Okay, so the title has absolutely nothing to do with the content, but in these Final Crisis/Batman RIP posts I’ve been using consecutive lines from Batman by Jan & Dean as titles, and I refuse to let Grant Morrison not putting in a scene of Batvillains running away stop me.
Anyway, Final Crisis #6, publisher DC Comics, writer Grant Morrison, artists Hugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble & Grubb…
Firstly, it is, of course, great. I can understand why Jog doesn’t like it, but to me it’s just about as good as superhero comics get, and Kevin Church has accurately summed up most of the complaints people have had about it on message boards.
There are a couple of complaints that *do* have more substance, of course. First is the art – up to now the various people helping Jones with this have done what I consider a relatively good job of blending with his work. Not perfect, but good. But here, for the first time we have some outright sloppiness – which looks like the fault of the inker, but is really the fault of the unrealistic schedule that these comics were originally put on.
A potentially bigger problem is the colouring on Shilo Norman, which some people are seeing as him being coloured ‘white’ (actually his skin tone looks more like the Japanese heroes in the same panel than anything else). My friend Chris Hilker, in an email to which I’ve not got round to replying (so I hope he’s reading this) suggested that the ‘error’ was actually a sign of Shilo taking on a Godly aspect, being something like a halo or spotlight. I’m not 100% convinced that was the *intention*, but it fits with the story, and I like it, so I’m accepting that.
On the other hand, for every art problem, there’s a simply phenomenal page like Talky Tawny (am I the only one who wants a Morrison-written Talky Tawny series?) saying “Do your worst, gentlemen”. That page is just gorgeous, and makes me wish there’d been the opportunity to put this out on a realistic schedule. All the art teams on this, in fact, do great work when they can – just look at the scene with Batman and Darkseid, or the double-page spread just before Superman’s return.
Even at its worst, though, the art does a competent job of telling the story, which is what I’m buying this for, and which is just getting better. All those people who’ve criticised this for being ‘a bit like Rock Of Ages‘ are comprehensively missing the point. All Morrison’s DCU work in the last couple of years (since the end of Seven Soldiers) has been about making the ‘ultimate’ versions of characters and stories. Not in the Marvel sense, but… actually, in some ways it is like the Marvel sense of the word.
What Morrison did with All-Star Superman (and slightly less successfully with his Batman run, though that’s not completed yet thankfully – as he’s confirmed in recent interviews – and an incomplete Morrison work is never an easy thing to judge) is essentially to throw in every single thing anyone ever loved about the character and make the whole thing make sense. If you gave All-Star Superman to anyone who’d read a Superman comic, ever, they would recognise it. I bet you could convince a *lot* of non-fans that they’d read it when they were a kid. It is, in many ways, the quintessential Superman comic.
And in the same way, Final Crisis is the quintessential superhero crossover – even as, just like with All-Star Superman, Morrison uses it to do other things as well. So all the plot elements here – multiverses collapsing, a war between gods, red skies, heroes turned bad and villains saving the day, a hero who can never use their powers ever again, dramatic deaths and returns from the dead, races with death himself, Superman cradling a dead body in his arms (evoking both the cover of Crisis On Infinite Earths 7 and Batman Dies At Dawn, two stories which have hugely influenced the last few months’ worth of stories), all these are things we have seen time and again in superhero comics over the years.
Morrison is neither so stupid nor so modest as to not know that his own big superhero epics of the past need to be thrown into the mix too, and so they are, but the Rock Of Ages parallels are just another of the many, many echoes here.
But it’s the execution of the thing that’s so impressive. Darkseid (and I *can’t* be the only one who’s noticed how much this manifestation of the Dark God of Anti-Life looks like John McCain, can I?) fixing all the continuity fuckups caused by the execrable Countdown (and the Death Of The New Gods series) in one sentence, and doing it in a way that it feels like an organic part of the story and also thematically fits with Morrison’s other work (AND is maybe another shout-out to the Mindless Ones, and the ‘prismatic age’ theory). The way that the whole thing’s a love story, with almost every character in this issue having their own romantic subplot, from the mature married love of Hourman and Liberty Belle to the soap opera of the Super Young Team to the BDSM-tinged relationship of Black Canary and Green Arrow. Pretty much everyone in the story is motivated by getting back to someone they love, which makes sense if, as seems likely, the whole story is a cosmic ‘resonance’ from Nix Uotan being cast out of the world of the monitors.
For someone who’s regarded as a Big Idea man, and who’s pouring every Big Idea he’s ever had into this story – ideas about the superhero genre, the way you can tell stories in comics, the nature of reality, and more – what’s impressive is how well delineated every character is. No character gets more than a handful of panels and a couple of lines of dialogue, but you still get an understanding of who Black Canary, Talky Tawny, Batman, Lex Luthor, Supergirl and so on are – understandings that you often couldn’t get from their comics.
Final Crisis isn’t a perfect comic – far from it. It fails at quite a lot of what it’s trying to do, as at least half of Morrison’s work does. But it fails in interesting ways, and what it’s trying for is also interesting. Even at its worst, its faults are trying too hard, overestimating its audience, and having too much imagination, which are faults I can’t bring myself to judge too harshly. And at its best this is a comic that actually makes a big cosmic Everything Will Change Forever crossover something worth reading for the first time since… well, ever.
I’m a big Final Crisis fan, and feel that it’s Morrison really pounding out the ultimate version of a lot DC ideas that he’s been messing with for decades.
But if you think people’s problems with Final Crisis come down to “Batman uses a gun” and “Shiloh is drawn as white”, then that’s a pretty big disconnect to reality. I love the book, but the problems that people in my circle have come down to the extremely sudden start/stop of the scenes, the very loose connection from one scene to the next, and the general chaos of it all
If you’re a big Morrison fan these are not problems, they’re part of his charm, but this book isn’t being marketed to Morrison niche fans. It’s being marketed to all fans, crammed down the throats of people who haven’t spent years training themselves to process Morrisons’ extreme quirks.
Hmmm, in that way I guess it really does serve as a pretty huge parallel to Marvel’s Secret Invasion, with a very niche writer’s work being served to the public as a must read crossover event, without which the fans will not be up to date on important continuity.
Of course, Final Crisis suffers from the quirks of a simultaneously brilliant/pretentious writer, and Secret Invasion suffers from an alternately great/crap writer, and is just crap.
Zak, essentially all criticism boils down to two questions – “Does it accomplish what it’s trying to do?” and “Is what it’s trying to do worth doing?”
When talking about readers’ criticisms, I’ve been mostly talking about the former – questions of craft. The people who don’t like the rapid-cut style are reacting to a deliberate stylistic choice – they don’t think that what Morrison is trying to do is worth doing. Which is a valid opinion, but one I disagree with.
Some of Jog’s criticisms are valid, of course, but I think overall the series is doing about as well as possible (given some of the bizarre editorial decisions that have affected it) in doing what it’s meant to do.
I’d like you to explain the use of the word pretentious there.
I’m not being hostile, I just think it’s one helluva overused adjective, especially when it comes to descriptions of Morrison and his output.
Andrew, I think there’s at least one further question: what subtexts are at work here? (they may or may not be intentional)
Nah, it’s a terrible comic. Secret Invasion is a straight forward alien invasion book that impacted every Marvel book in a very clear way and lead into the next event. It accomplished what it set out to do. Final Crisis was initially intended as a sequel to Seven Soldiers of Victory and instead was stretched into a company-wide crossover event that does NOT impact the monthly comics and instead loses focus and direction several times over the 7 issues that have managed to come out so far. It also cannot retain an interior artists, leading to many scenes making no sense, yet the Morrison blind love set would have readers hunting for clues to explain why it really does make sense… but it’s really just a stupid mistake.
