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Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

Infinite Crisis #4

Infinite Crisis #4

Scheduled to arrive in stores: January 11, 2006

Cover date: March 2006

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Phil Jimenez, Ivan Reis, George Perez
Inker: Andy Lanning, Marc Campos, Larry Strucker, Oclair Albert, Jimmy Palmiotti, Drew Geraci


Reviewed by: Neal Bailey and Nick Newman

Click to enlarge

Infinite Crisis #4 A large cadre of villains fly above Bludhaven, preparing to drop Chemo. They talk of Nightwing, then unleash Chemo.

Chemo falls to the ground, decimating Bludhaven in a nuclear-style explosion.

Alex Luthor compares Bludhaven to Soddom and Gommorah as he and Superboy of Earth-Prime observe their large device and the heroes captured in it.

Superboy tries to explain to Power Girl that they are trying to make the world a better place. She unleashes her heat vision on him, to no noticeable effect.

Alex explains that what he's doing is the only possible way to bring back Earth-2. He explains that he and Superboy have been coming out of the "Heaven" for far longer than Superman of Earth-2, who has been so pre-occupied with his Lois's death that he didn't notice them leaving.

They retrieved the Anti-Monitor's shell and used it to create the device. Alex used a hologram to form the Society from Villains United, telling the villains his machine would wipe the mind of the Earth's heroes but instead collecting the people he needed to re-create Earth-2 using the Anti-Monitor's shell, one of the last being The Ray (and thus the attack at the beginning of the series).

Needing fuel, Alex used Psycho Pirate to influence Eclipso to seduce the Spectre, causing the reduction of magic to a chaotic force with only Shazam as a tether, which they could use as a power source for the device. As a focusing device, he corrupted the Brother Eye, taking the army for his own and using the OMAC units to do his own bidding. Finally, he had Superboy spark the Rann Thanagar war by moving planets about and into each other, changing the focus of the heroes and opening the area of space where Oa was for a focal point to place the new, replaced, perfect Earth, which Alex desires to form with his own hands.

(Reviewer Neal takes a breath, moves to page SIX).

Kara asks if that perfect Earth is Earth-2. Alex says no, and says that Earth-2 is only a stop along the way. Kara asks if all that Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman have been doing is his machination as well. Alex informs her they've done that to themselves, all the more proof their universe needs to be restarted. He also tells her that no matter what the universe is, Superman and Luthor will be at odds.

Kara tells him that Superman of Earth-2 will stop him. Alex tells her that he can't see what they're doing thanks to his technology. He puts her to sleep with a kiss, then tells Superboy that he can go talk to "him" now. Superboy leaves, in a hurry.

In Bludhaven, Nightwing tries to go back in. Batman stops him. Nightwing tells him that Superman and others are already in there, and that they're not finding anyone alive. Batman says he came to make sure Nightwing was okay, and asks him for help, holding up the black box from the JLA satellite.

Superman of Earth-2 meets with Alex at Lois's bedside. Superman asks about Superboy and Kara, and Alex tells him they're out preparing for the return of Earth-2, telling him to stay by Lois's side and he will take care of things, snake-like.

Superboy of Earth-Prime arrives at the Kent farm and begins to harangue our Superboy about how he won't get to saving the world, and how he's his replacement. Our Superboy tells him to back off, and that his underwear's too tight. Superboy of Earth-Prime attacks him.

Jaime Reyes is awakened by Booster Gold, who comes looking for the Blue Beetle scarab, which is now infused in Reyes.

Our Superboy is knocked through downtown Smallville (which readers will note is that of the Smallville television show, or at least, very similar). Krypto attacks Superboy of Earth-Prime in retaliation. Superboy of Earth-Prime kicks Krypto, calling him a bad dog, sending him down the street.

Our Superboy, furious, stands up and decides to fight.

Batman and Nightwing watch the black box. Batman tells him that he has the respect of his comrades, and that he needs Nightwing to tell them about the Alex and Superman of Earth-2 plot. Nightwing borrows the Batplane, asking if Batman would like to come. Batman says he has a computer problem to fix. He then asks Nightwing if the early years were the best. Nightwing tells him yes.

