January 18th, 2009
Ah, we come to it late this week, and we also come mob handed. Poor Amy is having to deal with Real Life and couldn’t devote quite as much time to his annocommentations as he normally would. So we multiply, much as do the art teams on this ultimate event comic – if you think of amy as JG Jones, whose panels are the sole ones bordered in sheer black, Zom as Pacheco and I also, the Bots’wana Beast, as Marco Rudy. Perhaps bobsy will write about #7, filling the Doug Mahnke role. (p.s. if you’re expecting amy this week for Superman Beyond, tough shit, because I – that is, the BB – have called dibs on that and wrote about #1.)
As usual all things Final Crisis are occurring out of sequence because of delays and so forth, but let’s not worry too much about that, eh?
AMY: Those of you who’ve been following us since we began our gibberings a year ago, will be aware that my reoccurring childhood nightmares often featured an abandoned staircase – one I was forced to walk, mind – leading to a ghastly witch. Night-hags aside, however, since that point these spooky staircases have found a way to wheedle themselves into my dreamspace generally, sans witch, and I find they often take me to strange places. Hidden away, as they so often are, in some creepy backwater of whatever dream I’m currently having, they seem to represent the point where the everyday tips over into some kind of basement level of reality. A sideways world. Like I’m behind the scenes of everything. Do you remember how, in Inland Empire, Laura Dern’s adventures kick off with her getting lost behind the set? She passes through the doorway to the cardboard cut-out house – the one that is “difficult to see from the road” – and loses herself inside the story. Oh God, that scene really rang my alarm bells – the truth of it. I’ve been through that door too. Sometimes the stairs lead to the black concrete rooms beneath the world, at other times they lead to the heavens.
This is the staircase Superman and Braniac are traveling down at the beginning of FC #6, only they’ve bored into the sky or into the firmament far, far deeper than I ever have.
Well it all makes sense in my head, anyway.
Morrison’s obsessions with chessboards also resonate powerfully with my personal dream imagery (and Lynch’s) – the stairwell would often be decorated in a style not dissimilar from the interior of the Black Lodge, complete with red curtains and B/W checks on the floor – but here Grant’s going for a slightly different vibe. The checkerboard is complicated by the addition of a green element, giving it a watery quality – as though the black and white tiles are ripples, drifting across the surface. Universes washing along, ready to collide or disperse at any moment, in the Bleed-tide. The players are making their way through the star-vaults, and this is the view from above.
Remember: I don’t care if any of this is intended or not.
ZOM: On the question of the tiles, it strikes me that Morrison is doing something that so many writers fail to pull off convincingly: articulating superbraininess. Yes we’re told constantly that Brainiac 5 is extremely clever, just as we’re told that any number of super characters are extremely clever, but how often do we actually believe it? In fact the very suggestion of superbraininess can and often does have the unfortunate side effect of showcasing the intellectual failings of the creative minds given the unfortunate task of attempting to render the concept on funnypaper. Mainly writers plump for that hoary old shortcut, and present the supergenius as someone who’s basically an inventor – good at building and repairing machines – cue some tedious plot point where the writer struggles to, literally, ratchet up the tension. With a spanner.
What we’ve got here isn’t staggeringly brilliant writing, but it is an elegant and slightly unfamiliar way of getting over Brainiac 5′s core super appeal.
BOBSY: OK, can I throw in too? Think I get my weeklies later than the rest of the team, and now I’ve finally had time for a few rereads. Not much to add to my boys’ efforts really.
Interesting that this issue, Superman 3-D & BatLump RIP keep stepping on each other’s continuity tails. If this isn’t a real-world evocation of the subjective experience of time distortion caused by a New God breaking through the local reality net, I don’t know what it is.
On this page, it’s a reach obviously, but I keep thinking of Enochian Chess Sets, reinforced by Supey’s angelic hovering above the ground and his vengeful return at the end of the ish.
Also, don’t think anyone’s mentioned that in panel 2 there are a series of doors retracting – security on the godboxxx is tight.
PAGES 2 & 3
AMY: The Controllers are pulling the really big weeds. They do things like create Evil, sic sun-eaters on septic solar systems and build machines that can remodel the universe in the shape of our Saturday shopping list, our darkest sexual fantasies or the cosmology of our friendly, local, neighborhood religion.
But right now the nearest passing stray thought would appear to centre around the DCU.
