Tag Archives: Final Crisis

Retro Review: Final Crisis (Graphic Audio)

After listening to Stop Motion, I picked up the Graphic Audio adaptation of Final Crisis.

It actually flows better than the comic book, especially toward the end, when the comic starts fragmenting the narrative. (That part is great as metatext, but there’s a lot of “wait, what just happened?” as you read it.) Scenes are fleshed out, and narrative fills in which details you need to glean from the artwork. There are a number of things that I thought had been added to the adaptation, but when I went back to read the original, they were there if you looked closely.

And of course having it all together avoids the problem of delays between chapters that plagued the original release, though that’s true of the collected edition too.

A lot of that is probably the novelization it was based on. It credits the story only to Greg Cox, with no mention of Grant Morrison or any of the artists, which is disappointing. But I don’t think it would work well as a book. The voice acting, music and sound make up for a lot of the lost visual punch and visual structure of the story, and it needs more than just the words.

The acting is compelling, and I found myself more interested in several of the characters as a result: particularly Renee Montoya as the Question, who moves in and out of the story in a number of places, but we actually get to see (or hear) what she’s doing rather than have to piece it together from a panel here and a panel there.

Alterations

One of the weird things is that it incorporates some of the tie-ins, but excludes the one that actually sets up Mandrakk. The Black Lightning/Tattooed Man story from “Submit” is included, along with the framing sequence from the Batman crossover. Those are good choices. “Submit” is a breakneck story that shows what’s going on at the street level when Darkseid takes over, and “Last Rites” clarifies what’s happening to Batman in the Evil Factory

But Superman getting recruited for a multiversal quest to stop Mandrakk, setting up the villain who appears in the final chapter? Completely missing. As a result, Mandrakk appears almost out of nowhere. Superman’s absence during the invasion is explained by having Brainiac 5 recruit him directly from Lois’ hospital room, sending him off to Legion of Three Worlds, and Ultraman’s appearances at the end are replaced with Mandrakk’s co-conspirator Monitor. It streamlines the story, but I think it streamlines it a little too much.

Anti-Life

The Anti-Life Equation is so terrifying because it’s not just mind control, it compels the surrender of free will. Those who have submitted spout slogans about how it justifies anything, how it’s so much easier than the struggles of life and love. It’s insidious, because psychological research has shown that decisions do take effort, and it is easier to offload tough decisions to a schedule, a policy, a leader, etc. The brain likes taking shortcuts around cognitive load.

There’s an appeal to never having to worry about making the wrong choice.

But we want to be able to make choices.

Darkseid Is

Another interesting thing about Final Crisis is how much damage Darkseid does just by existing. He doesn’t do any traditional super villain things in the entire story. No battles, no plotting. He just sits on his throne, taking advantage of a battle he already won, imposing his will on an entire planet and pulling it into a singularity. He spends most of the story sitting on an underground bunker, but his presence presses down on the world.

And he’s damn hard to kill. It takes Batman with a magic bullet, two Flashes leading a manifestation of death, Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth, and Superman producing the exact counter-frequency to cancel out what remains of Darkseid’s soul’s quantum waveform as it lingers for months, continuing to drag Earth into oblivion.

Metal

But wow, I’m really seeing the parallels with Dark Knights: Metal even more strongly than when I was just comparing to memory.

Barbatos, like Darkseid, takes over the world between issues, and we jump to a handful of heroes mounting a desperate resistance. The keystone of the multiverse – conveniently the main DC Earth – is in danger of being pulled “downward” into an unending hell. And everyone’s fighting twisted versions of the heroes.

They’re a lot more alike than any of the Crisis events are to each other or to Metal.

Revisiting the Tie-Ins

After listening to the audio version, I re-read Final Crisis and read most of the tie-ins, some of them for the first time.

First, the tie-ins included in the Final Crisis collected edition:

  • Superman Beyond: I still think it’s essential, and I’m torn between thinking it should have been incorporated into the main story to begin with, and acknowledging that it sort of stands on its own and gave them the chance to do the 3-D gimmick for the first printing.
  • Batman/Last Rites: The framing sequence does help, but the stuff going on inside Batman’s head mostly isn’t relevant to this story.
  • Submit (Black Lightning/Tattooed Man): While not required to understand the main story, it adds a lot by showing the personal impact of the invasion.