The whole thing is a comic book case of the Emperor Wears No Clothes. If this thing had Chuck Austen and Rob Liefeld’s name on it, it would universally derided. The fact that it is written by Morrison is the only reason fanboys are clamoring over this truly awful disaster of a comic book. These things are not that difficult to write, guys. Look, Bendis can even do it (sometimes). It’s when you try to change your blockbuster movie comic into Zentropa that problems arise.
Wow, argument won then. End of discussion. Go home, everyone. By admitting that you enjoy Final Crisis you are also admitting to being a dribbling fanboy, and dribbling fanboys are always wrong. Truth. Seriously, it’s a case of the emperors (yawn at the cliche) new clothes. Stand back while I invoke Austin and Liefeld….
In what way does not impacting monthly books damage Final Crisis? Brian Hibbs raised a similar point, claiming that it’s isolation robbed the book of any gravitas. I disagree for a variety of reasons, but I can see how that would be a problem for a certain kind of reader.
For me the only substantive problems for FC have been the lack of development of certain plot elements and narrative strands within the pages of the miniseries proper, the slipped shipping dates, and the inconsistent art (which has never struck me as anything like as problematic as some would have me believe).
Zom – you’re quite right, of course.
‘dailypop’, I’ve approved your comment – for now – but if you’re going to comment further I would appreciate some basic civility from you. Claiming to know others’ opinions better than they do themselves is unutterably rude, as are references to ‘the Morrison blind love set’ and ‘fanboys’. Disagreeing with my opinions is fine. Trying to tell me that I cannot actually hold those opinions in good faith is not.
If you can’t accept the possibility that people can disagree with you on aesthetic matters while still honestly holding their opinions, then further comments will simply be deleted – it’s worse than pointless trying to discuss anything with someone who doesn’t believe you actually hold the opinions you state.
Where does the Morrison fanboy hive-mind leave someone like me who’s really enjoying Final Crisis a lot, but didn’t like Batman RIP?
Additionally I’d like some actual arguments, Andrew, rather than circular logic and a bunch of woolly assertions.
Those of us who like FC like everything that GM has ever written, Tilt. Stop deluding yourself and admit that you loved RIP
Sorry, I came off as far more aggressive than I intended. The series is really pissing me off, not you guys. Honestly, I apologize if I got anyone annoyed with my comment.
I certainly don’t mean to state that anyone’s opinion ids invalid based on the fact that I don’t agree with it. I was mainly responding to the reactions of those who are in love with the series claiming that those who aren’t don’t ‘get it,’… which of course is not present here so I again apologize for coming off as an ass.
To explain my points, which I hope helps clarify my opinion without condemning anyone else’s, I do maintain that this series is riding on Grant’s coat tails as a celeb writer and I say that as one of his biggest fans. I cannot understand what purpose this series could possibly be serving when it is a major crossover that fails to interact with monthly comics and also cannot even coincide with the mini-series created specifically for Final Crisis. What’s that all about??
Additionally, the series cannot tell a clear and concise story at all. The problems may appear to be minor nit-picks, but they make up the majority of the comic. Like a Robert Altman film starring Beavis and Butthead, the cut-scenes don’t add up to a complete picture in addition to the fact that they are so insipid.
The murder mystery of Orion was poorly resolved (how were we supposed to know that Hal Jordan had an implant?).
Barry Allen just pops up (hooray?!) and then apparently hangs out for a few issues in Iris West’s apartment with the fastest loiterers alive. I guess the Black Racer takes lunch breaks while he hunts you down.
Hawkman and Hawkgirl appear in a void. Hawkman tells Hawkgirl that he hopes they die so that they’ll reincarnate and she’ll love him. Nice one, Katar… nice one.
Characters even Grant cannot be bothered to remember are re-introduced and have an awkward unrequited love moment as if we’re supposed to care. Is there a Japanese teen hero comic on its way?
The exiled watcher- er- Monitor pines about his lost love and a rubic’s cube (again, as if we’re supposed to care).
Superman explodes on the scene suddenly furious for no real clear reason (just a moment before he was having a calm conversation with Brainiac 5), eyes blazing a trail of death (no ‘look out, guys’?) on his way to Darkseid.
The Batman using a gun thing is so stupid specifically because Batman himself points out how out of character it is. A character telling you what he is doing is bad enough, having them explain that it makes no sense is even worse!
… ugh.. the whole thing is just so poorly written and shoddy (again, in my opinion) with the promise that in the end it will all be worth it. If this were written by anyone else not only am I convinced that it would be derided but I would really not care about how bad it is.
The fact that Grant, the same guy behind the Invisibles, We3, Doom Patrol…. Skrull Kill Krew… wrote this is just very disappointing.
When I say that Morrison is often simultaneously brilliant & pretentious, I mean pretentious to mean the depiction of scenes that exagerrate their own importance/sense of depth beyond what the scenes sustain. The “I just blew your mind” moments that his work is filled with, many of which do blow my mind, and many of which come off as a big bag of hot air.
The ultimate human stepping from the shadows to KO the Dark God? Awesome! A helicopter crash climaxing RIP? Hot air. Superman creating our universe? Brillaint! The Anti-Life equation spread through SPAM? Hot air.
Final Crisis is awesome, one of the highlights of my month. The man’s throwing huge great ideas left and right at the speed of type, and most of them are great. But more than a lot of them are silly bags of hot air presented as if they’re supposed to blow one away. Grant’s critics have legitimate complaints, and although I think Final Crisis is a great mini-series, it’s a horrible mass appeal cross over event.
Also, thanks for continuing with the Morrison commentary Andrew, I always enjoy your analysis of his work.
And also to echo a statement made in the main post, even when Morrison’s ideas are just hot air, they’re usually at least interesting hot air
I’m going to comment on the posters link. I’m a big fan of Polish poster art, and seeing 50 in one place is a rare treat. The Poles revolutionised the art of the poster. Thanks!
Only responding to dailypop’s specific points.
“The murder mystery of Orion was poorly resolved”
This isn’t a fair complaint until the series ends, because the murder mystery of Orion hasn’t been resolved yet. We haven’t seen who fired the bullet, or when.
“(how were we supposed to know that Hal Jordan had an implant?).”
We weren’t supposed to know Jordan had an implant, because it was a plot twist. But it was right there on the page: Jordan had a scar on his head and had been sleeping so deeply and dreamlessly that he slept through an emergency deicide signal from his ring.
“Barry Allen just pops up (hooray?!) and then apparently hangs out for a few issues in Iris West’s apartment with the fastest loiterers alive. I guess the Black Racer takes lunch breaks while he hunts you down.”
Time is broken. Hourman still has 30 minutes of Miraclo left, but Libra has kept the Calculator alive for days. I read the Flash scene in #6 as happening immediately after the one in #4: “Everything’s going to be all right now.” “You bet.” [“Sit down, I’ll explain…”] “…At relativistic speeds as you know space, time, light,” etc. Also, I love that Garrick’s line in #3 about death not being able to exceed the speed of light is not just an awesome bit of comic book dialogue but an actual plot point.
“Hawkman and Hawkgirl appear in a void.”