‘Inertron‘ really appeals to me, actually. A totally unreactive, superdense substance. So unreactive, in fact, thought itself is repelled by it. I imagine the civilizations of tomorrow mine for it down in the aforementioned *underworld*, along with black kryptonite and mega-bizarro world parasites.
I also enjoy the 1950′s Universal horror look the God-machine’s sporting. Yes, yes, it looked equally dashing as a Sacred Heart or a green hand, but this new outfit’s to die for. There’s a whole Frankenstein aesthetic going on, only this time it’s not about creating life, but creating universes. Gives a new dimension to the famous ‘It’s ALIVE! ALIVE!’ line doesn’t it? And again, we’re left with the feeling 31st century superscientists are artists as much as anything else. There’s an eerie sense of humour to ol’ Ged-Jedollah-The-Absolute. I should also add, this is less God in the machine, so much as God as it. Just to throw my two pence into what I’m sure is already a steaming interbroth of speculation, the word ‘Jedollah’ could be interchangeable with the 4th Sephiroth on the tree of life, ‘Gedolah’, meaning Greatness and Mercy. As the funny kabbalist explains, ‘Here, in the 4th, the basic internal structural cycle is completed and archetypal existence is achieved.’ This is where it all starts. And it stands to reason you can’t translate the Absolute’s *true name* into everyday, human language….
I was wondering whether or not anyone’s noticed the similarity between the shape of the Miracle-Machine and the sigil of Non-Restriction all the cool kids are rocking. I don’t know if its a 100% fit, but it seems to work.
What really freaks me out is the passing thought that led to it dispensing a tiny little hypercube called Qweq.
ZOM: Not sure I get the tattoo/miracle machine similarity
Again, Morrison’s ability to make some pretty hefty statements about character’s with incredible economy comes to the fore here, with Brainiac’s line to Superman: “…the only person I trust to even look at it is you”. Because Superman is completely pure and wonderful and can be trusted implicitly and has no lust for power and is respected THAT MUCH by his friends and allies… the list could go on.
BOBSY: It’s great that the Controllers (a new one on me) are Malt(h)usians. Apocalypse scenarios something of a preoccupation for them.
PAGES 4 & 5
AMY: Anyway, plummeting into Hell….
Smycken – Tape 1
I think it’s fair to say that the Tattooed Man’s moral journey is a microcosm of the trajectory of the DCU’s humanity generally. Heaven has arrived on Earth, the low is being brought high, etc. We’re all superheroes, blah. He’s looking down at Earth now. He can see how intimately connected we all are. His perspective has changed. Nice thematic echoes travelling up and down the plot. God, Morrison’s work is more subtle and layered than it used to be. It’s great that with FC, he’s not just exploring the now obvious and over used dynamic between the writer and his creation, but how that reflects across the surface of DC spacetime, indeed, off the sourcewall of the DC multiverse itself. The foraying into DCU’s creation myth is more explicit over in Superman Beyond, but all these elements are in play in the main book too.
Hey! LOOK! The swarmtroopers show up in a tie-fighter. George Lucas must’ve been receiving transmissions from the Fourth World! What a visionary!
ZOM: “plummeting into Hell….”, eh. Of course that’s what’s happening, but I’ve only just now (third read through) noticed how the feeling of descent has been evoked in this comic. We start in some heavenly realm, with Superman and Brainiac trundling down a flight of stairs, then we set out onto a tiled checkerboard floor, a motif familiar from a 100 popular fictions from Twin Peaks through to Clash of Titans as shorthand for otherworldly, the metaphysical overbelly of the universe. THEN we cut to a space station orbiting Earth home to DC’s superheroic pantheon (Morrison being the guy who cemented the idea of the JLA as gods in the first place). AND THEN…
Something which doesn’t work for me in this sequence, something which doesn’t work for me in this entire miniseries period, is the mention of the Kirby circuit. I haven’t read Submit (thank God), but I’m smart enough to get the gist of these things, I do, however, feel that considerably more work should have been done in the pages of Final Crisis proper to explain them as they seem to be quite important, and if they’re not, I’m left wondering why their inclusion was flagged as important in the first issue. It’s a small gripe, but this is exactly the kind of storytelling grind that Morrison sometimes misses and it does grate.
