May 7, 2015

Secret Wars vs. Crisis on Infinite Earths, Part 4!

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 4
Cube Roundtable
(All summaries written by Ben)

Writer: Jim Shooter; Penciler: Mike Zeck; Inker: John Beatty; Editor: Tom DeFalco

The X-Men and the Avengers combine forces to attack Galactus, but Reed Richards isn’t certain that they should. Dr. Doom makes final preparations for stealing the power cosmic.

Ben Liked: After a lot of talking, Doom is finally ready to make his move. Ben Grimm’s confidence walking around in man panties is refreshing. Klaw asking Doom if he narrates his life. Reed Richards taking command on the battle field (surprisingly).
Ben Disliked: I know Shooter felt like he had to write the series, because he didn’t want any infighting amongst the writers over which characters got to shine, or what changes were made. Certainly there could have been someone more capable of dialoguing the book though.
Ben Didn’t Understand: Colossus surviving.
Morbid Moment That I, of Course, Loved: Klaw’s dissection

Duy Liked: The heroes fighting Galactus is pretty badass. Reed Richards looking at Galactus' ship and saying it's beyond the capacity of human minds to grasp, and clearly grasping it. Klaw being cut apart is legitimately creepy. A big moment finally gets a big space to show it off.
Duy Disliked: Hawkeye whittling an arrow for Galactus. I get it's supposed to show his confidence, but Clint's not that stupid.
Duy Don't Understand: How someone as incredibly talented as Mike Zeck just looks like he rushed this series and missed some issues while he was at it.
Development That Should Have Been, And Should Still Be, Carried Over Into The Regular Marvel Universe: Colossus being jealous of Johnny Storm.

Travis Liked: Klaw’s echoes and childishness is funny. Having emotions on Doom’s mask works for me here. Just cartoony enough.
Travis Disliked: Is Mr Fantastic stretching all the time or is his face just different every panel?
Travis Don’t Understand: Why didn’t Spidey stick with the bare-limbs look?
Thing That Bugs Only Me: I hate the whole “naive indigenous chick free for sexing” deal, and it’s just as dumb and disgusting to me here.

Matt Liked: Lenin’s Beard! That’s right, it’s the 80s and the Cold War lives! The Avengers have discipline without a bald guy shouting in their heads. Thor comforts Hulk for having to sit on the floor, mostly because he’s immune to the Enchantress. Doom’s plan is actually kind of incredible and depends on reasonable assumptions about Reed Richards, the other heroes and Comic physics.
Matt Disliked: Creepy relationships with aliens who don’t speak your language. Why is Colossus shirtless and wearing thigh highs? More hidden messages. How do the Avengers miss that Rhody is in the Iron Man armor?
World Devouring Developments: Colossus’ disappearing and reappearing shirt or the webbing that doesn’t burn off as easily as before. Perhaps the fact that only now the Avengers realize Tony Stark isn’t in the Iron Man armor should be more concerning.
War, what is it good for?: Good, old fashioned Doom disses. Classic put downs! Fools! Booby Traps! Talking in the third person! Dissecting Klaw!

Writer/Editor: Marv Wolfman; Penciller: George Perez; Inker: Jerry Ordway

Lex Luthor and Brainiac have called together the villains of all the worlds, to combine forces and defeat the heroes, and take the remaining Earths for themselves. The Anti-Monitor has brunch.

Ben Liked: Guy Gardner finally getting a ring. He’s been the most interesting Green Lantern ever since.
Ben Disliked: I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but nothing happens in this issue. A small-minded conflict used merely to give the villains a chance to shine in this series, instead of the world-shattering consequences we’ve been told are at stake up to this point. I can’t imagine how a multiverse-wide brawl between the forces of good and evil could be any more boring. We get glimpses of something that could be cool, but it isn’t, because in an effort to be all-encompassing, all we get are glimpses!
Ben Didn’t Understand: There is no way the Joker is playing soldier for Luthor and Brainiac. Most of the other villains probably aren’t going to so readily sign up to be good teammates either, no matter how many Luthors Brainiac kills to intimidate them, but least of all the Joker. Infinite Crisis got it right, Joker doesn’t play well with others.
Most Transparent Over-Push of a Character: Psimon

Duy Liked: My Absolute Edition smells damn nice. Brainiac having repeated panels while talking without any changes is a nice touch. I like how, in a room full of reporters, Clark Kent is shown ducking and changing into Superman, and it's this big dramatic moment... which is then followed by Jack Ryder turning into the Creeper, by a poster of Ambush Bug no less .

Earth-2 Superman being worried about Power Girl after Supergirl's death is a nice touch. I like the lack of attempt to make Mr. Mind more realistic.
Duy Disliked: Killing Earth-2 Luthor off right away — it would have been nice to see him and regular Lex interact. The increased push of Psimon, who should have been killed off the bat for his stupid name alone.Pariah, who doesn't even change freaking clothes while at the UN.
Duy Don't Understand: Why Ben thinks this only works if you're a fan of DC history — I would argue that this is the kind of thing you throw to someone new to comics and just immerse them in the history. And if they're not into that kinda thing, well then, the Big Two probably aren't gonna be for them as a whole.
Bronze Age Flourish Even I Don't Remember the Purpose Of: Superman's ring, unless it's a Legion ring, and why it's on his pinky.

