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"Identity Crisis" Mini-Series Talkback (Spoilers)

Discussion in 'Comic Book Culture' started by HighSky, Jun 9, 2004.

  1. Gillespee

    Gillespee Member

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    Another thing on the Jean is crazy thought . . . She didn't appear crazy at all (to me) at any time during the series. She appeared cold and calculating, more from the Lex Luthor school of supervillanry than the Joker school. In my opinion, Arkham's not the place for her, she should be in a solitary cell in a maximum security prison. And can you just drop your wife off at Arkham? I know Ray left behind some necessary paper work, but unless your exhibiting schizo behaviors, isn't it pretty hard to get comitted without a court order or something? Shouldn't she just go to jail until a judge rules she's not competent for trial? I know Mid-Nite and Bruce figured out who was involved, but from their point of view, couldn't it have just as easily have been Ray who has now framed his wife and is on the run? There are just too many holes when you start to look at it and not enough plot resolution.

    I hadn't thought much about the misogynist POV. In retrospect, it probably wasn't such a good idea to slap WonderWoman on that cover and then not even show her face in the panel. Did she even say anything? Yikes, when someone points it out...

    Edit: In defense of the drop-off at Arkham, I guess Batman does it all the time. Maybe they have a special Superhero discount....
     
  2. yuske01

    yuske01 New Member

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    question

    how could jean loring shrink without exploding?
    scott
     
  3. Singularity

    Singularity Dullard.

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    Certainly. I was touching upon how the motivation makes sense, not how literaily lame it is.
     
  4. Eddie G.

    Eddie G. Former Wolf/Writer.

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    I think you're being unfair with the Batman thing as well as the thing with Kyle and Wally. With Batman we got a great reason for him to keep himself in the dark, he understands. I mean seriously Batman's whole reason has been trying to stop what happened to him happening to others. And the League's actions did that for their families. Besides I think Meltzer was trying to hint at the idea that Batman isn't a jackass for things like Tower of Babel, there is a reason that modern Batman acts the way he does to the league.

    In general I think if Kyle, Wally, or Bruce had found out or revealed the truth it would've ruined what is a really good point about human nature. And that brings me to this..

    The truth is that this wasn't a mystery, Meltzer wanted to write about a mystery and he said that he did. But he didn't, he wrote a pretty decent f-u to society and how we forget all the bad things about our past (Like someone who thinks that the politcal climate in 1954 was better than it is now, when in reality you might end up being arrested for your political beliefs back then). As a mystery this thing isn't well contructed at all. As a comment on society it's still not that well constructed, but it's good for what it really is.
     
  5. randomguy

    randomguy Came, liked Ike, and left.

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    Well, I view the superheroes, especially the DC ones, in a bit of an old-fashioned light. As such, I hold them to a fairly rigid sense of morality. And in that light, I simply can't view the League's actions against Batman as anything less than morally despicable. These people are supposed to be comrades and bastions of support for one another, and when one of your comrades has a dissenting opinion, you don't wipe that opinion out. You sit down and deal with it. The League I grew up reading wouldn't snuff out one who has a legitimate moral concern with their actions. It simply doesn't jive with these characters. Yes, they have an idealized sense of morality that isn't entirely realistic, but that's the DC Universe. It's supposed to inspire us to be greater people with more noble aims, not drag its heroes down into the trenches with us. I'm aware that's not a sentiment everyone shares, but it's how I've always felt.

    In other words, I don't see the DCU as a place of moral compromise, at least not on this scale. It's one thing for somewhat ambiguous characters like Green Arrow, but not the icons. Not Batman, not the Flash. No way, no how.

    Besides, I see Meltzer's work here to be rather out-of-character. Post-Crisis Batman has been quicker to moral indignation than practically everyone else in the DCU, save maybe Superman, so I find this characterization of him as willfully ignorant in the face of deception tough to swallow. You mention that Batman's actions are based in his desire to keep what happened to him from happening to others, which is certainly valid, but that's a desire with limits. Batman could guarantee that his tragedy wouldn't fall upon others much more thoroughly than he does, after all. He could slaughter his opponents, use his vast wealth in any number of unscrupulous ways, or abandon his hopes of rehabilitating many of his enemies. But he doesn't, because despite his desire to keep something like the Wayne murders from happening again, he knows there are lines that one cannot cross. There are things one can do in the pursuit of justice that aren't right. I'm pretty damn sure this mindwiping business falls under that umbrella. Just my POV.

