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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FINAL CRISIS: SUPERMAN BEYOND

 

After focusing so much attention on the Batman, Morrison crafted this two-issue mini-series spotlighting the Man of Steel on whom he obviously has some affection for.

 

In some ways this is meant to be the ultimate Superman adventure.  He voyages beyond the farthest shore, saves all of existence, rescues Lois Lane from emphatically certain death etc.  It probably bears some comparison with All-Star Superman, especially considering both were written at the same time.

 

Regarding the crew, we may see more of Overman and his world in the upcoming Multiversity project.  If so it'll be another case where later appearances of characters add to the fleeting glimpses which introduced the character.  Like how we slowly got to know the Batmen of all nations after the great Black Glove storyline in Grant's first Batman run, and then we bring that knowledge back with us when we reread the Black Glove again.

 

Also note that for all the compressing of different characters who are thematically linked in Final Crisis up to now, Morrison goes for broke here.  Arguably all the heroes that appear in Final Crisis developed from Superman, at least in part.  He is the original.  Here Morrison bundles several Superman archetypes together in the one ship.  Morrison obviously had tons to pick from, including Apollo and Majestik, but he picked these 4.  Billy Batson embodies the innocence of Superman.  Superman literally is a grown up fantasy figure that young boys inhabit to live out big adventures.

 

That Morrison has to specify that he is the orginal, and not the guy in recent comics highlights again how far comics have fallen.

 

Ultraman is hatred and anger and violence.  Great introduction to him using the Demon's dead/unconscious body as a bludgeon against their enemies. 

 

But Superman isn't completely Ultraman's polar opposite.  Superman can use force and violence when he has to.  As Lex Luthor tells his niece when she says in All-Star Superman that Superman is a goody-goody boy scout - "You haven't seen him in a fight!"

 

Captain Allen Adam is obviously a take on Dr Manhatten, but also with his height and stretchy limbs, a bit of a Reed Richards too.  The Silver Age Superman had been an explorer into strange worlds and a scientist sometimes locking himself away his lab in the fortress for several years before FF #1.  Perhaps Superman even exhibited those traits before the Silver Age.  So Mr Fantastic too, is an offshoot of just a few facets of Superman's overall personality.  (Maybe, come to that, the Fantastic Four are just Superman's abilities and characteristics divided into 4 people?)

I can't believe I didn't spot Chronos II in Limbo this time around.  I'd only just read the whole series as part of my reading around DC One Million!  That was a great little series, but I can see why it didn't take off.

 

Kudos for naming the others, although I can't tell you if you are right or not.  I was really interested as to who they might be.

 

Anyway, just for larfs, here is what I wrote on the old board about Superman Beyond #1back when it came out first.  Much of it repeats your own commentary and some of it contradicts yours slightly.  Just thought it'd be interesting to put this beside all our current views. 

 

Quote from: Cascadian on August 29, 2008, 08:59:15 PM

Would anybody care to talk about the story? I'm curious what the issue was about.

 

Quote from: Dagwan on August 30, 2008, 12:47:41 PM

I read it, and I would like to know too.

 

Post by: Figserello on September 02, 2008, 12:49:00 PM
Don't look at me  :)

I read it and liked it.  But what the hell Morrison's trying to say remains a mystery until we get the 2nd part. (I'm hoping it'll be explained there)

The Doug Mahnke art is wonderful.  He draws very robust looking heroes and I like the thick dark lines he uses.  Some of his drawings of Ultraman have Kevin O'Neill levels of ferocity and rage.  I think he might be held in higher regard if his work wasn't associated with rather naff Joe Kelly runs on Superman and JLA. 

The 3D didn't work as well as it could have as it turned on and off rather arbitrarily rather than according to the story. 

(Also I am of that noble tribe and its tricky using the glasses.  You have to hold it a certain distance from your nose or you don't see all the page with each eye, so you have to wear spectacles and then you have to figure how to wear both!  Also I found that the blue lines weren't completely invisible to the eye with the blue lense, so there was a trace still, causing blurring.  Did anyone else get that or are my eyes even wonkier than I thought?)