Having moved the battle to Keystone City (check the rubble, page twenty), our Superboy flies through some vehicles, which Superboy of Earth-Prime throws into him like snowballs. Bleeding, Superboy of Earth-Prime ridicules our Superboy, who just laughs. When Earth-Prime Superboy asks why, he reveals a Teen Titans transmitter.

The Doom Patrol, the JSA, and the Teen Titans all descend into the battle. Cassie takes Conner into her arms.

Detective Crispus Allen (of Gotham Central) lies autopsied on the mortuary table in Gotham City. He'd just been killed by a crooked cop named Jim Corrigan (former host of the Spectre). His chest suddenly opens up, and an angry Spectre, telling God he was misled, is thrust into the chest of Allen.

Superboy tells the heroes to stop attacking him, and that our Superboy made him attack. He punches, accidentally taking the head off Pantha in a pretty gory fashion.

Earth-Prime Superboy, aghast at what he's accidentally done, lashes out further, killing Baby Wildebeast and Bushido, ripping Risk's arm off, and freezing Red Star solid (Thanks to Wikipedia for help with some of the characters I didn't know...Neal)

Kid Flash, the original Flash (Jay) and Flash appear, blasting into Superboy and pushing him at incredible speeds. Jay can't take the speeds, and falls off. Flash tells him it's all right, all they needed was a head start.

Flash and Kid Flash start pushing Superboy into the speed force. Wally loses control, flying backwards and through time to say goodbye to his wife and twin children. His wife objects to his death, and kisses him, joining the speed force along with the twins, leaving only Kid Flash and Superboy.

Superboy tells Kid Flash he's weak. Kid Flash hits him, moving into the speed force. Barry Allen appears out of the speed force, grabbing Superboy, and tells Kid Flash he's not weak, and he's not alone. Max Mercury and Johnny Quick appear also, grabbing Superboy.

The OMAC units go from "Truth and Justice" to "Tower Guard", and move to protect Alex's device.

Inside, Alex tells Psycho Pirate he won't get Kara, just to focus on redeeming himself. Alex orders Psycho Pirate to make Black Adam call down the thunder, which he does when Psycho Pirate makes him fear Captain Marvel, starting the machine.

At New Cronus, the anomaly begins to react. Airwave, wanting to help the galaxy say goodbye to their loved ones, dissipates to aid them. Firestorm tries to hold back the ship, splitting his personality and losing Mick.

Alex's hands come up through the anomaly in space.

The JSA disappear from the wake of Superboy's rampage, as does the city behind them, Keystone City (I think, as Central City is a nearby "twin" city. Debate in the comments as ye will).

Superman and Lois of Earth-2 also disappear, finding themselves beneath the Daily Star building. A tearful Superman tells Lois that they've made it. They're home.

5Neal: Story - 5: I'm beginning to sound like a broken record in my praise of this series, but I can't help it.

It's just that good.

From the top to the bottom, things in this issue are epic, but without forgetting character. I want destruction, chaos, a good story, great characterization, usually it's like carpentry. Good? Fast? Cheap? Pick two.

This story has character, action, and it's not a million dollars, making it, by far, the most important comic event of my life, thusfar, beyond the original Crisis, which didn't have this level of quality, heart, or detail, great though it was.

This beats the original Crisis by far. The original Crisis was a way to streamline continuity and kill a lot of characters with an interesting villain in the background. This is all of our characters, and why they are heroes as the world falls around them. It reaches into the past for old readers, stays in the present for new readers, and remains always with an eye to the future.

Batman and Nightwing, together, coming to terms with what may be their last encounter.

Kara standing up to Alex before becoming another pawn.

The fact that for TWO YEARS, this story has been slowly building in issues across the universe, and that, impossible as it seems, ALL FOUR of the miniseries on their own makes sense as a part of a larger plan...

