moment of X was so touching I still cry when I think about it!", someone reading this now is about to type. For those who haven't COIE, I'll review those beautiful moments for you...

Supergirl's heroic sacrifice teaches Batgirl what it means to be a hero, inspiring a Steely Resolve to follow in her footsteps.
Flash's heroic sacrifice teaches Kid Flash what it means to be a hero, inspiring a Steely Resolve to follow in his footsteps.
Supergirl's heroic sacrifice teaches Dr. Light what it means to be a hero,
inspiring a Steely Resolve to follow in her footsteps.
Wildcat's heroic sacrifice teaches Yolanda Montez what it means to be a hero, inspiring her to stagger around drunk in a Catwoman costume on rooftops, saying everything once in choppy Spanish, then again in English, as if she's on
?Que Pasa, USA?. "Yo soy el *hic* neuvo Wildcat!"; tee-hee, of course you are, dear!

Oh, there's also 256 examples of "X throws himself into the anti-matter wall" or "Y
stops X from throwing himself into the anti-matter wall", both of which are considered nobly brave, except when they are criticized as stupidly futile.

Dialogue (but only because I have no other word for it)

Marv Wolfman, Dean of the Magna Kahn School of Dramatic Monologue, writes dialogue which is alternatingly so mind-numbing and so grating that one can only survive reading it by imagining yourself in a less stressful situation; I manage to read it by picturing myself as a baby seal being clubbed to death by a sadistic Japanese sailor. Wolfman handles DC's thousands of precious character gems by reducing them to exactly four styles of speaking: Herospeak, Doomspeak, Streetspeak, and Smartspeak. I can only assume Wolfman was born in the Baxter Building and raised by the Fantastic Four; there's no other explanation.

For variety within each type of "speak", characters get a choice of
Stuttering Wonder, Wavering Self-Doubt, Sententious Speechification, and Steely Resolve. Wolfman should really work for the City of Heroes people, writing programs to generate generic word balloons based on the characters chosen profile; he'd be a natural.

MY Steely Resolve

Now, until I bought the trade yesterday, I had not read COIE for 20 years, since it first came out. Why would I, when there's been a new DCU to focus on? That would be likely filling your Wedding Album with pictures of yourself dancing in your underwear with a lampshade on your head with a 43 year old strung out stripper at your bachelor party.

But now with Infinite Crisis focusing so much attention on COIE, I feel the need to find some fun for myself and you all (but mostly myself) in the horror that was COIE, and that's what I'll be doing in the coming week. Marv, care to help me say that?

"Th-the awfulness! The vast sprawling horror of COIE, it's--it's like nothing I've ever seen!

I'm not sure I can handle it; I don't know whether my snarking powers will work against it; I don't see how I can prevail, it seems hopeless.

Yet, in all my years, if I learned one thing, it's that one person can make a difference -- just so as long as he's with other good pe
ople, trying to do the same.

So I must try! Too many have died, too much is riding on this; I must NOT give up hope, I will not, for them-- I == MUST == DO IT!"


David Campbell said...

Brilliant and colorful post.

Ashtur said...

But, what's unfortunate about COIE, is that it's not only the granddaddy of the "mega-crossovers," to this point, it's still one of the best. It still beats the sheer horror of Zero Hour with a stick for instance.

Bully said...

The irony of Crisis was that, since I was one of the new breed of DC readers who came aboard with books like the early 80s' New Teen Titans and Batman and the Outsiders, it was my first introduction to the multiverse...and just as I was getting intrigued with the concept and drawn into the characters, it was snatched away from me.

It was the equivalent of someone sliding a piece of cherry pie in front of me and saying: "Hey look! You've never had cherry pie before, have you?" And then, as I raise my fork, smashing the pie with a giant mallet and saying "It's less confusing this way."

Mmmmm, pie.

Jhunt said...

You know, COIE has its faults, true enough. But can't we all, as a comicblog family, agree that it was at least more fun to read than the current "Daddy's drunk, Mommy's crazy" bickerfest going on between the big guns in Infinite Crisis? Sigh, I just want Batman and Superman to go back to being best pals.

Remeber when Bats would dress up like Clark Kent at a moment's notice to preserve Superman's secret identity? And then they'd both hang out in the Batcave and laugh at how stupid Lois Lane was? Those were the golden days, my friends... and we shall never see their likes again.

Robby Reed said...

Criticizing the dialogue in CRISIS is besides the point. OF COURSE it's horrible. Marv Wolfman can't write realistic dialogue. But so what. It's the PLOT that was the attraction, never the dialogue. The dialogue, as you say, is largely embarassing. The good thing about CRISIS was the PLOT and the ART!

Scipio said...

"The good thing about CRISIS was the PLOT"

Okay; thanks! Best laugh I've had all day!

Ariel said...

Awww, I LIKED the original Crisis. Yeah, Wolfman can't write dialogue at all, but the Perez art was spectacular.

The multiverse WAS confusing, at least to me. I like having Captain Marvel and Superman on one earth, and I loved the JLI, with Dr. Fate, Batman, Blue Beetle and Cap Marvel previously of 4 different Earths all on the same team.

Its the results of COIE that weren't so well thought out, with LSH, Donna Troy and Hawkman being the worst casualties.

methane said...

It seems from reading the letter columns at the time that the ultimate plot for Chrisis was changing as they were writing it. It would really be interesting if Wolfman and the DC editors at the time would come out and talk about all the things that were changed as they went on.

It certainly seems like characters like Lady Quark and Harbinger were going to have more to do, but the story they were writing suddenly changed. Certainly they could have been interesting if given something to do.

Hoosier X said...

To this day, I haven't read the last six issues of COIE. I struggled through the first six issues, admiring the art, and then I just quit buying it. It was stupid.

Marvel's Secret Wars was even stupider, but I had to buy all of them because I was still reading so many Marvel books. But not for long! This period was pretty much the end of my obsessive comic-book-buying.

I love the comic book blogs. They are a riot and I want to thank you guys for writing so much funny stuff about the comic book industry and letting me know that I didn't really miss a whole lot.

I heard there's a new Top Ten series! Should I buy it or read it at the newsstand?

Duncan said...

I'd say, leave it. 'S not nice.

Glad to know my unfulfilled temptation to read COIE will remain just that, and I'll settle for this digest.

Unless I find a trade in a library.

joncormier said...

I just picked up COIE before the weekend and I'm still not done it. I was wondering what the heck was bothering me about it and then I read The Absorbascon this morning and it all became clear. This really is like reading something out of context - except it's twelve issues long.

Crae said...

One of the best things about COIE was the chance to finally see many DC characters drawn really well by Perez. One of the most dissappointing deaths for me was Kole. I was ticked off to later find out she was only created so she could die in the Crisis. A cool looking character with unique powers...just to be cannon fodder. Oh well.

Derek said...

After seeing this... Yolanda Montez in this post, I decided to look her up on Wikipedia. That's where I read this:

"Maria Montez and her sister are given experimental drugs by the mad gynecologist Dr. Love"

Oh, DC, let's never fight again.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the public service message. I've only started reading DC in the last year or so and have been debating about picking this up given it's such a reference point. I think I'm going to go ahead and pass.

Question: what 80's DC stuff do you think is worth the attention of a new reader (assuming we've already checked out Moore and Miller)?

Thanks, Alex P