You just don’t get it do you?

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It has been a real struggle to write the reviews for Final Crisis.  Every time I pick up the book, I get angry over what I am reading, but then after a while, my blood stops boiling and I give it a second, third, and more often than not, a fourth and fifth reading to come to some kind of understanding with what Morrison is trying to accomplish.  I see and respect what he is doing, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

finalcrisis2.jpgThere is a lot to take in with this second issue.  Plot points that were introduced in issue #1 are referenced but not really expanded upon.  Sure, there is some attempt to discover what killed Orion in what must be the grand daddy of all magic bullet theories (and yes that is a spoiler), and we do get to see Turpin continue his quest to find missing children, but what we don’t see is what happened to Turpin immediately following issue #1.  I guess that is Morrison’s attempt at adding mystery to the tale, which is perfectly acceptable.  This type of storytelling forces the reader into really reading between the lines, and trying to discover underlying meaning, or hints and clues at what is to come, or to come to conclusions that might be right or might be wrong depending on where the story is going.  I can see where some people appreciate metatext in comics, but know there are a lot of others who don’t want to put a lot of deep thought into a quick 22-page tale.

While 52 did a very good job of re-introducing D-List characters back into the DCU, there has been some fumbling when introducing bit-players from Kirby’s New Gods run – Sonny Somo’s ranting about kids these days is a perfect example of this and maybe to a greater extent Turpin’s appearance, although he has been around in other Superman related stories.  Readers who haven’t picked up DC’s most excellent New Gods Omnibus editions and other collected volumes, are going to enjoy the overall story being told in Final Crisis, but are going to miss out on a lot of little ins, that could make Final Crisis a much more enjoyable experience.

Let’s sum up what is really going on with the New Gods; they didn’t die.  Instead, their essences are somehow being passed from human host to human host, which explains why Granny Goodness can die in Birds of Prey, only to show up in Reverend Good’s body in Final Crisis, and why Turpin appears to be slowly turning into a likeness of Darkseid.  Credit Jones for subtly adding the cracked features to Turpin’s face as the story progresses.  While it is fine if Morrison and DC want to believe they can keep Kirby’s characters around and still call it the Fifth World, what Johns is doing with the Third World God of Gog in JSA makes a lot more sense – the Fifth World needs a new pantheon of gods.

For some reason the dialogue in this issue was…off.  At times, Ed Wood bad.  Take this statement made by Batman, which almost sounds like the greatest detective in the world is reading his lines from a cue card just off camera, “According to my sources, the Secret Society vowed revenge on J’onn after he impersonated Blockbuster recently. This was an execution organized crime style.  Orion is something else, but I’ve asked The Flash there to investigate some potential leads that could link the killings.”  WOW really?  The JLA actually calls Flash, THE Flash. “Hello, THE Flash!  How are you doing today THE Flash?” “Hey, THE Flash, would you like a glass of lemonade?”  Adding the “there” is the icing on the cake, like a really bad reporter who doesn’t know how to direct the camera man to pan to the house burning in the background, so instead says, “as you can see behind me”.  The reference to Salvation Run seems shoehorned in, to the point it seems Morrison was forced to add it by someone in editorial.  Of course this really bad Batman moment could be a key that Batman isn’t really Batman, just like the Alpha Lantern really isn’t an Alpha Lantern.

Grant Morrison has said continuity doesn’t matter in the story telling, and even went so far as to have a hissy fit over New God usage by other writers.

Grant Morrison: Trying not to disturb continuity too much, particularly in cases where said continuity is best described as a car wreck. Back in 2006, I requested a moratorium on the New Gods so that I could build up some foreboding and create anticipation for their return in a new form … instead, the characters were passed around like hepatitis B to practically every writer at DC to toy with as they pleased, which, to be honest, makes it very difficult for me to reintroduce them with any sense of novelty, mystery or grandeur. So in cases like this, where fellow creators have overlooked my carefully established additions to DC continuity or ignored my pleas to hold certain characters in reserve, my intention is to follow the through-line I’ve established in my own work so that there’s at least some long-term consistency.

In other words, “I told everyone to read Seven Soldiers – of course no one did (except for those two guys over at Raging Bullets), then those writers pass around the New Gods like some two dollar whore.  You don’t want to do what I tell you to do?  Fine, I’m gonna kill Lois Lane by blowing up the Daily Planet!  KABOOM! – One page, the end!  What do you think of them apples!?”

