bats

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?

PAGE 1

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.

PAGE 8

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.

PAGE 9

AMY: Superbreath is very, very GOLD.

Strong Truth.

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.

Sick perv.

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.

BOBSY: Tawky Tawny is The Tiger Who Came To Tea. Hurran Tea, if you please. (There’s a TWCTT post brewing in the pot at the moment. It’ll be ready soon.)

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.

PAGE 15

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.

Whatever: WARSUIT!!!!

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.

GOD[fucking]SPEED

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.

‘Gotcha.’

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)

80 Responses to “Finally Crisis #6: so that’s how The Dark Knight returns…”

  1. Bots'wana Beast Says:

    Oh, Andrew’s just done his review too, and almost needless to say that’s some Mindless-approved shhh… thurr too.

    We’ll see if it’s fanwank, Zom, old chum. (probably, but I am ever filled with hope)

    …I didn’t really want to add in-review/read/anno, but I think the whole death of Batman is flabbergasting, literally; there’s loads of outs of course and one will be taken eventually, but living in the moment – I’m just still quite shocked, almost a week on. The Superman bit, yeah, god – just exactly. His best friend. Fffffffuuuuck

  2. Neon Snake Says:

    Fucking tip-top issue, as it all begins to swirl into focus.

    “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.”

    Aye, look at it from the front, and it’s the same design as the page that Himon(?) hands Nix Uotan last issue. Too much of a coincidence not to be.

    Tawky Tawny vs Kalibak, the catfight that you never thought of, but it turns out you wanted to see your whole life.

    The Black Gambit is the clearest nod to Lord Of The Rings that I’ve seen, the Elves abandoning the Earth and leaving it to Man/Ruin.

    Batman…I mean, fuck. He takes down the Old God Of Evil one month, the New Gold Of Evil the next. My bias towards Morrison aside, I genuinely cannot believe the comments of my compadres who believe that Morrison “hates” Batman; I just can’t comprehend the thought process that leads to that conclusion.

    The confusion and anger over that scene has saddened me in a fairly major way, the insistence that Batman was “dead”, and that he’d just “killed”, and was therefore “ruined”. I dunno. As best as I can tell, he’s neither dead nor a killer, although next issue will confirm Darkseid’s status. And our boy went down like a fucking champ, anyway.

    And then, Superman, all rightous and pure in his anger that his best mate got lamped. Mahnke fucking nailed that one, especially the panel where his rage leaves Bludhaven destroyed in his wake.

    Brilliant, brilliant stuff, and good work as ever, Mindless Chaps.

  3. captain trips Says:

    is there any discernable difference between the cosmic cube and ged-jedollah-whatever?

  4. Papers Says:

    No, duh — they are the Deus ex Machines.

    Batman comes with god-sight now! He taught himself how to perform miracles (crossreference that with the recent BRAVE AND THE BOLD cartoon where he randomly uses Tibetan meditation to ASTRAL PROJECT, because Batman’s still way cooler than anyone else).

    “It certainly gets across everything we need to know about [DeSaad], 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.”

    I like, by the way, that Morrison has utterly removed that OTHER god of sleaziness, Sleaze, that Byrne came up with.

    Random thoughts–

    Green tiles in with black and white; there’s a third factor among the GOOD and EVIL. Given the context and who’s in the scene, duh. Intellect, pure intellect, is above such paltry notions. Brainiac and Metron, baby.

    Morrison’s gender politics in FINAL CRISIS are pretty rampant. It’s interesting that over in BEYOND Captain Marvel’s Earth is so much simpler and straightforward while the “mainstream” (hah) Marvel Family corrodes under the touch of creepy fanboy sexual issues. Billy Batson is gone, Junior’s been upgraded and his own position is gone, and Mary can’t be a Marvel anymore.

    Talky Tawny rules this issue. I know, I know, Batman dying, yeah, whatever. Talky Goddamn Tawny owns the entire thing. His encounter with Kalibak. His whole thing! Glorious.

    As confusing as the timeline and publication sequence of BEYOND and L3W is, I love-love-love that it illustrates that “day in the life” vibe of ALL-STAR SUPERMAN: Average day, Lois is in trouble, Clark jets off to the higher planes to find that one elixir to save her, fights a mad god, comes back, presumably cures his beloved, flies across town in time to get snatched across a millenium to save his best pals beside Batman to save their time from his own fucked up weird parallel teenaged self. And then slides back down through time to clutch his beloved best bud’s skeletal remains BECAUSE THIS IS ISSUE SIX, and Clark always loses someone special in issue six. And he always clutches them, thus, maybe angry or maybe crying. Which makes Supergirl’s foregrounding in this issue interesting.

    But, yeah. Superman? Totally average day to go through the Bleed and then to the future and then oops, Batman’s dead! But no time for tears, I don’t care that he was an ordinary man, he’ll be back and they can continue to tensely grit their teeth and talk slashfully whenever Jeph Loeb writes them.

  5. Zom Says:

    I genuinely cannot believe the comments of my compadres who believe that Morrison “hates” Batman; I just can’t comprehend the thought process that leads to that conclusion.

    I imagine they feel (rather than think) that Morrison hates their Batman. And they might be right.

