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Sunday Slugfest: Final Crisis #1 (of 7)

Posted: Sunday, June 1, 2008
By: Keith Dallas

Grant Morrison
J.G. Jones
DC Comics
Jim Beard: 4 Bullets
Christopher Power: 3 Bullets
Kevin Powers: 2 Bullets
Dave Wallace: 3 Bullets
Thom Young: 4.5 Bullets




Jim Beard 4 Bullets

I tried to sit back and read Final Crisis #1 in a Zen state; that is, I tried to read it without bringing along all the baggage of the build-up, the hype, the online teeth-gnashing, the general bull crap that clusters like barnacles on a project like this. This series deserves a fair chance and a fair review. So, here it is:

It's off to a pretty good start. Heaven's fallen, you see.

One of the main things I came away with after finishing was that Grant Morrison and DC are walking a fine line with Libra's quest to reverse the steady stream of super-villain losses. To me, such a clich้ is part and parcel of super-hero comics, something that you risk blowing apart if you mess with it. Ultimately, heroes win, bad guys lose. It's simple and it's worked for centuries. It's a very interesting thing to attempt to play with, but if Final Crisis truly reverses this "given," even for this one major event, is it a super-hero universe we'll want to read about, feel comfortable with? That's what makes this book worthwhile, the prickly feeling you get, of not knowing how things will settle once the dust clears.

That leads me to the tone here: it's not as dark as many people assumed it'd be. This book is also not as Morrison-mad as many assumed it'd be. From scene to scene we're treated to a roller coaster ride of conventional super-heroics interspersed with that special wonkiness that Grant is prone to deliver. It's a bit dark, yes, but I see the flashes of light (no pun intended) between the storm cloud, and it gives me hope. This isn't really a downer, not yet, at least. There are a few very creepy moments that are effective: the appearance of the Black Racer hanging like a crow over death, the Village of the Damned children of the Dark Side Club, the hatred-infused remarks of the super-villain protest march and the equally vicious threats of Green Arrow. There is also beauty: in the vistas of the Monitor "homeworld" and the utter loveliness of the Multiversal Orrery. I dig the idea of the Orrery the most.

In fact, that makes me think of Countdown. I was surprised at the connective tissue that was apparent here, strands of which bridge the quality gap between this series and its rough-around-the-edges retarded brother, Countdown. Morrison, in a few such references, in his use of the Monitors and the talk of the loss of Earth 51, has effectively wiped away the pain and the stain of Countdown for me.

Final Crisis #1 touches on all aspects of the DC Universe, everything from the dirty streets to the fantastic environment of the Green Lantern Corp and their cold Guardians. The scope is big, but the story so far still feels grounded in everyday emotion and pathos. Morrison knows how to juggle things, and in juggling he is able to entertain a wide spectrum of readers, in my opinion. I truly think there's something for everyone here.

And how does it look? It looks wonderful. JG Jones proves again he's not just a cover boy, but an artist who knows his way around anatomy, architecture, and anthropology. This guy can draw just about anything, so in that he is the perfect creative match for Morrison; this team defines "versatile."

There's a death here, by the way, or perhaps the beginning of one. It's not much of a shocker if you followed the hype and indulged in rumor and supposition. Is it a good death? No, it's actually fairly tame, but the interesting thing is that Libra, the death-dealer, freely admits he's not treating his victim fairly, and in that he illustrates his new, proposed status quo with one sure stroke. It's kind of a snap-shot of the issue. It doesn't look good for the good guys, 'cause the bad guys are playing dirty than ever before.

Heaven's fallen – haven't you heard?




Christopher Power: 3 Bullets

People have heard me say many times: the DC universe remains my favourite in comics. There is something mythical and almost ancient about the archetypes that they follow. In fact, one of my favourite incarnations of the Justice League is the Morrison JLA run where he had all of the archetypes of the Greek Gods on the first cover. However, during the last five years, I have become fed up with DC's inner editorial process. I am tired of universe changing events that fall apart in the last few issues. I am tired of poor writing and even worse renderings of my favourite characters. I am tired of having my favourite characters killed off simply because the current editorial team doesn't know what to do with them. I am not looking for Morrison to fix all of these past problems, but I am looking for a solid story which can act as a new starting point for going forward.