I guess I’m going to have to resign myself to accepting the fact that the reintroduction of the multiverse pretty much insured that all those continuity errors returned, and I should just accept what is going on here.  Does that sound too defeatist?

Once again the best part of this issue is the art by J.G. Jones. Some nice attention to detail here and there works really well, and even becomes appropriately overwhelming in the opening pages, as Jones drowns us in the otaku fervor of the Japanese superheroes.

Before you think I hate, hate, hated this book, there are some moments that I especially liked.  Everything that had to do with Libra was really great.  That guy is one scary muther-effer and has the power to hurt Superman without really hurting him (see the above mentioned Daily Planet Kaboom).  I had to struggle through the Japanese superhero section a few times to capture everything that is being said and shown on the page, but I did like that aspect too – well except for Megayakuza, which came off as ultra-cheese.  I like the Big Belly Burger moment. I love seeing Turpin lose control and go all crazy on the Mad Hatter.  Then there is that Return of Barry Allen moment that has you going “Oh shnike!”  Is that capsule the Mortococci virus from the now dead Karate Kid?

The blood, violence, and despair coming out of Final Crisis really flips the DCU on its ear, much like Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns did all so long ago, and I can really believe this is the day evil wins.

As much as I want to like this book, it just seems like we are watching a train wreck in slow motion that totally destroys what other, very fine writers are doing in other DC titles.  While I’m sure it’s not intentional, Morrison comes off as the all star quarterback on a team full of champions, that ignores the coach and changes the play in his head without telling the rest of the line, then complains when he gets sacked.   Will the capture of Batman be reflected in the very Batman book Morrison is writing, or does continuity not matter there either?

I think the best way to enjoy Final Crisis is to repeat silently to yourself, “Read this as a stand alone series, and enjoy it for what it is.  Everything will return to status quo soon.”  I think if you do it that way, then this issue is actually pretty good.  If I drink the Kool-Aid, and utter my new mantra, this book could earn 4.5 out of 5 Stars.  Instead, I can only give this a 2.5 Star rating, a 50/50 mix of good and bad, a middle of the road C.

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I know, I know, I’m probably the only reviewer not on the Final Crisis band wagon (hence the subtitle to this review), but hey, Morrison must be growing on me, as I wasn’t so kind with my comments on the first issue.

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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12 Comments

  1. Cory
    June 27, 2008 at 12:38 pm — Reply

    I guess I hold the opposite position. To give you an idea of where I stand in terms of DC comic books: I think that Geoff Johns is talentless and his Green Lantern has been abyssmal. I detest sentimentality in comic books. I think Grant Morrison is a genius. What Grant Morrison is doing is taking Jack Kirby-ism (The New Gods, the Moebius Chair, Multiverse, Wormhole Boomtubes, bizarre over-the-top superhero concepts like “Most Excellent Superbat”) to the next level within 21st Century cultural contexts. AND I LOVE IT.

    Granted, I generally dislike where ALL of the DC properties are going these days, but I think one can make a case that Grant Morrison knows how to break new ground with tired characters: All Star Superman anyone?

    I think what everyone should keep in mind about Final Crisis is that the foundation are Jack Kirby Big Ideas via New Gods mythologies. I think that the DC universe characters are merely tools used to create a modern homage to Jack Kirby type comic books.

  2. steviecool
    June 27, 2008 at 1:53 pm — Reply

    I like Geoff Johns and Morrison’s work – but it’s still bleh since its the deus ex machina New Gods stuff.

    It’s got to be hard to push a “Day that Evil Won” after so many recent ones.
    Action Comics Annual, where Kryptonians took over everything.
    Booster Gold, which I know will be reverted, but still…
    etc.

    I guess, for me, it happens a lot more often – so it’s like pitching a “Superman Dies” comic back in the 70’s. You know it won’t last. Just like this won’t be the final… uhm… crisis.

  3. Jim
    June 27, 2008 at 2:19 pm — Reply

    Thought this issue had a lot more intriguing points than the first but the pacing seemed really off. There’s the loooong beginning part where Japanese heroes I don’t care about lounge around and act cool. And then all of the sudden someone attacks John Stewart and Hal Jordan is arrested. Maybe we could have compressed the first and expanded the 2nd? FC is gaining momentum but it’s still hit and miss for me. I like some of Morrison’s work but I do think he’s a bit overrated. JG Jones, on the other hand, is seriously bringing his A game.

