3 Feb 2009

Cover To Cover: FINAL CRISIS #7

Review by James R

Writer: Grant Morrison
Art: Doug Mahnke & Various

DC $3.99

Cast your minds back for a second to 2005. The London Bombings, the election of a new Pope, Hurricane Katrina – you remember, I’m sure. 2005 also saw the launch of a new miniseries by Grant Morrison. Epic in scale, confusing in places, relying on Kirby’s New Gods… sound familiar? 7 Soldiers of Victory inspired and annoyed in pretty much equal measure, with readers split between those who claim Morrison was writing dense, pretentious waffle, and those who felt that he was trying something new and interesting with comics.

Flash forward to the brave new world of 2009, and it’s déjà vu all over again. The last part of Morrison’s Final Crisis shipped last week, and yet again fans and bloggers around the globe were split between those who proclaimed it a triumph, and those who called it… well, something less kind. So, is it worth reading? Does it redeem DC’s recent dire run of books? Well, depends on what you’re willing to shell over $3.99 for.

If we make the inevitable comparison to Marvel’s event book Secret Invasion, it’s outstanding. Morrison pitches a multiverse of characters against the villainous Darkseid, and, without giving too much away, it’s about the triumph of hope over despair, an
d the power of us mere mortals to envisage a God or a Superman. Put that up against, well Norman Osborn shooting a Skrull Queen with a great big gun… and let’s face it, Final Crisis packs far more of a punch, with a philosophical headbutt for good measure.

But here’s the rub – its strength is also its weakness. Morrison has expressed shock that people have struggled to understand what’s going on in Final Crisis. On one hand, I can sympathise with him; I’m sure if you’ve watched a documentary on a commercial channel recently, you would have noticed the annoying trend of recapping and spelling out in CAPITAL LETTERS the information from before the commercial break. Grrr. Conversely, I’m sure it must be annoying to be critiqued for not writing characters who provide a commentary on their lives and struggles. On the other hand, Morrison has a habit for assuming his readers will fill in some major blanks – in this issue, even though it’s only for two panels, it seems that Green Arrow somehow has shaken off the Anti-Life equation. Black Canary slapped him last issue, but… was that it? It might be a small gripe, but the annoying thing is that Morrison can do it – We3, his JLA run, Doom Patrol – I could go on. His justification is that his style represents our channel-surfing culture, with MTV 30-second attention spans. Well, that’s all well and good, but TV and comics are not the same medium, and the two have different dynamics.

I’m digressing a little here – I still haven’t told you if it’s worth a read. As a man who nominal prefers Marvel to DC, but has a large soft hectare for the Distinguished Competition, I still found this an involving read that, when I finished it, made me pick the previous five up and re-read them again. There I found the message about hope and despair and a story which itself is about the power of language and stories – from the Anti-Life equation to the cave paintings of Kamandi and - well, I won’t ruin for you. So, if you like a comic that demands that you stop and think and re-read it in order to get the most out of it, then go for it, or pick it up in a trade. Just don’t ask me to describe what the hell happens in it though, ok?! (And next summer, prepare yourself for DC’s Secret White Martian Invasion featuring a resurrected J’onn J’onzz with a great big gun and a new hat. Or something.) 8/10


Matt Clark said...

I'd love to have been able to see what James R saw in this mini, but it wasn't there for me and I can't imagine I'll ever look at this again.

Tim Knight said...

Thank you James for summing up this mini-series in a far more succinct and erudite way than I ever could.

I'm looking forward to rereading the whole saga as one entity at some stage in the hope that I can come away from it with a better understanding.

Tom P said...

Is it so hard to write an event book as great as Identity Crisis was? That was bloody amazing and it didn't make you feel like your an idiot.

Have yet to read FINAL was waiting for trade, but you seem to get this comic or feel quite angry with it. And i hate frustrateing read so i feel a bit put off. still angry at D.C for Countdown that's 51 issues of my life i will never see again...