Comic Book Review: Final Crisis #1

Final Crisis #1 is finally here. I have been anxiously awaiting this issue. I am confident that Morrison is going to deliver a wonderfully crafted read on this title. Now, I fully expect Final Crisis #1 to be a relatively slow read. Morrison is a patient writer who is obsessed with the smallest details. Also, set-up issues are notoriously slow reads. It is simply the nature of the beast. At any rate, let’s go ahead and do this review for Final Crisis #1.

Creative Team
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: J.G. Jones

Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin in the Stone Age with Metron appearing before Anthro and giving him the knowledge of fire. We cut to a bunch of cave-men attacking a village of early men. The cave-men are slaughtering the men and the old people. We see one cave-man about to rape a girl. Suddenly, Anthro appears on the scene and uses his new gift of fire to destroy the enemy cave-men.

We cut to the present day and see Dan Turpin lighting up a cigarette while thinking how fire was mankind’s very first mistake. Dan thinks how every good idea that the human race creates is used to kill ourselves. Dan mentions that he has been out on the trail for three weeks trying to find six missing kids.

Dan opens up a garbage container and is stunned to find a badly beaten Orion lying among the garbage. Orion says that heaven has been cracked and broken. Orion yells “They did not die! He is in you all… Fight.” Orion then slumps to the ground dead. We see the Black Racer in the sky watching the scene.

We cut to John Stewart at his office building. The sky has turned black and there is red lightning crashing down to the Earth. John is informed by his power ring that a 1011 is in progress. John transforms into his Green Lantern outfit and openly wonders what a “1011” is.

We slid back to Dan Turpin deciding to leave Orion’s body and thinking that it feels like sacrilege him being here. Dan decides to let the space cops handle the situation. We then see Dan meeting up with Renee Montoya. Montoya mentions how the six missing children had metagenes. That somebody has been targeting meta kids. Montoya then hands Dan a Dark Side Club flyer and exits the scene.

We see Hal Jordan and John Stewart arriving at the location where Orion’s body is lying. There is a Mr. Miracle poster on the wall of a nearby warehouse. John asks if Hal has ever heard of a “1011?” Hal responds that a 1011 is deicide and it doesn’t happen that often, Hal immediately recognizes Orion and tells John that Orion was a number one cosmic hard-ass. Hal then reports this to the Guardians.

We cut to Oa where the Guardians order Earth to be sealed and that no one is to leave or enter Earth’s atmosphere. They order for the Lanterns to dust for radiation prints and to interrogate all suspects. That a 1011 requires a vast energy expenditure and for Hal and John to locate the weapon. The Guardians then state that a special operations Alpha Lantern unit is on the way.

We hop over to Empress, Sparx, and Mas y Menos arriving at a hill full of mirrors surrounding Metron’s chair. Empress says that her visions told her that they would find it here. Sparx says that this is a major launch for the League of Titans. Suddenly, Dr. Light appears on the scene and blasts his light beams into the mirrors which causes the light beams to ricocheted around and blast all four heroes.

Mirror Master emerges from the mirrors and comments that he and Dr. Light make a pretty good team. We then cut to the Justice League of America helping the police arrest thirty super villains who were staging a protest march against vigilante brutality. We slide back to Mirror Master and Dr. Light getting the chair of Metron. Mirror Master wonders what Libra wants the chair of Metron for.

Dr. Light then asks if Mirror Master knows anyone who can get him some pharmaceuticals. That Dr. Light has a date with Giganta and that Arthur Light never likes to let a lady down. Mirror Master is totally entertained with the notion of Light on a date with the “monster wummin.” Dr. Light then tells Mirror Master to zip it. That they will deliver the chair of Metron to Libra and keep their personal lives personal.

We shift to Libra’s headquarters where Lex Luthor is still unimpressed with Libra’s plan. Lex and the other big name villains like Vandal Savage and Gorilla Grodd are not ready to hand Libra the reigns to the Secret Society. Libra retorts that he does not want to take their place.

