If I could use a single word to describe Commanders in Crisis, it would be ridiculouslyinnovative (Originator would say it’s one word). And with the final issue of the series now upon us, that sentiment doesn’t go away.
At the end of Commanders in Crisis #11, Originator halted the global conflict with the Extinction Society with a single word (omnisapienteleunification) that put everyone in the same mind space (literally). Commanders in Crisis #12 picks up with Originator explaining that with the power of Thunder Woman’s gifted bident she can make one idea go from ideological to physical, and leaves all of Earth-Z’s residents to decide what that is among themselves to hopefully save them from the cosmic sepsis. Sounds a little ridiculous, right?
But that’s the point. The series as a whole has played with so many tropes of the superhero genre, similar to the parodying likes of the most recent Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt series. It’s satire, but it’s meaningful satire. It turns the tropes on their heads to explore deeper ideas extremely pertinent to our current political and societal landscape. Writer Steve Orlando is using the ridiculousness of the comic medium to show us how ridiculous we are.
Davide Tinto’s dynamic art is an integral part of this satire. From the over-the-top costumes, larger-than-life action sequences, and exuberant expressions Tinto simulates the stereotypical superhero aesthetic. But with this aura also comes moments where Tinto’s ability to illustrate softer moments shines. The pages in Commanders in Crisis #12 showing Prizefighter and Christopher sharing a moment are but a couple of the times that Tinto displays this skill.
Fabio Amelia’s lettering contributes to this mix of satire and sincerity with the use of stereotypical onomatopoeic sound text, but not in an overused or gaudy way. A scene with a large explosion in the distance with the outline of large “KRAKOOM” text almost blending into the blast is one such example.
Francesca Carotenuto, Francesca Vivaldi, and Alessandro Santoro’s colors work well to add to the art in Commanders in Crisis #12’s dualistic nature. The use of purples for both the cosmic sepsis and the world’s mind unification serve to give life to the slithering evil force and the people that hope to counter it.
Commanders in Crisis has been building up to this big solution by poking at how our society tries to solve large problems. Commanders in Crisis #12 makes the realization that top-down approaches don’t work and that you can’t come in and command people to salvation, you need to let them do it themselves as a collective. It’s a solution to a climactic conflict that’s refreshing and ties the series’ main themes up nicely.
However, Commanders in Crisis felt like it could have worked better in 10 issues to have a tighter focus on these themes. For example, the previous three issues mainly consisted of exposition and the big superhero vs. villain battles with a little bit of thematic exploration thrown in there. Nevertheless, the 12-issue maxi-series format still gives Orlando an arena to explore concepts like the big, often drawn-out, final battle and serves as part of the satirical nature of Commanders in Crisis.
Even if it wasn’t a satire, Commanders in Crisis is still one of the most interesting superhero comics I’ve read in a while, especially with this issue. Each character gets a well-deserved final moment, continuing the balancing act of telling a story with a whole new roster of characters. The world’s conclusive word (no spoilers!) as both the resolution to the ultimate battle and unification of the main themes is so refreshing. All with rich art that while satirizing created its own unique visual space. And the last page (again, no spoilers!) is very much a jaw-dropper.
Commanders in Crisis #12 uses incredibly dynamic and fitting art to conclude a series painfully, yet beautifully cognizant of our times. In a word, it’s excellent.
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