- The Washington Times - Friday, January 27, 2006

This chronic feature lets me review what’s recently passed my bloodshot pupils. So pull up a chair, break out the sarcasm filter and welcome to:

Mr. Zad’s comic critique

Infinite Crisis, Nos. 1 through 3

(DC Comics, $3.99 each)

Since the death of the Elongated Man’s wife, Sue Dibny, in the spring of 2004, DC Comics has put its fans into an emotional and multilayered story crossing over most of its best titles (around 78 comic books, to be more exact), which has led up to the current, universe-shattering developments in this monumental seven-part miniseries.

Billed as the sequel to the Crisis on Infinite Earths miniseries of 1985, in which DC aggressively combined its multiple versions of Earth into one, with some of its heroes perishing in the process, the current event and all of its subplots are bound to give the confused, casual comic-book fan an eye-watering headache. (I review a few of the trade paperbacks below to shed light on the epic.)

I’ll readily admit that I have only a slight idea of what is going on here, but it sure looks exciting as I read such mighty dialogue as “being the only survivor of a reality that never existed” and “the very fabric of existence has shifted.”

The story of Infinite Crisis thus far offers the end of the Justice League, a Power Girl epiphany, the destruction of the Freedom Fighters, the Spectre savoring vengeance, Brother Eye wreaking havoc on the metahumans and a despondent Joker not being offered the chance to join the Secret Society of Supervillains.

As a team of creators including Geoff Johns, Phil Jimenez, Andy Lanning and George Perez leaves its mark on the unfolding story, it’s obvious heroes and villains will continue to die, multiple versions of Superman will be right in the middle of the mess, and comic-book fans late to the game will spend lots of cash to find out what is going on and what is going to happen.

The OMAC Project,’ trade paperback

(DC Comics, $14.99)

This trade paperback falls under the Countdown to the Infinite Crisis banner, chronicling events leading up to the Infinite Crisis, and compiles the six-issue OMAC Project series, Wonder Woman No. 219, and the Countdown to Infinite Crisis one-shot book. Stay with me.

Basically, readers learn that Batman knows not only that Doctor Light’s memory has been wiped away by Zatanna, but that 10 minutes of his own memory has been erased. So the paranoid Dark Knight has set up a very secret spy satellite called the Brother One to keep an eye on all superbeings to make sure this never happens again.

His spying technology has fallen into the hands of Maxwell Lord, the head of the covert government operation Checkmate, which is sworn to protect the average citizen of Earth from any metahuman acting in any unlawful or unethical manner. Of course, Lord is going to take advantage of the situation and is preparing to destroy or control all superpowered beings.

Events triggered by the suspicious death of Blue Beetle have led to Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman being pursued by Checkmate’s awakened cyborg legion, the OMACs (Observational Meta-human Activity Construct, not to be confused with the Jack Kirby-inspired OMAC, which stood for One-Man Army Corps).

This convoluted but suspenseful story culminates with Wonder Woman making a choice one never would expect from the peaceful princess of Paradise Island: leaving a computer out of control and ready to inflict its wrath on all members of the Justice League.

Writer Greg Rucka spearheads the complicated plotting and dialogue, and artist Jesus Saiz provides some great imagery.

Overall, I loved the revelations being explored as well as the intense action, but I am flabbergasted by two pages in the book.

Rather than give readers the entire sequential-art story surrounding the OMAC Project, DC Comics used summaries from Superman No. 219, Action Comics No. 829 and Adventures of Superman No. 642 in the trade paperback instead of the full issues.

All three books would shed enormous visual information on the damage done by Superman while under the control of Maxwell Lord, and I bet readers gladly would have paid more for the inclusion of these issues.

In fact, they will have to pay more to purchase another trade paperback, “Superman: Sacrifice” ($14.99) to read Superman Nos. 218 through 220, Adventures of Superman Nos. 642 and 643, Action Comics No. 829 and Wonder Woman Nos. 219 and 220.

Rann-Thanagar War,’ trade paperback

(DC Comics, $12.99)

This book compiles another Countdown to Infinite Crisis series, which within six issues brought to light a massively confusing conflict between the inhabitants of the planets Rann and Thanagar.

Adam Strange, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, the Omega Men, and Green Lantern’s Kyle Rayner and Kilowog are right in the middle of a mess that has Rann being placed in the same solar-system orbit as Thanagar by the Thanagarian terrorist Sh’ri Valkyr to try to cause another war.

She succeeds, and now Thanagar has been rendered unhabitable because of a close call with its sun, and both Rannian and Thanagarian exist on Rann to wage battle while drawing neighboring solar systems into their conflict.

Even more sinister, the Cult of the Seven Devils has brought the soul-feeding Onimar Synn back to life, and his path to power will stop at nothing short of the complete destruction and then control of the universe. Oh yeah, and there’s been a rupture in the fabric of space-time (just to help fuel the Infinite Crisis).

Writer Dave Gibbons brings this Wagnerian saga to life, and luckily, Ivan Reis delivers the eye-popping visuals or I might doze off during some of the multisyllabic mythic prose being delivered by the principal characters.

Zadzooks! wants to know you exist. Call 202/636-3016; fax 202/269-1853; e-mail jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com or write to Joseph Szadkowski, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002.

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