Libra mentions that the villains always lose because the heroes’ actions are in accordance with a higher moral order. But, what happens in a world where good has lost its perpetual struggle against evil? Libra says that he is not human and that he is here to balance the scales and even the odds.

Libra says that he will grant each villain whatever their heart’s desire is. Libra says that he will now grant the Human Flame his heart’s desire to witness the death of the Martian Manhunter. Lex asks what is in this for Libra. Libra answers “An end to the age of super heroes. A full on no bullshit twilight of the gods.

A heavily sedated Martian Manhunter is then drug into the room. Libra then has Martian Manhunter engulfed in flames. Libra uses his scales of justice spear and stabs Martian Manhunter through the gut.

We cut to Dan Turpin meeting with the Tattooed Man. The Tattooed Man leads Tuprin to the Dark Side Club. Turpin meets with Boss Dark Side. Turpin says that he expected somebody younger. Dark Side responds that bodies tend to wear out hard in here. He mentions that he was in a fall, but that what they endure makes them stronger.

Boss Dark Side then admits to capturing the six missing kids and giving them to Granny. That Humanity’s best hope for the future is the young. The Life Force. Dark Side takes off his sun glasses to reveal red energy eyes. Dark Side says that there was a war in Heaven and that he won. That the future belongs to Dark Side.

Dark Side then calls for the children. Dark Side says that they are the new model human. That they are beyond salvation. Dark Side tells the children to show Turpin what they have learned about Anti-Life.

We hop over to the Hall of Justice where the JLA members are all filled in about Orion’s death. We then see the Alpha Lanterns locking down Earth and securing the crime scene. We cut to the Nexus where the Monitors report that New Earth is secure. That the bleed drains are intact. That the Multiversal Orrery has survived the repairs after the loss of moving part: Universe 51.

We then see the assembled Monitors judge Nix Uotan guilty of negligent endangering of the Orrery of Worlds. The penalty will be that Nix shall be stripped of his duties, his powers and his word of attention. That Nix shall live out his days as a humble mortal germ and die to feed the Orrery. Monitor Weeja Dell cries out “No!” Nix then yells that he will find a way back to Weeja. He promises that he will. Nix then is transported away.

We see Weeja Dell talking with Zillo Valla, another Monitor. Weeja states that she has never felt anything before now. Zillo says that Weeja should consider their diving engine. Their celestial foundation of interlocking universes. That all existence depends on its survival. That Weeja should save her love for the Orrery.

Weeja wonders why she cares so much for Nix. Zillo responds that the Monitors who were faceless once now all have names and stories. And there are heroes and villains. Secrets and lovers. That Ogama fears that the Monitors have become contaminated during contact with the obscure life forms that grow within the workings of the Orrery. That through them, time has entered their timeless world. Beginnings and endings.

We see another Monitor watching Zillo and Weeja. The Monitor says that attentions wander. Uotan, his only obstacle is gone. The Monitor says “We’re on…”

We slide back in past to see Anthro grilling some dinner and drawing Metron’s symbol into the dirt. Suddenly, Anthro appears in Kamandi’s future. Kamandi runs over to Anthro and says that Metron gave Anthro a weapon that can be used against the gods. Kamandi screams “We need it now!”

We cut to Nix Uotan waking up on New Earth in his apartment. Nix mentions that he is in such deep sleep. Nix then stares at his hands. The television is on and we see a news report stating that the super hero community is reacting to the horrific murder of J’onn J’onnz, Martian Manhunter. We see Green Arrow yelling that whoever did this to J’onn will suffer. End of issue.

The Good: Final Crisis #1 was an excellent debut issue. Now, people may not like the death of Martian Manhunter to the point where it will color their opinion of this issue. And people may have wanted more “wow” scenes right out of the gate. But, the fact is that Morrison delivers a technically well crafted issue. This is some solid writing on the part of Morrison.