I can't recommend anyone go out and buy it, as it might be one of those Grant Morrison comics that brings on inexplicable rages in people.  I liked the journey it took us on.  There were some great ideas in there.  Similar to the side journey into the farthest reaches of creation in Rock of Ages, this seems to be a journey away from the confrontation that is building up in the main FC series and what happens in issue 1 here doesn't really illuminate that series directly.

Some things I liked:
How all the action takes place between two of Lois' heartbeats, so there is no reader argument about what Superman is wasting his time on while terrible things happen on Earth - as happened in Infinite Crisis

The bit where the monitor said 'Its a ....hrmm .... chronoparalyser' to explain how she'd stopped time.  It's someone from beyond Superman's plane of existence adapting her language to the tropes of our four-colour adventure-fests.

Superman's love for Lois really humanises him.  Her being threatened is his ultimate nightmare made real.

How strange that Overman - the Nazi Superman - is wracked with guilt and seemingly able to sacrifice himself for the mission. 

It would be best to read the comic and make what you can of it, but if anyone is interested in a quick summary (eg if your not going to buy it anyway,) here it is

:

 

[spoiler]The comic begins where we left Superman in issue 3 of Final Crisis.  A female monitor offers him the chance to save Lois with the 'essence of their universe' - seemingly the stuff of the Bleed.  (Kal states that not even the Purple healing ray can help her.)  She takes him on the Ultra Thule - a ship that is flying through the Bleed from the Wildstorm universe.  (The Ultramenstruum she calls it, tying it in with the old cycles of creation and all that.)  On the ship are Superman analogues Overman and Ultraman and Dr Allen Adam.  (perhaps his name ties together the first man and the first man to break through the dimensions.)  He looks very like Dr Manhattan of the [i]Watchmen[/i].  Also the Captain Marvel of Earth 5 - a more innocent place than New Earth. 

 

After crashing an attacking destroyer into Earth 51 - a graveyard world where all life has been exterminated - the ship breaks through to the 'shores of oblivion'.  It is the Limbo that Animal Man went through way back when.  The only character here with a talking part is Merryman the king of Limbo.  The only building of note is the Library of Limbo but as there are no stories in Limbo it's empty, except for a single page that turns out to be infinitely heavy because every page ever written somehow is sharing the same space.

 

When Superman and Shazam try to lift it, they tap into the story of the original Monitor. He exists complete in some void, but becomes aware of a flaw in his perfection, a tiny part of him which turns out to be the entire DC Multiverse.  We seem to see the events of the original Crisis in which the Monitor sends a 'projection' of himself into the DCU to fix things.  'Story' is the one thing the Monitor fears which it doesn't want to infect his entirety.  It gets a little abstract here!  :hmm:

 

Then he withdraws and leaves the tiny part of him to found a race of primal gods remembered in legend who beget the Monitors that we know.  The explanation then expands to bring us right up to the present:

 

"This epic elegy for a doomed civilisation, declining from splendour to squalor.  This [b]Final Crisis[/b].  This last ditch attempt to save creation itself from a loathing and greed beyond measure!"

 

(Is Morrison stating what he's trying to do with the whole project?  'Loathing and greed beyond measure' sounds like some of the attitudes that we bemoan in the corporations who own our beloved superheroes.)

 

Dax Novu is the name of the first son of Monitor (ie the part of himself that he sent into the DCU) and the legend is that his final gift will be a weapon to save them from some ultimate enemy.

 

We learn that he had chained Mandrakk, the Beast in Darkness, the Dark Monitor, who is now arising.  The terrible giant destroyers that were attacking the Ultra Thule earlier are only his 'nanobots'.  (woooo - thats how big and bad he is!!!)

 

Captain Marvel is jolted back to Billy's form and Limbo affects him so he can't remember his magic word, so Superman leaves the page and heads back to the ship with Billy.  There he discovers the female Monitor (Villo Vallis)) is a vampire and has drained and probably killed Overman to power her ship. 