  4. peterbr
    June 27, 2008 at 5:42 pm — Reply

    I don’t think this is supposed to be the Fifth World yet. The impression I get is that Final Crisis will bring about the Fifth World. There was an interview with Morrison where he stated that Orion was the first dead New God that was supposed to be seen, so I think that’s where a lot of the confusion is coming from. I think that’s also why Morrison comes off as the “all-star quarterback” – apparently Final Crisis was in the works for a long time, and was even being written before Countdown had been conceived. Then Countdown comes along and kills off all the characters that were supposed to be central to this big story…well, I could see where that could be frustrating, for both him and the readers.
    http://www.newsarama.com/comics/080609-MorrisonFC01.html
    I’m enjoying this so far (even if this issue was a little slower than I would’ve liked), and I’m willing to see where it goes. If, even at the end, it doesn’t fit into continuity nicely, then hopefully it was still an enjoyable story. But this is only issue 2 out of…what, 7?…so there’s still a lot of story left.

  5. Randallw
    June 27, 2008 at 10:31 pm — Reply

    Your guess is as good as mine about the virus in the bottle, but who’s the armoured figure almost on skis following Barry Allen?

  6. Kip
    June 28, 2008 at 3:25 am — Reply

    That guy chasing Barry is the Black Racer, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_Racer

    And instead of the virus, I’m leaning towards thinking that capsule is the ‘magic’ bullet, just with the time travel and all that.

    Again, thanks for the review–especially for noting into whom Turpin was changing. I had inferred it was from his encounter with Boss Dark Side and the children but was still unsure. Re-reading, I now see that Morrison actually spells it out and has Rev. Good tell him, “We, Sir, are the Gods of Apokolips….” and “They’ve even grown a new body for your son, Kalibak the Cruel.”

    The Japan sequence was alot of fun, mostly the Sumo bit but also some of the clever exposition dealing in the gigantic monsters tradition. I preferred the Green Lantern/Parallax scenes (CSI on Orion was kinda neat), but only if there’s a good reason why John Stewart hasn’t revealed his attacker’s identity and gotten the charges against Hal dropped.

    Regarding the confusion between Countdown and this continuity, I’m not going to sweat it just yet and enjoy the ride.

  7. Randallw
    June 28, 2008 at 4:43 am — Reply

    The same racer that appeared already with his normal appearance?

    Also Flashes have their own death, the Black Flash.

    Who is Super Sumo then, Orion?

  8. HurrHrr
    June 28, 2008 at 2:46 pm — Reply

    There’s a pciture of photoshopped of Barry saying “review” , That should be more then enough to tell you about ‘Major Spoilers’ and it’s idiotic Newsaramaesque “crowd”.

  9. Kip
    June 28, 2008 at 10:38 pm — Reply

    Quote:

    ” HurrHrr Says:
    June 28th, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    There’s a pciture of photoshopped of Barry saying “review” , That should be more then enough to tell you about ‘Major Spoilers’ and it’s idiotic Newsaramaesque “crowd”. ”

    Even if English isn’t one’s native language, most folks would refrain from submitting comments as such that reveal one’s own lack of comprehension, much less one’s shaky grasp on reality.

    To point: you called yourself ‘idiotic’ and proved it true, all in the same sentence. Way to go, idiot.

  10. Q
    June 29, 2008 at 6:55 pm — Reply

    Simply put…to enjoy final crisis….stop over analyzing stuff on the book and just read it. Read it without figuring continuity and make this book as stand alone away from the DCU. Thats what I’m doing and I’m loving it.

  11. J'osh
    June 30, 2008 at 12:01 am — Reply

    Final Crisis feels like a sequel to “52”.

  12. Jason
    July 22, 2008 at 4:33 pm — Reply

    “… I’ve asked The Flash there to investigate …”
    I’m not sure why you bashed this line. There are multiple heroes named Flash so “the Flash there” identifies one of them. Isn’t it better than saying something like “… I’ve asked Keystone City Flash to investigate…” or maybe you would just prefer if he said Jay or Wally?

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