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Saturday, July 30, 2005 

Identity Crisis was "inspired" by a bad story

One that may have been ommitted from continuity years ago too, in fact.

When reading one of the replies to this thread on Comics Should Be Good, that's certainly what I'm beginning to think now anyway.

And it makes sense. That many of the worst stories of today are based on some of the worst ones of yore.


Update: by the way, I once discovered on Progressive Ruin that this abominable miniseries was turning up on eBay with its own special section, strongly suggesting that a lot of people became rightfully embarrassed by it, and were trying to sell it off. It's the same situation with Avengers: Disassembled. I think a better idea would be to just burn the copies of the miniseries altogether.

Update 2: Much as I hate to have to do this, and boy, does it pain me -- on the ultra-sugarcoated Hero Realm, five critics review Countdown, and all five of them more or less bent over backwards, and all five of them more or less demostrate as to why I now find Hero Realm such an unappealing place to pop into:

From reviewer No. 1:
"I don’t like how DC’s writers and editors seem determined to undermine one of the only periods in DC’s history where characters were allowed to smile and laugh, it seems like they are (to use a very bad metaphor) raping an era that is better left alone in more ways than one...

...But I must set my feelings about the underlying aspects and the editorial decisions asideand focus instead on the storytelling. Johns, Rucka and Winick do a fine job carrying the mysteries of a book for 80 pages, and the multiple twists found throughout are unexpected and well done..."
From reviewer No 2:
"There is one thing that I can say in regards to Countdown-thanks. Thanks for making me so intently care about a character. Thanks for pissing me off. Thanks for making me want to see what happens next. Thanks for making it worth my time and my money.

In (very short), Countdown is the most riveting thing I’ve read since…well, since Identity Crisis. Like the events or not, they draw you into the frame of the story and keep you there. Blue Beetle is the main narrator of the tale, and considering I’ve read all of…9 comics with the guy in it, the writers all do wonders to make me push him to the top of my ‘all time faves’ chart."
From reviewer No. 3:
"I’m not a big DC fan. I couldn’t care less about the upcoming sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths. I didn’t care about the hype or the seemingly dead body Batman was holding on the cover. I wanted to read a good story and be entertained for that half-hour or so that I devoured this 80-page morsel.

And I was. I couldn’t tell you if I even knew that Blue Beetle existed before reading Countdown, but I sure as heck wish I had. The writers instantly hook you into the plight of this misfit hero. The reader follows him through each twist and turn, never knowing how it will turn out until flipping to the very last page. That kind of spectacular pace and emotion makes for a highly dramatic story..."
From reviewer No. 4:
"There are long lists of things to dislike: (1) The big guns are portrayed as selfish jerks. (2) The Blue Beetle’s feelings of low self-esteem don’t ring particularly true. (3) The dialogue and narration can be hokey and pretentious...

...There are also things to love: (1) Evidently DC is no longer willing to ignore their “second-tier” characters, imbuing them with life and personality that they haven’t had in years...

...But ultimately, what makes the issue a good one is not only the fact that it’s well done, but also the fact that it will have real consequences throughout the DC Universe..."
From reviewer No. 5:
"DC has managed to pull off a ratings stunt that is contraversial to say the least. It does suceed in making me want to see at least three of the four mini series introduced here, that's the good news. The bad news is they do that by using a character who is vastly underused and perhaps abused by previous writers and demonstrating that he deserves a monthly series and a wide fanbase, in spite of all that was written about him in the past. Once that is done, they squander the character. This I find pathetic...

...Like it or hate it, I guarantee you will have a strong opinion to this comic. Overall, I liked this comic, but it has me trying to find a better way to write it."
So as we see here, in the case of some, they may not like it, yet they just go along and praise it anyway. While some others seem to be quite okay with the going-ons simply because they either don't know much about the DCU and its connections, or because they simply don't care about its history. Rather, they just care about it because its hyped.

Now does being mega-hyped make it good? Of course not. And I might also point out that, given how Dan DiDio was the editor of this book, it wouldn't surprise me if the writing trio was doing it all according to how he for one wanted things done.

So whether or not Greg Rucka, Geoff Johns and Judd Winick are talented (and by today's standards, I don't think they're one bit so), when a book like this comes as an editorially driven product, one cannot expect the best of results. And lest we forget what happened when DC tried to wreck Hal Jordan forced Ron Marz to have to do as he was being told then!

