Monday, March 13, 2006

Identity Crisis: a review


If you've been reading this blog for a while you know that I'm probably the last guy on the 'net to get around to doing comic reviews. It's been a while since I had that $100 a month habit and almost a year since I even went into a comic shop. Still I'm an old time fan and still like to read something on occasion. In this case the series (collected here in hardcover) that really brought about some changes in the DC Universe, many of which are being revisited in the current INFINITE CRISIS maxi-crossover event.

Should you be among the few who haven't read this book or have not read the hundreds of other reviews (good & bad) already out there I want to send out a huge SPOILER WARNING.

Writer Brad Meltzer creates a story which reveals that things happened years ago among the Justice League of America that may tarnish their reputation. We learn why the original Doctor Light, went from second-string competent to comic relief in later appearances. When they discover that he raped Sue Dibny, the wife of Ralph "Elastic Man" Dibny, members of the JLA decide to not only erase his memory of the event (and his knowledge of some of their identities) but also to do a bit of tampering with his brain. Using the magical abilities of Zatanna, they give the villain a mystical lobotomy. Not only this but when discovered by Batman, they do a bit of tampering with the Dark Knight. Now years later, Dr. Light recovers his memories and apparently begin seeking revenge for what happened.

End of SPOILER WARNINGS!

Meltzer does a solid job with all the heroes, even those who appear only briefly. The art by Rags Morales is magnificent and is aided by the inks of Michael Bair, who allows Morales' pencils to shine through. Hats off also to colorist Alex Sinclair and letterer Ken Lopez, who do the job by not drawing attention to themselves yet add to the overall package. In addition the hardcover gives us additional treats with background on the story & art by Meltzer and Morales; as well as a cover gallery of the original series covers by Michael Turner and other goodies.

Some of the best moments are with Wally "FLASH" West, who learns that the heroes he grew up with and admired may not have been as free of sin as he may have thought; in addition much of the story is seen through the eyes of Oliver "GREEN ARROW" Queen who knew of what happened and has kept the secret for years. In the end the story is ultimately about friendship and family, not just a bunch of people flying around in tight outfits punching each other.

Although I knew from reading the comments on the Tony Isabella messageboard and in CBG what to expect, as an Old Fart of Fandom I finally wanted to read the book myself and judge it. I don't exactly like what happened, especially as Ralph & Sue Dibny were two of the nicest and most enjoyable characters I remember from the Silver Age. From Ralph's early stories he was a favorite. On the other hand, Meltzer allow us to see the couple as truly in love and lets that, in the end, be Ralph's salvation.

How I'll feel about INFINITE CRISIS when I eventually get around to reading more than the earliest 'countdown' issue, remains to be seen. It will certainly be interesting to this aged reader what the 'new' DCU will be like.
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