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!

Views: 3948

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Good stuff, Philip.

 

I hadn’t realised that longtime Morrison background character Rising Sun was from a tie-in to the Superfriends cartoon.  Another instance, as with Mas y Menos and Rene Montoya that Morrison had to use a character created outside the mainstream comics to give his cast a little more texture.

 

Were the Global Guardians also from the Superfriends comic?

 

Good pick-up on the Sun references.  The page design on the first double-page spread is also laid out like Japan’s Rising Sun flag.  I’ll get the quote from Morrison from Supergods, but he said that Final Crisis is a compendium of occult meanings amongst other things.  The lightning, bringing inspiration from the Heavens to the Earth, and the Sun, bringing warmth and blessings to us, are recurring motifs.  That we have the Rising Sun represented twice on the page that introduces the Super Young Team accentuates that hope for the future and the possibility of renewal resides with the young.

 

He is now a "bitter old man" representing the opposite side of the theme of legacy and replacement, ie. when you think that the new guys are sh*t!! :-)

 

Brilliant observation.  I thought at the time that the Super Young Team were Morrison’s direct commentary on the 00s Justice Society of America.  That was a group that showed us the generations existing in harmony.  That was more wish fulfillment, in a way.  In a rapidly changing world there has to be some friction between the generations.  The very idea of ‘progress’ necessitates it. 

 

Big Science Action (great name!) seemed like a fine superhero team, but somehow their day has passed.  Perhaps they were too violent.  The monster in the documentary only wanted to go where it could die in peace and dignity, but they were fighting it every step of the way.  Perhaps if you define yourself as having ‘special distinction in monster-hunting’ then all the threats will seem monstrous to you, and must be fought.

 

Super Young Team certainly aren’t violent, one of the things that I find endearing about them.  I find it hard to scorn someone who proudly declares that she helped an injured porpoise once.  Bless her!  The Super Young Team, being so opposed to obeying their seniors and determined to do things their own way, are well fitted to resist Darkseid’s coming Anti-Life equation.

 

They praise the concept of "Man Into Merchandising", perhaps a comment on the difficulty to bring change to the sacred cows of Superman and Batman to protect advertising and licencing profits.

 

The turning of heroes into merchandising and branding is very problematic for DC and Marvel.  We will never know how any of our heroes feel about the ‘Occupy’ movement, for example, until that struggle has become safely history.  The attention paid by the big companies to their cash cows does warp their stories to some extent.  For one thing, how much better would issue 7 have been if Morrison could have used all the other companies' Superman analogues in that scene?  As a European Marxist Leftie, of course, I am suspicious of corporations and everything they do.  Morrison surprisingly, is much more ambivalent about their place in the order of things. 

 

He sees these heroes as going from pulp heroes on cheap newsprint to somehow infiltrating every corner of our minds and the world around us, billboards, t-shirts and cereal boxes.  I think he has faith that because they are ‘good’ ideas, ultimately their proliferation into the wider world will be to the good in the long run. 

 

As a practitioner of a certain kind of ‘Magic’, Morrison is fascinated by how corporations change the very world around them to their benefit using just words and symbols, as wizards in stories do.  His work has been trying to tap into what they do for some time.  His JLA presented themselves as a brand for the world’s ills, complete with billboards and press conferences.  Luckily Morrison has been working in the belly of one of the biggest corporate beasts for some time, so he gets to study it up close.

 

In any case, these are some of the things Most Excellent Superbat is getting at, I feel.  If I wasn’t so familiar with Morrison’s work, I’d say, like you, that his ‘man into merchandising’ line was some kind of criticism of how superheroes are handled these days.  However, Morrison is probably praising how branding and merchandising make things more powerful and meaningful.  After trying on various personas over the years, Morrison has been rocking a corporate suit and tie at the conventions for a long time now.  He’s kind of a fan of what they do.  (Alas!)

 

Though I am still shocked that Damian, (Illegimate) Son of the Bat was approved!

 

Does anyone care who’s ‘born in wedlock’ and who isn’t anymore?

