This will hopefully be an insightful part of our Grant Morrison Reading Project and a continuation of my own Bat-Journey. As I gather some references and take some notes before I delve deep into the Morrisonian version of the Greater DCU, I want to look at Final Crisis Sketchbook (Jl'08) which came out the same time as FC #1. It contains, naturally, some sketches by J.G. Jones and comments by Grant Morrison in this comic book version of a DVD extra. Some highlights, note-wise:

  • Darkseid--he appears to be "ossifying" and is in great pain. He is the shadow of decay!
  • Desaad-torturer of the gods and a hidden cross-dresser. Which gives certain scenes from JLA some unintentional comic visions!
  • The Black Racer-from goofy to frightening!
  • Terrible Turpin-- "Jack Kirby as drawn by Frank Miller"
  • Orion- No longer the Dog of War but the Soldier of the New Gods. His symbol is the sun!
  • Mister Miracle-he is the same one from Seven Soldiers! I'm going to have to finish that soon!
  • Kamandi-- how does the Last Boy on Earth fit in with Kirby's Fourth World?
  • The Forever People--- from Hippies to Goth?
  • Libra- nice to know that Grant and I read the same comics as kids!!
  • The Monitors--bridging the two Crises! Cosmic soap opera!
  • Big Science Action-- Morrison's Japanese JLA. The Silver Age meets Anime!
  • Super Young Team-- interesting combinations of classic DC heroes with a modern twist but these teen heroes are annoying!

Everyone please feel free to comment on this as I want this to be, as Figs believes, the culmination of the Post Crisis DCU that deserves to be celebrated!

Next: Who is the God Destroyed? or Just the Cosmic Facts, Ma'am!

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If memory serves, we never saw Desaad on-panel during this event. That would have been...interesting.

I did love, however, the idea that the New Gods were sprouting forth from existing characters (more or less) from the DCU. I know the Forever People were made up of new characters, but I love that Darkseid was Turpin, Granny Goodness was that Alpha Lantern lady, Lightray was the Ray, Orion was Sonny Sumo (unless I don't recall correctly...), etc.

I found this sketchbook to be relentlessly entertaining.

Maybe no Desaad on panel, but real sicko cross-dressing from him in FC all the same...

The sketchbook was another thing that caused Final Crisis anguish to Joe Longbox and Jenny Pull-list.  So little of what is in here ended up in the series itself.  It is fascinating as a work in progress, though, showing us a glimpse of Morrison's famous pages and pages of notes and character ideas.  They are mainly good ideas too, as attempts to update various aspects of the superhero and the New Gods concepts.

 

As a work in progress, it shows how ruthlessly Morrison discards ideas that he would seem to have spent a bit of time and thought on, if they don't belong in the story at hand.  Does anyone still believe that he just throws down any old idea that comes into his head onto the page? 

 

Strange to think that the characters we only get quick peeks at in Morrison comics -characters whose lack of Who's Who level detail also causes anguish - would seem in fact to have more thought put into them than characters from other creators who we find out everything about within three pages of meeting.  It's one of the reasons their subsequent appearances in other Morrison comics become so satisfying.  They are so well thought through that each time we see them, they seem to have be having whole other adventures that we don't know about.  They have their own life independent of the comics they appear in.

 

Morrison has been building up these characters for a long time.  Big Science Action, first appeared in Doom Patrol, with their best days behind them even then.

 

  • Orion - No longer the Dog of War but the Soldier of the New Gods. His symbol is the sun!

 

If you look at the drafts of covers in the sketchbook, and other notes, it would seem that Orion was supposed to be a more active player in Final Crisis than he was in the final version.  Interesting that Morrison rubbing him out of the story in the creation phase was reflected in his fate in the opening pages of FC.

 

  • Mister Miracle - he is the same one from Seven Soldiers! I'm going to have to finish that soon

 

Seriously.  That book is the set-up for this series.  Something happens there, albeit pretty much off-panel that everything in FC turns on.  Yes, finish it soon.

 

Note that the Mr Miracle sketch and Jones' notes seem to be from 2004, the year before Seven Soldiers came out.  Jones asks that his Kirby-esque way of drawing MM be maintained by the artist on the SSoV mini-series before he will get back to him, presumably in FC.  So it would appear that Morrison and Jones were working on something like Final Crisis way back in 2004.  This also may explain why Mister Miracle's realtionship to SSoV is very 'Venn-ish', and how Mister Miracle turned out to be a prequel to Final Crisis.

 

The cover was also used for a promotional poster for FC.  Like the Frank Quitely cover of Morrison's first New X-Men comic, the heroes are quite featureless due to the shadows caused by backlighting.  It's an unusual and jarring way to present a new comic.

