You just donâ€™t get it do you?
It has been a real struggle to write the reviews for Final Crisis.Â 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.Â I see and respect what he is doing, but that doesnâ€™t mean I have to like it.
There is a lot to take in with this second issue.Â Plot points that were introduced in issue #1 are referenced but not really expanded upon.Â 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 donâ€™t see is what happened to Turpin immediately following issue #1.Â I guess that is Morrisonâ€™s attempt at adding mystery to the tale, which is perfectly acceptable.Â 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.Â I can see where some people appreciate metatext in comics, but know there are a lot of others who donâ€™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 Kirbyâ€™s New Gods run – Sonny Somoâ€™s ranting about kids these days is a perfect example of this and maybe to a greater extent Turpinâ€™s appearance, although he has been around in other Superman related stories.Â Readers who havenâ€™t picked up DCâ€™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.
Letâ€™s sum up what is really going on with the New Gods; they didnâ€™t die.Â 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 Goodâ€™s body in Final Crisis, and why Turpin appears to be slowly turning into a likeness of Darkseid.Â Credit Jones for subtly adding the cracked features to Turpinâ€™s face as the story progresses.Â While it is fine if Morrison and DC want to believe they can keep Kirbyâ€™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.Â At times, Ed Wood bad.Â 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, â€œAccording to my sources, the Secret Society vowed revenge on Jâ€™onn after he impersonated Blockbuster recently. This was an execution organized crime style.Â Orion is something else, but Iâ€™ve asked The Flash there to investigate some potential leads that could link the killings.â€Â WOW really?Â The JLA actually calls Flash, THE Flash. â€œHello, THE Flash!Â How are you doing today THE Flash?â€ â€œHey, THE Flash, would you like a glass of lemonade?â€Â Adding the â€œthereâ€ is the icing on the cake, like a really bad reporter who doesnâ€™t know how to direct the camera man to pan to the house burning in the background, so instead says, â€œas you can see behind meâ€.Â The reference to Salvation Run seems shoehorned in, to the point it seems Morrison was forced to add it by someone in editorial.Â Of course this really bad Batman moment could be a key that Batman isnâ€™t really Batman, just like the Alpha Lantern really isnâ€™t an Alpha Lantern.
Grant Morrison has said continuity doesnâ€™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 â€¦ 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 Iâ€™ve established in my own work so that thereâ€™s at least some long-term consistency.
In other words, â€œI 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.Â You donâ€™t want to do what I tell you to do?Â Fine, Iâ€™m gonna kill Lois Lane by blowing up the Daily Planet!Â KABOOM! – One page, the end!Â What do you think of them apples!?â€
I guess Iâ€™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.Â 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.Â Everything that had to do with Libra was really great.Â 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).Â 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.Â I like the Big Belly Burger moment. I love seeing Turpin lose control and go all crazy on the Mad Hatter.Â Then there is that Return of Barry Allen moment that has you going â€œOh shnike!â€Â 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 Millerâ€™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.Â While Iâ€™m sure itâ€™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.Â Â 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, â€œRead this as a stand alone series, and enjoy it for what it is.Â Everything will return to status quo soon.â€Â I think if you do it that way, then this issue is actually pretty good.Â If I drink the Kool-Aid, and utter my new mantra, this book could earn 4.5 out of 5 Stars.Â 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.
I know, I know, Iâ€™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 wasnâ€™t so kind with my comments on the first issue.