 

Actually this sequence in the nightclub, at 8 pages, might be one of the longest in Final Crisis

 

Sonny Sumo has a great scene here with Megayakuza.  And Mister Miracle looks really cool and sharp in his 60s suit.  Why can’t more superheroes look like this in their day clothes?  I’ve said elsewhere that I’ve found Final Crisis to be incredibly immersive this time around, and this nightclub just seems very real to me.  There's nothing generic about the people milling around outside the doors, their youthful glamour and the weird dayglo alien lighting of the streetscene. As a boy from the mountains, I’d never feel comfortable in this kind of glamorous cosmopolitan place, but it feels real and exciting.  I haven’t been to clubs like this, but I know Morrison has, and he and Jones seem to convey what such a place might feel like. 

 

Immersive, as I say.

 

 

Maybe the bouncers outside highly fashionable places like this don’t normally shout STOP!  You must be supercool to proceed!  You life depends on it!’ but everyone trying to get in knows that that is more or less the situation...

 

(Do you think Morrison is declaring what kind of readers he thinks will be best fitted to proceed with the rest of the series?)

 

The hero-inspired fashions are striking, and do a good job of showing us that after all, these design elements and bright colours are cool and inspiring.  Mixing and matching them like this, makes them new for us and helps us see them with new eyes.  Perhaps there’s life in the silly superhero yet?

 

Normally, post-modern mixing and matching, like Morrison’s attempt to see the good in corporations, is something which most commentators bemoan.  They say it is a sign of no new ideas.  However, given that superhero comics find it so hard to do anything new anyway, why not make a virtue of mixing and matching things in the most striking way possible?  Final Crisis as a whole does this in spades – from cave-boys to street level gumshoes to childhood superheroes to horrific interdimensional evil gods.

Meanwhile we see Uotan living a mundane existence, searching for a magic word to return him to his Earth. The power of words have great meaning to Morrison as it would to any serious author. Yet there is also the grand comic tradition of magic words: SHAZAM!, Cei-U, Kimota, Eternity, Split and of course, TAARU!

 

A good point about the transforming ‘magic word’ that occurs again and again in superhero comics.   Of course, writers obsess about words and language and try to transform the world somehow by their words, or at least make people see it differently.  Some writers do transform themselves by the words they use.  George Orwell went from a failed public school boy to a voice of social justice just through his writing.  Likewise JK Rowling went from a single mother on benefits in rain-soaked Edinburgh to a worldwide superstar just through her craft.  Your words above made me think of this sequence from All-Star Superman #5 which I’ve read recently:

 

 

That ‘stately plump Buck Mulligan’ quote from Joyce’s Ulysses opens the book.  In the scene the young students pretend to enact the transformation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ from the mass, but with Buck Mulligan’s shaving bowl and razor rather than the bread and wine.  Joyce is obviously talking about his own writing transforming the banal stuff of everyday life into high art, just as the priest changes the mundane bread and wine into something sacred.  I wouldn’t mention such a high-falutin' concept except that I read these comics back-to-back and Joyces opening chapter of Ulysses is right there in front of us.

  

We then encounter Terrible Turpin, freed from the Dark Side Club for some reason, now more violent, beating the Mad Hatter (f/a Batman #49 [N'48]) to a pulp for information on the missing kids that he already found. It leads him to Bludhaven, Nightwing's city.

 

This is quite a jump from the previous issue.  Turpin’s confusion later when told he’d already found the children is our own here.  When I read the scenes of Turpin beating up the Mad Hatter I found them violent and unsettling, but when I was thinking about them later, I chuckled at the thought of someone using a toilet seat to smash the face of a supervillain.  This is grim and gritty as farce.  Thematically, this commentary on hard-boiled testosterone excess is of a piece with Flex Mentallo which we are also looking at right now.  (I'm being overloaded with teh good stuff these days.)

 

As Turpin becomes more ‘grim and gritty’ he becomes a more and more suitable host for Darkseid.  Which says it all really.

 

He buys a one-way ticket; he will get answers or not come back!

 

I’d missed that little pertinent detail.  Every sentence carries some weight in this story.

 

On Mars, there is the funeral of J'onn J'onzz attended by the JLA and JSA.

 

As I said earlier, in a dense, staccato-rhythmed tale like this, the three panels here have to tell us all about what the loss of J’onn J’onnz means to our heroes.  In Final Crisis Morrison trades a lot on Superman and Batman’s mythic stature and lets their standing as titans of pop culture do some of his work for him.  He doesn’t have to justify on the page why they are great heroes as he sets the scenes in these early issues.  Everyone knows they are the top two.  (It’s possibly another thing that alienated certain types of readers.  No ‘fan moments’ with Bats and Supes.)

