Welcome to the latest edition of Doomkopf’s Book of Doom. This week, our roundtable discussion is about the final issue of Grant Morrison’s “Final Crisis.” This isn’t the first time we’ve discussed the series on here, and our Book of Doom has even been devoted to its issues more than once or twice.
For this last issue, though, we’ve assembled a team of celebrity guest bloggers to join us in tackling the merits of said issue. None of us have the last word on the matter, though, so feel free to chime in with your own thoughts in the comments section.
To start with, let me say that my expectations for this series were pretty low following the abysmal lead-in from Countdown to Final Crisis, which I had the distinctly unpleasant task of reviewing for an entire year. Thankfully, Final Crisis glossed over that year and ignored every single thing that happened within the pages of that worthless piece of garbage.
Now that we’re at the end of Final Crisis, though, I’m left wondering what the point of all of it was. Crisis on Infinite Earths was created to fold a lot of continuity contradictions into one cohesive Earth; Infinite Crisis was made to brighten the DCU and get rid of all the gloom and paranoia (it failed in that); yet, Final Crisis just seems to be here to capitalize on the Crisis brand. It doesn’t make a lick of sense why this was published so soon after Infinite Crisis, but we’ll leave that alone, for now.
This issue, specifically, is what we’re here to discuss, so let’s do that. And, to get it out of the way, let me ask a simple question.
What the hell was that?
The Flashes do something that seems at best unnecessary and at worst illogical, bringing the Black Racer to Darkseid so that he can die more quickly than he would otherwise. Superman makes a wish into a Miracle Machine. Wonder Woman rejects the Anti-Life Equation. Aquaman comes back for a panel. The Green Lanterns see some monsters. A Vampire Superman shows up and gets killed. Captain Marvel from Earth-5 amasses an army that never sees any battle. The Monitors quit monitoring stuff.
Am I missing something here?
This just seems like the perfect ending to a series that has been incoherent nonsense since the start, and I suppose I’ll leave it at that, since I’m pretty drunk, and we have an all-star cast of guest reviewers to send us home. To start things, let’s turn things over to our very own Doominator:
So, I decided to give myself a test. Go only on what Doomkopf and Colonel Doom have said about Final Crisis and just dive right into the final issue of it. This makes it the only one I’ve read.
Strangely, I felt that the experience wasn’t cheapened by this circuitous route. I was still confused as all Hell and vaguely irritated by the whole affair.
So there was Darkseid, and he was being all badass and stuff and then Superman shows up, but it’s a black Superman, and then there’s a bunch of Supermen and everyone fights and there’s a bunch of villains and it all ends with people strikingly similar to the Watchers from Marvel putting a bunch of Earths in a warp drive-ish thing and then Batman is a caveman.
That sort of sums it up. Does it make sense? No. But it doesn’t have to! It’s a MULTIVERSE! With limitless possibilities comes limitless confusion, and Grant Morrison knew this. Either that, or he decided to warp Alan Moore’s themes from “Supreme” and the repeating legend. Or something. Then just give it uppers and see what happens.
What we end up with is either a stroke of genius, a streak of idiocy or a stroke. And I say that as a Grant Morrison fan and occasional apologist. I didn’t understand this and he didn’t want me to. It all makes sense in its lack of making sense!
Or maybe I should have read the whole series, but this is mostly just a test to see if my thoughts are on par with that of Doomkopf in that, at the end, I can make as much sense of it as they can.
Besides, my other choice was Archie, and I couldn’t stand to see Cheryl Blossom leave Riverdale. Supermarket aisles are so unkind.
I’m going to try to address Final Crisis #7 in two ways — as its own issue, and as the conclusion to the miniseries.
Near as I can tell, the first several pages are not unlike what happened in Crisis on Infinite Earths; we see heroes in the multiverse reacting to their world collapsing, and we see what’s left of New Earth after everything else was sucked into the abyss. So that’s fine. I can dig it.
(As an irrelevant aside, seeing the cover to the final edition of the Daily Planet — with the photo of the watchtower floating in bleedspace — cracked me up. I just have this image of Lois saying “Jimmy, we need a great photo for the last Daily Planet ever,” and Jimmy’s like “Gosh, there’s just not much left … Supergirl, can you fly me a few hundred yards away into the bloodstorm so that I can get a photo of the floating watchtower?”)
