We’re back.

Round 2


Round 1 can be found here


AMY: Sometimes I think Morrison is kind to his readership. I’ll tell you what, if time and space were really to start shredding, nobody would be shouting about it, explaining what was going on. I know I can’t expect the guy to go all out – this is a mainstream event book afterall – but, frankly, if he loves writing superheroes, then I say write an out and out weird superhero book without the exposition. Oh, wait, I guess Grant already did that with Seven Soldiers

The Super Young Team are still playing at new Nu Gods via Young Heroes in Love. Even in the midst of reality shearing, it’s still all ‘I love you!’ ‘But I love you!. Ridiculous really, and very funny, because it seems so utterly inappropriate given the circumstances. It’s like, even when things get really bad, they’re still playing. Having an adventure – a soap opera. The end of the world reduced to teen-drama. Truly is it said that the Final Crisis reverberates across all realities… including the superhero version of Skins.

It pisses me off that Grant decided he’d let these guys go out with a whimper, ’cause ‘that’s the treatment I expect them to get when I’m finished on the book’, or whatever. What a horribly cynical and crappy metatextual fate for one of the series’ best creations (the man just needs to be patient; Give it 10 years – if we’re not all bone-clubbing each other to death for food by then, a whole new generation of writers will be dusting his old creations off and setting them loose on a brave new world of jetpacks and flying cars). The Super Young Team represent eternal play, romance, beauty, dreaming and imagination. Forever. They rock, and are a reminder that the future doesn’t always wear a scowl.

ZOM: I have to agree with my yappy friend, watching the Super Young Team fade into Limbo was absolutely no fun at all, and is perhaps one of the most egregious examples of Final Crisis failing to pay off. I’m simply left wondering what was the point of that then? Who cares whether no-one’s going to pick up these toys and run with them (except maybe us – run with them, I mean). Final Crisis has been largely self contained, so make them count here, on these scant few pages. Can Grant really be happy with making some sort of mundane and slightly bitter meta-fictional point about the fate of his inventions? Very head scratchy.

Other than that, this page is clearly being used to flag up the fact that there is some method at work here, that the incoherence is at least in part intentional. Our questions are the characters’ questions: “what year is this?”, “is this a test?”, “Time! Space! Shredding!”, “how the hell did we get here?”, “where are we?”, “what just happened to [insert scene, character, plot thread]”. The fractured imagery reflecting our inability to put the pieces together.


Everything explodes and the fragments are rescued by motherbox and the universe/story begins to recohere around the heroes’ inevitable victory. Or at least, you know, that’s how I think it’s intended to read on a symbolic and to some extent literal level. This after all, “how it ends”.

Over on Dr K’s site the question was posed, what is the difference between fiction which wants the readership to do some work, which requires of them a little elbow grease and even a willingness to fill in some of the blanks, and work which is just badly plotted, constructed, just plain ill thought out? It’s a tough one to answer, but I put forward the hypothesis that intentionality might help us navigate these waters. If a work reveals to its readers, tacitly or otherwise, the ways in which it would like them to engage with it then we can feel safe in assuming there is a method in the madness and that a deeper engagement may well be rewarded*. Final Crisis certainly fits with that model – it knows that it’s hard to follow – whether that excuses it of its failed pay-offs and awkward plot holes is another question, but at least we have some grounds for asking it.

*I should add here that I’m not entirely happy with this argument – ostensibly shoddy texts, hammered out by writers who don’t give a shit about anything other than a paycheck can also be rewarding. Unintentional and interesting subtext can be revealed, etc… Death of the author, blah, blah

Bobsy: Oh wow, this page. Made me sweat. First – and men shall call him: Terrific. To have the smartest man left alive go down into confusion like that, still holding the line – in the same row of panels (where narrative time seems to be moving in at least three directions, by the way) where my fave new pinups strive and die and make embarrasing, last-minute cnfessions… Well, it had all my YES buttons flashing like that man in the park with the mucky raincoat. Epic, hectic hero fiction just like I like it. Thank you.