 

So when Superman, of all people, says that “He was my friend.  [...] He was someone I could confide in”, that’s telling us an awful lot about what was lost with J’onn’s death, and the tragedy of it.

 

Back in Central City, Libra's forces grow...

 

I absolutely loved this half-page panel as the meeting breaks up.  It is just so well realised.  JG Jones is a fantastic artist, and there is something so naturalistic about these guys casually dispersing in the car-park after the meeting.  They’re all doing slightly different things, but their body-language shows that relief that follows a serious meeting as they start to unwind.  Is Luthor doing the neck-stretch-and-click thing?  They are all leaving by different methods:  Vandal in a chaffeur-driven stretch limo, Luthor in a flash sports car, Mr Mind in a wonderful old-school supervillain-mobile.

 

 

We get a merging of recognisable mundane elements with the wonderful stuff that only exists in the DCU.  Notice Shadow Thief passing along that very realistically drawn overpass pillar, and the Gorilla and the Clay monster skulking along as if it were just another day in the life of these extraordinary beings.  See how relaxed Zoom is while talking in the window of Mr Mind’s car.

 

Panels like this bring the DCU to life, and make it seem magically real, in ways that macho quips and laborious references to specific events in previous comics just can’t approach.

The Justice League now has two super-human murders on their hands when Alpha Lantern Kraken arrives to take over the investigation.

 

In a similar way, this sequence mixes the banal and the marvelous wonderfully.  The heroes are very relaxed for the most part and we see them just wandering around the lab discussing the case.  Talking heads comics are justifiably criticised, especially when it comes to superhero comics.  That’s what we get here, but there’s something about the handling.  It’s 3 brightly garbed icons from everyone’s childhood in a CSNY type laboratory, talking about a celestial being who was killed by some kind of nonexistent bullet.  Then an inhuman-looking chief investigator from an intergalactic police force arrives and tries to make the very top tier of humanity’s superhero representatives seem like backwater yokels in comparison to her.

 

Again JG Jones makes the characters act very naturally, rather than ‘superheroically’ so we get a level of ‘realism’ that other comics with their visual tropes just don’t manage.  We see the background characters react to Kraken even though they aren’t the focus of the scene. 

 

I think the fact that Superman and Batman are so serious, and professionally focused on the job at hand, rather than talking to each other about their childhoods and philosophies in the way the fans like (and got for most of the issues of Superman/Batmanthat I read) might have been another strike against issue 2 at the time.

 

The whole two pages are basically an infodump, but I found them very ...yes...immersive, in the type of ‘realism’ that Morrison and Jones are trying to channel.

 

Batman contends Orion was shot by a very unique bullet and he's standing his ground as the Man Without Fear, the Rebel, the Greatest Green Lantern of ALL Time is suddenly quite deferential to Kraken to the point of being submissive as he is dismissed by her! Say "Goodnight" Hal! "Goodnight, Hal!"

 

I don’t think Morrison likes Hal.  Hal deposed Kyle, whom Grant did a lot of work on, as GL#1 and also pushed Jon Stewart out of the running.  Grant, as architect of a few attempts to increase representation of minorities in the DCU, maybe didn’t like that either. 

 

He tries to treat Hal like a bigtime hero in this series, but at least in these early issues, Hal doesn’t have much mojo.  Probably some subconscious thing of Morrison’s against Hal.  (Unless it is conscious?  Ha ha!)  I’ll read it more closely as we go forward, but I think Grant dropped a stitch or two in his tapestry regarding that little scar on Hal’s forehead.

 

Meanwhile, GL John Stewart finds a weird bullet, imbedded at the crime scene for fifty years!

 

A nice touch that Stewart the architect fabricates some glowing green construction site equipment to do his digging.

 

Batman, Hal's greatest critic since the infamous Green Lantern #50 (which made me quit comics for over two years), believes in his innocence as Superman leaves for some Clark-time. This is foreshadowing!

 

There’s a touch of hubris in Superman’s assertion that it won’t take them long to prove Hal’s innocence and he’ll only be away for an hour or two.  These guys have no idea what they are up against at this point.

 

The closest we get to some kind of warm fuzzies between Supes and Bats is this panel:

 

 

It’s just as mysterious and open to interpretation as Batman’s “Hhhh.  Clark.” at the end of JLA issue 9.