At the risk of invoking the old deja vu, I have to throw in another 'Wait! Wait! Wait!' and tell you that there is a short prelude to FC in DC Universe #0.  The framing sequence that tops and tails this collection of teasers for DC's big stories of 2008 (including Batman RIP) is more or less an intro to Final Crisis.

 

It is most likely written by Morrison, so deserves to be here, but it may be the outcast of Morrison's Final Crisis issues, as it isn't used as the intro to the collected Final Crisis in the same way the 'Joker in prison' segment is used as the intro to the collected edition of Batman RIP.

 

In it, some being seems to go from being one with the entire universe, ie the DCU, to becoming a falling Satanic figure (a very recurring Morrison motif) to hitting the Earth finally as a bolt of lightning.  There are clues as to who it might be, and we find out later that the falling Lucifer-type is actually a sneaky mis-direction.  All of which was rendered moot by DC's publicity machine that week giving away who the lightning-bolt associated character was.

 

Morrison and DC were content to have the collected edition of Final Crisis (which they evidently put some thought into) begin with the first pages of Final Crisis #1, as you are about to.  It would seem that the teaser framing sequence in DC Universe #0 was written more for the fans who were following the monthly continuity than as a necessary lead-in to FC as a complete story.  I'd imagine that as time goes on, many people will read the Final Crisis collected edition, who won't care that it ever had to fit into a monthly continuity. 

 

Given that you are such a maven for the minutae of DC continuity, Philip, that does make it a pity you can't get your hands on this strange little 50c marketing compilation.  The most relevant of the other segments depicts an early meeting of Libra's villainous society, where he tempts them with their heart's desire, so long as they acknowledge their one true (new) God!

I have DC Universe #0 in front of me right now. Will read it tonight!

DC Universe #0 (Ju'08): The Ending Begins Here!

  • The Multiverse and its protectors--the Justice League, my Justice League, except for Red Tornado who gets no love! :-(
  • The original Crisis is briefly spotlighted with the Earth-Two Superman, the real Captain Marvel, the Charlton Captain Atom, the Katar Hol Hawkman, etc. That was the end of my era.
  • The Infinite Crisis with the menace of Superboy of Earth-Prime who shattered reality and literally made anything possible.
  • And the Final Crisis with Darkseid the Destroyer or Darkseid the Tester.
  • Superman is back in the 31th century with his Legion/ my Legion battling Tyr, ripping off that robotic arm that had vexed him in the past. (see Superboy and the Legion #199 and "The Gun that Mastered Men!")
  • The Shadows from the first Crisis invade the future!
  • Meanwhile Batman and the Joker play cards: black and red. "This is the Big One, isn't it?" It reflects Batman RIP but in this context could the black be Darkseid and the red Orion? "Some very, very bad people have decided to hurt you" should be the Black Glove but the Joker doesn't think that highly of them. Could the Joker be tapping into the Fourth World and breaking the Fourth Wall, warning both Batman and us the readers?
  • There are scenes from Wonder Woman that I do not recall but there is Professor Ivo and Red Volcano from the Red Tornado mini, plus Doctor Poison so science is out to destroy myth as WW will be menaced by the 300 apparently.
  • We see Hal Jordan and John Stewart investigating a Code Eight (Detonation of Unknown Origin Resulting in Loss of Life). Actually, to me, it seems like a Code Bee-Ess (Making Up Codes on the Fly So Green Lanterns Appear To Be Real Law Officiers/CSI). But Black Hand is missing and then there are Lanterns for every color of the rainbow to look forward to!
  • The Spectre is trapped by his mission. There is no reprieve, no mercy. The Wrath of God to be tested in the coming Crisis. Can even he be redeemed?
  • Various villains (Doctor Light, Killer Frost, Captain Cold, Heat Wave, Giganta?, Killer Croc, Mirror Master, Shadow Thief, the Human Flame (though I had NO idea who he was at the time!), Weather Wizard and Zoom) are gathered by the reborn Libra who has become a prophet, preaching for a god of evil (wonder who? ;-) ) and offering to grant their wishes.
  • Then the Lightning strikes!!

Since there are so many Rogues at this meeting, was their wish be that their arch-nemesis return? 

The Final Crisis Sketchbook emphasizes the Fourth World characters so much that it is truly surprising to see them left out of DCU #0 so completely, save for one Darkseid cameo.

I'm betting that Morrison had little or nothing to do with the GL and WW aspects of FC. 

Still it is comforting somewhat to know that both Johns and Morrison read the same comics that I did as kids though they seem to take a different approach to showing their love than I would have!

You know, I'm going to go with yes on that one.

Philip Portelli said:

Since there are so many Rogues at this meeting, was their wish be that their arch-nemesis return?