Edward Kord, thou art avenged! This ish does a lot of standy-talky, but, unlike say 7Soldiers 1, it also remembers to get a couple of really, really good licks in, and this is the first one. To summairse the final panel on this page then: It’s simple – the hermaphrodite, self-immolating avatar of phoenix-horus kills the murderer of the sun-scarab Khephra, bearer of the Sun of Renewal and the Black Sun of Set both, by punching his left hemisphere the fuck out. (Your fMRIs, hemodynamic maps and other clevernesses may have put paid to the strict accuracy of the split-brain hypothesis, but it’s still useful as a metaphor, and an important indicator to all us yattering blog-monkeys of how to read this book: right-brain, Clyde.) Fuck knows what all that means really, but as a take on post-Thelemic Egyptian mythology its pretty fucking dazzling, Kenneth Grant plays the genie in an ultraviolent dayglo panto.

(And the stuff about filling the gaps yourself, letting the reader do the work toget the best out of the comic? This issue is where that fell down for me – this isn’t The Wire, the best way to engage with it is not to follow the Burns/Simon demands to lean in – it’s the opposite, as in: sit back, let it wash over you, like music. Got to soak that shit up.)


Bobsy: The really big questions left wide open on this page, that none of the many comments on Final Crisis have considered: Are Overman and Apollo checking each other out? Or is Overman staring at the first black bloke he’s ever seen?


AMY: As BBeast points out above, Darkseid’s just shot himself. Don’t play with guns, Americans. But I think further to that, it’s worth reiterating Superman’s point that it was ‘suicide’. I told you, didn’t I? It’s the Zen bullet. Darkseid inevitably consumes himself. What we’ve been watching are the events that accrete around this truth. Its shadow in the third dimension.

I’m sure this idea factored into Grant’s decision to have Darkseid possess an old man. It would have been easy and obvious to have him tool himself up with a hard, superhuman frame, but it makes thematic sense, and is considerably more horrific, that he should opt for a body in decline. Darkseid, the death-god, shouldn’t stride around like a superman. No, in his moment of glory he should resemble a lumbering, wheezing corpse – anti-life triumphant. The sickliness is ten times nastier than some muscular demonic hardman could ever be, and far truer to the spirit of what he is.

ZOM: Yes! An evil, hateful, old dying man. How better to illustrate anti-life?

Bobsy: I’m interested to see what Morrison’s apparent recent Wonder Woman revelations are. I always figured the thing was, she gets tied up a lot, but it’s the point where she breaks free from those bonds, as she does in every issue, that formed the core of her superness. Here, the ‘Darkseid is peace’ bit is very creepy: Wonder Woman fulfilling her mission to end the wars of man by giving in and being the sub evil fanboys, whoever they are, have always wanted her to be.


Bots’: Wonder Woman tells the worst bedtime stories…? A matter of opinion, surely – as a sensitive little boy, what the hardy, unrefined, Calvinist terminology of 1980’s NE Scotland might have called “a poof”… perhaps I would have squirmed at Frank’s ultraviolence. Perhaps I would have loved it, though; it’s like – one of the inviolable tenets of Batman is that – kids love Batman. Because his methods, his bloody origin, it’s all of secondary import to the fact: he’s a goodie, you – the child – like the thought of him protecting you (also, broadly, inceptually, a goodie) more than any of the rest. Frankenstein – he might draw a wry, concerned smile, some inner turmoil from the grownups thinking of his damnation, brutality and solitude – but he’s our guy. He kills only monsters. He’s brilliant.

As Zom points out, there is a birthing undercurrent runs through the ish (and, indeed, through a lot of Morrison’s oeuvre.) Having the ladies, mostly, narrate the story is maybe a bit gender-essentialist: mother and midwife archetypes – not all women want or can have children, not all midwives are female, but you know. Birth. It’s a pretty awesome, commonplace miracle, I advise giving it a go if you get the chance.

