Book of Doom: Final Crisis #1

Final Crisis 1I’m not quite sure yet what to make of Final Crisis #1. It wasn’t another mind-numbing crapfest like I’ve come to expect from Grant Morrison, which means I’m not rejecting the rest of the story off-hand (like I did with All-Star Superman and Batman RIP). Then again, it didn’t really do anything to make me care about Final Crisis more than I did before I bought the issue.

Let’s get the good stuff out of the way first. The art was gorgeous. I’ve never seen any of J.G. Jones’ sequential stuff before, but I was really impressed. I think I’m definitely going to have to check out his work on Wanted (although I might steer clear of Morrison’s Marvel Boy).

I’m glad that recently happenings in the DC Universe haven’t just been completely ignored by Morrison, even if he didn’t get all of his facts straight. I’m especially glad Countdown, The Death of the New Gods and Salvation Run were actually brought into the story. Even if those series weren’t exactly “good” or “readable,” it’s nice to know that they weren’t a complete waste of time. And I never thought I’d see the Alpha Lanterns outside of a Green Lantern title.

Now for the bad. Morrison needs to get some original ideas. The biggest complaint I’ve heard so far about FC is, “All the villains are teaming up again? That’s like the fourth time in three years.” I’ll go you one better. This is the second consecutive Crisis that started with Martian Manhunter seemingly being killed by a character that hasn’t been seen in a DC comic for twenty years. It happened here with Libra, and it happened two years ago when Superboy-Prime blew up the Watchtower with J’onn J’onzz inside.

Morrison also needs to pay more attention. The Monitor of Earth-51 wasn’t exactly “negligent” for letting his Earth die. Superman-Prime, Monarch, Solomon, Monarch’s army and all the rest of the Monitors played a pretty crucial role in that one, and the Monitors should know that (unless these nigh-omnipotent beings can’t monitor and fight at the same time). Besides, Earth-51 isn’t even dead, it’s just post-apocalyptic. And the New Gods have been dying for quite some time, so why is it that GLs are just now being called in to investigate deicides? At least three New Gods have recently died on Earth alone, including Big Barda, Knockout and Darkseid. Oh wait, I guess he’s not dead anymore.

Maybe the stuff involving The Dark Side Club would have been more interesting if this had been the first introduction to the organization, but it actually made its debut last week in Birds of Prey. Then again, it wasn’t really that interesting while I was reading that issue either. A superhuman fight club isn’t exactly an original idea either, but I don’t remember even reading about one set in the DC Universe, so I’m willing to give Morrison a pass on this one. But if it turns out there isn’t any more to this than meets the eye, and this is just Darkseid and his crew in new bodies, I’ll be sorely disappointed. At least Morrison wisely left Granny Goodness out of this issue; her new character design is just ridiculous.

One final complaint: the dialogue was really bad sometimes. I can’t imagine Batman ever saying “Different universes, same dumb.” Why did everyone suddenly start calling the New Gods the “Evil Gods?” Orion, Mr. Miracle and other allies are New Gods, and the JLA certainly doesn’t consider them evil. And the entire bit with “the blindingly obvious Doctor Light/Mirror Master team” was just unbearable. Doctor Light can’t get hold of little Cialis on his own?

Despite the fact that I easily came up with twice as many things that I disliked about the issue, I didn’t hate it. The story itself wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad enough to disappoint me. Maybe that’s because I’d built up in my mind (no doubt with a little help from Jim Doom) that Morrison would fail miserably, so anything better than that would come as a nice surprise. But many good stories that started out a little underwhelming have turned things around in the long run.

Now let’s take a look at what Jim Doom had to say about the issue:

“I couldn’t help but think of “Infinite Crisis #1” while reading “Final Crisis #1,” particularly all the ways in which IC #1 was awesome that FC #1 was not.

Infinite Crisis emerged seamlessly out of the events in the DC Universe. You watched months of buildup unfold, and then there it was, all coming together in the first issue. Final Crisis had a year or two to unfold, and then it shows up to either ignore or contradict what has led up to it.

Infinite Crisis #1 absolutely gave me the feeling that something big and amazing is going to happen. That issue was packed with things happening that gave a hint to the level of chaos that was to follow. Final Crisis #1 was meandery at times, downright stupid at others. About midway through the book, I flipped back to the cover to re-read “1 of 7,” because I thought “If this is the opening salvo, how are they going to do anything meaningful in only six more issues?”