BB: Having read ‘Submit’… it’s not any clearer there, in that 28 Days Lateresque weaksauce do-over, where Black Lightning has gotten the Metron-face. There’s a lot of prefatory hints in #1 and #2, with the crop-circles and cave paintings, signs and wonders, though these were I think all Metron’s chestplate design. Anthro has a dream in front of the fire (also given him by Metron) in the first issue, a foreshadowing with Kalibak, and awakes wearing the symbol: “freedom from restriction”. It’s Metron’s mask and Mister Miracle’s, the shape of the electrics in the Miracle Machine – a sigil, if that isn’t too banal of an observation. Sometimes a thing is so obvious no-one says it, but perhaps it should be said. For the children.
It’s also starkly obvious (because Fifth World) that Morrison is running a sim of the counter/other-culturally prophesied 2012 apocalypse, the lifting of the veil of Maya, Timewave Zero and the language he’s using is that of sequential art’s most important Meso-American mythologist (offer me a contender then), the native language of the superhero comic: Jack Kirby. Without getting all Theaetetus, the only Platonic dialogue I’ve read, there’s probably something in that – that the supes, as representational, are discrete units of meaning in and of themselves: e.g. Mokkari is ‘against nature‘, Metron is ‘outwith time’, etc, etc. Anyway, I’m reading lucid mad-o Daniel Pinchbeck‘s book on the topic of 2012, he wrote Morrison’s favourite book Breaking Open the Head about psychedelic shamanism donchyerknow, and it’s full of these sorts of portents. Oh, and synchronicities – woah, such as is above described. Synchro me further, daddy: well, there’s a Dan Shooting War Goldman webcomic about all this guff I found today; have a look, it’s quite appealing – and short for the internet attention-span. A long way about to them words.
PAGES 6 & 7
AMY: This commentary’s likely to be slightly smaller than some of the others I’ve put up here, largely because FC #6 is pretty much one big fight and there’s not much to say on the subject. Except for: I like fights. One thing I’ve noticed, though; you know how, as a kid, you always thought the baddies were cooler? Well, in Morrison’s hands it’s the goodies who get me all revved up. I just want Supergirl to kick Mary’s arse. It’s like the forces of evil are just the school losers, or more likely bullies or something, and the superheroes are the interesting kids you want to know.
Something about watching Mary and Kara scrap it out waaaaay over there in the background behind the street level action raised a chuckle. And you’ve got to love the panels bouncing around with the impact of what’s going on inside them.
ZOM: So the celestial tower in space was invaded, and we’re taking another step down, this time to the sickly green sky, and the grim tone intensifies even further. Good and evil clash above the city and evil’s on top.
I love how the horror is primarily dingy, mundane. With the exception of the epic devastation and aforementioned greenness this is a world that we recognise. A dirty, litter strewn place, where the façades of concrete edifices are old and worn and cracked. We finally hit the ground and all there is is fighting. We’re on Earth, we’re in Hell.
AMY: The ‘You? Calling me a slut?” business made me chuckle also.
You know you can complain about this kind of sexy-fight (well, from Mary’s point of view) being exploitative, and it certainly wouldn’t be unfair, but how often in a mainstream event book do you come across a super-slugfest between two women? Especially one that’s featured so prominently -almost a major plot thread. Sure there’s a cheesy, leering, foxy-boxing element to it, but there’s a real sense of violence too. Real violence, in spite of the heat vision and powerpunching, violence that in the end isn’t pornographic. Supergirl and Mary are the meanest mothers in the room. Look at that bus buckle, flex and tear as Ms Marvel bursts out from beneath it. Look at her eyes. Saucy costume aside, she’s bite it off fool. There’s no room for you in her scenarios. You don’t get to leap in at the last minute and *satisfy* both of them.
So get over here and stop rubbing your knees.
What separates out the New Gods from the Marvel family’s escapes me. Maybe they were part of the pantheon that made up the Third World, before the discovery of the Fourth Dimension. Gods of the flat-lands. Regardless, I enjoy the way Morrison plays with the idea that their voices have begun to drown out all the others, who are at this present time exiled to some tiny annex of Heaven.
The whirlpool’s sucking us down into the riverbed, and we’re a long way from the shore. It’s chilling that everyone’s so helpless and alone. Nobody out there, or up above, can help us.
ZOM: Nice the way that fanboy moaning about Black Adam’s apparent lack of unbelievable hardness is dealt with here in one line – “…my gods are far from here…” – that also doubles as a kind of ontological primer – we’re sinking deep into the dark-side now – and, consequently contributes to the feeling of despair. If Black Adam’s in trouble, we’re all in fucking trouble.
