Axel-In-Charge: Facing the 'Divided' Marvel NOW! Future
Because it’s the day after Christmas, and I don’t want to write 1,500 words about Forever Evil and its Justice League tie-in — except to say they both felt a lot like stereotypical Lost, and not necessarily in a good way — here’s a stocking’s worth of number-based observations about DC past and present.
Twelve Crisis issues: I talk a lot about 1984-85’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, mostly because it so completely transformed not just DC’s shared-universe continuity, but its publishing philosophy. On its merits, Crisis is a mixed bag, pairing stunning visuals with a sometimes-flabby narrative. However, despite its sprawl, COIE ended up with a definite structure. The first four issues deal with a mysterious antimatter onslaught which destroys whole universes, apparently including the familiar Earth-One and Earth-Two. The final page of Issue 4 is nothing but black “smoke” clearing away, revealing blank white space. Issues 5 and 6 offer vignettes on the five surviving universes, as time periods intersect in “warp zones” and ordinary people see multiversal counterparts of departed loved ones. Issues 7 and 8 are, to put it bluntly, the Big Death issues, with Supergirl saving her cousin from the Anti-Monitor and the Barry Allen Flash destroying Anti-M’s latest doomsday weapon. Issues 9 and 10 feature the “Villain War” and a two-pronged time-travel assault on Anti-M’s efforts. That ends with a shattered, otherwise “blank” comics panel, as the Spectre wrestles Anti-M for control of history itself — and issues 11 and 12 feature the heroes of a new, singular universe fighting a final battle against the Anti-Monitor. Today’s decompressed (and sometimes decentralized) Big Events focus more on character moments and slow burns, and more often than not they don’t have to streamline fifty years of continuity, but Crisis remains a model for just how big an Event can be.
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Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly round-up of … well, what we’ve been reading lately.
Today our special guest is the legendary Gilbert Hernandez. Known best as the co-creator of Love & Rockets, his other works include Sloth, The Troublemakers, Chance in Hell and Yeah! with Peter Bagge (which is being collected by Fantagraphics)
To see what Gilbert and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below.
I was watching this year’s South Carolina/Alabama football game when a moment from 1978’s Superman popped into my head. As South Carolina’s upset bid gradually became a certainty, the shots of coach Steve Spurrier reminded me of Lex Luthor’s classic line:
You were great in your day, Superman. But it just stands to reason, when it came time to cash in your chips, this old … diseased … maniac would be your banker.
See, there are just some people you never count out, no matter how great the odds against them. Regardless of incarnation, Luthor is one of my favorite villains, especially when he can create a perpetual air of menace. If Superman represents humanity’s best impulses (plus the power to back them up), Luthor naturally represents its worst: self-centeredness, ego, avarice, and an overwhelming superiority complex. Twisted though it may be, Luthor’s enduring motivation is spot-on: but for Superman, he’d be the unquestioned ruler of the Earth. Just the news that Luthor is loose should be enough to clear the streets of Metropolis, sending its citizens into well-stocked shelters. Luthor is scary because only Superman can stop him; and Superman is … well, Superman in no small part because only he can stop the likes of Luthor.