The Case for (Rann-Thanagar) War

The Rann-Thanagar War miniseries has been quite maligned in these parts and elsewhere, largely because of its apparent irrelevance. The only real Crisis moment came at the conclusion of the series, and seemed completely unrelated to the events of the miniseries. While recent exposition has shown that incidents leading to the war were much more closely tied to the Crisis than initially believed, Superboy moving the planet and causing a war just doesn’t really seem like it’s going to satisfy the haters.

Let us pause for a second and remember that DC, and all other comics publishers for that matter, has a primary goal of making money. They make money by selling comics. It just so happens that if the comics are good, they’re likely to help the long-term sales, but it’s important to remember that when the powers that be at DC sit down to examine their figures, the first thing they’re thinking is not about how to best show Bruce Wayne’s suppressed paternal love for Dick Grayson or really exploring Oliver Queen’s self-righteousness.

I would not ever buy anything related to Hawkman, Adam Strange or Kyle Rayner. I had a general feeling that Hawkman was stupid and lame, Adam Strange was stupid and lame, and Kyle Rayner was stupid and lame. Prior to the Countdown to Infinite Crisis, I was not much of a DC fan at all. I think the only DC books I was buying were the issues of Detective that David Lapham wrote. The intrigue of the coming crossover got me started, but I was still not going to buy anything that seemed stupid and lame.

I did, however, take a chance on Rann-Thanagar War because of its prominence as one of the four miniseries, even though the characters had a stigma of being stupid and lame (in my mind). What I found upon reading the series was that these characters had reasonably complex histories and were more multi-dimensional than I’d realized.

From this, I was curious about Hawkman. So I picked up the JSA “Return of Hawkman” trade. Then I started reading more JSA books. I picked up an Adam Strange trade. I think you can see where this is going.

Infinite Crisis is not just about shock tactics, or making everything fit together in one master plan. There’s plenty of that, but it’s also serving as a start-up point for readers who’ve either never given something a chance or come in from the outside. Rann-Thanagar war got me to buy more comics that I never would have.

Besides, there is an aspect of the DC Universe that exists out in space. There’s all those other Green Lanters, L.E.G.I.O.N., and the aforementioned Rann and Thanagar folks. For Infinite Crisis to really be all-encompassing, this part of the DC Universe simply had to be represented. One could argue that, while that is certainly the case, they could have done a better job with it all. I won’t deny that, or argue that the story was extremely memorable. If you take away expectations that it has to reveal something earth-shattering (no planetary pun intended) and just read it for what it is, I thought it was enjoyable simply as a space-based sci-fi story. But now that the full motivation for Alexander Luthor and Superboy has been revealed, it fits. There was no reason for them to take a bigger interest in Rann and Thanagar.

And if you still come away from this thinking it was stupid and lame, consider this: knowing DC’s need to include all aspects of their universe in the countdown to Crisis, maybe you can be glad they stuck it all in one series so it didn’t pollute the other three.