The first panel they’re in kind of lacks a background, but honestly I don’t think that makes Final Crisis a bad comic.
“Characters even Grant cannot be bothered to remember are re-introduced and have an awkward unrequited love moment as if we’re supposed to care. Is there a Japanese teen hero comic on its way?”
Re-introduced? They’ve been in every issue of the series since #2. You seem to be projecting your own unwillingness to remember them on the author and the rest of the audience.
“Superman explodes on the scene suddenly furious for no real clear reason (just a moment before he was having a calm conversation with Brainiac 5), eyes blazing a trail of death (no ‘look out, guys’?) on his way to Darkseid.”
Darkseid’s prophet nearly murdered Lois Lane by bombing the Daily Planet. Superman’s been dragged across the multiverse by a rogue Monitor, then dragged into the future, and he couldn’t get back to the moment he left because Darkseid broke time. Now he sees what Darkseid has done not just to the world but to the entire multiverse. And to top it off, Superman sees that Darkseid just killed his best friend. Is that enough reasons for him to be furious?
“The Batman using a gun thing is so stupid specifically because Batman himself points out how out of character it is. A character telling you what he is doing is bad enough, having them explain that it makes no sense is even worse!”
Faced with a choice between compromising his code against guns or the destruction of 51 inhabited universes, I don’t think Batman would say “No. Not even in the face of Armageddon. Never compromise.”
I don’t understand this whole “did what it set out to do” thing that people seem to forever be bringing up when they compare FC to SI. I think what SI set out to do is very easily comprehended (and that’s not a word I’m just plucking out of the air), and though I find its success at accomplishing that goal like a sort of Anti-Life demonstration in itself, even if I liked SI I don’t see how I could confuse what it intends, with what FC intends. People toss around a lot of stuff like this, not intending to pick on the fellow up above because he’s not the only one saying it by a long stretch — you also hear that SI made “real changes”, an assertion patently false, on the order of saying that Infinite Crisis made real changes…but man, isn’t the least you can say for FC that it makes more “real changes” than either of those Events? Oh, Events, Crossover “Events”, jeez…you know I did not grow up with the annual linewide crossover event, okay, so I don’t love it or look forward to it or have any expectations about it other than “this will very likely be mishandled in some way”…but it seems to me that there are many, many fans of all sorts of media who derive great pleasure from feeling a part of the Event tout court, all the way from being able to follow the minute details of its timeline, right up to professing an interest in the business side of things, as the success of the project in mobilizing fan interest becomes not only a reflection of their own individual enjoyments, but also very conveniently measurable in sales figures, box-office receipts, and Neilsen ratings. So story gets mixed up with process and product at once, and all is mixed with enjoyment. Uh…right? I think it was Bill Griffith who did a thing about moviegoers slinging agent-speak back and forth at each other, “points on the deal” and so on, like talking to the screen at the characters on your favourite soap opera it heightens the perceived interaction, I have no doubt.
How is it fair to assume that the job SI sets out to do and does, is even a definition of “job” that FC respects in the slightest? That’s what I don’t get, because I don’t share what I think is (because nobody is taking the trouble to spell it out) considered to be the definition of “getting good crossover”, and I have to be honest…I find it irksome.
Unless I am just misunderstanding everything. But I don’t think I am.
Pillock – agreed. What SI was trying to do wasn’t worth doing. What FC is trying to do definitely is. I think the problem is that FC has been sold as the wrong kind of thing, so a lot of people are getting sirloin steak and saying “But I ordered a Big Mac”…
To be fair, I think GM can be a little pretentious on occasion, but the adjectives I’d use to describe some of his woollier ideas are, well, words like woolly and silly, and if I think the occasion warrants it frivolous or fun, or sometimes, when I’m feeling mean, dumb. To frame the anti-life equation as spam device as prententious is to give it too much weight if you ask me. The important stuff, the big underlying ideas are what’s important – stuff like Morrison’s take on the *nature* of anti-life. Now, we could argue about the strength of his thinking on that score (I already have over on Funnybook Babylon, and it was a very interesting discussion), but the fact that there is grounds for solid, thoughtful argument suggests that, again, accusations of pretentiousness need to be left at the door.
Oh, and on the question of RIP’s finale, that ending was pure gothic, surely? A machinean conflict swirling up into the thunder ripped sky. It fits entirely with what’s gone before in the arc. It’s not so much about ideas as about tapping into a recognisable aesthetic.
As to the criticisms of Final Crisis above, I pretty much disagree with every single one of those points, but for the moment I don’t have the time to respond.
Final Crisis was sold as a sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths and Infinite Crisis, how is serving that purpose?
Not to beat a dead horse, but to respond to a couple of hilker’s statements:
“Darkseid’s prophet nearly murdered Lois Lane by bombing the Daily Planet. Superman’s been dragged across the multiverse by a rogue Monitor, then dragged into the future, and he couldn’t get back to the moment he left because Darkseid broke time. Now he sees what Darkseid has done not just to the world but to the entire multiverse. And to top it off, Superman sees that Darkseid just killed his best friend. Is that enough reasons for him to be furious?”
-This all happens off-panel and/or in a mini-series that is still not finished. Superman also seems quite composed the moment before he loses his cool. It’s an arguable point, but one built on what is not on the page. If Superman knew about any of this or was feeling any of this, we should have seen it. It’s exclusion takes away from the impact.
Hal Jordan’s implant WAS a mystery the reader was meant to solve, actually. Grant remarks on this in his ‘director’s cut’ comic. The explanation is still poorly given and an example of bad writing.
Andrew, how is “What SI was trying to do wasn’t worth doing”anything other than a dismissal based on simple personal taste? Based on your reply to me, I’m confused as to why you would say that. How is an action event comic that builds on years’ worth of stories not worth doing? I understand if you didn’t like it but to write it off as a non-entity is a bit much. Secret Invasion is part of an experiment that Marvel has been doing for several years, Final Crisis is yet another attempt to close the circle opened up in 2005’s Countdown to Infinite Crisis.
I’m just trying to understand where you are coming from here.
An ‘action event comic’ qua ‘action event comic’ is not worth doing because it’s already been done a million times. Secret Invasion wasn’t trying to do anything new at all. Final Crisis, on the other hand, is an attempt to tell a different kind of story in a very different way , and rather than being Just Another Crossover is part of a longer story Morrison’s been telling in all his superhero work for more than 20 years – a story that’s actually *about* things, one which deals with actual *ideas*.
It’s like the difference between Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Sk8er Boi by Avril Lavigne. You may well prefer the latter, but the Lavigne song is not ‘worth doing’ in the way the Ninth was, because it breaks no new musical or lyrical ground.
Secret Invasion is not fundamentally different to something like Eclipso: The Darkness Within or Armageddon 2001. It’s entertainment-like product.
On the other hand, while it would be naive to say that commercial interests didn’t play a major part in Final Crisis, it seems to me at least as much a product of a single creator’s idiosyncratic vision and ideas about the form as, say, Pet Sounds in music or A Touch Of Evil in film – and at least as worthwhile.
Which is not to say that entertainment-like product doesn’t have its place – I *loved* Armageddon 2001 when I was 12 – but it’s not intrinsically worth doing. A failed generic crossover is just a failed generic crossover, while even if you count Final Crisis a failure (and plenty of people I respect, like Jog and Christopher Bird, do, even though I don’t agree) it’s one that introduces new storytelling techniques to the medium and new ideas to the genre…
While I disagree with your opinion that Final Crisis is introducing new ideas and storytelling techniques to comics, I admire your enthusiasm and excitement for the series and for what it’s worth I hope my opinion matches yours after the series is over.