As Amy has noted this whole sexy ladies in slugfest thing is inherently problematic, but Morrison’s conceit – to have Desaad possessing Mary – is a genuinely interesting one. It certainly gets across everything we need to know about the character, and it turns out that Morrison sees him as the sleaziest creature imaginable. The god of sleaziness. There’s something simultaneously transcendent and mundane about that epithet.
This is the ultimate objectification of the female form. This isn’t merely the incorporation of the female into the schema of male lust (ala male orientated pornography), of men’s desires and wants, this is the next stage, this is the 4 dimensional dynamically interactive version of porn. Total domination. This is a woman who will do everything Desaad wants, be it sexual or otherwise. This is the worst excesses of fantasy.
Did that make sense? Oh well, it does in my head.
The other thing that’s going on here, surely, is Morrison commenting on the sleazy men (or at least the sleazy male agenda, one in which the fans are complicit) who have molded the Mary Marvel of the last two years. Interesting move by Grant.
BB: Not much to add; the only review that particularly won my heart this ish was Marc Olivier Frisch‘s wherein this observation, re: Marvels v. Dark Gods, was made:
I find it more interesting that what’s beneath the decadent and destructive façade of the rampaging Mary Marvel is not some mature, cynical person who’s come to the conclusion that this is the way things are, but a helpless little girl possessed by some dirty old man from another plane of existence. The Marvel Family – children’s characters, you see – are holding their own and beating back the forces of decadence and destruction. They’ve got their own tiger, in fact, but just because he’s smartly dressed and well-spoken doesn’t mean he has no teeth. “Tawny bites!” we learn. What do these things say about superhero comics and pop entertainment at large?
That’s Mindless-approved, right there. As a connoisseur of SH girl fights, I do find this one is notable in that no flaps of costume – particularly on the underside of the bosom – have been ripped. This may be the first time this has occurred.
AMY: Superbreath is very, very GOLD.
PAGES 10, 11, 12, 13, 14
AMY: Tawny’s a character who just arrives fully formed. There’s very little reason really to revamp him or touch him up in any way. The guy’s just Tony the Tiger’s posh great uncle. Nuff said. And the good thing is, we all like Frosties, in a deep down soul way, so we’re naturally going to be rooting for him. Also, like so many of Grant’s good guys, he is, in this situation, the under-(cat)dog (excuse me), alone up against forces he cannot understand, etc., so therefore he’s got to hand it to ‘em.
The emphasis on scary animals is big in Final Crisis. Darkseid and co don’t ride into town on the back of space-wyverns or octo-birds. No. Instead they mount up on massive Pitbulls and dress up as jungle cats or monkeys. It seems to me with all this zoological imagery, Grant’s going for something primal. Something pure. He’s relying on the unembellished terror of the real world predator to drive home just how vicious, brutal, and above all solid, bloody and fleshy the gods have become. It works for me, that’s for sure. The tigermen are positively Blakeian. Maybe he caught a glimpse of the Fourth World, along with Lucas. Blake was a visionary too.
It occurs to me that Desaad, the ultimate S&Mer, would probably enjoy the experience of having his host slain. He could alternate between gloating over the terror little Mary Marvel would feel, trapped and tortured in some far corner of her jail-cell body and allowing himself to feel it. He could have it both ways.
Aaaah. Guts. That’s what we like. The good thing about the Gods falling is that now they can be killed. Sure, some nob’ll bring them back, but to me it feels like I’m watching them die for the last time. It’s final.
Kalibak pleading for help is pretty moving actually. Pure Morrison: the baddies are people too. We’re not allowed to enjoy it. I really respect that about his writing, frankly. In a medium where people routinely get their limbs torn off or zapped with fireballs, its nice to see some actual consequences. We’re made complicit by enjoying the rollickingness of the fight and then we’re made to feel a little queasy. It’s not a big thing – and it’s problematic – but you always get the feeling that in a Grant Morrison book the story itself would always like to resolve itself in a non-violent way.
The artists could have made more of a big deal out of Wonder Woman and the rest of the furies in 14′s final panel. I don’t know, maybe the artist and Morrison have a beef with readers who DON’T READ THE IMAGES in the same way I do.
Tawky Tawny, King of the Tigermen. Now that is SuperSupreme.
BB: Desaad of course has dressed as the most terrifying animal of them all: the lady.