Matt Liked: Villain group shot! Brainiac is his ship people, don’t forget. The immediate Luthor death was appreciated, only so many of them can be in a room at once. That number is 1. Lady Quark in a trenchcoat is ridiculously funny. First (and only) appearance of the Cosmic Treadmill! Hawk is basically an ass in his one and only scene of merit.
Matt Disliked: Guy Gardner and the whole Oa exposition scene. Tamaran costumes are just the worst and so 80s. The Doom Patrol is such a downer group. Why is Vibe here?
Villains Unite!: Please kill Jericho and find Terry and end him, please. These are some dark times on Earth-4, and that’s saying something, but it’s effective. Lex and Brainiac are forever voiced by their DCAU actors (Clancy and Corey).
Anti-Monitoring Station: Just some random kill shots at the beginning, which should’ve been edited out Marv. Anti-Monitor needs to go back and stop the Crisis name dropping, it’s getting out of control.

Travis Liked: Repeating panel Braniac.
Travis Disliked: Everyone saying full names or formal names nonstop this issue, even to someone they’re in the middle of a conversation with is nice for “our benefit,” I suppose, but especially nine issues into a twelve issue story, it’s just a labor to read.
Travis Don’t Understand: How the dialogue went off the rails in this and the last issue so bad. “Good Lord! Dr. Phosphorous… he’s killing Hawkman?”
Last Thing I Wanted But Maybe Needed: Joker hitting on Phantom Lady.

Writer: Jim Shooter; Penciler: Mike Zeck; Inker: John Beatty; Editor: Tom DeFalco

Wielding the power cosmic, Dr. Doom fights the Beyonder, and wins.

Ben Liked: “The Beyonder is dead! Now, the supreme being in the universe… is Doom!”
Ben Disliked: “Terrorists—that’s what the big army calls the little army” is just insulting, and offensive.
Ben Didn’t Understand: Wolverine rushing to the defense of Magneto, a man that has tried to kill him several times, and accusing Captain America of not caring about mutants. For people with such a huge persecution complex, they sure are quick to take in anyone just by virtue of being a mutant, no matter if they’re a murderer or terrorist. They can’t even say he’s done it in the fight for equal rights, he’s tried to murder mutants more often than humans. Seems like the wrong way to go about equality.
Most in Need of a Priority Readjustment: Colossus

Duy Liked: Doom makes his play, and it's the kind of thing that makes Doom so dangerous to the entire Marvel universe, to the point that it always bugs me that he's often relegated to just a Fantastic Four villain.The panel of Doom confronting the Beyonder is pretty spectacular.
Duy Disliked: It's really too bad it took nine issues to give us any real money shots. Also, my TPB reprints the covers all blurry, like they took a thumbnail of a JPEG and blew it up.
Duy Don't Understand: How the tenth issues of both these series have the most powerful green-hooded character of each universe making their play.
Unintended Expressions: Colossus giving the news that Zsaji's been hurt just looks funny. Giant Doom marching towards the heroes is hilarious.

Ben: You should know that the trade paperback you have that I gave you has the worst reproductions I've ever seen.
Duy: Then it's your own fault for overselling and underdelivering.
Ben: I can't be blamed for your stupidity.
Duy: Yes you can. And you should.

Travis Liked: Christie Scheele is on fire in this issue. She owns this issue, from the x-ray fx and borderless energy forms to shades and gradations, contrasts and thematic shifts purely in color.
Travis Disliked: Not much. Pretty fab.
Travis Don’t Understand: How was Iron Man and Hawkeye tackling Magneto ever going to work?
This Comic Proves: A lot of the weaknesses in comics coloring that we excuse as being requirements of time and machinery were, in fact, received wisdom or lack of commitment by the colorists and printers, because someone like Scheele or Tatiana Wood always made it work.

Matt Liked: The cover is really good, a quality of drawing not usually seen on the inside. Prof. X using his telepathy for something useful! Magneto powered aircraft coming to a store near you. The heroes are just a second too late, if only they hadn’t argued so damn much. Magneto being the only one tempted.
Matt Disliked: The skelo-drawings are just bad. Magneto and Wolverine really digging into Cap about mutants. It just screams of false conflict and dickishness. Hawkeye’s dialogue is hokey. Giant Doom looks like a Stay-Puft marshmallow man.
Classy Covers: The level of detail used here is excellent. It also manages to convey Doom’s power and mortality.
War, what is it good for?: Doom ripping off the Iron Man armor, complete with hoodie! It’s only so-so, not his best work.

Writer/Editor: Marv Wolfman; Penciller: George Perez; Inker: Jerry Ordway

The Spectre unites all the heroes and villains to face the Anti-Monitor at the dawn of time.

