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Friday, October 05, 2018 

Newsarama and IGN's commentaries on Heroes in Crisis

Newsarama's writers spoke about DC's latest blatant slap in the face to fans, and cited something from 2005's Infinite Crisis, co-written by none other than Geoff Johns, which reminds me of the premise for Zero Hour:
The villain in Infinite Crisis, who had been watching the DC Universe from outside of time, tried to reboot the DCU because, he said, it had become too dark. By the end of Infinite Crisis, Johns had made DC’s characters more unified and optimistic.
Oh please. Infinite Idiocy led to anything but that. At the time they came up with that awful waste of trees, that's when continuity began to fall apart, and darkness/cruelty/sadism continue to taint the edge of storytelling afterwards. All that aside, isn't that strange a villain's the one to opine in almost 4th Wall fashion that the universe needs to be brighter. It's similar in some ways to the premise of Zero Hour where Hal Jordan, transformed into crazy Parallax, seemingly wanted to fix things the way the audience might actually approve of, which was apparently the writing team's way of spiting the audience.

In any case, whatever steps Johns took do little to alleviate the irritating story elements he was notorious for in the 2000s, like jarring violence, cruelty beneath the surface and worst, grating allusions to sexual abuse. I've never understood how anybody can put up with his writing style, which doesn't age well.
With the publication of Heroes in Crisis #1, the death of Wally West and other heroes doesn’t seem to fit with the promises of a more hopeful turn in the DCU.

Yet it’s important to note that the plot of Doomsday Clock, which is set in the future of the DCU and is the culmination of Johns’ “hope versus despair” story, begins with a less hopeful DCU.

In fact, the DCU of Doomsday Clock is so filled with anger and despair that the superhero community is despised and feared by the public. And as Doomsday Clock opens, nations are on the brink of war.

So if that story is set in the future, it indicates the DCU will become less hopeful before the battle.

There’s definitely going to be a darkness before the storm.

Perhaps the events in Heroes in Crisis are part of that darkness that leads into Doomsday Clock?
It makes no difference. We don't need to endure these tired cliches to get to what we hope will be the light at the end of the tunnel, and above all, it's ridiculous so many books should be interrupted for the sake of a crossover that takes up time and undermines creativity. On which note, even if Doomsday Clock were intended as a means of finding optimism again by the end, that doesn't mean it had to be written up. All they had to do was allow individual titles to find their own voice, and hire writers who're allowed to develop the same. Using crossovers as a means of getting from one place to the next only leads nowhere.
Has the “ongoing mission” of hope and love that Johns described for the “Rebirth era” been abandoned and, symbolically, killed with Wally’s demise and the fate of other characters this past week?

Or is the death and darkness that just smacked readers in the face merely a move toward darkness that leads into hope’s triumph when Doomsday Clock ends?
I think what really matters is that DC/Marvel have vehemently refused to cease with these crossovers that ultimately wind up being a waste of time and money. And artistically, they're meaningless. If they're willing to foist this current example on their universe and audience, they already have abandoned the alleged Rebirth era, and certainly didn't need to produce it if they really wanted to prove something. Furthermore, if memory serves, Wally's marriage to Linda Park, if not his children, was never restored, and that only demonstrates that the harm wrought during Flashpoint still prevails. This article, whether the writer understands the continuing noxious obsession with darkness on the road to nowhere, is still a disappointment because it fails to address some of the more challenging issues surrounding the awful miniseries' production.

And here's another article from another of their writers that isn't much more satisfying:
As we say, we fully acknowledge there may be more to Wally’s (and Roy and everyone else’s) apparent murder than meets the eye. But Wally’s particular recent history makes the choice to render him a seeming victim difficult to comprehend.

