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CSBG Archive

Meta-Messages – The Great Lakes Avengers Poke Some Fun At Identity Crisis

In this feature I explore the context behind (using reader danjack’s term) “meta-messages.” A meta-message is where a comic book creator comments on/references the work of another comic book/comic book creator (or sometimes even themselves) in their comic. Each time around, I’ll give you the context behind one such “meta-message.” Here is an archive of the past installments!

Today (based on a request by reader Taimur D.) we take a look Dan Slott poking some fun at DC Comics’ Identity Crisis with the final issue of Great Lakes Avengers.

Identity Crisis (written by Brad Meltzer and drawn by Rags Morales and Michael Bair) finished at the end of 2004. GLA (Great Lakes Avengers) (written by Dan Slott and drawn by Paul Pelletier and Rick Magyar) ran from April through July in 2005.

In Identity Crisis #1, Sue Dibny, wife of the Elongated Man, is murdered and set on fire…

In the penultimate issue of the seven-issue series, Batman and Justice Society members Mr. Terrific and Dr. Mid-Nite independently realize that Sue was not killed by the fire but rather by someone shrinking down and walking on her brain!!

We learn that it was not the person you might guess, Ray Palmer, the Atom, but rather his ex-wife, Jean Loring, who attempted to injure Sue just to get Ray’s attention…

In GLA #4, Squirrel Girl’s squirrel sidekick Monkey Joe is killed and we have a piece in the issue using it to tease the darkness of Identity Crisis a bit…

And the person who killed Monkey Joe?

Former Great Lakes Avenger Leather Boy. Real name? Gene Lorrene…


Get it? Gene Lorrene/Jean Loring?

Funny stuff from Slott. Slott (and co-writer Fabian Nicieza) did another Squirrel Girl bit later on making fun of the darkness of Marvel’s Civil War, as well (you can read THAT Meta-Message here).

Thanks to Taimur D. for the suggestion (thanks to Rob London for reminding me about the Gene Lorrene bit. Taimur mentioned it but I forgot to include it at first)! If YOU can think of a future Meta-Message, be sure to drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com!


You know, I liked Identity Crisis at the time. I liked that it added a dark and edgy underbelly to the world of DC and gave us something under the surface of the ’70s/’80s satellite-era JLA I loved. And I thought it was engrossing and had great moments even if I thought the Jean Loring solution was disappointing. I fought with people on this blog about it. Even stormed off in disgust for a few months over it.

All these years later I don’t know what I was thinking.

It was the beginning of the end of the DC comics I loved. I liked the dark and edgy because I thought the rest of the DC universe compensated and it was a yin and yang, but bit by bit, Identity Crisis is now the DC universe. It’s all misery and guts and torture and everything you know was wrong and dark and…

I haven’t bought a DC comic in six months now. It’s not the comic range I grew up with anymore.

So I’d like to take this comment to make a retraction. And apologize to T for all the arguments I had. You were right about Identity Crisis. (I still think Jeph Loeb’s Batman stuff with Tim Sale was boss).

I disagree. I still think it is a good comic because I do not think you can blame a comic book for some of the crap we got out of it.
The late 80’s and early 90’s were mostly EXTREEEEEME crap because everyone was trying to be dark, edgy and mature after Watchmen, Year One, TDKR, The Killing Joke and Arkham Asylum. I still think those comics are masterpieces, despite the awfulness of what came after them.

Charles J. Baserap

July 14, 2013 at 7:53 am

THis highlights the big problem with IC. It was billed as a murder mystery with heroes but it wasn’t because with a real mystery, the reader should have access to all of the clues and be trying to figure it out and many can possibly even potentially actually figure it out. You read an old Sherlock Holmes book and sure, some of the things are farfetched like him knowing the type of carriage model that would use a wheel that would fit the tracks made in the mud, but the point is, the evidence and clues are all out in the open if you know what to look for.

With this, there was absolutely nothing pointing the Loring or brain injury or anything like that at all; we didn’t get the results of the scans until the end right when they’re doing the big reveal, thus making it absolutely impossible for anyone to have possibly followed a trail to reach the conclusion beforehand. When the big reveal happens, a reader should be able to go back and put the pieces together to see how it all fits. This doesn’t happen here. As a story, it’s all right; as a “mystery,” it fails to me.

