Or – “What The–“

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Stephen has been unhappy with the storytelling shown by Grant Morrison in recent issues of Batman (and, frankly, he’s not alone) and has been somewhat less-than-kind to the overall arc of Final Crisis to date.  I have to admit that the things doing on in this book have all felt epic and world-shattering, but I seriously have little to no idea what’s going on.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though, instead reading like a book written in a language that I’m not fluent in, implying that my tiny mind can’t process what’s going on with the works of heroes and gawds, exactly the sort of feeling one would expect from the miniseries that promises nothing less than the end of the world as we know it…

…but I feel fine.

FC1.jpgPreviously, on Final Crisis: Evil has, apparently, won.  Libra has resurrected himself from being discorporated and thrown about the firmament, and returned to Earth.  Uniting all the villains of the Secret Society into one army under the religion of Crime, he has made himself a major player.  The New Gods of Apokalips have all transfigured themselves into new forms, and come together to resurrect their leader, Darkseid.  Somehow, Barry Allen has returned from the dead, and he and his former sidekick Wally West have been thrown forward in time more than a month, to find the entire world under the control of Anti-Life.  Hal Jordan has been accused of the murder of Orion of New Genesis, and has been extradited back to Oa by the Alpha Lanterns to stand trial.  New York cop Dan Turpin has been captured by former minions of Apokalips and forced to be the new host for Darkseid himself.  All of this must tie together somehow, but I’ll be damned if I can figure it all out right now…

We start our festivities this month at the center of the universe, (or at least what USED to be the center of the universe) the planet OA, as Hal JOrdan has been dragged before the Guardians of the Universe as a murderer.  Jordan’s accuser, Kraken of the Alpha Lantern Corps, points out that he must be the murderer, because he has a cut on his head!  Yeeeeaaah…  Because there’s not other way that could happen, right?  Before Hal can be put to death, though, Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner of the Green Lantern Honor Guard burst in and accuse Kraken herself as being the murderer…  Wait, what?  The Guardians are taken aback, for their Alpha Lanterns are beyond compromise, but it’s too late.  Kraken immediately goes on the attack, fighting Guy Gardner and causing the Guardians to engage their last ditch failsafe.   While Guy and the Alphas attack, they teleport the main power battery away.  Kraken is taken out by a punch in the face by Hal Jordan (HUH?) and the little blue freaks are terrified to find that one of their number has been gravely wounded.  The Oans suddenly stop being idiots long enough to return Hal’s ring, and quote Flash Gordon:  “You have 24 hours to save the Universe, Lantern Jordan.”  HAL!  Jorrrdaaan…  He’ll save every one of us!  STANDS FOR EVERY ONE OF US!!!

On Earth, at Checkmate’s Swiss castle stronghold, Renee Montoya, the Next Question, arrives to see what help she might be, only to find that Checkmate is building an army of OMACS (old-school Jack Kirby mohawk OMACS, not the blue guys) with seven-day lifespans to fight their battles for them.  But… didn’t Mr. Terrific activate an army of the OTHER kind of OMACs in Final Crisis: Submit last month?  We change scene to what may be the future (The Guardians mentioned earlier that time and space were collapsing on Earth) to see the Female Furies returning to home to find that Turpin has been completely transformed into Darkseid, and he orders them to ride across the world and spread his gospel.  “End it all,” he grates, and we cut to the heroes under siege across the world.  Minutes after last issues shooting, Mr. Miracle and the Japanese super-team whose name escapes me reveal that he’s not really dead at all, and he instructs Mr. Terrific to have his people paint his mask on their faces to protect themselves… from…  something?  I’m not sure.

