So, on a whim, I decided today to try to find a webpage that would give me some information on DC's latest cross-over, 'Infinite Crisis'. (Not to be confused with 'Identity Crisis', or 'Crisis on Infinite Earths'. DC seems to be in full-on panic mode way too often for a universe that has Batman and Superman. Marvel seems much calmer.) And so I made the horrible mistake of trying to read a FAQ on IC.
DEAR GOD. Seriously, this is the most convoluted, over-complicated, bloated mess that any human being could conceive of--in fact, almost certainly moreso. It sincerely looks like if you want to make any goddamn sense out of the current DC storyline, you have to have read every single DC comic since 1985...minimum. They're bringing back every single bad idea that they got rid of in 'Crisis on Infinite Earths' (well, every one they hadn't already brought back--they brought back Krypto the fucking Super-Dog a few years back, which was probably a sign of the end times then and there), they've turned every single super-hero in the DC Universe into a paranoid psychotic, and by the time I've finished writing this, they plan to jump the entire universe a year ahead and release a 52-issue miniseries explaining what happened in the missing year. (OK, it happens next month, but almost certainly by the time anybody reads this, that'll happen.)
I'm of two minds about this. One, the sensible part, which has listened to comics gurus like Warren Ellis and Alan Moore, and who isn't part of the completist grind anymore (and don't fool yourself, it is a grind. If you want to be a comics collector, you have to read a lot of shit to "keep up" with developments in the fictional universe you enjoy some stories in. Otherwise you'll be reading a fun Garth Ennis book like 'Hitman' and wondering, "Who's this Keanu-looking doof who's claiming to be Green Lantern?") This part of me is shrieking, "Have you gone out of your ever-loving minds, DC? This--this abomination of a bloated mess--is why comics readership is declining! With comics being as expensive as they are nowadays, if you make your readers choose between following everything in order to understand the events of the one or two books they like, and dropping comics altogether, they're just going to drop everything! You must, must, must release books that appeal to the casual reader, and stop huge bloated 'event' cross-overs that just perpetuate the insane soap-opera that only masturbatingly-obsessive DC continuity freaks care about! Listen to Warren Ellis! Short, sweet, self-contained, well-written! Not never-ending, bloated, and forcing you to read each panel from each book released over the course of two years in order to understand what all the different Luthors are doing fighting each other!"
Then there's the other, either more realistic or more cynical part, which says, "Screw it. Maybe they're right. Maybe it's just not possible for DC to get the casual readers anymore, maybe their continuity is just too entrenched and convoluted to get rid of, and maybe their only hope is to pander to the small obsessive, rich, DC fanboy market for all it's worth, using the trade paperbacks as a lure to that extremely rare marketing segment that picks up an issue of something like 'Infinite Crisis' and, instead of saying, "This is incomprehensible shit!", says, "I have got to know what this is all about." And hoping that niche market is enough to sustain them.
We'll see which part of me is right in ten years' time. If it's the first part, I'm buying the rights to Hawk and Dove. That series rocked.