Brad Meltzer had an essay on his website detailing the love story which brought him and his wife together. It was a lovely piece to read, but contrarian in every aspect to the work he delivered on Identity Crisis. I have yet to understand what point he meant to get across with this series.

It was the beginning of the end for me as well.

Ted Kord’s murder, Maxwell Lord’s retconned personality, the undoing of Crisis on Infinite Earths’ wonderful ending, and the sucker punch that was Blackest Night & Brightest Day continued to dim my interest in anything DC, but I held on steadfast, nonetheless.

I stuck to the very end with titles such as Superman, Green Lantern, Flash, Power Girl, Jonah Hex, Booster Gold, Secret Six, and my beloved Justice Society of America.

I skipped Flashpoint altogether.

And then, as if DC knew of no other way to shake me loose as a reader of 30 continuous years, the New 52 managed to do just that.

It’s been nothing but revisiting back issues since then, forever cherishing What Once Was…

I don’t mind some dark deaths in the comics. There are other comics out there that do balance them out as others have said. But Identity Crisis was just poorly written. Once Jean Loring made herself bigger in Sue’s house there would have been clues. Yet no one found any when the heroes searched the area using all their means, etc. And then there was the fight with Deathstroke in it, that is why I started to hate Deathstroke, cause of that one fight. But yeah I entered IC expecting a whodunit, but when they started putting in stuff the readers would have no access to, it just failed for me.

I can list dozens of comics I love that feature grisly murders, some that feature rape, and COUNTLESS that involve heroes crossing moral lines.

That’s not the POINT. The point is that Identity Crisis does all of these things FOR THEIR OWN SAKE, and does them REALLY BADLY.

Look at that reveal. “Oh God– you’re insane.” That characterization of Jean is /revoltingly/ bad. You’re trying to make a more realistic superhero universe? Maybe stop by giving your bad guys motivations other than “Oh God–you’re insane.”

Moral of the story? Leave your expectations at the door. Because obviously they are holding you back from treating a comic for what it is and not what you wanted it to be.

Poor Monkey Joe. He loved nuts.

Paul L said ” Once Jean Loring made herself bigger in Sue’s house there would have been clues. ”

You mean like, brain matter/blood and bodily fluids from standing in her brain and then growing back to normal size ?

Andrew Collins

July 14, 2013 at 9:17 am


You summed up my feelings perfectly about Identity Crisis. I had gotten away from reading DC at the time, and it brought me back. I liked the dark, serious nature of the story too, and thought that every issue had a great “shock” moment or revelation, with Morales turning in the best artwork of his career.

Now? My god do I hate that comic.

Re-reading it made me realize how many plot holes Meltzer left wide open and how much all those “shock” moments were just shock for the sake of shock, and not because they served any great purpose to the overall story. Something that would become a constant in Johns’ writing as well.

The final bitter pill, as others pointed out above too, was how DC allowed the success of IC to give them carte blanche darkening of the DC superhero universe, with killing, maiming, gore, and rape becoming the standard for what had previously been a superhero continuity pretty balanced in tone. DC has been pushing me away slowly but surely ever since then and now the only DC books I by are their out-of-continuity digital comics, the occasional Vertigo comic and Batwoman, which has so far managed to keep doing its own thing post-Flashpoint.

On a POSITIVE note, that GLA page makes me want to pick that up. I need more humor comics in my life…

The thing is, Identity Crisis is not a mystery story. The murder mystery is just a pretext to tell another story about secret identities, superheroes and supervillains as a communities and their responsibility to their close ones. The point of the whole story is made abundantly clear in Green Arrow’s soliloquy (that is if you couldn’t already understand it from the title of the story). To me, it’s almost overly didactic. The book starts with it, ends with it and in the middle, the protagonist stops to explain to the reader what is meant in this book in case you did not understand it already.