And the others:

  • Resist (Checkmate): It broadens the scope, but can be skipped. I do like using the captive villain AIs as a way to get around the ALE’s control of communication channels.
  • Rogues Revenge: I didn’t like it as much this time through as I did ten years ago. The story was in the works before it became part of Final Crisis, and it shows. It still works as Rogues: Rebirth, but now I think the Crisis connections hurt more than they help.
  • Revelations: It’s a much tighter story that weaves in and out of issues 2 and 3 (if not seamlessly). It picks up the mostly-dropped threads of the Crime Bible and Vandal Savage, shows the early stages of Darkseid’s takeover, and presents an interesting combination of street-level and supernatural perspectives on a cosmic event. I didn’t read it originally, but I’m glad I finally got around to it. And I find myself wanting to go back and look for more Montoya/Question stories.

I didn’t re-read Requiem. I still haven’t picked up Rage of the Red Lanterns. I also didn’t re-read Legion of Three Worlds, which from what I recall has nothing to do with Final Crisis except that Superman passes through it between Superman: Beyond and his return to the main series. I remember it being a lot more confusing and a lot less interesting than Final Crisis itself despite being a more straight-forward superhero story.

I do want to re-read Multiversity now, though!

Annotations: Super-Team Family #15, “The Gulliver Effect!” – Part One

Welcome to the latest installment in our series of annotations of classic DC Comics stories starring the Flash!

We’re taking a break from The Trial of the Flash to look at Super-Team Family #15 (December 1977), written by Gerry Conway and featuring a team-up between Flash and The New Gods!  This book contains major unheralded moments in the history of both Flash and The New Gods, as well as foundations for future stories that would go untold.  Links to artwork and research are included throughout this post.  For previous annotations, click here!

Continue reading

Why the Flash is the Most Important Character of the DC Universe

Today’s guest post is by Shaun Rosado of Shauncastic!

A Sound of Thunder

The sound of thunder, a crack of lightning and in a flash everything is different. No, I’m not talking about Flashpoint; DC Comics’ current take on a “Flash-centric” Event. I’m talking about the Flash as a character and the profound difference he’s made in comics. Ever since I was a child, I always felt a deep connection to the Flash. Perhaps it was the sense of the character’s long history, reaching all the way back to World War 2 with Jay Garrick as the original Flash. Perhaps it was the idea that when I was at my most impressionable the Flash TV show had just begun and would capture my imagination. Or perhaps it’s because the Flash is the most important character of the DC Universe.

Yeah. You read that right. I typed it. The Flash is the THE most important character of the DC Universe.

Of course, I don’t expect to get away with saying something like this without a little backup.

So let’s take a moment and just go over the finer points of my argument. When the Flash began way back in the 40s, he was a character that was given his own book nearly as soon as he was established. In January 1940, Flash Comics began as a variety comic that would feature new characters and give them a chance to flourish. Some of the most famous of these characters would be Johnny Thunder, Hawkman, Hawkgirl and Black Canary. This began an eerie precedence of the Flash establishing ideas and characters that would last and break out of his book time and time again. The book ran nearly the entire span of the Golden age, ending just a few months shy of the “official” end date.

But this is not a sprint and the above argument certainly does not win the Flash the title of Greatest Character Ever. This is a marathon…and as we all know, the Flash is the Fastest Man Alive. Continue reading

What If…Lord of the Rings had been an “Event” Comic?

A local movie theater has been running special screenings of the extended-edition Lord of the Rings trilogy over the last few weeks (almost certainly in connection with this week’s Blu-Ray release). I just watched Green Lantern, another movie in which a ring figures prominently, at the same theater. And of course we’re knee-deep in Flashpoint. The stories collided in a mental three-car pile-up during an afternoon running errands, and I started thinking: What would The Lord of the Rings have been like as a modern “event” comic book like Final Crisis or Blackest Night?