Because it was just a little over two years ago in DC Universe: Rebirth #1 that Wally was chosen to symbolize the return of elements of the DCU writer (and then-Chief Executive Officer) Geoff Johns – perhaps DC’s most influential over the last 20 years – seemed to argue had been lost, both before and during the controversial "New 52" that began in the fall of 2011.
Well duh, he was part and parcel of the problem, and clearly gets off by pretending he wasn't, confident not everyone will remember he was a co-writer of Countdown to Infinite Crisis, which saw Ted Kord getting murdered by out-of-character Max Lord. Or that he penned Flash's 2009 "Rebirth", which saw Barry Allen get his history altered in-story by a resurrected Eobard Thawne, the Reverse-Flash. One of my biggest complaints about his early work in particular is that it's joyless, and again, cruelty taints the edge, lurking round nearly every corner. He did have his share of blatant politics turning up in his past work too, not the least being the introduction of the Muslim Green Lantern, whose very origin story in 2012 was the most political of all. If Johns really believed optimism had been lost, he wouldn't have gone miles out of his way to ensure darkness continued by hammering it over everyone's heads.
Wally wasn’t only the story’s near-omniscient narrator, able to articulate what still seems upon rereading a very metatextual POV that the other DC characters were unable to even grasp at that point in continuity, he literally represented what the story argues was lost – in particular legacy (having served as the Flash’s sidekick and later as the Flash himself), friendship (the original Teen Titans are perhaps DC’s symbolic embodiment of the lasting power of friendship), and love and hope (the foundation of his history as the Flash was Linda Park serving as his tether to the world and Wally’s indomitable ability to always return to her).
On this, let's remember that as of recent, it was established that their history together in the 90s had been erased, ditto their marriage, and the 2nd Reverse-Flash, Hunter Zolomon, apparently had what to do with that insult to the intellect.
But any which way, it’s hard at our disadvantaged perspective to imagine a scenario in which Johns chose Wally to serve as the center of gravity of the opening chapter of his story about hope with the intent for him to be dispatched again so soon in the manner in which he seemingly has.
Uh uh. I firmly disagree, based on what material I read from Johns in the past, and he certainly hasn't voiced any objections to DiDio's machinations since, nor whatever involvement Bob Harras has by extension.
For now, however, we have been left wondering this – is Wally just caught up in an editorial difference of opinion in regard to his place or lack thereof in DCU publishing and Heroes in Crisis was a vehicle for an argument won? Is the “hope” Wally’s return indisputably symbolized just 20-something months ago already an element of a now expired DC 'era'? Or are there answers we can’t even anticipate coming? Did we have this whole 'hope is back' thing wrong from the start?

Whatever the answers to these questions – whether they’re even legitimate questions or merely the overwrought imagination of comic book journalists – we’ll be waiting for them, in the form of a conversation and/or next month’s issue. And we guess on that level Heroes in Crisis #1 succeeded in piquing our interest.
Oh, so they're going to continue reading what's already a scrap pile with little or no objection to the very premise and setup, nor are they going to recommend the audience vote with their wallets, stand up to DC's crude nose-thumbing and make clear they won't accept these insults to the intellect anymore? Newsarama may be a lot better than CBR in terms of comics coverage, but their inability to avoid establishment kowtowing undermines whatever positive impact they might have.

I think I'll even present some of the most spot-on reader comments, such as:
Mr. Doran, try to find some measure of courage and critical analysis in your appraisal of the subject of your article. Heroes In Crisis (and Bendis' Superman run before it) IS indeed a sign of change in editorial direction. Dan DiDio and Jim Lee have admitted as much since the early quarter of 2018. Are you unable (or unwilling so as to not bite the hand that feeds you) to see that Johns' exit, Doomsday Clock's delays, the unceremonious and senseless removal of Jurgens/Tomasi, and other key moves are DiDio's very clear re-establishment of his editorial power? He hates the Titans (except Cyborg, of course; he's not tied to another hero) and what they represent. He sees them as irrelevant. He believes that superheroes should not have happy personal lives (he first said this about the Batman characters but extended it to everyone else with the New 52) and he said recently (to your competitors at CBR and DC Nation) that he feels the DCU needed to return to storytelling similar to that of the New 52 era. Whether Wally is resurrected or not later or the Kents return to a happy family with Jon a 10 year old again (see Bendis' Instagram) is irrelevant. Dan DiDio has contempt for everything Johns did with Rebirth and has effectively undone it completely with Wally's death and now this atrocious, dark, Identity Crisis-flavored garbage written by King, a man who thinks PTSD has a place in superhero comic books.
And also:
Dan DiDio is a morally-compromised man who protected a sexual predator and who has said through the years that he wanted to kill numerous characters and especially, the Super Marriage. Not "end" the marriage, not "break up" the marriage. KILL it. He wasn't allowed to with Infinite Crisis (probably because of Levitz) so he partially got his wish by having Johns kill Kal-L and Lois. These are not the whims or creative choices of a mentally stable man. Jim Lee, meanwhile, now the "Chief Creative Officer," clearly only cares about Batman and hasn't created anything new in over a decade. His new title is likely a smokescreen for DiDio's restored purview. DC Comics is again in free fall. The grim and dark nonsense that doomed the New 52 and comic books in the 90s is going to bring the company down again. The Black Label masquerades as "serious" and "adult" storytelling while simply being a venue for empty stunts with creators whose best work is far behind them in the superhero genre (Miller, Azzarello). Call what's happening what it truly is: Dan DiDio's cleansing of everything his rival Geoff Johns did for two years to make room for his new/mid-1990s vision of comic book storytelling.
I would like to remind, however, that anybody who thinks Johns is clean in all this past mess would be sorely mistaken. (And let's not forget he worked in the mid-2000s with an artist who's since proven to be a creep, and so far, I haven't seen Johns condemn him.) The following reader comments are also worth considering:
I resent when characters are killed off as a side bit to the story.

No epic battle... no show of heroism.

