Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Infinite Crisis (DC comics)
Infinite Crisis #1 When: December 2005
Why: Geoff Johns How: Phil Jiminez

The story so far...
The world is in crisis, and the heroes are divided to fall, while the villains are united in a way never before seen.
The Justice League is falling apart at the seams, struggling to recover from events such as Wonder Woman's brutal execution of the traitorous Maxwell Lord, where she very publicly snapped his neck; and the death of Firestorm.

Heroes such as the members of Uncle Sam's Freedom Fighters do their best to pick-up the slack, but with a united front of evil willing to cross any lines, it becomes more difficult than ever.

Having received information regarding a transmission between Silver Ghost and Mirror Master; Uncle Sam leads his Freedom Fighters to a seemingly abandoned refinery where they believe the supervillains are organizing weapons for terrorist activity. Unfortunately for them, Uncle Sam's suspicions prove valid.
Now the team need not only put a stop to evil, but also fight to survive.

Previous Form:
The Society [#15]: Unsuccessful against the team of Batman & Red Hood.
Freedom Fighters [#19]: Slaughtered by the World's Finest; Superman/Batman.
Black Adam (#13): Undefeated after battles with the Four Horsemen of Apololips.
Dr. Light (#109): Present for Deathstroke's battle with the Justice League.
Psycho-Pirate (#255): Ultimately killed by Black Adam after this alliance.
Uncle Sam (#163): Unsuccesful in team-up with Wonder Woman against Batman/Superman.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Bizarro 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Dr. Light 5 (Professor)
Speed: Zoom 7 (Light Speed)
Stamina: Black Adam 6 (Generator)
Agility: Cheetah 5 (Cat-Like)
Fighting Ability: Deathstroke 7 (Born Fighter)
Energy Powers: Sinestro 7 (Solar Power)

I think you pretty quickly realise you're in trouble when you open the door and one of your guys gets shot through the chest. We'll get to that soon enough, but let's take a look at the daunting stats of the tape first up, which paint a pretty grim picture for the Freedom Fighters!

A team of nine villains is bad enough. A team of villains consisting of; Black Adam, Sinestro, Deathstroke, Dr. Light, Dr. Polaris, Zoom, Psycho-Pirate, Bizarro and Cheetah - even more bad news. A team of these particular villains as oganized by Lex Luthor, who is fronting a united new era for bad guys? Down right scary!

The tape indicate just how well rounded this particular team is. Nobody tips below a five, and even those come in the less common categories, and of the nine, seven of them register as the top characters in their respective category.
That isn't even taking into account things like the comparable strength levels of Black Adam and Bizarro, or the intangible forces controlled by Polaris, Light and Sinestro. Or even things as obscure, and difficult to measure, as Psycho-Pirate's emotive suggestions.

The Freedom Fighters are outnumbered, nine-to-six.
Among their rag-tag mob of heroes are most notably Uncle Sam himself, Human Bomb, Damage and The Ray. Their powers are strong enough to at least register where some of these villains are concerned; Sam bringing a degree of stamina and strength, while the Ray can control and manipulate light in a variety of imaginative ways.

The Human Bomb and Damage pose perhaps the greatest key to victory, but their potential also rests on the potential destruction of their fellows. If either of these atomic-scale heroes really unloads, to the point where they can defeat or waylay The Society, it will probably come at the final hour, with their fellows already fallen.

Black Condor really affects very little influence on this particular fight. Given the scope and brutal power of characters like Black Adam, Deathstroke and Sinestro, it's just simply not in the realm of possibility for a character like Condor to be of use. Likewise, Phantom Lady's illusions and Savate expertise are going to be of little use here.

The Math: The Society
The Pick: The Society

Ouchie...What went down...
Infiltrating the secret arms factory, the Ray uses his powers to manipulate the laser light grid that provides a net of security over the entrance, diverting the light to himself. With that, Human Bomb uses his powers to destroy the control panel for heavy blast doors, and as they open...

A blast of cynical yellow energy cracks it's way through the air, piercing the exposed chest of the unsuspecting Black Condor. Waiting on the other side of the door is the cream of The Society's villainous crop. An apparent ambush.

Bizarro ironically greets the Freedom Fighters with a misplaced Good-Bye, which is all too accurate, given the situation, as Sinestro sneers from beneath the glowing yellow energies of his fear-borne power.

Uncle Sam orders his troops to hold nothing back as they charge into battle with the murderous members of The Society.

The order is as good as worthless.
In a volley of violence and destruction the Society find themselves set upon by some of the deadliest villains known.

The Ray is the first to fall, victim of Dr. Light's similar, but apparently superior, powers.
He sucks the light from The Ray's body in a way that could only be imagined as incredibly painful.

Damage finds himself at the mercy of Zoom's fists, as he swirls around the hero in an unstable, translucent blur. Zoom promises to make them stronger heroes if they survive. His barrage triggers Damage's explosive powers, which send him hurtling out of the building.

Phantom Lady's illusion of invisibility proves to be of little value against the feline senses of Cheetah. She quickly sniffs the Freedom Fighter out, leaping atop her before ripping away at her flesh.

