The Death of Batman of Earth Prime (or Zur-En-Arrh, we don’t know which, but does it really matter?)

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Two years ago, we were teased with the promise that Legends Live Forever (not a Queen lyric by the way) – even if they get killed in the process.  As you might have already heard, Batman finally dies in this issue, but as always, it is getting there that is the most infuriating.  Or is it half the fun?  In any case Final Crisis #6 is here and the death of Earth is upon us.

FC_Cv6.jpgSmell that?  That’s reboot.  I love the smell of reboot in the morning.  It smells like an attempt to rectify past mistakes.

Is there really a reboot in the works?  If Vegas had odds on DC rebooting its titles, the odds would be around 80:1, but there are a few clues scattered throughout this issue that point in that direction.

The first of course is this whole New Gods stuff Morrison has been spewing as he attempts to launch the Fifth World with humans assuming the position of the gods.  He already did that in his JLA run, perhaps he’s trying to make it more permanent.  Then there is that whole sky turning red bit that has been (over) used to signal a major crisis.  And don’t forget Barry Allen making a speech about trying to outrun the Black Racer – and every crisis needs a speedster’s death – or in this case three.

But perhaps the most telling sign that DC is thinking of rebooting the universe comes when readers catch up with Montoya, deep in the heart of Checkmate headquarters. One would think that with system defenses coming down around them, the grand tour would be over.  Not the case with Amanda Waller as she reveals the big Black Gambit device that can drill through all of the parallel worlds to one that can support the survivors of this world.

In the words of Renee, “Wait a minute. Say that whole bit again.”

It makes sense, those surviving characters in this Earth (whichever one that may be) could be transplanted to a stable Earth where they can continue their adventures.  That whole death of Batman thing could easily be wiped away by revealing Earth-Whatever as the new DCU, thus bringing back or rebooting our favorite characters into something that could make sense.

It’s an out that is sitting there waiting to be picked up by the right editor, and can be played when all else fails – pretty much like what the heroes are contemplating in this issue.  Remember, hints of the multiverse’s return were hinted at in other titles before the big reveal in 52, and there is a precedent for DC rebooting its line every couple of decades, and we haven’t had that in a while, so I’m going to take that 80:1 bet.

I will give Morrison some credit for writing a few “kewl” moments in the issue.  The purging of Desaad from Mary Marvel is nice, even if it does mean she will never utter the phrase to turn herself back into the hero.  In this moment, Morrison concludes Mary’s adventures that began at the beginning of Countdown with the underlying message that one really does need to be careful what they wish for.  She’s been to hell and back, and is quite shaken from the experience.

Batman, once again proving he is the most powerful when he is using his most awesome “Whim of Writer” power to kill Dark Side, is a pivotal  moment, as Morrison finally strips away the final vestige of what makes Batman Batman by having him finally use a gun to kill.   By removing Batman’s Rule Numero Uno, the writer ends up killing Batman moments before Darkseid kills him with his Omega Beams, or as they are referred to in this issue, his Omega Sanction.  Is Batman really dead?  Only a reboot will decide.  Well, that and the fanboy legion that is sure to rise up in protest after this series concludes (supposedly on the 28th of January).

Then there are some moments that just tear apart what was originally cool about the series.  Lex Luthor busting a hole through Libra only serves to tell the reader, “Hey, I know this character was built up in the beginning to be the big bad, but in a single stroke I killed him with as much fanfare as Martian Manhunter was given.”

As much as the heroes are giving each other their last good-byes, it didn’t pull on the heartstrings like the good-bye moments we’ve seen in other issues.  This is kind of sad as I really wanted to feel for Hawkman and Hawkgirl as they contemplated finding one another again, and I really wanted to feel Black Canary’s pain as she had to fight her true love.