Morrison immediately dives into the past of the DCU and shows the New Gods interfering with human development. Indeed, Metron gives the greatest gift imaginable to early human beings: fire, an invention that changed humanity forever and has been used for good and ill. Anthro, the bearer of fire, chooses to become a hero himself and saves a young woman.

After seeing what is the first major interaction of the New Gods with humanity, we see the end of their interaction with our infant society with the death of Orion while the Black Racer hovers in the background. Is this the trigger of a new Crisis? It certainly seems to be, with the skies flashing red lightning. And when the skies turn red, a Crisis is upon us.

Morrison has this crime being investigated by both detectives on the ground and in the skies, which is a nice contrast. I actually found it a bit of a poke of humour at the idea of the GL Corps that it took them so long to get organized to seal the planet, and meanwhile Dan Turpin (boy, did it take me a while to find that in the archives) has the beginnings of a lead on someone who we thought was dead. I would like to see this book turn into a real mystery, and the Dan Turpin storyline may be the one that is most interesting to me.

The other major storyline is the Society being pressured to turn over their reigns to the mysterious Libra, someone who says that he/she will balance the scales for our favourite villains in the DCU (as well as some two-bit villains like the Human Flame). Unfortunately to prove this point, Morrison kills off a character in two panels that has 50 plus years of history attached to him. This feels like the death that occurred at the end of the movie Serenity where the writer (or I'm guessing the editor) decides “We need to [kill a hero, rape a hero, kill a hero's loved ones] to show we are serious this time!” The choice is usually arbitrary, with it being driven by people not knowing what to do with the character otherwise. This just took the wind out of my sails of enjoying this book.

The only scenes that did not resonate with me at all were the Monitors. I just cannot seem to get worked up over the equivalent of intergalactic politics.

J. G. Jones renders a gorgeous book. I could detail all the great aspects, but I will instead pick out just a few of the highlights. In Jones' mind, the Monitors use an amazingly clever visualization of the 52 (or is that 51?) universes of Earths. I almost want to take it and study how you could interact with such a 3D visualization given that I think it might actually have some serious usability advantages. In another part of the cosmos, Oa is depicted as far more than just a big power battery. It is a shining jewel in the universe. Contrasted with these images of advanced technology and star systems, we have Anthro standing on gorgeous unmarred landscape by the ocean. This landscape could even be the same gritty waterfront where Dan Turpin met the Question where you can almost feel the dirt under your fingertips.

I'm not happy with everything in this book, but it looks gorgeous, and with already interesting contrasts and a repeated theme of cleansing fire flowing throughout the book, I will read the next issue with a certain amount of hope, but also uncertainty.




Kevin Powers: 2 Bullets

And so here we are, DC's latest "big event," their latest "summer blockbuster," their latest Crisis. Marvel and DC set the tone for the current state of the business a few years back when they first started with the whole "annual big event" idea. I think it started with "Avengers: Disassembled" from Marvel and Identity Crisis from DC. While there wasn't really a big "blockbuster" story-arc from Marvel last summer, the "Initiative" and "Death of Captain America" filled the roles sufficiently while building to this year's Secret Invasion. DC, on the other hand, delivered one of the greatest crossover events in comic's history, "The Sinestro Corps War." Now the two "big guns" are head to head once more. Marvel is two (almost three) issues into the Skrull invasion, and DC is ready to shake things up with Final Crisis, which has a bit of a challenge ahead of it. Readers are still salivating in the aftermath of "The Sinestro Corps War" for what's coming next. Countdown, which was to lead directly into this event, was a bit of a mess and is considered a failure amongst readers and internet commentators. While it had its moments, many readers believe it failed greatly to live up to its potential. And of course, there's the competition. Marvel has readers buzzing over their "big event," making everyone question their favorite Marvel characters both living and dead. But Final Crisis has a great creative team in Grant Morrison and J.G. Jones. What could possibly go wrong? Well, as much as I really hate to say it because I do indeed love DC, a few things went wrong.