AMY: It’s a sci-fi conceit, I think, bedtime stories for the ‘children’, Whether or not they’re computer intelligences or kids in the freezer tray. And then there’s the other thing. I mentioned this in my ASS post: The MU could never be confused with a fairytale, but The DCU, well, that’s another story. As Zom argues, somewhere up there, there is no one, correct, reading of the DC verse. It hasn’t received, and perhaps would refuse to respond to, the same kind of streamlining its sister universe has undergone over the last decade. The Marvel Family just can’t be ultimatised, and as for characters like Superman…. Please. They’re too big, too mythic, too godlike. There’s something dreamy and fantastic about the Final Crisis at its heart, if you take out the decapitations and the genetic experimentation labs, that’s completely missing from events like Civil War. And the thing about the DCU, if it’s a fairytale, is this:

It’s going to have its happy ending, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Where did Frankenstein get ol’ Fenris there? Command D? Or did he, between issues, take a detour to Grandma’s house and pick up the big bad wolf? This is the fantasy fighting back like a motherfucker against the forces of grown-up seeking to destroy it, and Franky’s a hunter-killer antibody.

I don’t understand how Frankenstein can be so popular with readers – I mean, he is, isn’t he? – but still fail to capture the imagination of DC Editorial enough to have his own book. What’s going on here? Where’s my fucking Frankenstein comic?

Bobsy: More symmetries on this page, i.e. TELL? Meet SHOW. This is the other page in this issue where the punches ouch so hard you can feel them. I love how Luthor hasn’t freed the supervillains from their helmets, just taken them over for himself.


AMY: ‘It all seems so long ago….’

‘What used to be time is slowing to a stop. What used to be meaningful and significant is losing importance…’

That’s great. Pure Morrison. It could’ve all been half an hour ago, but as the universe approaches a neverending instant, time dilates. Seconds become years, memory begins to fade and everything loses its charge. It’s almost like falling asleep, the tattered remains of a story falling around you. Mmmm.

Before the darkness.

BB: This is where the temporal spasming fucks me up. Okay, so you get your Women in Refrigerators joke in, okay the splashes are clearly taking place ‘then’ in the final battle in Blüdhaven but when or where – are they on Vanishing Point/the Watchtower/Last Redoubt freezing everyone, or just the survivors from the battle of Blüdhaven? How and when was the Watchtower composed – through Mister Miracle’s Boom Tube, probably? Or all the stations jamming anti-life frequencies composit…? It’s a cool visual and I wouldn’t let it irk me overmuch, but it’s the murkiest bit of storytelling and will prove a sticking point for a lot of readers.


Bobsy: The Betty Page moment and the long, piercing look from Superman are the close of this section. Things start to shift again after this point into the crescendo and a final finale( or two), and for me the author’s  ‘opera techniques’ claim becomes credible. Try and pot how many scene sructures from this point to the end are adapted (nicked) from the musical stage: there’s narrator Nix’s final happily-ever- afters, ‘If we spirits have offended’ and into-the-sunset moments; whole chorus lines arriving in ever more absurd costumes… In fact, isn’t it also the case that one of Overman’s special powers is Eurovision?


BB: This is the, ah-heh – I promise to stop doing this, keynote page of the issue and series for me. The inking on Superman is a bit craptacular, but it doesn’t ulitmately detract from the essence of the moment.

For me, anyway; other people’s mileage, oh it varied – the vitriol’s been a little surprising, even although I girded myself against such an inevitability. On a corporate level, which, really – give a fuck – the amount of focus and criticism is merited, because these are cash cows, or attempts at and I’ve read the prior four or five, oh no didn’t do ‘World War Hulk’, and found each singularly unsatisfying. Here – this was a messy comic, certainly – I do actually find the anger vented a bit sad and puzzling.

Anyway, a tonal moment – a horrible, neoned, bloody smear is talking to Superman, telling him he’s failed, it’s all fucked, nice one, it’s all his fault – and Superman sings three (four? I don’t read music – semitones, quavers?) golden notes at the bastard, game over. It’s a bit like the denouement of Jonathan Carroll’s From the Teeth of Angels, a bit Gaimanesque maybe therefore, but it’s just this fabulous bit of childlike daftness – completely, I have to say, unexpected. Fascination and beauty kick the arse off malevolence – “I showed the dirty beast a wee bit of culture; needless to say, he soon turned tail.”