The remaining heroes rally their forces in Bludhaven, led into battle by Frankenstein of SHADE, in an impressive two-page spread.  Darkseid’s forces attack, and an evil disco bondage Mary Marvel drops out of the sky to attack Supergirl, only to get a gutful of Black Adam.  He punches her (and, perversely, she seems to enjoy being beaten, the kind of reference that Grant Morrison enjoys freaking me out with) and she HITS HIM WITH AN SUV!  Shazam tries to intervene, only to have Mary pin him down and offer him a “dirty magic word” like hers.  Pervy and gross.  Luckily, Talky Tawny comes to the rescue in a jetpack.  Somewhere else, we see a kid thrown in prison, and I have no idea who he is, but he has an imaginary girl in his mind.  At the same time, another man does a Rubik’s cube, explaining that it gives you godlike powers if you do it in less than 18 moves.  I thought he was the Calculator, but Calculator is being executed by Libra.  This is literally as coherent as the story, folks.  Supergirl is suddenly attacked by Mary Pervel, and the Green Lanterns attack with what little juice is left in their rings (remember that the power battery has been teleported away.)  Darkseid exercises mental control over 3 BILLION people all at once, and (as my friend Josh pointed out) acts like capital-G gawd for the first time ever.  The last page of the issue shows the boy with the imaginary girlfriend suddenly transformed into something strange, as a voice intones, “The judge of all evil is here.”

I…   have… no idea…  what happened in this issue.  From Frankenstein’s monster quoting the writing of Milton to the disassembled OMAC androids to the lion men, this entire issue seems to be devoted to freaking me out with the most outre concepts that Jack Kirby created for DC.  My problems with the whole thing are these:  Last month’s issue really built the tension and suspense up, only to have this issue return to the signs and portents and cryptic hints business that has made this series so infuriating.  Second, things seemed much worse in last month’s ‘Submit’ and ‘Resist’ one-shots then they do here.  Still, the issue was filled with moments both awesome and awful (Mary grinding on Shazam and suggestively offering him his own “magic word” is disturbing as hell) and the issue merited a second reading for comprehension, something many comics will never achieve.  Final Crisis #5 earns a confused but intrigued 2.5 out of 5 stars, balancing moments I really liked with moments I just didn’t know what to think of, averaging peak and valley into a median.  I just hope that this all makes sense in retrospect…

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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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14 Comments

  1. Ricco
    December 14, 2008 at 9:29 pm — Reply

    The face painting thingy is probably to prevent the anti-life equation from taking hold. I’m guessing the guy in the wheelchair, monkey dude and the guy with the mohak are all parts of the same Monitor that was made mortal way back in Final Crisis one.

    The fact time is all out of wack explains the fact the blue Omacs are nowhere to be found.

    My guess is that they’ll use the whole “time and space are screwy” to explain the lack of continuity and logic between each issue and tie-ins…

  2. December 14, 2008 at 10:33 pm — Reply

    I was confused by the Rubik’s cube guy too. I was thinking it was The Calculator too. Just goes to show you how you can confuse a story, but having too many characters using the same “gimmick” that is the calling card of someone we already know.

    The mohak guy is the Monitor. Is the monkey Detective Chimp?

    What if all of this is taking place on a different Earth? The multiverse knows all !

    17!!!!

  3. Mark
    December 15, 2008 at 12:56 am — Reply

    Bit of a rant here. I am of mid intelligence, and much like R.I.P. have absolutely no idea what has happened, or where it is going. I buy comic books for entertainment, and I have not been entertained in some time. A few years ago there was a movie called Dodgeball that was actually quite funny. The director’s original ending had the good guys losing at the end because that is what happens in real life, (he changed the ending to make the audience happy). I couldn’t help thinking that after a whole movie that was supposed to be a comedy, NOW he wants to reflect on reality. I think the same thing with DC and specifically Morrison. The entertainment should outweigh the artistic expression. I hope I’m wrong about R.I.P. and Final Crisis, it has been over-produced crap so far.

  4. ~wyntermute~
    December 15, 2008 at 3:57 am — Reply

    …. my head hurts. :-(

  5. Sanlear
    December 15, 2008 at 6:49 am — Reply

    “The Oans suddenly stop being idiots long enough to return Hal’s ring, and quote Flash Gordon: “You have 24 hours to save the Universe, Lantern Jordan.” HAL! Jorrrdaaan… He’ll save every one of us! STANDS FOR EVERY ONE OF US!!!”