Superman and Darkseid blab back and forth, until the Flashes burst on the scene with Death chasing them. Let me tell you — that Darkseid is tough to kill. Not only did Orion’s death apparently fatally wound him, but then Batman killed him again with the god bullet, and then the Black Racer kills him again. And he’s still not dead!
Then it starts getting pretty lousy. The new Aquaman, who seems to be the old Aquaman, makes his second one-panel appearance in the series, just completely thrown in there with no kind of build-up or context or anything. This is especially ironic given that the caption reads “This is … the story of Arthur of Atlantis, prophesied to return in his people’s time of greatest need.” There was actually NO story about Arthur — just a one panel mention of his return — so actually no, it’s not the story of Arthur, unless that story is about 20 words long. Nor was there any mention of his people ever being under any kind of threat. It’s a shame that his people’s time of greatest need couldn’t even tug one stray panel from the endless story of the Obnoxious Japanese Teen Squad.
Back to the battle, Frankenstein apparently saved Wonder Woman by knocking her off her giant dog, because she’s all anti-life while riding the dog, but then fine a second later. More people should’ve tried knocking anti-life soldiers off their dogs.
So then Superman sings to Darkseid, which appears to blow up the Watchtower. Then Mandrakk — who has made absolutely no appearances in Final Crisis yet — shows up to ruin the day. Mind you, Superman Beyond existed so that Superman could defeat Mandrakk and have him be cast into the Monitor Overvoid, so if he’s still here, I have to wonder what the point of that miniseries was. And then a bunch of superheroes show up with the Judge of All Evil so that Green Lanterns can drive a stake through Mandrakk’s heart. And then maybe everything goes back to normal, but I don’t know, because Earth looks like it’s still reeling from the trash that Anti-Life left behind, but the Daily Planet building got repaired. So I don’t know where we are now.
This stuff reminds me of when I was a kid and I’d try to play the Marvel Super Heroes role playing game with my cousins. My one cousin would always be the “dungeon master” and he was pretty good at it, so my other cousin would get jealous and demand a turn. So then when he ran the show, it was all like “You wake up and all your partners are dead, and I have everyone’s powers, and now I can beat everyone.” It wasn’t a story. It was just one person telling us how he wanted stuff to be, and there was no ride to take us there.
Take, for example, how the multiverse collapsing was basically the hugest threat that was killing off everyone and everything. How did that get fixed? One panel, in Monitor recap, shows a bunch of superheroes dragging a planet with big chains. Shucks!
To be fair, I actually went back and re-read the whole thing tonight, and I have to say, as much of a cliche as this is, the thing does read better as one thing. But by “better,” I mean it’s a step up from the horrible mess I thought it was. And it’s still got no shortage of ridiculous problems.
I’m just baffled by people who think this was a good story. Where was this good story that I’m missing? What changed? Who grew? What greater insight emerged? What anything that comes from any kind of good story happened? At least the literary lepers known as “The Big Events” that this was supposed to transcend accomplish something, even if it’s just a superficial vehicle to advance the next big event. (Okay, now that I write that, I guess Batman did fake-die; apparently Superman’s wish for a happy ending involved putting everything back to how it was … except for leaving his friend totally screwed.)
If you take away the voluntarily applied level of obfuscation, this was a murder mystery with no mystery. It was a battle to save the multiverse against a threat that was never explained (Darkseid got hurt, so the multiverse is collapsing … right?) with a one-panel afterthought solution. It culminated with a battle against a villain who made his debut in the final chapter who was partially defeated by a pig and a poodle that were transformed into superheroes. I don’t blame Morrison for piling so much nonsense and so-called experimental storytelling on top, because I think if I’d come up with an epic like that, I’d want to hide it too.
Back in the beginning, the big hook that gave me hope in spite of a disappointing beginning was the mystery of who fired the bullet that killed Orion. Given that it came from the future, there was a good chance there was going to be some kind of ironic twist. At the very least, there would be some kind of “A ha!” moment. But no, it was just “Darkseid must have fired the bullet so let’s go get him.” So the mystery wasn’t ever a mystery.
