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Final Crisis #2 Review

This was a great follow-up to a great first issue, with one of the coolest endings that you’re gonna see in a superhero comic this year!

Grant Morrison really does not make it easy on himself, does he? He could have gone for the traditional superheroics that was so popular in his JLA run (which WAS quite good), but instead, he has decided to do an extremely dark slow burn with Final Crisis, and while it might not be the type of story people had been expecting (it’s practically the polar opposite of the previous two Crisis mini-series), it is still quite well crafted.

The thorough degradation that the heroes are going through is striking, none more striking that the situation of Turpin, who has to deal with what is likely Darkseid inhabiting his body. How Turpin handles such a situation gives the book a deep-seated human reaction – Turpin acts like the POV character that crossovers like these rarely have – we are so used to the grand spectacle of these things, we rarely get the “everyman” view (everyman as in man of the people, not the hackneyed shapeshifter). Turpin’s slow descent into madness gives us that beautifully – and it allows Morrison to work in some meta-fiction references, too (as Turpin is Kirby, so he meets “his creations”).

I liked the Japanese heroes, and the bit with Shilo and Sonny Sumo worked nicely in the way Morrison gets across the point of the series in only a few lines, essentially saying “evil won, so now we have to come up with something.”

Speaking of evil winning – things don’t look good for Batman and Superman, but as we see earlier in the issue, superheroes are ever hopeful – even as they bury their friend, they pray for a resurrection – I love how freakin’ OPTIMISTIC that is, in the middle of this dark, dark story!!

This dark story also contains a few unresolved mysteries, and I have to say, I’m a bit disappointed when I read people who seem to want these mysteries explained, like, right now. Seems kinda strange. Like last issue’s cliffhanger – as though it is a failing that Morrison didn’t thoroughly explain who the fellow was at the end of last issue in that issue.

Oh, by the way – JG Jones’ artwork is amazing throughout the issue, but particularly that last page.

The last page features…

SPOILERS!!!

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Barry Allen bursting out from the past (or future?) being chased by a time traveling god-killing bullet and the Black Racer!

How amazing is that?

And it follows a great line by Jay Garrick about the unfairness of time.

Great comic book – can’t wait ’til next month!

Recommended.

32 Comments

It frustrates me when I hear some people complain that nothing is happening in the book. Just because there is not a crazy amount of action going on doesn’t mean that nothing is happening. To me, an intriguing story is better than a drawn out action sequence.

I loved this one too, it was downright cinematic. And I like to have my thinkbone challenged, as long as it’s in service of the story, which these mysteries and ambiguities certainly are. When I want everything wrapped up in two pages, I read Tiny Titans (which sometimes I do, but I’m thinking of FC as something a bit more akin to “24″ in its pacing).

I think a lot of criticism especially on message boards is because this is not Secret Invasion. Yes, it is not. But it never tried to be one. Apart from that even critics who disliked #1 seem to be turning around with this issue. And yes this issue has a lot more stuff going on. And a great final page. But more than anything its because of Sonny Sumo, because Sonny Sumo is awesome. :)

To me, FC #2 read like a collection of vignettes edited together at random. The writer creates the whole shebang with a wink and a nudge like the reader is supposed to know what’s going on, but the reader is just left in the dark.

This is why Grant Morrison is hit-or-miss with me. FC #1 was awesome, but #2 was junk. Conversely, in Batman R.I.P., I hated the first issue (with that same “lost” feeling), but the second issue rocked. It’s just so inconsistent.

Was he being chased by the bullet, or was he chasing it? It seemed to me he was trying to grab it as he was being chased by the Racer.

What you see as a collection of vignettes, I see as threads which will ultimately combine to make one whole. That has been Morrison’s MO on a lot of stories. Instead of the more decompressed approach in most of superhero comics today where stories that should take in no more than one issue stretched out to make TPB’s Morrison still seems to be influence by his 2000 AD days where 5 pages an issue is all you get.

“It frustrates me when I hear some people complain that nothing is happening in the book. Just because there is not a crazy amount of action going on doesn’t mean that nothing is happening. To me, an intriguing story is better than a drawn out action sequence.”

And it makes sense from a stoyline standpoint, also. How many past major crossovers involved some big villain who imposes some kind of physical risk to the heroes? And the heroes always win. Heck, the Sinestro Crops War had every major DC villain all at once, and the heroes STILL won.

Here in Final Crisis, which is supposed to be “the day evil wins,” the villains are smart enough to do some low-key organization before they launch some major attack. Cool stuff.

As for people wanting all the mysteries solved… well, that’s the nature of many comic book fans. We read serial fiction that’s designed to keep us reading month-to-month but we want to know everything that will happen over the next twelve issues. Self torture, Killing yourself to live, an’ all that.

