Final Crisis 6. I felt an overwhelming urge to write about this, so I am going to push the next Claremont piece to tomorrow so I can have my say fast. Final Crisis, along with Batman, has reached New X-Men status -- brilliant and audacious in fits and starts and drawn horribly. I am just going to REACT to this thing page by page.
The cover: wasn't the title disintegrating? I feel like it is more legible now, if only because someone worried that it would be harder to sell if they took the disintegrating title thing seriously.
Pages 1-3: classic Morrison JLA stuff; I guess we are going to have to wait till next issue to really get anything out of this seemingly randomly introduced super machine. It looks like Superman Beyond 2 was supposed to come out by now, but it also does not look that important that it didn't, which is lame. This seemed a really strangely powerful element to introduce in the penultimate issue. I thought the design pretty well failed. The art is bad throughout and this is one of the key failures. Still -- it will be interesting to see what this machine does next issue.
4-5. Boring. This stuff with Ray has me lost. Could have come from any comic.
6-9. Less than inspiring punch-em-up, with lame dialogue, and lame art. Could have been from any comic book. Unremarkable.
10-14. The Mary Marvel fight was the second key art failure. I do not follow the DCU very well but I am pretty sure Mary Marvel's loss of innocence has been a big deal for a while -- I remember people talking about her having a big role in Countdown or something at the New York City Comic Con last year. So this moment where she is transformed back is big, and it feels like it should be big even without the knowledge that this plot goes back a ways. But the art is just not there for it, in part because so much is jammed in, but also because it is just not that well dramatized -- the eye is not drawn to it among the chaos, and even looking closely there is not a lot to see. His plan to say Shazam and the word Shazam are jammed into the same panel, we see the lightning in the distance, and then on the next page it is over. Also, and I do not want to go on a whole thing here, but it needs to be said -- weak female character: psycho-bitch-whore or scared little girl. Sad. Supergirl in the miniskirt is not exactly helping the image.
I have mixed feeling about the Kalibak/Tawny fight. On the one hand, there is something weirdly exhilarating about an odd character from a corner of the DCU that I do not really know -- very much a Seven Soldier type -- taking down a major New God and then adjusting a tie. On the other hand, this is the kind of thing people have be complaining about for YEARS now right? The Geoff Johns style nostalgia-ultraviolence combo. It did not feel right that Tawny, a cute quirky comic book creation, just fuckin disembowels Kalibak, and then is fine about it. The juxtaposition was almost Robot Chicken. Also BIG ART FAILURE 3: Darkseid's tiger henchmen are just cuddly-wuddly looking. Generally I have felt that the redesigns of the New Gods has been a big step down from their old incarnations, but never moreso than in these panels, where the artist is making it even worse than it would have to be. I would also like to take this opportunity to bitch about the lettering, which has deeply lame images for emphasis. It seems childish.
15-17. The art in 15 is particularly bad here; not quite Korday on New X-Men bad, but only the next level up. Mr Miracle looks terrible. The tiny comic strip on the bottom of 16-17 about the Japanese characters was not good, and not helped by the better drawn poster someone hung above it. And was anyone else surprised by the 3 billion free humans thing? I was thinking Darkseid's invasion was way worse than that, like THE STAND proportions or something. I would have guessed 100,000 or something. 10,000 even. Are these just people in places where there is no email to get the evil broadcast?
18-19. Again, the art here is just bad. I might need to get the New X-Men issues out here but I think this is getting Kordey bad.
20-21. These two pages are supposed to be captured by Montoya's "Enough with the sensory fuckin overload" but the art does not give the sense of the overload, especially as the panel where she makes the comment looks generally clean and spacious. I did like the "Wait a minute. Say that whole bit again."
22-23. Ugly. Is Luthor's head coming out of a pillow in the armor? If that was the last we see of Libra in this book then Libra royally sucked. Also when someone says "They'll hear your voice as the voice of Darkseid if you speak into this" the art should show a "this." That is pretty basic. Like if someone says to me "where is the bar?" I do not reply "over there" while standing stock still unless I am trying to be a jackass. Also, how dumb is it to have these anti-life helmets be so easy to take out -- a watch, or some paint, seems to be all anyone needs to FREE HUMAN SOULS.
The more I write about this the more I realize how much I HATED most of it.
24-25. These two pages basically say "Hey lookalike Flash guys, lets run really fast." Right? To get to Darkseid? But Batman can just walk up to Darkseid? Because he is already in that realm? Or because that is not really Darkseid but only the incarnation of Darkseid? What? Ugly art make Geoff angry.
26-29. THIS I quite liked. The psychedelic art is the "real" Darkseid not to be confused with the shell right? Morrison and dodgy art. Anyway, Batman drawing down on Darkseid with a New God Bullet is pretty bad-ass -- Morrison really understands, and USES, the power of the image of Batman with a gun. I do not know what is going on with the Flash in these pages, [It is not the Flash -- it is a red tinged Batman. Fuckin art] but overall a Darkseid Batman confrontation was a pretty good idea, surprising and inevitable and pretty well awesome.
30-31. This seems like a dumping ground for a lot of weak plot points that we did not have room for: Hawkman and Hawkgirl? Olson and Kat? I missed why I should care. Also, superheroes are now sick apparently by Wonder Woman somehow, just one more thing jammed into a jammed page -- along with a new problem with humanity's escape plan from Metron. And Nix Uotan I guess we did not have time for after such an auspicious debut last time. Just on hard to see small panel. Oh well. Next time.
32-33. This Superman rampage is kind of underwhelming, as I am not really sure where he is coming from or where he is going and the eye is just not drawn to anything in particular-- also the background to page 33 panel 1 lost me, as did the sphere -- or cloud? -- in 33 panel 2.
34. This actually shocked me. I guess I should have seen this coming. Morrison gets Batman for a while, in a run that sort of concludes with Batman RIP. I thought the RIP was foolishly metaphorical there but I guess it is a kind of farewell to the character, as muddy and frustrating as that story was. Then we get ANOTHER tribute in The Butler Did It, but it feels pretty necessary now that I see where this was all going. Messy, but at least I have a better idea of what they were going for here, and I liked that Morrison got his two projects to converge in this almost satisfying way. Battle for the Cowl seems just like Death of Superman again, but I was still kind of taken aback here. An interesting revision of the Supergirl death as well, it feminizes Batman maybe? I do not know. I am still thinking about it. But it is sticking with me. Is there something to noticing that at the beginning of Final Crisis there was this whole debate about how Orion died twice in two books in two different ways -- and then Batman "dies" twice in two books in two different ways. Something about this is resonating with me. This double death thing. And in both RIP and Final Crisis Batman faces the "source" of Evil -- is this what Hurt was all about -- was he an incarnation of Darkseid somehow?
All in all I WISH J.G. Jones could have done this whole book. I do not know what to do with Morrison on Batman and Final Crisis. Messy but good enough that you can't quite dismiss it -- you just wish you could isolate and focus the good stuff somehow. Quitely seems to be the only one who can do that.