There was the bizarre amount of attention given to the Japanese superhero role playing club. Surely, I thought, they must be so heavily featured because they’ll play a bigger role later, particularly given Grant Morrison’s complaints that he had to cram the story into seven issues. But no. They were just featured more to be featured more.
Then there’s the whole Countdown problem. I understand — DC editorial dropped the ball on a lot of this. That doesn’t change the fact that readers had to remember some things from Countdown and had to ignore other things, and there was never a clear way of understanding which was the important part and which was the part to forget. Beyond Countdown, understanding this story required a knowledge of numerous other external comics, yet when numerous other external comics contradicted events in this book, Grant Morrison would give another snide interview to Newsarama complaining that people have nothing better to do with their time.
Morrison and apologists defend the series by saying lazy readers just don’t want to think about their comics, but look at one of the main storylines throughout the book: The Flashes race the god-killing bullet backward through time, watch it hit Orion, and then turn around because they have to escape the Black Racer. But then several times throughout the series, they stop to do other things. Barry kisses his wife. One of the Flashes (it’s never explicitly stated who) evacuates a whole town. Then they gang up and come up with a plan to stop Darkseid, who was already dying because Batman shot him. The Black Racer, who was apparently taking breathers when they were, is right there chasing them again when they dodge Darkseid.
So what … did the Black Racer want to kill a Flash, but then got tricked into killing Darkseid (again)? If he wanted to kill a Flash, what’s stopping him from going “Oops, Darkseid got in the way. Time to chase a Flash some more” ? Or if he wanted to kill Darkseid, what were the Flashes even doing in the middle of all of that? Having such central storylines fail to hold up to such minimal scrutiny just discourages readers from putting what ended up being a necessary amount of thought into other aspects, and that is just one of many examples.
There were also numerous flaws with the visuals. For all Morrison’s claims that this was attempting to get past the wide-screen big-events of the 21st century, J.G. Jones’ visuals are much more suited for splash pages and covers than they are panel-to-panel storytelling. One glaring example from early on — Batman realizes in issue #2 the Alpha Lantern is lying by recognizing the imprint of John’s lantern ring on the palm of her hand, commenting that John has quite a right hook. But just a few pages before, when we sort of see John punching fake-Hal in the palm, he’s clearly not wearing a ring. So unless you spend way too much time trying to figure out what on earth Batman was talking about — and then subsequently realize it was a botched art cue — you have no idea what’s going on. And that degree of thinking and deciphering is simply not conducive to any kind of deeper appreciation of the creative output; it’s just struggling to make sense of a mess.
This would-be experimental storytelling — looking at a big event through slices of how it affects the people on the ground — isn’t new in any capacity. Marvel has done it several times with its Front Line series, in both Civil War and Secret Invasion. So imagine if Marvel decided to just release Civil War: Frontline and considered it good and then ask yourself if anyone would applaud Marvel for some kind of groundbreaking / visionary / experimental storytelling.
I’m all for artists pushing themselves, and I do not enjoy just hating on things. But at the end of the day, if you’re paying money for something, there’s nothing gained by grading on a curve. This had the potential to be something great. At times, it really looked like it was getting there. But this apparent shame at allowing a big event comic to be a big event comic has got to go, because it just results in self-sabotage.
• Our first celebrity guest this week is Nate Winchester from Hunting Muses:
First I just want to give a big greetings to the guys at doomkopf. You guys rock, no matter how often you’re wrong. Also, I’d like to give a big thanks to Comic Book World for letting me read and study Final Crisis 7 there in the store so I wouldn’t have to waste money on this.
I have to give Morrison credit. This is the first comic to ever cause me real, physical pain (and I went through all of Countdown), so I’m in on any class action lawsuits against FC induced migraines. However, with Final Crisis we get to see a once great writer become the Uwe Boll of comic books. One who (to quote agony booth) “breaks rules of drama so obvious that you never knew they existed until you see them not being followed.”
