May 6, 2015

Secret Wars vs. Crisis on Infinite Earths, Part 2!

We are in the middle of DC Comics' Convergence and at the start of Marvel's Secret Wars, two series that involve multiverses colliding! Every day this week, the Cube staff will be looking at the two series that started it all: the originalMarvel Super Heroes Secret Wars, by Jim Shooter, Mike Zeck, Bob Layton, and John Beatty, and Crisis on Infinite Earths, by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. We'll talk about our likes, our dislikes, and other stuff in the middle. Let's get started!

Secret Wars vs. Crisis on Infinite Earths
Part 2
Cube Roundtable
(All summaries written by Ben)


CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS #4

First I have to apologize to Marv Wolfman for calling him the comic book antichrist, when John Byrne has clearly held that title for 35 years.

Ben Liked: How big a jerk the new Dr. Light is. Seriously, she taunted her own father about her mother leaving him. Greatness. Batman continuing to be completely useless. He can only stand there and gawk along with the rest of the Outsiders while Starfire and Rainbow Brite do the heavy lifting. The Monitor finally explains what those towers are for, 4 issues in.
Ben Disliked: I take it back, Wolfman is the worst. Of all the characters to make into the sniveling coward crying at the prospect of the end of the world, he picked Batgirl. Batgirl! The ultimate self-made hero crying on a rooftop, afraid to do anything. Batgirl!! I can't tell what Wolfman hates more; women, bat-characters, or competent comic book writing. Or is it all of the above? I know, instead of making Batgirl a major player, how about we use Lady Quark instead. Lady Quark? Lady Quark?!? Maybe Marv really is the comic book antichrist.
Disclaimer: Ben is just joking around, settle down Marv and Marv relatives. (Marv fans too, if there are any.)

Don't mess with Batgirl!

Ben Didn't Understand: How Duy can say Secret Wars has bad dialogue. Here's a sampling of dialogue from this issue:

  • But why must I witness such horror? Why?
  • Somehow you've hurt my parents! But I have the power to control nature!
  • You are the Psycho Pirate. You manipulate emotions!
  • I must know more if ever I am to control this world.
  • Has everyone forgotten I speak Japanese?


Character Most Likely to Cry in a Crisis Comic: Sorry Pariah, but the winner is Superman

Travis Liked: Dr. Light is the best thing in Crisis. And, Perez does great incremental transitions in tiny panels across a page.
Travis Disliked: Crap Batgirl is crap. John Constantine sounds like every other posh, suited mysticky gentleman here, and not the wideboy of the day’s Swamp Thing or the schlubby hustler he’d grow into.
Travis Don’t Understand: What is it with DC red skies where they’re not red?
Character I See Only as the Post-Crisis Version Now: Shining Knight. Sir Ystin or bust.

Duy Liked: How it ended, with the machines that were keeping the worlds separated malfunctioning, what happens next? And the new Dr. Light is great.
Duy Disliked: Yes, this is exactly what I want to read, the story of how Pariah saves Lady Quark from destruction.
Duy Don't Understand: If you're going to make a point about how powerless superheroes feel more powerless in the face of this multiversal danger, you might not want to bring up the firemen and policemen who are still doing their jobs. Also, why would you show John Constantine in one of his first appearances, when it's clear you had no idea what he was about?
Even The Fans Are Thinking It:  Firestorm says "Monitor, why didn't you team me up with Firehawk?" And, well, yeah, Monitor, what the hell?

Matt Liked: This Dr. Light is already a badass.Batman doesn’t know what’s what and then immediately fade out. Especially enlightening given the current Batman spin. This issue is all about how kickass the female characters are and it’s great.
Matt Disliked: I’m ok with Earth-6 going, why are people upset? Dr. Light is also kind of an asshole. Killer Frost’s lovesickness is just horrible
Most 80s Costume: Supergirl, as we know, it’s all about the headband.
Still Monitoring Station: That’s right, Supergirl knows what to do about destructing planets, that’s not a bit of foreshadowing, nothing bad will happen, right?