Then there is the moment that features Superman being in the future, then returning to the present to retrieve his “dead” friend’s body.  I thought Kal-El was tripping through Universe Fantastic in Superman Beyond, or whatever that Morrison story is, that still hasn’t seen the second issue release.  How’d he get from there to here?  And if he really is using the Deus Ex Machina device the way Braniac 5 explained it to him, why is Batman still dead?  Ouch Bruce, guess your pal Clark really does hold a grudge after all.

At the end of it all, one still has to ask, “Is this a good issue?”  There are some interesting moments that makes one wonder what is going on in Grant Morrison’s head, and then there are some interesting moments that makes one wonder what is going on in Grant Morrison’s head.  He did a much better job of attempting to explain plot points through interactions between characters, but too often the reader is given a fleeting glimpse, almost like flipping through the channels on the television, catching certain beats without the entire exchange.  The reader kind of knows what is going on, but not really.

I wish I could say the same about the art, but six different people on the art is a real distraction.  I can pretty much let it slide as we flip through different time periods, different locations, and such, but really, this fiasco is something DC should really be apologizing for, and ensuring that something like this never happens again on a major event.

While it feels like something major happened in this issue, it’s just an attempt to get the reader all worked up thinking something Earth-cracking is going to happen, when in reality the final issue will have the sun rising again on a brand new day in the DCU.  I think this issue falls flat because the company has been releasing major event after major event for four years, and each time one series concludes, the curtain is pulled away a little bit more to reveal the fact that no change is permanent.  This is a shame because of all the Final Crisis issues, this one is my favorite by far, but still only good enough to earn a 2.5 out of 5 Star rating.

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99/99

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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32 Comments

  1. nu
    January 16, 2009 at 5:24 am — Reply

    i have heard a lot of interesting theories about what dc is going to do at the end of final crisis. the best one being that earth prime necomes the 5th world and home to the new new gods and that superman will use the miracle machine to move everyone from earth prime (new earth) to earth 1. earth 1 is where the atom and the atom are about to lead the question. so all will just as it was before the crisis but no batman due to his soul going through the death that is life aka the omega sanction. but since shilo norman (the new mister miracle) was able to escape the same fate, then we all know that batman can escape from it as well and i quote “batman will escape from it just like a pair of plastic handcuffs” so it will only be a matter of time until we see him. that is why there will still be a battle for the cowl.

  2. Ed
    January 16, 2009 at 8:19 am — Reply

    Well I was a little disappointed. I thought batman’s “death” went against what he stands for. I read the interview where Grant said it was a full circle thing with the gun, but I still did not like it. But we all know Bruce will be back. Heck it all part of a huge Batman plan, since he always plans ahead. Maybe batman knew he was going to die, so he went into the future and great the Miracle machine so that he could come back. Right, whatever…

  3. Bob S.
    January 16, 2009 at 10:36 am — Reply

    I really love this series. So much happens at once, that it has been awhile where I found a run that I have read over and over again. Best use of Darkseid since Great Darkness Saga. And I love how it ties up dangling plot lines from decades ago. Like the Miracle machine, Darkseid’s interest in Earth.

  4. Eye-Roller Lass
    January 16, 2009 at 10:58 am — Reply

    All that, and all I could think of was: How did they manage to get that thing out of Matter-Eater Lad’s digestive tract? *shudders*

    [He ate the MM back at Superboy andThe Legion of Super-Heroes #251 – so says Wiki – and went loonie. But saved the Universe in the process.Yay, Tenzil!]

    F**** Continuity, I guess…

  5. RussyH
    January 16, 2009 at 11:25 am — Reply

    I thought it was a great improvement over past issues but one thing is bugging me:
    when/how did Batman escape from being held in Darkseid’s machine? I don’t recall it happening in previous issues.
    Agree with the idea that everyone will pack up and move to a new earth.

  6. hermit
    January 16, 2009 at 11:35 am — Reply

    i don’t know if anybody realized this, but the next review will be the 100th.

    anyway, can’t wait to pick up this trade. i didn’t pick secrect invasion because of the abysmal reviews of the last issue, but this one look ok, so i will give it a shot.

