It is time, Faithful Spoilerites, for us to consider the story that I used to refer to as “The Dumbest Death Of Superman.”  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Infinite Crisis #7 awaits!

INFINITE CRISIS #7

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciler: Joe Bennett/Phil Jimenez/George Perez/Ivan Reis
Inker: Andy Lannning/Jerry Ordway/George Perez/Sean Parsons/Art Thibert
Colorist: Jeromy Cox/Guy Major/Tany Horie/Richard Horie
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $4.00

Previously in Infinite Crisis:  The giant crossover to end all crossovers until the next crossover!!!!  The secret of ’52’ was that the Multiverse still existed.  Infinite Crisis was triggered when Alexander Luthor of Earth-3, Superboy of Earth-Prime and the original Superman returned to the DCU, disgusted with the state of things, prepared to create a perfect world to replace the ones that they lost.  The battle has been long and wide-ranging, and there have been casualties…

Superboy is dead.

This sequence is a strong one, and the expressions or Robin and Superman help to make the loss of Kon-El feel much more real than I remember, so excellent work by the creative team here.  As he watches the young man who wears his legendary symbol die (and having started all this nonsense in the first place, thanks to an alliance with a clearly mad Superboy-Prime) the elder Superman realizes that he has been fighting on the wrong side.  But, before he can begin to rebuild the trust of the young heroes who have followed in his footsteps (not to mention their world) the Secret Society to whom my brain always wants to append “of Super-Villains” attacks, forcing him to work together with…

Well, pretty much everybody.

Yes, friends, these are the legendary unfinished pages, so presented because this series was soooo far behind schedule.  In order to cover up the fact that the art team’s work was unfinished, the big red patina has been added in the background (apparently right over Phil Jimenez’ pencils), making what should have been the book’s showpiece into a disappointing ‘What Might Have Been’ moment.  Of course, that is technically a flaw of the editorial team decisions rather than the story, but it’s interesting that the villain of the piece remarks that he “can’t tell the heroes from the villains” and that he doesn’t even recognize most of these people is a big problem, because I agree with it.  That’s a problem, given that quite a few heroes meet their final end during this massive Battle Of Metropolis.  Of course, the next moment is one of the more telling for me…

Superman and Earth-2 Superman team up to take down Doomsday, the beast that killed the younger of them a decade earlier, succeeding by sheer determination and punching fury.  Given that someone (I can’t remember who, but I know is was a pro writer, maybe Busiek or Waid or Peter David?) made the salient point that the ’93 Death Of Superman only works if you accept that Superman turns into a mindless punching machine, it feels like they’re not really recognizing the storytelling flaws that this comic’s villain is explicitly pointing out as their failings.  While Alex Luthor and Superboy acknowledge that this is a new, remade Earth that changes parts of the post-Crisis (and especially post-Zero Hour) history, original recipe Superman confronts his former ally…

Superboy Prime tries to kill his Earth-2 mentor, but is frightened away by Bart Allen, the new Flash (it’s complicated) and sets off to destroy Oa and set off a new Big Bang that will reset the universe once more.  Of course, Oa does have its protectors…

The Green Lantern Corps makes a strong showing against the Kryptonian powerhouse, a battle marred only by terrible TERRIBLE dialogue (“Thin Green Line’ll stop him cold.”  Ugh…) and the fact that, back on Earth, the death continues.  Breach explodes, then turns back into Captain Atom, while Nightwing is seemingly mown down by Luthor, leading Batman and Wonder Woman to put the smackdown on his misshapen, curly head…

This is another well-crafted moment, as this series began with Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman refusing to accept one another’s weaknesses, with Wonder Woman espousing the way of vengeance by the sword.  Batman almost using a gun is likewise well-handled, reminding readers that Batman doesn’t use guns unless they’re mounted cannons on his movie vehicles.  Luthor’s repeated belief that there are shortcuts to justice is undermined, and Superboy’s belief that he can’t be stopped is likewise challenged by the twin Supermen, who instead speed him up.

Smashing through the ruins of Krypton, the Supers Men hurtle their younger counterpart through the red sun of Krypton, taking it all back to the literal AND metaphorical beginnings of the DC Universe.  Crashing onto Green Lantern planet Mogo, the men and boy of steel make massive craters, with their battle beginning anew on the surface.

There is one major difference, however…

The red sun of Krypton is enough to lessen Superboy’s powers, but it also leave the elderly Superman vulnerable to an old-fashioned case of elder abuse, with Prime pummeling the hero into a bloody mess.  It seems like the story is saying that you can’t solve every problem by beating it to death, but then…

…the incumbent Superman solves his Superboy-Prime problem by beating him half to death.  Infinite Crisis is a series that both condemns and revels in the ultra-violence of modern comic storytelling, making for a mixes message at best.  The Green Lantern Corps arrive to take Superboy-Prime into custody, with Martian Manhunter and Power Girl in tow to help save the Supermen from fatal Green K poisoning.  Sadly, it’s too late for the original version of Kal-L, as his wounds, combined with age and the red sun, have proven fatal…

Clark’s Lois, one of the other survivors of the first Crisis, died of cancer in a previous issue and it was, in fact, her illness that led Superman back from the strange pocket dimension they had existed in during the undefined number of years since, giving him a good dramatic final moment revelation and some lovely last words.  I question the decision to bring them both back just long enough to give them brutal and/or horrific deaths, though, as sending off the originator of the DC Universe and the heroic archetype to a nebulous, undefined happy ending was one of the things that I liked about the end of CoIE.  But, the fact remains that he was a father figure in a comic written by Geoff Johns, so he might as well have had on a red shirt or dated Ben Cartwright:  His death was inevitable.

It did serve, however, to motivate his metaphorical son.

Thus, the Trinity (Ugh) is renewed and revitalized, and each determined to set out and find a new paradigm for themselves that escapes the mistakes of their post-Crisis selves and also brings back Clark as Superboy, Bruce Wayne as a discrete, meaningful and necessary person and Diana Prince as a secret identity, all of which are decisions I agree with.  Don’t get me wrong, my friends, even though this book is the Dumbest Death Of Superman, it’s got a lot going for it, and if you read the trade paperback version, it’s even better, with completed art, improvements and tweaks to the dialogue and such.  But Infinite Crisis #7 is a book that ends up being hamstrung by the metatextual nature of the plot, with the villain complaining in the pages about the very thing that the creative team gleefully wants to depict, making readers have to avoid the instinct to think too hard about certain parts of the plot, leading to a still-above-average 3 out of 5 stars overall.  In the (you should excuse the expression) final analysis, this story was clearly plotted to get characters to certain points (Wonder Woman embracing her humanity, Batman focusing on his family and himself, Superman powerless and humbled, Superboy dead for legal purposes) and some of it was reverse engineered to get us there, but if you can ignore the occasion rustle of the man behind the curtain, it makes for a mostly exciting read…

[taq_review]

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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