Comic Book Review: Final Crisis: Requiem #1

The Revolution is enjoying Final Crisis, so I figured that I would sample some of DC’s Final Crisis tie-in issues. Hopefully, DC can deliver tie-in issues that are as entertaining as the Secret Invasion tie-in issues that Marvel has given us. Final Crisis: Requiem #1 deals with the death of Martian Manhunter. I have always loved J’onn’s character and I am looking forward to what hopefully will be a fitting send off for our favorite Choco-chomping Martian. Let’s go ahead and hit this review for Final Crisis: Requiem #1.

Creative Team
Writer: Peter Tomasi
Pencils: Doug Mahnke
Inks: Christian Alamy

Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 10 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with the present with all the heroes on Mars with Superman finishing his eulogy of J’onn. We see our stone faced heroes stand there in silence. We cut back in time to the abandoned strip club where Libra and all the villains were meeting during Final Crisis #1. We see Dr. Light and Effigy handling the captured Martian Manhunter. J’onn has been punctured with hundreds of pyro-tranq darts courtesy of Effigy.

Dr. Light tells Effigy that Libra wants J’onn upstairs. Effigy says that J’onn has absorbed 99% of the tranqs and that his strength and telepathy should be out of commission. The villains lift up J’onn and carry him upstairs to where Libra is meeting with the villains. Libra then stabs J’onn through the chest with his lance.

J’onn suddenly begins thrashing and trying to fight back even though he is massively drugged. J’onn punches Libra and sends Libra flying. J’onn then tears into the villains. Suddenly, we see J’onn’s “super-friends” bust into the joint. Batman, Superman, Captain Marvel, Aquaman, Elongated Man, Hal Jordan and Flash immediately begin kicking ass on the villains.

Superman rips out Lex’s heart. Hal kills Effigy. Flash vibrates Grodd to death. Captain Marvel force feeds Sivana a bunch of worms. Elongated Man crushes Dr. Light to death. And Batman proceeds to play tonsil hockey with a hot female villainess? (Wow, I don’t know what to say. I did not see that coming.)

Suddenly, we cut back to Libra twisting his staff even deeper into J’onn’s torso. Libra tells the villains that J’onn has manipulated the villains’ minds while J’onn sought to make an escape. J’onn then reaches up and grabs Libra by the throat and begins to choke Libra. Effigy and Dr. Light then team up and blast J’onn at the same time.

J’onn collapses back to the ground. The villains all stand around J’onn and stare down at our hero. J’onn says that the villains will fail. That defeat is Libra’s destiny. Now and forever. Libra then proceeds to take a knife from Vandal Savage and stab J’onn with it and kill him.

We see J’onn sending out a telepathic burst at the moment of his death. We cut to multiple panel shots of Superman, Batman, Black Canary and Hal Jordan suddenly grabbing their heads as they receive J’onn’s telepathic burst. These characters then notice that they are glowing with fire.

We cut back to Libra and the villains standing over J’onn’s corpse. We slide over to Nightwing patrolling the streets of New York. Nightwing is listening to a police scanner while on his patrol and hears of a level one omega alert at the Rose Center for Earth and Space. Nightwing goes to the space center and sees J’onn’s corpse impaled on the model of Mars.

We shift to the Hall of Justice and see Hal Jordan and Ollie Queen standing next to J’onn’s corpse. J’onn has been placed in a room that has pictures of every incarnation of the Justice League of America. Hal says “Look how they slaughtered our friend.” Hal mentions that he cannot bring himself to close J’onn’s eyes. That if he did that then it would make this death real and final.

Hal said that J’onn’s last second telepathic burst was J’onn saying goodbye. That the bastards who killed him didn’t give him a chance to finish. Hal says that there has been a lot of blood spilled and that they have lost so many to the villains. Hal spits that if the villains where here right now that he would incinerate them all.

Ollie answers that Hal would not do that. That not killing is what separates the heroes from the villains. Ollie then adds that torturing the villains before turning them into the police would be acceptable.