I’m also not at all excited about the rest of this series, and I’m honestly shocked about that. I was very critical of the build-up to Final Crisis, and I was less than sold on the idea of putting Grant Morrison in charge of it, but at the same time, I figured DC knew what it was doing enough to put something good on the table. I was absolutely not prepared for the first issue to be such a disappointment.

Literally the first five pages are 80% splash pages. The first seven pages are about primitive man learning to wield new power. And then it gets stupid.

So this old detective finds Orion in the dumpster. Apparently after all that battle in Countdown and DONG, nobody bothered to clean up. Not only that, apparently THE JUSTICE LEAGUE HAS JUST GOTTEN WORD THAT SOMEONE IS KILLING NEW GODS, even though ALL OF THE NEW GODS ARE DEAD. Remember? That happened in Death of the New Gods. Even better, Orion’s death is tipping off the JL that maybe some New Gods are dying, even though obviously the only way he could possibly be in a dumpster is if as resolution to the battle we saw in the final pages of Countdown, almost a year after Superman learned of Lightray’s death. And remember how SUPERMAN WAS THERE FOR VIRTUALLY ALL OF THE DEATH OF THE NEW GODS SERIES?

Yet there he stands in front of the Justice League, acting like it’s some kind of mystery that New Gods are dying. When pondering the stupidity of this, I thought to myself, “Well maybe this happens a few months ago.” But no, because then the old detective finds Darkseid in disguise, who tells him “There was a war in Heaven, Mister Turpin, and I won.”

So this clearly happens after DONG. And apparently Darkseid has full possession of the anti-life equation (one of the stupidest inventions in comics, by the way) yet he is required to maintain a disguise to covertly ensnare humanity. Or something. And Granny Goodness seems to be alive again too. UGH. Just when I thought we were going to be rid of that Jack Kirby nonsense. But no, there’s a black skiier floating in the sky.

I don’t know what was going on in that awful junkyard scene. Apparently this “League of Titans” found Metron’s chair in a dump, but it was actually a trap, as Mirror Master and Dr. Light set up a bunch of mirrors so that Dr. Light could use their reflective abilities to zap all of those goons at once. But Dr. Light and Mirror Master wanted that chair — so why didn’t they just take it first instead of building a mirrored trap around it and then waiting for people to show up for them to ambush? The other option would be that a bunch of mirrors just coincidentally happened to be propped up in the junkyard, right? And then as if that wasn’t stupid enough, they throw in a Viagra joke. How absolutely jaw-droppingly tone-deaf and pathetic.

As tired as I am of plots involving Villains Uniting, I think I’m starting to get equally tired of comic books that involve Libra sitting in a board room discussing supervillain politics with loyalists and doubters. Last week’s JLA was basically nothing but setup to this Martian Manhunter murder scene, which, by the way, elicited zero response in me. I can only hope it’s some kind of fake death because of how poorly it was set up and how meaningless it was when it happened. But even then, if it’s going to be a fake, what a lost opportunity to take readers on an emotional ride.

And finally there’s the issue of J.G. Jones. His 52 covers were awesome. His work with Morrison on the Marvel Boy series was amazing. This was pretty good on the scale of All Active Comic Artists, but a little disappointing knowing what Jones is capable of.

I imagine Morrison apologists believe everything is happening for a reason and that ultimately this will be a great story. There’s a difference between the type of mystery and ambiguity that intrigues readers and makes them hungry for more, and the type of mystery and ambiguity that makes readers think “Wow, this sucks.” I think it’s obvious which camp I fall into. And if this ends up being a great stand-alone story, well that’s fine, but this is a freaking Crisis event. These things aren’t stand-alone stories — they’re the culmination of intertwining multiverse-wide events. If you’re going to do a stand-alone story, don’t build up to it, simple as that, because then you won’t have the problem of your main event contradicting and ignoring what you did to lead into it.

I don’t see myself dropping this book, just because I pretty much keep up on all the big events in the two major companies out of curiosity. But if my comic buying decisions were made solely on quality and interest, there’s no way I’d come back for Final Crisis #2. Beyond disappointment, I’m just surprised it’s that bad.”