I do not see anyone hating Watchmen because it did not work as a mystery story. I know what I am about to say is heresy but this is not the first time that a badly executed mystery story is the basis for a deeper reflection on the super-hero genre, it was already a problem in, well, Watchmen. I mean I really do not thing anybody guessed that Ozymandias did it, especially since he does not appear to have any motive (a tip of my hat to anybody who guessed the giant squid attack to end all wars) and he alibied out halfway through by being personally attacked. In Watchmen, like in Identity Crisis, the murder mystery is just a pretext.

For me the big problem with Identity Crisis at the time wasn’t that it made everything gruesome and horrible now, but it retconned things so that things were always gruesome and horrible, even in the comics I read as a kid. Every time I reread the JLA issue with Ray and Jean’s wedding, there are the Dibnys, and it just makes me sad now. So for me it really tainted everything, and that was before it became clear that everything at DC was going to be a lamebrained imitation of this kind of darkness for quite some time. A good example was how from then on rape was all Dr. Light could talk about, ever.

Charles: I agree that it’s not much of a mystery story. But of course, there have been plenty of great mysteries that don’t show you al the clues as they go. Heck, Sherlock Holmes stories often were solved based on some clues that Watson wasn’t even around to see but only hears about at the end.

Loved Identity Crisis. Still do.

It’s really hard for me to see Identity Crisis as anything but misogynist. All of the female characters portrayed are voiceless, sometimes faceless (Wonder Woman shows up for several pages in the fourth issue, but only her hip was visible), and, above all else, victims. Sue Dibny is killed, then raped, Dinah’s head is shoved in a bag, Zatanna spends the Deathstroke fight vomiting, and Jean is, of course, crazy. Which is treated, without any explanation, as a substitute for a motive.

I can do without Identity Crisis. It lead to a ton of comics that I really liked (I’m alone in liking the Infinite Crisis to Flashpoint era and I’m okay with that), even if that era ended with Flashpoint and the New 52, but the comic itself is kinda difficult to look back on and take seriously. It was a big deal when I first read it, but I was 16 then. As an adult, I see all of the problems people complain about with it.

Oh. And there’s no way Deathstroke would’ve been able to take down Flash and Green Lantern at once. So it also offends my comic geek senses.

Misogynistic? I really do not think so.
Zatanna and Dinah get beat-up just as much as the other superheroes in that fight. Also, four characters get killed in this comic book, three of them male. The villain and the first victim happen to be women but that is only because there happens to be a lot more male superheroes to begin with and the story is about their close ones but the very fact that Jack Drake also dies shows that the writer was very clearly trying to convey that everyone was threatened. To me, everybody in the story appears as a victim (well, except for Jean), not just women. There really is no hero to this story. Oliver Queen is the protagonist but because of what he has done to both Dr Light and Batman, he really does not appear that heroic.

@ DarthShap:

To me, WATCHMEN is the key to understanding what was wrong with IDENTITY CRISIS.

Alan Moore frequently cited Harvey Kurtzman as a key influence. You can see that most clearly in WATCHMEN. Folk love to talk about it as a deconstruction of superheroes, but to me it reads closer to satire. Tilt your head a little to the right and those superheroes are kind of funny. Moore and Gibbons were pointing out the absurd nature of various superhero archtypes and using the murder mystery as a device to keep the plot moving along.

IDENTITY CRISIS is inspired by WATCHMEN itself, or more precisely the enormous esteem in which WATCHMEN is held. It so very serious, because it wants to be taken very seriously, The “… but wait! It is worse than that!” mode of narrative borders on parody. However, the parody is purely unintentional. Sue Dibny is murdered, but wait! It is worse than that! Sue Dibny was murdered on her husband’s birthday, but wait! It worse than that! Sue Dibny was murdered on her husband’s birthday when she was going to tell him she was pregnant, but wait! It is worse than that! And onward until basically the present day.

It is telling that someone as consistently funny as Dan Slott can’t pull a better gag out it.

Dang, my comment from two hours ago is still awaiting moderation. The internet cannot even handle the kinda-saddened-by-the-whole-thingness of my opinion.

Identity Crisis is a piece of shit.

There. Debate over.

