Monday, September 24, 2018

Back Issue Box: Infinite Crisis Secret Files And Origins

One of my greatest joys in comics is scouring the bargain bins for hidden gems. Dollar boxes are abundant here and whenever I thumb through, I feel like some old miner, panning for gold and hoping to strike it rich.

Now usually I am looking for things from the 70s and 80s in those bins but more recently, I have discovered a new passion. I like finding books from the 90s and 00s which maybe I should have bought but didn't. And any over-sized or Prestige format book found there is most likely going to get bought.

In particular, I have found a new love for the DC Secret Files and Origins series. These books usually have a couple of stories. They exist to fill in readers to a current character's history and ongoing stories. And they always have some version of 'Who's Who' style pages. It has reached a point that, if in the $1 box, even for characters or arcs I don't like, I'll probably get the Secret Files and Origins.

Which brings me to Infinite Crisis Secret Files and Origins 2006. To be frank, I don't really remember this Crisis too well. I remember Alexander Luthor and Superboy Prime escaping paradise and doling out 'reality punches' to shake up the universe. I think Luthor even makes 'tuning forks' like the Monitor. And, of course, Superman from Earth-2, the first hero and the ultimate hero in Crisis on Infinite Earths, was made a patsy.

I also remember a hodge-podge of artists filling in pages in the latter issues.

But the ending? I don't recall.

So this falls into one of those 'don't like the arc but maybe I'll like this Secret Files' sort of issue. And, as usual, I did. A few key moments will be shared!

There is one story here. 'Heaven' was written by Marv Wolfman with layouts by Dan Jurgens and finishing by Jerry Ordway, Cam Smith, and Art Thibert.

It truly is the Secret Origin of Infinite Crisis. It is here we get a glimpse into the 'heaven' that Alex Luthor, Kal-L, Lois Lane of Earth-2, and Superboy Prime escaped to at the end of COIE. It is an odd world which can be molded by their wishes. It also has crystals that allow them to see their own memories and realities as well as the new Prime Earth.

While Superboy initially seems content to remember the good things about his world, Alex is frustrated. He hates seeing what has happened to the universe he 'saved'. He also know realizes that they didn't need to head into this dimension. They could have stayed alive in the new Universe.

Alex continue to bombard Superboy with images of that Clark's world's death, including that of his girlfriend. Finally angered, Superboy unleashes the first 'reality punch', shaking up the continuum.

We see all the Doom Patrols, all the Legions, all the rockets taking Superman from Krypton. They all sort of exist now.

Cool to see the multiple Doom Patrols there.

Alex continues the mental assault on Superboy by now showing him all the evil that entered into the post-Crisis DCU. Remember, this Superboy lived on 'our' Earth and was a comic fan. Like many of us, he is dismayed by how dark, grim, and gritty things have become.

Look at the examples closely!

Superman killing the Phantom Zone villains in the pocket universe.
Wonder Woman snapping Maxwell Lord's neck.
President Luthor.
Atom Smasher crushing Extant.

And ...

Sleazy Kara!

That's right. The nastiness of Supergirl measured up with these other horrific events. And this coming from Marv Wolfman!

Finally outraged, Superboy begins assaulting the crystal wall, sending out ripples of reality-changing energy into the universe.

We see a number of persistent continuity headaches appear.

Yep, there is Hawkman! Wasn't Crisis ... I mean Hawkworld ... I mean Zero Hour supposed to tidy that up?

And there is good old friend Donna Troy! We get all her incarnations!

As a garnish, we see the Metal Men!

Meanwhile, despite being in heaven, Lois Lane is dying. And Superman can't bear it.

After all, didn't they sacrifice so much during the Crisis to save everyone and everything?

We get a nice two page splash of all the horrors of Crisis on Infinite Earths and there smack dab in the center is another take on the cover of Crisis on Infinite Earths #7.

We were 20 years out by this point! Amazing!

Finally, with all the seeds of turmoil planted, it is time for Alex to up the ante.

He strips down and bestows some of his anti-matter universe energy to Superboy. Invigorated, Superboy punches through Heaven's wall and enters the DCU.

We all (sorta) know what happened afterwards.

I was happy to finally see this aspect of the story. In Infinite Crisis, the two are already out and about. So seeing the origin filled in some information.

And seeing the sleazy Kara, consort and mind-slave of Darkseid, being put up as evidence of the perverse darkening of the DCU made this a good buy! Toss in a COIE #7 reference and it is a steal.

But wait, there's more!

We get Who's Who pages!

Here is one of those things I didn't know I needed until I saw it! A Howard Chaykin 'Lois Lane Earth-2' picture. Chaykin is famous for his period pieces and historically accurate settings. So Lois is all 40s sensibilities here! Fantastic.

And aw yeah tiny Superman from Superman #1 cover in the way back!

So hooray for #dollarboxjoy !


Martin Gray said...

i also remember very little of this Crisis bar the results and how it messed on Alex, Lois and the Clark's supposed happy ending. I'm a sucker for reality changing stories, though details confuse me eg why did Jason Todd come back from the dead rather than the Death in the Family story be retconned away. OK, I get the meta-reason - sell those trades! - but not the in-multiverse one.

That vibrant Chaykin Lois makes her ending in this series all the sadder.

Anonymous said...

"To be frank, I don't really remember this Crisis too well."

I've read it several times but I can never tell if I like or not.

Definitely I didn't like the "Adventures of Superman" tie-in written by Joe Kelly. Let's tell neither Superman nor Power Girl were well portrayed at all.

I liked Power Girl getting her REAL backstory back, or Batman having to finally confront his nasty behavior's consequences, or poor Kal-L wanting to get his best friend back, or Supergirl making a short appearance ("Did you know there is no word for "Escape" in my language?")...

But other things like the original Kal and Lois' fridging or Superboy-Prime being turned into a hypocritical, inarticulate loony... No, they didn't sit well with me.

"But the ending? I don't recall."

I found a certain scene interesting.

In COIE #7, Earth-One Supergirl dies in her cousin's arms while he cries.

In IC #7, Earth-Two Superman dies in his cousin's arms while she cries.

I wonder if it was intentional.

"That's right. The nastiness of Supergirl measured up with these other horrific events. And this coming from Marv Wolfman!"

Agreed, an universe where Kara Zor-El exists must be nightmarish to him.

Just kidding.

I hope.

Now seriously, I think I heard somewhere Kara's existence was due to Superboy-Prime punch-retconning her back into existence... but according to this one-shot, she already existed prior to his cosmic tantrum.

"After all, didn't they sacrifice so much during the Crisis to save everyone and everything?"

When you think about it, it's not a wonder the four got... unhinged.


Ewwwww... Darkseid wanted a new Fury, not a consort.

"A Howard Chaykin 'Lois Lane Earth-2' picture."

That's a great picture.

Anonymous said...

Good Old Marv Wolfman, Slutty Evil Supergirl, Corpse Supergirl, you can't say, the man doesn't have the pious courage of his restrictions.


William Ashley Vaughan said...

I hated Infinite Crisis for many of the reasons Anonymous cites. However, I love the Chaykin Lois Lane page. I give him full credit for not sleazing her up like he did the Shadow. Great use of 30's history. I especially liked Lois being kicked out of Nazi Germany, probably for reporting the ugly truth instead of the smarmy lies Goebbels and company wanted the outside world to read and hear. I suspect Chaykin based that part of Lois' backstory on real life courageous reporter Dorothy Thompson who had the same thing happen to her.