I know that some readers may be dissatisfied with the pacing and that Morrison did not come out and try and blow away the reader with the first issue. However, I never had that expectation and to do so is asking too much from the writer. Final Crisis #1 is a set-up issue. And in a seven issue big event story the first issue is a necessary evil. Set-up issues have to do the dirty work of laying a solid foundation for this story, begin to move the various players into place and tease the reader with several mysteries.

It is similar to how the first third of a novel is usually the least interesting part of the story as the writer has to introduce the reader to the world the story is taking place in, the characters involved and set the various plotlines in place. It isn’t glamorous or sexy, but it is critical for a properly written story.

Therefore, I found Final Crisis to be a well paced issue. Morrison fines a nice balance as this issue never drags nor does it ever feel rushed. And the most impressive part of the nice flow to this issue is that Morrison does not have to rely on action to move the story along. All it takes is impeccable plotting to keep the issue lively.

And that leads into the fact that Final Crisis #1 was a strongly plotted issue. Morrison delivers multiple plotlines right from the start. To no surprise, Morrison weaves a dense story that is thick with details. Morrison gives the reader plenty to chew on with Final Crisis #1. This is certainly an issue that you can read two or three times in order to fully enjoy all of the layers to this story.

And the best part of Final Crisis #1 is that it feels like a big event. This story reads like an epic tale. And that was a vital element that Morrison had to bring to this title. Whether I liked what Morrison was going to do or not was not as important as him at least getting me to believe that this was a huge epic event. And without a doubt Final Crisis #1 conveyed the impression to the reader that something much larger than our world is about to happen.

To no surprise, Morrison whips up some beautiful narration and dialogue in Final Crisis #1. The dialogue and the running monologues had a thoroughly pleasant flow. Each character spoke with a richly fleshed out voice. I enjoyed the dialogue that Morrison gave all the characters, but I found Dan Turpin’s dialogue and monologue to be particularly impressive.

I enjoyed that, for the most part, Morrison eschewed using the big guns from the DCU in Final Crisis #1. We only see Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman in one single page. And while we do see Hal Jordan, it is only for a page or two. For the vast majority of Final Crisis #1 Morrison focuses on minor characters in the DCU. This was a brilliant move by Morrison. It conveyed the point to the reader that the DCU is so much more than just the big three. That the history and continuity of the DCU is vast and the major players only make up a very small percentage of it. This also gets across to the reader that the Final Crisis event is on a grand scale that can make any one character appear insignificant.

I liked that Morrison literally begins at the beginning with Final Crisis #1. It was a cool touch to kick off this event with an appearance by Anthro. The scene with Metron giving Anthro the gift of fire was pretty nifty. Morrison pulls off a brilliant transition between the scene with Anthro and the present day scene with Dan Turpin by using Mankind’s obsession with using great inventions and discoveries to kill ourselves to thematically tie in the past with the present and to hint at future events in Final Crisis.

I liked how Morrison used Dan Turpin in Final Crisis. Dan Turpin first appeared as Brooklyn in Detective Comics #64 in 1942 and as Dan Turpin in New Gods #5 in 1971. Morrison completely nails Turpin’s character. Turpin is by far the character that I enjoyed the most in this issue.

I dig how Morrison handles the Green Lantern Corps in this issue. Morrison utilizes the Green Lantern Corps as a true police force. The use of Turpin, a policeman himself, to comment that Orion’s death was something that he simply was not capable of handling and that this was a job for the “space cops” was a nice touch.

The scene with the Hal, John and the Guardians dealing with the “1011” was excellent. The Guardians swift reaction of locking down all of Earth and not allowing anyone to enter Earth’s atmosphere or leave Earth’s atmosphere, ordering the area to be dusted for radiation prints and for all suspects to be interrogated furthered the image of the police force aspect of the Green Lantern Corps.

