Tuesday, October 28, 2008

on final crisis.

Well, Final Crisis 4 came out last week and words really can't do a good enough job of expressing how truly disappointed I am in the tale thus far. To be honest, I know I'm going to come across like more of a geek here than I ever have before, but comics matter a lot to me. It's a great source of storytelling, in my opinion, and this was supposed to be one of its finest hours. Unfortunately, it's increasingly looking like something that'll be swept under the rug as soon after its completion as humanly possible.

To start with, the schedule. I know there's this justification and that justification, but if we examine them for what they truly are, they're just excuses. Morrison has claimed that one of the reasons for the inconsistencies in issue one is that when he had started to write Final Crisis, Countdown and Death of the New Gods didn't even yet exist. (After I had this entry completely composed, I found the link that I'd wanted to use above. But I couldn't resist including this quote for people too lazy to click through: "Well, the way it worked out was that I started writing Final Crisis #1 in early 2006, around the same time as the 52 series was starting to come out, so Final Crisis was more a continuation of plot threads from Seven Soldiers and 52 than anything else. Final Crisis was partly-written and broken down into rough issue-by-issue plots before Countdown was even conceived, let alone written. And J.G. was already working on designs and early layouts by the time Countdown started. There wasn’t really much opportunity, or desire, to modify our content at that stage." Unbelievable.) Which means that, theoretically, Morrison's claiming that he's been writing this story for about a year and a half. JG Jones, then, has had just as long to pencil the thing. Now, the month-long break between issues 3 and 4 was always planned but then it got delayed. And we heard various reasons for that, but the latest thing that I'd heard was that Morrison was going back to tweak his scripts to reflect the inconsistencies mentioned above. That simply hasn't happened yet. I'm willing to grant that it might in future issues (I mean, we do have three left, which means I'll still be writing about this series almost a year from now, at the rate we're going now) but I'm not willing to bet that it will. And that's a poor sign from a writer whom we're supposed to trust to do great things. I'm not denying Grant Morrison's a fabulous writer! But just because an artist puts out some amazing opus early in his or her career doesn't mean that their later shit doesn't stink. Know what I mean? Grant Morrison's stellar output earlier in life doesn't mean he gets to write a shitty story now. There's no free passes given out.

Secondly, even if I'm willing to accept that that's just the way it is now, comics are late, and we'll put up with it, cuz we still buy them no matter how late and crappy they are, the fact still remains: it's a crappy story. The four issues that I've bought of Final Crisis, thus far, tell a poor story. I really don't even get the story they're trying to tell. Everything's disjointed, and not in that cool, badass, Jungian psychology type of way, but rather in the, "I've been reading comics for just under 20 years, I know tons of the geeky stuff, the hidden stuff, and this makes no sense!" type of way. (I know. That's a misuse of quotation marks. I didn't want to hyphenate all those words together.) Seriously, though, if you want to go beyond the subjective viewpoint that this is a crappy story, can we at least examine the objective truth behind this story and see that it's utterly and completely failed?

This was billed, first of all, as the final part of a trilogy of Crises. That trilogy started in Crisis on Infinite Earths which is a much-revered story in the geekdom, but might have its place re-examined if it keeps inspiring insipid tripe like this. The second part of the trilogy was Infinite Crisis which I thought was a cool comic book/action movie story, if a bit over-the-top and maybe a bastardization of some rather beloved characters. So, to start with, where's the multiverse in all this? All we've seen thus far is that Darkseid is falling through it. Um, that's cool.

Secondly, in this subset, this story was billed as "The Day Evil Won." I'm not feeling that evil's won. I mean, in Final Crisis I am. A little bit. I get it because of the subtle use of imagery like the police beating innocent people, and the hive-like crowd, and Wonder Woman being a bad guy. I get it. But...I thought the whole one-month break was the let the other books in the (cohesive) DC Universe catch up with Final Crisis and we'd see a vastly different universe, something where, ya know...evil had won? I don't see that in any of the books and I'm willing to take ten to one odds that I never will! Johns has a bunch of arcs planned out already in Superman (see the kick-ass Action Comics) as well as Green Lantern (see the amazing upcoming Rage of the Red Lanterns) and there's just no way those fit in with a world where evil has won. Morrison himself is busy deconstructing Batman in RIP and while some of these things may be tangentially related (at best) there's no way to reasonably accept that there will be any kind of lasting consequence to this story.

Which brings me to my final point. Marvel takes a lot of flack for doing endless summer crossover after endless summer crossover. And I agree with that point. And usually, they're not all that great. But you cannot argue with the fact that there are consequences to their stories. The universe actually does change. Maybe not in the way we want it to, but it changes. The stories have weight, because I know that after the stories are done, things will be different.

Final Crisis carries with it none of that weight. Almost all of the crossovers that came before for DC did. Zero Hour was good in my opinion, but even if you didn't subjectively like it, it told a whole story, there were definite repercussions to it. Same with Crisis on Infinite Crisis. Even Bloodlines, Armaggedon 2001, etc. That's the basic problem here. We as readers can see no effects of this mini-series that is supposed to be really important, put a rest to these Crises, and change everything forever, even now in the other books. And if we can't see that, how are we supposed to believe that anything will be different after it's over?

At this point, I'm already committed, plus I'm a comic-book-junkie, so I'll definitely be picking up issues five, six, and seven of Final Crisis. I'm fully aware that makes me something of a hypocrite, but I'm willing to take it for this one. But...I've even given up on Spider-Man. Nothing is immune. If Final Crisis doesn't blow my mind, I'm not wasting my money on the next rabbit DC tries to pull out of its hat.

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