Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Maid of Might

The first half of Crisis, while certainly eventful, is essentially exposition and set-up for the action of the second half. We are placed in a similar position to the heroes themselves, who are thrown into the endgame of the very long war between the Monitor and Anti-Monitor without quite knowing the particulars, learning the details of the Monitor's plans only slowly as the battle grows more and more heated.

Over the course of the series' first half, the heroes are entirely on the defensive, dealing with the massive destruction wreaked by the Anti-Monitor as well as the consequences of the Psycho-Pirate's mental manipulations. Finally, after six issues of successive defeats, the heroes finally come together in issue #7 in order to mount a heavy offense against the Anti-Monitor. The most powerful heroes of five worlds travel from Earth to the anti-matter universe in order to finally confront the villain.

The battle does not go well. Even with two Supermen, Supergirl, the Marvel Family and Captain Atom, the heroes are unable to overcome the Anti-Monitor's defenses. Finally, the Earth I Superman confronts the Anti-Monitor, and - well, he gets his ass handed to him. Weakened by the different natural laws of the anti-matter universe, none of the heroes are at their full power - and Superman, accustomed to being the most powerful being on the planet, is taken by surprise and easily overpowered.

Lots of pictures under the cut!

Kara hears Superman's screams and instantly follows the sounds of battle. She confronts the Anti-Monitor:

Initially, Kara's fierce attack is successful, dealing blow after punishing blow against the Anti-Monitor, giving the other heroes valuable time in which to regroup. Dr. Light II, in particular, is affected by Kara's courage - throughout the series to date - since the moment of her creation, in fact - she's been portrayed as selfish and vainglorious. But seeing Kara confront the Anti-Monitor, she is finally moved to recognize her limitations. This might seem like an obvious tack for emphasizing Kara's virtue - essentially creating a character for the express purpose of commenting on Kara's "meaning" - but it is nevertheless quite an efficient method of communicating subtext, especially in the context of an emotionally over-heated action-sequence.

But it isn't long before the Anti-Monitor regains his footing and redoubles his assault:

The stakes are high. Someone isn't going to be walking away from this fight.

And that's how you sell a death in superhero comics.

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