That’s why I only read Fables in trade. Couldn’t bare doing that month-to-month. But it’s still hard to go eight months to a year for the next trade… why do we do this to ourselves?

I’d actually prefer SI if it was more like Final Crisis: instead of spending pages on essentially meaningless action scenes, show me the mechanations that got the antagonist to their point of strength. (I much prefer the New Avengers stuff to SI.)

One thing that struck me as weird was how pathetic Batman seemed near the end, specifically when you remember that Morrison wrote the JLA as Gods on Earth and now seems to be writing them as merely men.

i am very surprised notable silver age character has returned

@Thok. Yes, that seems to be a thing Morrison is consciously trying to do. Back when he did Rock of Ages, Morrison treated the New Gods the same way every body else did. As Superheroes. But since then as he has stated in interviews, he read the Kirby stuff, and realized that the New Gods were indeed Gods. Hence the absolute contemptuous treatment of Batman. He’s up against Granny Goodness, meaning, he never had a chance.

I am digging this series, and I haven’t been able to stomach much out of the DCU for years now. So on that level, it’s doing its job.

Same with Secret Invasion, actually, although I have been keeping up with Marvel, but SI has me interested again.

Unfortunately, Final Crisis made me optimistic, and I bought two issues of Trinity, and boy is it infuriatingly sub-mediocre.

CaptainAardvark

June 27, 2008 at 11:59 am

Paperghost – I saw it as you did; Barry chasing the bullet while being chased himself.

Some comments may contain spoilers. Not suitable for those with heart conditions, pregnant or nursing, or acute nerdtosis:

I was on the bubble the whole issue whether or not I was going to pick this up as it came out or for cheap later. The last page sold it for me. Did the Black Chase Barry back in CoIE, or is that something Morrison came up with? Same thing with the “theotoxic” bullet. Is that new? All the action you needed the whole issue was right there. The book reads like a fever dream. I hope it wakes up by the end.

he has decided to do an extremely dark slow burn with Final Crisis, and while it might not be the type of story people had been expecting (it’s practically the polar opposite of the previous two Crisis mini-series), it is still quite well crafted.

I think expectations are a big part of it — we’ve all gotten used to events where plot and continuity are the most important elements. Last night I realized that Morrison is actually doing something different with the balance of storytelling elements: he’s making theme more important than plot. To put it differently, “why” is more important than “what” or “how.” And I think that’s throwing a lot of readers for a loop, because that’s not what they expect, and, for many, not what they want.

I think ultimately this is going to be a love-it-or-hate-it series, because of that.

As Chad Nevett and I recently pointed out, Final Crisis is actually the only event series this summer that actually HAS a “secret invasion.” The Marvel thing stopped being a secret in the very first issue!

I agree that any story can only be judged fairly after it’s complete. Still, in this case that’s months away. For now, all we can do is decide if we like what we have seen so far.

And while I agree that Morrison is a great creator, he can also be *very* confusing until all the pieces of his puzzles have fallen in place… and sometimes even afterwards. So that IS a valid criticism, especially the part about Final Crisis being confusing to those who aren’t too familiar with the characters he’s using.

(As for the mess regarding nobody remembering the Death of the New Gods, that can be explained away very simply: The Source erased the memory of what happened from everyone so they would not interfere with its plans, whatever they are. And BTW: turning the Source (which was a stand-in for God) into an uncaring cosmic force? Worst Kirby tribute ever.)

But back to the FC story: frankly, I’m not impressed. Even if this was a story that stood on its own, with NO Big Crossover status or negative publicity, I would still be mildly interested at best. Nothing has hooked me yet; nor Manhunter’s death nor Flash’s return. Morrison needs to explain himself better, not to a ridiculous give-all-away -right now point, but certainly more clearly. My fear is that by the end, he’ll not bother to go back and explain everything (he’s done it before.)

Oh, and about the attitude towards the Martian’s death: that’s not optimism, it’s being practical. How many major DC heroes have died and come back in the last few years? Come on, it’s one thing if one or two resurrections happen, but when nearly EVERY major member of the League has done it? You have to understand if they are getting doubtful about a heroes’ death being completely final.

This was ok. A step-up from the previous issue, but didn’t rock my world. The main reason I’m reading this is to see what status-quo Morrison intends to set up for the DCU in the long term (how long DC will keep this status-quo before retconning everything away is another matter). One thing it does have over SI is that you do feel this is something big, cosmic affecting series. So far, SI just seems like one big long fight scene (not that there is anything wrong with that), and as someone pointed out, stopped being a ‘Secret’ since the first issue.