Ben Liked: After a lot of pointless meandering, it finally seems like the main conflict has some momentum. The images of the Spectre looming large over all the Earths is a powerful image. (I’ve always liked the look of the Spectre, but that’s been about it. His comics are mostly boring.) Fighting the ultimate evil at the dawn of creation is really hard to mess up.

Ben Disliked: If you’re going to invoke the motivational speech cliché, the rallying cry, you have to do a lot better than Wolfman did through Uncle Sam here. “Politics aside, we should like totally win for freedom, and such.” This speech is so bad it makes me want to punch Al Pacino in the face. This speech is so bad it restored my virginity just reading it. This speech was like the Boston Tea Party, except instead of crates of tea, there were crates of whimpering puppies being tossed into the ocean. This speech was so bad it gave Jesus herpes.
Ben Didn’t Understand: When you’re ramping up the action to the big crescendo of your multi-verse spanning epic, you definitely want to run some quiet introspective black-and-white “history of the universe moments” across the bottom of every page. Well planned.
Least Useful Power in the Face of Cosmic Evil: Batman’s courage

Duy Liked: Finally, finally, Psimon dies. Martian Manhunter cutting loose is rare, and always welcome. Captain Marvel makes a grand re-entrance. The Spectre going all Eternity is a nice visual. Ben complaining about Uncle Sam's speech makes him Epoch, the Lord of Time. The Spectre arm wrestling the Anti-Monitor is great. And that's a cliffhanger.
Duy Disliked: That Superboy-Prime is out of nowhere. It's one of those things where you had to read the tie-ins to know where he came from and what he was doing there. I'm fine with that when it's well done enough, but we didn't need another Superman.They killed off the wrong Aqua-sidekick (actually, the wrong Aqua-person. Tula's more interesting than either Arthur or Garth).My Absolute Edition misspells "Egyptian" in the Monitor Tapes, because apparently in two decades of these things being published, no one calls these things out.
Duy Don't Understand: The point of the Monitor Tapes. Especially when you have the singles, it makes less sense, since the production quality made them almost indecipherable. It looks pretty reproduced though. Killing off Prince Gavyn Starman just seemed like a waste, since one of the goals post-Crisis was to diversify the lineup, but it led to Will Payton and Jack Knight, so I'm not complaining.
Weirdest Costume For The Time: The Atom's Sword of the Atom costume, developed for a story where he was a sword and fantasy superhero, just looks out of place in Crisis.

Matt Liked: Psimon dying by page 2. The fact that the Martian Manhunter has such a low opinion of humans. Atom to the rescue! Brainiac thinking solely of his sole survival is totally inline with the character. This is just funny bad, but the Oans caring only for property and science is hilarious.

Matt Disliked: Psimon’s use of the third person upsets Matt. Over use of phrases beginning with “so called”. Superboy Prime’s randomly showing up. They don’t seem to realize that copper might be a better conductor for their activities...Why do they bring the powerless to their fights? Just to watch?
Tape Deck: I like the black and white conceit and runner across the bottom. You get some Superboy Prime previews and to see Darkseid save himself, as always. It’s also pretty dark down there.
Anti-Monitoring Station: Brainiac is his ship, much in the same way the Psimon is a moron. Spectre is just so crazy/powerful, why was no one keeping an eye on him? Well, the Anti-Monitor was, of course.

Travis Liked: The Monitor Tapes is fantastic. Platinum gets a moment of badass.
Travis Disliked: Perez draws the Atom cutting off Billy Batson’s gag the most nonsensical way a tiny man could cut a gag off a kid using a sword.
Travis Don’t Understand: Why people get mad that Chemo doesn’t “care” or have a serious plan. It’s like telling a rainstorm to shut up.
Inexplicably The Brick: The Spectre, of all people.

Matt: There is a lot of chaff in Crisis, I will say (and actually will) that. The story just wants to get everyone in there and it hurts.
Ben: Everyone but Batman.
Duy: Cramming everyone in there is the best part. It's senseless and huge and massive.
Matt: It's what group shots are for! I don't need an entirely pointless side story about Kamandi or Anthro.
Duy: Yes you do. We all do.
Ben: Nobody needs that.  Ever.
Duy: Embrace the first and last boys on Earth. Embrace them.
Ben: Being the first or last of anything is never interesting.
Duy: Secret Wars is reminding me why I hated the X-Men. Cyclops, Colossus, Professor X, non-Byrne Wolverine.... really, if you're not using the Byrne model for Wolverine, he's just an annoying short white guy.
Ben: I like when he accuses Cap of not caring about mutants
Matt: There is also no consistency whatsoever with Colossus wearing his not really a shirt and just being shirtless. They couldn't be bothered to keep it straight.
Travis: Why would anyone want to pay any more attention to Colossus than they had to?
Matt: Fair point. The X-Men are basically stupid and pointless. Like Professor X having working legs, it's just an excuse to have a jerk around for a while.
Ben: It takes a lot to be considered the whiniest  X-Man.  That's not a title Cyclops concedes lightly

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