Sunday, January 08, 2006

Infinite Critical Analyses

Just some various thoughts on "Infinite Crisis" and other matters...

Absorbascommenter Highlander has some thoughts on what's really going on behind the surface in IC (including its relationship to the JLA/Avengers crossover), some of them sufficiently original that even I am too ashamed to steal them for my own. You'll have to go evaluate them yourself.

Remember the tattered stage where we first see the PsychoPirate again (I think it was in JSA Confidential)? That's the stage of the abandoned Central City Community Theater, the original spot where Flash traveled from Earth-1 to Earth-2. It's in the Crisis on Multiple Earths: The Team Ups trade paperback that I got from the wonderful folks at--you guessed it-- Big Monkey Comics.

I hope the new DCU takes as much advantage of all the toys at its disposal as the Animated Universe does! The recent donnybrook in JLU between the Freedom Fighters and the League was the most enjoyable fight scene I've seen in years. The crowning touch was at the very start, when the order goes out for all non-metahumans to evacuate the room ... and Green Arrow doesn't move.

If the regular GA were more like his animated counterpart, with 32% less Obvert Jackassery and 17% more Subtle Coolness, I might like him, too.

I like Damage. I like him a lot. He's short and cute and spunky and blows up. What's not to like? He's the real inheritor of the Golden Age Atom's mantle and I'm still waiting for him to accidently blow up Atom Smasher. Why does everyone hate Damage?


Ragnell said...

Hey, is that a picture of Damage? Oooo...

But I won't fully like him until he actually does accidentally blow up Atom-Smasher. Rotten Infinitors.

Highlander said...


Thanks for the link.

I hate the Infinitors, too. But as he does, Geoff Johns has taken characters I hate and made me interested in them, and, well, you can't have too many giants. So back up off my Atom Smasher.

As to Damage, he's Modern Age, and therefore, bad. I'd like him better if he called himself Kid Damage, or something like that. And if he lost the 'tude. But he seemed to be losing it right before the Secret Society showed up... more Geoff Johns work, I guess. I imagine if I check in at HC Realms and bring the subject up, I'll find that all the Modern Age fans over there who hate Johns for making Conner and Bart behave in a slightly more mature fashion also loathe the way Johns was portraying Damage. This is a large reason why I rarely get along with Modern Age fans.

Anyway, thanks again for the props. And those cool object tokens! My Mr. Terrific is totally going to kick ass with his T-spheres!

I think I'll add one House Rules... Mr. Terrific can use any power on a T-sphere as if it were on his own dial, if he is adjacent to one. This makes little difference under normal rules, but under my House Rules, Mr. T being able to use his T-spheres Super Senses to spot hiding enemies is a fabulous fit.

Scipio said...

" Hey, is that a picture of Damage?"

When the new Ray and Damage were introduced, DC innovated by using photos of actors to portray them in the promotional material. The Ray picture was the more impressive.

Dorian said...

I like the idea of Damage. It's just that he's rarely used for anything interesting, and his Golden Age connections always felt tacked on.

The model they got for him was cute, though.

Ragnell said...

Highlander -- That's silly. Not all of any one age is crap the same as not all of any one age is good. I love Johns as a writer because he recognizes that and plays the mix and match game. Keeping Kyle and Hal, for instance.

Scipio -- Will we get to see the Ray one?

Steven said...

I liked Damage too, though never enough to actually buy his book past the second issue. I liked the running joke that, despite literally being the origin point of everything post-Zero Hour, he was a major league screw-up who failed his try outs for both the Justice League (JLA 5) and the Teen Titans (Jurgens Titans 17).

I mean, can you imagine having "Created the Universe" on your resume and still getting passed over for Aztek? That sucks.


Ariel said...

I've never liked Damage because he's always been portrayed as an annoying little whiner. Yeah, he's cute and can blow things up, but at least all the times I've read him, he's never really enjoyed his power or that hey, he's a freakin' superhero with JSA genes in him.

Highlander said...

Ragnell -- sometimes I exaggerate to prove a point. No one here would understand that, of course. ;)

However, as to whether or not an entire age can 'suck', it depends on how you define ages. I've written several articles on exactly how I feel the essential difference between the Silver and the Modern Ages should be defined. To me, it comes down to one fundamental principle -- the Silver Age ended and the Modern Age began when the suits and the bean counters took over, and writers and artists were no longer allowed to primarily treat the characters and their worlds as 'real'.

The Modern Age is all about treating us as target markets and the characters, and the world they live in, as commodities and commercial properties. Got a Green Lantern who isn't pulling in the audience share your advertisers want? No problem... do a big crossover event to get rid of him, and stick in a new Green Lantern with jazzy new visual accoutrements, plenty of 'tude, and hair like that guy in the BUFFY spin off. The kids will like that, right?