Watchmen as a parody? No, I do not think so. It is pure deconstruction and it takes itself very seriously. Every panel is meticulously thought out. Moore clearly meant it as a serious study of a somewhat silly genre.

Identity Crisis really is just about the worst piece of shit DC ever published.

I read Identity Crisis a few years after the fact, and like a lot of people I liked it at the time, but over the years and hearing commentary against it, I understand why people hate it.
I dislike it because of the wringer it put the cast through, BUT I still stand by Metzler’s take on Green Arrow which I think was pitch perfect, and maybe the best the character has been written since Grell’s work. Plus, it made me really love Ralph & Sue Dibny, a pair of characters who until this could charitably be called also-rans at best.

Slott is very different writer than Metzler, but a comic fan could easily look at the darkness in his current Superior Spider-man story and say its just as dark if not worse than Identity Crisis. Sometimes it takes time for a story to play out and then render verdict, and sometimes you just have to take the good with the bad.

And I was far from being the only one to finger Ozymandias for it in Watchmen, because of that fake-assassination scene: the guy had a clear, unobstructed shot at Veidt yet he shoots the secretary instead?

“And I was far from being the only one to finger Ozymandias for it in Watchmen, because of that fake-assassination scene: the guy had a clear, unobstructed shot at Veidt yet he shoots the secretary instead?”
In the eleventh issue, Veidt says “I hired my own killer through a third party. When I fed him the cyanide capsule, perhaps he realized this” so no, it was not supposed to be a clue since the hitman was hired to kill Veidt. You were just guessing and I am pretty sure you never figured out anything, especially not the motive, because it is just impossible to do so.
Watchmen just does not work as a mystery story and that’s fine, it is still one of the greatest comic book of all times.

As far as the mystery part of IC…..I think the very next panel after Sue is attacked has Atom going through the phone line to see Jean, and it’s captioned “one hour later”, so I don’t think the clues were that hard to figure out. I assumed that the killer was going to be a villain that mind-swapped with the Atom since a big part of the story was about mind-swapping.

“…d’s birthday, but wait! It worse than that! Sue Dibny was murdered on her husband’s birthday when she was going to tell him she was pregnant, but wait! It is worse than that! And onward until basically the present day.”

And she was only 3 days from retirement!

I enjoyed IC on my first read through. I haven’t reread it, although I feel as though I have for all the reviews I read afterwards. I’ll have to sit down and give a try again one of these days, but reading the pages above was a little painful.

IC wasn’t bad, but it was the last issue that ruined it. Instead of the heroes solving and confronting the “bad guy” Jean (a character we hadn’t seen in any DC comics in how many years?…decades maybe?) tells Ray everything. It would’ve been cool if it was another hero we had seen, or any villain that decided to step up instead of a character that came out of nowhere.

I think it was Erik Larson (maybe) that said “Try doing that to Lois Lane and see how fans react”. Too true!

But let’s be honest, although not the worst series (remember when Marvel had Identity Disc being released at the exact same time?) this was the beginning of the end. DC and all their “Crisis” and Brightest/Darkest Lantern series, Flashpoint, etc. (and Marvel’s Civil War, Secret Wars, Secret Invasion, World War Hulk, Siege, etc. not to be left out.) has hurt the Big 2. Although they are trying to bring in new fans that love the live action movies coming out, they are doing it wrong. Let the series grow. Let the writers and artists create a good comic without having to stop and showcase how a giant event it going to change the series.

While Identity Crisis was gratuitous and unpleasant, I always roll my eyes at any statement that “comics are supposed to be fun”, as fun in that context that usually means reductive nostalgia. Especially since many of Slott’s best comics– Avengers: The Initiative and Superior Spider-Man coming to mind– go into very dark and unpleasant territory, and are more entertaining for it.

I loved “Identity Crisis” at the time. The moment where I realized what the JLA had done to Bruce was one of the most shocking moments in my comic-reading experience. I’m going to dust the trade off and read it again this week.

Ethan Shuster

July 14, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Identity Crisis did really start turning me off of DC. I dunno, but suddenly tossing in the rape and murder of a character known mostly as a fun innocent character didn’t sit well with me. Though I didn’t mind the idea that there were a few dark secrets like the mind-altering Zatanna had done. But I threw in the towel when I watched out of control Superboy Prime (or whatever his name was) decapitating characters, dismemberment, other graphic violence, it just make me want to give up.

