Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Post All About World War III

I originally posted this over on my Livejournal blog at . But deciding to start a blog here specifically relating to comics, it felt like I should re-post it.

I've read a few friends' opinions specifically on World War III, and the way that 52 shifted away from it's stated goals on their blogs, and like any schmoe with something to say, I feel compelled to put my own thoughts out there. That's what the internet's for... right?

I'll start by saying I'm disappointed that 52 was off-track by it's second issue, as stated by Dan Didio. Seriously. Two issues down, fifty to go... and you're already veering away from your stated goals? And you said nothing about this until week 50? That doesn't seem a smidge... dishonest? To be perfectly honest, I'd probably have still bought the book. I've generally found it to be an enjoyable read. I've had some of the plots that I've enjoyed more than others, true, but for the most part my impression of the weekly series had been a good one. And it was good enough that I don't plan to drop it.

But let's talk for a minute about the train-wreck that is World War III.

Conceptually, I suppose I could be alright with it. Since 52 has veered away from what it's supposed to be, DC wanted to put out a small series (or in this case, strangely, four single-issue one-shot series) encompassing an event that would address most of the changes made to the DC universe over the missing year. I'd even be alright with the notion of showing us what a superhuman World War would be like... but that might be due to the fact that I've never read Grant Morrison's World War III arc in JLA. I might have to rectify that in order to get the taste of this from my palette.

So... I'm alright with the concept. But the execution... wow.

Just... wow.Let's start with a comment by someone calling themselves michael rocketship on Chris' Invincible Super-Blog. They pointed out that Ralph Dibny and Felix-Faust-disguised-as-a-piece-of-headware got help obtaining a mystical artifact from the Dweller in the Depths several weeks ago. And yet, during week 50, we clearly see blonde-haired, blue-eyed Aquaman raise the city of Sub Diego, and as a price for that act, being transformed into the Dweller. But we're not done there. Not only did this little gaffe slip by Michael Siglain, but apparently nobody let word out to either Kurt Busiek or Tad Williams that Sub Diego was no longer submerged. In Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #51, which hit the stands on the same day as WWIII, Sub Diego is still submerged.

The timeframe on this is all messed up too. Aquaman was missing a whole TWO WEEKS, prompting legends regarding his disappearance? Maybe time just seems to pass a lot more slowly underwater... but my parents don't freak out if I don't give 'em a call for a couple of weeks. Heck, even your average bill collector will give you a month or two before they start harassing you.

But I think the thing that disappoints me the most about World War III (the 52 one... not the Grant Morrison JLA run that I haven't read... remember?) is that it's ALSO off target for what it's supposed to do. Let me put this in a seperate paragraph to try to break it down clearly. I've got the feeling this is going to be confusing.

52 was planned to address the changes between the DC Universe at the end of Infinite Crisis to the beginning of One Year Later. It went off course as of the second issue, when the writers decided to write something else, so the editorial staff planned a big event for the end of 52 to address the changes between the DC Universe at the end of Infinite Crisis to the beginning of One Year Later, and that's World War III. And it did it really well... if the only change was Martian Manhunter freaking out.

But there were a lot of changes that were completely ignored or were left sorely undertreated. We got a couple panels of Harvey Dent fighting Killer Croc. Now I keep a database of my comics, and one of the things I try to be good about is tracking character appearances. I don't recall ever being shown Batman telling Harvey Dent that he's leaving Gotham in his hands for the missing year. Am I wrong? I mean, with Montoya, the Question, the new and late Batwoman and Nightwing running around for the past 50 weeks, it's not like he's been needed. So Harvey was Gotham's guardian for two weeks before OYL, and he's pissed off that Batman's not more greatful?

Speaking of stuff in the Batman books OYL... what about this case that gets Bullock reinstated as a police officer? Something about corruption in the ranks, leading to the return of Jim Gordon as comissioner? I sure as heck never saw anything about that story. Did I miss something?

We got a couple of panels of Deathstroke talking to Batgirl... the one member of the Bat-Family apparently not invited to the Bat-cruise. I thought we were moving away from homo-erotic subtext in Batman comics, DC. We got a couple panels of Jason-Todd-as-Nightwing killing a few muggers. We got a couple panels about Supergirl.

That's just it... all of these things got 'a couple panels'. Each one of those plots deserved more, in my opinion. The fact that they apparently couldn't take the focus off of Black Adam fighting lots of people to explain these OYL changes... which was the goal of both 52 and World War III... it's sad. And it's expensive.

Before I close things up, I want to also talk about Nightwing Annual #2, also released this week. Why? Because this does, at least for Nightwing, what 52 and World War III couldn't do for anybody except J'onn Jonzz. It explained why Nightwing went from a bright young hero who had rediscovered his own sense of heroism who proposed to Oracle on the eve of his greatest battle to a guy without anybody, living in New York. It could have done it better, but there was a story there, and they told it. Wouldn't it be nice if DC did that for Batgirl, Jason Todd, Jim Gordon & Bullock, Harvey Dent, Aquaman and a whole host of other characters?

My reaction to World War III isn't as sharp as some of my friends, but I'm definitely re-evaluating my DC comics purchases. I swore off the new Justice League and Justice Society series' a month or so ago. I think I'm about to add to that list.

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