    Hal Jordan….the Jack Bauer of the DC Universe.

  6. Maximus Rift
    December 15, 2008 at 8:12 am — Reply

    You know, after Morrison’s “kind” words of continuity and the things happening in Marvel/DC lately, I have a few choice words for these people.

    F’ Writer/Editor Ego!

    I apologize for the language, but while I know that my opinion isn’t fact; I don’t think some of our esteemed writers know that.

  7. eric
    December 15, 2008 at 8:58 am — Reply

    DC has so disappointed me with this crisis / circus mess that I wont partake of another of their events for awhile. I will follow my Green Lanterns but that is it. This crisis series has just been lets throw it all on the wall and see what sticks. That is a nice otherwise it is all one big cow dung pile.

  8. Ricco
    December 15, 2008 at 9:40 am — Reply

    Blackest Night better be real good or I’m stiking with Marvel from now on…

  9. Sanlear
    December 16, 2008 at 6:53 am — Reply

    I have little doubt Blackest Night will be alot more enjoyable than Final Crisis.

  10. Rowan
    December 16, 2008 at 7:32 am — Reply

    I was curious on the two page spread of all the heroes etc being lead by Frankenstein who are the two Gentleman riding atop the hood of the car on the far right ? I was thinking it was Damien possibly ? and some one else and who is the spanish Robot/ mech suit ??? dude ?

  11. unbrokenrabbit
    December 16, 2008 at 3:21 pm — Reply

    I’m getting the sense that I’m in the majority when I read an issue of Final Crisis for the first time and am completely lost when I get to the end of it. But then I read it again, and again, and sometimes again and again. And each time I read through an issue, I pick up a little more that I didn’t catch the first time through. Then I’ll hop onto a message board or read a review, and I’ll find that somebody else has picked up something that I’ve either missed or wouldn’t have been able to spot due to my lack of knowledge about certain characters. And then I’ll reread some or all of the previous issues and pick up even more things that I had glossed over. And the best part about this process is that every time I read it, the story gets a little bit more enjoyable. I learn a little bit more about the New Gods, or the history of the Flash, or some other nugget of information that gets me more interested in the overall DC universe. Grant Morrison has done a great job of building a story of high level ideas and leaving it up to the reader to figure out all of the details. I’m finding this story to be so fun precisely because the author isn’t spelling everything out for me up front. I’m being forced to think a little bit and do a little investigation in order to wrap my head around the story. This, I feel is one of the signs of a good writer. He’s convinced me that the seeds he’s planting in the story are worth a little emotional or intellectual investment, that it’s worth the effort to try and connect the dots. That’s not an easy thing for a writer to do. So for everyone who is getting angry about being confused after reading any given issue of Final Crisis, I’d suggest taking a more relaxed approach to it. Don’t let yourself get upset right away if everything doesn’t immediately make sense. Let yourself kind of fall into the story and have some fun with it. This isn’t to say that everyone will enjoy it if they approach it this way, but I feel that a lot of people are shutting themselves off too quickly to the possibility of really enjoying this story. Read it with an open mind (a genuinely open mind) and see if it sucks you in.

  12. Brad
    December 19, 2008 at 10:43 am — Reply

    I made the mistake of picking up the last 2 issues of RIP so i could at least have the issues for my collection……

    It’s moments like this that I’m happy that I decided to wait for a trade that explains it all, but the reviews are like DVD commentary for comics in my head and I think I did the commentary more than the comics at the moment.

    …….as a matter of fact, your reviews may be the best part of DC comics so far

  13. Brian
    December 21, 2008 at 8:07 pm — Reply

    I’m just guessing, but wasn’t the wheelchair guy Metron?

  14. James
    January 28, 2009 at 12:45 am — Reply

    The guy in the wheelchair is Metron. The guy thrown in jail is the 5th world monitor.

    The only thing weirding me out is the irrelevance of Resistance and Submit and Revelations.

    The three doesn’t seem to tie it up with the main Final Crisis Line.

    But overall I love where DC is taking this. It’s better than the play safe “Dark Reign” that Marvel is setting up.

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