Reviewer: Iain Burnside
Story Title: The Survivors
Written by: Geoff Johns
Penciled by: Phil Jiminez
Inked by: Andy Lanning, Norm Rapmund, Marlo Alquiza & Lary Stucker
Colored by: Jeremy Cox & Guy Major
Lettered by: Nick J. Napolitano
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Somewhere out there surely must be a comic book fan who is not only not reading any of INFINITE CRISIS, but has never even heard of there being an Infinite Crisis and has no concept of what the word ‘crisis’ means to comic books. By the time I had finished reading this book I almost envied that mythical person. At least they can live in peace and quiet and completely avoid the fall-out from this series, which is exponentially increasing as the speculation mounts on forums and message boards all over the world. As much as Marvel might not want to admit it, DC stands a better chance of breaking the internet in half with this than Marvel ever did with HOUSE OF M. After all, this series has two Supermen. All HOUSE OF M had was a grumpy Canadian and a menopausal Scarlet Witch.
Of course, I wouldn’t really want to be living in blissful ignorance of all this. Half the fun comes from the random speculation a series of this magnitude lets us indulge in, of which this second installment has plenty. In fact, if you feel like joining in the fun you can head on over to our DC forum and let rip. For now, let’s get on with the issue in question, page-by-page, as befits a crossover of this magnitude…
Page 1 – Animal Man is all shined up in his costume and ready for action. On first glance I thought it Booster Gold and got very confused about why he was blathering on about having connections to the animal world. Anyway, Animal Man takes his packed lunch (peanut butter and banana sandwiches… don’t forget the toilet roll…) and steps onto one of the patented Donna Troy orbs to take him out to New Cronus. He’s heading off to try and find out why every time he connects with an animal lately it feels like they all want to get off the planet and their warning instincts kick in. He also appears to have a Hawk helmet on the floor of his house for some reason…
Pages 2/3 – Animal Man arrives at New Cronus and is greeted by Cyborg. They’re both a part of Donna Troy’s team, which apparently also includes Starfire, Supergirl, Firestorm, Air Wave, Green Lantern (Alan Scott), Jade, Red Tornado, Shift and Bumblebee. They’ve been gathered by Donna to try and find out what punched the cosmos in the groin and unbalanced the centre of the universe. A more technical term might be the Big Swirly Thing that turned up at the end of THE RANN/THANAGAR WAR. How they might attempt to fix this is a bit of a mystery, but presumably we’ll find out soon enough. At the moment, Air Wave’s radio brain is giving him a serious migraine from all the cries for help that it’s picking up. Also, Firestorm appears to be falling for Supergirl (as does his roommate Mick, whose mind he recently merged with in FIRESTORM).
Page 4 – A neat little segue from Supergirl pondering about Kryptonese (which has no word for ‘escape’ apparently) lets us catch up with Power Girl back on Earth. The hook is that, according to the narration, the two have exactly the same heartbeat. The narrator would seem to be the most reliable source in this whole series for such information, but we’re building up to his big debut. For now, we’re picking up right where the opening arc of JSA CLASSIFIED left off. This is not good news for Power Girl since she’s about to get into a huge fight with Psycho Pirate, Clayface and people that I am told answer to the names Giganta, Girder and Mister Atom.
Page 5 – Power Girl is doing her best but is still outnumbered by the villains… so here comes the narrator… the yellow sun welcomes him back… you all ought to know who it is by now… you read the end of the first issue too… here he is…
Page 6 – Yes, it’s Superman. Original and best (or is that a half-truth?). He’s taken down all the villains on behalf of Power Girl, who is, as we all suspected, his cousin. By the way, she is wearing an exceptionally skimpy outfit in this issue. She’s never exactly been known for dressing modestly but the damn thing is cut right up to her ribs. Sheesh.
Page 7 – Now we go to check in on the other Superman, or at least we’ll get to him in a bit. For now, it’s a perfect chance for Perry White to over-react to something and, really, we wouldn’t want to get in the way of that. The news about the murder of the Freedom Fighters in the previous issue is breaking and he wants Lois to write the story. You would think that after all these years the Daily Planet would have more reporters capable of handling the big stories.