 

The issue ends with Ultraman saying he's now read the infinite book and knows that it all ends with evil winning.  Behind him a huge destoyer looms to attack them all.

 

Actually there is a double cliff-hanger, as the whole comic began with a flash forward to Superman being attacked by a yellow guy in a billowing cloak who has the distinctive monitor haircut.  Superman is being literally broken into pieces while he reaches forward out of the comic in a signature Morrison moment.

 

[/spoiler]

 

There you have it.  That's what's in the comic.

As I say the flashback to the first Monitor and Dax Novu is quite abstract.  Morrison seems to be identifying the original Crisis as the moment when everything starts to go fundamentally wrong in the DCU.  Also the entire Monitor society has risen and fallen over thousands of years in the 20 years (to us) since that event!  Well, they are outside time. 

Although Dax Novu's help seemed to be benevolent then, he was merely doing what he could to preserve himself. 

Both The Invisibles and the Filth ultimately hinged on the idea of great godlike beings interfering in our little world (or perhaps the fictional world of the comic) to neutralise the 'infection' of sentient life.  I don't have a sharp enough grasp of those stories to relate them further to this one.

Morrison is reiterating again some insight that he wishes to share with us.  Some writers will do that!

I'm off to check out the annotations and fulminations of internet wise-beards on this comic.

 

It's obvious that part of my (and everyone's) problem with Superman Beyond four years ago was that Morrison conceived this tale as being one 'graphic novel' between two covers, and was expecting it to be published as one book.  this would have made it much more intelligible to fans at the time, and even something of a little event in itself.

 

I don't doubt if it had been produced as a single volume back then, it would be better thought of now as a sort of standalone Superman story and I think you would have approached it with less trepidation even all these years later, Philip.

 

DC's last-minute decision to gauge a few more dollars out of their loyal readers by mutilating a completely whole work of art - a labour of love even - like this, couldn't be a better illustration of the 'greed and loathing beyond all measure'' that the story decries. Compare the very first page with the last page of issue 2 to see what I mean about how it was meant to be read in one sitting.  And that's leaving aside that the first page contains events that the half-presented story in issue 1 doesn't set up in any way.

Great commentary, Figs. Was Superman Beyond really supposed to be one larger book? It makes better sense that way. Perhaps to justify the 3-D process. Afterwards, I checked another site for the Limbo heroes and found that I was mostly right with my identifications, of course! ;-) The ones I didn't know were 90s characters who are probably someone's favorite somewhere and they have my deepest sympathies!

Now for my thoughts, I didn't like the 3-D aspect though it was making a major comeback in the movies at the time. It didn't work for me and seemed too much like the 90s Gimmick Era, unless it was a homage of sorts.

Rereading it, it's clear that to Morrison, this battle was grander than Final Crisis. The Earth was subjucated but the Multiverse was in mortal danger. If Superman fails here, the rest doesn't matter. Crisis on top of Crisis on top of Crisis. It is literally the Never Ending Battle.

The use of the "original" Captain Marvel is quite the commentary on how DC had misused and abused the Marvel Family and would continue to do so. One could almost rewrite the book as Final Crisis: SHAZAM! Beyond with Superman supporting Cap along with Captain Nazi and Black Adam. Historically Superman's peer but now a step or steps below him.

Allen Adam is a different story. He is more Doctor Manhatten than Captain Atom. Part of the conflict yet above it. It's almost like Morrison is using him to answer Alan Moore's objections to DC using his characters. Was Before Watchmen conceived at this point? At one time, Moore was in the same position where Morrison is now. The go-to guy for great, meaningful stories. Moore could have wrote his DC crossover series but left the company for reasons we all know. Is Morrison saying it's better to play well with others than be left out of the playground?

Ultra Man and Overman, the corrupted and the contrite, are reflections of Superman's power and the consequences of that power. DC had already reintroduced the Golden Age Superman and would soon incorporate the Kingdom Come Superman into the then current DCU. So multiple Supermen is hardly a new thought.