    I disagree. I can't read that kind of depth into it, because frankly, I just don't think it's there. There's nothing in the series which seems to suggest (at least to me) that there's anything all that profound at work. Identity Crisis doesn't strike me as having all that much to say about the state of society or human nature. The Watchmen? Sure. Dark Knight Returns? Absolutely. But this? Not buying it.

    Even if it was trying to make a statement, though, we're still dealing with an in-continuity story, and therefore something which needs to be consistent with previous characterization. Identity Crisis can't betray Wally and Kyle's characters and get a free pass just because it's making a point, legitimate though that point might be.
     
  6. Eddie G.

    Eddie G. Former Wolf/Writer.

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    I think it's a little unfair to make a point based on what you know so far when the whole point of the story is that there is something beyond what we already know.

    You're thinking in terms of logic, not people. People don't make sense man and they all have double standards. Bats was dealing not only with something huge that could change the world, but he was also dealing with his friends. Can I see a man who lost his family and saw many people he loved loose their family abandon his moral direction? Yes.


    That's very unfair, you cannot like the story but still recognize the meaning behind it. It's there man, I'm sorry but the guy used flipping quotes. Quotes are always used to support a point, and Mr. Miller's point is pretty obvious. Actually I felt that Meltzer was hitting my head with the point when I read the Miller quote.

    I'm sorry but can I see something that proves these things against character? First of all I don't see anything Flash or Green Lantern are doing as that wrong. It's a tough situation, having information that could destroy the Justice League, that could destroy the whole existence of superheroes. I'm not saying they're right for what they did, but I'm saying what's right isn't clear cut in this situation.

    With what the JL did there is nothing I really can say. You know the point I'm going to make (Realism), and I know the point you're going to make (Tradition).

    What I will say is that it is not fair to judge a story based on what you want. Nothing in this whole book was out of character except for Kyle sleeping during the Slade fight. It's a good book with a great point that I wish was pulled off in a better way. I understand where you're coming from and I come from the same place, but I have to look at things for what they are.
     
  7. randomguy

    randomguy Came, liked Ike, and left.

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    Sweet guinea pig of Winnipeg!

    Yes, but that something is a retcon. It is not a natural organic construct meant to lie beneath the surface of the DC for a number of years. It might be set in the past, but we're still dealing with a recent plot development, so I think I can judge it as such.

    A good point, and something I really didn't take into account. Still, I think there's a legitimate danger when attempting to humanize characters of letting the pendulum swing too far to the other extreme... of making your characters excessively dark and even somehow subhuman.

    I think it's a disservice to focus on only one aspect of the human condition, be it darkness or light. Neither is a fully-rounded perspective of humanity. I believe that, in the attempt to give heroes failings, you can go too far, where the failings are so overriding that it's just as extreme and unbelievable as the gee-whiz perfection of JLA members at the onset of the Silver Age.

    No one benefits when classic heroes are so chock-full of failings that they can no longer inspire us. When the dysfunction permeates a story that thoroughly, the work ultimately suffers. You have to find the balance. It's like walking a tightrope, and I just don't feel like Identity Crisis quite pulls it off.

    "A witty saying proves nothing."
    -Voltaire

    I know, I know, it's impossible to use that quote without some degree of hypocrisy. But darnit, I just like playing with these sorts of things.

    Hopefully you see my point, though.

    Quotes can be used as an illustration of meaning, but they can just as easily be utilized by a writer flailing about pretentiously for a point. It's not uncommon for writers of fiction to try to deceive their audiences into believing their works as being deeper than they are.

    And if Meltzer was indeed attempting to infuse his work with such a profound meaning, I'm still not terribly impressed. When it comes to making such a statement, supporting that perspective is paramount. It's not enough to say something... one has to support it. To score points with me, Meltzer would need to more thoroughly elaborate this proposed meaning, and incorporate it more tightly into the themes of his book. If he was really trying to make the point you brought up, I don't believe he did a very good job of it, so I'm still not much inclined to care. A societal statement is really only an accomplishment if it's impressed upon the audience in some fashion, and I'm not sure that happened.

    Well, before we give up on each other so readily, I think we can have it both ways.

    You certainly couldn't accuse my friends of being unrealistic, but that doesn't mean that they're so thoroughly messed up that they'd brainwash each other and then sweep it under the rug. There's a balance that can be struck that I think can satisfy everybody.