I deeply enjoy it when my opinion changes for the better about a series that I have been collecting.
(By the by, Touch of Evil is one of my all time favorite films and your mentioning it reminds me of how I was tickled pink when I recently re-watched ‘Ed Wood’ and saw the Orson Welles scene.)
I’m gonna just take a couple of things you said there, Dailypop, to further illustrate how I’m not clear on what your criteria are, and I hope you don’t take offense, because I don’t mean any:
“Final Crisis was sold as a sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths and Infinite Crisis, how is it serving that purpose?” Okay, so this is the “I was promised a crossover, now cross it over already! expectation, am I correct?
But is this the same thing as:
“How is an action event comic that builds on years’ worth of stories not worth doing? […] Secret Invasion is part of an experiment that Marvel has been doing for several years…”
Because I take that second bit to be a double-whammy: one part “this story is satisfyingly climactic” (of course I would argue — based on every positive review of it I’ve read that was coming from a remotely critical standpoint — that it’s been widely found to be anything but), and one part “the narrative of this purposeful publishing strategy is one I find exciting”, which I certainly won’t argue with, because we should all enjoy whatever it is we enjoy…but I will say that I can’t grok the attractiveness of that conflation, because to me this in itself is not enough to call SI “worth doing” rather than “worth dropping”, if you see what I mean. A lousy story that’s been built up to for years is no more worth doing in my eyes than a lousy story that hasn’t been built up to for years…and if the buildup was lousy too (I think a person could argue the buildups to both and FC and SI have been lousy), then it’s even less reason to praise it merely for doing what it intended all along. After all, what was stopping it from doing what it set out to, eh? Skrulls invade…then there’s a big fight. Seems easy enough to accomplish. Speaking personally, I’ve already long since voted on Marvel’s experiment with my feet…I would’ve considered it far more “worth doing” to have Iron Man wake up and find it had all been a dream, which would (you’ll note) also have constituted “something they’ve been building to for years”…it just would’ve sucked, that’s all. But then I think SI sucked anyway, so what’s the difference? You see what I mean?
Meanwhile I remain interested in Morrison’s writing, and confident he’ll be able to once again surprise me with the way he gets to a satisfying climax. And I don’t know if I can really define “interesting”, there, but my point is that my interest’s pretty much entirely elicited by the execution of the idea behind the story, the execution of what the story’s about…and everything about SI and its buildup failed to interest me in that way. Utterly. And for me that’s the whole tale of the tape right there…meanwhile you’re measuring with a completely different kind of tape, which is obviously fine, but the thing is I don’t understand what it’s made of, I find it very counterintuitive to mush together the story of the marketing and publishing of the comic with the story contained within the comic, and pull “win” out of it. And I guess it isn’t exactly unlikely I’ve totally gotten you wrong here, and if I have I apologize…it’s just that I don’t really understand what your expectations are. Is it, maybe, because I didn’t grow up with the annual linewide crossover event experience?
I share your confusion
Thanks, man. I do sometimes wonder if I’m just deeply out of touch.
Forgot to say I don’t think SI was really “about” anything at all, too. For me, that’s a real serious factor: I like to have themes in my stories, all that literary garbage. Just my personal taste. Anyway, I don’t think it’s too controversial to say that SI didn’t have any of that stuff in it, so to me it just seemed like a great big waste of money and effort. I have nothing invested in whether Spider-Woman’s a Skrull, because that’s not the nature of my investment in the Marvel characters, that they just happen to be there…actually I think this is funny, if there had been some question whether Iron Man was a Skrull I might’ve been slightly interested, because I hated Civil War! So what was the first thing Bendis solemnly assured everybody of, but that Iron Man wasn’t going to be a Skrull. I feel this was a tremendous error in planning. Then it was all “nope, Cap wasn’t a Skrull either.” What a way to run a railroad! “You’ll never guess what unimportant third-string characters turn out to be Skrulls!” Hmm. “Nothing was a clue!” I see people whose opinions I respect saying “frankly, SI was better than FC”, and I just can’t understand how anyone could find it better than anything.
I am hoping that doesn’t sound dismissive of your point of view, Dailypop; I’m just trying to speak for myself.
Pillock, what you are basically doing is lathering your point of view heavily onto Secret Invasion several times over. What I am doing is pointing out specific failures of Final Crisis and several specific instances of poor writing.
Final Crisis fails as ‘the thing that it is’ because it neither serves as a sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths and also because it cannot even crossover with itself. My own opinion is also that it fails as a series due mostly to editorial interference that has crammed the book with too many ideas and the lack of a regular artist causing several artistic mistakes. I have also pointed out specific writing problems earlier.
So I am stating my assessment of the series in grand terms and in specific ones. Where the confusion is I don’t understand.
As far as company-wide event comics go, super hero comics in general are about dudes smacking each other around, FC and SI included. The response to a negative review of the series as I’m seeing it is that Final Crisis is somehow more than just an event comic and is attempting to do something wholly other or inventively new in the realm of comic books, which I still do not see at all.
You didn’t like Civil War, which is actually about the state of the United States at the time of the printing of the series, so it really is about something. It’s actually pretty sophisticated for both Marvel Comics as a publisher and Mark Millar as a writer to have printed the series. I still cannot get readers who expected ‘Cap’s side’ to have won. The fact that you wanted Iron Man to have dreamt the whole thing is just weird to me. Did you really want the whole thing to be a massive do-over?
Maybe you just didn’t like what Civil War was about or the fact that the heroes came out looking different. The whole idea was to reshape the Marvel Universe in a different way and CW made good on that promise.
Secret Invasion built on the themes introduced in Civil War and delivered the goods by explaining that nearly all of the MU’s trouble of the past few years was to soften them up for invasion. As far as literary themes, I’d have to struggle to come up with one, so I won’t bother. I also think that you’ve plainly made up your mind on hating the series.
However, there were never any promises of prominent characters to be revealed as Skrulls. That idea came from the fans and it never made any sense to me, frankly. Anyone who had been reading Iron Man and Captain America could see that neither would end up being a Skrull because both series were so well done and developed the characters so well.
Where the failure of SI is, I don’t understand, but I’m certainly not going to try and win you over on a series that you have spent so much time expounding your dislike of. I’ve stated my opinions on the failures of Final Crisis as being that it neither serves the purpose of a big event comic nor does it function as a well written or drawn comic. I’m also not sure what Final Crisis is supposed to be ‘about’ aside from a string of events choppily put together. Maybe when it’s over and I give it a re-read I’ll see the full picture, but so far it’s a disjointed mess for me.
Other opinions differ, that’s why there are tons of comics on the shelf, some without guys beating the hell out of each other (so I hear).
I hope that clears things up.
Well, you know…it might at that, a little.
Just let me get a coffee.
Okay, I’m back! And, let me just correct you about something you’re implying there, if I’m reading you correctly Dailypop…I own about a shitload and a half of superhero comics, right? And just about all of them meet my requirements for being “about” something, just about all of them include what I call “the literary stuff” — and plenty of fisticuffs too, you know? I ain’t no snob, I’ve got spacemen using kung fu against laser-toting dinosaurs back here: I’ll put my trashy four-colour faves up against anybody’s, if the name of the game’s Lowbrow. But they’ve got themes. Themes aren’t weird.