What can I say about Final Crisis now that the whole thing is finished? It’s like watching a train, plane and earthquake strike an elementary school all at once: the fail is of such epic magnitude that one can’t decide who’s to blame. Is Morrison to blame for raping the rules of narrative fiction? Are the editors to be blamed for letting sentences slip like: “Its cargo not gods. Not monsters. But heroes. [sic]”? For myself, I blame Morrison who’s reply, “F– Continuity” apparently applies to his own efforts. Note that all of these are dialogs, nothing here can be blamed on the artist(s).
1. Darkseid taunts Superman with, “Kill me and you kill everything.” Didn’t Superman just point out how Batman’s bullet was killing Darkseid? So Batman is going to kill everything? And if Darkseid is dying anyway, so why is he taunting someone about killing him? Why are the flashes, dragging death to Darkseid’s door? Won’t that kill everything?
2. Issue 3: a flash says, “…death can’t travel faster than the speed of light.” In issue 6: the flashes say that Darkseid is “beyond the reach of light, we’ll have to run faster than we ever have before.” Issue 7: Wally screams out, “Death’s… gaining on us!” One of the above statements has to be false.
3. The “judge of all evil” tells the other Monitors that they have to stop interfering with earth. Except… they haven’t been interfering. Get a pair of scissors, cut out every page and panel even remotely involving the monitors and the narrative of Final Crisis remains intact (if not improved). They contributed NOTHING to the story.
4. Darkseid (several times) claims and is described as “the god of all evil.” Then the final showdown is held against “the ultimate evil”. Guess what, the latter there isn’t Darkseid. So either Darkseid isn’t the “god of” anything other than pretentiousness (oh wait, that’s Morrison), or Mandrakk isn’t “ultimate” anything.
Then we just have some of the shittiest story choices I’ve ever seen.
• Why are the green lanterns only given 24 hours to save the universe? If the universe is at stake shouldn’t they have… all the time they need? Is it a timer? (in 24 hours = no universe) Why then are the green lanterns in the final showdown saying “Our 24 hours is up!” (there should be no universe)
• We also learn that when Wonder Woman (remember her?) was infected (remember that?) way back in issue 3; it was with “Morticoccus, the God-Bacterium designed to strip earth’s heroes of their powers.” Why was this secret until the final issue? Why couldn’t the readers have been informed at the moment of infection? It would have made many scenes a lot more dramatic. Instead, we have “DRAMA” then told afterwards why it was. Fail Morrison! You can’t try and retcon earlier panels just because you’re too lazy to do a simple rewrite.
• Monitors are made of pure thought. So how is one of them (even a vampire one) both “staked” and “burned”? Quick! Stake a thought!
Then the book is just filled out with tons of minor idiocies.
• Says the vampire to Superman: “I need to eat you raw!” How do vampires NOT eat something raw?
• Says the Japanese Batman: “Let me show you what money unleashed can do!” You do realize that money is just a representative middle man of the bartering system right? If you think “money unleashed” has any power, let me drop you off in the middle of Antarctica with a billion dollar bills.
• The green lanterns get help into earth by… what is it? Oh we’re never told.
• Says “the judge of all evil” (aka a character Morrison pulled out of his ass at the last minute): “The supermen of the multiverse: a team of solar-powered heroes so incredible it can be assembled only once.” Really? Why? The issue concludes with a news cast saying “…more on those newly discovered parallel worlds…”. So what happens if all the Supermen start jumping worlds and decide to go hang out in a clubhouse?
• Who’s the “old man” at the end? No clues are given.
I challenge anyone to find a single page of the whole issue that doesn’t have fail. You can’t, it just goes on and on. Is there anything good about Final Crisis? Yeah, it makes Countdown: Arena read like Shakespeare.
Also joining us for this occasion is Robb @ Capes Comics:
I honestly don’t know where to begin. I don’t know what happened. This is the worst issue of the worst “event” I’ve ever read. Where the hell is the relevance? What happened? This story was set up to be more than just a mini series. Reality altering, epic, and the end all be all in DC History. The Story was described as, ‘the worst day in history”. Instead, we are tormented with the worst event in DC History.
Here is what I got out of Final Crisis #7.