I don’t believe that all comics should be “fun” in every case. But not only did IC sort of retcon the Silver Age into, Well, it really wasn’t a more fun innocent time,” but it, and its follow up seemed to try and target certain fun, light-hearted aspects of the DC universe, and decide they should be destroyed and twisted. And as a fan of the JLI and JLE books from back then, which gave us some comedy, I felt like those comics were being targeted. Sue and Ralph, the sweet, funny couple? Torn apart by rape and murder. Blue Beetle, a irreverant, “everyman” kind of character who has superhero adventures with his buddy? Shot in the head by another character from that same era, who himself is turned into an unrepentant murder. Oh, and all coming to a head where the Superboy who was given a nice ending in Crisis is turned into some psychotic child accidentally hurting and killing people. Ugh.

I didn’t dislike that run of stories because they were giving us new, darker stories. I disliked them because their purpose seemed also stomp on the old stories before the present day. Tell us that times have changed and the world is more dangerous disturbing place if you want, but don’t go back and tell us its always been like that and seek out characters representing those times and beat them to death.

IC was pretty bad even back then, but has aged even worse over time.

@ DathShap

You realize that in Watchmen it at least MAKES SENSE for Ozymandias to pull off his plan the way he does, plus there are clues scattered about the whole series that while you would probably not figure out his was him from those clues you can still see he was hinting at it the whole time, right? Plus the “shock moments” don’t exist for their own sake and actually contribute to the overarching plot, the subplots that feed back into the main plot, the overall characterizations, etc. meanwhile in IC stuff is put in there just because Meltzer wants to see if he can get away with it. I really like his JLA run, and if you like this book for the few things it does well then more power to you, but people (and this is directed at all of the proponents of the book now) really need to stop making excuses for the massive number of flaws in this peace of crap.

You want a better analysis of why IC sucks? I may not like the blogger overall, but I think Linkara at AT4W does a great job of ripping IC to shreds without getting nitpicky.

Have to say though, if IC didn’t suck so hard, that GLA bit would not work so well lol

@ Ethan Shuster

Yeah, you aren’t the only one who thinks that Geoff Johns has it out for the Giffen/DeMatteis JLI books. Meanwhile, it looks more and more like his JL/JLA runs are going to culminate in a Justice League Detroit reunion in the not too distant future. So he shits on what is possibly the greatest Justice League run of all time to spite the books that came right after the highly derided period on JLA that took place in his home city, while also shoving said shitty team (which I honestly also kind of like) down our throats because maybe somehow people will come to love the Detroit team and forget about the legendary Bwa-ha-ha team that made the Detroit team into a comics history footnote. I love his JSA, and I’m from Michigan, but when it comes to this he can kiss my ass. JLI 4 life.

For everyone decrying the darkness of the DC universe following Identity Crisis, I suggest Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner’s ‘Power Girl’ run (which is being collected together along with ‘Power Trip’, to be released next February). Better yet, I suggest ‘Atomic Robo'; it’s just fun, and its creators have actually vowed to keep it that way, avoiding angst, cheescake, reboots, filler, and delays. It’s all right here on their site: http://www.atomic-robo.com/the-promise/

I feel obligated to mention that the Meta-Message went further: Monkey Joe’s killer was ex-GLA member Leather Boy, alias *Gene Lorrene*.

Shit, you’re right, Rob, I forgot about that part. I’ll add that page in.

@ Anonymous2

I think you completely miss the whole point of both Watchmen and Identity Crisis if you are looking for a mystery story. If you are only interested in the mystery, 90% of Watchmen will look like useless padding.

The same goes for IC. Apart from Firestorm’s death, which was editorially mandated, everything in this story has a purpose and feeds into the main themes of secret identities and superheroes/supervillains as communities.

The mystery story is just a pretext to tell a story about people usually regarded as “heroes” doing everything in their power to protect their close ones, which was especially relevant in the early 2000’s. You cannot just ignore the point Meltzer was clearly trying to get across and conclude that “things just happen for no reason in this mystery story”.