I do work for a comic book retailer. I am aware of the fact that my store sold out of Final Crisis by closing time on Wednesday. However, I noticed a pattern in the selling of Final Crisis. Sure, people came in off the streets who have never been in the store before, but by midday, I noticed that the Green Lantern cover of the issue was completely sold out and many copies of the other cover remained. In fact, people came in the rest of the day disappointed that we sold out of the Green Lantern cover and asked us to order more. It's a very intelligent marketing decision by DC: release the first issue of the latest "big event" with a cover featuring your hottest property on the same day that said property's own book is released. You're sure to grab anyone who only reads Green Lantern into at least checking out the issue. That's all well and good and a very wise move. But--and this is a very BIG but--DC forgot to put a disclaimer on the front cover mentioning the prerequisites for understanding just what the hell is going on in this issue. I've read DC all my life. I love the characters. I spent a great deal of time in high school and college reading as much as I could. Hours in the library, the store, late nights in my room, reading decades and decades worth of comics. I'm young, but I could hold my own against weathered veterans in conversation about the history of these characters and the art. And still, I have almost no clue what the hell is going on in Final Crisis.

I've read everything leading up to this, past and present: Crisis on Multiple Earths, Crisis on Infinite Earths, Justice League of America Vol.1 #111, Fourth World, Jeph Loeb's run on Superman/Batman, Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis, Seven Soldiers, 52, Lord Havok, Countdown, Death of the New Gods, and DC Universe Zero. I'm sure I am forgetting a few things, but you get the idea. I've read them all. I've studied them all and hell, I enjoyed most of them enough to read them a few times. Don't think of this as a list or a road map; it's not. The biggest problem Final Crisis has with its first issue is that new, or simply casual, readers will need the "Super Detailed Advanced PhD User's Manual for the DC Universe" to really get the full understanding of everything that is going on. And please do not tell me you don't. When people ask me what they should read to get into DC nowadays, they flee when the stack of trade paperbacks gets above ten.

But seriously, the real problem with this issue of Final Crisis is that it is going in about a million different directions. There's Libra, Kamandi, Metron, the Dark Side Club, Anthro, Barry Allen, the Alpha Lanterns, the Question, the Monitors and the death of Martian Manhunter. Now I do not doubt that these threads will come together by the end of this series. However, the cohesion in which they do so will be true test as this series is only seven issues, and as it stands right now, this book has no central plot to have any footing. The only connection I can make is the Kamandi getting fire angle to the Martian Manhunter. But you definitely need Death of the New Gods and the Monitor storyline in Countdown as a frame of reference for this issue. This issue also suffers a little bit from the fact that Salvation Run has yet to conclude. So much for Final Crisis standing alone.

Now, I'm not saying the issue is badly written. This book does have its moments. In fact, I think Morrison does a good job with each scene on its own, but they don't mesh together very well at all. The strongest scenes are the ones involving Turpin and the Question. I also liked the beginning of the Libra scene with Luthor and Vandal Savage. However, these scenes feel very brief and the transitions from point to point are rough. The super-villain meeting scene feels a bit tired, and some of it is re-hash of what has already been seen in other books. The only new offering is the supposed death of Martian Manhunter which is completely unnecessary and probably only temporary. As Morrison has stated, it's more of a "transformation." Whatever happened to the evil Martian Manhunter? The stuff with Kamandi was cool, but it feels insanely out of place thus far. The ideas with the Dark Side Club are sure to confuse readers, although it's obvious that they are the "evil gods" and Darkseid, or Boss Dark Side, has the Anti-Life equation. And let's not even get started with the horrendous Monitor angle. Okay, I can make some sense of everything happening, but the true question is: "Is all of this really necessary?" As far as I’m concerned, nothing was really broken; there was no need to fix. There is really no need for this story. There was no need to bring the multiverse back in the first place. While it offered a few fresh ideas, it has ultimately failed to have a real impact on the DC Universe as a whole.

At least there's J.G. Jones' artwork. I think it's very well done and does an excellent job trying to make sense of the mess of plot lines strewn about this issue. However, I do think it's a bit too heavy on the ink at times. I get that DC is going for a darker looks and feel yet there are times when the inks are a bit much. But other than that, I like it. I especially like the fact that the first appearance of Metron in this issue looks an awful lot like Jones himself. Maybe it's just me, but it does look quite a bit like him. One commentary I think that could be appropriate for this issue and this series is based on the style of Jones' art. Don't get me wrong, I do like his artwork. However, if this is considered the third part in the "Crisis Trilogy," the visual style is vastly different than that of George Perez and Phil Jimenez. One of the things that was so great about Infinite Crisis was that it felt like a sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths because the styles of Perez and Jimenez were similar. Jones' style is very different, and while it's still good, it doesn't really fit with the other two.

