Or – “And We Still Have Almost NO Idea What’s Going On…”


I’ll say this for DC…  When they said “They Day Evil Won,” they weren’t kidding.

FC1.jpgPreviously, on Final Crisis: Libra, a minor villain from the mid-70’s returned from being scattered throughout the cosmos with a new mission, and a new attitude: convert the minions to Religion of Crime.  In so doing, they’ve murdered the Martian Manhunter, destroyed the Daily Planet, (taking Superman out of action) and quite literally brought the world to a standstill using the power of Anti-Life.  The few remaining heroes have gone underground, desperately trying to mount a resistance, but their efforts keep coming apart, as their numbers dwindle to the power of the Anti-Life Equation.  Meanwhile, the former New Gods of the Fourth World walk among us in human shells, trying to bring about the rebirth of their leader, Darkseid.  Metropolis cop Dan Turpin has been captured and is being tortured, which is supposed to somehow lead to the return of the Big D.  The only bright news on the horizon?  The multiverse has given the heroes one strange boon, as a flash of lightning heralds the return of Barry Allen to the world of the living…

Man, this issue is dark.  We see the moments before the Anti-Life Equation went public last issue, infecting television, cell phones, video games, even the intarwebs.  Our unseen narrator explains that, with the communications networks down, he is one of the last ways that news gets from place to place.  Beaming into the now-besieged Hall of Justice, we see that the voice belongs to none other than Freedom Fighter Ray Terrill, aka The Ray.  As minions of Anti-Life rage outside the Hall, he makes his rendezvous with Black Canary, Green Arrow, Oracle, and ‘The Flash Widwos Club,’ Joan Garrick and Linda West (with their super-speed kids.  He also brings a special guest:  The new Tattooed Man.  When asked about Bludhaven, Ray’s memoriy flashes back to a scene of utter devastation, as we see the Atomic Knights and a Checkmate strikeforce lying seemingly-dead in the rubble of the ruined city…  It’s a powerful moment, and well handled both in art and dialogue.

Somewhere in a hidden basement, we find the idiot followers of Darkseid, continuing to torture Detective Turpin for reasons unknown.  The former Fourth Worlders talk about the difficulty of operating in their new fleshbag suits, and for the first time ever, they make me interested in Kalibak, now transmogrified into a human/tiger hybrid.  Turpin tries to resist their strange transformation, but finds himself weakening…  “I can’t hold back the storm on my own anymore…  How can I fight if there’s nothing to fight for?”  Back at the Hall of Justice, the Ray prepares to link with other stations using his powers, but Oracle warns him not to.  She admits that SHE killed the internet when the truth of what was happening struck her, and she’s still barely functional from the portion of Anti-Life she witnessed.  “Did you know the super-criminal fraternity had it’s own secret internet, the Unternet?” asks Ray coyly.  “Well, I’ll be a mindless slave of the corporate machine,” replies an amazed Green Arrow.  Ray’s connection reaches Checkmate Castle in Switzerland (Watchtower 1) and quickly links the other Watchtowers (The Fortress of Solitude; Superbia, the orbital base of the Ultramarines; The Dome, home of the Global Guardians; The Great Ten’s headquarters in the Great Wall of China) before the connection cuts out, but now the heroes know that the fight is not lost, and that the battle will be won or lost in Bludhaven…  Somewhere, presumably in Kahndaq, we find Freddy (Shazam) Freeman coaxing Black Adam into the fray, as Adam admits that this is his kind of fight.  Heh.  At the Hall of Justice, Tattooed Man reveals that Black Lightning entrusted him with something important (in this week’s ‘Final Crisis: Submit’ miniseries): a strange circuit pattern, and Ray uses his power to teleport them out with the JLA transporter…

Somewhere else, possibly in the future, we find our two Flashes, Barry Allen and Wally West, in the ruins of Bludhaven itself.  Barry tries to explain what’s happening, and Wally is still poleaxed that he’s alive.  “An unknown force just reverse-engineered me to life out of a blizzard of faster-than-light particles,” says Barry.  “Sorry I seem a bit abstract.”  Ha!  The heroes are quickly found by the Female Furies (one of whom seems to be an animal-hybrid made out of Wonder Woman) and Barry reveals that they need to save their families first, as two trails of hyper-speed dust raise in their wake.  At the Hall of Justice, Green Arrow stays behind to cover cover his friends’ escape, but is overwhelmed, and transformed into a minion of Darkseid himself.  At the same time, Black Canary prepares some sort of weapon in the floating Watchtower in orbit above them, allowing herself only a moment of sadness for her lost husband.  Detective Turpin tries to fight the weird ceremony being thrust upon him, but is losing faith.  “I tried to show them what humanity’s made of,” he laments, “but wrestling with Darkseid?  It’s like trying to beat the ocean unconscious.”  The horror of the world is shown in clear detail as we watch a mysterious woman toiling in the streets of a strange city, turned into the armaghettoes of Apokalips, returning home to her dreary existence, only to stare at a television broadcasting anti-life.  Suddenly, a man in red appears, and kisses her, as electricity encompasses them both.  “Hey, you,” says Barry Allen to his long-lost wife, Iris. “Sorry, I was late.”  This moment of hope is quickly dampened down as heroes fall, one by one, and the sky rains blood In the cruelest irony of all, Checkmate station one is witness to the return of Mister Miracle, bursting out of a Boom Tube and crying “We can save the world!”…

…before an agent shoots him in the heart.  The last image of the book is Dan Turpin’s face, finally engulfed by Darkseid, and his message…  “Give in.”