MARVEL SUPER HEROES SECRET WARS #4

Ben Liked: Molecule Man dropped a mountain on them. A mountain! He dropped a mountain on them Duy, you emotionless cur!
Ben Disliked: Mike Zeck didn't pencil this issue. Layton is normally pretty capable, but this looks like a rush job. Layton is pretty underrated, in the annals of comic history. It's pretty insane that one of the most iconic covers of the series was not done by Zeck. (I was going to call it the second most iconic, after #8, but the first issue is pretty classic too. Man, the covers on this series rocked. Crisis sucks.)
Ben Didn't Understand: How anyone can hate Secret Wars. Only someone with no soul could hate this series. He dropped a mountain on them!
What Does Iron Man Never Drop?:



Talent like this.

Or a mountain, on anyone. A mountain!

Travis Liked: Covers continue to kick ass.
Travis Disliked: Enchantress crying.
Travis Don’t Understand: Why anyone likes Colossus.
Thing Doom Should Say in More Comics: “Ultron —! Slay Kang!”

Duy Liked: Hulk carrying a mountain was a legitimate moment.
Duy Disliked: Did Thor really just wake up the Enchantress to talk about things only gods can understand? Thor would never do that with the Avengers around, since he's always held at least Cap and Tony in as high regard as the gods.
Duy Don't Understand: Thor's mightiest blows to a mountain were tapping? Hasn't Mjolnir shattered worlds?
Most Unexciting Cliffhanger Ever: Reed Richards screaming "No! No!" while waving his arms up in the air.

Matt Likes: HQ destruction in panel one is a nice theme setting start. Hawkeye trick arrows to the rescue. Enchantress’ millennia long strategy is crushed by a mountain getting thrown around. I enjoyed the creative “when hell freezes over” moment. Mag’s uses the magnetic power of a small city to make a comb. Iron Rhodey at least puts the brakes on Johnny’s charm offensive.
Matt Dislikes: Molecule Man just exudes a super creepy vibe. The Hulk is too busy carrying people to be useful? Telling and also showing. Stick to the one that works Shooter! Iron Rhody’s dialogue is just awful. The design of Colossus does nothing to diminish worries about the appropriateness of his relationship with Kitty in the 80s. All Janet wants is a comb.
And the ceiling comes crashing down: I probably will remember this cover more than the contents of the series. Which is sadly also true of Crisis.
War, what is it good for?: Throwing gigantic pieces of equipment five miles. Go Titania! Casual sexism!


CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS #5

Ben Liked: This double page splash is magnificent.


Look, Superman is holding Dawnstar for no specific reason. The Anti-Monitor, the scariest character wearing old school dental headgear in comic book history. Superman punching a sabretooth tiger. Flash telling the Anti-Monitor that his dupe can't hold him down.
Ben Disliked: Most of the time I'm writing tongue-in-cheek, with much hyperbole, but the plot of this series just isn't very good. The first four issues are spent on these towers, and they're already pointless as we move on to the next false obstacle. There's just no rhyme or reason or consequence to anything that is happening. I get that you can establish goals that ultimately prove unsuccessful, and then move on to new goals, but it just doesn't seem like any of this was done with any planning or thought for what happens next. Everything is the big endgame to save the worlds, until it's on to the next big endgame, with none of if feeling like it has any weight or purpose. Beyond that, this chapter was complete filler. Do the heroes really need to be convinced to save their worlds? I think it's already been sufficiently established that all worlds and all timelines are in play by this point. It's all stalling for whatever next false milestone this storyline can come up with.
Ben Didn't Understand: Why Wolfman and Perez love the white fro so much. With Alexander Luthor, Jericho, and Terry Long, they only need two more dudes before they can become the white Jackson 5, only uninteresting and lame. Crisis should have been about Alexander Luthro and Jericho having a fro-off that destroyed the multiverse. Fros will live, worlds will die, and the DC universe will never be the same.
Inaugural inductee into the Bob Pinciotti Hall of Fame: Jericho

