The Tie-Ins That Bind: Infinite Crisis and 52 by Greg Cox

After the run of X-Files novels I covered, I absolutely had to take a break to get this column back in gear. I was burnt out. And that’s the opposite of what this is to be. This is a tribute to an underloved art. It’s a personal journey too.

So if this isn’t a straight review then that’s fine. That’s not the point. This is just me saying thanks to an experience I had hunting and reading books I loved.

Infinite Crisis as a comic is an all time great. It’s the sequel to the greatest event ever, Crisis on Infinite Earths, and it feels like it. 52, the following weekly series, is possibly the greatest limited series of all time, albeit a long one at 52 issues. These are not books novelized lightly.

Greg Cox is the guy to do it if anyone would. Cox is one of the great tie-in writers of the modern day. He’s almost invisible as he crafts his work, letting the material speak. He proved with his great Iron Man books he got Marvel. But DC? Well I’ve already admitted I love these books. Here’s why.

Infinite Crisis retells the mini straightforwardly, only folding in the one shots that concluded the 4 Countdown minis. The story is a rich one that needed no fleshing out though. The universe is in chaos and the DC universe is splintered in the wake of such events as the OMAC invasion and the union of the villains. Into this comes the survivors of Crisis on Infinite Earths: Lex Luthor of Earth 3, Superboy Prime, and Superman and Lois Lane of Earth 1. They want to bring back their Earths but there’s more than meets the eye to this mission.

This is as basic an adaptation as one could ask for, not changing many details and simply just telling the story. But it’s a well told story. This is a book that feels alive with energy as it takes us from one epic event to the next. Cox paces the novelization perfectly, letting the book breathe but never slowing down. It does the source justice.

That said, this book takes up an outsized place in my personal canon. As just a book, it’s superb but it’s not essential. The memory I have is how weirdly hard it was to get my hands on. I mean sure I could’ve ordered it off Amazon but that was cheating to me. It was so hard to obtain that I think it felt all the more special once I owned it.

When it came time for the followup, I had no issue at all “cheating.” I ordered the novelization of 52 off eBay and got it before release. I just wanted it and I wanted it early. (I repeated this for potential future entry Countdown.)

52 presented an epic challenge. It’s 52 issues of story spread over multiple stories. How on earth could it be condensed into a plausible length novel? Simple. Cox cut the work in half, omitting the Infinity Inc., Ralph Dibny, and marooned in space stories. He focuses on the Booster Gold, Black Adam, and Question threads.

What results is an extremely cohesive work about the quest for redemption as the protagonists of all 3 arcs aim for it to mixed results. The three threads compliment each other well and Cox accurately captures the events. It also feels coherent as a largely earthbound story without the lost in space thread which was honestly the weak link of the book. The choices made work to create a truly transformative novelization.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t note the Graphic Audio adaptations which are utterly fantastic, adapting every line of Cox’s takes. They are honestly the way to experience this story though at 10+ hours apiece quite long but worth it.

These two works are both fairly easy to find on Amazon. They do classic books justice.

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