AMY:  As we have noted, it’s hard to tell if Morrison’s being slipshod sometimes, or whether or not his habitually wheeled out line that he’s experimenting with new writing forms holds any water. I’d say it’s a little of both. God bless him, Grant needs a tough editor sometimes, but I think it’s fair to say FC is one comic that demonstrably and self-consciously does privilege symbolism over literalism and is quite prepared to eschew cause and effect plot-lines for poetic resonance. By the end of the last book, everything is operating in the mythic dimension, and the blackness everything’s descending into is just the moment of not-self before the fire of our imagination, Superman, explodes into a dream.

As the man Jog said, the ultimate Grant Morrison comic would just be heaped layers of MEANING.

Though I’m not sure he’s not already writing that comic.

I don’t know if anyone’s noticed how Grant’s sneaked the pre-Crisis Superman back under the radar, but super-memory, super-tunes and 4D-vision are not the sort of thing we expect the more pedestrian Supes of the 90’s to go in for. This is ASS all over again.

Darkseid shattered by blazing music has to be one of the coolest ‘fight scenes’ I’ve seen in recent years. I don’t know what more I can add. You can just hear this terrifying, celestial, beautiful noise. The sound the angels make when they sing.

ZOM: I must admit that this moment was somewhat undermined for me by the endless Darkseid death sequences.

We’ve already established that Superman is singing John William’s Superman theme. Imagine him actually doing that as he flies in to smack Brainiac in the face. Lulz.

Bobsy: Darkseid always hated music (except Nickelback) – how human. That’s to say, read with your ears, sensitive fans. Andrew has the best bit about what his song is, but I think he goes too far because he wanted to write (and do so well) about Americn Trilogy. He should have stopped with ‘If I Can Dream’ (he can redeem his soul and flyyy). By the way, be sure to take along your split-proof sides if you’re going to investigate the net for more on the identity of the Supersong.

PAGES 23 & 24

AMY: Metron’s always *present* at these catclysmic, plot reversing points, isn’t he? Like The ‘Fact’ scattered throughout time, helping the whole thing along.

And isn’t it nice to see the Worlogog again, the wish-engine? It would’ve been remiss of Morrison to leave it out.

And it’s fitting that in a story before bedtime, the monsters – and in FC they are monsters – turn up at midnight. Mandrakk actually makes the fairytale themes pretty explicit here, but ‘The end of all stories’? From a vampire? What? Someone should remind him he’s as guilty of narrative as anyone else, and that it can only end one way for him in this contest between mythologies. At this stage there’s such an inexorable, unstoppable momentum to the whole thing. It’s so predictable.

But that doesn’t stop what happens next being a completely SHO-RYUKEN! moment.

ZOM: Not really happy about Mandrakk turning up. I know that SMB is part of Final Crisis, but Mandrakk’s presence has been almost non-existent in the central story arc, and does that arc really need two villains (did SMB really need a villain other than Darkseid? I’m not sure it did)? Doesn’t Mandrakk feel a little superfluous to anyone else? I suppose there might be something going on with his vampire status beyond the whole sucking the life out of everything routine, and possibly Amy’s fairytale referencing – the idea of an evil that just won’t die (Superman gets to be continued, celebrity vampires are notoriously difficult to kill, and just won’t stay dead): we thought the horror went with Darkseid, but look! it keeps coming back isn’t it both horrible and ridiculous. Something like that. But it doesn’t work for me.

Mind you, I’ve yet to read FC in GM’s prescribed order.

Bobsy: The sparseness of the set here – there’s no pretense now on the emptied stage that this is occuring anywhere but in pure abstracted comic space. Say ‘Beckettian’, I dare you.

I’d say Mandrakk’s appearance (other methods of working late into the night are available) is necessary at this point. He’s the damage, the scar left by Darkseid, and requires treatment. He also works as a recapitulation of the themes of the story as it comes to a close, and as a preceding calm to contrast with the pitch of the coming fanfare.

PAGE 25, 26 & 27

‘Look up in the sky.’