Ollie tells Hal that J’onn is dead and that it is their job to carry the light and chase the shadows away like J’onn would have wanted them to. Ollie says that J’onn was his favorite Martian. Hal says “Mine too.”

We cut to Wayne Manor where we see Bruce suddenly getting up out of bed and begin talking in Martian. Bruce then switches over to English and then sleepwalks to the Batcave. Bruce is still asleep and is receiving a telepathic message downloaded into his brain by J’onn. J’onn’s message says that his people use their telepathic abilities to pass their memories from one generation to the next. That this virtual history allows them to experience and learn from those who have come before them. Bruce sits down at the Batcomputer and begins type up J’onn’s story.

We cut to Superman flying in his sleep all the way to the Fortress of Solitude. Superman is receiving the same telepathic message from J’onn. Superman begins to record J’onn’s story on the computer at the Fortress of Solitude. We see Hal Jordan having the same telepathic message. Hal records J’onn’s story into his power ring. We see Black Canary sitting at the meeting table of the JLA’s very first headquarters located at Happy Harbor in Rhode Island. Black Canary is busy writing in a journal J’onn’s story. We see Gypsy receiving J’onn’s telepathic message and recording J’onn’s story on a tape recorder.

We get the history of J’onn from his childhood on Mars to his brother turning evil and killing all of the Martians. We learn about J’onn’s arrival on Earth and his contact with humans. We learn how J’onn’s ability to assume any the shape of any sex or race of human helped him to gain great insight into the human race. We learn about J’onn’s meeting Earth’s heroes and joining the first incarnation of the JLA. We see the events of the original Crisis on Infinite Earths. We then see the events of 52 and then arrive to J’onn’s life just before he died.

We cut to the Hall of Justice where Gypsy and Ice are standing next to J’onn’s body. Gypsy comments how J’onn was like a father to her. Gypsy says that J’onn would never let her beat him at chess. That she always had to earn it. But where she did win then J’onn would share his cookies with me. Ice comments that J’onn’s weakness was not fire. It was Chocos.

We cut to the Gobi desert where Superman lifts up a pyramid and flies it into space. We Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner and John Stewart having created large green transports for all the various heroes. The Lanterns follow Superman to Mars.

We cut to the present with the Lanterns leaving Mars and transporting all of the heroes who attended back the funeral back to Earth. The only people left at J’onn’s tomb are Batman, Superman, Hal Jordan, Black Canary and Gypsy. Superman mentions how J’onn entrusted the five of them with the incredible responsibility in his last moments of life. That they are not just the caretakers of J’onn’s personal history. That they are the caretakers for a lost race and a lost planet.

Superman says that J’onn made sure that the five of them transcribed his history in their sleep. That for a telepath love is of the mind as well as the heart and body. Superman says that J’onn was the League. That J’onn embodied all that is good about it perhaps more than any of them. Superman says that J’onn will live on in their hearts and minds forever. Superman then placed a book on J’onn’s casket. The title of the books is “Mars: A History by J’onn J’onzz.

Superman, Hal, Dinah and Gypsy then leave the room. Only Batman, with his cowl off, remains in the room. Batman reaches out to J’onn’s casket and placed a Choco on top of the casket. Batman says “Goodbye, old friend.” Batman puts his cowl back over his face and walks out of the room. We see a picture of J’onn’s spirit holding his child and with his wife by his side. End of issue.

The Good: Wow. I am actually at a loss for words at the moment. I’m still trying to get my eyes to stop misting. Final Crisis: Requiem #1 was a beautiful read. Tomasi delivers an incredibly poignant and emotional tribute to the Martian Manhunter. I am surprised at how Tomasi was able to craft such a wonderful and fitting send off to Martian Manhunter in such a somber, reverent and moving manner. And what was so impressive is that Tomasi managed to do so in a fashion that never came across as cheesy, melodramatic or clichéd.

Tomasi hammered out some amazing dialogue. Tomasi shows such a deft feel for the various characters and delivers some powerful dialogue that is retrained at moments and genuinely heartfelt at other moments. The dialogue had a fantastic flow and made this issue a joy to read.