  6. Neon Snake Says:

    “I imagine they feel (rather than think) that Morrison hates their Batman. And they might be right.”

    Go on? How do you mean, Zom?

    “their Batman”? Do you mean bigdarkshadowymyparentsaredeadBatman? The guy who never got over it, and is still a frightened 8 year old, beating up muggers in alleys and leaving them for Gordon, like a cat bringing in dead birds?

  7. Zom Says:

    Yeah, something like that, but also a Batman who doesn’t tread the outlandish territory Morrison’s so keen on. I suspect that many fans want more realism, grime and grit, more street punks, and less is-he-the-devil. Fewer kirby guns, less Batman Zur-en-wotsits, more weaponized fear gas. More Nolan.

    Some of them, some of them want the Batman who, if only they’d started training early enough, they could be.

    That last point isn’t entirely humorous.

  8. Neon Snake Says:

    You suspect correctly, I think.

    One of the more frequent complaints I’ve seen over on the DC Boards is that “Batman shouldn’t have been killed by an alien in some sci-fi/supernatural nonsense, and hopefully when he comes back, we can back to some good solid stories featuring actual detective work, because Batman is mean’t to be a realistic hero.”

    “Good solid stories” being a phrase I’m coming to detest, since it appears to be short-hand for “like what that Paul Dini chap has been churning out. He gets Batman, man.”

    And yeah, the last point may not have been entirely humorous, but it’s recognisably true enough that a little Lol popped out my mouth, and is running round my desk. He’s cute.

  9. Zom Says:

    Yeah, that assessment of Batman’s appeal is sturdier than it might at first appear, I think. Which self respecting Batman fan hasn’t entertained the notion?

    What I find so irritating is that Dini is giving these people the comics that they want. Seems to me that their complaint is built around the fact that they can’t help but think in terms of continuity, of the DCU as mapping Batman’s actual life. They simply can’t compartmentlize.

    I loathe Dini’s Batman. It bores the crap out of me, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying Morrison’s comics because I don’t feel that one somehow compromises the other. I don’t think in those terms, because I don’t feel (and it’s not important to me) that they share the same fictional space.

    I think I’m going to stop using the term continuity and start using the term incongruity.

  10. Neon Snake Says:

    I think the follow-up would be to wonder what world you’d want to live in as Batman. Would you want to roam the streets and alleyways, beating up thugs? Y’know, much like our own? Or would you want a shinier world, replete with possibilities? “God help me, I want to visit other planets and dimensions and fight rogue Gods”?

    I love continuity, me. I love the fact that it’s the same guy from Year One, who struggled with 3 kids nicking a telly. I love that one moment, he’s kicking in the Mad Hatter in a dodgy club, the next day he’s teaching Robin how to fight, and then next minute he’s piloting a flying saucer and being roasted alive by a telepathic gorilla. The whole shared fictional space makes it so much more wonderful for me, and the scope for stories so much bigger when I think of it all being the same guy, the two ends of the scale being so far apart that they leave so much room to play in.

    I don’t so much dislike “grim’n'gritty”, even, except insofar as I think it gets used as a shortcut (OMG! He’s cut out Selina’s heart!) to “worthiness”, or “seriousness”, maybe; and also when it’s considered to be the only suitable way of telling Batman tales. When handled well, it can be brilliant – Gotham Central, for example.

    And to bring this in a screaming U-Turn back to the topic….isn’t that what Final Crisis is doing so well? Juxtaposing the grimness of Hatter getting his skull caved in with a toilet seat with the wondrousness of a machine that turns thoughts into reality?

  11. pillock Says:

    Papers, you bet: black, white, but then green…that’s the other way, the broad green road that leads to fairyland. Nice catch: Metron, as Kirby said way back when, isn’t on the good guys’ side or the bad guys’ side, he’s something new, something unanticipated.

    Another amazement, Mindless! I particularly like “hell’s eagle”…and the idea that if you’d started training early enough you could have been Batman? How rich life becomes as soon as you realize that no you couldn’t, and no you can’t.

  12. Zom Says:

    Snake, to my mind, yes it is.

    I don’t dislike grim n gritty either, but I think it’s relationship to a particular brand of realism is overplayed, and it must be said that grim n gritty is normally done very badly indeed.

    Or would you want a shinier world, replete with possibilities?

    I would, yes, but if you’re after a Batman who could actually exist (or, more to the point, one you can fool yourself into thinking could actually exist), then I think you’d have to answer with a big N.O. Batman can’t be real if the world he lives in is impossible, after all.

    The thing is about loving the whole picture is that in order to do so you’re faced with two options, admit that it’s a great big glorious mess, or push a lot of things under the carpet (something I’m more than prepared to do, by the way), tonal shifts, genre shifts, logical inconsistencies, varying characterisations, non sequituers, etc… My point being, that when we say we love the whole thing we don’t usually mean precisely that. I’ve said it elsewhere, but it bears repeating, I see continuity as more akin (although not identical) to a sandbox than a history. Something which, to some extent, can be AND IS AS A MATTER OF COURSE edited and toyed with. Morrison understands this – his Batman with everything is totally absurd and his stories have on some level reflected this. His run has been fractured, clashing, discordant, messy and berserk, in part because what he’s attempting is impossible.

