Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Atop the 4th Wall Tackles Crisis on Infinite Earths

I've read this comic book a couple times, and found it way too convoluted to have anything resembling a coherent story.
I've even read the novelization of this comic book in the hopes that it would explain things better.  (It didn't).

Nevertheless, whether or not the story of Crisis on Infinite Earths was any good, Crisis as an event was a major game changer in the DC Universe.  And thus it's something every comic book fan has to be aware of.

As Atop the 4th Wall indicates in the video, it is amazing how much comic book history someone needs to know in order to follow these complicated storylines.
(Or at least this used to be the case during the good-old days of comic book fandom.  I think since this time, both DC and Marvel have tried to simplify their universes in order not to intimidate new fans so much.  Although I've stopped reading comic books, so I only hear about these changes indirectly).

I spent my teenage years obsessed with this kind of stuff.  Now I've grown out of it, and find myself agreeing with Roger Ebert that this is all an incredible waste of time.  Roger Ebert says of Geek fanboys:

 They are tragically hurtling into a cultural dead end, mastering knowledge which has no purpose other than being mastered, and too smart to be wasting their time. 

He's absolutely right.
And yet, the thing is, on a conscious level, my super-ego knows that it's considered culturally respectable to spend my time accumulating knowledge about classic literature, history, and other academic subjects, and it's not considered culturally respectable to spend my time accumulating knowledge about comic books and Star Trek.
But my subconscious can't make that distinction at all.  There's something in the human brain that takes pleasure in gathering information about the world around us (no doubt this gives us an evolutionary advantage) and this mechanism can't distinguish between what is a culturally respectable and what is considered a waste of time.  And so comic book fans spend hours accumulating all this knowledge about comic book history, because it fulfills the same psychological need that a historian has to accumulate knowledge about ancient history, or that a scientist has to accumulate knowledge about chemistry.
At least that's my theory anyway.


Whisky Prajer said...

When DC launched Crisis I should have been in the comics consumer sweet-spot: I was in my early 20s, completely on-board with the "revolution" happening (Frank Miller, J.M. DeMatteis, Alan Moore, et al). I bought one or two initial issues related to series I had some interest in (Bat-Man, basically) and even I could see at a glance this was a shameless cash-grab. I purchased a lot of dodgy content (Bat-Man saves Reagan, for starters) but I gave this "epic" a wide berth.

Joel Swagman said...

As someone who read the whole thing (in reprinted trade paperback) let me assure you, you didn't miss anything in terms of quality story. It's a big mess.

Did you ever catch up with it later in trade paperback?

Whisky Prajer said...

No. There was just no emotional connection for me. I'm thinking of classic covers, though, and Soop weeping over WW certainly rates. But it came fairly hot on the heels of Robin's death, another cynical and pallid DC cash grab. Aside from publishing Miller and Moore, DC was doing precious little to cultivate my loyalty back then.