AMY: And with those magic words the super-body of the Multiverse is summoned. The omni-dimensional S-shield.

ZOM: …To fight off those horrible, germ-like reality torpedoes.

And here’s a point I’ve been waiting to get to, the most satisfying way I have to make sense of the choices Morrison’s made in this book is built on the back of the words “super-body”, because it seems to me that if there is an existential crisis at work here it is the existential crisis of the story that is the DCU (which is in turn mirrored/within in/by the existential crisis of Morrison’s of the White Void). That’s why no particular character has been the focus or the narrative bridge, that’s why Morrison chose to build the book from the many and varied crises of communities of heroes – a huge stack of them, that’s why he chose to write in collage and eschew (some) plot.

The suicidal, dying form of Darkseid is swallowing the universe because the universe is depressed (or heartbroken, divorced from wonder – see Nix Uotan). Darkseid just embodies the black horror of it all. Batman? He’s the will, the reality of dealing with pain. Superman? Well he had to be gone because he’s hope, light, the wish for a happy ending and its possibility, he comes back when the darkness starts to fade. He’s the light just around the corner. He’s Grant Morrison’s optimism tied up in a great big red and blue bundle of fun. Where determinism (submit – all is one in Darkseid) is swapped for multiplicity and possibility.

At its best Final Crisis reads to me less like music, almost like a therapy session, where all the salient points pertaining to someone’s psychological process are detailed and worked through – a map of trauma and recovery (in much the same way that a film like Mulholland Drive maps the trauma points leading to and from murder). Do I think that the book entirely succeeds at this, do I think this sort of reading is entirely sustainable? No I don’t, I think the book fails in all sorts of ways, but I admire the effort, I admire the intent and the ambition. Writing about the pain of a fictional space is a daring, absurd, crazy thing to do, but so many of us have so much invested in the body of the DCU it makes sense that someone should make the effort.

And do you know what? I fucking admire DC for putting this book out, warts and all.

BB: Who says this isn’t the purply-prosed prismatic period of priapic protagonists, True Believers? Not me, anyway, because that is a page of entirely Supermans (+ one woman or ‘girl’, if you must.) All sorts – superbook of the year ’08 star Omega the Unknown, Ultiman from Big Bang comics, Red Son, Miracleman… A moan about production, though: almost every single double-page spread in this series has been cocked up a bit, in printing; several have replicated etail going in toward the spine, this just hasn’t been stapled very well and there’s some ugly edge of another page showing down the middle. It’s just. Annoying.

Bobsy: Why do Mandrakk’s henchblobs look like that? They look like aetheric parasites or something… Hang on, what the fuck am I talking about? How the fuck could I possibly know what an aetheric parasite looks like? OK try this: like vampire jellyfish, or rather sponges – emergent intelligence complexes. Contradictory and competitive ideas, things for de(con)struction and absorption.

PAGES 28 & 29

AMY: In all the noise, both good and bad, over this comic, I can’t believe no-one’s mentioned how awesome this sequence is. Mandrakk thinks he’s in a horror film, yes? So did Darkseid. But, no, this story’s much bigger than him. There are alladin’s lamps, magic animals, Angels, superheroes and Gods also. In fact having Captain Carrot, etc. show up first is the underlining of the mission statement. The wonderful possibilities. The silliness! It’s like watching the King of all Tears devoured by a pop-gun. One self regarding, pompous text, utterly consumed by another. Oh, the indignity of it! Poor Mandrakk. FC hearts the forgotten, lost, dumbassness beneath the realistic surface. It’s a championing of the discarded fantasies and outrageous concepts we’ve relegated to Limbo.

Pure Mindless Ones!

And right here’s where they take it all back.

It feels as though Morrison should’ve written this comic years ago.

BB: I have no idea if I like or loathe these pages – it’s nice to see Captain Carrot, star of the Oz-Wonderland War, make an appearance to redouble the case for childish things belonging, the power of nonsense… the tension is pretty much nonexistent after that, victory assured – Morrison makes a very unusual statement in his Newsarama exit interview:

Wonder Woman gets a ‘moment’ in Final Crisis #7 but by that time, Mandrakk has sucked all the life out of the story!