    My incongruity point isn’t that I want to give the lie to continuity in a negative sense, rather that I want to celebrate the incongruities that are at play in the DCU.

  13. Zom Says:

    “Admit that it’s a great big glorious mess” that on occasion is capable of suspending disbelief and tying the whole shebang together

  14. Neon Snake Says:

    “Grim’n'gritty” to me has come to mean womenparts falling out of fridges, and “bringing in some realism” has come to mean “lets have someone raped”. Potentially, this is grossly unfair, and I occasionally need reminding that there is good out there behind the dross.

    if you’re after a Batman who could actually exist

    …ew. You’re not talking about “Maybe I could be like Batman. Super-resourceful, super-intelligent, and fucking badass with it.” are you?
    You’re talking about folks fantasising about dressing up and roaming the dark, dark streets of St. Albans looking for “punks” and “scum”, aren’t you? Bringing Batman into our world, not putting ourselves into his?

    Crikey…

    In terms of “loving it all”, yes, I think it’s fair to say that we dont’ mean precisely that. I love the possibilities, probably, more than what we actually get given. That might be a better way of putting it.
    And I fall squarely in the camp of merrily brushing inconsistencies under the carpet, with one side of my head thinking “70 years, hundreds of different authors, really can’t be bothered to be bothered by it” and the other thinking “That darn Superboy Prime punched something else sideways, the tyke”.

    Go on with “celebrating the incongruities”?

  15. Andy G Says:

    Thank you for the review, very enjoyable read stuffed with interesting ideas. Really liked the prism of stories/life trap the Orion has been lost in explains awat Countdown, never saw it like that, but I’m totally on board now. That’s a great panel anyway, I enjoyed laying it side by side with the matching page in Seven Soldiers #1, and also matching Darkseid’s dialogue with the Flash narration from DC Universe #0.

    Libra makes sense to me as a plot point, a tactical move by Darkseid to keep the villians of the DC universe distracted from the upcoming darkness. I suspect some of the flak the earlier issues got in some quarters had something to do with the way all the heroes are caught on the back foot, it’s the villians that are organised, with regular meetings and a clear plan of action. But I agree Libra (so far) is a little less satisfying as part of the grander themes discussed here.

    Loved the Lynch nods: I re-read Final Crisis at the weekend and the scene with Turpin staring into the Mad Hatter’s cracked mirror (as well as the obvious Alice reference) made me think of the last scene in the Twin Peaks series, where we realise the wrong Agent Cooper came back from the Black Lodge.

    I don’t think this issue fails in terms of plot momentum though, it’s the issue where Darkseid’s forces are defeated, but played as the anti-climax it needs to be, the realisation that this is not the real threat.

    Re:Why is Shilo Norman white here?

    Is Shilo Norman turning into Scott Free? Just thought I’d put that out there.

  16. Andrew Hickey Says:

    “Bringing Batman into our world, not putting ourselves into his?”

    That sentence summed up the problems with about 30% of comics fans better than I thought possible. I do (still) want to be Batman, but I want to be the Batman who’s Superman’s best mate, who can beat alien gods of evil by just being cleverer than them, not the Batman who beats up mentally ill bag-thieves…

  17. Bots'wana Beast Says:

    Papers, you bet: black, white, but then green…that’s the other way…

    Spot on, actually, and a neat plot summary of JLA: Earth-2 as well. Brainiac is immune to yr dualities.

  18. Zom Says:

    Yeah, that’s a great summation, Snake

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  20. Neon Snake Says:

    Thanks, chaps; returning to Zom’s earlier point about giving the fans what they want, doesn’t Nolan’s Batverse do exactly that? And the success of it, amongst the fans as well as the public, seems to indicate just how many people really do want that Batman.

    I remember reading with faint horror a review that offered a comment along the lines of (paraphrase alert) “The film would still work wonderfully if Joker and Batman were to lose their masks”; I remember thinking during Begins that “Where does he get those wonderful toys?” was a rhetorical question is Burton’s film, not one that needed to have been answered.

    (I quite enjoyed Dark Knight, for the record, it just wasn’t a great Batman film, IMO)

    Andrew, I’d suggest that your 30% estimate might be conservative, given the overwhelmingly positive reactions to the Nolanverse. And then what do comics have left to offer us, if not the weird and wonderful shit that films can’t/don’t pull off?

  21. Andrew Hickey Says:

    Oh, I actually liked the Nolan films a *lot* for what they are – but far more because they’re films by Christopher Nolan than because they’re Batman films. It’s perfectly possible to like those films and still not want grittyMillerBatman…

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  23. Zom Says:

    Absolutely.

  24. Kieran Says:

    The Nolan films were great, but the second worked much better than the first, I thought, because it didn’t suffer so much from the first films obsessive need to answer questions that didn’t need answering (was there any need to show Batman painting his suit black?). And both films got better and more fantastical as they went on, thanks to the increasingly gothic sets in the first, and the increasingly ridiculous set pieces in the second.