Travis Pelkie

July 15, 2013 at 3:38 am

I don’t even want to get into how awful IC is. But as Dean said, it’s odd that Slott couldn’t get a better gag out of it.

I do know of a better gag, and I’ll send Brian an email.

Actually, I did figure out that Ozymandias did it. For one, in the first issue, it is stated that the Comedian was a very strong guy for his age, and someone had beaten him up, so it had to be someone stronger than him. Since the only characters who are depicted as that strong are other superheroes, and Ozymandias was one of the few heroes there that kept himself in good shape, that made me wonder about him. When the assassination attempt on his life happened, it did seem like sloppy storytelling that the gunman shot his assistant not him at point blank range. When he ran at the gunman and stuck his fingers in his mouth yelling, “He has a cyanide capsule in his mouth!”, I wondered, How could he see that? And, the assassin looked really shocked and scared at what he was doing, not like he was planning to commit suicide. Also, the plan was so elaborate, utilizing writers and scientists and engineers, that it had to be funded by someone with a lot of money, and Ozymandias was the only character that had that kind of money shown in this story. Maybe you didn’t have a motive spelled out for you, but you definitely had the means. Also, I remember I kept telling a friend of mine, “Ozymandias is the killer.” And, he kept looking at me suspiciously. When it turned out I was right, he even said, “Wow, you were right.”
Also, for all the reasons pointed out by everyone else, yeah, Identity Crisis was awful.

“Slott is very different writer than Metzler,”

Yes, Slott is good.

I hated what they were doing to the characters in Identity Crisis at the time. Little did I know that was the start of the end. Clutch said it all better than I could.

And Anonymous 2, I could never figure why Johns had it out for the JLI characters, but they were systematically going through all of them (Red Rocket too, Ice). Didio has just about gloated about it. For a guy who acts like such a comic fan, he really doesn’t seem to understand that every generation has their favorite characters, readers and creators. I wonder how he’ll feel when someday some young, brash, hot writer thinks Stargirl (who he based on his dead sister) is “lame” and decides to have her die in a plane crash. I mean, who cares about those characters from then, amiright?

Holy shit, that is a great point about Stargirl. Like, I wouldn’t want that to happen because I just don’t want any more senseless superhero deaths. But just imagine. Would it take something that perverse and inappropriate to get him to say “Oh, wow, so that’s what that feels like.”? It would be worse, of course, because of the personal nature of that character to him. It’s just such an odd thing to think about. Christ, the comics industry is weird. You figure it’s just so easy not to mess it up, and you’re so, so wrong.

I’ve always been ticked that IC blatantly rips off Squadron Supreme with the mind wipe the villains plot points up to and including Batman going ape about it. Yet its other offenses outweigh this. Most of the rest just reads as an excuse to alter things in the DCU; not much good that really came out of it and there was a whole truckload of bad.

@Danny – I don’t think anyone would actively do it because of what Stargirl stands for. That WOULD be super-dickery. But I can easily see someone not having a close about her history, and honestly thinking cute high school girl with robot is sooooo lammmmmeee and old school*, and let’s be edgy…how about we have her gang raped and killed? Because DC is REELZ and HARD now!! And we’ll have someone take over her robot and do it to her.

I mean, that’s all that’s wrong with comics today. But with all the power he has at DC, he didn’t seem to mind when they did it to an innocent character like Sue Dibny, and I’m sure creators put as much care into recrafting Blue Beetle into something popular again…before they thought it was a good idea to put a bullet in his head.

*I have nothing against the character, but if there’s been one in DC’s lineup in the last decade that harkens back to a more innocent time that Stars and Stripes, I don’t know who it is. Seems like she was made for some NuDC gritty transformation.

Oh, they might restrain themselves because Johns is still on staff as a powerful poohbah. But Big Barda was largely based on Kirby’s wife Roz–or at least her relationship with Scott was–but John Byrne had her do porn with Superman, and Jim Starlin killed her (not in the fridge, merely right next to it).