Superboy vs. Superboy might be seen to some as a fanboy throw-out, as a gimmick. I see it as a necessary part of this story. It was an incredible fight. We see, perhaps for the first time graphically and in the mainstream, what happens when a Superman is immature, fails to hold his powers back, and rages, Wolvie berserker style. I didn't know the characters he killed, but it was heart wrenching, gut wrenching to see him do that on accident. That panel, where he cries, and holds out his bloody hands, it's just an INCREDIBLY hard to see character moment, and yet one of the better moments I've ever seen in comics. It's just amazing.

As I write this, I say to myself, "Man, House of M was pretty good, but it ain't HALF this!". And I'm a Bendis freak. Something about a universe where everyone is already corrupt, vs. this story, which is an uncorrupted, innocent, heroic world that is though corrupt by blackguards, and the tale of the heroes standing up to stop the tide of evil. It's just a difference in company philosophy, I think.

There are merits to both, and hey, maybe House of M would have been better had it been, like this, a character drama AND an action piece, but House of M was more a character drama only...

Punching a head Brutal.

The Flash, Kid Flash, the twins, and the wife...into the speed force. This will, undoubtedly, be a debated point. Was it necessary? Why not find some Kryptonite? Where was Superman? Why the speed force?

It's the heroic sacrifice, and it's also a throwback to the original Crisis. Like it was said, what's a crisis without a dead Flash? But then, now there's only Jay, and he has no speed force, so now there's no Flash. The line of continuity is closed...or is it? And if Superboy is in the speed force, who's to say he can't manipulate it? Maybe we haven't seen the end of the story in this regard.

Is this a good end for Wally? It's very abrupt to me, but it's also noble. Most of what could be said about Wally was, in the Johns run of the Flash. It's hard to move on from there. Does that mean we need him gone? I'm still torn, still thinking. But given how heroic it was, and given that it might have been the only way to stop him without killing him or without magic, it seems right to me, right now. Ask me again when the series is over.

And hey, either way, you've gotta admit, when Barry told Kid Flash he wasn't alone, it was one of the great moments of comic history.

Calling in the Titans and three groups shows how together this universe really is, how many people are devoted and hard-working toward the same idealistic ends. It paints Alex more into the villain corner, for sure.

Bludhaven being destroyed makes sense. It's a good place, but it 's also an easy target. You can't destroy Metropolis or Gotham, but Bludhaven is obscure enough that it can scar but not ruin the Bat universe...

The return of Earth-2 is incredible, and also one of the better cliffhangers of the series. Is it back for good? What happened to the JSA. I can't wait to find out. But I have to. GAH!

And you're all going to think me nuts, but my FAVORITE part of this whole thing was when Crispus Allen became the new Spectre (or so it would appear).

I've been following Gotham Central for its entire run, and one of my biggest laments was when Allen died last issue. I thought it permanent, a way to close off the run, and now I see it's just the beginning of a final, actually steady beat for the Spectre, which we've needed for a long time. Any Gotham Central reader HAS to be pleased that this happened.

I'm still not wowed by the Blue Beetle thing, but I'll give that a shot to pan out.

All in all, this is still the comic event of my lifetime. Even Superman's death had an event feel. This is just a good story all around that is a natural progression of the twenty years of history. It doesn't feel like an even to me. it just feels like a good story. Which, I guess, is the definition of a REAL event as opposed to a hype event.

Things will never be the same, but I don't feel like they're doing it to make a buck. That's a good feeling.

Even though, good as it is, no doubt they will.

5Nick: Story - 5: I don't think I can describe just how much I enjoyed this issue. I have loved every issue so far, and this was by far the best yet.

The use of Chemo was incredibly cool, nuking all of Bludhaven.

We finally get to see some of the reasoning behind Alex's plan, manipulating the DCU to meet his needs. It's great seeing how much everything that DC has done over the past year has built up to this series, and how Alex was behind it all.

Batman starts to see the error of his ways, reaching out to Nightwing for help. Finally Bruce is acting like he should.

Earth-2 Superman is still hopeless deceived by Alex, but I suppose I can related as his wife is dying before him.

And those small interludes get us to the best part of this issue, and in my opinion the best part of the series so far. Superboy Prime versus Superboy. And Superboy Prime sure is pissed at Conner. I've really liked what they've done with Superboy Prime so far. He's good at heart, but he's so frustrated that those that were allowed to live have squandered their world.