 

Given that Batman is still mentally recovering from the traumatic events of Batman RIP and the callback there to The Superman of Planet X, Bruce’s “Superman, Superman.” is quite loaded.  Is Batman thinking of the gulf between them?  How much he loves the big flying miracle?  Who knows?  It’s a big emotional beat, the closest to a fanpleasing warm fuzzy moment between them that we get in the series, but it’s in a tiny panel on the edge of an otherwise busy page.

 

That first installment of Batman RIP: the Missing Chapter would have set up Batman's character a bit for you here Philip.  I'm just saying...  :-)

The future members of the Global Guardians debuted in Super Friends #7-9 (O-D'77) in the same story that introduced The Wonder Twins. But they were not a team; simply international heroes joining forces with individual JLAers to stop the menace of Grax. Two of them, Jack O'Lantern and the Seraph, even had a few solo adventures. The team itself came into being in DC Comics Presents #47 and were later linked with fellow SF-guest star, Doctor Mist.

My take on the Superman/Batman scene and/or dynamic is that in the midst of murder, treachery, betrayal and uncertainty, the Man of Steel seems to fly off to have one of his Sliver Age-ish "protect my secret identity" stories. To leave this downer reality for his upbeat one for a time. But it won't work this time. Onward:

Final Crisis #2 Part 2:

Alpha Lantern Kraken watches over Orion's reverting back into energy body while reminding Batman that Hal was once taken over by Parrallax. This proves incredibly ironic as Kraken's true mind breaks free momentarily to warn the Dark Knight that she is possessed by Granny Goodness who attacked John Stewart. She assaults him with green constructs that resemble the creature attached to Bat-Mite in Batman RIP. She hurls Batman into a Boom Tube in triumph. "Did you think the Gods would tread lightly when they came among you?" Mortals are nothing once again, compared to them.

Meanwhile, Dan Turpin arrives in Bludhaven, evading Atomic Knights, encountering Reverend Good AKA Glorious Godfrey and enters Command D. Good exalts their victory and plans Darkseid's rebirth. The Final Crisis of Man has arrived. Turpin now has the essence of Darkseid within him and has been subconsciously fighting it. With his ears bleeding, the horror becomes clear. The Ultimate Enemy is about to manifest himself for his crowning achievement. The Evil Factory, again run by Simyan and Mokkari (f/a Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #135 [Ja'71]) coomit acts of depravity to ensure their ascendence while constructing a new tigerman body for Kalibak. Batman is their helpless (?) prisoner.

Also a prisoner is Kamandi. I never connected Kamandi with the Fourth World, despite both being Kirby creations. Yet the Last Boy fits so well with the themes of the New Gods. He is forever deemed an inferior by all around him like a Bug or a Lowly. He is disrespected, disregarded and constantly humiliated. They try to break his spirit, crush his hopes and keep him down. But he battles back and never gives up. In many ways, he is trying to escape the trap of his existence. The Last Boy on Earth may well grow into being the First New Man of a reimagined Earth.

In Metropolis, the Daily Planet offices are destroyed by a bomb with Lois and Perry White there and Superman does NOT save them! It echoes another scene from Kingdom Come where a Batman villain is responsible. There it is the Joker and here it is Clayface! Libra has hurt the Man of Tomorrow!

In the best example of the themes of legacy and cycles, The Flash Jay Garrick and the Flash Wally West discover Libra's empty base at the Central City strip club. They see Metron's powerless Moebius Chair, abandoned and discarded. But is it? Does it need Metron to activate? Can it be possessed by Metron? The Scarlet Speedsters are searching for the god-bullet that theoritically is travelling backwards through time. Suddenly the Moebius Chair glows with energy as the god-bullet appears being chased by The Flash Barry Allen while being chased by the Black Racer!!

"RUN!"

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Morrison sets up the most devastating story that DC has ever done. Orion, Martian Manhunter, John Stewart, Hal Jordan and Batman are removed from the board and quite easily at that. Superman is struck where he is most vulnerable. The Gods of Apokolips are being reborn in blood and cruelty. "It's wrong to pity the weak!"

But the Barry Allen Flash has returned. That has to be considered a symbol of hope!

Next: Batman #701 and Final Crisis #3--Reading Is Fundamental!

The future members of the Global Guardians debuted in Super Friends #7-9 (O-D'77) in the same story that introduced The Wonder Twins.