Tymbus objected to the flying guts and wotnot in this sequence, but doesn’t seem relly odd to represent tigers in any form without considering violence? Scary is what tigers do. The whole point of Tony, and the old-school Tawky, is that they are cutesy tigers, that is tigers with their defining feature missing, and in its absence, somehow more prominent than ever. That’s why it’s cool that the Marvel Family have a tiger in the first place, if tigers could be featured without the implicit connotations of violence and danger, then the Marvels wouldn’t need him for a pet, they could just have a cat. I think that here, in the way Tawky embraces his animal nature, in a casual and gentlemanly, responsible fashion, we’re seeing the character achieve a more honest, and not at all repellent, dimensionality. Only a very particular type of curmudgeon could really want the ‘innocence’ of the 1950s back in their comics.
AMY: So it turns out the symbol of unrestriction has been with us since the caves. It’s 2001 all over again, with Metron’s letter as the monolith. If we’d stopped growing, if we’d stopped developing, that would’ve been anti-life, but we didn’t. That’s why Metron gave it to the human race at the beginning of time. God, Grant’s a utopian. And Amen to that.
But it was also a weapon.
ZOM: Why is Shilo Norman white here? It’s a little thing, but it annoys me.
BB: I don’t think it is little if it’s an actual mistake, it’s pretty egregious, probably much moreso if you aren’t white and are continually having to choke down the few representatives of your ethnicity porcelaining up… this happens all the time, and really someone needs to have a watch for it. Having said that, it may be – as did the Tattooed Man become silvery when wearing the Kirby circuit, the chrome look Metron wears nowadays, so may the effect be on other characters wearing the supersigil. I hope so, anyway.
ZOM: I love ya, man, but that’s just fanwank.
BOBSY: Is it really though? Is this just in my imagination, or do these colouring ‘errors’ keep happening to characters wearing the M-sigi?. As the Snake says in the comments, it is a real shame if it’s the case that activating the ‘Freedom from restriction’ glyph causes one to go the colour of Armitage Shanks’ best enamel but (ever the apologist me) it’s because they’re becoming like Metron, not because they’re becoming caucasian.
I mentioned it in the comments over at the Doug Wolk annos because I was just so excited, but the mention here of ‘the last redoubt’ is a clear reference to William Hope Hodgson’s brilliantly badly written entropy romance The Night Land. It’s the most desperate and final cosmic dystopia yet imagined in the language, full of killer giants and dogs as big as horses, not unlike this issue. Look, Carnacki’s a member of the LoEG in the upcoming book, so you’re all going to have to pretend you know Hodgson’s work backwards soon – just get into it now.
PAGES 16 & 17
AMY: ‘Most of our powers are cosmetic!’
I’m not even sure what that means, but it makes sense somehow. It’s the age of Big Brother and most celebrity’s *powers* are cosmetic too; sweary personalities or big brother nymphos. It’s the self generating, self perpetuating fame that counts – what it’s really about. Same with the Super Young Team I suppose. The powers are just grafted on celebrity appendages, expected of anyone growing up rich and successful in the public eye in the age of super-heroes. It’s powers as the ultimate commodity. Plastic surgery supreme. Prada via Superman.
The dizzy, Young Heroes in Love shenanigans at the bottom of the page are pure Heat magazine.
And that’s why Superbat’s the team’s leader.
Nobody ever thought of questioning exactly why the guy thinks its appropriate to pwn the batman/superman iconography. It’s not because he possesses some cool recombination of krypto-bat powers. No, it’s just that he’s a filthy rich little dilettante. He’s the purest example of the celeb, dabbling with, and inadvertantly totally devaluing, the currency of superheroism. I’m sure other commentators have been comparing Superbat to Batman, but he’s really about the new aristocracy. I cannot fucking wait to see what his “power” amounts to. And I just love the fact that we all missed the obvious.
BOBSY: The Furies’ victory is horrible here: just as it looked like the heroes might have done it…. Yet even that moment of dawning horror is undercut, literally in terms of the page layout, by the SYT’s supersoap operatics. (Check their colouring/the ambient lighting carefully here – are they not all turning a bit porcelain?) There’s nothing firm or absolute in this book, not even in a reality that’s turning into Darkseid.
Can’t wait to see Excellent SuperBat’s metal manga actionsuit. Welcome to comics, Super Young Team, we are very pleased to have you here.