Just to establish my nerd credentials. I mean I’ve got a bagged copy of Human Fly #1, here. It’s got a theme. Doesn’t mean it’s some magnificent achievement, or anything.
So, my cred I hope decently established, let me just address this:
“You didn’t like Civil War, which is actually about the state of the United States at the time of the printing of the series, so it really is about something. It’s actually pretty sophisticated for both Marvel Comics as a publisher and Mark Millar as a writer to have printed the series. I still cannot get readers who expected ‘Cap’s side’ to have won. The fact that you wanted Iron Man to have dreamt the whole thing is just weird to me. Did you really want the whole thing to be a massive do-over?”
Right, well I probably didn’t express myself clearly, because in fact I do agree with you that Civil War was “about” something, most definitely. It has that going for it. But where we differ is that you think it was sophisticated, and I think it wasn’t. I thought it was not very good at all. Well, let’s agree to disagree…but don’t think I believe it wasn’t about anything, because I’ll totally give it that! Now, this next bit:
“Maybe you just didn’t like what Civil War was about or the fact that the heroes came out looking different. The whole idea was to reshape the Marvel Universe in a different way and CW made good on that promise.”
You’re quite right, I didn’t like it. Not that I “made up my mind” that I hated it, I actually did not LIKE it. And you’re right again, I didn’t want it. So although I understand the idea was to institute this new tone, CW won’t get any credit from me for making good on that promise — so what if they “shook up” the MU like they said they would? As I said before, it isn’t like there was anything standing in their way…it isn’t like they overcame some massive obstacle to accomplish their goal. They wrote their story, I thought it sucked, there ya go. So…yeah, I would’ve been happier with a do-over, as a matter of fact. How is that weird? I thought it was a dumb idea, and still do. Why should I think a do-over would be a bad thing? I thought the story was a bad thing.
As for the major characters not being Skrulls in SI, I didn’t say that Marvel had promised they would be, I said I think it was a mistake on Bendis’ part to promise they wouldn’t be, thus removing any possible suspense centred around the idea that maybe they might be. Say Bendis hadn’t come out and guaranteed Iron Man was the real McCoy…what with all the fuss over his characterization in CW, they would’ve had people wondering if it was the real Tony or an impostor who did all that, and they could’ve exploited that mystery. And I think it was an error not to exploit it, not least because it might have made me somewhat interested in finding out what was gonna happen in the end. “Is he or isn’t he?” I would’ve read it, to find that out.
Okay, so…those were two things you said that I thought mischaracterized what I was saying, so I just wanted to deal with them right off the bat. And now to the point!
You say that FC doesn’t serve the purpose of a big event comic.
And I say: I don’t know what that means. I don’t know what you think “the purpose of a big event comic” is. So what is it? I’m not kidding, you’re acting like it’s obvious, but it isn’t obvious to me. What’s the purpose of a big event comic? How do you judge it? How do you tell if it’s doing its job? What’s supposed to happen? It isn’t that your complaints about the writing, the art, etc. are incomprehensible to me, it isn’t the specific points you mention that confuse me, it’s the grand points I don’t get. Let’s sever these two, for a minute! Say I accept and understand everything you’re saying about “it’s jumpy, it’s rushed, it’s incoherent, I think Batman’s mischaracterized”…all that stuff, fine. But what on Earth is this “fails as what it is” thing? I DO NOT UNDERSTAND THIS. What do you mean?
Sorry if I may sound a little cranky, but you accused me of “lathering my point of view” on SI, and I don’t think that’s what I’ve done at all. Look, here’s the basic example, as I see it, of the way we differ on that comic. You say that SI “delivered the goods by explaining that nearly all of the MU’s trouble of the past few years was to soften them up for invasion”…but I would say, rather, that SI “delivered the plot point of explaining that nearly all of the MU’s trouble of the past few years was to soften them up for invasion”.
For me that actually does help to clear things up, a little, about the difference between the way you read and enjoy your comics, and the way I read and enjoy mine. Hey, different strokes! But I’m still in the dark about what you take the purpose of crossover event comics to be. If you could explain that, I think it’d all be a hundred percent clear.
Civil War not only shook things up but completely changed the way the characters related to each other. It was a major effort to coordinate all of the monthly titles so that the events and after-effects of Civil War were felt in all of them. It’s the old game that Marvel has been playing since Fall of the Mutants (if not earlier). Behind every event comic is another one and another, etc.
I can understand that if you did not like Civil War, this would ruin your ever reading a Marvel Comic again because it permeated everything. Oh well, more for me I guess.
Don’t come crying to me when the Human Fly joins the Avengers, though.
(Bendis doesn’t read this, does he?)
The lead-in to Infinite Crisis (Planet Heist, Rann/Thanagar War, Villains United, OMAC Project) felt a lot like what Marvel has been doing for years; stories knitting together and impacting other comics. I was annoyed to see that none of them really had anything to do with Infinite Crisis in the end. Not because my time had been wasted, but because they were great stories. Ever since then DC has struggled to get this major event off the ground and it keeps stalling (52, One Year Later, Countdown and now Final Crisis).
By stating that Final Crisis fails as a major event comic I am saying is that it does not impact the other comics. I’ve been saying this since my first post. Again, I’m not sure where the confusion is. Final Crisis cannot be felt in a single monthly comic. As a major event, it’s happening discretely in a vacuum, which makes no sense.
Think back to Crisis on Infinite Earths where every comic felt the effects of the main series. THAT is an event. Final Crisis doesn’t do this at all and it is meant to be a sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths, the major event comic that changed everything in the DCU.
Okay, “big event-comic goodness” means “maximum crossing over”, all right…and what I’m getting from what you’re saying is that there are two other criteria, one being “change interactions”, and the other’s something about setting up next one/flowing smoothly out of last one? Is that “event-continuity” (if we can call it that) pretty much the last major benchmark?
See, that’s just the sort of thing that doesn’t occur to me. But, hmm…okay, I could see how SI would “count”, since it meets two out of the three. Hold up, all I’m saying is that all the change happened in the build-up to SI, right? Nothing really happened in SI itself of major consequence except the boil was lanced, is my take on it…
I mean, no one seems to be saying YEAH WHAT AN AWESOMELY GRIPPING WILD RIDE!, you know? It just hit its marks.
Do you disagree? Do I have it pretty much down, now, or am I missing other criteria?
You have to understand, like I said before I don’t have an event-comics aesthetic, I started reading way before Fall Of The Mutants…event comics (as we speak of them today!) were never a treat for me, they were always nasty medicine that made me throw up, and I liked Seven Soldiers so much partly because it was not cast in that mould…
The problem isn’t one of intensity but simply of action. It’s not that Final Crisis is not ‘maximum crossover,’ the problem is that it is a non-cross over. It is a non-event comic.
Ironically, more happened in the other Secret Invasion tie-ins than the actual series itself. Secret Invasion is a drunken blur of dudes smacking each other around, but elsewhere things were actually happening. If you take the X-Men mini, for example (written by Lucifer’s Mike Carey), it not only developed the characters but also raised some interesting questions about how far the X-Men would go to protect themselves. And The Incredible Hercules story which was lots of fun AND explored the Skrulls from a religious/mythical POV. None of these things were in the 8 issue mini-series, but the Secret Invasion min spawned them, which was a good thing.
