This is it. The conclusion to Grant Morrison’s tour-de-force exploration — and dismantling — of the DC Universe. Plagued by delays, DC finally brought in a committee of artists to finish the whole thing just one month after it was originally intended to wrap up.
So how was it?
The word I’d actually go for is bittersweet.
Final Crisis is more ambitious and, in a way, more epic than Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour, or Infinite Crisis. They destroyed alternate universes, revised the current universe, or went back in time to adjust the beginning of the universe, but despite the fade-out pages in the middle of Zero Hour, none of those ever gave the impression that it was all over for the good guys, and they were left picking up the pieces.
In this issue we learn just how hard it is to kill a god. We learn what super-heroes do when they can’t save the world by fighting. Multiple plots by multiple characters come together, and we learn just why some characters are in the book in the first place.
The narrative structure has fragmented even further, with some events only getting a panel or two and maybe a caption, much of it told in flashback from the end of all things. I’ve been saying for several months that it’s a 12-issue story chopped down to 7 books, but now I’m beginning to think to really do justice to all the ideas presented, and all the plot threads, you’d have to expand it to at least 24 issues, possibly more.
There’s also a heavy meta-textual emphasis on story, which I suppose I should have expected after reading Superman: Beyond. Thinking about it, this goes back at least as far as Morrison’s run on Animal Man, in which the title character learned that he literally was a comic book character, with writers artists and editors dictating his life. But it also made some parts of the issue feel like I was reading Sandman (more about that later).
It’s only in these last two issues that I really felt like pieces of the story from tie-ins were missing. I didn’t have a problem with the bits of Batman’s story that were told only in “Last Rites,” or the story with Black Lightning and the Tattooed Man from “Submit.” But then I didn’t read either of those, and just took things in stride. I did read “Superman: Beyond,” and while I felt that the yellow submarine and the multiversal Superman mission would have worked fine without that story, the introduction and nature of Mandrakk the Dark Monitor still felt out of place, even after having read the side story. (Interesting: I just realized I’ve actually provided supporting evidence for my Final Crisis Theory of Impenetrability.)
Anyway, at this point I don’t think I can say anymore without revealing too much, so spoilers after the cut. Continue reading