The character work in Final Crisis: Requiem #1 was outstanding. Each character’s response to J’onn’s death was so touching and realistic. The emotion that poured forth from the various characters easily sucked the reader into the story and caused the reader to feel the characters’ pain, anger and sorrow. The reader gets such a magnificent feeling for J’onn’s sweet and gentle personality in how the various characters speak of him.

Tomasi also conveys the fact that J’onn was unmatched in terms of his integrity and his strong moral compass. Tomasi brilliantly shows how J’onn served as the conscience for his teammates and always was able to bring the best out of a person. This was crucial for Tomasi to pull off in this issue since J’onn has always served as the conscience for the JLA no matter who the other members of the team were.

The scene at the Hall of Justice with Hal and Ollie standing by J’onn’s body was perfectly crafted. The reader gets a nice view of pictures on the wall of every single incarnation of the Justice League of America. It becomes obvious that J’onn is the only character that was a member of all these different incarnations. This was a beautifully subtle manner in which to reinforce the fact that J’onn was truly the heart and soul of the Justice League of America.

I found J’onn’s death to be perfectly done. This was not a lame death like Ted Kord’s where he went out like a bitch. J’onn went out like a true hero. Tomasi shows how J’onn refused to ever stop fighting and went out like a wounded lion.

Tomasi did an excellent job emphasizes the cowardly nature of these villains. J’onn is massively drugged and then ganged up on by multiple villains. And still it was a struggle for the villains to kill J’onn. The despicable and gutless manner in which the villains kill J’onn cements their roles in Final Crisis as craven villains.

I liked how at the moment of his death, J’onn sent a telepathic burst out to the JLA members who were the closest to him. This was a powerful scene. I also enjoyed that Tomasi had J’onn telepathically download his own personal history and the history of his Martian people into the minds of his five closest JLA teammates.

Tomasi did a fine job with the five characters that he chose for this honor. Superman and Batman were logical choices. Hal, a fellow original JLA member, and Black Canary, another pillar in the legacy of the JLA were also good choices. And the selection of Gypsy from the JLI was brilliant. This showed nice research by Tomasi to recognize that despite the JLI not being the most popular version of the League and the fact that Gypsy is a minor character, the fact remains that she shared a very close bond with J’onn.

And I will admit this right now that the final page of Final Crisis: Requiem #1 got me all choked up. That’s right, I got misty eyed when Batman stood by himself next to J’onn’s casket and placed a Choco on the top of the casket. It felt like my heart was breaking. What a tender moment from a character that has notoriously been a cold and stand-offish person. This was such a powerful ending. Tomasi managed to pull off a perfect ending to this issue.

Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy combine to deliver some gorgeous artwork. Mahnke does an amazing job conveying the cowardice and violence of J’onn’s death. Murder is always ugly and Mahnke captures that perfectly. J’onn’s death scene was incredibly powerful and visually stunning.

Mahnke also pulls of a spectacular job conveying the emotions of the various characters. This is what helped to pull the reader in so deeply into the story and get the reader to feel the raw emotions of the various characters. I also loved the panel where Superman lifts up the pyramid. Mahnke gives the reader a wonderful sense of the massive effort that Superman puts into this physical feat.

The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue. However, if you are not a fan of Martian Manhunter or a fan of the Justice League of America then much of the impact of Final Crisis: Requiem #1 will be lost on you.

Overall: Final Crisis: Requiem #1 was a gem of a read. Tomasi and Mahnke combine to deliver a proper send-off that was completely fitting to a character as classy and loveable as J’onn. I will miss Martian Manhunter, but I appreciate the excellent manner in which Tomasi handled J’onn’s death. This issue is without a doubt an incredible tie-in issue. This might be the best tie-in issue to a mega-event that I have read in a very long time.

