Friday, August 29, 2008

52 #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, and #6

Inspired by my recent DC comics reading, I decided to finally catch up with this series.

First, I'm surprised at how engrossing the story is. 52 is the super-hero comics equivalent of a high-brow "airport" novel, like Foucault's Pendulum or those thick Neal Stephenson books.

But I'm glad that I'm catching up with everything "after the fact", so the high pressure aspect of the event (buy it every Wednesday to keep up or you will be left behind) isn't part of my reading experience.

I'm also having fun checking out Doug Wolk's 52 Pickup blog as I go along. Here's a great quote from his commentary on the first issue:

To expand a little on a slightly too gristly idea that I tossed off in my Salon piece this weekend: What [Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman] have in common, which other (DC) characters don't, is that they all represent in some way the idea of human perfectibility--and, to some extent, the weak spots of that concept. Superman is the perfect person, as the result of a combination of an accident of birth and his upbringing; he's also not actually human, and as Geoff Johns pointed out in IC, his existence is proof that the world he's in is imperfect. Batman has made himself as perfect as a person can; as a result, he has systematically sacrificed his humanity. Wonder Woman is a sort of prophet of human perfectibility, in the sense of self-help: her mission in the world beyond Themiscyra has been to present the world with her vision of what society and individual behavior ought to be. (She is, of course, the least human of the three, both in her personal history and in the sense that she wants to remold the world rather than simply protect it.)

Finally, I think Infinite Crisis is a comparable achievement to the original Crisis, but reading 52 alongside Legends it's amazing how much more sophisticated and ambitious 52 is on almost every level: in terms of production, marketing, and distribution, but also in terms of narrative complexity, thematic nuance, and how it makes use of the DC Mythos.

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