    I think they definately had the seeds of a more holistic batman within them, and while the first in particular was hamstrung by sticking too close to action movie realism, both got their power from ascending the scale Neon Snake mentioned in a neat, linear manner which isn’t really possible in the comics. They stuck to the base of the ladder but it’s definetely there, so despite the apparant “realism” they feel more like superhero movies to me than X-Men or Fantastic Four, both of which felt like action/scifi flicks.

  25. Papers Says:

    I’ve been fairly outspoken about how much I dislike the Nolan films, although I find them unintentionally comedic (Batman’s lonely war on parkades, etc) and I’m down with fighting the Rogue Gods in strange dimensions. Part of it, I think, is that I’m bored with the “Year One” approach to Batman. I’m all about the Year Ten shit and crazy fluid stretching realities. Batman who’s processed his pain and transformed it.

    Meanwhile, I dream of White Enamel Metron.

    I keep forgetting that Billy Batson’s not the main Captain Marvel anymore, that Freddy is. Does this happen to anyone else? Illusion of sameness is the flipside of the illusion of change.

    It’s worth mentioning that not only Shilo has received the weird skin colour treatment; Amanda Waller was also looking pretty white for an entire page a few issues back. I’m sort of unimpressed with editorial for not watching more closely. Hopefully it’ll be corrected for the trade.

  26. Neon Snake Says:

    Second film certainly better than the first, IMO, for spending less time on Nomex-survival suits, and more time on grinning clowns gleefully blowing shit up.

    I’m all for people liking it and not wanting the ethos transferred to to the comics, and certainly there are lot of people like that, who can seperate the two. Thankfully.

    Shilo is…problematic. I take the point that we got a glowy Tattoo Man, but please, surely not a sigil that saves people from slavery and simultaneously turns them white…
    I’m hoping for an explanation along the lines of “colourist thinks that Mr. Miracle is still Scott Free”, or something, and a judicious correction in the trade.

  27. pillock Says:

    I’m just watching TDK today for the second time, coincidentally enough…and discovering that there are a lot of bloody strange things going on in that movie that didn’t meet my eye the first time around…

  28. Zom Says:

    I found that the film made considerably more sense on a second viewing. Lots of little gripes were cleared up.

    Still too long, though

  29. David Uzumeri Says:

    I think the problem with The Dark Knight is that people conflate the movie’s dark subject material with how seriously it TREATS its subject material. The key to a successful Superman film won’t be making something grim and gritty, but something that takes the inherent message of hope as seriously as Dark Knight took its own. Vectors of effort should be of similar magnitude, but different directions.

    My main problem with the Dark Knight, though, was that while Bruce Wayne had ironclad morality and a perfect body, he was basically dumb as shit and kept getting everyone else to do the hard work for him. Which sucks for a character that’s supposed to be the world’s greatest detective. Dark Knight was a fine film, but it misses those definitive Batman moments – in the cave mixing chemicals, staring ponderously at the Batcomputer screen with an uneaten sandwich off to the side, leaving all of his allies in a state of bewilderment as he hatches some mad plan that makes everyone think he’s gone off the rails until it all comes together. He just kept asking Lucius and Katie to do shit, and that bugged me.

  30. David Uzumeri Says:

    Er, Rachel, not Katie.

  31. Zom Says:

    David, have you read what Todd Alcott has to say about TDK? He argues pretty convincingly that Bruce Wayne is THE agent for change (i.e. story progression) in the movie. Bruce still comes off as pretty dumb and selfish, but I was prepared to forgive him that as the movie clearly wants Batman to be a) still a bit of a novice, and b) a flawed human being.

    My problems with the film are more structural and have to do with an over abundance of set pieces that lead to a pretty dirgey (there’s that word again) vibe towards the end.

  32. David Uzumeri Says:

    Zom, I had not, but I now have, and that’s an incredibly insightful (and interestingly written – I love the way he breaks down the characters at certain points and explains their motivations, I’m completely stealing that when appropriate) analysis and argument, and yeah I still think Bruce comes off as fairly flawed and novice. I certainly see how the end could be dirgey, as well.

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  34. Zom Says:

    Todd’s blog is a good one. I often disagree with his overall assessments (that TDK is pretty much flawless for example – he doesn’t touch on the complaint I made above), but agree with the detail and the logic of his analyses.

  35. Neon Snake Says:

    Occured to me last night just how brilliant the Batman scene really is.

    Faced with a God that needs killing, what does Batman do? Reaches into his bloody utility belt and pulls out a God-Killing* Bullet.

    “Yeah, I actually do have a solution for everything in my belt. What of it?”

    *I’ve argued this elsewhere, but I’ll put it up for discussion here as well to see what you lot think.

    I think that what happened in that scene was that the Radion forced Darkseid out of Turpin’s body, simultaneously setting Darkseid up for the Black Racer next ish, and saving Turpin (and therefore mankind) from Darkseid’s influence. He didn’t break the “no-killing” vow, after all, he broke the “no fire-arms” vow.

  36. Zom Says:

    “Yeah, I actually do have a solution for everything in my belt. What of it?”

    Great little observation.