12 thoughts on “Comic Book Review: Final Crisis: Requiem #1

  1. Regarding “the bad”, I think you’re wrong about the impact being lost on people who aren’t a fan of J’onn or the JLA. I have no particular like or dislike for Martian Manhunter and his death didn’t even phase me in Final Crisis #1 and there was no outrage or crying from me. Just didn’t care.

    After reading Requiem, I can’t believe the big green guy is gone. Few comics have touched me or made me care about a character as much as Requiem has done and I dont think any comic fan, J’onn or JLA hater alike, that wouldn’t enjoy the issue.

    Otherwise, great review as always.

  2. Sounds like a wonderfully done send-off for a character. I do wonder if it was a bit of a cheat to have the death in Final Crisis not include any hint that a dramatic telepathic fight took place, and then show events so differently here, but I do like the idea of sending Martian history to trusted friends. That was cool.

    What, no Booster review this week?

  3. im not a fan of martian manhunter but this comic made me care for him. it was respectful of the character and can be read without reading the garbage that morrison is spewing out at the main final crisis book. if fact it will probably be more enjoyable if you havent read that pretentious trash.nothing in this comic will confuse you as it is very well paced and executed.

  4. Hi Rokk,
    Okay, usually I am not a fan of Peter Tomasi, I do not really like the GL Corps, or Nightwing, and I was not too excited when I read that he was doing this issue. But he proved me wrong, he delivered one of the best emotional stories in the DCU universe in the last few years. This issue was not about action as much, as it was about telling a great emotional story. This also reminded me of identity crisis (my favorite DCU universe story). Just like Identity crisis it explored the emotions that arise when someone who is generally loved by the DCU dies. I mean a story like this could only be achieved when someone like Sue Dibney, Martian Manhunter or Superman dies. I don’t think the same type of story could be written if Batman were to die.

  5. Why DC doesn’t put Mahnke on a regular title…I’ll never know.

    The guy is phenomenal and deserves much wider recognition than he’s getting.

    This issue proves that in spades.

  6. ::sigh:: Not only is this sad, but annoying. I’m getting sick of writers thinking that the only way to “shock” or “get the attention of” readers is to kill off a well known character. Think back to Capt. America. I have never liked the way ANY superhero has come back from the dead. I agree with you Rokk.. I hope a GOOD writer comes along and writes a sweet comeback story for J’onn.

  7. I totally agree with Kirk. I was never a fan of J’onn, I didn’t dislike him, just didn’t care, but the issue had alot of impact on me.

    Hell, my eyes kinda watered a little reading the scene with Bruce and the chocos.

    Issue of the year so far, and by far, I might add.


  8. There is a definite trend that some of the tie-ins to Secret Invasion and Final Crisis are more engaging than the event itself.

    Sometimes I feel like just buying the tie-ins and skipping the main event. As a whole they focus more on character development and motivation than the main events which are more plot driven.

  9. As a longtime fan of the JLI, the Choco scene had me tearing up as well.

    And Batman is taking care of Talia. Good show, Bruce!

  10. Anonymous Jones said:

    I’m mad at DC for killing the Martian Manhunter. I’m mad at them because they could never properly uncap the massive potential this character had. This character never had a real chance to grow inside readers and develop a strong fan base.

    It’s no wonder why so many readers don’t even care about his death.

    Beside from a few appearances in the 40’s and 50’s, his sporadic reappearances during the 70’s and 80’s and his sad role as the cornerstone of the JL in all of its incarnations -don’t forget the sad and ridiculous ones- DC Comics never really showed any interest or craftsmanship when it came to dealing with him.

    They didn’t want any character to cast a shadow or pose a treat to Superman. Look at how they have handled not only his career but also Captain Marvel’s. The cartoon series is the best example.

    MM was the Swiss knife of superheroes, he even was a shape shifter and a telepath.

    DC, or to be more precise, TIME-Warner never cared about any characters besides from Superman and Batman. The success of the Iron Man movie has proven that their vision is neither pragmatic nor business wise. Things are too burocratic and perhaps even hostile for ideas inside Time-Warner, every time they have sales problems they kill one of their major characters. DC-Time-Warner executives have killed and ended more superhero careers than any other supervillain.