Was he being chased by the bullet, or was he chasing it? It seemed to me he was trying to grab it as he was being chased by the Racer.

Oh, good call. Yeah, I could see it either way.

What the hell, Morrison!?!? Why haven’t you told us what the deal is already? FAILURE!!

Rohan Williams

June 28, 2008 at 12:51 am

Sijo said…

“Oh, and about the attitude towards the Martian’s death: that’s not optimism, it’s being practical. How many major DC heroes have died and come back in the last few years? Come on, it’s one thing if one or two resurrections happen, but when nearly EVERY major member of the League has done it? You have to understand if they are getting doubtful about a heroes’ death being completely final.”

That line reminded me a lot of Metamorpho’s funeral in JLA #5. Except, you know, people actually turned up for the Manhunter.

I was thinking that during that scene, Rohan. I did not like it when Morrison had no one show up for Metamorpho, so I was pleased to see him make much the same point without the dreary turnout.

Rohan Williams

June 28, 2008 at 3:41 am

In a way, that page actually helped make it clearer that he really is dead. Nobody showed up at Metamorpho’s funeral (or Tomorrow Woman’s, for that matter) because they were sure they were just going to be resurrected anyway. Contrast that with Manhunter’s funeral, where- despite Superman’s hopeful (and practical) prayer- the whole gang showed up. That might be Morrison’s way of telling us he’s not coming back, folks.

Of course, he might not have been thinking of that scene from JLA at all. And I’m becoming more convinced that MM and Barry- the fathers of the Silver Age- are going to become celestial beings of some sort by the end of this, so I clearly have no idea what I’m talking about.

I dunno, I skimmed this one (like I skimmed the first one) and there was nothing happening that dragged me into wanting to read it in greater depth. Everything is callbacks and shoutouts and nostalgia (Hey, look, everyone! Sunny Sumo! Isn’t that awesome…for the hardcore 70s Kirby fans who already know who he is?) …except for the bad guys, who are doing a sub-Geoff-Johns “we are so much more evil than ever before, look how evil we are” schtick that got old back when it was merely Infinite, instead of Final. :)

And again, it’s hard to buy into this series as “Final Crisis, the Day Evil Won, the Biggest Crisis Ever, the Major Event to End All Major Events” when they’re also simultaneously saying, “But don’t worry, it won’t impact on your regular books you buy, and we’ve committed to a full year of Trinity.” It reduces FC in scope before it’s even started, making it feel overhyped before I can get a chance to enjoy it.

Sorry, but this is just one that’s leaving me cold right now. Maybe in five years, I’ll go back and pick it up and get more out of it, but as an “event”, it’s weak tea.

Rohan Williams

June 28, 2008 at 6:00 am

“And again, it’s hard to buy into this series as “Final Crisis, the Day Evil Won, the Biggest Crisis Ever, the Major Event to End All Major Events” when they’re also simultaneously saying, “But don’t worry, it won’t impact on your regular books you buy, and we’ve committed to a full year of Trinity.” It reduces FC in scope before it’s even started, making it feel overhyped before I can get a chance to enjoy it.”

And yet we hardcore fans wonder why the Big Two don’t always listen to us… aren’t we the ones who said we wanted events that didn’t spill into every title going? Didn’t we say we wanted to read our ongoing series without them being sucked into the crossover du jour? I don’t mean to pick on you specifically, John, but I’ve heard this argument a lot in regards to FC, and it seems a little hypocritical.

….aren’t we the ones who said we wanted events that didn’t spill into every title going? Didn’t we say we wanted to read our ongoing series without them being sucked into the crossover du jour?

Certainly, I have said that, and it’s one of the things I approve of about both Final Crisis and Trinity. I have a hunch that FC will read better in trade– all Morrison’s work seems to go down better when it’s right there in one place, something that people tend to forget when he switches titles– but it pleases me a great deal that the other books are all chugging along fine.

Apart from everything else, it would be too expensive to keep up. I just canceled a bunch of my pulls at the shop simply because of price. If DC has figured out that today’s reaction to a line-wide crossover is a groan of “I can’t afford all this crap,” then more power to them.

I’m pretty sure they haven’t, but one can hope.

