Nothing But Red Skies Do I See
I finally managed to get a copy of Final Crisis: Superman Beyond 3D by Grant Morrison, Doug Mahnke , Ray Zone and a million inkers late yesterday evening. I can only presume that the comic shops were trying to protect me from the sheer incredible Thrill Power of an oversized Superman comic by Grant Morrison in 3D.
(Well, that’s *one* explanation – after my local comic shop ran out without putting it in my pull list, my wife offered to go to Forbidden Planet and get a copy for me. They lied to her and told her they didn’t have any. When I went in later, they had at least 30 copies. It couldn’t possibly have been because I am a bearded man who looks comically like the stereotype comics reader, while my wife is a woman… )
There was a fun little aside in this week’s Blue Beetle (Matt Sturges has finally found his feet as a writer – he’s always seemed like someone whose work I should enjoy more than I do, but he’s actually doing a good job on this title) – looking for ways to deal with villains, one of the options the scarab gives the Blue Beetle is “Implicate-Order Annihilation Field [Fatal Potential : Theological Implications]“.
This would seem to establish as ‘fact’ that the interpretation of quantum physics that applies in the DC Universe is a Bohmian Hidden Variable interpretation (the only type that has an implicate order). Which is interesting, given the timing…
This month, mathematician John Conway (the inventor of the game Life) and Simon Kochen proved (as seen in this link which I posted just under a week ago) that free will can’t exist at all in a universe where such an interpretation of quantum physics is correct. Of course, that would be literally true within the DCU, as everything that happens within that universe is created by writers and artists from outside the universe – none of the characters have any free will at all.
The first comic to state – in-universe – that the characters in the DCU are just puppets for people in this universe was Grant Morrison(and Chas Truog, Doug Hazelwood et al)’s Animal Man – and this was also the first DCU comic to suggest – apparently unconnectedly – that the DCU was based on an implicate order version of quantum physics. (Peter Milligan’s six-issue run on Animal Man which followed (and which really should be collected – it’s almost as good as Morrison’s) stated that the Everett-Wheeler-Graham many-worlds interpretation was the correct one, but I think we should probably regard this story as apocryphal).
In Final Crisis: Superman Beyond 3D, which came out the same day as that issue of Blue Beetle, Morrison has Superman visit Character Limbo, a concept that originally (and as far as I know only) appeared in that same Animal Man run.
Now, I’m not suggesting here that Morrison’s attempts to make the DCU sentient have borne fruit, or that he’s had a secret Chaos Magick Timetable for more than twenty years that allowed him to synchronise the release of his comic with that throwaway line in another comic and the publication of a paper by a respected mathematician. I would never suggest such things. I certainly wouldn’t suggest that the secret ending of Final Crisis is going to be the merger of Earth-Prime with New Earth, and we’ll wake up on publication day to find that Superman now exists on this earth. That would be absurd.
Grant Morrison is just a comic writer and not some weird demiurge recreating the universe according to his own desires. Almost certainly. Certainly I’d say there’s a better than 50% chance that it’s probably just a coincidence…
The comic itself is almost parodically Morrisonesque, from the explicit digs at Alan Moore (Captain Allen Adam, who is the Captain Atom of Earth 4, but who looks almost exactly like Doctor Manhattan and has to take psychotropic drugs to function normally) to the implicit digs at Alan Moore (the travel into a higher reality requiring 3D glasses to view is quite possibly a subtle dig at The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier, which deals with similar themes).
(Incidentally, my wife Holly, who is legally blind and has only monocular vision, would like it to be known that she Does Not Approve of comic writers whose work she enjoys producing comics she is physically incapable of reading. I, on the other hand, just wish I still had my Batman 3D glasses that I got with John Byrne’s Batman 3D twenty years ago).
There is so much in this comic that to unpack it would take months – Morrison has put the equivalent of a twelve-issue miniseries in here. The history of the Monitors, the Yellow Submarine (Ultima Thule), the universe being run on Story… it’s just fantastic stuff.
Morrison casts Final Crisis itself in this comic as “this last-ditch attempt to save creation itself from a loathing and greed beyond measure”, and all I can say is on this evidence I hope it succeeds…
I have to break this off at this point, but at some point over the next couple of days, expect more on my favourite themes of multiplicity and stasis vs entropy in Morrison’s work, with reference to the chain motif that keeps coming up.
(I realise I haven’t spoken much about the art here – Mahnke’s art is as excellent as you’d expect, and that’s about all I have to say about it. I’m not hugely visually oriented).
I really think that Morrison is tapping into some very, very profound stuff here, putting the pure Kirby energy and the iconic power of Superman together and using them both to state some actual truths about the universe. And doing it using “4D Overvoid Viewers Forged From Superman’s Own Cosmic Armor”.
And is it me, or does the sky look a little… red today?
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