Comic Book Limbo is an inevitable place for most heroes, for different lengths of time. Captain Marvel was there for twenty years. Ultra Man appeared only twice between his first and last appearance. Superman is free from that fate, first amoung thousands, continuously published since 1938 and in several titles since 1939! He is the hero with the most past, despite the changes and reboots. Thus he has the most to lose.

The history of the Monitors seems epic but it's made up. It doesn't feel real. They had a Golden Age, Evil came, a Hero sacrificed himself and the Cycle begins again. The Monitors are the weakest part of Final Crisis as was the Monitor in COIE.

But Superman still has to win here....

Next: 3-D or Not 3-D? That Is the Question...or Man My Eyes Hurt! 

unless it was a homage of sorts.

 

Yes, I think Final Crisis is trying to encapsulate the whole 20th Century superhero era and 3D was part of that.  I can see why the idea appealed to him, but it was let down by the execution on several fronts.  The quick shot of the 1920s Dr Fate and Blackhawk sidekick is an attempt to contain the pulps too in this final summation of what 20th Century heroes have been about.  As well as the 'bubblegum and newsprint' line, the world population was just over 2billion at the end of the twenties, as is described for the Dr Fate world in this story.

 

I love Mahnke's art in this, but he has trouble bridging the gap between his grungy, slightly industrial-realist style and the cartoony art of the original Captain Marvel strips.  So artwise, this isn't as close to C.C. Beck's Captain Marvel as it needs to be.  JH Williams III would have been ideal to draw the Supermen in the styles of Beck, and Gibbons, much as he aped the different artists for the Club of Heroes issues.  (You can see Mahnke striving towards Gibbons in his depiction of Dr Adam though.)  He does a Kevin O'Neill version of Ultraman very well.  Ultraman does look like something out of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

 

Which brings us to Moore.  Yes, I suppose Dr Adam is partly a discussion with/on Moore and Moore's disengagement from mainstream superhero comics.  Moore too, as a writer, can get lost in the abstract and the unfathomable beyond, as Dr Adam does here.  But for all that, it's not a strong, harsh criticism of Moore, as has become common on the internet, just a sort of expression of sorrow that we've lost him.  Also, Morrison is playing Dr Manhatten for laughs to some extent here.  There's some humour in how Dr Adam's quasi-mystic blether comes from not taking enough drugs rather than too many.

 

We've been seeing that Morrison's work starts to take shape in hindsight, and some characters and concepts, like QWEWQ and Superman-in-the-Sun need to be followed through several works,   I'm looking forward to seeing more of Allen Adam and Overman in Multiversity.  They are pretty sketchily presented here, but compelling for all that. 

 

Allen Adam is from Earth 4 - is that the Charlton Universe?  Has it been mentioned before?  I can see why Morrison preferred to riff on Moore's Dr Manhatten than the old Charlton Captain Atom.  A comprehensive super-tale like this has to contain Watchmen also.  (Your little annotations for all these charactes, Philip, are starting to make me see that containing all the great superhero concepts and history is another level that Final Crisis works on.)  I think it's highly significant that Morrison steered well clear of DC's Beneath Watchmen project.  For all he's been knocked lately for being a corporate stooge, that's a line he chose not to cross.  The artistic dialogue here is fine, with the disguised Dr Manhatten/Alan Moore.  (Look out for Week 5 of my DC One Million blogs for another blatent shout out to Watchmen.)

 

I don't believe that Beneath Watchmen was conceived at this point, but if it had been, then Morrison would have been the first creator they would have approached, and thus one of the first to know about it, and it would explain why Morrison suddenly announced that he was going to do the Charlton Watchmen as part of his Multiversity at this time.

 

So multiple Supermen is hardly a new thought.

 

I'm not sure why you wrote this.  Are you saying I'm reading too much into the compression of similar characters into their archetype which occurs again and again in Final Crisis?  True, the first Ultraman story contained the Golden and Silver Age Supermen as well as Ultraman, so putting them together isn't new, but in Final Crisis we've had all the Flashes bunched together, all the variations on Super-women appearing in one comic, and now all the Supermen flying around on a crucial mission on one ship!   We are meant to see patterns here beyond just "look who's together in this scene!"