Travis Liked: Perez’s Jade is really cute. Dr. Light continues to be the best character in the comic. Red Tornado's pretty boss here for a torture victim.
Travis Disliked: These scene transitions are jarring, and intentionally, but there’s nothing else to them.
Travis Don’t Understand: Is it intentional that the master or orchestrating crowds and panels makes it look like the Golden Age Flash is checking out Powergirl's butt? “I keep getting these feelings.”
Where The Story Should’ve Begun: Here. This issue. In media res. Fill in backstory as necessary.

Duy Liked: The entrances in this one just work for me, from the Flash to the Anti-Monitor, all the way up to the very end with the Freedom Fighters.
Duy Disliked: Did Starfire and Red Star just have a conversation about politics in the middle of a multiversal collapse?
Duy Don't Understand: How George Perez will go to great lengths to make two different versions of Superman distinct enough, from facial features to body language, but then designs costumes like Lady Quark's and Pariah's.
My Favorite Anecdote Related to This Issue: I didn't have many comics in college, since I didn't bring many with me. In sophomore year, I was reading Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, and my roommate was reading Crisis, and I showed him how it worked back then, how Swamp Thing could be shown on the Monitor's satellite in Crisis briefly, and then his own title would show what he actually did. It blew his mind, and he started showing it to any of our friends who were interested in comics, which continually blew their minds. One comment I remember was "I didn't realize there was so much story." I get that feeling now, when Marvel movies reference each other and I hear the theater laughing with amusement. It's a tiny thing that makes it so fun to be a fan, and a great thing to share.

Matt Liked: The phrase “20th Century Earth seems to prevail” is hilarious to read aloud. Also, there are dinosaurs. The group shots are great ways to show crazy things going on and allowing cavemen to eat microphones.
Matt Disliked: Basically, the entire idea of the convergence. Alex Luthor’s first real dialogue is bad. Also, how does Dr. Light, a noteworthy physicist, not have some passing knowledge of English? It’s just a bad conceit. Geo Force knows English!
How low can they go?: Mermaids in a space station?! The dead daughter from another Earth for the Gerrold’s is also a step too far
Who’s Monitoring now?: Still the Monitor, apparently, and we also get the big debut of his “enemy”


MARVEL SUPER HEROES SECRET WARS #5

Ben Liked: The Molecule Man slowly growing some balls (while also completely missing the irony of bullying someone immediately after complaining about how he used to be bullied as a kid). The X-Men splitting off and forming their own faction with Magneto. Galactus becoming the immediate problem for everyone else. The Enchantress continuing to offer herself to men to try and get what she wants, and continuing to fail. (A co-worker of mine used to have a complete weak spot for blonde women, and he was fully aware of it. One time, a blonde came in to our customer service desk making impossible demands, and he was ready to give her whatever she wanted.) Colossus getting pegged in the stomach with a crowbar and lying on the ground like a punk.


Ben Disliked: Still no Zeck.
Ben Didn't Understand: Here are the inner thoughts of Colossus, in relation to Kitty Pryde. "All my big plans for us, for a few years from now, when you are old enough." Having recently learned that one of Shooter's goals during this series was to break up the creepy statutory relationship between Colossus and Kitty Pryde, only makes me like him that much more. Claremont is just weird for establishing that romance. Maybe Claremont is the comic book antichrist. (No, No. I could never stay mad at Claremont. I love you, Chris.)

Travis Liked: Xavier busting in on Colossus while he’s thinking about his girlfriend, hugging his pillow and all. Funny’s funny. Owe and Marsha continue to be really cute.
Travis Disliked: Bob Layton is no Mike Zeck. And, Esaji is a special kind of creepy, especially with Johnny. And, she’ll get with Colossus, who’s already creepy here with his “when you’re old enough” fantasizing.
Travis Don’t Understand: Why is Hulk so damn weak in this? He’s the Hulk!
Starring as Molecule Man: Walter Goggins.