Page 8 – Anyway, Lois is preoccupied with trying to find that angst-filled husband of hers. His name is Clark Kent and he thinks he’s Superman but, as Batman pointed out so abruptly last issue, the last time he inspired anyone was when he was dead. Clark is still moping about this little personal insult as the world goes to hell, but thankfully he realizes that his actions can do more good than his whining words, so he changes into Superman and flies off… somewhere. Not sure where. Maybe he just really needed the toilet.
Page 9 – We’ll find out whether Superman remembered to put the toilet seat back down later. For now, it’s time to check up on the Secret Society. Deathstroke and Dr. Psycho are in Gotham, holding a videophone conference with Luthor, Psycho Pirate and Calculator. Apparently Luthor is building some sort of mind-wiping device via all the various heroes he has captured in the past few months and needs a member of the Marvel family to finish it off.
Page 10 – But wait! There is a second Luthor, remember? This one is wandering around in the snow wearing that gaudy purple-and-green battlesuit. From the looks of things, he clearly has some sort of mental difficulties too since he “can’t think” and doesn’t know why he’s wearing the battlesuit.
Page 11 – Lex II (or Lex I) soon forgets his internal worries though, when he spots Superman and Power Girl flying off into the distance. They don’t spot him, presumably because they’re too busy catching up with one another. After all, he may be Superman but he’s still an old man, and she may be Power Girl, but she’s still flying around the Arctic half-naked. It has to take a toll.
Pages 12/13 – Power Girl arrives at the (for lack of a better name) Fortress of Solitude to meet a couple of the other members of Superman’s little group, namely Alexander Luthor and Superboy Prime. They remember her from the pre-Crisis multiverse and from the Crisis itself, but she has no idea what they are babbling on about. Alexander speculates that she may have fallen through a crack in reality as it was resetting, or somehow been protected from the shifting timelines due to her interaction with the Anti-Monitor. He has some other theories too, but let’s face it none of them will really make sense unless we’re all stoned.
Pages 14-17 – Superman goes off on an old-man rant that would make Grandpa Simpson proud as he informs Power Girl all about the history of the multiverse and the Crisis itself. If I were as cynical as I am, then I’d be tempted to think this was nothing but a four-page teaser trailer for ABSOLUTE CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. Then again, I’ve already pre-ordered that, so my rights to cynicism have clearly been surpressed by my rights to stupidity. It’s worth noting that Superman says, with regards to his Earth being dubbed Earth-2 and not Earth-1, that “we were polite enough to let that go, even if we came first.” Ah, lingering resentment, how I have missed you…
Pages 18/19 – This is where The Plot rears its pretty little head. From his little safe haven outside of time and space, Superman and his gang have been watching as the solitary DCU progressed, post-Crisis. There he saw things like… the murder of Jason Todd… Doomsday ‘killing’ Superman… Bane breaking Batman’s back… Artemis replacing Diana as Wonder Woman… Parallax Hal Jordan going crazy… Sue Dibny’s rape and murder… Maxwell Lord shooting Blue Beetle dead… Superboy’s Luthor trigger being pulled… Wonder Woman killing Maxwell Lord… doesn’t exactly sound like the promised land, does it? It sure didn’t for Superman, and so he finally managed to break down the walls of his refuge (as hinted at in the TEEN TITANS/LEGION SPECIAL) in order to enter the universe and try to help out. Alexander built him this ‘little’ fortress, which through the magic of Earth-3 science allows them to see events on the rest of the planet as they happen. So far, so good… except that this Superman’s Lois Lane is dying.