 

The history of the Monitors seems epic but it's made up.

 

I can see your point, but you can see why this sentence makes me smile!  At least Morrison tries to give them some history and culture which they were sadly lacking in previous appearances.  Morrison introduces something else to the Monitors lives rather than good and evil, etc that you keep mentioning.  They are now motivated by love and romance.  To some extent a product of 'stories' that infects all our lives!

 

On one level the Monitors' story that Superman and Captain Marvel experience from the book is straightforward enough, but parts of it keep slipping out of my comprehension.  If the first Monitor discovers the mutiverse within his infinite cosmic perfection and then sends in the Monitor during COIE to stop it multiplying and growing, then he acts long after the stories began with the first Superman stories.  That's fine.  The first 50-odd years of the DCU went on without the Monitor realising anything.  So how come what he leaves behind is the great statue of Superman?  The Monitor culture left to maintain the post-COIE multiverse seem to be as respectful of their in-DCU heritage (that their history goes back to Action Comics #1), as they are of their Monitor heritage which only goes back to COIE.

 

It was Superman, as leader of the superheroes in COIE that saved the whole DCU from being eradicated by the drive for order and purity that the evil Monitor had initiated.  Even though the Monitors are descendents of the first Monitor they still dimly know that they owe their existence to Superman's efforts, when he managed to allow one universe to survive.

 

I do like this aspect of Morrison stories, however, where some things elude my grasp and grappling with the mysteries gives me a sense I'm grappling with bigger, more mystical puzzles than just a comic.  That's one of the reasons he's kept my interest so long.  (However, I've lost a lot of that by now, having spent so much time and effort working out what he is trying to say and how he does it.) 

 

It would seem that Morrison sees the impulse that led to COIE as a bad one, or at least one motivated by the wrong reasons - fear and a need to control/dominate these ever-increasing stories.  Obviously he loves things to evolve in many different directions and to be untidy and not tied down.  The idea of one universe and one timeline that followed COIE, which tried to negate all those other wonderful stories is repugnant to him.  He sees that controlling and reductive attitude as despotic and in opposition to what superhero stories should be bringing us.  There is a later issue of his first Animal Man run which goes into all this too.

 

The idea of a Godlike being reaching down into a less perfect world to interfere with it for their own vain and selfish reasons is very Gnostic, and Morrison takes this story down that route in order to discuss his attiudes to COIE and superhero stories generally.

 

In this case the infinitely pure being that is horrified at stories multiplying within it, would seem to be the white page before the artist or writer gets to work on it.  The post COIE editorial idea was to restrict as far as possible the stories that would be told going forward.  They couldn't and didn't eradicate the stories completely, but their impulse was towards much, much less stories (or types of stories) being allowed or acknowledged. So it was in the direction of complete eradication without actually reaching that point.

 

(In some ways 52 was just a stepping stone on Morrison's route to telling this story of the Supermen of differing universes getting together to save the multiverse.)

 

 

I think that's what I've always assumed in the back of my mind. I definitely need to go back and read this trade.

Robin Olsen said:

A quickie - Overman could also come from Captain Marvel's Captain Nazi - I just didn't wanna let that one nag at me.

Robin Olsen said:

A quickie - Overman could also come from Captain Marvel's Captain Nazi - I just didn't wanna let that one nag at me.

 

I haven't ever read a Captain Nazi story. I'm going to take a wild stab in the dark and guess that he wasn't wracked with guilt over the atrocities of the Nazi regime, nor did he show willing to sacrifice whatever it took to save the multiverse and go find his beloved cousin. 

 

I'm also going to guess Captain Nazi is a bit of a standard crazy ranter, rather than the dark and brooding, sympathetic and Byronic fellow in Final Crisis.

 

If we are going to talk about precedents, then to a large extent no superhero precedes Overman.  In a very real sense our Superman himself followed Overman.  To paraphrase Monty Python, there's nothing Nietzche couldn't teach ya about the Übermensch. (lit trans: 'Overman'.)

