In a strange and stodgy essay for PopMatters, Shawn O’Rourke argues that recent “event comics” like Infinite Crisis and Civil War herald the end of the Modern Age and the beginning of the Postmodern Age — instead of, y’know, simply being a continuation of themes that began decades ago.
After spending six paragraphs defining the Modern Age — which, he asserts, began with the release of Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns – O’Rourke gets down to business: DC’s Infinite Crisis and Marvel’s Civil War, which, “represent some of the most impressive and dynamic work done in mainstream comics history.”
“Using some of the greatest creators in the medium,” O’Rourke writes, “the two companies have created storylines with spectacular ramifications that have influenced the majority of their books in significant ways. While the stories and issues dealt with are different, the two are linked in that they both thematically rest on the failing of the mainstream superheroes to live up to the requirements established by the previous paradigms. This theme, coupled with the fact that it takes place in the primary continuity of mainstream comics, represents the linguistic and epistemological shift that has ushered in this new age of superhero comics.”
It’s a difficult slog, littered with scholarly terms (“epistemological changes”!) and fannish hyperbole (Superboy Prime’s “murderous rampage is sure to go down in comic book history”). I don’t know, it just feels like a review that grew into a “think piece” before it went completely off the rails.