It’s fine to not have an event comic aesthetic, but when you’re talking about an event comic (which is what Final Crisis is), that can hinder what I’m conveying. My own reading habits have mutated wildly from super hero to independent and back again. I try my best to stay as well-read in this comic book stuff as I can. But ten years back I’d have no interest in this guys in tights stuff, today I’m knee-deep in it.
As I say, it takes all kinds. But this Final Crisis thing… unless it has some major surprise up its sleeve, is not an event comic at all.
Those of you playing the ‘event comic drinking game’ are now hammered.
Anyhoo, it’s very late and I have to feed my son soon and try to sleep somehow. I hope we can continue to banter about funny books.
That would be pleasurable. But next time the magic phrase should be something like “while undoubtedly a talented creator”, don’t you think?
Hmm…I feel a post coming on…
Oh my God, I think I’ve just made a pompous comics-guy drinking game.
What is wrong with me.
Will probably post it on Friday.
Grant is definitely talented, but having talent does not excuse producing a poorly written story.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Mr Morrison at a signing and he is one of the most attentive and thoughtful comic creators I’ve met (alongside John Cassaday who looked through my entire sketchbook and gave me feedback! What a guy!). But I think Grant is wasted on these company books. I’d like to see him return to creator-owned work where he shines much more brightly.
And now there’s a new game to replace the time honored ‘Rucka’ drinking game.
Oh, I just pulled that line out of nowhere, it wasn’t meant to apply to the discussion here, very poor phrasing on my part. Apologies for that, it probably sounded like snark.
Given Morrison’s typical approach to material, I’d be willing to bet you re-evaluate his FC scripting somewhere down the line. Full disclosure: when I read FC #1 I kept asking myself “why couldn’t this have been DC Universe #0, instead?”, so I hear you on the “rushed” thing, the editorial thing…nevertheless, what can I say? Morrison’s gift for allusion, ellipsis, and density has never let me down before — I’m not one of those people who always “gets it” first crack out of the box, so occasionally I’m disappointed at first, but I’ve come to know that like Batman he always has a plan. And what a fall that would be, from Seven Soldiers and ASS down to incoherency! I just can’t believe it could happen that way.
Which sort of brings me to the themes bit: being a fan, I’m sure you’d agree that Morrison’s allegiance to theme is pretty unshakeable — I call him the most traditional of comics writers, because his ideas are always so simple, so retro even…yet people often miss that, because he’s so good at defamiliarizing the traditional. Looks modern as hell! But the underlying story’s usually very by-the-book, it’s only the technique that’s challenging. Compare this with (since we started off at SI) Bendis’ typical preoccupations: extremely pastiche-y, modelled on must-see TV, willing to sacrifice anything to spectacle…
Broadly agree? Or disagree?
Oh, without the coffee, I am a dull, dull man…
It’s interesting because I wouldn’t argue that Final Crisis is without plot holes, or plot elements that are problematically misaligned thanks to scheduling difficulties with the spin off books, and, yes, that last point does beg the question: why wasn’t some of this stuff rolled into the series proper, rather than farmed out to ancillary material? So on that level I think this series can and should be criticised. Where I part company with the naysayers is on the extent and significance of the issue, particularly when weighed against the things that I think FC gets right.
I’m of the opinion that many (not all) of the problematic plot elements you list, Dailypop, are either trivial or non-issues, and in a couple of instances I would go as far as to say that some reveal a fundamental difference in how we’re reading the comic. I can see how one might feel that the Hawkman/Hawkwoman panel is contextless, but to my mind what’s going on there is that Morrison is checking in on all the of the DCU’s little fan-verses as the whole thing starts to come crashing down. The panel isn’t floating in a void, it’s floating in everything you’ve ever known and felt about the DCU; every one of those panels is a celebration – a warmhearted, sentimental, nod to all those bloody heroes. It flags them all up as significant, as important, it’s an unashamed recognition of abiding fan affection. Give a shit that we don’t know exactly what the hawkteam are doing to hold back the tide, because it’s not about what they’re doing it’s about their iconic status. Katar’s references to Hawkgirl loving him are simply a way of reinforcing this – their love story is mythic and eternal. Inherently valuable.
Batman? Well, sure the text acknowledges that Batman took an oath, blah, blah, but that’s point isn’t it? It recognises the importance of that element of the Bat-mythos, gives it its due, before concluding that even Batman would be willing to break his vow in the face of total evil. That’s just reasonable characterisation if you ask me, it doesn’t undermine anything other than some fan’s extremely rigid opinions about the character.
Superman’s appearance back in the 21st century will be explained. His rage is predicated on the fact that his best friend has just be killed and the world he loves lies in ruins. Yes the disjunct between SB and FC is an issue, but his wrathful god moment at the end of the comic makes complete and utter sense.
I agree about the emotional non-impact of the Monitor’s predicament, and that the death of Orion subplot was poorly resolved, although it’s been resolved well enough for me to ignore it. It may yet be elaborated on.
We could do this all day, but I want to get back to a more fundamental point, and it ties into what I was saying about Brian Hibbs’s assessment of the series – his claim that it lacks gravitas thanks to its apparent divorce from the DC proper, and links into that Hawkman panel, hence me giving it so much space: It seems to me that Final Crisis does demand a lot from us as readers. It demands that we bring knowledge and love of the DCU to the table, and that IS A BIG ASK. I’m not talking about knowledge that encompasses every detail, you simply do not have to know who Tawky Tawny is, or what Kamandi is all about, what you do have to have is an eye on the big picture. You have to know your Aquamans from your Green Lanterns, you have to be emotionally invested in a number of its four colour nooks and crannies. You have to care that it might be in trouble. Grant does what he can to build up the emotional pitch, hence the book being smothered with loving relationships, but ultimately the “channel hopping” approach demands a deeper level of care and investment from the readers. “Robin Hood” “Pretty bird” may or may not work for the casual reader, but for those of us who give a shit it’s heartbreaking. Similarly, yes, the Flashes seem to hang around doing nothing, but if you understand the Flashes as mythic, if they occupy that special place marked SUPERHERO in your brain, then the actual details of the Allen household’s comings and goings throughout the series cease to matter because this is ragnarock and we’re on mythic time. Grant even goes some way to explaining this in the text and on a concrete level (further explanations lurk within the implications of the revelations of FB, but that’s kinda cheating) when he talks about time being fucked up within the singularity.
Put simply the narrative logic of Final Crisis doesn’t map neatly across (although is does resemble) the logic of most linear comic narratives. It’s a demented, mythic fever dream – quite possibly the demented, mythic fever dream of a heartbroken god, but we’ll see on that score.
When Hibbs says that FC lacks weight I end up scratching my head because, yeah, okay, it’s not got the full force of current continuity behind it in the way that SI definitely has, but what it does have behind it is the full weight of the DCU that lives in my head and my heart, and that DCU is much more important than the one wasting space on the shelves, in my very humble. Of course, in order to tap into this a writer would have to be able to capture the core appeal and fan-significance of a huge number of characters, and this is a big part of what I think FC has done right – that’s where I think much of Morrison’s effort has gone. They’ve all had the nod, the Flash family, the Green Lanterns, the Marvels, the JSA, Green Arrow and Black Canary, the Justice League, Checkmate, the also rans. For all of them Morrison has attempted his magic distillation thing, and to my mind it’s worked, and often worked better than some writers can manage over a twenty issue run. It’s also worth bearing in mind that if Morrison is positing a mythical landscape then that landscape is necessarily not about what’s coming out of the printing presses at any given moment, and all about our inner superverses.