And of course Johns himself offed the original Superman and Lois Lane, having the original superhero killed by a rabid fanboy, no less.

The final issue of IC was the only comic book the kept me from sleeping the night before it arrived. No other book ever had that effect on me. So imagine my disappointment….

A murder mystery is only as good as its ending. In this case it was all just red herrings and what I spontaneously call “diabolus ex machina” – “Oh, by the way, I am the murderer, because I am insane. Bwah-ha-ha…”

I personally wrote Brad Meltzer, that I thought that ending was a disgrace to the whole series and that it didn’t make “perfect sense” (that’s an acutal line in the final issue concerning the murder), but no sense at all.
Nice as he was, he even wrote back.

In retrospect there’s much more wrong with IC than the ending… it started a trend to give some characters a dark twist, especially Giffen’s “Super Buddies” – e.g. Blue Beetle, Sue Dibny, Elongated Man dead. Maxwell Lord turned evil, so did Mary Marvel. Conspiracy nuts could detect a pattern there…maybe this was already featuted in Comic Book Urban Legends revealed?

And as far as I remember, Alan Moore wrote somewhere that he was tired of all the deconstruction of superheroes and that he tried to bring back some of the Golden Age spirit with his ABC line. Books like Tom Strong, Smax or Top 10 were in my opinion Moore’s A-game: Complex, different, imaginative and most of all…fun!

It doesn’t matter if it’s a DC or a Marvel book – I was a huge fan of both companies at one time or another, but now hardly follow any of their books – they don’t publish superhero comics anymore. I like anti-heroes like the next man, but I don’t want to see Batman once again being broken, someone in the Bat-family getting killed, Spider-Man’s baby die (or not) or him breaking up with Mary Jane or Wolverine getting his ass kicked for the last 20 years. Where’s the “super” or the “hero” in that?

I could go on and on what bothers me about comic books today, but let’s call it a day for now ;)

@buttler, it certainly wouldn’t happen now. But who was Geoff Johns when the JLI was mega popular? No one to the comic book industry. So some day, maybe 20 years down the line, he’ll be out and a nobody and no one will care what he has to say. And some kid in elementary school is going to be the hot new thing then. And won’t care what Johns thinks just as much as he didn’t care what Ditko, Lein, Jurgens, Giffen, and all the rest had created before him thought about him pissing all over their characters.


July 18, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Like a few others on here, IC seemed like a great comic when I first read it. On closer inspection, it makes no sense.

Like when Jean talks about finding one of Ray’s spare suits: since it was only 6 inches, how did she put it on? And why would someone as smart as Ray Palmer leave something that valuable and dangerous lying around in his attic instead of under lock and key at JLA HQ?

Also, as some others on here previously mentioned, there should have been evidence of Jean’s presence at the crime scene after she grew back to normal size. Heck, just send in Zatanna and have her chant, “Rellik Lever!” or “Ecnedive Wohs!” – case closed.

The worst part? There is no way that Deathstroke would have been able to take on the whole JLA. GL makes an energy bubble around Slade, dude flails around the bubble trying to escape, then passes out from lack of oxygen. Battle over. The whole “stabbing Wally” trick only worked because Meltzer wanted it to. Having fought Slade several times, Wally would have seen that coming, and even if he didn’t, his reaction time is a LOT faster than Deathstroke’s , regardless of his heightened abilities. The Flash could easily change course before running into the sword, or just vibrate right through it.

On the plus side, at least Meltzer nailed Green Arrow perfectly. On the other hand, he killed off Firestorm, so Meltzer can go f*ck himself.

BTW – Wonder Woman had a huge part at Sue’s funeral, delivering the eulogy. So Diana’s appearance in IC wasn’t just a close-up shot of her butt.

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IC started the non-stop “events” that lead to the new 52.
With each “event”, I stayed with fewer and fewer comics from DC.
I’ve hit zero since nothing in the new 52 was changed for the better, just changed.

I’m old enough to remember reading when Ray Palmer and Jean Loring divorced in the early 80s: a few panels of tears and emotional accusations, giving way to a reluctant but thoroughly mature acceptance of the inevitable, by both parties.