Duy Liked: Galactus calling his ship to Battleworld makes up for two issues of him being a mime.
Duy Disliked: Cyclops. Jesus, I hate Cyclops. "Storm is the leader!.... but maybe I should be." You know who Cyclops is? He's that guy who takes on an assignment not because he thinks he's going to be able to do it right, but because he doesn't want anyone else fucking it up. I hate that guy.
Duy Don't Understand: Shooter's cliffhangers, which are the equivalent of "What is it? What did this guy see?!?" instead of "Holy crap, I can't believe that thing is there!"
Most Random Secret Wars Development: Years later, during the Infinity War, Dr. Octopus would team up with the Wrecking Crew, Absorbing Man, and Titania and try to take Avengers Mansion, and be beaten by the not-famous Guardians of the Galaxy. It was not their finest moment.


Matt Likes: Basically, Torch gets high to communicate and they aren’t really glossing over it. Professor X bursting into Colossus’ wet day dream, loudly. The Wrecking Crew and Absorbing Man are an unlikely comedy team. “Mine’s a wrecking ball” caused a chuckle. Coneheads reference, I get you Thing.
Matt Dislikes: It’s time for super creepy Human Torch bearing apparently. We’re 5 issues in, why do I need a 3 page recount of events? Colossus’ shirtless longing for Kitty might beat Johnny’s horndoggedness.
X-Men Assemble!: Storm is in charge! And I want her to put Cyclops down. Eventually the ringing caused by the mental summons will die down.
War, what is it good for?: Not subtle product placement! Brought to you by Pepsi.



CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS #6
Writer/Editor: Marv Wolfman; Penciller: George Perez; Inker: Jerry Ordway

The Anti-Monitor amplifies the emotion manipulation powers of Psycho Pirate, in an effort to keep the heroes busy fighting each other instead of stopping him. Harbinger is able to link Earths S, X, and 4 to the netherverse that currently contains Earths 1 and 2, and a new Wildcat is born.

Ben Liked: Brainiac’s robot-brain-head spaceship.



The Freedom Fighters are interesting in theory, but there’s pretty much no way I’m reading any DC comic made before 1980 that isn’t the Metal Men. Maybe if DC made it now, but only with the classic look for the characters, which would never happen, because murderdeathkill. I inexplicably love Dolphin. A blonde girl swimming around in cutoff jean shorts. What’s not to love?
Ben Disliked: Here’s the problem I have with some of these big event comics. The Anti-Monitor is supposed to be this big powerful being, and yet he stands around and does absolutely nothing while the forces of good scramble to stop him. We’ve already seen him almost instantaneously wipe out the Crime Syndicate’s world, but for some reason he can’t do the same to the important Earths (and that reason is because the plot demands it). Blackest Night had the same problem with Nekron, standing around for 4 issues until the heroes beat him, like he’s some final level boss in a video game. It makes them look ineffectual and weak, sending minions like the Psycho Pirate to handle the heroes while he… monologues. Maybe if he was mixing it up with the heroes and getting pushed back it wouldn’t seem as much like this series was in a state of continuous stalling.
Ben Didn’t Understand: They’ve already said only three Earths remained, and yet Harbinger uses the power of love to save Earth-4, Earth-X, and Earth-S from out of nowhere. Because the plot demands! This series is dumb.
Earth That Should Have Been Included Instead of S: Earth-C

Travis Liked: Blue Beetle’s ship is just so impractically awkward. Judo-Master going straight for that “you’re a Nazi, I can tell” business is as fun as Captain Marvel’s rage is stupid.
Travis Disliked: No one’s given enough of a moment to really grab me, even with Wildcat laid up in bed, never to superhero again. And, Captain Marvel’s rage is stupid.
Travis Don’t Understand: Why George Perez can ground the most alien things, arrange two dozen bodies in one shot, but can’t draw a skirt that acts like a skirt.
Most Unexpected Southpaw: Uncle Sam.