    • January 16, 2009 at 11:52 am — Reply

      yes it is. I kind of wanted this one to be 100, but it didn’t fall quite right, and I doubt readers would want to wait an extra day just so I could fulfill some weird level of achievement. :D

  7. ~wyntermute~
    January 16, 2009 at 12:10 pm — Reply

    “this fiasco is something DC should really be apologizing for,”

    Yes, yes they should. By saying “This final crisis? Didn’t happen. We’re going to get a SANE writer to actually write the REAL “final” crisis. Our bad.”

  8. Ricco
    January 16, 2009 at 12:17 pm — Reply

    How is this “a faith worse then death”? It’s simply death, now if they erase him from history like the original Supergirl in Crisis on Inifnite Earths…

  9. January 16, 2009 at 12:25 pm — Reply

    Yes, yes they should. By saying “This final crisis? Didn’t happen. We’re going to get a SANE writer to actually write the REAL “final” crisis. Our bad.”
    This Final Crisis? All an implanted vision in Batman’s head. Next issue, it’ll be revealed that he still hasn’t really escaped from the Lump and their machine. Just watch.

  10. Bob S.
    January 16, 2009 at 1:26 pm — Reply

    [He ate the MM back at Superboy andThe Legion of Super-Heroes #251 – so says Wiki – and went loonie. But saved the Universe in the process.Yay, Tenzil!]

    F**** Continuity, I guess…

    Wasn’t Tenzil in Querl’s care for a long long time after that?

    Maybe Querl thought….hmmm maybe I should extract this.

  11. OS Perry
    January 16, 2009 at 1:37 pm — Reply

    Grant Morrison caused me to give up the X-men series for a while… and I gave up JLA while he was writing it… see a trend.

    Grant Morrison for me personally is the most over-hyped comics writer, writing today… thats just me.

    I thought Batman died last month in his own title??

    DC needs a reboot. Too bad Grant Morrison had to be the one to get us there. The Crisis on Infinte Earths was SO much better.

    Grant go to some indie, or Vertigo series for me will ya?

    Most of these DC Universe series have been sub-par… 52, Countdown, Final Crisis. Comics these days cost too much for sub par artwork and sub par stories.

    These DC universe spanning series should have the best talent on them… and Grant Morrison, you are not in that league. Just my opinion.

    • January 16, 2009 at 4:40 pm — Reply

      And OS Perry Sez: Grant Morrison for me personally is the most over-hyped comics writer, writing today
      And Then I Sez: You are not the only one who thinks this way.

  12. hermit
    January 16, 2009 at 1:52 pm — Reply

    i always found grant morrison to be a better writer when he was not wrting in the main characters of marvel or DC. i liked his take on x-men, but not that much. i hated his JLA (but he managed to cram hitman in issue #5, so i’m ok with that issue) and apparently he’s getting a lot of hate with final crisis.

    the rest of his titles are love it or hate it, but he was still better when he was doing his own stuff. it just not feel like home when he writes a major character from a major publisher.

    • January 16, 2009 at 4:40 pm — Reply

      And Hermit Sez: i always found grant morrison to be a better writer when he was not wrting in the main characters of marvel or DC.
      And Then I Sez: I agree completely.

  13. Tomas
    January 16, 2009 at 2:09 pm — Reply

    Hmmm, is it just me, or is DC/Morrison trying to one up Marvel/Brubaker? It’s becoming one big pissing contest…

  14. RussyH
    January 16, 2009 at 2:25 pm — Reply

    there just seems to be something fundamentally wrong with Batman’s last act (‘supposedly’) being to use a gun to kill someone. doesn’t that just go against everything he has ever stood for?? Sure, kill Batman but don’t destroy his principles.

    • January 16, 2009 at 4:39 pm — Reply

      RussyH: Batman using the gun is the ultimate deconstruction of the character stripping away the last bit of what made Batman, Batman. The Black Hand did a good job of trying to break Batman, but I believe breaking his “one” principle was the thing that “killed” the Batman character as we know him. I can’t believe I’m defending Morrison on this one… Now I feel all dirty and need a shower.

