Writer: Dave Gibbons
Artist: Ivan Reis
Collects: Rann-Thanagar War #1-6
This is, as you may have guessed, the third of four Infinite Crisis lead-in mini's. The theme for this one is similarly grand. Cosmic war involving many of the DCU's alien races and cosmic concepts from the Tamaranians right on down to the Dominators. Add in the still rebuilding Green Lantern Corps, stir well and serve.
At the start of the story, we find out that a prior conflict has found Rann sent directly into Thanagars orbit through the machinations of an enemy. This destabilized Thanagars orbit, sending it closer to the sun until the atmosphere ignited, killing most everything on the planet. The Rannians evacuated as many as they could; but a Thanagarian cult amidst the survivors drives forward unrest until the rescued Thanagarians revolt against their rescuers, inciting all out war.
The war starts up quickly and there's a good bit going on. I'm not as versed in the cosmic DC as I am other parts of it, but if this series didn't bring in all of the established races in the DC Universe it made a damn good go of it. Most everything from LEGION to the Omega Men to the Tamaraneans show up to throw punches and laser bolts at one another, so the scale's big on par with the other mini's at the very least. There are betrayals, alliances and long forgotten heroes in the mix. On top of that there's a cult and it's zombie summoning god figure taking it to Rann, so needless to say this story isn't spoiled for lack of things going on. Dave Gibbons makes it all work relatively well too; and despite the fact that this mini builds off a previous story, he knows enough to get you caught up to speed on past events within a few pages. He may be best known for his work as the artist of Watchmen, but he can write a pretty decent space story too.
Now normally I haven't been as interested in the cosmic sector. To tell the truth, this is probably my first real exposure to it in DC. This mini makes a pretty good first impression, like the others, and is something of a crash course in cosmic DCU. I'd argue that this is one of the greatest successes of the Infinite Crisis buildup, as many different facets of the DC Universe not always explored have been given time to shine in quality mini's. That's good strategy, really.
The art is ably handled by Ivan Reis, who would go on to achieve more renown by penciling the Blackest Night event. This is where you could say he really cut his teeth with grand stories and scope. The very nature of the story means that he has a multitude of things to draw, all wildly different from each other, so when I say that he pulls it off with aplomb, it's no mean feat. There's some panels and pages just rife with detail, giving the sense of scope something like this needs. In some ways, his work reminds me of Alan Davis; if there's an artist you could ever want to echo, he's definitely one of them.
If there's one issue I have with the mini, it's that it feels like a bit too much is left for Infinite Crisis to sort through. The zombie summoning god situation is dealt with by the end, so I suppose you could argue there's some measure of closure. But for the most part, we end the story with the war heating up and a gigantic tear in reality opening, at which point the mini pretty much ends. Pretty good cliffhanger, not too good for the mini's ability to stand alone.
The Score: 8 out of 10
On the whole, this is an enjoyable story of the cosmic DCU going to war. I tend to find space based stories to be a polarizing subject matter for fans - some like them and some could easily go without ever reading any - but I felt this was strong on the whole. It feels grand and is well put together. I'd recommend it if you've an affinity for cosmic comics.