Comics have, to one extent or another, always been a business and they have always been about sales, but prior to the Modern Age, the commercial aspects still had some room in them for love. The Silver Age creators weren't just working for a paycheck; they pretty clearly loved the characters, and the joy of reading the early Silver Age Marvel Universe is that the characters, and their world, seem real.

It's more complex than that, of course... there's also the simple fact that yes, audience taste has largely changed over the last thirty years (since GIANT SIZE X-MEN #1) and the young audience that comics try to cater to now wants different things than the young audience did when I was among them, and I pretty much despise all the things that lazy, simple minded non-writers preprogram into superhero comics nowadays to get the attention of that same young audience. Superhero comics have become much much more mean spirited, with adult heroes being largely seen as killjoys, and young 'heroes', on whom the focus always seems to be, seemingly always depicted as cool, irreverant, wiseass slackers.

I do admire the fact that Johns will try hard to keep elements of both ages around, but when he does that, he invariably has to (by my standards) vastly improve the characterization depiction of the Modern Age characters in question. Kyle, Conner, Bart, all the Infinitors he's scripted... under Johns' hands, these characters have all matured enormously and become far more interesting and admirable than they ever were.

Hell, if Johns wrote Damage for a while, I'd probably like him, too.

What I find notable -- and this may not be typical, I can't tell yet -- is that on many of the blogs and in many of the threads, I encounter a very real resentment from younger fans, or early 20s fans who grew up with these characters behaving in a certain extremely irresponsible manner, against what Johns has done to them.

To me, he's made the characters more interesting by showing them, to at least a slight extent, as undergoing growth. But to the people who grew up with Conner and Bart, et al, as brats with 'tude, this is a betrayal. They wanted those characters to remain snarling, smirking adolescents forever... and in a medium Franklin Richards has been 8 years old for forty years or so, they see no reason they shouldn't have that. ("Good writing" never seems to carry much currency with such folks as a reason.)

Are there good Modern Age comics? Sure. Moore, Gaiman, Busiek, Kirkman, Nicieza, Stern, and now, of course, Johns and Rucka and Simone... all these people have done good superhero comics in the Modern Age (although it should be noted that all of them except for perhaps Gaiman and Johns have also done very BAD superhero comics in the Modern Age, too; that's the price of being prolific, and even Gaiman had his creative misfires on SANDMAN). But, still, the fact remains... overall, the Modern Age has largely been loathsome, because it has largely simply been one circulation stunt after another, with good, solid character driven fiction being given consistent short shrift at both Marvel and DC for decades now.

Would companies that honestly cared about their characters have ever given us either the Ultimates or the All Stars? Please.

If I seem harsh, well, that's how I will seem to you. I am a relic of another, better age. Looking around me at the ruins of that age, well, I am often bitter. I have heard that the best comics ever will always be those comics you read when you were 9 years old. I was 9 years old in 1970 and 1971; the comics of that era WERE the best superhero comics ever done. It's a tough act to follow.

Johns is picking up the mantle admirably, though.

kalinara said...

*shrug* I liked Damage a lot more than Atom Smasher. That's all I know. :-) I'd like to see him return sometime.

Diamondrock said...

I am a relic of another, better age.

Your opinion does not costitute objective fact.

Highlander said...

This is very nearly a microcosm of the whole Silver Age/Modern Age dichotomy.

Which is to say, your response to my response is very Modern Age -- it states the utterly obvious with a remarkable lack of depth, subtlety, or insight... and, well, it contains a spelling error. ::sigh::

My opinions certainly aren't objective fact, but at least I trouble to support them.

But, then, I am indeed a relic of another, better age...

Daniel said...

Central City Community Theater? Really? Wow.

Scipio said...

Personal invective is not permitted here. Everyone settle down, please, or I'll start deleting. THEN I'll start posting covers from 1970/71; believe me, you don't want that. And I will now have the final word on this matter, because I can.

The "ages", as people arbitrarily define them, are not "better" or "worse", although they may be better suited to some rather than others. Each has pros and cons. Each has mind-blowing greatness and each has mind-numbing stupidity. If there is any overall point to the Absorbascon, that's it.

Anyone who doesn't understand that must read comics with a remarkable lack of depth, subtlety, or insight.

joncormier said...

Um, Hal Jordan is getting his head knocked about on by heroes.

I thought you'd appreciate that unless it's not part of the whole new leaf new direction thing

Scipio said...

OH, we will ALWAYS love Hal getting hit in the head!

Thank you, Joncormier!

ben said...

Please post the Ray image! I vaguely remember from when it came out originally, but can't find it again.

Chris said...

The Ray:

Ragnell said...

I've said it before, and I'll say it again -- Oh Baby!

Thank you, Chris.