(The other thing that flags up myth, in addition to the end of the universe plot, is all the references to gods)
Thanks for the lengthy post, Zom.
I still don’t agree that Final Crisis tapping into the DCU (much the same way that Crisis on Infinite Earths did do many many moons ago). The Hawkman panel patently ignores the fact that Hawkman and Hawkgirl have made peace about their mythic Moonlighting love tryst and is also so heavy handed to boot! I mean, Katar is getting slapped off panel for making such a statement as ‘maybe you’ll love me after you’re re-incarnated (you hard-to-get bitch!).’
If Morrison is trying to play upon the collective fan love of the DCU he is also failing there, really. His depiction of Mr. Tawky Tawney is so out of character it’s laughable. It’s definitely not the original or even modern version of the character that I know of. It appears to be Morrison’s own modern spin on the character.
The mythic feel that Final Crisis is shooting for is definitely there, yes. However, it loses impact when it happens in a vacuum as FC does (why even bother with Rage of the Green Lanterns and the Flash mini if they have nothing to do with FC??) and when the author throws the ‘time is fractured’ explanation into the comic. This is like the old story where the artists is drawing a human and completely messes it up. Called on it he explains that the drawing is of an alien. Additionally, I know that the term mythic is getting thrown around, but cannot see the characters in the actual comic doing anything new. Instead of slapping muggers and mad scientists around they’re running from mindless zombies and slapping beast men around.
The ‘breaking of time’ kinda kills any chance of real chance of suspense. Death is coming! DEATH IS COMING! DEATHH IS COMMMINNGGG! …. Iris, do you have any cookies or coffee or anything? I know that Death is coming and that Jay’s wife is missing but that’s no reason to get upset or anything.
Also, given the way that none of DC’s recent major event comics have had any real impact I find it impossible to feel any sense of impending doom. I’d like to think that this event will have some lasting effect but frankly I’m not convinced. DC would have to be coordinated in some way for that to happen and they are clearly not at all. If FC were an Elseworld event or some other purposefully self-contained type of story, maybe there would be some sense of urgency for me… but given that the readers are supposed to take the task of connecting the threats inherent in the comic to the DCU on their own, I have difficulty seeing it.
I’d also like to suggest that there is now a new ‘mythic’ drinking game. Just in time for Friday night.
(no snarkiness intended, Zom, so I hope it’s not inferred. I’m making a fun-loving joke there building off of the drinking game jokes Pillock and I have shared)
Pillock, I think that Morrison attempts to take traditional stories and put a modern spin on them, but that they are sometimes successful (Rock of Ages is an homage to Super Powers) and sometimes not so much (Final Crisis is apparently an homage to Crisis on Infinite Earths?? Maybe??). To borrow from an earlier statement, this doesn’t necessarily make his stories ‘worth doing,’ but will appeal to readers who grok the reference or readers who dislike modern story ideas.
As far as exploring similar themes in his work, I know that he is deeply in love with a straight-forward super hero untethered by human frailties. His book Flex Mentallo (criminally out of print) is a good indicator of this. He feels a definite lack of four-color fun in modern comics and wants to fill it with his madly inventive ideas which is admirable. However, there is an odd mixture that happens here and in almost every one of his super hero books I have seen it cause problems.
Morrison gets distracted by his own inventiveness and loses sight of what he set out to do. The focus becomes the mad ideas rather than the story itself and if one of those ideas is out of place, it can bring the house of cards down. For me, the Monitor story and the loitering Flash story have failed to connect to the ideas because they are poorly written. And what’s with a virus spread by Gods via email???
There is also a desire on Morrison’s part to have his characters either embrace their iconic status or attempt to step outside of it. Maybe, just maybe, that’s what the Batman with a gun thing is all about.
Zom, I completely don’t agree that seeing Batman shooting a gun as being out of character is more of a failure of fans than a failure on Morrison’s. At the risk of repeating myself, even Batman as a character points out that it makes no sense. Also, it ignores the legacy of the character and the approach that DC Editorial has had toward the character. The act that this jump in logic falls on the readers as a fault of some kind I don’t agree with at all. It also ignores that Batman’s abhorrence of guns is not just an oath but a reaction to a traumatic event in his life, it’s an emotional rather than logical decision. Having him go back on it ignores that completely.
“why even bother with Rage of the Green Lanterns and the Flash mini if they have nothing to do with FC??”
Why indeed? You keep trying to judge Final Crisis by talking about what does or doesn’t happen in other comics by other people…
“when the author throws the ‘time is fractured’ explanation into the comic. This is like the old story where the artists is drawing a human and completely messes it up. Called on it he explains that the drawing is of an alien.”
Except that Morrison has used ‘fractured time’ as a main plot point in many of his other works, most recently in the Mister Miracle miniseries which led directly into this story…
And I think you’re missing Zom’s point. The DCU Morrison is using here is not one where the continuity matches up 100% – such a thing is impossible – it’s the DCU as myth, taking those elements that resonate and ignoring those that don’t. I’ve never read a Hawkman comic in my life, but know about the ‘resurrected but now she doesn’t love him’ thing from general comics-cultural absorption of the idea, so that makes sense on that level. If it doesn’t tie in perfectly with some plot that happened in Hawkman, well… if I had a penny for every Hawkman-related continuity error, I’d be a very rich man. (And if you think it would be possible for someone to get over someone they’d loved for millennia, and not still think of their love when it looks like they’re facing death together, I think you’re very wrong…)
As for Batman being ‘out of character’ – it’s not out of character *as Morrison writes him*. Morrison’s Batman is someone who would always use the right tool for the job, and who has overcome the trauma of his parents’ death – he fights evil because it’s the right thing to do, not because he’s scared. He’s the ultimate pragmatist. The man prepares *entire backup personalities* for himself – he can certainly get over any bad associations guns have for him.
It also works thematically – Batman’s end, like his beginning, comes with a gun, and by using a gun he condemns himself to death.
I think you’re also misunderstanding Morrison’s whole writing technique. The ‘mad ideas’ are anything but. Morrison seems to think metaphorically (something I need to go into more) and often it’s the ideas that seem most ‘bolted on’ that actually most illuminate what he’s trying to do. The mind-virus spreading by email makes little technical sense, but as a reification of ideas about information spread, as a metaphor, it works (and compare to the fact that the superheroes get drafted by post…)
Thank you for elaborating on the Hawkman point, Andrew. You hit the nail squarely on the head. Also, good point about the time thing; yes Morrison’s playing fast and loose with in-Final Crisis continuity, but that’s because those kinds of concerns are on the backburner. It’s as if the subplots are being squeezed by the mythic through-line – forced to take on awkward and creaking shapes. Overhype? Unintended consequences of some lazy writing? A good excuse? Well, you know, *maybe*, but given the fact that we’re talking about Grant Morrison here, it could just be that it *is* the effect he’s after. He certainly claims as much.
You know, we’ve mentioned Lynch in reference to Final Crisis a bunch of times on Mindless Ones, and while I don’t think that Morrison is working at quite that level of precision here, I do think he’s shooting for something lynch-like. There’s a vibe and aesthetic at work that I’ve simply never encountered in another comic, and in part it is built upon some of those loose plot threads and narrative non-sequiturs.
Christ, I have a lot to say on this subject, but I just don’t have the time right now. As I final word (for the moment) I just want to point out that I do think Final Crisis is problematic – it’s an unusually insistent text in that it demands that the reader willingly gives himself over to Morrison’s vision of the mythic DCU landscape, and some unusual storytelling quirks. That ain’t gonna work for everyone, and that sure as shit ain’t gonna work in a big crossover event.