    In most mediums, I'd agree with that. With ongoing superhero comics, however, where you become familiar with characters over the course of several years and dozens of creators, I think it's okay (at least to a certain extent) to judge things in the context of how a universe should be portrayed. Comics are kooky in the sense that they can't always be judged as standalone works. Sometimes, they also have to be judged in the larger context of an ongoing mythology. That mythology is subjective, and it means different things to different people, so yeah, to a large extent I am judging the story based on what I want. I believe in a certain portrayal of the DC Universe, and Identity Crisis doesn't stack up to that ideal. We have different takes on that universe, so it doesn't irk you the way it irks me.

    I don't think it's an invalid criticism. Most comics readers do the same. We all carry our own respective baggages. As long as we're honest about it, I believe there to be some legitimacy to such qualms. My quarrel with Identity Crisis has never really been with how it's told. It's been how I feel the whole project is misguided within the confines of DC's universe.
     
    #247 randomguy, Dec 23, 2004
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 23, 2004
  8. kid_flash

    kid_flash Speedy Teen

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    Okay...I'm pretty sure I haven't posted at all on this thread (I get my books at strange times and trying to catch up with pages and pages would be a nightmare), but here's my thoughts on the series as a whole, and forgive me if some of the points have been made before.

    First, and I think a lotta people are realizing this, the murders were a subplot. They're a lot less important than Meltzer tried to make them seem. It won't be long before no one will care about Sue Dibny. Who even thought about her before this? Jack Drake is a different story, as Batman and Robin are higher-profile characters, and this WILL (or at least should) change Tim's perception of his job.

    As for Jean Loring...I don't buy that she's the killer. As has been pointed out on these boards before, she could have had Ray back anytime she wanted him. Also as was pointed out, her insanity is inconsistant not just with her character as a whole, but her character as written by Meltzer.

    But like I said...none of that's the point. The point was all this stuff that suddenly came up.

    And I don't think Meltzer WANTS us to like the direction this takes the characters. I think on some level, this should make us afraid. Afraid that the icons we've known all our lives aren't really what we thought they were. He isn't trying to make a societal statement, but rather a statement about these characters. He's not trying to say they're good guys for what they did, and he's not trying to say they're bad guys for it. He is showing you that some pretty screwed-up stuff happened in the Silver Age that we never even knew about, and now that we do, think again about how well you know these characters.

    And I don't mean to be flippant. Barry Allen is the reason I'm into comics right now, and has long stood as my favorite character. But I'm not completely against this direction. It's like when they shot Gordon. I love Gordon, but the story was so well-done and Gordon's exit from the department was so well-handled, that it was so entirely in character, and it MADE SENSE to the ongoing Bat-mythos. Does it make sense for Barry? Right now, I think so. I had much the same reaction as Wally when Ollie was telling the story, but right after he pointed out that Iris had just died, it made sense. Because more than anything, Barry was so in love with Iris. He knows, and I know, that if he and Iris had been in the same position as Ralph and Sue, he would've done it the same way.

    As for Wally and Kyle...they're still a lot younger than a lotta people think. Wally is very clearly against it, and I get the feeling Kyle is too. But for now, they're not about to pipe up. They know the secret has lasted this long, and there might just be a reason for it. So instead of just going off about it and revealing the whole thing, especially to Batman, they'll sit back and give it some serious thought. That's who they are.

    But this will have future ramifications, and you can feel that at the end of issue 7. I have a feeling this who Crisis 2/Countdown thing will be a very interesting read indeed.

    For those of you who aren't regular comic book readers, I'm sorry if you read this and were upset by it. For the most part, this ain't the current condition of superhero comics. Most aren't this brave (which, love it or hate it, this series was that). But mostly, this mini was written for people who have been fans for years, because (as I said above, or at least tried to) it asked us to question them. Marvel heroes are regularly questioned by their readers, but DC's heroes (with the exception of Batman) are rarely questioned about their actions. It's a very dense series, and I can see how it'd be hard for a newcomer, because it does reference a lot, not just plot-wise, but in the characters too.

    All in all, did I like the series? I dunno. I can't remember who said it, I think it was randomguy, over on the DC All-Star thread...he said that he was never really crazy about Morrison, but glad Morrison's stories happened because they really gave the characters the kick in the pants they needed, and the stories really took some chances. Such is my feeling about IC. I'm really glad DC was brave (and bold) enough to do this. I think what happened in IC, and to a certain extent what it revealed, is much less important than the ramifications it'll have on DC's long-term readers, as well as the characters themselves. And it's better that way. It's better that it isn't a self-contained, 7-issue story, but rather a part of a much larger story in the DCU. Because, after all...it was written for the fans. And we'll keep following these guys.
     