PAGES 18 & 19
ZOM: This scene is the fucking heart of the piece, and on the centre pages to boot. This is what the entire bloody thing is about: antilife is the easy way out, a way of not facing your responsibilities, of not making hard choices, of not having to struggle, all is one in cosy old Darkseid. No pesky minds, hearts and souls to bother you, just a great big black pit where all that redundant stuff once was. Roughly speaking we’ve got an existential dilemma sketched here: do we choose to live inauthentically, or do we choose to live authentically, to make choices, to exercise our will and our freedom, even if to do so is to walk into suffering and pain?
And that’s the thing all these superheroes are doing. This is heroes being heroes, something which we don’t often get to see. They’re choosing to fight against all the fucking odds, they’re choosing to fight even though they’ve already lost and the world is has slipped down the plug hole into the dark. Morrison has dramatised this stark choice by flooding the miniseries with loving relationships, the implication being that to submit to Darkseid is not only to abandon your selfhood (and consequently pain) but to abandon those that you care about most. Three groups are essentially at the heart of this – the Marvel family, the Flash family, and Green Arrow and Black Canary – and for my money (for all it’s reliance on what we already know about the characters, what we bring to comic rather than what the comic brings to us) that last pair is the one that’s tugged hardest on my heart strings over the course of Final Crisis. So it makes complete sense to me that this sequence, at the height of the horror, should involve passionate old Black Canary at odds with the jarring and disturbing passionLESS Green Arrow automaton. These guys are the firey heart of DC superverse and if they submit we’re all completely fucked.
Not liking ugly Black Canary, though. Poor, tired artists.
BOBSY: The inversion of the Black Canary/Green Arrow personalities [Black and Green! Like the chessboard! And an occult reference to Morrison'd favourite brand of chocolate!!!] works beautifully here, everything is tacitly agreed with the reader, the whole deal relying on the shared familiarity with the characters. This is when continuity works for you, the bastard.
‘Look at me and fight, damn it!’ – is Dinah Queen going to become Orion in the next issue? She’s being every inch the good soldier in this sequence.
PAGES 20 & 21
AMY: (whenever sub-atomic physics discovers a new particle, the Atom finds a new use: GRAVITON SUPERHIGHWAY! Wonderful!)
This page is almost a joke. I know Grant loves to have loads of Crisis beating elements at play at any one time in his mega-event superhero stories, but right here you get four of them. I like the busy feeling, it feels like the bubbling froth around the rim of the black hole, but come on: the psychics are demolishing the hold Darkseid has over the world (with Luthor boosting the signal a few pages down the road), the mystics are marshaling the astral planes, the scientists are figuring out the anatomy of a superhuman and….
The Black Gambit.
If white can choose its first move, then black can choose the game.
This is where, instead of a pawn being replaced by a stronger piece, the board itself is swapped for another one. I don’t care if Grant’s done this before in Flex Mentallo, Nanoman and Nanoman II shrinking into the sub-universal is still gorgeous. This time because it’s not just taking place in the realm of the gods. At this point we’re all in trouble, not just the Legion of Legions. It’s the exodus to end them all.
And who the fuck’s brain is that?
ZOM: Seems to me that, along with some no doubt important plot elements, a bunch of spin off comics are being teased here. Didio’s said that Morrison’ll be getting down with the new improved multiverse, perhaps this is our first look at the shape of his forthcoming efforts.
This sequence, while fun (Mr Terrific has not one but 5 strategies on the boil. Eat your heart out Batman), sums up the problem I had with this issue: it’s all a bit of a dirge. One thing after the next. Brave hero after brave hero fighting the implacable foe, taking the licks (and it does seem to me that these guys are taking licks – check out the dribbling psychics and the blunted instruments a few panels down), facing down the murder of the world, flicking over all those purely cosmetic plot points. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the issue, but from a plot point of view it didn’t really build the drama in any satisfactory sense. It didn’t really take us anywhere new in terms of this story. The pleasure was in the small moments, the fine print.
What’s that you say? What about Batman and Darkseid? I’ll get to that in a bit.
BB: I think the FBBers have covered whose brain it be, that of – a presumably reprogrammed – Maxwell Lord; there are little bits and bobs tying the series into the lineage of the two previous crises. I can’t actually manage to read all the first one, where the Monitor(s) came from, and wouldn’t advise doing so with the second (an angel leads a prayer gathering though, which is surely the best ever thing done with Zauriel,) which is also where Blüdhaven came to be as it is today.