    A problem with your theory: how would Batman know that he was setting up Darkseid for the Flashes and the Racer? I suppose you could assume that he didn’t, that he thought he was doing some god killin’ all on his lonesome. Cue a scene where Darkseid’s evil spirit cackles over the Dark Knight’s failure and the Flashes turn up and nuke his arse mid chortle.

  37. Neon Snake Says:

    No, you’re right. He can’t have known.

    Maybe, then, he’s thinking that forcing Darkseid to abandon the host body is, at the very least, a setback? His speech about Orion wounding him beyond repair could indicate that he is aware of what’s happening with the Dark Gods, and he watched Turpin being brought in, so he should recognise him, as disfigured as he is.

    Maybe he wants to a) save Turpin (because that’s what Batman does) and b) set Darkseid back a bit.

    The actual shot was clearly, to me, not a kill-shot. It’s a wound to the shoulder (seen from two different angles, so hopefully deliberately drawn so). He talks about breaking the “no guns” rule, not the “no killing” rule. And we see Darkseid’s essence evacuating the body in those purple and black Kirby-dots emanating from the wound.
    Orion, after all, survived being shot in the head long enough to crawl into the rubbish and utter some doomy stuff to Turpin back in issue 1.

    I’m guessing that all the stuff about the number of different plans will come into play next issue, as the Flashes plan comes into effect, and the Black Racer accidently beheads Darkseid on his way past, as he turns a sharp corner chasing after the Flashes.

  38. Zom Says:

    Shoot to wound on the assumption that he’d set back Darkseid enough so that the others could defeat him? Perhaps, but that would be a rather weird thing to do.

  39. Neon Snake Says:

    Maybe he’s not even thinking that far ahead?

    He might just be thinking “Ok, Darkseid had to incarnate into Turpin’s body before he could have any power, so if I knock him out of the body, then he’s stopped. It’s worked every time I’ve spanked Ra’s hard enough that he’s needed a Lazarus Pit, anyway. I don’t want to have kill Turpin, either.”

    I am hoping beyond measure to see Turpin wake up next issue, along with the rest of the world, mirroring the fall that we saw back in issue 4.

  40. Zom Says:

    My complaint is that by postulating a shoot to wound we find ourselves having to do some serious fanwanking. It’s just rather messy.

    All this may well be settled next month, however.

  41. Neon Snake Says:

    Next week, in fact!

    And yeah, point taken. Any theories on Batman’s motives need to come with a box of mansize tissues included.

    Honestly, I hadn’t given any thought as to why Batman wouldn’t have taken the kill shot (beyond “he doesn’t kill”), until you mentioned it.

    I was more coming from “Well, it doesn’t look like a kill, and the scene with the Flashes must have been foreshadowing something, so I’m assuming Darkseid’s not finished with yet, and he specifcally breaks the “no fire-arms” vow, so he can’t have killed him. Y’know, surely?”

  42. Zom Says:

    Oh get your thinking entirely. It makes sense.

    I’m going with the idea that he intended a kill-shot, failed, but the Flashes are going to mop up the mess – reason being that that chain of events cleaves closest to old Occam’s edict.

  43. Andy G Says:

    Does it occur that, given he’s never used a gun before, Batman’s just a shit shot?

    No one else thinks Shilo Norman is turning into Scott Free. Fair enough, neither do I.

  44. Neon Snake Says:

    It might just be symptomatic of how much I bought into the back half of Morrison’s run, but it genuinely hadn’t occurred to me that Batman, Morrison’s Batman, could have missed accidently.

    I still say there’s something in his speech about breaking the no-guns rule which implies he deliberately hasn’t killed Darkseid. An’, an’, an’ I’m gonna sulk if I’m wrong. So there.

    Shilo into Scott – feasible, certainly, but God, I hope not. There’s just something about a plot where to escape slavery you get turned from a black man into a white man that sits really, really badly with me.

  45. Zom Says:

    Strong truth

    I get what you’re saying about the script. It opens up some possibilities.

  46. Bots'wana Beast Says:

    Does it occur that, given he’s never used a gun before, Batman’s just a shit shot?

    Oh no, Batman is great at everything. Ricockulous!

    I was reading somewhere – just returning to Submit for a minute, because it may be key to this point – that FC is paced and structured like a horror comic? I mean, I can see Submit has certain qualities on the face of it akin to yr Walking Deads; the Justifiers are zombie-types, this implacable mass, actually not very different at all from the bit in Spongebob Squarepants the Movie where (SPOILERS) Plankton takes everyone over with Chum Bucket helmets… I don’t know that many horror comics tbh. But, yeah, the building creeps and doominess – it’s an interesting hybridisation, if so.

  47. Bots'wana Beast Says:

    p.s. I love u, neon snake

  48. Zom Says:

    I have no idea whether it’s paced like a horror comic or not but it’s an interesting possibility

  49. Neon Snake Says:

    Aw. I love you more, Bots.

    Andy G, on a re-read I realised it might look like I’m being snarkily dismissive of your Shilo=Scott theory; wasn’t intended to come across like that, if it does.

  50. Zom Says:

    No it didn’t. It looked like you were revolted by the possibility, which is fair enough

  51. Neon Snake Says:

    On “horror”, something (else!) I’ve loved about Final Crisis is how the main action has only ever been touched on, and we see a lot of it via the interactions of characters; as commented on already, the effect it has on Green Arrow and Black Canary is especially touching.

