Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Final Crisis

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written by Grant Morrison

One of the most shocking crossovers in DC Universe which changed familiar characters' background and storyline drastically was introduced in Crisis on Infinite Earth. After that Infinite Crisis was introduced and tried to market the same concept again, extending events from that first major crisis. But with hints being thrown around that this second crisis was but a "middle crisis", there was speculations in comicdom that a "final crisis" has yet to come. And so a few years back in 2008, Final Crisis was launched to put recent events around that time to an end, in another major crisis which once more see the death of major characters.

The Final Crisis?

The hardcover and paperback edition collect Issues 1 - 7 from titles of the same name, as well as 2 issues of Final Crisis: Superman Beyond and Final Crisis: Submit. Leading to the plot in these issues were stories surrounding different main characters in their own series, most notably Batman's in the foreboding Batman R.I.P. arch. Another year long series with weekly publications and high acclaim, Countdown to Final Crisis, also ran several plots which brought all events converging onto the plot.


The New Gods, comprising of famous characters such as Mister Miracle, Big Barda and, most notable of all, Darkseid, met their end during the Countdown to Final Crisis series, leaving Orion the sole survivor. But this was all for naught as the story of Final Crisis began with Orion's assassination on Earth. To make matters worse, Libra was recruiting for his own gang of villains, promising to grant their heart's desire, starting with the killing of Martian Manhunter, J'onn J'onzz.

As plots unraveled bit by bit, with main characters being corrupted and Earth enslaved, the whole event turned out to be revolving around the resurrection of New Gods in human hosts, as well as Darkseid's enslavement of the populace with the Anti-Life Equation. And in the process of ending the crisis, another main character seemingly died (they all always "seemingly died") while another returned from the grave.

Various Plots of Final Crisis

The initial arch of story in Final Crisis issues, especially those right before the enslavement of Earth's populace, had a great headstart, dangling the bait out to reel readers in despite the slight chaotic to its storytelling. The confusing part of the first half of the story was forgivable if the second half followed up with a clear explanation of what happened, those 'aha' moments which made stories satisfyingly understandable.

Unfortunately, it did not.

It doesn't matter if various reviews provided great acclaim to Final Crisis, I do not find the compiled series one that is fun to read. This is especially true when it came to the final issue, when things are supposed to be clear. How the story ended should at least be clear, if the revelations could not be so.

Unfortunately, I only saw a mash-up of confusing artworks along with uncomprehending narration, making little sense even after going through it a few times, until I yielded and just read the summary from Wikipedia. Somehow this has became a standard for major comic crossovers, doesn't matter which giant it stemmed from.

To have a deus ex machina coming in as sudden and as unoriginal to save the story is also getting too old for such crossovers. With so much archs, tie-ins and prior stories, there should be enough material for Morrison to devise an ingenious method to end the story. This was, again unfortunately, lacking from the story itself. One could call the defeat of Darkseid (oh, yes, there is another villain after him) ingeniously sewn into the story. In hindsight, I would admit that it was ingenious, after I made sense of the story through Wikipedia.


The Art of Final Crisis

To give credit where it is due though, the initial issues are, as suggested earlier, enticing and appetizing. Not only were the stories themselves intriguing, the artwork done by JG Jones was superb as well, adding its charm onto the issues like cherry on top of a cake. Each main issue's cover art featured a page-size drawing of a main DC character, doubling the appeal of the comic before the reader flip past the first page, making each main issue a collectible just by the cover itself.

This was marred though in Final Crisis: Superman Beyond, where not only were the story telling chaotic and made no sense (maybe I did not upgrade to 4D vision like Superman did in the issues), the artwork helped reduce the clarity of what was trying to be delivered by the comic.

Although Jones' work saw less daylight nearing the end of Final Crisis, it was not that bad if he was asked to focus his artwork less on elsewhere and on the shot of Superman holding the carcass of Batman. One could not ask for too much I guess.


The Final Final Crisis

Could this be the really final crisis? Knowing the style of DC, most probably not. It is indeed a good way to boost sales and promote more comic issues, so why end the idea there? But it would be good for the editors sitting high on the chairs of comic kingdom to find a way to change this stagnant style of story telling. Of ending the story with an unbelievable deus ex machina, not to mention one that is incomprehensible.

All images are taken from one of these sources: Wikipedia, DC Comics website, DC Wikia website. It is advised that readers who wish to know more of the story could visit Wikipedia, with the risk of spoiling the story before reading ahead.




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