1 panel death for 50+ year old characters?

pretty lame.
And also:
Totally agree. And I also hate how less popular character are treated like complete cannon fodder, especially if they have been gone a while and are brought back simply because the writers want to kill off a character. Every character is a favorite of somebody out there, and they deserve better.
See, this is also the monstrous error made with Hotspot/Isaiah Crockett. It violates Mark Gruenwald's argument to the fullest.

IGN's also addressed the rancid roach of a story, and their take isn't much better, though it does have something vital to note at the start:
If there's been any takeaway from the from the last several weeks' worth of DC Comics releases, it's that it's not the greatest time to be a hero in the DC Universe. Nightwing was just grievously wounded in Batman #55. Doomsday Clock #7 revealed that Doctor Manhattan caused the premature death of a famed Golden Age superhero. And most disturbingly of all, no fewer than six heroes were killed in an act of superhuman mass-murder in Heroes in Crisis #1. At some point you have to question whether the DCU is becoming too dark for its own good.
And who is that famous Golden Age hero? Alan Scott, the 1st Green Lantern. As though it weren't bad enough they'd turned him homosexual for the sake of social justice pandering in an early example prior to Marvel's skyrocketing turn to the same. Say, isn't Doomsday Clock written by Geoff Johns? In that case, why anybody would overlook his faults is mystifying, and it'll make little difference whether the character death is reversed. When death is warmed over to such a cliched degree, it's no wonder the concept becomes so revolting and shock tactic.
There's a case to be made for the idea that this is what makes Wally's death significant. As we've seen far too many times in recent years, mass shootings can occur practically anywhere. There's a horrible randomness to these incidents, and that same randomness has now struck DC's superhero community. But while that may work in this particular story's favor, is it worth the lingering toll it takes on the Flash franchise and the DCU as a whole? Wally has a huge fan following. Frankly, he's the best Flash DC has ever had. The thought that his long-awaited return has been cut so short short so soon is frustrating.
Sigh. This alludes to what CBR was talking about - the political exploitation, turning established characters into sacrificial lambs to drive the political narrative. If they have no issue with it either, they're undercutting their own argument, which doesn't go far enough regardless. They're right though, that the former Kid Flash has a big following, one that disapproves of DiDio's slap in the face.
Sometimes these grim stories do lasting damage to characters that isn't easy to undo. For example, Green Lantern: Emerald Twilight basically made Hal Jordan persona non grata in the DCU for a decade, until Geoff Johns found a way to simultaneously resurrect Hal and absolve him of the crimes he committed as Parallax. In Civil War, Marvel backed Spider-Man into a corner by outing his secret identity and turning Aunt May into collateral damage. The only way to undo that status quo was to have Peter Parker make a literal deal with the devil, sparking fan backlash that still lingers to this day in some circles. My fear is that future creators may have to go to similarly outlandish lengths in order to bring characters like Nightwing and Booster Gold back to a more familiar status quo.
As a matter of fact, it's not necessarily that difficult to undo the damage so long as you're open to the idea of removing it from continuity altogether, which is entirely possible if they were to de-canonize practically the whole 3rd Green Lantern volume, and I say that because, having reevaluated some of the stories written by the now disgraced Gerard Jones, I've concluded even they don't hold up in retrospect, with Emerald Dawn's retconning Hal into a heavy drinker who spent time in jail for DUI a particularly galling example, just second to the idea of turning Hal into a mass murderer during Emerald Twilight. There's just so much that, if the upper echelons wanted to, they could clear away and start anew from certain points in past publicartions, and even fill in possible gaps with "continuity implants" that can serve as in-between developments and such. The whole notion you have to leave bad storylines rock solid in canon till the bitter end of time is ridiculous and so long as anybody sticks with it, they'll never repair the damage at all.

If there's something the article does do right, it's this part at the end:
That balance is key. It's fine for DC's heroes to suffer and face hardship. No victory is truly satisfying unless it's hard-won. But it's important to keep the lessons of DC Rebirth firmly in mind. The DC Universe needs light and hope to balance out the darkness and despair. Whether looking at DC's comics or movies, that's a lesson the company needs to be reminded of now and again.
Well if you really think so, why not implement the lesson by encouraging the audience to vote with the wallets and not spent a plugged nickel on Heroes in Crisis? Spend it on products from smaller companies instead, provided those companies are keeping their politics to a minimum and not offending customers the way IDW's staffers have been? That way, a message can be sent - much as it has been in its own way to Marvel - that we're not putting up with this crap anymore, and we want the shock value deaths reversed, white heroes/co-stars restored to respectable status and won't approve of company wide crossovers anymore that leak into dozens of individual titles, taking up space at the expense of their own stories. If IGN won't make the case any more than a lot of other mainstream news sources, they're failing the fandoms and not sending any messages to the publishers either. This is exactly why the DiDios and Quesadas of comicdom have been able to get away with their atrocities so easily.

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You sure spend a lot of time looking for politics in the wrong places. Why couldn't you get a job at a newspaper again?

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