I found it interesting that we see Black Racer in the sky when Turpin stumbles across Orion’s body. The Black Racer is tasked with the duty of collecting the New Gods at the time of their death and taking them to Hadis. Now, this means that Orion might not truly be totally dead just yet. We have yet to see Black Racer collect Orion’s soul. And with the Guardians completely sealing any ingress or egress from Earth, it is possible that Black Racer is now stuck on Earth.

I absolutely loved the scene with Mirror Master and Dr. Light. This was such a well done scene. I liked the League of Titans consisting of some of the no-name characters who were Titans during the course of 52. This was a wonderful use of some obscure characters and lets the reader know what they have been up to since the end of 52.

Once again, we see Libra continuing on his quest to collect all of the Fourth World weapons and technology as Libra sent Mirror Master and Dr. Light to retrieve Metron’s chair. I am interested to see just what Libra is going to try and pull off with all of this Fourth World technology that he is amassing.

The dialogue between Mirror Master and Dr. Light was hilarious. Morrison manages to crank up some nice chemistry between these two characters. The funny banter about Dr. Light’s date with Giganta and his desire for some pharmaceuticals to ensure that the date goes well was a nice way to keep Final Crisis #1 from being too dark and somber of a read.

Now, I have avoided this part of Final Crisis #1 for long enough. It is time to discuss the scene with Libra and his gathering of villains. First, let me state for the record that I have always been a big fan of Martian Manhunter. Now that I have gotten that on the table, I have to admit that I found the scene with Libra and the other villains to be a wonderfully crafted scene.

Let me take a moment to salute my fallen homeboy. I have an Oreo cookie here and I’m going to take one bite of it first. Mmmm, delicious. And now I’m going to crumble the rest of the Oreo on top of J’onn’s grave. I will miss you, man. All right, now that I have gotten that out of the way, I have to admit that I liked how Morrison handled J’onn’s death. I am normally very critical of writers when they kill characters and I am notoriously hard to please when it comes to a character’s death. However, Martian Manhunter’s death made sense to me.

I know that some people may claim this death scene was just more gratuitous violence. I didn’t find this death scene to be gratuitous at all. This was a fast death scene as Morrison did not dwell much on it at all. There was no single or double page splash shot. The death was not drawn out over several pages. Instead, Morrison simply has Libra kill J’onn to prove his point to Lex and the others and then moves on. It was a rather realistic death scene.

I know many people will be upset and call this “lazy writing” and that this was a cheap death simply used to make the villains seem “evil.” I disagree. This was not lazy writing. Nor was this death simply used as a cheap method to make the reader view Libra as “evil.” I found J’onn’s death to be a necessary part of this story.

Libra is dealing with a large collection of villains that he is trying to unite and get them to follow him. Now, the chump villains like Human Flame are easy to get in line. However, big name villains like Lex Luthor, Vandal Savage and Gorilla Grodd don’t follow anyone. And they certainly won’t follow Libra based on him simply making promises.

Actions speak louder than words and a true leader leads by example. There is no way that Libra could ever convince Luthor, Savage and Grodd to join him with the use of mere promises. Libra had to actually deliver something that grabbed their attention. Libra had to do something that Luthor, Savage and Grodd have been unable to do and that is to kill a Justice Leaguer.

Killing Martian Manhunter was such an impressive feat that it would naturally grab the attention of characters like Lex and Savage. And Martian Manhunter was a good character to select for this role for various reasons. Killing a big name character is risky since it will likely piss off a huge number of fans. So, a logical choice would be a solid mid-level character whose death would have an impact on readers but not piss off massive amounts of fans. Martian Manhunter fits that description. J’onn has been a member of every version of the JLA. To many readers, Martian Manhunter is the heart of the JLA.