Was the Vampire Monitor the “main” villain the entire time? I thought Darkseid was the bad guy. Wasn’t that what was going on the entire time?? Wasn’t the “worst day in DC history” suppost to be the day the heroes lost… which was… I think when the virus was unleashed onto the world. Ok. I’m getting angry just reliving this story over in my head.
The last scene where we saw Darkseid, he was looking sad and standing next to Superman… then a few pages later, he’s a colorful computer face talking to Superman. I missed why. I assume this is because Darkseid is now a computer virus that has infected us all. But Superman defeats him by singing. Singing… “Darkseid always hated Music”. Wha?
Flipping back through pages and I’m getting lost to what’s going on. I see Superman President… Oh I remember where I left off. Out of nowhere Mandrakk, the ultimate evil Monitor pops up again, and is the threat?? Again, I’m not sure why? Then the Sky fills with “Supermans” from the multiverse. Some we’ve seen before. A good monitor snaps his fingers and we get Captain Carrot and then Hal Jordan makes a green stake to put through the heart of the Vampire Monitor. And we win???
We see all the Monitors looking at the multiverse of Earths like they are in an aquarium, as the flying heroes help pull the earth back somewhere. Some people hug… some more people hug, then another monitor wakes up and we are left with the thought… this is only the beginning… SHOOT ME!!! Then the last couple of pages end with a “teaser” Batman , scribbling on a wall, and apparently the only thing he can draw is a bat. The End.
Citizen Kane… this isn’t. I have never been so angry after reading a comic. And not in a good way. Is the DC Universe different now? Has something happened? Is time now different. What was the point of this event? Just to throw Batman around in time? Other than Martian Manhunter’s Death… What happened? NOTHING Nothing Nothing.
NOTHING?? If this was a stand alone mini series, I’d be ok with this. But it wasn’t. It was the “Crisis” event that took 52 issues of Countdown to Final Crisis, then a handful of spin offs, the “Sightings”, and the “Darkside club” and finally the seven worst issues in DC History. For what? For Batman to make cave drawings??? I can’t stop ranting… Music… Superman sings and stops Darkseid? Really?
I want to remember some of Dc’s past events off the top of my head: Day of Judgment, Invasion, War of the Gods, Eclipso the Darkness Within, Final Night, Amazons Attack, DC 1 Million, Identity Crisis, and Infinite Crisis. Marvel has its own event library. They usually have a point, and push the universe in a direction or set a tone. Not once in my life have I read an event comic and felt this anger, and disgust. What was the point DC? As it stands, this was supposed to be the culmination to years worth of buildup and hype, a story that supposedly affected the entire DCU, and ultimately was supposed to change everything. As it stands, aside from two characters that were basically dealt with in their own titles and feel like afterthoughts, nothing changed. Except me, DC. I changed. And I lost a lot of faith in DC Comics.
And last, but certainly not least (he trimmed his 18 page review down to 6 pages for us) is Rokk from Rokk’s Comic Book Revolution:
There were many aspects of Final Crisis #7 that I enjoyed. Morrison delivers a read that is so rich in details and so chock full of wild concepts. There are so many layers to this issue for the reader to delve into. This is an issue that definitely gets better after multiple readings. The reader can easily read Final Crisis #7 three or four times and discover new details each time.
I liked the scene at the JLA satellite. If nothing else, Morrison certainly delivered an incredibly heroic and ballsy Black Canary during Final Crisis. And I liked how Morrison handled Lex Luthor as he arrived to the rescue with Libra’s army of villains under his control. And, even though Morrison largely relegated Wonder Woman to a rather minor role in Final Crisis, at least Wonder Woman got her brief moment to shine in this issue when she used her golden lasso of truth to free the people of Earth from Darkseid’s anti-life equation.
However, my favorite part of Final Crisis #7 was probably after the remnant of Darksied’s spirit is destroyed by Superman and then Mandrakk appears. I enjoyed the showdown between Nix, Superman and the army of heroes versus Mandrakk and Ultraman. It was cool to see all the different versions of Superman from the various multiple Earths. However, the best part of this scene was the dramatic arrival of the Green Lanterns and how they drive a massive stake through Mandrakk’s heart.
