Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Eternal Debate - Part II : Final Crisis vs. Secret Invasion (The Return)

And by eternal, I mean for the past 12 or so months. You could not go anywhere in the Internet (well, at least the sites I frequent) without finding a conversation about either Final Crisis or Secret Invasion. Or both. This year's events from the Big Two felt incredibly long, by design or by circumstances, but they are now officially over (Legion of 3 Worlds notwithstanding), which allows us to look at both events objectively, or at least as objectively as comic book readers can get.

That is where I come in. I want to look at the different aspects of both events, measure them up against each other and see who comes up on top. To do so, I have chosen several categories (or rounds) which will allow me to compare both sides of the 2008 Special Edition Event Coin. If you have not yet read both series in their entirety, there will be spoilers ahead. Oh, yeah, and the point system may or may not be arbitrary or what most people consider fair. You have been warned.

After yesterday's post, Secret Invasion leads 1-0 against Final Crisis.

The Return

While almost every comic book event features a shocking death, there is also a trend of returning popular characters during said events. This year saw the return of Barry Allen, in the pages of Final Crisis, and Mockingbird, in the pages of Secret Invasion. The return of these particular characters speaks a lot about the current trends that the Big Two (or at least their writers) are following at the moment.

Mockingbird, while having been around ever since the 1970's, reached the height of popularity during the late 80's and early 90's when she became part of the West Coast Avengers and for being married to Hawkeye (as a matter of fact, she originally "died" trying to save him). During Secret Invasion, it is revealed that the Mockingbird that died all the way back in 1993 was actually just a skrull (and had been one for who knows how long). To make matters more confusing, Mockingbird's soul and body have actually been seen a couple of times after her untimely death at the hands of Mephisto, at times aiding her friends or being manipulated by villains. I hate to nitpick on continuity, but this is one of the times that the writer (or whoever decided that this should happen) really messed things up by bringing back a character from the dead. I also find it hard to believe that any fans were clamoring for her return from the nether regions of the Marvel Universe. It does, however, go in hand with Marvel's direction as of late, where the events and character of the early 90's (a scary time to be a comic fan, as most people know) are being revisited or revamped. Characters like Darkhawk and the alternate timeline of 2099 are getting the revamp treatment, so why not Mockingbird too, right?

Barry Allen, most commonly known as the second Flash, has been dead for the past 23 years after sacrificing himself to stop the Anti-Monitor in the original Crisis on Infinite Earths. His death, one of the most famous and iconic ones in all comicdom, and possible return has been a hot issue for comic fans for years (I am one of those that believes he should have stayed dead). The pages of Final Crisis saw the return of the Silver Age legend, exclaiming "Run!" as he was being chased by the DCU's avatar of Death. Just by the nature of his powers, it is not incredibly hard to believe his comeback to the living world. Speedsters are shown travelling back and forth in time with relative ease in the DCU, so if a future writer wanted to reverse Barry Allen's death, there was already a built-in loophole to bringing him back. Barry Allen is almost synonymous with the Silver Age of comic books, with many people considering his first appearance as the beginning of said era, and this fits with the current output of many DC titles in recent years. While not exactly aiming for the Silver Age, DC seems to be consistently trying to return their universe to the era before Crisis on Infinite Earths: the return of the Multiverse, Hal Jordan becoming a hero again, and the Justice Society of America often teaming up with the Justice League of America in times of crisis.

To be honest, neither of the characters really did a whole lot in their respective events, but both companies have promised to further explore the ramifications of their return. Both events would not have lost much from having the characters stay dead, and the decision to bring back Mockingbird and Barry Allen only reinforces the revolving-door policy that the Big Two have on death (something which I mentioned in yesterday's post). At the end of the day, the return of Barry Allen has been requested from some fans for years while I have never heard of anyone wanting to see Mockingbird back. Add in the continuity-headache factor that the return of Mockingbird causes and I wonder why anyone would bother to bring her back at all. Even though I mentioned I would not have liked to see Barry Allen's return (and I am concerned if having 3 Flashes around is a bit redundant, too) I think that Final Crisis, for giving the fans what they want and a more easily understood (as far as comic books go) return, wins this round.

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