  • The Hobbit would have been subtitled, “Countdown to Lord of the Rings,” and continuity wouldn’t have lined up quite right with the main series.*
  • The core story would have been six volumes, with the first three shipping on time, and increasing delays for volumes four, five and six.
  • We would have seen side stories and flashbacks in specials or miniseries such as “Lord of the Rings: War in the North,” “Lord of the Rings: Arwen’s Story,” “Lord of the Rings: Faramir’s War” and “Lord of the Rings: Balin’s Last Stand.”
  • The first issue of the main series would have been accompanied by plastic replicas of The One Ring. The first issue of each tie-in miniseries would have included one of the rings given to elves, dwarves, or men.
  • To fill the gaps in the schedule, they would have added additional character specials like “Lord of the Rings: The Adventures of Tom Bombadil” and “Lord of the Rings: Radagast the Brown.”
  • The main series would have ended with destroying the ring, and a group of follow-up miniseries would have detailed “Lord of the Rings Aftermath: The Scouring of the Shire”, “Lord of the Rings Aftermath: The Greening of Isengard” and “Lord of the Rings Aftermath: Quest for the Entwives”
  • “Bow and Axe,” an adventure-comedy-buddy series starring Legolas and Gimli, would be the most successful of several ongoing spinoffs. “Settlers of Mordor,” on the other hand, would be canceled after just a few issues.

And then there are all the alternate-universe stories that would show up several years down the line, set in a world in which they failed to destroy the ring.

So…what do you think would have changed?

*Actually, this one really did happen. In the original edition of The Hobbit, Gollum gives Bilbo the ring as the prize for winning the riddle contest. By the time Tolkein got to The Lord of the Rings, that completely contradicted the ring’s effect on its bearers. He revised The Hobbit so that Bilbo finds the ring on his own, then wrote into LOTR that Bilbo had lied in the first edition to make himself look better.

Speed Reading

Some weekend linkblogging…

Once Upon a Geek can’t wait for the upcoming DC Adventures RPG.

Multiversity Comics casts the Teen Titans

The Beat finds that Comic-Con brings money into San Diego after all. Who knew? Oh, right, we did: the ones spending it!

4thletter! looks at Flash and Batman in Final Crisis: “Everything about the Flash, any of them, in Final Crisis is dead on…”

Comics Worth Reading reviews Wednesday Comics.

Speed Reading: Sketches, Schedules, Collections and More

Some linkblogging for the weekend…

Artists and a Publisher

Karl Kerschl shares a sketch of Iris West he did while in Italy.

Francis Manapul shares a black and white version of his variant cover for Blackest Night: The Flash #3.

Dan Didio talks to CBR about a number of things including Flash. He reiterates some of the reasons they let the book fall behind rather than put a new team on it to bring it out quickly, like they did with Final Crisis:

That ran with some delays, but at the end of the day we looked at the full package of how that will look as a book, and we wanted to maintain consistency all the way through. The events of that book weren’t essential to what happens with the Flash in “Blackest Night.”

Nothing new. In fact he said more or less the same thing a couple of days earlier to Newsarama. Interestingly, he describes the new Flash series book as spinning out of Blackest Night. Whether that’s simply in publishing terms, or in story terms as well, is not clear.

Fan Commentary

The Flash makes IO9’s 10 Favorite Faux Deaths In Science Fiction. If you want to get technical, it’s really their 12 favorite fake/reversed deaths, because the Flash entry includes Barry Allen (Crisis on Infinite Earths), Wally West (Infinite Crisis) and Bart Allen (Flash: The Fastest Man Alive). Or maybe 13, since it’s got both Phoenix and Jean Grey.

Collected Editions compares the Final Crisis and Blackest Night collections.

The Flash in New Frontier makes Comics Should Be Good’s 313th cool comic book moment. They’re also accepting nominations for a top 100 comic storylines poll.

Other Stuff

Comic Wallet is selling wallets made from pages of Flash: Rebirth.

A bit off-topic, I’ve been running a photo blog, updating three times a week, mostly with shots from around the Orange County, California area. I’ve also reviewed The Gathering Storm, the new Wheel of Time novel that kept me away from the computer for a week.