Those who have read DC for years and have followed both the major and obscure characters should have less of a problem understanding and following this issue. For new readers and casual readers of DC, this may be the straw that breaks the camel's back. This title is very inaccessible to those new readers coming in off the street and buying the Green Lantern cover of this issue. It's even going to cause headaches for those readers who really got into DC last year with "The Sinestro Corps War." I'm sure issue #2 will sell out as well, but if that doesn't bring more cohesion and a more non-DC reader friendly feel, this title may be facing certain doom.




Dave Wallace: 3 Bullets

Like a lot of Grant Morrison books, I enjoyed Final Crisis #1 more the second time I read it.

On a first read, I found the book quite frustrating and impenetrable. There aren't any potted character introductions for anyone like me who isn't very familiar with the DC Universe, and there's no recap of events in the DCU up to this point. Instead, we're thrown straight into Morrison's story and expected to keep up with all manner of plot points that appear to be firmly rooted in established DC concepts. At first, I found this approach off-putting, as I couldn't help but feel that I was missing out on important details due to my lack of knowledge of many of the characters involved. I don't know much about Jack Kirby's New Gods, and I certainly don't have much of an idea of how they relate to the DCU's history. The same is true of the Monitors who appear towards the end of the issue, and of all manner of secondary characters that populate the issue.

However, on a second read, I got slightly more enjoyment out of the book. Whilst it's true that not every element of the book will be comprehensible to readers who aren't well-versed in DC lore, I realised that all of the essential information you need to understand the basic story is included. It doesn't really matter that I don't know who The Question is, or that I'm not familiar with the Detective, Turpin, whose investigation into an apparently run-of-the-mill abduction case leads him to a confrontation with Darkseid - because I don't get a strong sense that their histories are particularly important to the way that Morrison is using them here. Yes, there are occasions where I feel like I'm missing something (for example, who's that figure in the background of Turpin's early scenes - the armoured character with ski-blades for feet? Is his appearance significant?), but for the most part, my lack of prior knowledge didn't bother me too much when I read the book for a second time.

In fact, I've made a conscious decision to try and enjoy this book on its own merits, with a minimum of background research, because even the books that DC have promoted as providing a good lead-in for the series haven't helped me to make sense of these unknown elements (for example, bar the few pages involving Libra, none of the DC Universe #0 "primer" one-shot seems to be at all relevant to this issue). Indeed, Morrison's recent admission that he wrote the first Final Crisis script in 2006 (and his implications that DC editorial haven't done a very good job in lining up elements of continuity in order to make this story slot smoothly into the landscape of the current DCU) suggests that it might be best to ignore the details of current DC continuity and try and view this book as a separate story altogether.

Unfortunately, for readers like me who are coming to the book "cold," it doesn't help that the story is so ambitious in scope that there's little time to really flesh out any of the characters or story threads in this first issue. From the opening sequence that introduces some of the major themes of the book – the self-destructive nature of man and his relationship with his gods – to the scenes involving the Monitors and the multiversal orrery, there's a strong sense that Morrison is providing an all-encompassing view of the DC Universe's past, present and future. However, it feels as though it comes at the expense of a focused story that's easy to get to grips with, with very few hooks that will enable casual readers to invest in the epic conflict that looks to be brewing. Even the issue's most talked-about plot point – the apparent murder of the Martian Manhunter – is given very little time to make an impression, with the killing dealt with unceremoniously in a single page, undermining the impact of a development that could have felt far more significant if it had been handled differently.

Despite the sprawling narrative and the larger-than-life trappings of the story, though, Morrison does manage to create some relatable human drama in places. I enjoyed the first glimpses of the newly-emotional relationships between the Monitors, and I look forward to seeing how the Monitor that is banished to Earth at the end of the issue adapts to his new situation. I also enjoyed the way that Morrison framed the investigation of Orion's murder as a police procedural drama, with the handling of the case by the Green Lantern Corps feeling like something out of CSI ("Seal the crime scene out to the planet's LaGrange point. No one must enter or leave the gravity well." "Dust for radiation prints. Interrogate all potential suspects"). The plot thread involving Libra's new society of super-villains is fairly immediate and accessible, too – although that might be because of its familiarity, feeling oddly similar to what Brian Bendis did with the Hood in a recent story arc of New Avengers. There are also a couple of quite humourous moments, such as the super-villain demonstration against vigilante brutality, or the banter between Dr. Light and the Mirror Master as they attempt to recover Metron's chair.