J’onn was also a good character to select because honestly, for all practical purposes he has been “dead” since the end of Infinite Crisis. Martian Manhunter’s mini-series was less than impressive and his character has been handled poorly since the end of Infinite Crisis. Now, if you recall Morrison’s run on Animal Man, Morrison clearly believes in a Comic Book Limbo. And I also subscribe to this belief. There is no death in comic books. And there really is no reason to think that death exists in comic books. Characters are either active in the DCU or they sit in Comic Book Limbo waiting to be re-invented and brought back into the DCU.

Morrison views Comic Book Limbo as a place where characters who have lost their usefulness or purpose can go and wait for a certain amount of years until a writer comes along who has a novel idea to re-invigorate a certain character. Martian Manhunter needs to go to Comic Book Limbo and be off the playing field for several years. Then, hopefully, a writer will have a good idea how to utilize J’onn’s character and will bring him back better than ever.

I enjoyed the scene between Turpin and Dark Side and the Dark Side Club. Morrison reveals that Dark Side won the war and that he now has the secret to the Anti-Life. This scene definitely piqued my interest and I am excited to learn how Darkseid went from being killed at the end of Countdown to now having attained the secret of the Anti-Life and won the war of the heavens.

The scene with the Monitors at the Nexus was fantastic. This scene is a good example of how Morrison can take another writer’s plotline and make it better. The Nexus was a standard styled base of operations for the Monitors during Countdown. However, Morrison makes the Nexus a much more intriguing place and a large reason for that is the wicked cool Multiversal Orrery. I love it. And of course, since Morrison has introduced this ornate machine with the first issue, we all know that it is probably going to get destroyed by the time we reach the end of this story.

Morrison also takes Dini and Giffen’s concept of the Monitor’s developing unique personalities and does a much better job with it than was ever done on Countdown. Morrison plays with the concepts of the Monitors how having their own names and stories. That they now suddenly have secrets and lovers. That some are becoming heroes and others are becoming villains.

Watching Weeja obviously upset and feeling genuine feelings of love and loss while at the same time openly questioning why she even has these emotions all of a sudden reminded me a lot of Morrison’s run on Animal Man with how characters questioned if their thoughts and emotions were their own or someone else’s.

I dig that time has now seeped into the world of the Monitors. This appears to clue the reader into the fact that it is possible that the Monitors will experience their demise in this story. I also enjoyed the little teaser from Morrison with the Monitor commenting that now that Nix has been removed that his plans can proceed unimpeded. Clearly, Morrison has some huge changes in store for the Monitors. While I was completely uninterested in the Monitors over on Countdown, I find myself rather intrigued with what Morrison is doing with them on Final Crisis.

Morrison delivers a fantastic hook ending to Final Crisis #1. First, Morrison teases the reader with a cool scene where Anthro is suddenly transported to Kamandi’s future. We then see Kamandi yelling that Anthro has a weapon that can be used against the gods and that Kamandi needs it now.

We then see Nix appearing on New Earth to serve his sentence as a mere mortal. We then get the news report about J’onn’s death with a raging Green Arrow swearing vengeance. That is a fine way to hook the reader to wanting to come back for the next issue.

I was impressed with Morrison’s effort to weave all the various storylines that have taken place since the end of 52. Even if it was just for one panel like the quick scene showing the villain march protesting vigilante brutality, Morrison managed to give an all encompassing feel to Final Crisis. Morrison builds off of 52, Countdown, Salvation Run, and Death of the New Gods. This was a wise move in order to take all the various major storylines and bring them under the umbrella of Final Crisis. It gives Final Crisis context within the current events of the DCU and brings together seemingly disparate stories into one large event.

J.G. Jones treats the reader to some gorgeous artwork. Seriously, this is exactly the type of artwork that I expect to receive on a big event. Yu’s work on Secret Invasion pales in comparison to the beautiful artwork that Jones gives us in Final Crisis #1. Jones is able to breathe Morrison’s story to life and give it such a grand feel of an epic event.