Page 20 – But we’ll get to her shortly. Now we find out what Booster Gold (not Animal Man!) has been up to since he told Fire that he was returning home to the 25th century at the end of THE O.M.A.C. PROJECT. Apparently he went back only to pick up a few things before returning to the 21st century, since he has re-entered this time with Skeets intact, a new costume, and a generally more heroic stance. He’s too late to save the Watchtower (blown up in JLA) and so he proceeds with his most important task – finding Blue Beetle’s scarab. If I remember correctly it wound up somewhere in Texas at the end of DAY OF VENGEANCE. Of course, Booster was Beetle’s best friend and so would obviously want to preserve his memory by finding the scarab… but it is also possible that a person from the future would know just how important the scarab is to upcoming events… and the Spectre has been trying to ‘kill’ magic… and the Rock of Eternity did just explode above Gotham City… and one of the Luthors is trying to utilize the magic of the Marvel family for his own ends… Interesting…
Page 21 – Meanwhile, The Joker is pissed off at being the only villain not invited to join the Secret Society. It’s a fair point, though he may have expressed it a little harshly by killing Kite-Man apparently a couple of other D-list villains for good measure. Joker does appear to have (physically) healed from the ironic beating Jason Todd gave him in BATMAN recently (not to mention his earlier beating at the hands of Hush, whoever the hell that may be, in GOTHAM KNIGHTS). This scene does very strongly hint at The Joker playing a vital role in stopping the Secret Society’s plans, probably by doing things that the heroes would not want to do (even the aforementioned Jason Todd… and wouldn’t that be an interesting team-up…).
Pages 22/23 – Smiles! Tears! Happy families! Power Girl meets the Earth-2 version of Lois Lane and her real memories come flooding back. First Wolverine, now her… what’s an amnesiac got to do for a little peace around here? Still, it’s nice to see that Power Girl has finally found her family again.
Page 24 – It had to happen eventually… Batman is back. He’s in the Batcave now, trying to access security footage of the Watchtower before it was destroyed. It might have been a good idea to try and do that before bounding off to the moon, but never mind. After his scrapes with Mongul last issue, he’s all cut up and Alfred wants him to be treated but Batman channels the uncharismatic ghost of Ultra Magnus and just can’t deal with that right now. Basically, he’s forced himself to be so alone and twisted himself so much that even Alfred is losing patience with him. If you don’t read the computer captions, this scene does make him look like a horny teenager who really wants his dad to leave him alone so he can go online and get some porn.
Page 25 – Denied! Brother Eye is watching! No porn for you! The electromagnetic pulse that managed to disable nearly two-thirds of the O.M.A.C. sleeper agents on the planet is also now ineffective against the remainder, apparently.
Pages 26/27 – Damn. Now that is a splash page. The O.M.A.C.s are waging war on Themyscira and it does not appear to be going well for Wonder Woman and her sisters.
Page 28 – The jolly fun continues as Jimenez takes several steps towards an arthritic future due to wonderful work he’s putting into the art in this book. Thankfully, Wonder Woman appears to be appalled at the thought of killing the O.M.A.C.s, since they have innocent people inside them. This is a much better characterization than her wanting to needlessly decapitate Mongul last issue. I’m also presuming that WONDER WOMAN is running behind, since the last issue of that title has Diana voluntarily in jail and Supergirl and Donna Troy still on Earth.
Pages 29/30 – Hooray for nostalgia. Back in the fortress, Superman explains to Power Girl exactly what he plans to do. It’s why he had to leave his refuge, even though in doing so he greatly accelerated his Lois’ aging process and put her at great risk. It’s pretty much an all-or-nothing gamble for the benefit of the universe (according to him). In his own words – “This corrupted and darkened Earth must be forgotten as ours was… so that the right Earth can return.” As he says it, he stares at a bunch of Earth-2 memories on the gimmicked walls of his fortress. This has seemingly led to a lot of people thinking that Superman wants to replace the current DCU Earth wholesale with the old Earth-2, but let’s not forget that the walls respond to emotions as well as thoughts. With both Superman and Power Girl thinking a lot about the good ol’ times on their old world, it isn’t surprising that there would be plenty of Earth-2 images up around the room. Besides, by his own admission, he knows that his old Earth has been ‘forgotten’. Even though he wants a similar fate to fall upon the current Earth, it’s not explicit that he wants his own world to return. Maybe he simply wants more options for joyfulness and light-heartedness in amongst the doom and gloom that has been so widespread recently. There’s certainly room for some pre-Crisis aspects to be restored to the current DCU without going so far as restoring the multiverse, which would work well with the confusion surrounding things like Power Girl’s survival, the two Lex Luthors, the recent appearance by Barry Allen in FLASH and so on. It could also be the case that what starts as a noble intention on his part is quickly corrupted by unexpected developments elsewhere, such as the trouble that Donna Troy is trying to take care of, or the strange contraption that the Secret Society is building. One thing is certain at the moment – this is one highly intriguing story.