Or – “By Hook, Or By Crook, We WILL.”

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Tom Tresser has spent a lot of time in a lot of different portions of the DC Universe.  Those who only know him as Wonder Woman’s beau have missed a lot of things, including his war against organized crime, a couple of runs in Amanda Waller’s Suicide Squad, and a general badassery that many heroes could only wish they commanded.  After the events of Final (really more of a Penultimate) Crisis, Tom Tresser is about to wake up in the worst situation he’s ever faced…

FCE2.jpgPreviously, on Final Crisis – Escape:  During Final Crisis, it became clear that Grant Morrison worshipped the work of Jack Kirby.  Darkseid and the New Gods?  Kirby.  Terrible Turpin?  Kirby times two (Dan Turpin was a character out of New Gods, but as a child he was Brooklyn of Kirby’s Boy Commandos.)  The faceless members of the Global Peace Agency?  Kirby.  The army of OMACs?  Kirby, Kirby, Kirby, Kirby…  Heck, if Etrigan the Demon wasn’t all tied up with Reign in Hell, I’m sure that he would have put in an appearance as well.  Coming out of Infinite Crisis, the people of the world weren’t sure what had happened with the heroes and the red skies and the GLAYVIN, but coming out of Final Crisis, it’s the READERS who have been left mostly in the dark.  Can this miniseries, and it’s accompanying books give the DCU the rejuvenating boost that Final Crisis itself could have?

The book opens in Tresser’s apartment, on an average morning.  He feeds his cat, takes a drink of milk… and collapses on the floor.  He could have at least gotten thunder and a dramatic high-speed drive at the camera, the way these things usually start.  Tom awakens in bed, dressed in his Nemesis uniform, faced with three identical women offering his favorite breakfast (black coffee and a florentine omelet) and identical plastic smiles.   “You’re nice.  I’ll be your friend,” drones the dead-eyed trio, and my reference sense suddenly starts tingling.  Tom escapes using hit wits and a table knife, only to catch a fleeting glimpse of Amanda Waller in the hallway, but before he can grab her, he is laid low by some sort of sonic/electrical attack.  when he awakens, a faceless man in a uniform with a “GPA” badge greets him.  “You can’t see it, but I’m smiling at you,” sasy the stranger, professing himself a fan of Nemesis and his work.  Tresser suddenly sees Rick Flag behind the stranger, and races after him, only to be felled again.  When he awakens again, he is in a holding cell with Count Vertigo, (another Suicide Squad survivor) Cameron Chase, (DEO operative) and a strange man in a black and white piped blazer. about whom something seems… familiar. 

After such an unceremonious arrival, Tresser’s head is ringing like the chimes of Big Ben.  Count Vertigo is likewise out of sorts, barely able to recite his A,B and C’s but is lucid enough to attack, intiating a free for all. Schizoid man that he is, the Count’s powers leave everyone reeling, and the general expectation isn’t for many happy returns.  Luckily, Cam still has her power to disrupt metahuman abilities, and ends Vertigo’s dance of the dead with a checkmate: her fist in his face, like hammer into anvil.  Tom takes the brunt of the attack, and tries to thank her, but Cam  informs him that he’s just another name without a face to her, in effect teling him, ‘It’s your funeral.”  A change of mind later, Nemesis hallucinates Rick Flag, Amanda Waller, someone who resembles the original OMAC, and his girlfriend Wonder Woman as another creepy inhuman automaton.  “Do not forsake me, oh my darling!” he cries, but there’s no living in harmony with the girl who was death (or even the girl who was plastic.)  Tresser wakes up again, with the strange unnamed man in his room.  Once upon a time, he had a name, says the stranger, but now even HE doesn’t know who he is.  In the blink of Tresser’s eye, the man disappears, replaced by the OMAC.  “The door is not locked,” says the creature, “Your actions are your own.”  The man in the black and white blazer runs, opens the door, and the fallout begins, as he is disintegrated by the hostile forces outside.  Fallout, part two comes as Chase and Tresser stare uncomprehendingly at the alien landscape beyound the door…

Upon my initial reading of this book, I kind of hated it.  A lot…  Some time has passed since that assessment, and rereading for this review has revealed some charms that my first pass missed.  The references to a certain British television show are interesting, and the trippiness of Marco Rudy and Mick Gray’s art is a selling point.  The use of existing DCU references like Cameron Chase, Rick Flag, et al, puts it squarely in continuity, but the series borrows liberally from Jack Kirby’s original OMAC series from the early 70’s.  The old cliche of pitching “X meets Y with a touch of Z” feels a bit true here, but overall it’s not a bad issue.  The surprise ending kills off the character I found the most compelling though, and 28 pages of Nemesis passing out feels less like a superhero comic and more like the middle chapters of Elvis’ auto-biography.  Final Crisis: Escape #1 is better than it could have been, but not as good as a book as I wanted it to be, earning a hopeful but somewhat disappointed 2 out of 5 stars.  With a main character this good, and a pedigree of influences of this caliber, I hope that the next 5 issues knock it out of the park.

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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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8 Comments

  1. Dave
    May 21, 2009 at 11:10 pm — Reply

    Yeah…about this book, Mr. Dido…what does it connect, I mean *really* connect with Final Crisis?

    And continuity…where does this fall with the goings on in Wonder Woman? Does this take place in the DC Universe or is on Earth-KissMyAss like the rest of your lifework?

    And don’t get me started on the Final Crisis spin off featuring the fat hairy guy….

  2. Salieri
    May 22, 2009 at 8:38 am — Reply

    There were early sketchbook designs of a “Superdemon” character existing on Earth-17 of the 52 worlds, where Etrigan was “hurled to Earth from the doomed planet Kamelot by the astro-magics of Merlin”. The character really rocked, and it was a pity he only got a cameo appearance in the army of Supermen at the conclusion of the story.

  3. Ricco
    May 22, 2009 at 11:02 am — Reply

    One thing is certain, before the end of this series Number 6 is gonna get gassed, KOed, drugged and generaly get unconscious 90% of the time…

    Something Cameron said stuck with me, “you’re just another guy who doesn’t show his face”, was she refering to the gaoler and Nemesis master of disguise thing? Or is he literaly without a face? Was the prison guard actually a representation of himself?

  4. ~wyntermute~
    May 22, 2009 at 4:01 pm — Reply

    Anybody read “Dance” yet? That, “Run” and ‘this’, all get great big “0-fors” in my book. As in, “the Final Crisis aftermaths are 0-for-3 as far as interesting me goes.” J’onn J’onzz died for THIS? Man, I feel so cheated.

  5. Ricco
    May 22, 2009 at 5:12 pm — Reply

    Escape I’ll read to the end, I just love “The Prisoner” feel it has. Dance is meh at best and Run just plain sucks.

  6. Dave
    May 22, 2009 at 7:11 pm — Reply

    >J’onn J’onzz died for THIS? Man, I feel so cheated.

    It was for this…or Blackest Night. Either way we both bought one and will probably buy the other. Maybe Dido isn’t so dumb afterall? That or stopped clock right twice kind of thing….

  7. Rowan
    May 23, 2009 at 10:24 am — Reply

    They are on the skrulls old home planet those characters had to leave so the marvel zombies could bite DC characters and turn them into zombies but the characters who left had no where to go so they made a prison on the fragments of the skrull homeworld and now everyone is happy

  8. Crash
    May 24, 2009 at 6:52 pm — Reply

    Maybe I don’t read enough DC but this comic made absolutely ZERO sense to me. I bought it because I thought maybe it would have some connection to Final Crisis and would maybe make more sense of it. I’m now more confused and $3 poorer.

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