The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue. To be sure that Morrison is not going to rush things so Final Crisis #1 is not a fast paced issue full of stunning plot twists. And, to be expected, since this is a DC Crisis event, it certainly helps to know your DCU continuity. Newer readers need to fire up Wikipedia and not be shy about doing a little research.

Overall: Final Crisis #1 was a strong set-up issue. Morrison delivers an impressively crafted issue that is well plotted and does its job of setting the stage for what should be one wild ride. I would definitely recommend giving Final Crisis #1 a try. This title has the true epic tale feel to it that is notably lacking on Secret Invasion.

6 thoughts on “Comic Book Review: Final Crisis #1

  1. I really liked the direction Morrison is taking with the New Gods. Orion as the god of soldiers (not War), is a superbly subtle take on him. Oh, and Glorious Godfrey as Al Sharpton! The God of demagogues, indeed!

  2. I wonder what Batman’s reaction will be to Martian Manhunter’s death. Afterall, it was Batman who sent him to the hell planet in Salvation Run, only for him to get kidnapped. Also, Catwoman told the villains of his identity when he was posing as Blockbuster. Since Final Crisis is supposed to tie into Batman RIP, I am sure that Martian Manhunter’s death will be one of the reasons Batman leaves crime fighting.

  3. The art looks great,but I am still unsure about making the New Gods the centerpiece of this event. They just have never seemed to grab readers.This is a set-up issue and it does tie into Countdown in an off-center kind of way,but there would be no need for set-up if we hadn’t wasted 52 weeks and 100+ dollars on Countdown.I’m not sure how the DCu will be lighter place after this.7 issues of slaughter ending in a giant battle really doesn’t lead to a sunny disposition.Daeth of The New Gods seems to have been an evn greater waste than countdown.It is just being ignored.I would guess that there is something in the last issue of Salvation Run that would clear up the MM part of this story.It seems like a good start lets see how it goes.

  4. Reading Final Crisis #1 I really felt that things are going wrong.I think it’s one of the darkest events from both companies.Also, they way Libra acts reminds me of the Hood in The New Avengers.

  5. I think what really works for me in this issue is that I really get the feeling that major changes are coming for the DCU. I think, if nothing else, DC has been good about that aspect of their big events; Infinite Crisis, for better or for worse, wrought some immense changes to the order of the DCU. Final Crisis seems set to top all of that. I always felt Marvel has always kind of failed in that respect. House of M did little to alter the state of affairs in the Marvel universe, as did Civil War. Secret Invasion just seems like a classic Skrull v. hero brawl. Final Crisis actually seems very relevant.

    As for a happy/sunny DCU, I’m not sure how much of a fan I’d be of that. I don’t really care how dark or light any piece is as long as it’s well, intellectually, or creatively done. I’ve never liked people heading over to Marvel for the sheer sake of gratuitous darkness and sordid story-lines alone. I think for both DC and Marvel, if we can get back to classic heroism instead of petty infighting, comics overall would be much improved.

  6. I am going to give this one an incomplete grade for now. Typical of Grant Morrison, you need about three issues to figure out where everything is going ( and even then, maybe not!). This book does gets better with multiple readings and while I wasn’t impressed the first go round, I was getting a better handle on this book by the second helping.

    Which leads me to the problem I have with Morrison on such an important book. I really enjoy his creativity and love a writer that tests a reader’s intelligence. He writes for the adult out there. However, I am not sure if Crisis should be written as an “important piece of art”. I want a gateway book from DC now, a book I can shove into someone’s hand and say “Here! Enjoy!” DC needs to do that desperately and I was hoping Final Crisis would be such a book. Crisis is something I, and you, will pour over and admire, but not something that will expand the DC market. Say what you will about the Bendis problem, but man, he can write a book with easy access.

    By the way, the art by Jones is a joy to behold as well! He is like a Slurpee on a hot day that goes down good with never a brain freeze!

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