  15. Bob S.
    January 16, 2009 at 2:39 pm — Reply

    Batman was created by a gun, so it was a good way for him to go out.

    Plus of all these heroes…with cosmic powers, it took the one who has absolutely no power to take out a God.

    Plus Superman’s temper tantrum was reminscint of when Darkseid killed Turpin in the Superman cartoon….who now Darkseid has taken over.

    I love the irony.

    And Batman used to carry a gun…back in the 1930’s and Batman Year 2.

    He has used a grapple gun before as well.

    • January 16, 2009 at 4:36 pm — Reply

      Bob S: Batman from the Golden Age is not the same Batman as the Silver and Modern Age thanks to the reboots. So for all practical purposes, the Batman in these tales has never used a gun. And a grapple gun is not the same as a gun that shoots bullets. No matter what the nit-pickers say.

  16. Bob S.
    January 16, 2009 at 3:49 pm — Reply

    By the way, what does….

    Ted Kord

    Jonn Jonzz

    Kent Nelson

    Guy Gardner

    and Bruce Wayne have in common?

    Give up? All were original members of the JLI who have died.

    Watch out Dinah Lance, Billy Batson and Guy Gardner again……

  17. January 16, 2009 at 5:14 pm — Reply

    The Fifth World is permanantly stalled while all of Kirby’s New Gods still exist. The Fourth World came about when the Third World fell and all its characters (except Gog, apparently) were no more. What Morrison is ramming down everyone’s throats for a while now (and unimaginitively too, I might add. Dark Side? Really?) is a permutation of the Fourth and yet another case of Morrison ruining yet more Kirby creations.

  18. Ricco
    January 16, 2009 at 5:30 pm — Reply

    And Batman famous last words is, drum roll: “Gotcha”, not really quote worthy…

  19. RichT
    January 16, 2009 at 6:19 pm — Reply

    Ricco Says:
    How is this “a faith worse then death”? It’s simply death, now if they erase him from history like the original Supergirl in Crisis on Inifnite Earths…

    The Omega Sanction is a fate worst than death because it is not death. “The Omega Sanction traps the organism in a series of alternate realities, each worse than the previous one”. from Wikipedia.

    I agree with Stephen Schleicher “Batman using the gun is the ultimate deconstruction of the character stripping away the last bit of what made Batman, Batman. The Black Hand did a good job of trying to break Batman, but I believe breaking his “one” principle was the thing that “killed” the Batman character as we know him.”

    I don’t belive you are defending Morrison you are just getting the story. That is what he intended.

    I have loved this Event. To me it is going to lead to a reboot. Didio has elluded to this several times. It’s being used to tie up everything that Infinite Crisis left open. In this, it is doing what COIE did in the 80’s.

    I got into comics with COIE (I just picked up and issue here and there at the drug store) and after a 15 year absence Final Crisis brought me back into them. I collect 15 DC (Vertigo included) and 3 Marvel (2 are Icon) again. I’ve never cared for the Marvel characters but Brubaker (Daredevil and Incognito)and Millar (KICK-ass) have me reading. If I drop any DC title I’ll make room for Thor as long as JMS is writing it.

  20. fillerbunny
    January 17, 2009 at 11:32 pm — Reply

    I’m sorry this story is too dense and not spoon-fed enough for some people (only good thing about JLA was an appearance by Hitman, one of THE worst characters of the 90s? sheesh…). But it is epically, mythically brilliant, told at a pace and in a style that ramps up the tension and the sense of inevitability, and reads on many levels. Batman dies shooting Darkseid. Basic, surface layer. Deconstruct it- Darkseid, the ultimate darkness and corruption, has possessed/taken over “Terrible” Turpin, Jack Kirby’s persona in the Fourth World titles, and leads to the once-principled Batman, who since the silver age had a line he would not cross, be torn down to the point where his solution is the simple, Miller-esque “put a cap in the #^$&er”, showing that the character has been killed in a creative sense that is followed by his”physical” death. The true heroes (Flashes and Superman) are trying to stop the great evil and save everyone, the dark/gritty characters (Checkmate, Question) are only making things worse, and everyone else is being dragged down by the darkness (Green Lanterns, heroes-turned-Justifiers, the “HeroPox”). It mirrors Kingdom Come in many ways in that regard.