DC Comics revisits this 30 years later, and they turn Jean Loring into a scheming psychopath with a Joker-like rictus.

The most terrifying thing isn’t that superhero publishers, desperate for cheap publicity, consider the latter plotline — pointless, ridiculous and sexists in equal measure — superior to the first, on account of it being “gritty and realistic” or what have you.

The most terrifying thing is that superhero fanboys do too.

>IDENTITY CRISIS is inspired by WATCHMEN itself, or more precisely the enormous esteem in which >WATCHMEN is held. It so very serious, because it wants to be taken very seriously, The “… but wait! It is worse >than that!” mode of narrative borders on parody. However, the parody is purely unintentional. Sue Dibny is >murdered, but wait! It is worse than that! Sue Dibny was murdered on her husband’s birthday, but wait! It worse >than that! Sue Dibny was murdered on her husband’s birthday when she was going to tell him she was >pregnant, but wait! It is worse than that! And onward until basically the present day.}

All of this.

And don’t forget, Jean Loring became Eclipso! (??)

I can’t even begin to describe how much damage have Dan Didio and Geoff Johns done to the long legacy of DC Comics. I’m waiting until their time at the wheel is over, as I waited for the Extreme Image/Marvel era to be over. In the end, good stories prevail. We remember Morrison’s Animal Man and O’neil’s Batman, and forget everything about Lee’s Cyberf.o.r.ce and -luckyly- Meltzer’s and Johns’ FanFiction stuff.

Identity Crisis is something that I feel should never have been published outside of a fan fiction site alongside infamous ‘dark’ fics like ‘Cupcakes’ and ‘Sweet Apple Massacre’.

Identity Crisis, and many of its followups (especially Cry for Justice) combines elements from the Silver Age and the Dark Age, and unfortunately we end up with a product giving us the worst of both worlds. We have the sexism and bizarre character motivations of 60’s combined with the violence, pretentious narration, and ‘grim and gritty for its own sake’ of the Dark Age.

The worst part, I’d say, is the pretentiousness of it all. Didio and the others try to pass Identity Crisis, Cry for Justice, and the other ‘events’ off as mature storytelling, but they’re really more of a junior high schooler’s idea of ‘mature’. We have the JLI/Superbuddies from the lighthearted Giffen/DeMatteis stories dragged in to these so that they can be killed, brutalized, and corrupted. Clearly, these stories were not designed to please those who loved the JLI/Superbuddies, but instead they were written to please those who went into screaming temper tantrums every time they thought about the JLI/Superbuddies.. They’re written to please those who think comic books can’t be good unless they’re unrelentingly dark, brooding, and depressing, and who hate lighthearted comics where the heroes actually smile occasionally with the intensity of a million, billion burning suns.

They come from the same sort of mindset that makes people write stories about Bert raping Ernie and roasting Big Bird alive, or spread untrue urban legends about Mister Rogers being a sniper in Vietnam. They are designed to please those who are turning against the things they used to love as kids, saying “That sucks because it’s kid’s stuff! Take THAT!”

And really, that’s the sort of mindset many of us grew out of when we were fifteen years old. But DC is still, as far as I know, catering to the mindset that rejects fun and idealism as things that are only for kids.

Of course, all this isn’t helped by the emphasis on event comics that derail the storylines going on in the ‘regular’ books, and reduces them to filler. And of course the bringing back of unused C-list characters only to kill them off in increasingly gruesome ways (just so we’re sure that they’re super-mega-ultra-giganta-not-a-chance-of-ever-being-resurrected-dead), regardless of whether or not writers might have instead put them to good creative use.

The above commenter mentioned Grant Morrison’s Animal Man, which was a HUGE meta-message on the post-COIE trends of making comic books darker and more violent for the sake of ‘realism’. For a time, between Kingdom Come and 2004, it seemed comics were STARTING to move away from these trends. Then Identity Crisis brought them back with a vengeance.

So as much as Dan Slott’s Great Lakes Avengers/Initiative scenes parodying these things make me laugh, I still wish the events that inspired them hadn’t actually been published. Like Squirrel Girl, I think that comic book worlds should be places you want to escape TO … not from.

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