    Keeping us away from the action allows us to fill in the gaps ourselves; of course this is one of the many criticisms levelled at Final Crisis, but it works wonderfully if you posit it as a horror comic.

    One of the bits that really nailed me was watching Iris Allen walking home with her handbag(!), past advertising hoardings hawking Anti-Life as a way of, well, life.

    Why is that necessary? Does the ALE not turn people into complete mindwiped zombies, then? Or just suppress free will to a smaller extent? We’ll never know, but the answers I can come up with in my head, around people struggling to remain free, but being bombarded by the ALE at every turn, are far scarier than having it spelled out for me.

  52. Neon Snake Says:

    Zom, glad it doesn’t, seriously: thanks. Awareness of text-based lack of tone, body language, propensity for internet conversations to degenerate into flamewar, etc = suddenly worried Snake wanting to clarify intent.

  53. Abdy G Says:

    “Andy G, on a re-read I realised it might look like I’m being snarkily dismissive of your Shilo=Scott theory; wasn’t intended to come across like that, if it does.”

    I was revolted by it too, for the same freedom/slavery reasons already discussed. Less a theory, more a desperate attempt to excuse some crummy colouring. No worries. Some of the rushed pages (particularly the double page with the furies) looked like finishes to J G Jones work rather than originals for the fill-in artist (I forget his name), and perhaps fell foul of the finisher’s fear of spoiling Jones’s work and failing to commit to the art fully.

    I’m still pushing for the ‘Batman missed’ theory. The wound shot will release Darkseid from Turpin and leave him free for the Flashes to destroy with the Black Racer, and everything will work out. If asked post enevitable ressurection, Batman will claim this was what he intended, but he will know deep down he aimed for the head and missed.

  54. The Satrap Says:

    Is Anti-life an abdication of freedom, of responsibility and chance, for the sake of comfort? No. Anti-life is not getting your comics in time to mix it up with your fellow nerds.

    I haven’t read the issue yet, but that’s never stopped me in the past and I’m willing to bet banknotes of any currency of your choice to doughnuts that the resolution of this thing will be about the descent into despair involving the discovery of new wondrousness, i.e. when all things go to Hell the floorboards of the underworld crumble and new ground is opened. In other wor(l)ds, when you pile up the bad stuff on the earth that’s at the basis of the orrery seen in issue #1, the machine explodes and the multiverse goes apeshit with earths.

    The black hole as rabbit hole, in short. It’s Morrison’s standard sort-of-neoplatonic theodicy, evil as necessary catalyst of growth, which one gets to realise if one stands on the green tiles, et cetera. The relentless march from Everything to Something and back up again, by all means necessary. It’s spelled out quite clearly in the red/black captions in DC-Universe #0 which, it is all-too-apparent now, was co-written by GM as a very user-friendly primer to the whole event.

    It’s not where my philosophical proclivities lie, but I’m a sucker for that kind of shit, nevertheless.

    In that vein, there’s a clear symmetry between the mindless sense of unity enforced by Anti-life and the love that the gallant, frisky defenders of freedom are feeling inside as doom closes in on them. Everything is converging, the hearts, the minds, the myriad plots are growing ever closer. If I were into that kind of thing, I’d be tempted to say that the series is modelled as a Cauchy sequence converging towards a point that completes the narrative space of the DCU, towards “something new, unanticipated”.

    But, then again, mining “hard” science for metaphors tends to lead to wank, in my humble.

  55. Zom Says:

    Andy, Yes we will

  56. The Satrap Says:

    Another thing: the three-mindless-ones-for-the-price-of-one approach is nice, makes for lively reading. The solo reviews are good, of course, but you should do this more often.

    And yet another: I’m so noticing the absence of the Martian Manhunter. Was it an editorial mandate, to off him, given that in the competition’s summer event the streets are teeming with skrulls? Fucking shame, it is, the themes of this thing suit J’on (sp?) to a tee.

    I mean, shapeshifting = best superpower. I can prove it. With graphs.

    I’ll shut up now.

  57. Damn the Torpedos! Says:

    As a sometime mathematician, I don’t mind hard science metaphors one bit, especially when they’re done correctly, as Satrap actually managed to do above.

  58. The Satrap Says:

    As a sometime mathematician myself, I’m allergic to hard science in imaginative fiction. Funny, how these things go.

    Further to the above speculative fanwank: what is Ultraman’s favourite ecphonesis, in “Superman Beyond” (#1, at least, I won’t be getting #2 in yonks)?

    God Below, it is. Let’s not forget, Ultrie is a shit, but he’s super, and he does not lie (he talks smack instead).

    The Morrison, he’s in the little details.

  59. Andy G Says:

    Martian Manhunter’s absence: His post Infinite Crisis revamp as angry son of Mars got a fairly poor reception (the sexy female character in the mini-series was called Alex Ferguson!!!) so I don’t think anyone was fighting his corner at least, if not actively wanting rid.

