Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Final Crisis: Some late, half-assed considerations

Links: Here are some pages from Jim Mahfood's upcoming comic, which is apparently an adaptation of a movie called Jennifer's Body? I dunno, I've never heard of it.

And for some weird, cool online comics, check out the work of Mykl Sivak. Adri Cowan at The Daily Cross Hatch linked to a freaky strip of his today, and now I've got a new talent to pay attention to.

And now, some ramblings:

Final Crisis
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by J.G. Jones, Carlos Pacheco, Doug Mahnke, and the cast of How I Met Your Mother

I feel like the last person on the internet to read this comic, so since I doubt I have anything to say that hasn't been said by everyone else, I won't bother trying to do a real review of this thing. It was an interesting reading experience though, since with all the various reviews, commentaries, annotations, and blog posts I've perused, it seemed like I had already read the book before I even cracked the cover. And after getting through the thing, well, the verdict is: yeah, they were all pretty much right. It's a hell of an ambitious work, and there are some great moments, but it seems like it kind of got away from Grant Morrison, and the tightness of the art that starts off the book definitely grows much looser as the final issue approaches.

The thing that I found, and it's kind of to be expected in a universe-spanning story like this, is that certain parts were crazy cool, but then things would suddenly drag while we had to catch up with all the supporting players. But then events would speed up again, to the point that it was near-impossible to tell what was going on. The best stuff was all the New Gods material; Morrison is one of the few people who can convincingly imitate Jack Kirby, and the approach he uses here is often awesome, with characters who have been possessed by evil gods spouting breathless proclamations:

The action is often pretty nice, with a convincing level of destruction and mayhem, and some of the character designs are quite cool. You'll be grooving on some crazy shit, and then have to suffer through pages of Green Arrow or somebody whining and hiding in a big building, or Mister Terrific going on about secret plans that never come to fruition (or do they? I couldn't tell, and kind of stopped caring).

The high point is definitely the two-issue Superman Beyond story, which is definitely my kind of Morrisonian event comic. Everything else takes a break as Superman goes on a mission through the multiverse and ends up in Limbo (which I think was last seen in Animal Man?). And then he has to move a book with an infinite number of pages that contains all possible information, then gets his soul transported into a gigantic robot so he can battle the vampire Monitor Mandrakk for the fate of all existence. It's totally nuts, filled with ridiculous dialogue:

And some of those awesome moments in which Morrison can glory in the greatness of fiction:

I get a bit tired of the idea that the origin of Superman is the greatest story that man has ever concocted, but for a scene in which Superman is fighting to save everything, it works; he's so awesome that his very life story can be used as a weapon.

Other positives: the Justifiers, people who have been possessed by Anti-Life, are great; I love their propaganda:

And Darkseid himself is great as an evil badass:

There are some other nice ideas, like the way his takeover of Earth compresses spacetime around it, screwing up and shattering the time continuum (and explaining any choppiness in the story). And I liked a scene near the end in which Superman comes crashing back into the present, and everybody else witnesses him just flying all-out and blowing shit away with his heat vision:

I'm not sure what was going on there exactly (was he still fighting Mandrakk's giant Destroyer machine?), but it's a great entrance after he had been missing for most of the main series.

On the negative side, I think the whole thing is just too big and scattered to really cohere into something great. Some stuff seems obligatory, as if various characters had to be shoehorned in without everyone receiving enough time to fully make sense. The Flash getting resurrected is a good example; he makes some comments about having gained the knowledge of how to defeat Darkseid, but it all happens too quickly to resonate, and then he disappears from the story. And while it's good that the Superman Beyond miniseries got included here (although it's weird that the rest of the story stops for a while for it), some parts seem to have been left out (like the story in Batman about him fighting the attempt to download his memories and create an army), and the Submit one-shot that did get included is just awful, especially coming right after the heights of Superman Beyond, with some hideous art and a draggy, momentum-killing story about the Tattooed Man and Black Lightning.

Eh, it's a fun book, and I'm glad I read it, but thank god for the public library, because if I had actually paid for this, I probably would have been pissed and highly critical of any incoherence, perceived or otherwise. Maybe it would have been different if I had read each issue as they came out, but I got that experience from reading all the online discussion. Yay, internet! Yes, experiencing this for free is definitely the best option.