I went and got my issue to look at after seeing your post here. (I have a shelf with only Grant Morrison (and Morrison-related) stuff on it. I remember getting the idea from all of the pre-FC stuff that Libra was going to be the big-bad, or at least one of the major players. I'm pretty sure he fizzles out pretty quickly, doesn't he?

Also, I just cannot stand Dr. Light. I am happy that he does receive some comeuppance during the Rucka part of FC for what he did to Sue Dibney. However, I remember thinking that by the end of either Identity Crisis or Infinite Crisis, he should have been ripped apart by Cheetah, Giganta, or some other villainess. After all, he did rape a woman. It's not like they would back him on that one.

I must have missed this one.  I did read Identity Crisis, and followed it's developments carefully. I was impressed with both the development of Dr. Light and the explanation for his "dumbing down", and his vengence agaisnt the Teen Titans. But since then, I've not followed it at all.

Where can I see this "Rucka part of FC" and see him pay for what he did to sue Dibney?  Issues and numbers please?

Dr Light gets his richly deserved comeupance in Greg Rucka's Final Crisis: Revelations.  A 5-part tie-in to FC.  It's one of the few comics that use FC as a background event in the way ALL superhero comics have done sooner or later in tying into a major crossover event.  Rucka managed Renee Montoya and Batwoman very well from Gotham Central all the way through 52, Crime Bible, through the FC crossover and into the Batwoman series itself, and FC: Revelations is probably best read as part of that progression.

 

I like what Rucka did with this long progressive story, but FC: Revelations itself seemed to have too little story for 5 issues.  Dr Light appears in the first issue.  Just for you, Kirk, here's most of Dr Light's scenes provided by DC.

 

Jeff said:

 

However, I remember thinking that by the end of either Identity Crisis or Infinite Crisis, he should have been ripped apart by Cheetah, Giganta, or some other villainess.

 

It's funny you should mention Giganta.  Have another look at FC #1...

 

I remember getting the idea from all of the pre-FC stuff that Libra was going to be the big-bad, or at least one of the major players. I'm pretty sure he fizzles out pretty quickly, doesn't he?

 

It's probably best to leave the discussion of it until later, but much of FC is built around subverting what a reader would normally expect of a major crossover.  The roles some characters play is one aspect of that.  It's certainly one of the reasons FC was so upsetting for many.

So Rucka provided one tie-in to FC, and took the central idea of the Crime Bible that runs through his DC work from Morrison's suggestion during their 52 partnership.  Johns worked with Morrison on this lead-in to FC, as well as the Legion of 3 Worlds FC-branded book.  Johns took the idea of treating the GL Corps as a CSI-type police force from Morrison.  I think it's a clever enough thing to do.  Readers have become very sophisticated in regards to how crimes are investigated, and having the superhero-poicemen act in a way recogniseable from their beloved TV shows might make superhero comics sem a little less ghettoised. 

 

It's a pity that Waid had already left DC, or we might have had a loose reunion team-up between all four writers of 52 at this time.  I started rereading 52 a short time ago, before I realised Philip was going to jump into FC, and it is a strong series, with much to recommend it.  That FC continues the Crime Bible threads of 52 and the War in Heaven elements of Seven Soldiers starts to make all of them come together as a satisfying larger work.

 

It reflects very badly on DC that Waid and Rucka both left under a cloud.  If you dont got the talent, you don't got the comics.

 

It's surprising in some ways that DC Universe #0 ended up excised from the collected Final Crisis.  Of course, it was a marketing tool aimed at the captive fanboy crowd rather than a bona-fide comicbook in its own right.  Still, the idea of the DCU having sentience and us getting an insight into its thoughts just as Barry Allen starts to fall from his transcendant oneness with it is intriguing, and adds another layer to an already dense narrative.

 

It's strange too, how the Flash's fall is juxtaposed with Darkseid's, so that many readers (including myself at the time) were confused as to which was which.  Making them almost interchangeable in this issue might be a way of saying that it is the same fall.  As with the original fall of Adam and Eve, becoming embedded in this world involves knowing Good and Evil.  Both together!

 

Another identification that the story makes is between the Flash and Metron.  In Morrison's superhero-theology Flash and Metron are both derived from the classical god Hermes/Mercury.  They bring information at the speed of thought and provide a link between men and gods.  It's strange to have two embodiments of the one principle in the same tale, especially when they are both used in a way that highlights the same divine aspects.  It's like having Gaiman's Death and Kirby's Black Racer in the same story.  It's another example of the thematic density and unconventional story choices in FC.

 

By the way, I think the strip club in the final lightning scene where the Rogues are meeting used to be the Flash Museum, or something like that.  I think some previous writer had come up with this, but it is a great symbol of how far the DCU had fallen since the wonder and innocence of the Flash's earliest adventures.

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