Saturday, April 15, 2006

New Comic Reviews:
JSA and Infinite Crisis Secret Files

JSA #84

I picked up JSA #84 because I'm a huge Rags Morales fan, loved his work on Hourman and Identity Crisis. He's especially strong with expression, maybe because of the huge doe eyes he gives all his characters (in a good guy, it makes them seem more sincere; in bad guys it makes them seem completely bat-shit insane).
Also, I'd read the recent JSA: Classified Infinite Crisis tie-in Power Girl storyline and found the world of the JSA a pretty inviting place: interesting characters, fun villains, a good-time throwback.
But really: what is going on here? I know I walked in on Part Two of this story here, but I don't have any evidence that reading the opening chapter would have aided my understanding of this. I admit I'm not quite as up on the histories of Wildcat or Mr. Terrific as I am the more mainstream members of the DCU, but can any long time readers tell me what is going on here?

We have a LOST-style flashback to the origin of the Gentleman Ghost, and we have him bringing up specters of the JSA's past. This could be all right, but the dialogue is so pedestrian it's painful:
"Back for you in a tic, GL, after I get this Halloween horror locked up!" says the Jay Garrick Flash, who is given a time reference in practically every line. Once is cute, every time is obnoxious.

Rags is one of the most dynamic storytellers in the business, but even he seems stymied by this incomprehensible plot.
Baffling, just baffling.

Side note: since we know Morales uses actors as character references:Drew Barrymore? Am I right, Rags? Do I get a no-prize? Or the DC equivalent?

JSA #84: D+


Marv Wolfman was never a spectacular writer, but he has an uncanny ability to take a story overflowing with continuity and make it not only readable, but entertaining. There's a sense of excitement and depth that he brings to this issue that has been lacking from the overall tone of the other Infinite Crisis books. The main reason is that he's telling a full story, spending time with the characters and their motivations instead of just moving them around the chessboard randomly.
We see the sense of longing, and the arrested development, that drives Alex Luthor and, in turn, Superboy-Prime insane. Wolfman turns both our villains into true tragic figures. Alex, robbed of his childhood and locked in a 'heaven' of his own creation outside of time. Superboy, forever haunted by the death of everyone he ever knew; locked in eternal puberty.

There's something more than a little homo-erotic about Alex and Superboy's relationship, as when Alex strips to reveal his Anti-Matter body.What exactly are you 'funneling' into poor little Clark?

Regardless, this is a very good issue. It illustrates that the chief failing of Infinite Crisis is that there's too damn much of it. A self-contained year long event (like the original Crisis on Infinite Earths) would have been more than enough for this sometimes meandering, sometimes wonderful story.
Infinite Crisis Secret Files & Origins 2006: A

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