With the Phantom Lady pinpointed and bleeding, Deathstroke charges in with his sword to finish the job. He drives his blade deep into her chest as she rematerializes. Her final word is, "Why?"
For Deathstroke, it is simply a matter of professionalism.

The Human Bomb's explosion topples Sinestro, Dr. Light and Deathstroke, and he cries for them to get away from his fellows.
Shaken by Phantom Lady's death, the Human Bomb runs amongst the carnage before Dr. Polaris floats down to revel in the defeat.

"Oh, she's dead, Human Bomb. Didn't you hear that delicious shriek?"

Enraged, the Human Bomb tears at his protective suit.
If it is death and war that delights Polaris, then the Human Bomb shall deliver more than he can handle. The Human Bomb glows with energy and explodes, blowing Dr. Polaris clean out of the sky.

Bizarro, attracted by the "pretty lights", descends atop the Human Bomb.

Declaring his affections he begins to pound the Bomb's bare flesh, incurring massive explosions with every thunderous punch. For every blow with the strength of a Superman, Bizarro encourages an equal amount of explosive force, until eventually the Human Bomb begins to disipate.

Eventually, with his blood and chest covered in blood, Bizarro is disappointed. The Human Bomb stirs no longer. He has exploded for the final time.

"No more pretty lights."

In spite of the many explosions, the fight rages on amongst the surviving heroes and villains. Uncle Sam finds himself with the uneasy task of battling Black Adam, perhaps the strongest man present.

Adam flies like a human torpedo, knocking Uncle Sam into the air.
Cheetah catches him on the ground, clawing at his face while Zoom buzzes around like a ghostly apparition.

The Ray, alive but weakened by Dr. Light's attack, finds himself at the mercy of the otherwise uninvolved Psycho-Pirate.

As The Ray spits threats at Psycho-Pirate, the medusa mask begins to shift from it's blank state to a calm, comforting smile.
"Don't be angry. Don't be afraid."

The Ray, relaxed, gives in to the exhaustion, allowing himself to be dragged away for the purposes of one, Alexander Luthor, for whom The Society does their bidding.

The last of the Fighters to fall is the first to rally them - Uncle Sam. Though he continues to fight valiantly against overwhelming odds, he is far outmatched, numerically and super naturally.

Sinestro uses his yellow energies to blast at the patriotic hero, sending him hurtling into the air. He eventually comes to land in a swamp somewhere nearby, and while his story is not through, the Freedom Fighters are through, and the Society free to carry out their evil machinations.

The hammer...
Conclusively the winners: The Society!

Meanwhile, Uncle Sam's resumé isn't looking terribly impressive right about now. The last time the character was featured, he and his team were completely wiped out by the tyrannical might of Superman and Batman. [Superman/Batman #15]
This time around things went a little better for the Freedom Fighters, but even still, to come out with a fifty-percent survival rate isn't really all that impressive by anyone's means. Maybe the X-Statix are about the only team impressed by those figures... Yeesh...

At the time this particular issue - the first of a major mini-series at the core of a company-wide event - caused quite a bit of controversy. Given the promotion of the event, a large part of the concern was rating standards, with this issue baring no kind of forewarning for the violence contained within.
Of particular interest at the time was Phantom Lady's brutally depicted murder, which sparked the obligatory discussion of misogynism in comics, and questions of violence against women.

I'm not so much interested in the censorship of violence against one sex over another. We've discussed before that, in fiction, I think it's nice for that equality to exist. I sometimes feel the violence needs to be more prevelent for both sexes, to continue to remind us exactly what kinds of threats these superheroes are dealing with. But I digress...

What struck me immediately having just completed the review was that I was declaring a team who just slaughtered the superheroes - victorious!
I think with the features we've looked at over the past year and a half I've come to build up an association with the declaration of a winner. Usually, even in the cases of the hero losing, there's a certain degree of honor and thrill to it.

Declaring The Society victorious here, however, after killing the heroes the way they did. There's something that just doesn't feel quite right about that.

Not that it really has to go beyond that.
I'm not sure this particular cast of characters was really what you'd call invaluable to the DC lot, and to the company's credit they have continued a tradition of reinvigorating properties in the newest incarnation of the Freedom Fighters. It's not all new, of course. Uncle Sam found his way out of the swamp after compelling one of the new leads to find him, and they have an all new, all-government approach, at least to start with.

I guess there's a triumph to come out of the deaths of these heroes, at least in some kind of creative off-shoot of a way. I admit, I'm usually not one to advocate wanton slaughter of worthwhile characters, but at least they've stayed dead for this long, and an attempt to revitalize the concepts has been made.

Though the book is mostly a vignette-packed primer for the DC Universe as it was becoming heading into Infinite Crisis, there's also a fantastic battle running parallel to this one on the moon, featuring the 'DC Trinity', so hopefully some time in the future we'll get a chance to revisit the story from that perspective.

For now, I've got to check out and head to bed, and hopefully get back to catching up again soon. We've got FF action next-up, cheers!

The Fight: 4.5 The Issue: 5.5

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