Mandrakk’s appearance in this issue worked with the story and made sense given his character and what we learned of him in Final Crisis: Superman Beyond. Mandrakk is the dark Monitor who feeds off worlds. Mandrakk appears at the moment in this issue before the Miracle Machine has been fired up. Earth is dying and Mandrakk is here to suck it dry and send the Earth on to its death.
The surprise reveal was that this was not the Final Crisis for the Earth or for the Multiverse. That this was the Final Crisis for the Monitors. That was a neat plot twist. And the solution on how to deal with the Monitors was actually rather logical. The parasitic Monitors have continually caused more harm than good to the Multiverse.
I like Morrison’s resolution of the Monitors by having Nix decide that they should be absorbed back into the Overmind. The Monitors are simply creatures of thought that were spawned by the probe from the original Monitor’s mind. So, all the Monitors were essentially just the original Monitor’s thoughts that had gained some type of autonomy. Having the Monitors sucked back into the Overmind that is the Monitor’s subconscious was the perfect ending. This also put a nice ending to the tale of the Monitor that began back with Crisis on Infinite Earths.
I feel conflicted over the use of the Miracle Machine in Final Crisis #7. I both hated it and liked it. The Miracle Machine is the ultimate piece of Jack Kirby technology that is literally god from a machine. It was almost impossible to expect Morrison to deliver such an epic cosmic tale and not utilize the Miracle Machine at some point.
In general, I do not like convenient deus ex machina devices that rescue a writer from a seemingly impossible situation, but the fact is that the use of the Miracle Machine actually makes sense in this story given all of the other themes dealing with the Monitors and the New Gods. Morrison at least had the heroes defeat the two villains in Darkseid and Mandrakk without the use of the Miracle Machine.
Now, it appears that there have been a few small changes to the DCU’s continuity with Final Crisis #7. The biggest change is that the Multiverse is now a matter of public knowledge. I am glad that DC finally pulled the trigger on this move. It should be interesting to see how the knowledge of the Multiverse impacts the various characters in the DCU.
Another change that Morrison had Nix Uotan rebuilds Earth-51 into the Kirby Earth where he places all of Kirby’s DC work. The Japanese heroes are now the new Forever People. Personally, I love Kirby’s creations for DC. And I hope that DC allows Morrison to write a title that takes place on Earth-51.
We also get the return of New Genesis and all the New Gods. Apokolips turns into New Genesis as the Fifth World has arrived. This move appears to basically, re-boots the New Gods as we see characters like Highfather back that have been dead for a while. Again, I love Jack Kirby so I am glad that the New Gods are back in all their glory.
Another change to the DCU that Final Crisis #7 brought is that the original Aquaman is back. And he is back in all of his Silver Age glory. Morrison even has Aquaman riding his giant seahorse named Sea-Storm.
The theme of narratives and stories as well as the characters that inhabit them is the central theme in Final Crisis. And this is a theme that Morrison started playing with during his run on Animal Man right after Crisis on Infinite Earths junked the Multiverse. In Animal Man, Morrison mourned the loss of the Multiverse and all of the wonderful stories and characters that used to make up the deep and complex fabric of the DCU’s Multiverse.
Morrison uses the scene with Superman facing Mandrakk with the Superman army from the multiple Earths, the Green Lanterns, Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew, and the new Forever People all behind Superman to bring to a climax his view of the Multiverse.
During his run on Animal Man, Morrison had the characters from these Multiple Earths question why they were gotten rid of. Morrison had these characters say that they all had their own lives and their own stories to tell. Morrison was disappointed that this wonderful and outrageous literary device was junked in favor of a more “realistic” DCU. The death of the Multiverse began the era of more “adult” and darker and more “serious” comic book stories.
During this showdown in Final Crisis #7 Morrison uses Superman to convey Morrison’s admiration of the Multiverse. Mandrakk is basically the embodiment of all the dark, realistic and adult style of comic book writing that seeks to suck dry the outrageous and fantastical aspects of comic books.
The Miracle Machine also worked nicely with Morrison’s theme of stories and how narratives make up the reality of the Multiverse. That the super heroes in the DCU are incredible beings who are capable of writing great stories. And that their hope and goodness enable them to create happy endings as well.