BOBSY: Does the Black Gambit (there’s an X-Men storyline in there) strictly come under the banner of ‘Fair Play’, Mr. T? A bit too audacious and promethean even for this story – karmo-cosmic punishment an inevitability.
The flex mentalism hinted at on these pages is just wicked fun, the kind of multiversal continuity surgery that you just don’t get elsewhere. Imagine if Dynasty tried to explain how it could co-exist in the same universe as Dallas, it’d be even more far out and awesome than when Fallon got kidnapped by aliens.
PAGES 22 & 23
AMY: Look, what the bloody hell is going on with Libra? Who is he? What does he want? I would’ve assumed, what with all that balancing the scales crap, he’s a force of cosmic balance, but if he is, he gets a massive kick watching other people suffer. He feels all lackeyish at the moment.
But I do dig the fact that the text recognizes we haven’t seen the last of him.
Isn’t it weird how Lex has the same sartorial colour-sense as the Joker?
ZOM: Hmmm, isn’t it rather obvious that Libra is all about rebalancing the universe in favour of evil? Surely you get that, Amy? Perhaps you’re talking about in the longer term – how does Libra fit into the framework that will birth whatever niceness Morrison is trying to birth here?
Libra is another superfluous/underdeveloped element if you ask me. Cut the character out and you’d be left with space to do some of the more important storytelling work (that’s been missed).
BOBSY: ‘Mad Hatter design – practically medieval’ – that was going to be my Mad Hatter Rogue’s Review right there, basically. Fuck it, wasn’t going to get round to it anyway.
And look at Luthor helping The Calculator – he’s feeling guilt, and compassion. And up is down and black is white.
PAGES 24 & 25
AMY: The Flash gets his saving the world bit.
What are they going to do anyway? Hyper-accelerate the Black Racer into Darkseid?
‘When he was called the Black Flash’
This is mythic time, not physical.
It’s also AWESOME in a continuity geek way.
He’s so good with those lines.
ZOM: I have little more to add. GODSPEED, indeed.
I love how Morrison always manages to get a flash race in. He makes it look so easy, but fucking hell it’s pretty absurd isn’t it. I mean, really! How the fuck do you get a flash race into everything
BOBSY: Favourite moment of these pages is the look Jay and Barry share when they hear Wally ran death to the end of the universe, where, if memory serves, death/The Black Flash ceased to exist as a concept and so disintegrated (but The Flash did not cease to exist as a concept and kept on running. Presumably ‘floor’ hadn’t ceased to exist as a concept either.) Their obvious pride in that rather cool achievement is like the perfect confirmation of their faith in their surrogate son/grandson, ‘I always knew he had it in him’ – classic Morrisonian high-soppiness. It’s also giving Wally, in so much danger now of being overshadowed, his deserved props. Flash Barry may be back, but Wally is still the Fastest Man Alive.
PAGES 26 & 27
AMY: I imagine it’s fairly obvious that I needed to get to this shit.
To begin with, I’ve loved watching Grant fall in Love with Batman. I mean, he loves Clark, but you get the feeling bats is where his heart is at. From the dingy Gotham streets to Kirby-land. Batman’s okay with it all. Unfazeable. Morrison hearts Batman.
As Darkseid points out, gods don’t just die once, they expand into all the stories that’ll contain them. Even if one of those stories is Countdown. And I don’t know about you but I object to the third dimension being referred to as a sewer.
Again, I’m sure everyone and his auntie’s going on about the firearm thing and the symmetry of it, but y’know, it’s good. Bruce has been preparing himself for ages for this – remember Batmite referring to preparing his passage (ooer!) – and here we go. He’s finally got the opportunity to take down the ‘enemy as old as time itself’, and he’s a smug bastard about it. The thing is, when Bats turns up again after waking up from the Wheel of Samsara, he’s bloody well WON! He’s beaten the Devil. The guy’s finished with the bardo – RIP, thogal, the Lump and that torture session with evil bats put paid to that – and now he’s ready to convert old Rover into the new batmobile.
Give it to me Grant.
The pundits just don’t understand that bat on his chest. It’s not simply about being scary. The bat’s the thing that flies through the underworld. It’s the only thing that can escape the terrible, oppressive gravity. Hell’s eagle.
Batman gives a fuck about Darkseid. Bring on Mr. Omega.
