By Geoff Johns, Phil Jimenez & various (DC Comics)
In the build-up to the universe-altering Infinite Crisis (ISBN: 978-1-4012-0959-9), DC released a number of themed miniseries, each of which was designed to set scenes, generate storylines, and generally warm up the audience for the Big Event. Each of these miniseries ended on a whopping cliffhanger and was then swiftly rushed out as a trade paperback collection. These ice-breakers were Day of Vengeance (ISBN 1-84576-230-4) The Omac Project (ISBN 1-84576-229-0) Rann-Thanagar War (ISBN 1-84576-231-2) and Villains United (ISBN 1-84576-232-0) – and you should probably lump in the Clip-book compilation Prelude to Infinite Crisis (ISBN 1-84576-209-6) which extracted pertinent snippets from a host of DC comics and the much more readable Identity Crisis (ISBN 1-34576-126-X) for a full set. (See separate reviews via the Archive)
The problem with the first four series/collections is that even as teaser tales and set-ups they were somewhat incomplete and inconclusive, necessitating the creation of intermediate one-shot Specials to bridge the gap between the individual storylines and Infinite Crisis itself (ISBN: 978-1-4012-0959-9 or ISBN: 978-1-84576-404-3 for the trade paperback). Those bridging specials are collected in this volume.
Day of Vengeance: The Ninth Age of Magic is by Bill Willingham, Justiniano and Walden Wong and deals with a last-ditch attempt by Earth’s magical practitioners to pacify a crazed and apocalyptic Spectre, whilst Rann-Thanagar War: Hands of Fate is written by Dave Gibbons with art by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Marc Campos, Oclair Albert and Michael Bair finds a group of superheroes discovering the real causes of the war during a brutal battle in the depths of intergalactic space.
The Omac Project: the Lazarus Protocol is by Greg Rucka and Jesus Saiz and has Checkmate and a rag-tag bunch of superheroes deal with the deadly remnants of the rogue Brother Eye satellite as it crashes to Earth, and Gail Simone, Dale Eaglesham, Art Thibert and Drew Geraci bring the six super-villains who wouldn’t join Luthor’s Bad-guy Society into final conflict with the mastermind’s forces before everybody gets reconstructed by the final act of Infinite Crisis in Villains United: A Hero Dies but One.
If I’ve seemed a little disparaging here it’s not that the material is deficient or mediocre. These are good, strong stories, well told and wonderfully illustrated, but they are floating about without context in this compendium of middle-bits from a bigger story. The ineptitude of this sort of production and packaging utterly galls me. Could it have hurt so much to wait until these tales were published before rushing out the collections laboriously detailed above?
The best place for these adventures is in those books, not here as a separate volume. A big event like Infinite Crisis generates a lot of outside interest and – hopefully – new readers. To send them scurrying all over the landscape for the complete story is bad enough, but when the collections aren’t even complete all you have is a disgruntled purchaser who won’t come back. And it’s also not fair for dedicated fans – who we all know have already bought the original comics – to have yet another expensive book to add to their monthly bill.
Let’s hope for a little more joined-up thinking for those inevitable future publishing events.
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