Friday, August 08, 2008

Comics Out Aug 6, 2008

Final Crisis 3. People always ask my why I put together poetry and comics all the time and my stock answer is that both have an intense coterie readership. That readership is very knowledgeable and as a result very sensitive to allusion -- as in a Ashbery alluding to Milton, or Morrison alluding to the old JLA introduction of Libra. Allusion is certainly one of the factors that makes poetry, especially modern poetry, difficult; but the real hallmark of modern poetry is ellipsis. Take Wallace Stevens' The Emperor of Ice Cream:

Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month's newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Take from the dresser of deal,
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

There is this big gap between the first and second stanzas of this two stanza poem -- you have to bridge the gap and make the connection, and see that the exuberant hedonism of the first stanza is thrown into high relief by the reminder of death in the second.

This is Morrisons style in Final Crisis -- because the previous Crisis books are so jam packed full of stuff, they make up for space by alluding to past events and knowing you will know they story there. But Morrison has chosen to deal with the info-overload by just skipping over things: Martian Manhunter's capture and any kind of buildup to his death, Turpin's story after the Darksied club thing, the final image of this issue -- Morrison keeps skipping over stuff, and focusing on minor characters. It is an odd approach to be sure, but it is not without merit. It is almost like he expects you to imagine your own tie-ins, like his Crisis is built on imaginary tie-ins that would flesh some of this stuff out. In THEORY is brilliant. In PRACTICE the jury is still out. Maybe, as a style, it just needs some honing.

As for this issue: Superhero comics of course tell the same story over and over, and it is somewhat unfair to complain about repetitiveness. But our heroes arrive in the future to a world ruled by Darkseid was in Morrison's JLA: Rock of Ages, the focus on minor characters literally at times the Seven Soldiers, the superhero draft thing is feeling a little like Morrisons World War Three, the bullet fired across time -- wasn't that in JLA One Million?

(As a side note let me say I like the sidelining of the major characters for minor ones, even if I have seen it before: that is where a lot of the interest is, cause they can, you know, change, especially with Green Lantern, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman taken off the board for now. I love the Super Young Team -- i just think a better book would have been if Morrison had focused his talents on a Super Young Team tie in book while someone else did the fan boy dance in the main title).

Finally, Morrison, so famous for that crazy imagination, seems to be sputtering a bit. The mind control helmet is dull, as is Libra and his idiotic Bible of Crime rhetoric; did Luthor think he could just go in and threaten Libra cause he seems SHOCKED when a flame thrower is aimed at him -- if only someone could have anticipated that. The superhero draft lacks a any spark as an idea, as does the anti-life mass email; and I know the black racer is a really goofy Kirby character, but Morrison used him to wonderful effect in JLA: Rock of Ages and without shame; now the racer is made to look like some kind of upsetting 90s anti-hero.

And I cannot believe they put the final page reveal ON THE COVER. Where are the fanboys with their cries of SPOILERS now? I mean I had a guy threaten to do me bodily harm because I said the monster from Cloverfield had little crab things come off of him. Sheesh.

Click the label below for my reviews of the earlier Final Crisis issues.


Jason said...

Fun fact: Alan Moore was in a band in the '70s called "The Emperors of Ice Cream."

Ping33 said...

I didn't get that cover :)

Super Young Team = The Forever People = Voltron = Awesome

Josh Hechinger said...

It's not just a mind control helmet, it's a Justifier helmet.

They're actually one of the creepier bits of the Fourth World, because Kirby just barely...Kirbyfies the concept, if you know what I mean.

Like, there's all this cosmic stuff, and these metaphor gods...and then there's dudes in pointy masks rounding people up and taking them to concentration camps, and torching libraries, just because they're different.

They're basically the ultimate expression of "Us vs Them", where "Us" is allowed to do anything they want to "Them"...because it's "Them", and they don't count as people.

neilshyminsky said...

I don't really read DC books and certainly don't know what the cover means... so what is going on with Wonder Woman on that cover?

Geoff Klock said...

she has like a dog head; on the last page it turns out Darkseid made the whole world evil and the reveal turns on "oh crap that's wonder woman!"

Mikey said...

There’s some ace thoughts on Final Crisis up at Mindless Ones which I wholeheartedly agree with.

"when we realise that, generally speaking, we expect nothing more from our superheroes than to be fucking boring and pummel the shit out of each other, then and only then does it hit us… We’re utterly complicit in the Dark God’s scheme."

The comments are well-worth a read too.

I re-read everything I own by Morrison over the weekend and can now say that Seven Soldiers is my favourite, closely followed by JLA. Add to this my love for Kirby's Fourth World saga (which everyone should read, as it retroactively created superheroes) and I've got everything I need to understand and enjoy this series (and really only the latter is important anyway).

Simon Mac Donald said...

I think that if DC editorial was more on the ball for Final Crisis we wouldn't have to see the sidelining of DC's major characters. If this series was scheduled properly then we would see some repercussions in their titles but it would require the interruption of some pretty major storylines.

Andrew Grace said...

Your poetry/comics assessment clarifies my world greatly. Thank you.

laseraw said...

this issue left me a bit cold.
i guess its the one i liked less of the three but, it did provide some more thread to what was kicked off on the first issue.
i re-read the three issues consecutively and enjoyed the first one a lot more due to this.

the second one is, still, my favorite by far.
the japan scenes ignite my imagination every time, on the third issue as well; i'll have to thank morrison/jones for that.

on this third issue i found particularly intriguing the first few pages; the frankenstein/question investigation, the "nazi supergirl" crash landing, as well as the ex-monitor burger lay off scene and later, the classic superman tie down.
other than that, the "main scenes" of the book seemed a bit decaffeinated to me; the flash family, article-x, wonder woman vs evil mary, internet shut down.

i dont know why but, the center stage seems to be poorly lit here. i do wonder if this is purposeful or not, if there's something else to come that will justify the unthreatening, non-critical condition this crisis has so far.

*geek thought:

will this super young team combine to an new interpretation of the infinity man character?

running with the reference to the forever people on kirby's work but, now also associating with the japanese tradition of the super sentai type of teams (like the ultraman series, kamen rider or the american version mighty morphing power rangers) of 60s japanese television.

will we hear them recite TAARU!!!???

i haven't read dc's countdownor death of the new gods so there might be something there i'm not aware of...