Having said that, the use of the Miracle Machine lacked some internal logic. Why would a happy ending consist of Superman’s supposed good friend Batman being stuck in Anthro’s world? Why wouldn’t Superman made sure that his wish entailed the Miracle Machine bringing Batman back into their reality as good as new like everything else?
And let’s talk about Batman being stranded on Anthro’s world. My question would be what does this do for Batman’s character? What does stranding Batman on Anthro’s world do to grow Batman’s character? What does it do to make Batman’s character cooler?
To me, Batman is a character that works the best when relatively insulated from the rest of the DCU. Batman is an urban boogeyman. His world consists of twisted psychopaths and paranoid schizophrenics wearing gruesome faces. Batman is the bump in the night.
However, Batman tends to become irrelevant when he is in stories involving Kryptonians, gods and alternate realities. I fear that this newest direction with Bruce Wayne’s character is going to be just another outrageous addition to Batman’s continuity like so many of his weird Silver Age stories. And that in the end writers that follow Morrison will simply ignore this entire direction with Bruce’s character.
Now, I do not think that Morrison does not deserve to shoulder all the blame for Final Crisis. Part of that does fall on Dan DiDio. He is the Editor in Chief and he calls the shots. What is such a shame is that I do think that Final Crisis had lots of potential. Morrison had plenty of neat ideas. Unfortunately, the execution and promotion of Final Crisis was terribly botched from the start.
One huge was mistake was DiDio forcing Final Crisis into being a DCU event when it never was from the start. By calling this a “Crisis” event and stating that it dealt with the entire DCU and its heroes, DiDio immediately built this event up into more than Morrison had designed this to be.
The smarter course of action would have been for DiDio to simply say that Final Crisis was Morrison’s ode to Kirby. That Final Crisis was a standalone event that was merely the conclusion of Seven Soldiers, Death of the New Gods and Countdown.
If this had been the approach from the start then readers would not have been expecting a huge DCU event that impacted the DCU to its very core and have an influence on all of DC’s titles like the previous two Crisis events did. This approach would have let Final Crisis do its own little story and the readers would not have complained that Final Crisis was virtually ignored in all of DC’s other titles.
The fact is that at no point was Morrison expecting Final Crisis to be a massive big event spanning the entire DCU and impacting all of DC’s titles. However, that is the route that DiDio went with promoting Final Crisis.
Another problem with Final Crisis was that it was simply way too short. Final Crisis should have been a twelve issue series. I have thought that since the beginning. Unfortunately, it was DiDio’s call to limit Morrison to only seven issues.
The fact is that DiDio should have recognized this fact and allowed Morrison to properly tell his story in a twelve issue series. Now, would Final Crisis still have had serious defects even if it had been delivered in twelve issues? Absolutely.
However, many of the complaints from readers that they felt like too many important plotlines were taking place outside of the pages of Final Crisis itself would have been addressed. It would have made it much easier for readers to simply only read Final Crisis itself and have a better understanding of what was going on if DiDio had allowed it to be a twelve issue series.
Of course, Morrison deserves his fair share of the blame for the failings of Final Crisis. Once Morrison realized he was being restricted to only seven issues, it was incumbent upon him to edit his story to properly fit the number of issues that DiDio had given him. It was Morrison’s responsibility to edit his story in order to streamline it for a seven issue format. Instead, Morrison completely overwhelms the reader with too many convoluted and unnecessary plotlines at the last minute.
Examples of this would be the plotline concerning the technocide by the Metal Men of Earth-44. The one panel featuring the return of the original Aquaman was completely random and jarring. And the completely random insertion of the abandoned animals from Earth-35 in the scene where Mandrakk is facing off with Nix, Superman and the assembled heroes.
It was if Morrison was throwing as many ideas at the wall and seeing what stuck. And by cramming of so many seemingly random short scenes (sometimes only a panel or two long) into the issue only furthered the scatterbrained impression that many readers got of Morrison’s writing on Final Crisis.