Matt Liked: The Anti Monitor immediately ignores Psycho Pirate, which gets him 2 cool points in my view. Ted Grant’s piece is pretty good, nice tough-guy without powers action. Starfire willing to kill sells the Crisis well. Jay Garrick’s Flash updraft is another comics classics that is welcome.
Matt Disliked: I don’t care about Psycho Pirate or anything he says or does. Dr. Light is crossing the line into complete asshole and its a disservice to her. Black Canary’s 80s costume is insanely awful.
Deaths that Matter?: Harbinger? Eh, she also isn’t dead. I was promised 3 deaths and by my count I am owed 2 more. Please make one of them Psycho Pirate.
Anti-Monitoring Station: At least AM hates Psycho Pirate too. After the cinematic adaptation of Watchmen, Earth-4 is the anti-nostalgia.

Duy Liked: The art is just spectacular. I feel everything going on, the danger, the fear in Rorschach and Nite Owl, um, I mean Question and Blue Beetle. I love just looking at this book. Go get the Absolute Edition.
Duy Disliked: Yolanda Montez having to translate everything she says, even if it's in her thoughts. Also, the Monitor was annoying, but it's not like Alexander Luthor's a great replacement.
Duy Don't Understand: What Travis has against Rage Captain Marvel. That guy's scary, yo!
Editorial Gaffe: Forgetting Wonder Woman can't fly.


Surest Sign It's the 80s: Whenever Supergirl and Black Canary are on the same page, and you realize two people are wearing Cyndi Lauper headbands.



MARVEL SUPER HEROES SECRET WARS #6
Writer: Jim Shooter; Penciler: Mike Zeck; Inker: John Beatty; Editor: Tom DeFalco

The heroes make plans on how to stop Galactus from devouring the planet, but Dr. Doom continues to have bigger goals. The Wasp is seemingly killed by the villains.

Ben Liked: I inexplicably love Klaw. I love that the time Dazzler fought Galactus has now became an important plot point in a massive crossover. Klaw should be the central villain of the new Secret Wars series. The next Avengers movie should be titled “The Rise of Klaw.” Spider-Man and Hawkeye spending some downtime together being regular guys was a good touch. The random friendship of the Wasp and the Lizard. The Lizard calling her crazy. The Wasp getting shot through the boob. The friendship of the Wasp and the Lizard should be central to the plot of the new Secret Wars.
Ben Disliked: The ongoing power struggle for leadership of the X-Men. I can’t really see Storm storming (ha) off to confront Xavier over who gets to give the commands. Cyclops is whining and pouting to himself about it, which, okay, is what he does. Also, Cyclops and Storm later fought over who got to lead the X-Men, so maybe I’m wrong. Look, the point is he’s dead, and the Matrix died with him!
Ben Didn’t Understand: Since Klaw said Doom’s code words for Ultron out loud in front of everyone, why don’t they all just say the code words too?
What is the Point: The point is you were a fool. The Matrix has been passed to their new leader, Ultra Magnus. Destroy it for me.

Travis Liked: Battleworld getting more alive and complex with time. Some great body language work in this issue. Heck draws the best Charles Xavier of anyone.
Travis Disliked: Galactus is kinda underplayed.
Travis Don’t Understand: Why 80s superhero writers seem so in love with fake profanity. Is it just for pacing? Sheeee-ooot the sheep dip hol-dang!
What I Hope Were Toy Tie-Ins: The tripods, trucks, and tanks. Otherwise, what a waste.