Which, one can only wonder, also describes the case surrounding all these reviews here. The site's owner did after all try to dumb down the site's editorials earlier, making them go according to his PC views on how things should be done.

(Speaking of which, this now reminds me of when Pauline Kael, one of my favorite movie critics, had the guts to pan Lina Wertmuller's Seven Beauties in 1976, and 3 other film critcs praised her for having the courage to do what they were afraid to do at the time. Could this be a similar case? Who knows?)

Plus: Some more things that I found that are misleading - and even absolving Dr. Light of the crime he's depicted as doing in Identity Crisis - in the Associated Press' coverage of DC's bigoted little miniseries from last year:
"A few of the world’s most notable superheroes may have indirectly had a hand in Mrs. Dibny’s demise, or unjustly punished the wrong suspect — and find themselves agonizing over the responsibility."
Now I suppose it's fair to assume that this was meant to be a clue that Dr. Light was being possessed. But whatever turns out to be, what with Countdown soon around the corner, it's still not clear who or what they mean by the wrong suspect, is it? Not really. However, it does seem to imply exactly what I find most offensive about the mini: that the victims are to blame for what happened to them all.


Now for what DiDio, largely responsible for this mess, has to say:
“But the newer readers, or the people looking for much stronger and multilayered storytelling, are embracing it,” he added. “This book has generated no apathy, that’s for sure.”
It has now. And from what I can tell, sales aside, the talk of newer readers seems to be exaggerated, especially seeing when there's no clear numbers anywhere to be found. In fact, when you think about how the books turns out in the end, well, it wouldn't surprise me if any of the "newer readers" whom DiDio speaks of concluded that this is hardly at all what comes as "strong" and "multilayered" storytelling.
"In some ways, this is also a response to the popularity of rival Marvel Comics, which has such characters as Spider-Man and the Hulk, whose appeal comes from battles with personal woes as well as supervillains."
And whose woes have become woefully overdone by now too. In all due honesty, the whole push for realism, which in the end seems to add up to little more than one thing, that being violence, has been getting old by now.

Now, for something else, by Meltzer himself in the article, that pretty much gives away how unserious he truly was about conveying this seriously:
Meltzer said he pitched the story with the death of the Elongated Man’s wife becoming secondary as the books progress.

“I said forget the death of the character, we’re going to test every character in the DC universe. We’re going to test what they believe, what they stand for, we’re going to test whether Superman is as good as we think he is. We’re going to test whether Batman is, too. Yes, it will be in the context of this murder, but we’ll get so much more out of it.”
Well well well. And as we've seen by now of course, in the end, the rape was dealt with about as seriously as the biased world media dealt with the tragedies of Daniel Pearl and Nick Berg, if at all.

One more reason why this botched mini is such a failure.

Also, from the Comic Book Galaxy, here's another dreadful essay I decided needed to be analyzed:
So many superhero comics readers cry out for more realism in their comics, more characterization, but you give them something genuinely real and shocking and they can't handle it.
To be quite honest, the whole argument on realism has already worn thin a long time ago. But where the writer totally misses the point is that, when readers usually ask for realism, they mean as in human relations and personality. Not violence, which is what seems to be the misperception amonst a lot of writers today, one more reason why Batman has suffered so badly in terms of persona since the mid-90s.
I can understand fans being upset -- you're supposed to be -- but it can't be because Meltzer has changed the characters for his purposes. I mean, the only reason anyone even cares about Sue or Ralph Dibny is due to the changes made by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis on their Justice League run, playing up the comedy of Ralph as an embarrassing, if endearing, goofball, and Sue as his long-suffering, but loving, wife.
Very interesting paragraph piece we have here too, veeerrry interesting indeed. And more precisely, what we have here is a case of a so-called fan trying to deligitimize the right of fans to protest what they feel is wrong about a specific take on their favorite characters, not to mention justifying Meltzer's own tamperings with the characters. And since when exactly did we truly want to be upset, or at least, more than need be?

And pardon my asking, but...what exact changes did Giffen and DeMatties make to Ralph and Sue Dibny on their League run? They made no real changes to the characters at all, really, quite the opposite - they gave them a more prominent role in the League when JLInternational and JLEurope were being published back in the late 80s, early 90s.

A perfect example of a website where at least one contributor does not stand up for what really devoted comics readers believe in.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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