This is a seriously dark issue, but it’s one of the first that actually FEELS like a Final Crisis.  Morrison really hits home with his words this issue, underlying the futility of Anti-Life, and the heroes fight against the unstoppable.  The art doesn’t exactly suffer this month, with Carlos Pacheco pitching in to help JG Jones, but his more conventional superhero storytelling isn’t the bolt from the blue that Jones provided in previous issues.  Of course, there is more clarity in this issue, but I can’t tell if that’s from different art, or from Morrison being at the point where we’re putting more cards on the table.  In any case, this is the day that evil won from the title, and evil has won pretty dramatically.  A long time ago, Morrison wrote a book called “Aztek,” and in that book’s last issue, Aztek was given an entrance examination to the Justice League.  He was asked what he would do if Darkseid had taken over Earth, and the heroes were lost, a very powerful moment that served to terrify me a little, and sticks in the back of my head.  With this issue, Grant has made that actually happen, and now there seems to be little to do about it but give in.  It’s a meaningful achievement that I really feel like this fight is unwinnable, even as my comic-fanboy knowledge assures me that the heroes will rally and bring it back under the banner of the Flashes.  I like Grant’s weird writing (certainly more than Stephen does) and I like this issue quite a bit, even with it’s darkness.  The impenetrability of the first three issues is giving way to the point of the story, and I’m liking where it seems to be going.  Final Crisis #4 earns 4 stars out of 5 for tone, for pacing, and for sheer oppressiveness…


The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. Ricco
    October 24, 2008 at 1:54 pm — Reply

    Turpin’s been turning into Darkseid since Crisis 2, his face gets more and more stony and cracked and he becomes more violent.

    Quick question: Anyone have any &%$ idea what was up with mini-Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Martian Man Hunter(ain’t he dead?), Hal Jordan and the two others stuck in a flower base thingy? That made no sense what so ever to me…

  2. October 24, 2008 at 2:48 pm — Reply

    I would remind matthew that I did give issue 3 a 2.5 star rating.


    That’s pretty high praise from me considering I don’t like Final Crisis. :D

    But perhaps no one remembers that because that issue was released at the beginning of August and now we are at the end of October.

  3. ~wyntermute~
    October 24, 2008 at 4:38 pm — Reply

    Wasn’t the break between #three and #four supposed to be this long, however? I think I read Grant wonking somewhere that a “2 month break happens, to let it all settle in, and then we hit the blahlbahlbhalbhalbh fishcakes”…. But take that with a grain of salt, since anything the man says is preeeeeeetty salty.

  4. October 24, 2008 at 5:23 pm — Reply

    It was supposed to a one month break, but it went on longer.

  5. Slappy
    October 24, 2008 at 5:31 pm — Reply

    I think I figured out who Libra Really is. when you look at all of the clues, he is really Steve Rogers!!!

  6. October 24, 2008 at 5:32 pm — Reply

    I don’t understand why they can’t stay on schedule. Didn’t Morrison submit an outline and scripts months before the initial release? What’s the point of hiring top talent if they can’t meet deadlines?

  7. October 24, 2008 at 6:37 pm — Reply

    I’m pretty sure Morrison had the story done two years ago, but DC held off so it could release countdown as the lead into Final Crisis, then at some point some changes were made – because you know morrison – F continuity. But yes, this should have been a no-brainer from the beginning as far as release schedules go. I know there was supposed to be a month break between 3 and 4 so some of the tie-in issues could be released, but this is rediculous.

  8. October 24, 2008 at 6:38 pm — Reply

    Slappy: And Morrison will tag the reveal with a big “DO YOU GET IT NOW!?”

  9. Josh P.
    October 24, 2008 at 6:58 pm — Reply

    I liked it better as Rock of Ages in JLA

  10. Randallw
    October 24, 2008 at 7:58 pm — Reply

    Speaking of Rock of Ages, I think I just got it. Lex Luthor tells Aztek to do what he wants because although Lex doesn’t believe in some God of Evil returning, which only Aztek can defeat, Aztek does and can’t risk dying. It’s Darkseid. duh. This was also an arc that involved Darkseid :(

  11. October 24, 2008 at 10:34 pm — Reply

    This series was never solicited as a monthly, though.

  12. nu
    October 25, 2008 at 4:10 am — Reply

    yes lets not forget rock of ages. it was such a great story. i think the heroes should read it so that they can get some hope and beat darkseid (with a flash bang arrow to the face complete with the atom riding along)

  13. Roy
    October 25, 2008 at 10:01 am — Reply

    You know, not to sound like an ass, but I think this “Final Crisis” would have much more of an impact on me if it were reflected, real-time, in the rest of the DC titles. Seeing heroes falling like dominoes is dramatic and catches a reader’s attention; however, its only so dramatic when that hero also has a solo title that comes out the same month featuring him or her doing something completely unrelated to the “Final Crisis”, and possibly not even acknowleding that a “Final Crisis” was taking place. Where’s the emotional investment supposed to occur when THAT is happening?

  14. Ricco
    October 25, 2008 at 11:50 am — Reply

    I agree wiht Roy, specialy since the closest we get to a tie-in the current comics is this “Dark Side Club” business that hardly seems to have any kind of impact. Putting Final Crisis sometime in the futur of the solo comics, yet in the past too…

    Birds of Prey, Teen Titans and Terror Titans all deal with this club, but it’s merely a plot device for character developpement. Ravager goes to the dark side, Martian Lady Hunter takes some time off, Misfit learns Black Alice is her sister (really? what the Hell!) doesn’t scream “The end is near!” does it.

    P.S.- How could Oracle, one of the smartest character in DC, not put “Dark Side Club”, “Boss Dark Side,” “Granny Goodness” together with Apokolips? You’d think evil Gods on Earth would be something to keep an eye out for…

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