Unfortunately given some personal events that I wouldn’t bore you all with, I actually ended up missing the debut of DC’s new Final Crisis! Fortunately, the rest of the internet didn’t! So I’m devoting this column to a comic a few weeks after the fact.
There are some spoilers here, as I’m sure you can imagine.
The League of Melbotis gives the comic a generally positive review and defends it from some internet complaints:
From what I read, I would never recommend that the issue be taken as an entry-level comic to the DCU. The story is mired in DCU characters and continuity, and asks that readers have been paying attention to recent output from DC, but also picking up key collections as they’ve been released of late.
None of that is intended as a criticism. At some point, you’re either allowed to tell stories for people who have been following along (see: Lost, BSG), or you’re stuck in the perpetual cycle of episodic storytelling, where the reader can pop in and it doesn’t matter if they’re familiar with the concepts and characters before tuning in (see: Law & Order, most police procedurals).
The story actually seems to make events such as the abysmal “Countdown” make some sense, as well as the uncompleted, unnecessary “Salvation Run”. It embraces characters from Kirby’s 70′s run on New Gods, Anthro and Kamandi, while seamlessly embracing recent events in the DCU, such as Johns’ introduction of the Alpha Lanterns in Green Lantern. Morrison also plays with some of the toys he created during his mega-series “Seven Soldiers of Victory”, and its probably worth returning to your issues or collections of that series to get an idea where he might be headed.
But what I’ve always enjoyed about Morrison’s stories is that, despite the need for our heroes to win, his set-ups don’t tell me how the story will unfold in a neat pattern I can consume with the predictability of a McDonald’s meal.
KC Carlson, on the otherhand, was not as complimentary:
I had to learn elsewhere (Newsarama) that the caveman wearing the preppy sweater in the opening pages of Final Crisis was Vandal Savage. Vandal also appears later (and is identified by name), as a part of the supervillain group that is meeting with Libra, but there is no indication anywhere that the two characters are one and the same and that he is immortal (although implied in dialog). I know this because I’ve been reading DC comics for 45 years and have read many stories about the character. Lord help the person who, attracted by the glossy bookstore-style design of the Chip Kidd-styled cover, is picking up their very first comic book.
And then we come to the Human Flame, a loser villain who is apparently instrumental in killing the Martian Manhunter. Although Libra actually does the dastardly deed, indicating his obvious “control freak” tendencies, while poor ol’ Flamey is left to snap the death photo on his cellphone. What, you’ve never heard of the Human Flame before? Why, he was the first supervillain MM ever met (as we found out in the previous week’s “cover-your-butt” Justice League of America story). In neither comic do we learn that the Human Flame last appeared in Detective Comics #274 (December 1959), which probably no one on earth either read or remembered until it was recently reprinted in Showcase: Martian Manhunter.
The less said about the Martian Manhunter’s death, the better. Other than “yawn” and he’s been dead before…
Unfortunately, the book is full of yawn moments: the New Gods as gangsters, whatever the hell is going on with the Monitors (who just, and always have, look boring), and the whole scene with “Man” (oh, sorry, Anthro) and the other long-haired kid (Kamandi), who thankfully brought along his handy Statue of Liberty from his first issue cover to help identify him.
Doom Deluise, a few weeks after the fact, finds himself indifferent:
I remember where I was when Superboy died. I was sitting on an old blue couch that my parents gave me when I moved out, at my old rat-hole apartment in the ghetto (not to be confused with my current rat-hole apartment in a different ghetto).
I remember where I was when Batman got his back broken. I was at my parent’s house, sitting on the back porch late at night one summer way back when.
I remember where I was when Superman bought it back in ‘93. I was lying on my stomach in my parents’ basement in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
I very vividly remember where I was when Blue Beetle Ted Kord got shot through the head by Max Lord.
But a couple weeks pass, and I can’t remember where I was when I read Final Crisis #1? Yes. You know why? Because Martian Manhunter’s death was completely unremarkable. All this ad reinforces is that the brass at DC have no concept of what’s dramatically important or impactful anymore. When you pose a question like that, you better be fairly confident that the answer will be something along the lines of, “Oh, I’ll never forget where I was, because that scene shattered my entire universe.”
You certainly don’t want the response to be a pause followed by a head scratch or a shrug of the shoulders.
So what do (or did) you think?