Said moment is back on p.21, I think! Where time and locale splinter.

Bobsy: Panel 2. That is not A Coincidence. That is A. Poodle.

Curtain calls, transmutations, resurrections, deifications, and putting the bastard to bed.


BB: Metron doesn’t have his chair anymore. It has been all over this series, and is – probably – the key element. Because, look, it’s gone back to a rubbish heap to be found by the League of Titans; the whole story’s this recursive structure, going back as far as Mister Miracle #1 – two event horizons of a black hole, this inversion of what a black hole is… the turret of the zen bullet. I think – intertextually, obvs – Metron planned this, this final crisis. His fingerprints are all over the universe.

AMY: Alan Moore spent an entire episode of Top Ten making a plot twist out of something Morrison expects us to understand in one panel. The New Gods are eternal. Sometimes Ragnorok’s tearing heaven from the sky, sometimes they’re being born (in this case in the advent of a ‘new’ creation, Universe 51). It just depends which part of the myth you’re reading. And, of course, that means we haven’t seen the end of Darkseid, complete with a different iteration of his universe annhilating plans.

I hope, because I haven’t read much of the inter-commentary, everyone picked up on the Kamandi/Command D thing. We first saw the kid with all the tigerman down in the bunker, begging Turpin to help him, and now here he is on a reimagined universe 51, cobbled together with pieces of everywhere. This, for me, is Final Crisis greatest hour – a totally original origin story for that there map Nix is holding in his hands.

Oh yeah.

PAGE 33-35

BB: The narrator-before-last ends re-embedded, absorbed into the multiverse, which is now unbounded and free to crossfertilise – as soon as the Miracle Machine was introduced, the powering wish was inevitable. Multiplicity beats duality and singularity.

The conclusion brings Philip Pullman to mind twofold: firstly, one is inclined to wonder if Nix’ love is similarly situated in ‘her’ universe (I assume here that Nix is a) embedded in Earth-0 which was a conduit to his own Earth-51 and b) his father, Mandrakk, was the former monitor of Earth Designate Zero). So, not unlike His Dark Materials, conceivably, in that sense* but also, and I think this can’t be overstated, in his discussion or defence of the atheist reading of that trilogy Pullman had this to say:

you know I always mistrust people who tell us how we should understand something. They know better than we do what the book means or what this means and how we should read it and whether we should read it or not. I don’t think that’s democratic. I prefer to trust the reader. I prefer to trust what I call the democracy of reading. When everybody has the right to form their own opinion and read what they like and come to their own conclusion about it. So I trust the reader.

Which you can find at any number of mad-bastard religious sites, none of which I care to link to, fuck them. I think it’s integral to what’s being attempted here, though; multiplicity of events, of interpretations – living stories without fucking continuity cops.

*Also a set-up for the greatest ever Marvel/DC crossover that will never happen.

PAGE 36-37

BB: Bonus points – or not, I suppose – for recasting the legendarily arsey first chapter (“I wrote it to keep the scum out”) of Alan Moore’s Voice of the Fire; there was definitely one major element missing from all that, would’ve made it totally great, and here it – here he – is.

AMY: If I have one hope for the future it is this. Morrison, we’ve heard your retort to Modern comics, it was fun, but now I want you to deliver on all that promise. Now that he’s finished building a better batmobile I actually want to see what a new, fun, superheroic, futuristic Batman looks like.

And we can start here: The Dark Knight at the dawn of time.

And maybe see the storyline that leads to a certain enormous, stuffed, bone-rending beastie adorning his cave……

ZOM: BB sees Voice of the Fire, I see the The Road, or at least Cormac McCarthy’s allegorical “fire”: a bundle of concepts – hope, creativity and love, other nice stuff.

Bobsy: If the Darksheit should ever go down, one’s susceptibility to antilife can be estimated by gauging response to this closing word:


Now, suspend that thought, shut that mouth and go and read Pillock’s astonishing post where he reviews, riffs on, and assesses the impact and worth of A COMIC HE HAS YET TO READ! Pure fucking essence of Mindless Ones!

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