 

Of all the nationalities Morrison could have picked for a non-US member of his Super-squad, he picked German, and I don't think it was just to reference some barely-remembered old villain.  On this readthrough, I'm really seeing that Morrison is trying to sum up, encapsulate and contain the whole history of superheroes in one story - a story that looks very much like his final statement on the genre as a whole.  Part of this is showing us the precedents to superheroes.

 

When people read Final Crisis in 2008 it was all "Frankenstein! And now some Nazi Super-cousins!  And then a frame with a 1920's Dr Fate in a cool car!  What is this?  Aaargh!!!  Weirdness for brain-hurtness sake!?  Burn teh INternet!"  etc.

 

But as usual, after about 50 reads it's clear that there is a systematic approach here, even if it takes us a while to figure it out.  Frankenstein is an 18th Century literary prototype of the superhero, and then Nietzche sharpened the idea of the super-man in the culture, and then the pulps were only one step away from the superhero comicbook boom of the 30s.  (Nietzche as a progenitor of the superman archetype was at the top of Morrison's mind at this time.  Just have another look at All-Star Superman #10, which was written about the same time.  There he is.)

 

So that's why we have a German Superman here.  To the extent that Overman's origin looks at the question "What if Kal-El's rocket had landed in a country other than the US?", Overman owes a huge amount to Mark Millar's Red Son, about a Soviet Superman.  I've never read it, but it's supposed to be good.  It's possible anyway, that the Soviet Superman concept might be just as much Morrison's as Millar, as they were palling around and pooling their ideas in long conversations about superheroes in the run up to Red Son.

 

Overman is probably the most philosophically interesting take on the Nazi super-person that we've seen.  Along the lines of the various substitute supermen in All-Star Superman, it's clear that he's the benevolent Superman examined from yet another angle.  Can he still be a good guy even if he grows up in the worst, most evil alternative Earth imaginable?

 

(I've just googled Captain Nazi.  I don't think Overman would be seen dead in a naff outfit like that.)

Some people still hold this to be true. Oh, well.

Figserello said:

When people read Final Crisis in 2008 it was all "Frankenstein! And now some Nazi Super-cousins!  And then a frame with a 1920's Dr Fate in a cool car!  What is this?  Aaargh!!!  Weirdness for brain-hurtness sake!?  Burn teh INternet!"  etc.

I agree that Overman is far more than "What If Superman Had an Uncle Adolph?" In fact, when I stated that this could have been a Captain Marvel story with Superman supporting him, I thought that the Overman part could be played by Black Adam as he was in the 00s in JSA. Captain Nazi would be in Ultraman's role.

Overman fought for Power, Glory and Aryan Way only to be appalled on how his Never-Ending Battle ended.

But you gotta admit it was a cool car! ;-)
 
Wandering Sensei said:

Some people still hold this to be true. Oh, well.

Figserello said:

When people read Final Crisis in 2008 it was all "Frankenstein! And now some Nazi Super-cousins!  And then a frame with a 1920's Dr Fate in a cool car!  What is this?  Aaargh!!!  Weirdness for brain-hurtness sake!?  Burn teh INternet!"  etc.

Hey, Figs, I'm glad you found a way to enjoy Final Crisis, with the Nietzche angle and all, but if you gotta read it fifty times to understand it, that's not my idea of entertainment.

 

Ah, now that's a perfectly legitimate criticism of Final Crisis! I can understand a reader having that reaction.

 

The criticism which I was referring to above, and which I don't think you have brought up in this thread, so this isn't aimed at you, is where people make the leap from "This is unintelligible to me!" to "This is meaningless garbage!"  That's quite a leap and says a lot about the self-regard of the people who make it.

 

When Philip first joined the board, myself and he had many arguments about the value of just citing the references to old comics and measuring new stories against old continuity rather than judging the stories as stories. For some reason I get antsy when the meaning of comics stays locked in the longbox in the basement, rather than allowing that they might be part of a broader cultural conversation. I should relax!

