Thursday, September 13, 2007

"Cosmic Odyssey": Bad Comic, or The WORST Comic?

With the news that John Stewart is going to be back on the big-boys' team and that Jim Starlin is going to be writing "Death of the New Gods," plus John Stewart's clear statement in Green Lantern #23 that Cosmic Odyssey is still in continuity (see panel above), I thought I would look back on the 1987 mini-series about Darkseid & Co., featuring John Stewart, and ask the question: "Was this the worst thing written, ever?"

The answer is probably "No." But, I can't think of anything worse offhand.

A summary, for those not familiar, is that Metron appears to have accidentally put the entire universe at risk by allowing four "anti-life entities" to enter our universe. Each is attempting to destroy a different planet, and if any TWO are destroyed, the galaxy will collapse. Eight heroes are called to intervene, with two sent to each of the two planets. Meanwhile, Darkseid schemes. That's about it, really.

I will present this critique in the form of a totally imaginary, fictional dialogue with the creators of Cosmic Odyssey, in which I begin by accusing them of being stinky racist fatheads (by which I do not intend to denigrate individuals with actual fat heads). The dialogue will descend from there. Fictional responses will be written in boldface.

Hello, creators of Cosmic Odyssey, you are big stink racist fatheads.

I'm Not a Racist! I don't care if the guy is Black, White, or Green, as long as he's the best one for the job!

Okay, but apparently the Black and the Green guys weren't the best ones for the jobs, because when you are creating four pairs of heroes, the only pair that fails is John Stewart and J'onn J'onzz -- the Black Guy and the Green Guy. The three pairs of Caucasian-esque heroes were all successfull.

Um . . . Forager isn't white!

This is true. He is Orange, and is thus "indeterminate" in my version of the inter-galactic racial ID test (I.e., would the character be played by a white guy in the movie?) Starfire would get played by a white woman. Superman, Batman, Orion, and Lightray also white guys. Forager is kind of iffy.

But, since Forager's the only one of the eight to end up dead, I don't think putting him on the "diversity squad" helps you any.

But John Stewart is actually the tragic hero here. He grows through his experience.

Only because you shrunk him so small to begin with by turning him into a total moron! By the way, check out the White Teeth on that Negro! Is he, perchance, holding a watermelon and wearing tap shoes off-panel?

Yeah, I guess we have no excuse for the teeth.

Okay, now let's move on the extreme predictability. Here's a single panel, showing four targets of the anti-life entities.

Earth, Rann, Thanagar, and Xanshi are the targets. We know that if any TWO are destroyed, the Milky Way galaxy will all collapse. That means that it's okay if ONE is destroyed, and we also know that that one won't be Earth, Rann, or Thanagar, all of which are repeat players in DC comics.

Looking at this panel, it is clear that Earth, Rann, and Thanagar are Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, while the entire planet of Xanshi is wearing a red shirt.

It's wasn't THAT obvious, was it?

Maybe not if you had sent Superman and Orion there. But you send the black guy and the green guy, and, well . . .

Note that the Green Lantern #23 version of this panel omits the fact that the Anti-Life Entity on Xanshi is the spitting image of my local comic book store owner. I cannot see him now without wondering whether he is painting a bomb yellow in order to destroy the Earth.

Anyway, Let's move on to the aftermath. When your partner has just screwed up so much that an entire planet has been destroyed, which is the best way to respond:

A. Overt Melodrama and Over-Personalization?

B. Adolescent Temper Tantrum?

C. Incitement to Suicide?

J'onn, apparently, goes with (D) All of the Above.

But J'onn is also developing as a character here.

Did any of the white guys go through character development, or were they all perfect from the beginning?

Um . . . Orion, maybe?

Maybe that's some off-panel development going on. But, yeah, Batman can sure develop a person's character in a hurry. This was by far the best panel in the mini-series:

On the other hand, there can be no excuse for this:

"So sue me"!? There is no way that Batman even THINKS "so sue me."

You are right. Batman would never even think "So sue me."

Or this. Besides the "So sue me," Batman does not get obvious objective facts wrong.

ALICE says "Curiouser and curiouser." The Caterpillar says, "Who are you?" That's too obvious for even Robin to screw up!

Now, let's point out some other problems with the comic. Let's say that you are going to start a dramatic countdown, where at the end nothing actually happens. Where's a good place to start? Three? Seven? Ten? Fifty-Two? Let's take a look:

Yes, you in fact started the Countdown at 118, and used up two whole pages of the comic book on it. Is that a good use of resources?

Um, I guess I see your point. Well, okay, we may be stupid and racist, but at least we weren't sexist.

That is true. You were as non-sexist as you could be in a comic strip in which, of the ten or eleven main characters, only one of them (Starfire) was female. Starfire was relatively kickass, and saves Adam Strange's behind repeatedly, but we will leave it to the reader to determine whether one quality female portrayal in a huge-cast mini-series is enough to compensate for the otherwise entirely male universe.


Okay, that ends my fictional interview with the creators of Cosmic Odyssey, so now you can decide -- bad comic, or the WORST comic?

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