Another interlude, Booster confronts the new Blue Beetle. Cool stuff.

This fight is fantastic, and Conner is getting beat down (and rightfully so, given their power levels). It's not often that a battle is waged on Superman's power level, and it's fantastic when it does happen. And Krypto! He isn't used nearly enough. And then Superboy finally gets pissed and strikes back.

Interlude, more fantastic Batman and Nightwing interaction, and Nightwing is going to bring all the heroes together. Why am I afraid that Dick's not going to live past issue seven?

'You don't even have a cape'. Classic. This fight has been fantastic already, but if you're anything like me, then you got a big smile on your face when you saw the Titans communicator.

And an even bigger one when you got to the next page. Wow. This is why I love crossovers. Huge battles like this.

The new Spectre, interesting. If you haven't read any Gotham Central, then you can't appreciate this as much, and I highly recommend you check it out. Great stuff.

Superboy Prime is holding his own, until Johns really surprises me and he beheads Pantha. Now I don't think anyone cares about Pantha, but wow. And the next panel when I really start to love this book. Superboy Prime completely panics. All he wanted to do is fix the world, and now he's a killer. And he doesn't stop there. Taking down hero after hero. His comment about them ruining him was really great. I actually felt bad for Prime in this issue, and I think that points to how well this was written.

And then the Flashes show up, for the scene that everyone knew was coming. And Wally finally gets his Crisis 'death'. Do I think he's really dead, no, but it was a great scene anyway. And you can't argue with how cool Bart's scene was here. I've never been a fan of Impulse, but his 'I'm not stupid' moment really made me like him. And only Geoff Johns could make the line 'Grandpa' as cool as that was. I don't know where Superboy Prime ended up, but what a great scene.

An interlude or two, and then Alex's plan really gets going. And suddenly, two Earths. The JSA is back on Earth-Two, and I cannot wait until next issue.

Everything about this book just screamed epic. The Superboy Prime battle was just glorious. I honestly found myself anticipating every new page as I read this the first time. Everything about this issue was great (with the exception of that strange Alex/Power Girl kiss). Honestly the best book I've read since, well, the last issue of Infinite Crisis.

4Neal: Art - 4: You'd think three pencillers and six inkers would drag an issue down, but it didn't, not really.

With one exception. The last page was very...I don't know, out of place. Superman of Earth-2 looked wrong. After Reis and Jimenez, so defined, so detailed, going to the more cartoony face in the end was a bad move, I say. If it was to homage Perez, okay, I see that, but if it was because of page? Make us wait another week.

BUT, beyond that one page, the whole issue, top to bottom, was incredible. The fight, the character I said, Superboy's realization that he's killed is just beyond memorable. The pace made for what could have been cramped work. The art makes it flow.

Every inch is epic. It's really top notch work.

5Nick: Art - 5: I really want to knock this book down a point because of the use of multiple artists, but I just can't justify giving this work anything less that perfect. All three pencillers do a fantastic job on this book, and the transition is always subtle.

A couple of pages really stand out this issue. Chemo nuking Bludhaven was gorgeous, especially the lighting work done on that panel. The beginning of the Superboy fight. Absolutely beautiful work. That page is one of the best splashes I think I've ever seen. The Titans team was a great page just because everyone was on it.

The formation of the new Spectre was a fantastic panel, with the skin closing up around him.

And finally, that shot of the rift in space was just fantastic.

You just have to love this art.

5Neal: Cover Art - 5: I got the Superboy vs. Superboy cover.

It depicts what happens in the issue in an explosive fashion, no cheesy words, detailed backgrounds, amazing pose, explosive action. In short, everything you beg a cover to be.

Fine art.

5Nick: Cover Art - 5: As always, I bought both covers. The Perez cover was definitely the stronger of the two this week. I wish it had been composed a little differently, especially Alex's hands, but overall this was just a great image. As for the Lee cover, I prefer the theme of the Superboy fight, but our Superboy looks a little awkward. Superboy Prime and Krypto both look good, but Conner's pose just doesn't fit with them.

Regardless, two great covers.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2006

February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006

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