 

To give Captain Nazi his due*, of course there is a reason that Morrison went for a mid-twentieth century super-person look for Overman, rather than having him be some kind of 19th Century take on Nietzche's ideas. That is partly due to the long tradition of German Nazi super-people in comics. Still, it's funny how the Nazis lend themselves better to superheroic-looking champions than other 20th Century cultures did. There were few WWII Japanese champions for instance, (although Philip is going to mention them in a minute). I'd say Nazi super-champions look and feel right because the cult of the Superman/Ubermensch (and accompanying eugenics programmes etc) was part of German culture in the run-up to WWII.

 

The very first Morrison story that blew my socks off was the prologue to Morrison's UK superhero epic Zenith. Set in Berlin in the closing days of WWII, it had an English super-soldier, Maximan, getting a jolly good thrashing from the Nazi Masterman. It was wonderful stuff, and in my innocence at the time, I assumed that because Masterman had the same look and name as an old Invaders villain I'd read about years before, there must have been some kind of historical basis for these Nazi super-people. I was half right. They were entrenched in German culture, but of course didn't exist in reality.

 

Given his outright steal of virtually the whole character Master Man in one of his earliest superhero comics, we can be sure that Morrison was just as interested in Nazi supervolk from old comics as he was in high-faluting 19th Century literary philosophy.  So Captain Nazi has his place in the discussion too.

 

*That didn't sound quite right...

Figs said

There are few WWII Japanese champions for instance, (although Philip is going to mention them in a minute).

More than a minute, sorry! There were no Golden or Silver Age Japanese heroes set during WWII, though Kato's heritage shifted from Japanese to Chinese/Filippino until after the war when we stopped being anti-Japan and went to anti-Red China!

And the film series starring Mister Moto was dropped while Charlie Chan's rose.

As for the comics, there were Japanese-American soldiers featured in both Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos and Combat Kelly and the Deadly Dozen.

Roy Thomas introduced Golden Girl in The Invaders and Tsunami in All Star Squadron/The Young All Stars.

FINAL CRISIS: SUPERMAN BEYOND #2 (Ma'09) (Part 1)

Was it really five MONTHS between issues when it was published? That's one LOOOOONG heartbeat! People didn't NOT understand Morrison's story. They simply forgot it!

Ultraman has read from the Infinite Book and discovers that there is a God and he hates us all. Could this be how comic book characters would think if they knew about their creators whose livelihood is based on making their lives miserable and overly complicated?

This god's name is Mandrakk and he is coming unrelenting and without mercy.

Could Mandrakk be an anagram for Dark Man? The ultimate villain having a comic book name which would bring him to the heroes' level of comprehension. Speaking of which, Superman looks almost relieved that Ultraman is threatening him. That he understands!

As Mandrakk's forces invade Limbo, Merryman has had enough and raises Limbo against them. Every hero is needed.

Meanwhile a still living Overman warns Billy Batson that Zillo Valla is a vampire-Monitor. Billy holds Overman's Aryan roots against him, understandable since this Billy came from the 40s! Using that ol' Wisdom of Solomon, Billy realizes that Zillo is the ship the Ultima Thule personified and needs the Bleed to repair itself.

Line of the book: "I guess every monster has a story, Overman." Including in Billy's view, Overman himself.

Zillo mentions other Superman doppelgangers that she could have picked like Icon, Majestic, Supremo (Supreme), Guardsman (Gladiator), Hyperius (Hyperion) or Savior (Samaritan). I wonder if DC could have directly used any of them in their true forms briefly? What could Marvel do? Sue them? "Hey DC is ripping off OUR Superman rip-offs!!"

 Touched by Billy's observations, she rewards him with his now-forgotten magic word. "Two syllables, then the lightning."

Superman leads the Limbolites, promising that he won't let them be forgotten again, a running theme here. No character can truly be forgotten as long as back issues exist!

Captain Adam once so confident in his greatness seems almost cowed by Mandrakk's mere prescence.

Once more it is reinterated that Superman and Ultraman cannot touch without annihilating themselves. Foreshadowing!

Captain Marvel returns to support Superman and tells them they must stop the Invasion, all five together!

Next: Up and Adam(s) or I'm My Own Monument!

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