    Whatever. That was my two cents worth….

  21. mosdef
    January 18, 2009 at 3:01 am — Reply

    Stephen, Matt or anybody else could you guys please explain the Fifth World to me? What exactly is it? Wikipedia has failed me for once, I have a loose understanding of the Multiverse but the Fifth World and Gods, New Gods, Middle Aged Gods and Equations confuses the crap out of me. I you can help, thanks, if u will try thanks

  22. brainypirate
    January 18, 2009 at 3:21 pm — Reply

    I have to admit: I’ve never liked Batman, so I’m kinda happy he got killed off twice in the past few months. One of the things that always annoyed me about the JLA (pre-Detroit) was that Supes and Bats were in EVERY SINGLE ISSUE!!!

    I love the movies, but never cared for him in the comics.

    Still, given how important he was, I’d hope he got a deserving send-off (unlike Martian Manhunter, whom I never understood as a character–probably because he wasn’t in the JLA when I was following it–but whose death was treated far too off-handedly). Did he? When I told my roommate that he was killed by Darkseid, my roomie’s reaction was: Why was Batman going up against Darkseid?

    I have even less affection for the New Gods, but having Batman killed off by Darkseid is akin to Princess Diana (the real one, not the comic book one) being killed in a car accident fleeing the press: is this really the way you want Bats to leave the world???

  23. Bob S.
    January 20, 2009 at 12:08 pm — Reply

    Brainypirate….

    I don’t think Final Crisis is going to give a fairy tale ending. It’s a life and death struggle…

    And I think Batman going against Darkseid and dying that way, was great.

    It’s Batman out of his league, but he never backs down.

  24. January 22, 2009 at 6:34 pm — Reply

    I don’t think Luthor killed Libra in this issue. You can see when he shoots him he’s just shooting clothing, not a body. Plus Sivana says, “That’s a classic ‘we haven’t heard the last of him’ if ever I saw one.”

  25. Batsquid
    February 8, 2009 at 11:00 pm — Reply

    Personally, I think Grant Morrison did and awful job- anybody who gives him a job writing another book should consider that he basically did nothing but write a mess of mini-series. As far as Batman goes- WHAT A JOKE- you don’t bring Batman down fighting Darkseid and of all things using a gun- If anything its a battle of wills not to use the gun that should have killed BATS. This guy can’t write and has no respect for the history of the DCU whatsoever- YES Martian Manhaunter’s death could have been done far better- And the Batman RIP storyline- one of the worst story arcs I have ever read- I will avoid reading anything Morrison does from here on out- If I were DC I fire the jerk and actually have someone come in- repair the damage and then write a better ending to the crisis run and if you want to basically destroy the Justice League again like has been done- 10 times in the past twenty years by killing off all of their members- do it in a way that remindes us why they are the Justice League – let us remember why we thought these heros were so cool to begin with- Final Thought- If Jason Todd, TIM DRAKE, or Azrael ends up being Batman I ask the rest of my comic fans out there to revolt- I could handle Dick Grayson- but the rest are ridiculous- After 40+ years of reading comics I am truy disappointed in these storylines I can’t believe the crap in them.

    • February 8, 2009 at 11:50 pm — Reply

      Batsquid; The only thing I will support morrison on is Batman using the gun before his death. By doing that he totally “killed” the essence of Batman – someone who would never use a gun (expect for the pre-code golden age). I like that symbolism, but would agree with you on everything else.

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