Not counting FC itself or DCU # 0, there are already 22 issues that “tie in” to FC, if you count all the limited series and one-shots, most of which DC is branding with a “Final Crisis” on the cover or as part of the title. That’s quite a bit money, and I do hope not all the issues are necessary to enjoy the overall story. The only one I’m really looking forward to is the Legion mini, as George Perez + the Legion = Something I will buy, even I don’t really care for the writer :D

Rohann, I think the point John was making was that, for some, it’s a bit hard to feel any interest about the ramifications of FC while Trinity is still ongoing, particularly when it comes to the Big 3. Maybe it’s a mistake for DC to be releasing both series at the same time? I think Trinity should have been released after FC, as a series to define the Big 3 in the post-FC status quo. There are also times when I feel why is Busiek defining who Batman is when “Batman RIP” is still on going, and is supposed to CHANGE BATMAN FOREVER!!! I don’t blame Busiek or Morrison for this, however, I just feel this is bad planning by the higher-ups at DC.

For my money, they should scrap Trinity, which is worthless.

I don’t like big events for their event-ness, I like or dislike them based on the story itself, and on the stories they make possible in other titles. (I didn’t read any mainline House of M, but I have since read some decent interesting stories produced by its premise).

I like the large scope of the FC story, but I don’t care whether it effects other titles or not.

Final Crisis works for me on its own merits, and makes me work to get what I can from it, which is something that I often need in an otherwise over-priced for the amount of entertainment medium/genre.

I’m still sort of puzzled how FC will fit in with all the other titles on a month by month basis. It doesn’t seem to be anywhere near as cohesive (yet) as Infinite Crisis was with regards the “spill” into other titles, and as others have commented, FCs “END OF ALL THINGS” spin sort of gets trashed when you have plenty of other titles that are obviously going to rumble on regardless of what happens in it.

So in terms of that, I’m wondering exactly where in the timeline FC is supposed to fit in. Is it *really* supposed to sit alongside all the other monthlies, or is it more of a kind of “What if” type affair that isn’t taking place in the here and now, but just a little further down the line time-wise…a kind of “this is the impending end of all things for everyone, but it’ll never actually happen because it takes place, uh, next week or something”.

Yeah, that’s the one. I think.

How come I less confused by Final Crisis then I have been the previous Crisis. I still really don’t remember what the original Crisis was about.

[...] Crisis #2 is getting some great reviews in the blogosphere. Which just goes to show how much tastes differ, since two issues in I’m [...]

“I’d actually prefer SI if it was more like Final Crisis: instead of spending pages on essentially meaningless action scenes, show me the mechanations that got the antagonist to their point of strength. (I much prefer the New Avengers stuff to SI.)”

I kind of like how the Secret Invasion stuff is playing out. You get the more character and detailed plot stuff in the Avengers books and you get your major action and plot beats in Secret Invasion. They compliment each other well. And the spinoffs aren’t that necessary but hey if you’re that type of person who wants to know Captain Britain’s perspective of the Invasion well there’s a book for that. I’m sticking mainly with the Avengers and Secret Invasion. But hey there’s that option.

But I’m digging Final Crisis. There’s just an oddness about I can’t resist. I’m also one of those few people who sort of likes not knowing who every character is and their backstory. If I really want to know wikipedia can give me a hand. Otherwise I’m enjoying the confusion so far. I think it does a better job because who in this story is important and who isn’t and what roles they play.

I guess I’m easy to please :)

Patient Reader

June 28, 2008 at 6:37 pm

Morrison’s writing if frequently uneven when he’s telling a “big” story, rather than several small stories centered around a big story. But some of the sums are more than the parts, and some of the parts are just wonderful. The middle part of World War III in JLA, the two part New Gods alternate reality future, is one of the best Fourth World stories EVER, despite some dreadful art. The Darkseid fight is easily the cleverest fight the character has ever been part of.

I have to say that i didn’t like FC at all, and I may start skimming through to see if anything if it’s worh buying in the future. I don’t know the sumo guy and do we need another Flash? We had three at one point. We lost the main one, aged the future one then killed him off, and brought the old- one back, and then brought back the older-older one? And uh, Martian Manhunter died. He’s gone for good. Just like when Barry Allen died in the first Crisis. uh..umm…..Hey look everybody it’s Barry Allen! The Flash who died years ago, but has been seen a couple of times since in the pages of the Flash comic every so often. So Manhunter ends up going to heaven..not martian heaven mind you, and becomes a warrior who defends heaven and 3 yrs from now comes back to Earth to warn the JLA of a new threat to all of mankind. Or comes back to warn us of Blackest Night. whichever comes first. I just can’t get into it. But at least I bought the first 2 issues. i stopped after the first issue of Secret Invasion. And didn’t we just have an injustice gang a while back? Now we’re get a League of evil or whatever again?!? Ish # 3 better get things going or i’m off the train. Oh and I suppose Darkseid planned on having his heart ripped out by Orion and then getting the chance to conquer heaven? That’s some industrial-strength Doctor Doom planning right there homies!

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