    Within the drama of FC offing the Manhunter was a tactical move on the bad guys part, because of the psychic network he creates between all the heroes (beloved of Morrison in his JLA run). His absence prompted the heroes reliance on Oracle and t’internet, which allowed the rapid broadcast of the anti-life equation.

  60. Neon Snake Says:

    Ah, good one. I hadn’t made that link, only that Darkseid was taking the main players off the board. Especially because J’onn kicked his arse hard in DC One Million.

    Superman Beyond 2…wheeeee…when, Mindless Ones, when?

  61. Zom Says:

    Ask the Bostwana Beast. The ball is his his court.

    I imagine it’ll be soon. Tomorrow at a guess.

  62. The Satrap Says:

    Andy: that’s lovely, and if I had the authority to issue legal-tender No-prizes you’d be getting a couple right now, but the MMH’s absence still sucks stones. There are other characters whose “rackets” are at least as criminally underexploited as J’onn’s*, but as a character concept, isn’t he, like, the greatest ever? Superman + Batman + Plastic Man + Professor X + Barsoom + …? Christ.

    I feel like scrawling an ode to shapeshifting on the door of my favourite public toilet now.

    And yes, make with the review of Beyond already, Bots.

    *: the doctors, Strange or Fate, obviously, or the Silver Surfer. The fact that the concept of a pensive outcast wandering the wondrous cosmos, angsting, being bemused, righting wrongs and smelling flatuses isn’t the biggest franchise ever makes you lose faith in humanity, really.

  63. Bots'wana Beast Says:

    FC:SB3D#2 will be later tonight, UK time, or tomorrow – I am collating items, thoughts, etc. presently. Loooved the comic.

  64. Neon Snake Says:

    *champs at bit*

    It was top banana. There’s a lot of talk about it being Superman’s “RIP”, but it’s not, of course. It’s Final Crisis’ “Mister Miracle”, the outer edge of the spiral, the glimpse of the bigger picture, the reminder that there is always a worse Crisis behind the one you are worrying about. As Darkseid was to the Sheeda, so Mandrakk is to the New Gods. As above, etc.

  65. The Satrap Says:

    Good, good, keep on collatin’. I demand to be thoroughly spoiled, BTW.

    Another thing I find aggravating about the absence of my favourite Martian: Doug Mahnke is working on this thing, and he’s great, and J’onn is the character he was born to draw. I mean, in American comics nobody does the transition between the stoic, almost stolid, hard-bodied capes and the gribbly tentacular body horror as effortlessly as Mahnke.

    He reminds me a bit of Adrian Smith, who I think is a genuinely excellent fantasy artist. Here’s a fun game: try to count the eyes leering at you from the armoured form of this Chaos warrior without going mad. It’s the Liefeldian muscular machine of Bane, now with extra Argus eyes and done right. The jpg is a bit shit, but on the printed page the eyes! Blink!

    Such things, and more, are the purview of the shapeshifter.

  66. Gunderic Mollusk Says:

    Maybe taking a much belated route on points, but a few things came to mind this issue.

    Batman’s death and his transition from Gotham to DC Metaversal Bleed-incursion really sat with me. A friend of mine kept hammering that “Batman should die in his own book at the hands of one of his own villains,” yet that birthing matrix Batman of Zurr-en-Arrh/the audience perceived in RIP from my perspective seemed to display that Gotham acts as Batman’s “superpower.” The city will drag him through the muck, stab him in the heart, bash his head into the wall repeatedly and fuck him up on so many different types of drugs that he can’t blink properly for a week, but Gotham, while he remains in its limits, would never, ever let Batman die from anything aside from old age as he treads within its limits. The cowl remains a part of Gotham, and Batman is its Metatron. From this elevation from Gotham, his Binah, his matrix of reality, he ascends to the space between joining All (through death) and being an individual. The Final Crisis has him dragged through true and false memories, brought to Judgment by the Lump, the Unrealized Mind/Neptunian Amniotic Being that stands so against his apophenia, and brought forth as the final sword of the Fourth World to stab at the Great Instability that ushers in the Fifth. Much as we may wonder if he issued a kill-shot or not, I remain fascinated that he was even standing at that point, that he could even see enough to hit Darkseid in the duel and outgunned the Omega Beams as a mere human being. Whether or not he won or not seems irrelevant. It’s like the first Rocky movie: the goal wasn’t to win, but merely last long enough against the unstoppable.

    The other point comes to Tawky Tawny. He and Beast have obvious similarities in Morrison’s work, and I wonder if that spirit, invoked in each, reflects qualities that he perceived in his cat that died during his writing of Animal Man?

  67. Papers Says:

    It was top banana. There’s a lot of talk about it being Superman’s “RIP”, but it’s not, of course. It’s Final Crisis’ “Mister Miracle”, the outer edge of the spiral, the glimpse of the bigger picture, the reminder that there is always a worse Crisis behind the one you are worrying about. As Darkseid was to the Sheeda, so Mandrakk is to the New Gods. As above, etc.

    That’s an excellent reading of SUPERMAN BEYOND, and one I had not considered. This is the spiritual heir to SEVEN SOLDIERS, even if Frankenstein (ah!) gets barely more than a couple speaking cameos.