ZOM: Morrison commented in a recent interview about this sequence being mythic as opposed to realistic, but you know what? I don’t entirely buy it because there’s clearly thin skeins of realism in this scene, and that’s what makes it so fun. Moore did a similar thing in Top Ten and Promethea, mythic processes and forces were scuffed against grimy old reality in an effort to get them to speak to us. Smax articulated the human dimension in Top Ten, Batman does it here. Yeah this is pure essence of Batman, JLA Batman, god killer, but it’s also a fella who says “gotcha”, “hh”, and “try me”, and it’s all the better for it. Made me chuckle, anyway.
So then, Batman and Darkseid are dead and I have the temerity to say that nothing happened. Well, okay, that’s something happening for sure, but in the context of this issue at least, it doesn’t feel as if the plot has moved on. The world is still totally down the shitter – Darkseid was always going to die, after all, and Batman, well, he probably doesn’t have much more to do. The problems posed by the narrative haven’t gone away, or worsened, as far as we can tell they’re just the way they were when we opened the comic, basically. I suppose you could argue that this victory signifies the turning point beyond which things get better, an important milestone along the road to the creation of new new genesis code named: Earth, or whatever, but if so it looks like a purely symbolic crossroads/milestone.
My thoughts on this issue might change with the advent of FC #7, but I doubt it.
BOBSY: Shoot-to-wound, definitely – if it’s the New Gods equivalent of kryptonite, then surely it’s the toxicity of the substance, not the bullet that’s the thing? It’s not going to be fatal to Turpin, no way our Batty would go out on a compromise like that.
Meta-interesting here is the word ‘Gotcha’ and how it’s frequent use in GM’s work has evolved. Maybe it appears in Zenith, but the clearest early memory I have of it is from Big Dave, where its use is a device to disparage the UK’s tabloid media. Background on this is in the Falklands War of the 80s when Morrison was coming up, the Brit Navy sunk an Argentine battleship called the Belgrano. Thing was, the Belgrano was no conceivable threat to the UK fleet, and in an acknowledged retreat from the theater of conflict when it was hit. So the story goes, the order came direct from Thatcher to the UK fleet that it should be sunk anyway, despite the hundreds of unnecessary deaths, because she was mental and evil and wanted to look hard. The Murdoch-owned shitrag The Sun, the country’s biggest selling paper, celebrated this possible war-crime the next day with a one-word front page headline: ‘Gotcha!’
It’s become a byword for a peculiar brand of English nastiness ever since, and I don’t remember it being used in such a positive, if bittersweet, context before in a Morrison work. Maybe that’s just out of the tree though, and it’s a deliberate echo, down to the last quip, of the un-gunned King Mob’s victory over the bad god in Invisibles 3:1. Still, can’t help but find it dissonant – having trouble parsing it though ultimately ‘because it sounds cool’ might be the best, most honest answer here.
PAGES 26 & 27
Fuck right off, you bald, grey c**t
PAGES 28 & 29
AMY: Aaaaa, now it’s about time the Dark Monitor’s screens flicked on. But what universe are we in, what Earth is this? I can’t remember… Nix Oatan and Metron are watching from outside while the pieces fall into place, just as we remembered it. The Green Lanterns are streaking towards their resolution (I make that 2000 possible endgames and counting). Everyone else is just shitting it at the red skies. Man, it’s brilliant that Bruce was so self-absorbed with turning into someone else a few weeks ago that he failed to notice all that pink lightning. Next time I expect everything to go black. This comic at its best feels like drowning. We need to get to the point where the surface is no longer visible.
ZOM: Morrison’s having fun here. Fanboy insistence aside, the modern DCU is an incongruent, hotchpotch of a continuity, and here we see all it’s sub-verses thrown into the mix and blended. Everyone’s got a plan, no-one’s gonna get short shrift be they Hawk or Lantern.
BOBSY: I, Metron anag.: Monitor. Are he and Nix sitting opposite the reader, across the plane of the comic’s event horizon? This spread reels the head reel as it chases the reader around one last momentary glimpse of the DCU, visiting a few favourite cul-de-sacs before the angel returns for the final battle and everything changes forever.
PAGES 30, 31 AND 32
AMY: Do I really have to bollock on about this scene? It’s just excellent. Bruce is Supe’s best friend. That’s it.
I’ll have a ton to say next time.
Stop interrupting my Sunday.
ZOM: Ignore the grumpy poodle, faithful mindless reader.
See you next time.
XXXXOXXXX (kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, hug, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss)