The Revolution was disappointed with Final Crisis #6. I thought that Morrison really dropped the ball and delivered an incredibly anti-climactic issue. It is becoming obvious that Final Crisis is simply not going to live up to my expectations. I can only hope that Morrison can deliver a grand ending that is at least somewhat coherent and has a nice impact on the DCU at large. Let’s go ahead and hit this review for Final Crisis #7.
Writer: Grant Morrison
Pencils: Doug Mahnke
Inks: Doug Mahnke, Tom Nguyen, Drew Geraci, Christian Alamy, Norm Rapmund, Rodney Ramos & Walden Wong
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin on a parallel Earth where that Earth’s Superman and Wonder Woman are black. (Maybe this is the old Earth-D?) They fly into the sky to investigate the red skies. Suddenly, the Ultima Thule appears on the scene. The door to the Ultima Thule opens up and we see Renee Montoya along with Captain Marvel and a ton of Supermen from the various multiple Earths. (I have no idea why Renee is on the Ultima Thule.) Captain Marvel says that he needs Superman’s help.
We cut to the Watchtower which consists of everything that was left on Earth after space-time folded. Lois Lane narrates that everything outside of the Watchtower is Darkseid. The characters on the Watchtower are from different multiple Earths. Lois says that when the magnetic field on the Watchtower made the Metal Men from Earth-44 go berserk, the Metal Men attempted to commit technocide. As a result the trophy room was wrecked and many irreplaceable mementos were lost.
Lois narrates that the heroes assembled what was left and placed it into a rocket. The final edition of the Daily Planet and the story and death of Batman are among the mementos placed into the rocket. Lois says that the rocket was like a message in the bottle and that maybe someone would find it and read the story of the Final Crisis.
We cut to Superman holding Batman’s corpse. Darkseid stands in front of Superman and gloats that that there is only one will, one body and one mind. One life that is Darkseid. Darkseid gloats that he controls everyone and everything. That now Superman is the enemy on this planet.
Superman grabs Darkseid by the throat and calls Darkseid a “monster.” Darkseid tells Superman to kill him. To kill the body of the old man that Darkseid has taken over. Darkseid asks Superman how can Superman hurt a foe made of people.
Superman realizes that Darkseid has possessed Dan Turpin’s body. Darkseid then orders the crowd of people around them to kill Superman. The crowd attacks Superman. Darkseid yells that if Superman kills Darkseid then Superman kills everything.
Darkseid pulls out his god gun and says that it is all over. That there is a black hole where his heart used to be. Darkseid asks Superman if he can outrace the Omega Sanction. Superman responds that Darkseid did not get all of the heroes. Superman says that it is not over, yet.
We see Barry and Wally racing toward Darkseid with the Black Racer hot on their tails. Barry tells Wally that they have to reach superluminal velocity. Barry tells Wally to save himself. Wally says that he and Barry and going in together and that they are going to come out together.
We cut to Darkseid telling Superman that from this point in time where Orion no longer exists that Orion cannot see Darkseid. Darkseid says that as all time becomes one time, the time has come to strike. We see the two Flashes blast past Superman. Superman whispers “Barry Allen?”
Black Racer appears on the scene as Barry and Wally race past Darkseid. Black Racer says that the terminal moment is here. Black Racer says “I come to all. Even you.” Lois narrates that this is the story of how the Flashes outran Death, the Black Racer. Lois says that this is the story of how Arthur of Atlantis, prophesized to return in his people’s time of greatest need. We cut to Aquaman riding his giant seahorse, Sea Storm, and battling bad guys.
We cut back to Darkseid collapsing to all fours. Darkseid says “…in us…in all of us…” Lois narrates that this is the story of the last superheroes and the machine they made to save the world.
We cut to Superman drawing a blueprint of the Miracle Machine. The various heroes pitch in to use their talents to help build the machine. Superman even gets the help of Sivana and Lex Luthor to help create part of the Miracle Machine. Lex comments that he was not shown the complete blueprint, but that this machine appears to be capable of rewriting the laws of physics.
Lois narrates that this is how Checkmate went down fighting. We cut to the Checkmate Castle and see that it has been overrun by Justifiers. We cut to the two Atoms in nano-space. Ryan Choi says that he has the nano-beacon in place, but the tunnel between the universes cannot take these stresses. Ryan then adds “I can’t take these stresses!”
We shift back to the Checkmate Castle where the Japanese heroes and Mister Miracle are fighting with the Justifiers. Mister Miracle yells that the tunnel is collapsing and for everyone to hurry.
We cut to the JLA satellite where life support is failing. Black Canary looks down on Earth and sees that the Ray succeeded in getting to Earth and creating a huge version of the symbol that defeats the anti-life on the side of the Earth. Life support fails and Black Canary and Green Arrow die.
Lois narrates that this is the story of all our stories. And this is how it ends. We see Supergirl explaining to a bunch of kids “…Imagine two whole universes shearing apart as the lifeline connecting them was snapped.” We cut back to the Checkmate castle. Lord Eye is having a breakdown and is closing the tunnel. That the people in the tunnel are going to die.
Suddenly, Mister Miracle fires up his boom tube and quickly teleports away the Japanese heroes, Mr. Terrific, Hawkman and Hawkgirl at the exact moment that Earth-Zero fell into the abyss. (Or wait, maybe Hawkman and Hawkgirl are dead. It is hard for me to tell.) Mister Miracle’s Motherboxxx’s secured a boomtube connection to a nearby universe.
And that is how the rest of the people from Checkmate made their great escape. We see that the characters from the Checkmate facility are now in Kamandi’s Earth which was also Sonny Sumo’s Earth. Sonny Sumo comments that his Earth did not look like this when he left it.
We cut back to Captain Marvel, Renee Montoya and all the Supermen on the Ultima Thule. Captain Marvel explains the existence of the Multiverse to the Supermen. Renee then tells Overman that she saw his cousin at the Checkmate facility and that Overman’s cousin is dead.
We shift over to Superman and Darkseid. Superman states that Darkseid fired the god bullet backwards in time. That Batman used the god bullet to mortally wound Darkseid. Superman says “This was suicide, Darkseid.”
Wonder Woman appears on the scene and says “Darkseid is order. Darkseid is peace.” Wonder Woman says that the armies of Libra has arrived and for Superman to submit.
Sivana and Lex Luthor appear on the scene. Lex says that the odds are stacked against Superman. Lex then reveals that he is in control of this army of mind controlled super villains now that Libra is dead.
We cut back to Supergirl talking to the group of kids. We see Wonder Woman also there. Wonder Woman says that it is almost time for bed, but first she will tell the children about how she first met Frankenstein.
We cut back to Frankenstein attacking the Darkseid controlled Wonder Woman. Lois narrates that the god-bacterium, Morticcocus, designed to strip Earth’s heroes of their powers had no effect on a living dead man like Frankenstein. And the villains had been inoculated.
Lex stands next to Superman. Lex tells Superman not to say a word. Lex says that this is the first historic team-up of the forces of “good” and the forces of “bad.” Lex adds that he is going to take credit for the win. Superman responds “Whatever you say, Lex. Whatever you say.”
We cut back to Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Superman together after the kids have been put to sleep. We see that all the survivors have been placed in cryogenic sleep and then they are shrunk to miniature size. Evidently, time has been virtually stopped. Supergirl says that there has to be a way to fix this.
We see Superman hugging Lois. Superman says that he promise to restore Lois when it is over. Superman says that Brainiac 5 allowed him to look at the Miracle Machine for no more than a few seconds. And that in that time Superman tried to remember every nut, bolt and circuit. Lois answers that she trusts Superman.
We see Wonder Woman holding the mask she wore when she was one of the Fatal Furies. Wonder Woman crushes the mask. We then flashback to how Wonder Woman used her golden lasso of truth to chain the body of Darkseid and no one was hurt. (This must have neutralized the anti-life equation.)
We see Superman placing the final touches on the Miracle Machine. Superman says that he has one chance, one wish. Darkseid’s spirit appears and says that the walls are coming down. That it is all over. Superman responds that Darkseid is in the final stages of Radion poisoning. That Darkseid’s composite human body is unable to move, let alone act.
Superman says that the worlds of the Multiverse vibrate together and make a sound like an orchestra. Superman says that everything is just vibrations. And counter-vibrations cancel them out. Superman then sings a few musical notes with his super loud voice. Darkseid then dissipates in defeat. Superman says that Darkseid always hated music.
Superman then walks over to Metron’s chair. Superman whispers that he is losing his voice after pulling the stunt he just did to finish off Darkseid. Superman states that he hears a faint heartbeat from within Metron’s abandoned chair. Superman reaches into the chair and pulls out Element X which is the fire of the Gods. Superman says that Element X can take any shape and will be the last part of the jigsaw puzzle to make the Miracle Machine work.
Superman then places the Element X into the Miracle Machine. Superman says that he has to give his vocal chords a moment to rest and heal. Suddenly, Mandrakk appears on the scene along with vampire Ultraman who has an unconscious Supergirl slung over his shoulder.
Mandrakk says that the dying god left Superman’s universe wounded, broken, defenseless and alone in the dark where Mandrakk dwells. Mandrakk says “Here at the end of all stories.” Mandrakk reveals that he has fed on the servants of God the defenders of this universe. We see the husks of Radiant and the Spectre at Mandrakk’s feet.
Mandrakk says that there is no light or spark to power Superman’s Miracle Machine. Superman then responds that he is a solar battery. Superman says that he stores light in his cells. Superman says that he will use all of it if that is what it takes to power the Miracle Machine.
We cut to the Green Lanterns still trying to break through the force field preventing them from entering Earth. Guy says that their power rings are nearly empty and that it is hopeless. Suddenly, weird space creatures appear next to the Green Lanterns. (I have no idea what is going on with these creatures.) Hal yells that the creatures are their way into Earth. Hal yells for the Lanterns to recite their oath.
We cut back to Mandrakk asking Superman what has he done. Superman replies that he has relied on Captain Marvel of Earth-5 to come through for him. (What, you passed on the Final Crisis: Superman Beyond two-part story? Too bad. I am sure you are confused right about now.) Superman tells Mandrakk to look up into the sky.
We see Captain Marvel leading an army of Supermen from all the various multiple Earths. The army of Supermen blast vampire Ultraman with their heat vision.
We cut to Nix Uotan appearing on the scene. Nix says that he heard Superman’s signal and that this fight is now a fight between Monitors. Nix takes the animals that were abandoned from Earth-35 (Oh, I have no idea how these animals suddenly popped into this scene.) Nix transforms them into Captain Carrot, Pig Iron and Yankee Poodle. (Yes, this is exactly what was needed to help defeat Mandrakk.)
Suddenly, we hear the thundering voices of the Green Lanterns reciting their oath. The Green Lanterns then bust onto the scene. Nix says that he is the dawn of a new world. Nix then summons the Forever People of the 5th World. We see the Japanese super heroes suddenly appearing on the scene.
The army of Supermen blast Mandrakk with their heat vision. The Green Lanterns then form a huge stake and impale Mandrakk with it. We see that Ultraman is just a crispy corpse now.
We cut to the people of Metropolis cleaning up the mess from Darkseid’s reign of evil. Lois narrates that they survived Ragnarok and that they fought a god. And that they survived the bite of a cosmic parasite. Lois says that despite it all Earth endures.
We shift to the Hall of Monitors where we see that the damage caused to the Orrery of Worlds by Darkseid’s fall has been repaired. Nix states that the germ worlds themselves reestablished the symmetry to the Orrery. Nix states that he has never witnessed such industry and such intelligence and the white hot passions that drive them. Passions strong enough to make changes in beings of pure thought like the Monitors.
For this reason, Nix calls for an immediate withdrawal of contact with the germ worlds. That the Monitors shall conduct no further exploration. Nix states that there is a black hole in the base of creation that was where Darkseid fell through existence to his doom. This left hell deserted.
We see Metron hovering over a barren Apokolips. We see a small plant sprout. Nix says that in Darskeid’s absence the first flower grew. And Apokolips was reborn as New Genesis. We see a panel shot of the New Gods including Highfather, Scott Free, Big Barda and Lightray on New Genesis.
We see Nix holding the map of a world. Nix says that the New Gods have returned to guide the destiny of a new world. Nix says that he is holding the map to reconstruct Earth-51 that was destroyed by Ogama. Nix says that Earth-51 has been restored. Nix says that time anomalies have been corrected and coherence and harmony restored.
Nix says that this concludes his report. The Monitors state that Nix is no longer exiled and is welcome to return to the circle of the Monitors with full honors. Nix replies that he is declining the offer.
Nix states that the Monitors almost destroyed this beautiful living thing in their midst. Nix continues that the Multiverse of life deserves its freedom from the Monitor’s interference. Nix tells the Monitors to make their peace.
We cut to Nix and Weeja standing together on a balcony. Weeja says that she can see the shearing emptiness of the Overvoid coming closer. Nix states that they could not make him forget Weeja. That Weeja brought him back.
Nix says that he lived among the humans and he saw the damage that the Monitors did to them. Nix saw what the Monitors would have to sacrifice to save the germ worlds. Nix says that he won’t forget Weeja. Weeja replies that this really is the last day.
We see the white Overvoid devouring the Monitor’s reality. Nix says that the Final Crisis was the Monitors’. Weeja asks Nix to tell her what Superman wished for when he turned on his Miracle Machine. Nix answers “A happy ending.” Nix kisses Weeja and tells her to close her eyes. We see the white Overvoid completely consuming the Monitor’s reality.
We cut to Nix waking up in his apartment in Metropolis. The radio is on and the radio announcer says that they have more news on the newly discovered parallel worlds and how they can change their lives forever. The report states that this is one story that is only a beginning.
We shift to Anthro who is now a very old man. Anthro is sitting at a fire right next to the rocket that was launched at the beginning of this issue that was full of mementos about our Earth. Anthro enters his cave and makes a cave drawing. Anthro then lies down to sleep and dies.
We see a figure then appear and lay Batman’s utility belt on Anthro’s chest. The old man who carried the knowledge of fire is dead, but the fire burns forever. We see Bruce Wayne making a drawing of the Batman symbol on the cave wall. End of issue.
The Good: Okay, I know that many people are confused about this issue. Let me see if I can succinctly outline Final Crisis #7 in a very short description before we dissect what we just read.
In a nut shell, Darkseid’s fall through the Multiverse created a black hole at the base of Creation. This fall wreaks havoc on the Multiverse and causes the break in the Orrery of Worlds. Our Earth and our universe are basically quarantined off from the rest of the Multiverse so time basically stops.
It seems that Superman, Supergirl and Wonder Woman manage to cryogenically freeze the survivors and then shrink them down and store them until Superman is able to then add the finishing touches to the Miracle Machine.
Right before the Miracle Machine is completed Superman defeats the final vestiges of Darkseid’s spirit. Then Mandrakk, who is just a cosmic parasite or vampire, arrives to feed off this dying Earth in order to complete its death.
Nix Utoan, the super Monitor, then appears and summons the New Forever People, Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew to join in the battle along with the multiple Supermen and the Green Lantern Corps. After Mandrakk is killed, Superman uses the Miracle Machine to wish for a happy ending. Our Earth is restored back to normal. The public now knows about the Multiverse.
Nix recreates Earth-51 as the new Kirby World where New Forever People are as well as Kamandi. Nix then says that the Monitors have caused too much harm to the Multiverse. Therefore, the Monitors are sucked back into the Overmind of the original Monitor.
We see Anthro as an old man. We see the rocket that was launched at the beginning of this issue that was full of mementos about our Earth. Anthro dies. We then see Batman in Anthro’s cave etching a bat symbol on the cave wall.
Okay, now we are all roughly on the same page. Wow, talk about dense, huh? Final Crisis #7 offered up so many details and so much information that Morrison practically overloads the reader’s brain. This is such a difficult issue to critique and grade. Before I continue I want to direct your attention to a great interview that Newsarama conducted with Grant Morrison concerning this issue that you can check out here. I will be referring to it during this review.
Part of me loved this issue and part of me hated this issue. I do not think that it is fair to simply dismiss this issue as being random, jumbled and incoherent metaphysical ramblings. That is too much of a cursory and disingenuous reaction to this issue. There is more than that to Final Crisis #7.
There were many aspects of Final Crisis #7 that I enjoyed. Morrison delivers a read that is so rich in details and so chock full of wild concepts. There are so many layers to this issue for the reader to delve into. This is an issue that definitely gets better after multiple readings. The reader can easily read Final Crisis #7 three or four times and discover new details each time.
For readers who relish diving deep into a story and parsing through various themes and concepts like a jig saw puzzle will certainly love Final Crisis #7. There is so much to analyze and speculate upon in this issue. This is a field day for literature fans that also enjoy trying to dissect and analyze books from Faulkner or Joyce. It is very much like watching a David Lynch movie and then going back over and over trying to identify the themes and messages in the various images and details in the movie.
Final Crisis #7 is a difficult issue to follow and digest. It is a kinetic read that jumps around randomly between several different time periods. Many things happen off panel or simply quickly flash before the reader in the span of a single panel and then disappear again. Luckily, Morrison used Lois’ narration to serve as the framework for this issue. Lois’ narration serves as an anchor for the reader as we crash from scene to scene sometimes as quickly as three different scenes in one page.
I liked the scene at the JLA satellite. We see the Ray succeed in placing the symbol that offers protection from the anti-life equation onto the side of the Earth. As the life support on the JLA satellite fails, Black Canary thinks only of how happy she is that the Ray successfully carrier out Black Canary’s orders. Black Canary then reaches out for Ollie’s hand as life support shuts off and then dies. If nothing else, Morrison certainly delivered an incredibly heroic and ballsy Black Canary during Final Crisis.
I liked how Morrison handled Lex Luthor as he arrived to the rescue with Libra’s army of villains under his control. Even at the end of the world, Lex still remains true to his character and tells Superman that he plans on taking credit for the win today. This is exactly how I would expect Lex to act in this situation.
Even though Morrison largely relegated Wonder Woman to a rather minor role in Final Crisis, at least Wonder Woman got her brief moment to shine in this issue. Wonder Woman was able to use her golden lasso of truth to free the people of Earth from Darkseid’s anti-life equation. Yeah, it was very late in this event and it was just one panel, but at least Morrison had Wonder Woman do something of value in this issue.
My favorite part of Final Crisis #7 was probably after the remnant of Darksied’s spirit is destroyed by Superman and then Mandrakk appears. Morrison does a good job integrating the events of Final Crisis: Superman Beyond into this issue during this scene. And that is both a positive and a negative.
However, for those of us who read Final Crisis: Superman Beyond it was nice to see Captain Marvel following through with his assembling of the army of Supermen. And the double page splash shot of Captain Marvel leading the army of Supermen to help Superman fight Mandrakk was simply awesome. It was cool to see all the different versions of Superman from the various multiple Earths.
The issue got even better as Nix arrives at this showdown with Mandrakk and all of the other heroes are assembled for the big fight. Nix summoning Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew was a nice humorous touch to a very serious issue. It also was Morrison’s way of emphasizing the endless fun that the Multiverse presents to a writer. Nix summoning the new Forever People to the battle scene helped to cue the reader into the fact that the Japanese super heroes are now the new Forever People.
But, the best part was the dramatic arrival of the Green Lanterns. I loved how their oath echoes throughout the skies before they actually appeared. And the Green Lanterns providing the massive stake that is driven through Mandrakk’s heart was a pretty bad-assed moment.
Mandrakk’s appearance in this issue worked with the story and made sense given his character and what we learned of him in Final Crisis: Superman Beyond. Mandrakk is the dark Monitor who feeds off worlds. Mandrakk appears at the moment in this issue before the Miracle Machine has been fired up. Earth is dying and Mandrakk is here to suck it dry and send the Earth on to its death.
I liked the ending to Final Crisis #7. Morrison actually manages to give the reader a much more positive ending full of hope than I was expecting given how dark this story has been. We see that the Orrery is now repaired. And we get the surprise move by Nix Uotan to decide that the Monitors cause more harm than good. And that the Multiverse would be better off if the Monitors left it alone. Therefore, the Monitors are absorbed back into the nothingness of the Overmind of the original Monitor.
I liked this ending for the Monitors. Morrison reveals that this was not the Final Crisis for the Earth or for the Multiverse. That this was the Final Crisis for the Monitors. That was a neat plot twist. And the solution on how to deal with the Monitors was actually rather logical.
The Monitors are simply creatures of thought that were spawned by the probe from the original Monitor’s mind. So, all the Monitors were essentially the original Monitor’s thoughts that gained some type of autonomy. Having the Monitors sucked back into the Overmind that is the Monitor’s subconscious was the perfect ending. This also put a nice ending to the tale of the Monitor that began back with Crisis on Infinite Earths.
The two villains in Final Crisis #7 met their dooms because they had inflated view of who they were. Darkseid was an ancient god who had outlived the Fourth World. Darkseid’s ego deluded him into believing that he could assume the place of the Fifth World all by himself. The Monitors were nothing but cosmic parasites that lived off the germ worlds. The Monitors were not protectors of the Multiverse. They were parasites that fed off the Multiverse.
I have to wonder that since the cosmic parasites in the Monitors are gone and the Orrery is repaired if the Multiverse will once again flourish and grow and create more multiple Earths and eventually become a collection of infinite Earths once again.
The scene between Nix and Weeja as they fade into the Overmind was actually rather touching. Morrison does a nice job conveying Nix’s eternal love for Weeja that no power could ever take from him. And when Nix wakes up back in his apartment in Metropolis, the reader cannot help but to feel sad for Nix that he had to sacrifice his love for the betterment of the Multiverse.
I feel conflicted over the use of the Miracle Machine in Final Crisis #7. I both hated it and liked it. The Miracle Machine is the ultimate piece of Jack Kirby technology that is literally god from a machine. It was almost impossible to expect Morrison to deliver such an epic cosmic tale and not utilize the Miracle Machine at some point.
In general, I do not like convenient deus ex machina devices that rescue a writer from a seemingly impossible situation, but the fact is that the use of the Miracle Machine actually makes sense in this story given all of the other themes dealing with the Monitors and the New Gods. Morrison at least had the heroes defeat the two villains in Darkseid and Mandrakk without the use of the Miracle Machine.
Now, it appears that there have been a few small changes to the DCU’s continuity with Final Crisis #7. The biggest change is that the Multiverse is now a matter of public knowledge. I am glad that DC finally pulled the trigger on this move. By making the Multiverse common knowledge it makes it easier on the writers to not have to tip toe around the eight hundred pound gorilla that is sitting in the corner of the room. Plus, it should be interesting to see how the knowledge of the Multiverse impacts the various characters in the DCU.
Another change that occurred in Final Crisis #7 is that the Japanese heroes are now the new Forever People. Mister Miracle’s Motherboxxx transported Mister Miracle and the Japanese Heroes to Sonny Sumo’s Earth which is Earth-51. Unfortunately, Earth-51 is also Kamandi’s Earth and it is much different looking than when Sunny left this Earth.
However, Nix Uotan states that he has rebuilt Earth-51 and it certainly seems that all of Kirby’s DC work has been placed squarely in Earth-51. And this jives with what Morrison said in his interview concerning Earth-51:
“In the end, I condensed all the Kirby DC stuff down onto one parallel Earth (51) – the idea of Kamandi in a world with Lightray and Highfather seemed worth revisiting. One day, someone will come along and tell the stories of that world, I’m sure. Sonny Sumo is important because he provides the connection between Earth-0 and his home on Earth-51 that Shilo Norman’s Motherboxxx uses to plot an escape route from the doomed DC Earth.
“All of those characters are there because I wanted to set up the Super Young Team with him and Shilo Norman as another potential series. The way they fade out of the story is also a pointed comment on how I actually imagine they’ll fare as characters in the DC Universe!”
That last bit of sarcasm from Morrison is a reflection that he is well aware that almost all of his characters and plotlines are virtually ignored by every other writer at DC. Personally, I love Kirby’s creations for DC. And I hope that DC allows Morrison to write a title that takes place on Earth-51.
We also get the return of New Genesis and all the New Gods. Apokolips turns into New Genesis as the Fifth World has arrived. This move appears to basically, re-boots the New Gods as we see characters like Highfather back that have been dead for a while. Again, I love Jack Kirby so I am glad that the New Gods are back in all their glory.
What I am confused about is if New Genesis is in our universe or if this is in the Earth-51 universe. I would imagine that it is our Earth’s universe since Apokolips and Darkseid were from our universe and not a parallel one.
Another change to the DCU that Final Crisis #7 brought is that the original Aquaman is back. And he is back in all of his Silver Age glory. Morrison even has Aquaman riding his giant seahorse named Sea-Storm. That was a cool nod to the giant seahorse that the Silver Age Aquaman used to ride. Wasn’t that giant seahorse’s name Storm?
The theme of narratives and stories as well as the characters that inhabit them is the central theme in Final Crisis. And this is a theme that Morrison started playing with during his run on Animal Man right after Crisis on Infinite Earths junked the Multiverse. Morrison dealt with the recently destroyed Multiverse as a collection of stories that have now been lost. In Animal Man, Morrison mourned the loss of the Multiverse and all of the wonderful stories and characters that used to make up the deep and complex fabric of the DCU’s Multiverse. Morrison used the final part of his run on Animal Man to show how much the DCU lost with the retconning of the Multiverse.
And this theme is taken to its logical conclusion in Final Crisis #7. Morrison uses this issue as his ode to the beauty and endless possibilities that the Multiverse presents. The limitless creative possibilities that create the narratives in the Multiverse that are waiting to be told.
Morrison views the DCU and the Multiverse as a grand narrative whose quirks, oddities and contradictions should be embraced. To Morrison, the ultimate strength of the DCU’s Multiverse is the virtually limitless source of wildly creative stories that it presents to writers.
Morrison uses the scene with Superman facing Mandrakk with the Superman army from the multiple Earths, the Green Lanterns, Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew, and the new Forever People all behind Superman to bring to a climax his view of the Multiverse.
During his run on Animal Man, Morrison had the characters from these Multiple Earths questioning why they were gotten rid of. Morrison had these characters say that they all had their own lives and their own stories to tell. Morrison saw the limitless potential of the Multiverse and mourned the loss of the wild fantastical aspect of the DCU that was embodied in the Multiverse.
Morrison was disappointed that this wonderful and outrageous literary device was junked in favor of a more “realistic” DCU. The death of the Multiverse began the era of more “adult” and darker and more “serious” comic book stories.
During this showdown in Final Crisis #7 Morrison uses Superman to convey Morrison’s admiration of the Multiverse. Mandrakk is basically the embodiment of all the dark, realistic and adult style of comic book writing that seeks to suck dry the outrageous and fantastical aspects of comic books. Morrison has viewed the adult themed dark and realistic style of storytelling as sucking the life out of comic books in general.
Morrison has Superman point to the assembled forces of the Multiverse in all their outrageousness from Captain Carrot to the wild versions of Superman to the Forever People and says that Mandrakk cannot beat them. That Mandrakk cannot suck the life out of them.
This is Morrison saying that the realistic, adult and dark comic book movement can never kill the outrageous, imaginative and outlandish style of comic book storytelling. The type of modern hybrid Silver Age style of storytelling that Morrison gave us on All Star Superman. Morrison uses this scene to show that the Multiverse is creativity unbound and that it cannot be contained or stopped. That comic books should not be bound by the constraints and the conventions of our real world lives.
The Miracle Machine worked nicely with Morrison’s theme of stories and how narratives make up the reality of the Multiverse. That the super heroes in the DCU are incredible beings who are capable of writing great stories. And that their hope and goodness enable them to create happy endings as well.
Mahnke and the inks by committee served up some solid artwork. However, the fact that there were seven inkers on just one issue is ridiculous. And it hurt the overall look of the product.
The Bad: I have my fair share of criticisms for Final Crisis ##7. However, before I begin to assign blame to the various parties it is important to first read one of Morrison’s quotes in the Newsarama interview. Morrison states clearly that
“Apart from one scene at the end, which I included at DC’s request, and contrary to online rumors, there were no rewrites on Final Crisis. Every word is mine. The guilt and the glory are all mine!”
I appreciate Morrison making this statement. And he gets my respect for owning Final Crisis. Good or bad. So many writers are quick to throw other writers or editors under the bus when a story that the writer has written gets critically slammed.
This really came to a head when JMS basically threw Joe Quesada under the bus for the Mephisto retcon in Amazing Spider-Man. And Keith Giffen wrote a great column about how professional writers need to own what they put their name to. And that is what Morrison did with Final Crisis.
Having said that, Morrison does not deserve to shoulder all the blame for Final Crisis. Part of that does fall on Dan DiDio. He is the Editor in Chief and he calls the shots. What is such a shame is that I do think that Final Crisis had lots of potential. Morrison had plenty of neat ideas. Unfortunately, the execution and promotion of Final Crisis was terribly botched from the start.
One huge was mistake was DiDio forcing Final Crisis into being a DCU event when it never was from the start. By calling this a “Crisis” event and stating that it dealt with the entire DCU and its heroes, DiDio immediately built this event up into more than Morrison had designed this to be.
The smarter course of action would have been for DiDio to simply say that Final Crisis was Morrison’s ode to Kirby. That Final Crisis was a standalone event that was merely the conclusion of Seven Soldiers, Death of the New Gods and Countdown.
If this had been the approach from the start then readers would not have been expecting a huge DCU event that impacted the DCU to its very core and had an influence on all of DC’s titles like the previous two Crisis events did. This approach would have let Final Crisis do its own little story and the readers would not have complained that Final Crisis was virtually ignored in all of DC’s other titles.
This is even supported by Morrison’s statement in the Newsarama where he answers where his ideas for Final Crisis came from. Morrison said:
“When I came back to DC in 2003, I pitched a huge crossover event called Hypercrisis, which didn’t happen for various reasons. Some of Hypercrisis went into Seven Soldiers, some went into All Star Superman, some went into 52 and some of it found a home in Final Crisis.”
This statement by Morrison that there was a clear connection between Seven Soldiers and Final Crisis in addition to the obvious fact that the majority of Final Crisis was an ode to Jack Kirby. The fact is that at no point was Morrison expecting Final Crisis to be a massive big event spanning the entire DCU and impacting all of DC’s titles. However, that is the route that DiDio went with promoting Final Crisis.
And that set up Final Crisis to fail from the start by promising something that it was never intending on delivering. And once DiDio branded Final Crisis as a huge DCU event the readers were then justified in complaining how this supposed big DCU event was being ignored in all of DC’s titles.
Another problem with Final Crisis was that it was simply way too short. Final Crisis should have been a twelve issue series. I have thought that since the beginning. Unfortunately, it was DiDio’s call to limit Morrison to only seven issues. In the Newsarama interview Morrison stated that
“I only had seven issues for Final Crisis and the Monitor story strands that grew into Superman Beyond needed much more room to breathe than was available in the main book. Same goes for the Batman 2-parter from Batman #682 – #683, which is an essential part of Final Crisis also. I hope they’ll all be collected in a complete edition eventually.”
The fact is that DiDio should have recognized this fact and allowed Morrison to properly tell his story in a twelve issue series. Now, would Final Crisis still have had serious defects even if it had been delivered in twelve issues? Absolutely. However, many of the complaints from readers that they felt like too many important plotlines were taking place outside of the pages of Final Crisis itself would have been addressed. It would have made it much easier for readers to simply only read Final Crisis itself and have a better understanding of what was going on if DiDio had allowed it to be a twelve issue series.
Now, as far as the mythical reading order of Final Crisis, in the Newsarama interview, Morrison stated that the reading order is:
FINAL CRISIS # 1- 3
SUPERMAN BEYOND # 1- 2
FINAL CRISIS # 4 – 5
BATMAN #682 – 683
FINAL CRISIS # 6 – 7
Huh, look at that. How many issues do all of those issues add up to? Twelve. Imagine that.
Of course, Morrison deserves his fair share of the blame for the failings of Final Crisis. Once Morrison realized he was being restricted to only seven issues, it was incumbent upon him to edit his story to properly fit the number of issues that DiDio had given him. It was Morrison’s responsibility to edit his story in order to streamline it for a seven issue format. Instead, Morrison pulls a Quentin Tarantino and feels that his story is simply too good to be edited down in any fashion.
Just like I don’t want to see 6 hours of Kill Bill, I also did not need some of the extraneous and pointless plotlines crammed into Final Crisis. Morrison completely overwhelms the reader with too many convoluted and unnecessary plotlines at the last minute.
Did Morrison really need to shove the plotline concerning the technocide by the Metal Men of Earth-44 into Final Crisis #7? That was a great example of a last minute plotline that came flying out of nowhere that really served no purpose at this late juncture of the story.
The one panel featuring the return of the original Aquaman was completely random and jarring. What did this one panel scene have to do with anything else that we have been reading in Final Crisis? Morrison just hastily shoehorns this scene into this issue.
It is as if Morrison was throwing as many ideas at the wall and seeing what stuck. Scenes like this Aquaman panel only further the scatterbrained impression that many readers got of Morrison’s writing on Final Crisis.
The use of Barry Allen in Final Crisis seemed completely unnecessary for this story. And on top of it, the Barry Allen plotline was overly-convoluted just for the sake of convolution. I know that DiDio wanted Morrison to use the real Barry Allen, but Morrison had already planned to do this plotline with a Barry Allen from a multiple Earth. So my problem with the ridiculousness of this plotline would have existed no matter which Barry Allen was used.
I saw no reason at all for the two Flashes to have to race to Darkseid with the Black Racer in tow. Why did the Flashes need to lure the Black Racer over to Darkseid? If the Black Racer is the Grim Reaper for the New Gods then shouldn’t he had just known to appear and take Darkseid’s soul at the time of Darkseid’s death? After all, isn’t that what the Black Racer did with the other New Gods? I mean, he is the Grim Reaper. Collecting souls after gods die is his job. I would imagine that he would know when and where to be to collect a soul.
Morrison failed to give me any explanation of why the Flashes needed to race the Black Racer over to Darkseid. This was such a half-baked and poorly explained plotline. It seemed to lack any logic at all. And on top of it all, Darkseid does not even die after the Black Racer appears before him to collect his soul. Darkseid lingers on until almost the very end of this issue.
This was a poorly handled plot that largely served no real logical purpose. After all hype surrounding Barry Allen returning in Final Crisis it is understandable if some readers feel cheated. Barry Allen’s tiny role in Final Crisis #7 was a small pay-off.
Another problem with Final Crisis #7 was that Morrison fails to give the reader practically any explanation at all for many of the plotlines. And some of the scenes are delivered in such a fashion that they are almost incoherent. At least they were to me.
I was lost when Lord Eye’s tunnel failed and then Mister Miracle’s boom tube transported all of the Japanese heroes to Earth-51. I could not tell if Hawkman and Hawkgirl died in this scene or not. I also had no idea if the Miracle Machine brought them back to life when it restored our Earth. The same thing goes for Black Canary and Green Arrow. Are they all alive again once Superman used the Miracle Machine to wish for a happy ending?
I also got completely lost when Morrison was talking about how the heroes created a tunnel to another world that evidently worked and then failed. And then somehow the survivors are cryogenically frozen and then shrunk down and placed into what appeared to be ice trays. This part of Final Crisis #7 was the moment where Morrison seemed the most incoherent to me.
There was also the completely random insertion of the abandoned animals from Earth-35 in the scene where Mandrakk is facing off with Nix, Superman and the assembled heroes. What? Where the hell did they come from? This was totally out of nowhere.
At no point did the animals from Earth-35 appear in Final Crisis 1-6, Submit, Final Crisis: Superman Beyond or the Final Crisis Batman issues. This felt so insanely arbitrary. Of course, I was told this morning that evidently this is a continuation from some Captain Carrot mini-series that I had never heard of. Great.
Another problem with Final Crisis is that Morrison decided to employ an extremely unconventional style of storytelling. In the Newsarama interview Morrison stated:
“It’s also a deliberate attempt to show how so-called ‘rules’ can be broken to create different kinds of effects in our comics. It’s a way of using superhero comics to talk about the ‘real’ world that doesn’t rely on news headlines, mock-‘relevance’ or ‘adult’ language and imagery.”
“I found myself wondering what it would be like if comics’ storytelling stopped aping film or TV and tried a few tricks from opera, for instance. How about dense, allusive, hermetic comics that read more like poetry than prose? How about comics loaded with multiple, prismatic meanings and possibilities? Comics composed like music? In a marketplace dominated by ‘left brain’ books, I thought it might be refreshing to offer an unashamedly ‘right brain’ alternative.”
“Just as Marvel Boy in 1999 foreshadowed the storytelling trends of this last decade, Final Crisis is an attempt to predict how ‘channel-zapping’ techniques might develop as the Fifth World of the Information Age of Obama gets underway and begins to define itself in opposition to the previous generation’s ‘rules’.”
Look, I totally respect an artist for trying to push the limits of his medium. I love visionaries who attempt to break new ground in their chosen artistic field. This is what truly talented artists who care about their craft strive for. For a writer to never try something innovative or different is to become creatively stagnant and predictable. And this is the exact attitude and striving for a new method of storytelling that many great authors have possessed.
So, while I completely respect and am impressed with Morrison’s artistic aspirations I have to say that maybe Final Crisis was not the right time or place for this type of experimentation. Maybe Morrison should have explored this new style of storytelling on a Vertigo title first. Something small and niche oriented. That way Morrison could have worked on this style of storytelling and tweaked it and refined it into something more polished. Morrison could have discovered what works with this style of storytelling and what does not. And Morrison could have gotten feedback from readers about what works with this style of storytelling and what does not.
Then Morrison could have employed a more polished and refined version of this new style of storytelling on a big event like Final Crisis. The problem is that Morrison had never tried this style of storytelling and the result was a read that felt rather scatterbrained. The flow of the story was unpleasant and jarring. At times I actually wondered if I was reading a rough draft of Final Crisis rather than the final polished script.
I do not think that a big event like Final Crisis is the time to start experimenting and tinkering with a radical new artistic method of storytelling. The fact is that Final Crisis is not some niche Vertigo title. Final Crisis was DC’s big event that was going up against Secret Invasion. Comic book companies use big events to generate excitement in their comic books and to try and entice new readers to come give their titles a chance.
And this is where Final Crisis failed the most. Final Crisis is not even remotely new reader friendly. This title would be a nightmare for someone who has never read a DC comic book before. I have been reading DC comics for several decades and I still struggled my way through Final Crisis.
If I was trying to entice a new reader to give DC a chance then Final Crisis would probably be the absolutely last title I would give to that new reader. I think that new readers would read Final Crisis and then run away screaming from any DC comic book afterward. Final Crisis is just not the route to go in order to make an effort to gain new readers to the DCU. Final Crisis did nothing to make new readers view the DCU as being particularly accessible.
All right, now let’s address the ending of Final Crisis #7. Even though I thought Superman using the Miracle Machine to wish for a happy ending fit nicely with Morrison’s story theme I still had one quibble with it. Why would a happy ending consist of Superman’s supposed good friend Batman being stuck in Anthro’s world? Why wouldn’t Superman made sure that his wish entailed the Miracle Machine bringing Batman back into their reality as good as new like everything else?
Okay, now arguably the most shocking part of Final Crisis was the final scene with Anthro and Batman. I honestly have no idea what in the world Morrison is thinking. We see the rocket full of the mementos that the heroes launched into the Multiverse when our Earth was dying. And Anthro has pulled out the various mementos.
My question would be what does this do for Batman’s character? What does stranding Batman on Anthro’s world do to grow Batman’s character? What does it do to make Batman’s character cooler?
To me, Batman is a character that works the best when relatively insulated from the rest of the DCU. Batman is an urban boogeyman. His world consists of twisted psychopaths and paranoid schizophrenics wearing gruesome faces. Batman is the bump in the night.
However, Batman tends to become irrelevant when he is in stories involving Kryptonians, gods and alternate realities. I fear that this newest direction with Bruce Wayne’s character is going to be just another outrageous addition to Batman’s continuity like so many of his weird Silver Age stories. And that in the end writers that follow Morrison will simply ignore this entire direction with Bruce’s character.
Having said that, I am sure that Morrison will come up with a story that explains what is going on with Bruce Wayne and I will end up enjoying it. And that is because I just cannot quit Grant Morrison. If he writes it then more than not I will probably enjoy it.
Overall: Final Crisis #7 was an issue that will not win over critics of the first six issues of Final Crisis. Nor will Final Crisis #7 disappoint fans of the first six issues of Final Crisis. I found that Final Crisis did not give an ending that was satisfying enough compared to the previous two Crisis events. The first Crisis took away the Multiverse. The second Crisis brought back the Multiverse. On the other hand, Final Crisis only made modest tweaks to the DCU.
While the first two Crisis events had a massive impact on the DCU and all of their titles, Final Crisis has had a small impact on the DCU and practically no impact on any DC titles outside of the Batman titles. So in that sense, the ending of Final Crisis did not live up to my expectations.
I am too worn out from this review to even being to answer the question of which big event was better. Secret Invasion or Final Crisis. That is a topic for another day.