Or – “WHO IS NUMBER ONE?”

FCE1.jpg

Tom Tresser, the agent known as Nemesis, has been captured by a mysterious faction and taken to Electric City, a strange and mysterious place where everyone seems to be a former intelligence agent, and the faceless goons of the Global Peace Agency keep a mostly benevolent watch over all, using drugs and disorientation to keep their “guests” off their feet.  Though Number Two has yet to make an appearance, I can’t help but wonder if Electric City isn’t located on the sea somewhere in the vicinity of Wales…

Previously, on Final Crisis – Escape: 

*Lightning Flashes In The Distance*
“Where am I?”
FCE2.jpg“In the Village.”
“What do you want?”
“Information.”
“Whose side are you on?
“That would be telling….  We want information.  Information!  INFORMATION!”
“You won’t get it.”
“By hook or by crook, we will.”
“Who are you?”
“The new Number Two.”
“Who is Number One?”
“You are Number Six.”
“I am not a number — I am a free man!”
(Laughter from Number Two.)

We open our ceremonies with Tresser once again returning to consciousness in a strange place (only Paris Hilton has done it more, but at least Nemesis knows where his clothes are.)  He looks out the window and sees the skyline of New York through the venetian blinds, but upon opening them sees only open sea.  At the foot of his bed are Amanda Waller and Rick Flag, late of the Suicide Squad.  It’s interesting to note that Amanda is in her Checkmate Nehru jacket, while Flag wears his old-school field uniform.  She quickly quizzes him, and Nemesis tells her off.  He asks why she’s suddenly talking to him, and Amanda (uncharacteristically) tells him the truth.  “There’s a thing you do…  The way your left leg bounces when you walk.  A thing you picked up in Valparaiso, on a Suicide Mission.”  She explains that he never managed to quite wipe away all the traces of his role after being in character for 9 months, and asks how his head feels.  He closes his eyes for a second, and is suddenly stuck in a memory, moments after watching the mysterious man in the piped blazer disintegrate last issue.  “His actions are his own.  The individual in Electric City is free to make his own decisions,” says the creature who looks like OMAC.  I’m not sure what it’s representational of, but he sees Waller and Flag in front of a bank of monitors, ala the old Suicide Squad headquarters at Belle Reve.  “When it’s time,” Amanda says, “you’re either with us, or ALONE.”  Nemesis chooses alone…

…and opens his eyes in a completely different place.  Drugs?  Mind Control?  Or is this entire prison nothing but a mental landscape?  It’s hard to say, but Nemesis recognizes Cameron Chase, someone dressed as Blackhawk, a host of Checkmate agents, even Fire (who was, until recently, an agent of Checkmate.)  Another agent is wheeled through on a gurney, screaming for assistance, but nobody moves to help him.  Tresser acts quickly, freeing the man’s hands, only to see him try and claw his own eyes out.  Someone who looks a bit like James Bond speaks to Tom.  “The big man, his name is Forest.  He’s not always here.  But this is where he always is…”  Tressser tries to gain control, when an Atomic Knight appears, and Captain Nazi suddenly leaps into the room and starts beating on innocents.  Cameron Chase depowers him, and Nemesis beats the snot out of him.  When the Nazi is down, Chase forces him to kiss the still-flaming Fire…  I have no idea what is going on here, by the way.  Tresser finds a man hanging from a chain hoist into a strange portal, and pulls him free to find… himself.  Or a younger version…  Or an older one?  Tom is again faced with Flag and Waller, and confronts her.  Rick Flag puts him in a choke hold, but he breaks free only to find that he and Amanda are alone.  “He isn’t here,” says a downcast Amanda.  “Rick Flag was NEVER here…”

I… uh…  Hmm.  This series is really surreal, and the transitions from place to place, from scene to scene are jarring, sometimes completely inexplicable (though intentionally so, I believe.)  It’s strange, and the headtrips just underline my expectation that we’re looking not at a prison of the body, but of the mind.  The parallells to the Prisoner are more muted this issue, but still there (as well as comparison’s to Neil Gaiman’s issue of “Miracleman” where Evelyn Cream shows up in a town where all the agents are kept to keep them out of trouble in the Brave New World) and there’s still not a clear sense of when or where this is happening.  Had this come out BEFORE Final Crisis as a strange preview of the World That’s Coming (Heh…) I think I’d have been more likely to love it.  As it is now, the sense of anti-climax kind of permeates anything Final Crisis, and the trippiness of the issue doesn’t help.  Still, I feel more positive about the series 1/3 of the way through, leading me to believe that a great finish could make this a fave-rave.  Still, it’s technically sound, with Mick Gray and Marco Rudy providing solid art throughout, and the sense that writer Ivan Brandon is making intentional references to lead us to a conclusion, rather than nonsense for nonsense’ sake.  At this point, I’m as disoriented as Nemesis, but the positives balance me out to where I can give Final Crisis – Escape #2 2.5 out of 5 stars overall.  It’s an interesting setup with a relatable protagonist, and a plot that lovingly creates mazes within puzzles within enigmas in a lovely white wine vinaigrette with Spam. 

25stars.jpg

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.

Previous post

Review: Veil #1

Next post

Review: Buck Rogers #1

5 Comments

  1. ~wyntermute~
    June 14, 2009 at 11:33 pm — Reply

    Who….Does…. Number Two…. Work for???

    (Plus, as somebody on the intarwebs pointed out (I had a mini-“Prisoner” thing for a bit), if you strategically add a comma to the “Who is Number One?”/“You are Number Six.” to emulate the pause the voice sometimes took, it becomes: “You are, Number Six.” Yeah, I just wanted to show off my smarts as an apology for that Austin Powers joke.)

  2. Dave
    June 15, 2009 at 12:45 pm — Reply

    > This series is really surreal, and the transitions from place to place, from scene to scene are >jarring, sometimes completely inexplicable.

    Just like Final Crisis!

  3. CF
    June 15, 2009 at 3:59 pm — Reply

    FCA: Escape has been pretty good so far. The Surrealness is what really draws mean into this book. Right now, “Dance” and “Escape” have been pretty interesting and well written – which is more than I can say about anything by Brian Bendis.

    In “Escape”, I’ve enjoyed the allusions to Jack Kirby’s OMAC series and the constantly transforming realities we’re subjected to.

    I give 3 1/2 stars.

    And, yes, Final Crisis was VERY GOOD. Perhaps not Grant Morrison’s work, but Very Interesting and Filled with more Quality Big Ideas, than you’ll find in entire series by Bendis, Millar and Johns.

  4. June 15, 2009 at 8:34 pm — Reply

    (Plus, as somebody on the intarwebs pointed out (I had a mini-”Prisoner” thing for a bit), if you strategically add a comma to the “Who is Number One?”/“You are Number Six.” to emulate the pause the voice sometimes took, it becomes: “You are, Number Six.” Yeah, I just wanted to show off my smarts as an apology for that Austin Powers joke.)

    Heard that one years ago. Patrick McGoohan says it’s nonsense. :)

  5. ~wyntermute~
    July 21, 2009 at 4:43 pm — Reply

    “Heard that one years ago. Patrick McGoohan says it’s nonsense. :)”

    Better late than never reply: I didn’t say it was true. I just said I heard it on the interblogs. :D

You know you have something to say, say it in the comment section