  9. Mister Intensity

    Mister Intensity Active Member

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    I'm glad I didn't waste my money on this nonsense.

    Mister Intensity
     
  10. Eddie G.

    Eddie G. Former Wolf/Writer.

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    I don't really think it's a retcon. It looks like a retcon, and it smells like a retcon, but it really isn't. A retcon involves changing facts and history, this just added something possible to the already established history.

    But would you call a group of people who erased the memory of someone who raped their friend bad? Even what was done to Batman was understandable. I get what you're saying, but I think Meltzer didn't really cross the line. I also don't think that Meltzer created this new flaw for kicks and giggles, it ties into the point. And speaking of a point...


    Being deep and being good are not the same thing. My point of the quote was that quotes are used to prove points. Of course the use of the quote was a little much (Even if it is a great quote). The construction of this book isn't that good, the writing is really good and so is Meltzer's point of view. But you really have to seperate a POV from a piece when you're trying to study it. You can have great beliefs and ideas but if you don't get contruction and writing down in it doesn't make a difference.


    I've said before that this book just isn't well constructed, that's the flaw. However I think he did a good job getting the point across, he even created a situation where the reader was turned into a living example.

    I've seen friends lie to friends all the time. Actually I've had one friend who didn't tell the other that her boyfriend was cheating on her. It's probably as bad as what happened in IC to Batman or good for analogy. It doesn't mean that they're bad people or on average bad friends.

    I think the question becomes this, are the wants of the reader truly important in comics beyond most forms of storytelling or do comic book readers just hold themselves and their comics to a double standard?
     
  11. Cool Blue

    Cool Blue Grand Master

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    Well I loved the whole series and although I thought Sue's motive was less than reasonable it still stands as one of my favorite mini series i've read
     
  12. randomguy

    randomguy Came, liked Ike, and left.

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    The most intelligent dinner conversation ever. About comics. Comics with Sue Dibny.

    Oh, it's most certainly a retcon. Whenever you've got revelations about the past retroactively inserted into situations where they didn't exist in the first place, you've got a retcon. Just because it's a more graceful addition to the mythos than most doesn't mean it's not a retcon.

    I think a good example would be the revelation, sometime in the eighties if I remember correctly, that Mary Jane always knew Peter Parker was Spider-Man. It fit extremely well with all the old stories... but, in all honesty, it's pretty clear Stan Lee and Gerry Conway hadn't intended it that way. It was a smooth and believable addition to the Spider-Man story, but even so, it was still a retcon. I don't think the Identity Crisis stuff is any different, whether you like the developments or not.

    No, I wouldn't. But I would call them bad if they erased the memory of another friend who objected to the process.

    The Dr. Light mindwipe, in all honesty, doesn't really bother me. To do something like that to your enemy is one thing. But to do it to a comrade, well, that's a little different. And that's where the out-of-character comment comes in. I know you think I'm judging this story based on the merits of how I want the DC characters to act, but they've been presented as reasonably unflappable heroes in the past, and I think projecting this level of moral uncertainty onto them really doesn't jive with their past characterizations.

    I agree 100%. And that's why I make the complaint. I don't care if Meltzer has a profound point, because I don't believe his construction and writing are strong enough to sell it.

    Buddy, you can argue that as much as you want, but I'm never gonna buy into it. Sorry.

    From what I can tell (I don't know the details), it's nowhere near as bad. Lying in no way equates to messing around inside your friend's head. A more logical analogy would be something like a lobotomy or electroshock therapy. The severity of actions like those is well beyond typical human flaws and crosses the line into something I believe outright condemnable.

    I'm not sure a "double standard" is the appropriate term, nor am I sure we're merely talking about the personal interests of any given reader. Superhero comics just have this unique kicker that they don't exist in the relative vacuum that other artistic works do. They exist in the context of something far larger than most other forms of storytelling, and I don't feel you're kowtowing to the wants of the reader to take that into consideration when judging them. In this particular backwater section of the realm of art, where personal attatchment is all but inevitable, I think it's okay to deconstruct a story on the basis of how it fits into a given vision of a larger mythology.