Matt Likes: Klaw was killed by Dazzler and we get to re-live it. Doom’s immediate dismissal is appropriate. Klaw is just hilariously inept. Storm does not put up with Xavier’s guff, well done. Cap is the one focused on actual issues, showing the leadership the other groups lack all the better.
Matt Dislikes: Janet, despite being an Avengers leader has thus far been portrayed as borderline incompetent. Janet and the Lizard (who looks deformed) is poorly written and executed. The whole native who doesn’t understand our language thing is incredibly off putting, at least it will end poorly (I assume)..
Woaa, we’re halfway there: Cooperation between mutants and Avengers is living on Colossus’ prayers. When he’s not daydreaming about aliens and Kitty.
War, what is it good for?: Cyclops put downs. Professor X is the master. Hawkeye making arrows, will he fletch? We can only find out in issue 7!

Duy Liked: Monica Rambeau gets hit on by Jim Rhodes and is surprised that Iron Man would stop for "singles bar chit chat." If she only knew Tony back then. Also, Johnny Storm snatching Zsaji up from right where Colossus was to break his annoying little heart.
Duy Disliked: The Wasp, a founding Avenger and at the time the group's leader, complains about breaking a nail and uses the word "thingy" twice in two pages. I understand that not every leader can be Captain America, but...yeah.
Duy Don't Understand: How, really, Charles Xavier isn't considered a villain.
Character Who Would Never Act This Way Now: There really is no way Wolverine goes back to this super-impulsive character who gets beaten down a lot. He's grown too much — and too popular — since then.

Ben: You're so butthurt about Secret Wars!
Duy: What? I toned it down!
Ben: You're being unreasonably harsh!
Duy: You can't tell me you don't hate Cyclops!!
Ben: He's not even a factor!  He gets a random panel here or there to whine.  He's nowhere near as pervasive as Pariah.
Duy: Pariah is annoying, but he's not one of the main figureheads of the universe. Cyclops is the leader of the X-Men. Or he should be, depending on how much you want to listen to him. Or, in other words, Pariah is annoying in a vacuum, but he's there for the series. There was no reason to include Cyclops.
Ben: Dude, that's the weakest justification ever.  Pariah is far more annoying than any single character in Secret Wars, and he's a MAIN character in that series.  I don't want to hear any of your before or after excuses.  irrelevant.  Irrelevant!!
Duy: Nuh uh, Pariah is annoying but he's a plot device. Colossus, Cyclops, they're all annoying and just there.
Ben: That's better!
Duy: Damn right!
Travis: Pariah's a plot-waster. Colossus, at least, shows us someone who experiences loneliness and uncertainty on Battleworld and acts as a foil to Johnny Storm. I hate Colossus as a guy, but as a tool in that story, Colossus is certainly a tool.
Matt: I just ignore all the Pariah stuff, well most of it. He's a boring plot device. I really hate Psycho Pirate and the lack of the New Gods, but what can I do? Read the panel in Infinite Crisis where Black Adam just kills Psycho-Pirate, over and over. 
Duy: Darkseid eventually shows up.... even there it's kind of implied Apokolips (and, I guess, New Genesis) is outside the multiverse.
Matt: He's got like 1 page and a few mentions. Jericho is featured more.
Duy: I hate Jericho so much.
Matt: If I were to write a screed about him, it would largely be uncouth and insinuate that his father would be glad if he has just disappeared like Earth-2. Or would gladly take up the contract on his life. 
Ben: Jericho is the Darkseid of white fros.
Matt: My Crisis commentary definitely veers into the I hate this character territory often. I hate Psycho Pirate, Jericho and Terry so much.
Ben: Terry doesn't even appear, he just gets mentioned.  Now that's hate.
Matt: Any time Guy shows up, I complain too. So that one time for 2 pages. I like everything about Crisis 9, except Jericho, Terry and Guy.
Duy: What the hell do you have against the white afro?
Ben: That's racist!
Matt: For Jericho, its the mutton chops. Him and Chester A. Arthur are on my list. Terry is just horrible and Guy has a bowl cut. It's bad hair all around.


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