    The multiverse is the best example of this Creativity Crisis in The DC Universe. Although it has its dear and exciting elements, it’s basically a variation or variations of the same characters.

    Also, DC is full of contradictions, on one side they don’t give MM the treatment he and his powers deserve and on the other they give new and boring characters their own titles and expect all of us to like them. The result: red numbers and angry readers.

    There’s a lot to learn from Marvel Comics, they are great at handling characters careers. The Marvel Method consists of first introducing a character into a really cool superteam, working on his/her mystic and after a decade or so that character has a polished look, an interesting story and a fan base.

    As I said before, every time DC has a problem with a character they killed him, also, every time they want to bring fans into a boring title they bring Batman or Superman into it.

    MM death was a hard blow for me, so I would like to make some questions to the DC-Time-Warner executives:

    Is your Creativity Crisis really this bad?
    How many Flashes or Supermen do you want us to swallow?

    Did you really had no other choice than to kill, MM, Firestorm (R. Raymond), Starman (Paython), Orion, the Ray, Aztec and Azrael?

    Was it really necessary to keep Billy Batson as an eternal kid or to send him to the other side of the universe so he could be replaced by someone with half of his powers and who poses no treat to Superman? Did Superman paid you to do this, is he behind all this?

    Is it possible for you to create a superhero team whose name does not sound like a syndicate?

    How about: The Powerhouse?

    And how about if you integrated with the original Firestorm, Captain Atom, Metamorpho, Guy Gardner or Kyle (GL), Orion, the Ray, Aztec, Steel, Maxima, Supergirl, Black Adam, Dr. Fate, Elongated Man, Starman (W. Payton) and J’onn.

    How about it?

    I leave you this idea; now let’s see if they can exercise their imaginations, let’s see if they are up to the challenge of making this characters more than just secondary actors or extras.

    Final words about this issue: Great issue but bad policy.

    Requiem for the Martian Manhunter and all that he could have been.

    Requiem for creativity indeed.

  11. Anonymous Jones said:

    Rokk Krinn, I appreciate your comments, thank you.

    I agree with you, a very well written issue does not compensate for the mishandling of a great character like J’onn. As I said before, the Martian Manhunter hasn’t been the only victim of the DC executives and dry and uninspired writers. I’m afraid that he won’t be the last.

    The 90’s was the saddest decade for DC comics and this one, in spite of the great work they have done with the Green Lantern and JSA titles, may be the decade of missed opportunities (Firestorm, Blue Beetle, Captain Marvel, MM, etc.).

    I’m tired of seeing DC taking a beating and not even trying to hit back at Marvel.

    What if marvel had owned the Martian Manhunter, can you imagine just how different things would have been for him?

    Will this Creativity Crisis ever end?

    DC may own the archetypes but unlike Marvel they are definitely short on ideas.

    Brother, can you spare a dime for my friends?

    Great issue and a very good and lucid review, but as I said, a very bad DC policy.

    I wish this never happened.

  12. J’onn J’onzz was always the heart and soul of the JLA. Superman? in my opinion, it’s only a part -time member. Wonder Woman? Come and goes. Batman? He has almost destroyed the league 3 times. He has always been a rock for the other members when they needed help.

    Nobody fought harder or suffered more than J’onn in the League. Even seeing a whole team destroyed.

    I felt despised when the so-called triad decided who would be the next League. Where was J’onn? Batman should have been expulsed for the Brother Eye fiasco. And all three were responable for disolving the JLA just before the crisis.

    I hate to think they have killed the MM ony becouse he is considered expendable. Great error.

    And his death… Stabed in the heart? Pleease. He has survived being tortured by the white martians, the re-entry from space, fights with Despero… And is a metamorph, so his heart is where he wants.

    In the other side, his funeral lacks more public presence. Like the UN making him “adoptive son” of Earth, o something. And all the countries making him a citizen, or the like.

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