Another problem with Final Crisis #7 was that Morrison failed to give the reader practically any explanation at all for some of the plotlines. And some of the scenes are delivered in such a fashion that they were almost incoherent. At least they were to me.
The Barry Allen plotline was overly-convoluted just for the sake of convolution. I saw no reason at all for the two Flashes to have to race to Darkseid with the Black Racer in tow.
Why did the Flashes need to lure the Black Racer over to Darkseid? If the Black Racer is the Grim Reaper for the New Gods then shouldn’t he had just known to appear and take Darkseid’s soul at the time of Darkseid’s death? I mean, he is the Grim Reaper. Collecting souls after gods die is his job. I would imagine that he would know when and where to be to collect a soul.
Morrison failed to give me any explanation of why the Flashes needed to race the Black Racer over to Darkseid. This was such a half-baked and poorly explained plotline. It seemed to lack any logic at all. And on top of it all, Darkseid does not even die after the Black Racer appears before him to collect his soul. Darkseid lingers on until almost the very end of this issue.
I was lost when Lord Eye’s tunnel failed and then Mister Miracle’s boom tube transported all of the Japanese heroes to Earth-51. I could not tell if Hawkman and Hawkgirl died in this scene or not. I also had no idea if the Miracle Machine brought them back to life when it restored our Earth. The same thing goes for Black Canary and Green Arrow. Are they all alive again once Superman used the Miracle Machine to wish for a happy ending?
I also got completely lost when Morrison was talking about how the heroes created a tunnel to another world that evidently worked and then failed. And then somehow the survivors are cryogenically frozen and then shrunk down and placed into what appeared to be ice trays. This part of Final Crisis #7 was the moment where Morrison seemed the most incoherent to me.
Another problem with Final Crisis is that Morrison decided to employ an extremely unconventional style of storytelling. In an interview Morrison stated that he was trying to use a new “channel-zapping” technique to tell this story. That Morrison wanted a storytelling that did not ape TV or film and instead tried a few tricks from opera and music.
Look, I totally respect an artist for trying to push the limits of his medium. I love visionaries who attempt to break new ground in their chosen artistic field. This is what truly talented artists who care about their craft strive for.
So, while I completely respect and am impressed with Morrison’s artistic aspirations I have to say that maybe Final Crisis was not the right time or place for this type of experimentation. Maybe Morrison should have explored this new style of storytelling on a Vertigo title first. Something small and niche oriented.
The problem is that Morrison had never tried this style of storytelling and the result was a read that felt rather scatterbrained. The flow of the story was unpleasant and jarring. At times I actually wondered if I was reading a rough draft of Final Crisis rather than the final polished script.
I do not think that a big event like Final Crisis is the time to start experimenting and tinkering with a radical new artistic method of storytelling. The fact is that Final Crisis is not some niche Vertigo title. Final Crisis was DC’s big event that was going up against Secret Invasion. Comic book companies use big events to generate excitement in their comic books and to try and entice new readers to come give their titles a chance.
And this is where Final Crisis failed the most. Final Crisis is not even remotely new reader friendly. This title would be a nightmare for someone who has never read a DC comic book before. I have been reading DC comics for several decades and I still struggled my way through Final Crisis.
If I was trying to entice a new reader to give DC a chance then Final Crisis would probably be the absolutely last title I would give to that new reader. I think that new readers would read Final Crisis and then run away screaming from any DC comic book afterward. Final Crisis is just not the route to go in order to make an effort to gain new readers to the DCU. Final Crisis did nothing to make new readers view the DCU as being particularly accessible.
Final Crisis #7 was an issue that will not win over critics of the first six issues of Final Crisis. Nor will Final Crisis #7 disappoint fans of the first six issues of Final Crisis. I found that Final Crisis did not give an ending that was satisfying enough compared to the previous two Crisis events. The first Crisis took away the Multiverse. The second Crisis brought back the Multiverse. On the other hand, Final Crisis only made modest tweaks to the DCU.
While the first two Crisis events had a massive impact on the DCU and all of their titles, Final Crisis has had a small impact on the DCU and practically no impact on any DC titles outside of the Batman titles. So in that sense, the ending of Final Crisis did not live up to my expectations.