Sunday, September 28, 2008

Identity Crisis

One item in the giant pile of comics I borrowed from the library last time I was there is the Brad Meltzer, Rags Morales Identity Crisis. I remember when this came out originally, and I didn't pay any attention to it. The only thing I recall from that time was that Marvel did that Identity Disk thing seemingly just to create name confusion, and that Identity Crisis was regarded better than the other one.

There are a number of things in this book that I knew about already, but did not realize that this was the storyline where it happened. This is the storyline in which Sue Dibney is raped (via flashbacks). This is the storyline where she is killed and then burned and then shown horribly burned in the comic. This is the storyline where the Zatanna Mind-wipe technique is brought out. This is the story with Captain Boomerang's son appearing and taking the mantle and showing the super-speed.

I like the premise of this storyline. I like the thought behind the effects of the various awful things on the heroes and their families, as well as a lot of the issues that are brought up. It raises a number of questions that are pretty good ones to raise. It is also a bit excessive and grisly. I don't love the excessiveness. I don't love the tendency to kill and maim heroes and loved ones every time you need a plot starter. I think this could have been done and presented a little differently and still have been good and gotten it's point across.

That being said... I thought the story was pretty well done. I thought the rainbow of narrative boxes was a bit heavy handed and sometimes confusing for a minute or two while reading. The art is solid. The Joss Whedon Introduction is sort of light and throw-away, but the whole volume is a pretty good read. There are a number of plot points, there are a lot of characters that go under the microscope here, and it is interesting and worth talking about.

I never liked the elongated man. I never paid any attention to him at all really. He was one of those eighth tier characters I wasn't even sure why he existed. I think I missed out on something in being so dismissive. This sets up the major problem I have with this series and the stuff done in 52, etc. I hate it when underutilized characters are spotlighted and developed and built up so that we care about them so that they can be torn down and destroyed and have us care that it happened. I never realized how present Sue Dibney had been in Ralph's career. I didn't know that they were a constant stable happy couple that worked as a team. That's great stuff. I hate that... Wait, we have a happily married couple in our stable? let's rape murder and burn the wife, then tear down and destroy the husband... (high fives all around). That doesn't EVER HAVE TO HAPPEN. The whole story could have hinged upon something horrible that wasn't quite so horrible as that. Final doesn't mean a lot in comics. Companies and readers are always interested in seeing something else, and all that big impact that your story had when it came out loses it's meaning and ends up just seeming distasteful.

I think this is a problem that crops up in the medium a lot, and has for a while. It isn't by any means unique to DC, although they do it a lot. I think this storyline contributes a lot to the ongoing discussion of comics. I thought it was good, but can't say I fully 'enjoyed it'

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