    Honestly, though, I think I got more out of that trade of Morrison’s Wally West stories with Mark Millar than I did from BEYOND. But that could just be me.

  68. Aaron Strange Says:

    Deicide – one of my favorite crimes. Committing deicide is the act of a humanist, & Batman is the exemplary humanist in DC: a rationalist, a utopian, a scientist, using his mind & body to raise all humanity to its highest. Out with the Byronic trappings of grim’n'gritty! Batman is the true Renaissance Man.

    I too love the primal aspect of these man-beasts. It reminds me of the old gods of early civilization: the minotaurs, centaurs & chimeras. Ganesh, Thoth, & other remnants of a pre-pantheonic era (the gods of the Second Age?), where gods didn’t resemble us.

    And about the third dimension being a sewer? Re-read your kaballah, your gnostic texts, or just your back issues of Promethea: the phsycial dimension is the lowest dimension. As you go higher, you move into a realm of thoughts, ideas, pure forms without substance. Corporal, in the sense of material, is still from the Latin “body” (see “corpse”).

    But, brilliant post, all of you. Till next week!

  69. Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources » Links of note, non-sausage variety Says:

    [...] in regards to recent conversations here, the Mindless Ones have a good piece up about the recent issue of Final Crisis (and from my birthday no less!).  Theirs is a great blog [...]

  70. bobsy Says:

    Since the Trap thought it was working OK, I’ve added my own few Alfred Pennyworths to this post.

  71. Neon Snake Says:

    I very much enjoyed the Mindless Mash-Up Approach to this post, where all of you guys dipped in your own opinions.

    I think it kickstarts discussion in the comments, given that you’ve already presented the post almost in the form of a discussion, anyway.

    Wouldn’t work as well on pieces like Prismatic Age or Candyfloss Horizons, but for reviews, it worked fabulously.

  72. Zom Says:

    TBH, I don’t really think of this as a review.

  73. The Satrap Says:

    And about the third dimension being a sewer? Re-read your…

    Yeah, yeah. The point is, though, Morrison likes to fiddle with those all-too-neat traditional hierarchies (even more than Moore, who presented Malkuth in Promethea in very positive terms, thus hewing closer to Plotinus than to the gnostics, et cetera, isn’t this the Google age of namechecking…)

    In Beyond #1, the orrery of worlds looked a lot as a viral construct. You know, your run-of-the-mill bacteriophage, that injects its “infectious” code into its host through… the so-called base plate, the “lowest level”. Universe Designate Zero, mayhap?

    Since I’m fairly sure that Morrison is itching with desire to make the multiverse explode with diversity, and since he must have read a fuckload of “New Scientist” issues going on about viruses being not only vectors of disease but facilitators of evolution, blah, blah, again with the science as trendy window dressing, my money is on FC ending with the orrery of 52 worlds (its hull, made of bullshit super-alloys, being akin to the capsid of a virus) breaking (at the bottom) and infecting the Monitor mega-mind with, well, infinite earths.

    A multiverse where the kids can gather around the fireplace,and partake freely of the wondrous gifts of the storyteller…a Neil-Gaiman-friendly place, basically, which is a mildly horrific thought on close inspection.

    At any rate, the point for Morrison is not that Ultraman is right and that Supes or Rabbi Loew ben Bezalel are wrong: God can be both above and below. I haven’t read Beyond #2 yet (which won’t keep me from trolling the thread, like, mindlessly), but doesn’t it involve a merger between Superman and Ultrie whereby they become the ultimate superdude, erectile muscle tissue and Nietzschean high concept in perfect unison?

  74. Bots'wana Beast Says:

    More man of actual steel, like Optimus Prime, but yes. Gosh, your thoughts without having read the issue are probably better than what I’ve put down, Satrap – tomorrow, guys, I swear, it’ll be up. I don’t get the amypoodle galaxy pics star treatment, quite rightly so, but this is turning out to be a monster endeavour, really.

  75. Neon Snake Says:

    Woot!

    Looking forward to it, Bots.

  76. Zom Says:

    (I probably would’ve done the star thing had I been home on Saturday night)

  77. More thoughts on Final Crisis #6 « Mindless Ones Says:

    [...] January 26, 2009 Like a small child left in a room made of cake, we just can’t help ourselves: Bobsy has added his thoughts to our FC#6 mindless-fest. [...]

  78. Gall Says:

    I notice that the Global Peace Agents’ suits are modeled after the distinctive lapel cut of The Prisoner.

  79. Andy G Says:

    The upside-down orrery pyramid shape makes me think of Chimera’s final form in Zenith, and the end of Phase IV where the Lloigor bang their heads against his (life)trap. Is this where we’re going? Mandrakk takes control of all existence only to discover…what? Confronted with his own fictionality. Squashing himself against the fourth dimension of the comic book as in the Filth? Do we substitute ourselves for Zenith & St John, and the final issue of FC for Chimera?

  80. FC:SB(!)3D#2 « Mindless Ones Says:

    [...] stereotypes like Nippo from Nagasaki) and so on. So I figure, taking a hint from Sonny Sumo* in the prior issue of Final Crisis, your 2D entity lives in lateral time. If it’s wrote, if it’s printed, if someone else [...]

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