 

So the Wonder Twins appeared in the comics before the TV show?  Interesting!  (I’ve never seen an episode of Super Friends in my life btw)

 

But they were not a team; simply international heroes joining forces with individual JLAers to stop the menace of Grax.

 

Too bad more writers didn’t use these international heroes, especially in the most recent era of DC comics.  Maybe Morrison’s use of them put other writers off?  But I don’t see much interest in getting beyond the borders of the US in other recent comics, no matter what the character.  Batman Incis an updating of the Global Guardians isn’t it?  Batman, like Morrison himself, has decided to take the problem of US Superhero isolationism into his own hands.

 

My take on the Superman/Batman scene and/or dynamic is that in the midst of murder, treachery, betrayal and uncertainty, the Man of Steel seems to fly off to have one of his Sliver Age-ish "protect my secret identity" stories. To leave this downer reality for his upbeat one for a time. But it won't work this time.

 

That’s intriguing.  The whole Daily Planet thing is just somewhere for Superman to hide when he can’t stand the heat?  It does read a little like that, doesn’t it?  He seems to be running out just when they need him most.  Leaving it to Batman to hold the fort, which he almost does.  Batman #701 gives us Batman’s view of how he’s perceived by his super-powered colleagues, and adds pathos, to these scenes particularly.

 

"Did you think the Gods would tread lightly when they came among you?"

 

This is all pretty scary and well-handled.  The speed at which everything happens is part of the horror here.

 

Also a prisoner is Kamandi. I never connected Kamandi with the Fourth World, despite both being Kirby creations. Yet the Last Boy fits so well with the themes of the New Gods.

 

Good reading of his role here.  Actually Kamandi’s role in Final Crisis is one of those where the gaps most cry out for more explanation.  Will we ever get any indication why/how he goes back to warn Anthro at the end of Final Crisis issue 1, and what his message for the first boy was?  Perhaps the circularity of it is all that matters?  We’ll await developments and maybe at the end discuss what Morrison was trying to do with the Kirby Koncepts in this story.

 

Kamandi (in a way) appears in Flex Mentallo as well, Philip.  (It all ties together.)  “The last boy on Earth” is a title that can be used in different ways.

 

In the best example of the themes of legacy and cycles, The Flash Jay Garrick and the Flash Wally West discover Libra's empty base at the Central City strip club.

 

So we’ve already had the Flash and Metron equated as ‘inspiration from the Heavens’, and now 3 versions of the Flash are brought together in the same room where the first two met and kicked off the high Silver Age and the Multiverse era.  I’m beginning to see how Morrison sees Final Crisis as some kind of magic spell! 

 

Repetitions, groups of three, compressing concepts together into one.  It’s all very magickal and alchemical.  There is a Black Hole involved by the end and we’ve already seen an important one in SSoV: Mister Miracle.  Already concepts are coming together and being compressed like the three Flashes are here.  There is at least one major instance of something similar happening later that I’ll point out when we get to it.

 

Maybe Morrison thinks that the potency of what the Flash stands for got diluted with all the legacy characters, and he’s trying to distill the true essence again here by bringing them together in these circumstances, in this location.

 

I don’t practice any form of ‘magic’ myself, but from what I understand of it, I think Morrison is trying to do something here.  What his spell is is trying to achieve would be an interesting question...

 

They see Metron's powerless Moebius Chair, abandoned and discarded. But is it? Does it need Metron to activate? Can it be possessed by Metron?

 

This is worth thinking about.  There’s also a discarded copy of The Crime Bible that we’ve seen characters seek out and kill people for in other storylines (usually written by Rucka).  Are these only tokens of power, useless once the power has been tapped into and can be accessed directly?  Does these objects of power being found discarded mean that evil has won at this stage?  Glorious Godfrey seems to think so...

 

Suddenly the Moebius Chair glows with energy as the god-bullet appears being chased by The Flash Barry Allen while being chased by the Black Racer!!

 

On this readthrough, I did like that Barry’s appearance had already been foreshadowed in-story, rather than the last page shocker being the first time he is mentioned in the story.  That dependence on the readers’ knowledge from other comics - that Barry was long-gone and his return is a big deal – kind of annoys me.  I know practically everyone reading issue 2 back in 2008 would have had that knowledge, but still.

 

(I guess future readers of this collection might not know going in what Barry's status was at the start of this story, so Morrison is keeping it inclusive for them.  Fancy that!)

 

Will we be looking at Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds in this readthrough? It has the return of another speedster that could be compared to this scene.

 

Morrison sets up the most devastating story that DC has ever done.

 

Perhaps it is, at that!

 

The Gods of Apokolips are being reborn in blood and cruelty.

 

Well put.

 

"It's wrong to pity the weak!"

 

Is Reverend Good a Tea Party Republican?  Commentary on up-to-the-minute trends in society and politics is  another level that Final Crisis works on.

 

But the Barry Allen Flash has returned. That has to be considered a symbol of hope!

 

Or only a ‘Flash in the pan’ at this stage, in the midst of all the mayhem...

My take on Batman #701 here!

FINAL CRISIS #3 (S'08): Know Evil!

It begins with the discovery of Darkseid's former host, now a dried up husk by the new Question who is confronted by SHADE agents led by Morrison's version of Frankenstein. Now the Monster's place in mass media and comics specifically is far beyond my ability to convey. But in his brief scene here where gods are battling men, he is the Great Blasphemy ("In the name of God, now I know what's it's like to BE God!") and the Victim of a Cruel Fate ("Cursed creator! Why do I live?") but he is also Life-from-Death, immortal in his own way. Striving for a purpose, to have value, in short the Life Equation.

Nice visual of the Patchwork Man having a patchworked gun.

Of course, SHADE's leaders do not inspire much confidence with attitudes like Americans "don't need to know about the anarchy" and "I need your most expendable agents." More secrecy, more conspiracies and more corruption. Quite the breeding ground for dark gods to emerge!

Next we see Uotan get fired while being affected by unseen forces, trapped in world too mundane for him, all the while being monitored by a mysterious woman.

We also learn that Cave Carson [f/a Brave & Bold #31 (Au'60)] has found Anthro's cave paintings underneath the NYC subway system which connects to Kamandi's adventures in New York City in Kamandi #1.

Meanwhile Jay (the Golden Age Flash) tells his extended family about the god-bullet, Wally being missing, feeling his age and the return of Barry Allen, the (Real, sorry, Silver Age Flash! Wally's abscence is frightening to readers because Crises are never good for Flashes! We see the murder of Orion and uncle and nephew outrace the Black Racer. We see the joy on Wally's face as he runs side by side with his mentor. Barry has escaped his own demise. Iris tearfully knew, hope against hope, that her Barry would win because he always did! Faith rewarded but unfortunately not shared!

Then in a swamp at the Legion of Doom's HQ from Challenge of the Super Friends and that's what it is, straight up,  Libra shoves a Justifier Helmet on the Human Flame, deriding him, forcing him to listen to the Anti-Life Equation, making him a mindless drone just as Luthor enters. Libra has had enough with diplomacy! He states that the ability to make decisions will soon be "forcibly removed"  and demands that Luthor renounce science and pledge to serve Darkseid willingly or he will be his slave!

"Judge Others." "Enslave Others" "Anti-Life Justifies My Hatred."

Next: Superman's Sorrow and the Gathering!

It begins with the discovery of Darkseid's former host, now a dried up husk by the new Question who is confronted by SHADE agents led by Morrison's version of Frankenstein.

 

The range of techniques and styles that JG Jones is able to draw on is one of the great things about Final Crisis.  He really must be one of the best artists in superhero comics at the moment.  The first three pages use  the Watchmen-esque 9-panel grid for this sequence.  It might be a visual pun on the Question's presence here. In my copy of 52 The Companion, Mark Waid states that this mode was probably influenced by an early Question story by Steve Ditko.  (For what it's worth, the Question that appears in Ditko's story is unrecogniseable as the guy who mentored Montoya in 52.)

 

It's fun to see the crime-noir Question confronted by the Gothic weird government agent Frankenstein.  There is a realism in how they don't really know each other, nor have any reason to be familiar with each other.  It seems to me that heroes are on such chummy terms with each other just because the readers want to see them hanging out with each other, on first name terms.  That detracts from the 'realism' of these shared universes.

 

Both this version of Frank and this new Question only came into existence in the previous 5 years, which allows the writer to do this.  It illustrates another drawback with having the same heroes around for decades on end.  I think I mentioned earlier that Morrison had to invent a bunch of new teen heroes from a distant land to illustrate the principles of generational discord in his story.  The differing generations of the JSA are just too cosy with each other.

 

The use of the 9 panel grid is quite masterful, but for all the Question's cool ability to outfox the government agents and disappear into the crowd, they still get the drop on her at the end of page 4.  Morrison isn't letting the heroes away so easily at this point in the story.  I think it's another example of how Final Crisis keeps frustrating the reader, making them feel trapped by unwelcome forces at every turn.  The narrative doesn't give them the usual little fillips that they expect from these stories.  Possibly that's one aspect of why you are finding the series 'depressing'.

 

Now the Monster's place in mass media and comics specifically is far beyond my ability to convey. But in his brief scene here where gods are battling men, he is the Great Blasphemy ("In the name of God, now I know what's it's like to BE God!") and the Victim of a Cruel Fate ("Cursed creator! Why do I live?") but he is also Life-from-Death, immortal in his own way. Striving for a purpose, to have value, in short the Life Equation.

 

I hadn't thought of what Frank's role might be thematically at this point in the story.  I was just glad to see one of my favourite Soldiers of Victory.  There's something in what you say.  Even if Morrison hadn't put it in there, all the scenes are so short, and so much is left out of Final Crisis, that it does fall to the reader to try to interpret as much as possible from the few lines of dialogue we get as the action rushes forward. 

 

Also, the pacing of your posts on each issue, has made me go back and look at the first few pages of #3 again.  There may be even more in the short confrontation between Frankenstein and the Question than meets the eye. 

 

"What kind of gangland killing leaves a man mummified?" asks the Question.  Well, isn't Frankenstein someone how has been 'mummified' to some extent?  His first words are 'Freeze!' (echoed by an agent a few panels later, in case we didn't get it: "He said 'Freeze!'") and aren't freezing and mummification similar and related processes?  So your ruminations on what Frankenstein means here may come into play.  He isn't quite alive, a dead man in some ways.  If you read his mini-series in SSoV, you'd know that he seems quite removed from his emotions, although they run deep.  Is Frank looking at the mummified corpse of Dark Side as in a mirror?  Perhaps he may indeed be a symbol of how anti-life gets its hold on individuals and societies, when people start to lose that essential spark?

 

The Source has become a disembodied cursor hand in the 21st Century, that spells out only the words 'Know Evil'.  More updating of Kirby's concepts, which I'm beginning to realise is a central concern of this series.  One of them anyway.

 

Yet another godlike being falls from the sky before this opening section is done.  Uberfraulein this time.  The Nazi Super-family is a great concept, and one of many introduced in Final Crisis that I would have loved to see getting more space, and more story.  I can see that Final Crisis has its own story and spending too long on any of its bewildering array of concepts would derail that story, but still, it's frustrating.  We'll have to see what we can gather about Uberfraulein and Uberman in the Superman Beyond section...

 

As well as the Godlike being falling, we also have the first Supergirl analogue who is joined in this very issue by Mary Marvel and the then-current Supergirl.  Morrison keeps compressing these similar concepts together in Final Crisis.  Uberfraulein's fate is also a callback to Supergirl's death in COIE.  I cited Rich Lane's comparison between Final Crisis and TS Eliot's Wasteland elsewhere, and this is a good example of the same techniques being used.  Eliot built up a recogniseable quest narrative using non-sequitor snatches of other poems and jarring mythical references that didn't quite align with a straightforward story.  Similarly, Morrison is just throwing in a death of a Supergirl here because it gives us the sensation of reading a true Crisis story.

 

In any case, it seems to have great portent here, but from the perspective of someone who has read the whole thing recently, the Uberfraulein strand isn't really developed within the story itself.

One of Morrison's strengths is the quickfire pace of introducing one new concept after another and making them important to the story. However it's also what makes him very frustrating to read as he moves on with the reader still asking questions. I had meant to comment on Uberfraulien but here she is clearly a shock-visual and I knew there was more to come.

But obviously the death of another "uber" powerful being drives home the cosmic implications and the far-reaching consequences of the rise of Evil.

Both Frankenstein and the Question are so far removed from the Justice League's circle of influence that they deal with this Crisis on an entirely different level though the danger affects all strata of super-hero and villain society. Could Frank also be immune to the A-L-E? Not alive, not dead, not mortal, not a god, straddling science and the supernatural, he is such a paradox. He also epitomizes Morrison's theme of endless rebooting. He literally is the same being from the Universal movies, the Hammer movies, The Munsters, the numerous interpretations including the Marvel version.

Also I forgot to mention that The Global Peace Agency came from Kirby's OMAC.

Next: Let the Side-Minis Begin and Chickfight!

Meanwhile Jay (the Golden Age Flash) tells his extended family about the god-bullet, Wally being missing, feeling his age and the return of Barry Allen, the (Real, sorry, Silver Age Flash! Wally's abscence is frightening to readers because Crises are never good for Flashes! We see the murder of Orion and uncle and nephew outrace the Black Racer. We see the joy on Wally's face as he runs side by side with his mentor. Barry has escaped his own demise.

 

This gets four pages, which is a long sequence for Final Crisis.  Morrison shows that he gets these characters and does dialogue vey well.  It's also a central event of Final Crisis being explained in pretty straightforward terms.  The bullet that the Flash is chasing flies from the end of the series to the start and is crucial to an understanding of what's going on.  It still takes a little thought to figure out though, and would have been hard understanding what was happening after only reading the first two issues cursorily a few months apart.

 

There is a lot of feeling in the sequence.  These are good people going through highly charged events. 

 

Par for the frustrating and depressing course in this stage of the whole series, the Flashes don't save the victim of the bullet's life.  The story keeps snatching satisfaction away from the reader. 

 

Again I'm going to credit the density of Morrison's work and the pacing of your posts, Philip, with making me read a hell of a lot into a few innocuous-seeming words on the page.

 

When Barry shouts "Run!" - his single utterance at this point - isn't that exactly what the Flashes have been doing for 7 decades?  When Jay says "And we ran.  By God, we ran.  Three Generations of the Flash." he is drawing attention both to that incredible length of time and their prime attribute.  Superhero comics have indeed been 'running' for all that time.  This sequence seems to boil down the essence of Flash comics into a few pages in a very potent fashion. They are running, first to save a life, and then to outrun death, which are fundamental activities that superheroes do.  The fact that the Silver Age Flash is often cited as the guy who got superheroes all 'running' again in the 50's adds to the impact of Barry's urgent instruction.

 

In some ways, Final Crisis is a criticism of where comics were going in 2008 (and presciently, where comics would go in 2011*), and it seems to be written as a swansong to a whole universe, as Philip is showing us, reference by reference.  The Flashes have kept running all that time, and run enough to save the day here, but I wonder myself, how much longer can they and their superhero buddies run?  Perhaps there is some acknowledgement in this sequence that even the Flashes won't be able to run forever.

 

Motion is life, in a very fundamental way, and Morrison is loading up this series with references to the inter-related lightning and Mercury/Hermes imagery, so this sequence does carry a lot of philosophical weight, and is worth giving some thought to.

 

* Maybe Final Crisis was a prophecy of the DCnU.  Just as everything begins in a strip club in FC, it's worth considering how many of the Nu52 1st issues had strippers or prostitutes in their pages?

He also epitomizes Morrison's theme of endless rebooting. He literally is the same being from the Universal movies, the Hammer movies, The Munsters, the numerous interpretations including the Marvel version.

 

An excellent point.  Seven Soldiers of Victory was all about how the reboots affect the characters, and of course, Frankenstein is a walking reboot!

 

Also I forgot to mention that The Global Peace Agency came from Kirby's OMAC.

 

I meant to mention that as well.  Again Morrison is moving the pieces into place as if he was setting up the DC KIrbyverse.  Note that the GPA members in OMAC were faceless, just like the Question.  Are we meant to suppose that the Question went on to influence that aspect of their MO?

I didn't realize this at the time when I read Final Crisis, but I would bet that--knowing Morrison's other work--it was no accident. I remember thinking at the time that I had never heard of the Global Peace Agency, assuming that they would become an important part of the newly-refurbished DCU.

Figserello said:

I meant to mention that as well.  Again Morrison is moving the pieces into place as if he was setting up the DC KIrbyverse.  Note that the GPA members in OMAC were faceless, just like the Question.  Are we meant to suppose that the Question went on to influence that aspect of their MO?

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Welcome!

No flame wars. No trolls. But a lot of really smart people.The Captain Comics Round Table tries to be the friendliest and most accurate comics website on the Internet.

SOME ESSENTIALS:

RULES OF THE ROUND TABLE

MODERATORS

SMILIES FOLDER

TIPS ON USING THE BOARD

FOLLOW US:

OUR COLUMNISTS:

Groups

© 2022   Captain Comics, board content ©2013 Andrew Smith   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service