    Criticizing on this basis is a little more valid in superhero comics for another important reason: the ripple effect. Identity Crisis will have reprucussions on other books, which allows one to criticize it not only on the basis of the content itself, but on the basis of how this content will affect the DCU in the future. You don't really get that in other mediums, save serial novelizations and TV shows (maybe movies, but rarely). That's legitimate, because comic book writers are not just storytellers, but also stewards of the realm, charged with custodial duty, and it's okay to make note when they make a decision which you can reasonably assume is going to have a negative impact. A good Identity Crisis-centric example would be the death of Jack Drake in issue #5. I think it's an incredibly well-done and powerful scene, and I'll give credit to where it's due. Meltzer and Morales really nailed it. If I was judging Identity Crisis as a standalone work apart from the DCU, I'd have no issue with it. But I'm pretty damn certain that killing off Robin's father is a bad move for other books in the line, and so I criticize Meltzer's choice of targets. Stuff like that goes a long way towards legitimizing the validity of criticism on the basis of what a reader wants to see.

    For what it's worth, though, it's not as if similar wants don't exist in other forms of storytelling. A good deal of criticism often comes from the basis of what we want out of our art. We criticize because we want the entertainment we take in to be better... and because we believe it can be. I don't want to make it sound as if comics are the sole medium where projection like this happens. I think it happens reasonably often, and I don't think it's a totally invalid critical perspective to use. For scholarly analysis, yeah, it's somewhat inadequate, but I have no interest in discussing Identity Crisis on that level anyway. For the intents of casual conversation, I don't feel it's unfair to critique on the basis of desire.

    Beyond that, though, I wish to stress that I feel Identity Crisis' storytelling is weak enough so that I don't have to project my own perspective of the DCU onto it to be disappointed. I believe it to have reasonably severe storytelling deficiencies as-is. The big reveal doesn't carry the punch it should, nor does it read as logically as it could have. The series has difficulty uniting its disparate plot elements into a more cohesive whole. Ultimately, the mindwipe subplot is a superfluous element that doesn't tie into the main murder storyline at all. Unless, of course, you view the mindwipe plot as the main plot, in which case it's not dealt with in near enough depth. I believe there are some questionable character bits, like Ollie, ever the reactionary leftist, lecturing Wally when he typically would be smart enough to know he's not in the place to do so. The underlying misogynistic tone is something that bothers me personally, and although it may or may not be a legitimate criticism, it's not something I can ignore.

    I don't imagine we'll ever be able to reach a consensus on the series, primarily because you seem to respect it on a higher level than I do. I see it as the embodiment of a "Big Event" book, and therefore possessing little merit. You, at the very least, believe it has noble aims and misfires slightly but still tells a strong enough story. I don't think we can really sway one another to each other's sides anytime soon.

    Hey, maybe we can come back to it next year and sort things out then.

    That's reasonable enough.

    You make some good points on the Wally/Kyle thing, too. We've been following these characters so long that I guess we have to remind ourselves that they're still young men, still learning to deal with all the developments life throws at you.

    To be fair, this series does have people talking, and in this case, it's a genuinely good thing. "Sins Past" and "Avengers Disassembled" led to a lot of talk too, but most of it was pissed-off griping, whereas Identity Crisis has stimulated a decent amount of genuinely thoughtful discussion about the DCU and led to many a critical re-evaluation. That's something commendable.
     
  13. kid_flash

    kid_flash Speedy Teen

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    My main point on Wally and Kyle is that, because of Barry and Hal's relationship to him, they have a lotta natural respect for Ollie. Basically in that Ollie's been around (well...except when he was dead) a lot longer than either of them (in Wally's case, Ollie was just working at a higher level) and seen way more than either of them. So his and the rest of the League's actions might have been right, but they may have been wrong, too. They don't really know right now. Kyle especially. And honestly, I think what's holding Wally back is knowing that Barry voted in favor.

    You make some very good points on IC as a stand-alone story, and I really agree for the most part. As a story in and of itself, ignoring the controversy it's brought up or any future reprocussions, it's not terribly well-written. But I think by the end of 2005, we'll have a very different view of the story.

    As for the rest of the last few posts...I haven't been involved in this debate nearly long enough to throw my two cents in.

    As a WHOLE separate note, think anyone's gonna bring this up to Hal come the end of Rebirth? Guess being the Spectre and all, he'd know. But still.
     
  14. Damien

    Damien Watching

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    Sorry to bring this back up, but I just finally read it. Good stuff, although I have one question, and it really makes a difference as to how well I liked the book: How and when did Ray's wife gain his powers?
     
  15. JLU Dude

    JLU Dude Active Member

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    Since Ray's powers came from his Atom costumes and it's more or less stated at least oneof theose at his wife's house when he moved out, we really can't be sure.
     
  16. Damien

    Damien Watching

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    I thought he made the suits to fit his powers, as in he made a costume that would grow or shrink with him. :confused:
     

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