Final Crisis #1 (Review)
Final Crisis, issue one… what a strange book. You’ve got your New Gods, Kamandi, Anthro, some apparent time travel, a couple good guys getting killed, red skies, dissention in the ranks of the Monitors, The Dark Side Club (yes, last week’s Flash is a tie-in of sorts), obscure villains like Libra and the Human Flame (yes, last week’s Justice League comics was a useful lead-in), and recent heroes like the Alpha Lanterns.
First, some general comments and then some spoiler space to get into the nuts and bolts of things. If you haven’t read Grant Morrison’s “Seven Soldiers” series, you might want to take a peak at that. The solicitations for future issues reference things like his Frankenstein character (one of the better arcs of Seven Soldiers) and this issue has elements from his Mister Miracle arc (by far, my least favorite Seven Soldiers sequence, though certain elements of it are better explained here).
I don’t know how much of this series will make any sense to you if you’re not already familiar with the tropes and characters of the DC universe of the last few years, but Executive Editor Dan Didio made it fairly clear he’s not marketing to new readers in a recent interview with Publisher’s Weekly Comics Week.
What we do have here is the first chapter of an epic that will theoretically wrap up all the loose ends of the last couple years of the various DC comics, reinvigorate the concept of a multi-verse (other dimensions as separate continuities, like “Mirror, Mirror” for Star Trek fans), and perhaps tie a few more random series like Anthro and Kamandi into normal continuity.
That said, this issue is setting the stage and introducing some of the players. We know that there’s a new Secret Society of Super-Villains and they do kill superheroes. We find that the New Gods of New Genesis are dead and that some of them, at least the evil New Gods of Apokolypse have been reborn in a more human form. We find that an Earth in an alternate dimension has been destroyed and the conspiracy among the Monitors who monitor the various dimensions continues (as has been indicated in the previous 52 and Countdown titles). We don’t really know where any of this is going or how the plot threads hang together. An extra 20-pages would have done a world of good for clarity of outgoing direction.
As it stands, the first issue has lovely art from J.G Jones and a mysterious air about it as bad things happen to all sorts of people and you try and take it all in. Not a bad start, I just can’t tell you if the story will sustain without more of an idea where the plot is going.
Now for the nitty gritty, scroll down for the spoilers section
When Grant Morrison covered Mister Miracle in his Seven Soldiers series, I really disliked having Darkseid transformed into a gangster. Almost like a Kingpin knock-off, especially if you were referencing Michael Clarke Duncan’s cinematic take on the Kingpin. What Morrison was getting at there is now fleshed out a bit. Now while the portrayal of this doesn’t really jibe seamlessly with Countdown and its sundry series, Darkseid is to have finally managed to wipe out the New Gods and in doing so, all the New Gods have been reborn, or perhaps reincarnated as humans. Darkseid, now Boss Dark Side, has thugs named Kalibak and Kantos. In the Flash, what appear to be reincarnated para-demons talk about hunting “Forever People” as they’re supposedly kidnapping children. Here, we see Dark Side gathering an army of “gifted children” and, if I’m reading between the lines correctly, applying the Anti-Life Equation to them to make his own private army. Are these children the New Gods taken a younger, human form? Too early to say, but Darkseid, has been recast as a cross between the Kingpin and Fagin. And the Fagin-esque army of oppressed children was also a theme in Seven Soldiers.
Mind you, the neatest bit is the Green Lantern code 1011 for “deicide.” God-killing is a serious crime. Mind you, this never cropped up in Countdown or “Death of the New” Gods that the Green Lanterns were so concerned about gods getting murdered, but there were also rumors floating that this issue wasn’t going to quite match up with how things went down in the last issue of Countdown. Rumor confirmed.
One last New Gods bit: Metron continues to be used as a wildcard. As the issue opens, he’s cast as Prometheus, giving the gift of fire to Anthro. Later, his chair is recovered for the Secret Society, and in what’s either a piece of time travel or Anthro really isn’t from pre-historic times, Kamandi alleges Metron’s issued a weapon to fight the gods.
On the Secret Society side of things, another rumor is confirmed. The Martian Manhunter appears to be murdered at the behest of the Human Flame and by the hands of Libra.
Libra holds what appears to be the Crime Bible and asks what would happen if the good guys lived in a world where evil won, which seems to be running parallel with Darkseid/Side’s contention that he won his war. The Crime Bible appeared to originate from Apokolypse and has been hyped enough over the last two years, that this is probably a plot point that will be grown out a bit, if not spun out.
The least touched upon element, and least tied-in, thus far, with the rest is the conspiracy amongst the Monitors. The One Good Monitor has been stripped of his powers and banished to Earth (or should I be saying Earth-1). This has been going on in the background far too long, so if this plotline gets resolved here, so much the better.
A tapestry is being woven together from some long standing and disparate plot elements, of that much we can be sure. Some of them, like the New Gods reincarnation element, I’m ambivalent on. (Mind you, I hated it when it was done in short hand as part of Seven Soldiers, so it’s growing on me.) Judging by solicitations for future issues, there’s going to be more Seven Soldiers elements showing up, and I’m not sure how that will play out, Seven Soldiers having been off in its own little corner of the world.
Still, so far so good. The first issue reeks of potential, not failure. I’d like to have seen a little more direction from a first issue, but comic books rarely do more than basic set-up with a first issue these days and this one introduces quite a few moving parts.
Go ahead and jump in on it.