I’m already on record as saying I think the mad ideas aren’t really that mad…some Morrisonian dialogue is closer to haiku than exposition, and he starts his SF and fantasy not from Astounding and Analog, but from Colin Wilson and John Lilly…throw in a current subscription to Scientific American (sorry, New Scientist) and a couple books on comparative mythology, and there you go. Also, Andrew makes a lot of sense of it saying this is Morrison’s Batman — his tenure on the Batman title has furnished a Bruce Wayne capable of departing from obsession — oddly enough, I think Brad Meltzer took a stab at this too, in Identity Crisis. How weird! But it’s reminiscent of Morrison’s Magneto in New X-Men — big raging debates all across the nerd-o-sphere about whether that Magneto’s actions were consistent with the character’s development over the previous decade or so, the “good” Magneto. But I think a close examination reveals that you can get to Morrison’s Magneto from Claremont’s — not just by fanwanking but by drawing out the lines. In other words, it wasn’t arbitrary “Magneto should be a villain again”. In my opinion: I think Morrison is quite careful not to outrage continuity or hijack other people’s characterizations, actually, and usually he leaves an escape hatch for future writers who might want to bail out of his interpretations. Well, that’s what <i.I think, after mulling the matter for some time…
I think when you (Dailypop) say that maybe Batman-with-gun is about choosing to step outside the iconic, you hit close to something Zom and Andrew wouldn’t have any trouble agreeing with…I’ll just add, in a possibly disjointed way, that if you want to see true lolling around while bad apocalyptic shit’s going down outside, you couldn’t do much better than Fantastic Four #49, where Reed shaves and Ben takes a bath while Galactus prepares to eat the Earth…
And the word “mythic” may be battered around (I would suggest the drinking game would need a bit more: maybe “cannot ignore the mythic dimension of his work”?), but I think it’s pretty clear you can’t say “oh, enough with the mythic thing!” when looking at FC and expect to like it much — it is the point, after all. This is precisely the battle between the DC universe’s wacky nut-job character and the Marvel universe’s fixation on “realism”, that Morrison’s talked about a dozen times in interviews…the DCU can afford to make a tossed salad of its ornaments, it’s both capacious enough and causally-disconnected enough: this is the anti-CoiE, in terms of Marv Wolfman’s Marvel-method attempt to rationalize, simplify, and make plain — this is the same shit in a different pile, the cameos, the desultory destruction…it’s all the same, just accented differently. (Batman is Supergirl, right?) It isn’t the heroes’ universe that’s being threatened with total destruction, nor even the heroes themselves being so threatened, it is heroism that’s under attack: identities that are in danger of disintegrating, rather than worlds. There’s your modern gloss, at least that’s what I think.
As for the BIG ASK — heh, for me that’s believing that even Morrison can make me give a shit about seeing another universal apocalypse in the Crisis mode, and endure another Big Event with the standard set-pieces and the standard emotions…particularly since this well has been gone back to so often, especially of late. It’s Superman and Batman who are the obstacles here, for me: give me Klarion and Bulleteer and Sky-High Helligan, and you can Event ’til the cows come home, as far as I’m concerned!
Hence: waiting for trade. But the more FC seems to contravene the superficial conventions of a Big Event, the more interested in it I get. And this does seem to be working the exact opposite way for you.
Re Hawkman, that one panel is a great way into discussing the diverging ways in which DP and you and I, Andrew, are reading the comic. DP, you seem to see what’s going on there as conversational dialogue, whereas I see it as a framing of what Morrison sees as the core component of the Hawkman mythos: an eternal love story. Of course Grant’s going to edit out any resolution that may or may not have appeared within the pages of the funnybook, because (as I’ve said above) he’s not interested in that stuff, it’s too transient, too mundane. He’s after something epic to get his teeth into.
I think when you (Dailypop) say that maybe Batman-with-gun is about choosing to step outside the iconic, you hit close to something Zom and Andrew wouldn’t have any trouble agreeing with
Do you know, when I said that I had a lot more to say on this subject I was thinking about just that kind of tension. There’s a lot of that sort of thing in Final Crisis – threads of a more compromised, realistic reality running through the series. At best the effect serves to ground the narrative in a context that the reader can relate to as a human being (by God most Crises have been astonishingly flat, dry, and, dare I say it, lacking in human warmth), at worst it undermines the mythic force that Morrison is working to generate.
I have more to say and would like to respond to these posts when I have time, but I wanted to ask if anyone was interested in hearing what I have to say. I’m not being facetious. I just want to know before I invest any time in writing a reply.
Sure, I’m interested. I mean, I don’t think we’re going to agree…but so what if we don’t?
My two cents on the matter…
The reason I bring up Rage of the Green Lanterns and the Flash mini is that they actually have Final Crisis on the cover. They are part of the event. I ask why bother tying them in because they have nothing to do with the series. Discounting them because Morrison didn’t write them doesn’t really add up. This ties into my statement that as an event comic (drink) it’s a mess. So it then has to function in some other way.
Also, I’m totally confused about a few things that were brought up:
Grant Morrison is using mythic versions of the characters… except for Batman.
The Batman we see in Final Crisis is the version Grant Morrison created. Why is this the case? Why is there an exception to the rule?
Also, the love affair beyond time and space is a story worth telling, but the way Grant Morrison just drops the two characters in doesn’t support this. They also do not profess their love at all, which is my point. Katar has never sold Hawkgirl on the reincarnated love story… saying that her dying would solve that problem and turn her into the woman he wants her to be is just selfish and (altogether) out of character.
“Of course Grant’s going to edit out any resolution that may or may not have appeared within the pages of the funnybook, because (as I’ve said above) he’s not interested in that stuff, it’s too transient, too mundane. He’s after something epic to get his teeth into.”
Wait a minute. So Grant gets to not only choose what versions of the DCU characters he wants to use, but also whether he wants to ignore continuity because it’s not important? If he genuinely bothered to really include the Hawkman/Hawkgirl love story that would almost be okay because I’m sure that he’d be able to do great things with it. But he does not do this. It’s a ‘here’s Hawkman and Hawkgirl’ moment.
If that odd moment were part of a montage of other characters, that might even work, but to my knowledge (I don’t have the issue in front of me), this was not the case.
There also seems to be lot being asked of the reader here.
To enjoy the series the reader has to:
1) ignore that it has no impact on comics
2) not look for characters that are actually in the comics but instead accept Morrison’s ‘mythic’ versions of them
3) not read the other minis… except for Superman Beyond… but it’s late,
4) read Mister Miracle because it ties into this series but it’s the only comic that does, and
5) accept any inconsistencies (characters acting strange, plot threads ignored, coloring issues… etc) as intentional and operate in the form of metaphor rather than fact.
… that really is asking a lot.
Final Crisis is also a major event comic that takes place quietly in its own world, having nothing to do with any other comics.
I’m not sure I’ve made my overall reaction to FC crystal clear. I enjoy it a lot, I think it’s interesting and highly unusual (which in my book is a good thing), but I don’t entirely disagree with you, DP, when you argue that there are a number of problems with the plot/subplots. Where you and I differ is on a) the scope and extent of said flaws, b) our reactions to them.
In some ways I’d be happy to call FC a failure, but I’d rather have 10 failures that look like Final Crisis than one success in the vein of Secret Invasion