“He wished the best for us all…”Posted: January 28, 2009
Final Crisis 7 was a nigh-brilliant, if a little rushed, finale to the last epic of the Multiverse.
Now that I’ve read the end, just as I felt after reading 52, my opinion has softened somewhat.
I think looking back on Morrison’s multi-dimensional oeuvre, it seems to be a science fiction/horror love poem to superhero comic books, Jack “The King” Kirby, and the ever-changing continuity of DCU.
This review will include some SPOILERS, but I will try to avoid them as best I as I can.
And …. (Editor: Dr. Brownhole does not know how to use page breaks)
SPOILER ALERT BEGINS NOW!!!!
Let me begin with a few Flash Facts (TM.)regarding the story. Final Crisis was the final saga of the multiverse (but then again, so was Crisis on Infinite Earths.) It had essentially three main characters. 1. Superman, who may well be called the main character of the DC Universe; 2. Nix Uotan: a monitor who has been cast down to Earth-1 for his failure to defend Earth-51; and Darkseid, the decaying, totalitarian God-Emperor of Apokolips, who crashes through the multiversal structure, sparking the crisis.
There are a few secondary characters whose importance to the story can not be overstated: Batman, Mr. Miracle, The Super Young Team/Sonny Sumo, Metron, Weeja Dell, The Flash Family, The Marvel Family and Rene Montoya, all elements that drive the plot forward. He wants you to believe that Supergirl is important, but that is a dirty, fucking lie.
One of the story’s greatest strengths is that it ties Morrison’s stories of the DCU, particularly 52, Batman, JLA and Seven Soldiers together: this could be considered a weakness to those less familiar with Morrison’s writing style, however. It also serves as a swan song to the classical interpretations of Kirby’s Fourth World characters.
Morrison succeeds in writing a modern (read post Watchmen, Authority, Ultimates) event book set in a world with Silver Age scale and imagination. He fails in pacing the story in such a way to make it flow comprehensibly, and each issue does require at least three readings to begin to catch everything that’s going on.
After reading the book, I feel that Morrison achieved some strong points. In telling the story of the dawn of the Fifth World, he does elevate one particular character to a godly status he hasn’t enjoyed since the Silver Age of Comics: Superman.
Superman’s adventure through the multiverse in Superman Beyond was one of the best side-stories to an event book I’ve ever read. It was completely essential to the plot, but not a throw-away story as many tie-ins are. Superman is tasked with using not only his physical powers, but his super intellect to save the multiverse.
I feel that Morrison was really writing his (ALL-STAR) Superman in this story, and not the flawed, easily demoralized hero we have seen all too often since the 1990s. This was a Silver Age hero, a being that straddled confidently the border between man and God, and how fitting this was for Final Crisis, a story of evil Gods vs. mankind. Superman almost fulfills the rumor that this would be a story in which the BIG 7 would elevate to New God status: Superman saves the universe with the Kirby-esque Miracle Machine, which he copied from the future by memorizing it after a single glance. Wow. What was his wish: the best for all of is. This is Superman, a modern Hercules, a child of the Science-God sent to earth to aid mere mortals against mythical monsters and human tyrants.
Also, there was Darkseid. Morrison uses the dark god perfectly here, a rotting husk of a once-celestial Hitler clinging to notions of might making right, who finds himself decrepit and defenseless at the dawn of a new age. Darkseid believed the Fifth World was his; the heroes showed him otherwise.
Batman also cleaved out his niche into a story of gods and supermen. This was Morrison’s Batman, a super-competent, fearless rationalist who finds a way to over come the irrational. When confronted with the Ultimate Evil, he takes the thing which made him, his greatest pain and fear, and uses it to defeat darkness. How else can you kill a god but with a metaphor? The end of the book, which I will not spoil, is a testament to the strength of Bruce Wayne.
Nix Uotan: I enjoyed this story, which is the main plot thread. Nix Uotan’s exile on earth could be seen as the reader’s entrapment in the world of comics. Only when Nix Uotan realizes that the Monitors have the ability to judge what they are seeing, and create something better, does he transcend both his jail and his jailers. A more poignant exhortation of fandom to demand better comics I could not imagine.
Also, the tie in of his fate back into 52 is one of the few Easter Eggs I caught immediately, which made me feel kinda smart.
The Not-So Good
Again, where were the female characters? We had drawings of women. They had word balloons coming out of the lines that represented their lips. But I could not find one character here who well-represented women – with the possible exception of Rene Montoya, though her part could have been written for a male character just as easily. Maybe Morrison is commenting that there aren’t any real female characters in comics, but somehow, I doubt it.
Apparently Morrison wants to do something with Wonder Woman in the future. Maybe he can write the All Star version, since Adam Hughes doesn’t seem to be able to get it together.
The GIGANTIC cast of characters: I feel that one of Morrison’s strong points is his ability to work on a book where the universe is getting turned inside out on every panel. It was one of the reasons I became enamored of his story telling style. However, he does not work well with huge casts, in my opinion. His mind is so hyperkinetic and inclusive that he devoted much too much time to what the side characters were doing, at the expense of the main plot.
Though I love Shiloh Norman, and wish that he had been more central to the plot. But if he isn’t, keep him in the background where he belongs, don’t devote two page spreads to conversations he has with Mr. Terrific that don’t end up having much effect on the plot.
I do hope that Super Young Team makes more appearances, though.
Meaningless battle scenes: Though the scene with Tawky Tawny fighting Kalibak was AWESOME, it also did not affect the plot. Nor did the much-hyped battle between Supergirl and Mary Marvel serve to be much more than a cross between the climax of Kingdom Come and what every man hopes goes on in a sorority house. I don’t need to read about what a cat fight between the goth girl and the cheerleader would look like if they had superpowers, though the art was fantastic. This could have happened in a tie in book, and I would not have minded.
Pacing: My. Fucking. God. See, I could have said that in one sentence. I took three. Morrison is a victim, in some respects, of the decompression that creators like him, Mark Millar, Bryan Hitch and others imported to American Comics from Japan. It makes things seem slightly more epic, but IT … SLOWSSSSSS .. SSSTTTOOOORRRIIIIESSS … DOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWNNNNN!
In a case where you have only 7 issues to tell a 12-issue story, maybe refrain from having it take four panels between the moment Mary Marvel sees Supergirl to the second they impact. (In point of fact, Morrison actually did take 12 issues to tell his part of Final Crisis: Final Crisis 1-7, Batman 682-683, Superman Beyond: 3D 1-2 and Final Crisis: Submit.)
The pacing built the threat up really well in the beginning, and I recall PsychoLarry and I gushing over the panel in which Batman screams to Turpin “Warn the Justice League! Warn Everyone!” while foaming at the mouth as he is locked into Mokkari’s memory extractor in the Evil Factory. And it was interesting to begin an epic of Biblical proportions with an investigation of deicide, but it forced the last three books to rush to keep up with the story.
All-in-all, Final Crisis does deserve its share of praise. The concept was suitably meta-cosmic, the dialogue fit the frenetic pace and epic scope, the heroes were heroes, the villains were villains, and the art was, overall, fantastic.
It did have its flaws, but I still prefer it to both previous crises. For those that hold Crisis on Infinite Earths up as the paragon for a Company/Universe/Multiverse spanning crossover, read it again. Wolfman’s plotting is excellent, but it is no more comprehensible than Morrison’s work, and the dialogue is wooden and Perez’ art no where near as interesting as Jones’ or Mahnke’s. I think I’d like to take some time this weekend to read Crisis on Infinite Earths, Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis over again, just to compare them all. That might be worth a Master’s Thesis.