JG Jones provides the artwork for the book, and whilst I don't think his art is bad by any means, I'm not as in love with his visuals as some people seem to be. That said, he's obviously a competent artist who's capable of delivering some memorable visuals, such as the neat design of the multiversal orrery that we see this issue. His storytelling is clear enough that Morrison can allow a lot of elements of the story go completely unreferenced by the dialogue, and to be conveyed purely through his artwork. There's a lot of detail and subtlety to be found in the colouring too, with shading that reminds me a little of the ink wash technique that Tony Harris has been using on Ex Machina lately. Whether it's Jones or colourist Alex Sinclair who's responsible for this element of the art, it really works to give the pages a sense of depth and dimensionality.

As with all Morrison books, Final Crisis looks as though it's going to require some effort on the part of the reader to engage with his ideas. However, this first issue just doesn't provide enough meat for a casual DC reader like me to really invest in the story, or even to fully grasp the ideas that Morrison is dealing with. There's very little sense of overall coherence yet, and few hints as to where this is all going. Since this is only the opening chapter of a seven-part story, I'm willing to give the book another chance to convince me that there's a story here that's worth following, but this certainly isn't the impressive, arresting opener that you might expect for a big crossover title.




Thom Young: 4.5 Bullets

After much hype, Final Crisis is finally here. The obvious problem with a lot of hype is that it becomes almost impossible for the work to live up to the expectations that the hype helped create. Fortunately, I tried not to get too caught up in it. However, it was very difficult since I'm a longtime reader of both DC Comics and the works of Grant Morrison (and, too, because the hype was everywhere within the online comics community).

One of the ways that I tried to avoid the hype was that I stopped reading Countdown to Final Crisis when it was still just simply Countdown. I think my last issue of Countdown was #39 or #38--except for reading issue #5, which I bought to see how Jack Kirby's Kamandi #1 was going to be incorporated into the story (the answer is that it wasn't, not really, but with 52 parallel Earths in the DC Multiverse you can always explain inconsistencies between the stories as "parallel Earth versions of events").

And that brings us to the obvious inconsistency between Final Crisis #1, Death of the New Gods, and Countdown to Final Crisis #2 (which I just finished reading about an hour before typing this sentence). The problem that I'm 90% certain some readers are going to complain about is the revolving door death of Orion of the New Gods.

In my original draft of this review, I devoted 920 words to detailing the problems between the three series regarding Orion's death. However, in his Solomon-like wisdom, my editor asked me to cut my review in half--so now those 920 words can be found HERE.

Anyway, Final Crisis #1 opens with a full-page image of Anthro, the First Boy on Earth (he's not really the first boy, but go with it) being startled by . . . something or someone off panel who says (albeit telepathically), "Man."

Of course, the name "Anthro" comes from the Greek word anthrōpos, which means man--and so the telepathic balloon on the page containing the word Man is simultaneously a salutation, a description of the species we're seeing, and a translation of the boy's name.

That opening full-page image is really a very beautiful illustration that shows Anthro on some rocks overlooking an ocean as a herd of deer that he was probably hunting scamper off into the background. Turn the page, and the next image is even better.

It's a two-page spread of Anthro facing Metron of the New Gods--with Metron's telepathic balloon explaining, "I am Metron." This picture by J.G. Jones is a beautiful image of a Cro-Magnon man (Anthro) confronting a god (Metron).

Obviously, there is a great deal of mythological (and anthropological) significance in this image--and even the intrusion of the telepathic balloon that would be a disruption of the picture in most comic books actually adds to the layers of meaning that Morrison and Jones capture in this single image and those three little words of "I am Metron."

In fact, on these first three pages of only two pictures, I believe Morrison was very selective with the four words he chose to use. I also believe Morrison was very precise with which New God he used--though, as the god of knowledge, Metron is an obvious choice for this scene. (Jack Kirby also gave Metron a very significant name--particularly for Morrison's purpose here.)

"Man, I am Metron" is as rich in meaning as "Call me Ishmael" (the opening line in Moby-Dick). Actually, it's even richer in meaning.

The Christian Bible was originally written in two languages: Hebrew for the Old Testament and Greek for the New Testament. Both of those languages are significant within Morrison's opening scene.

In Hebrew, the Tetragrammaton YHWH (or Yahweh, the name of the Hebrew god in the Old Testament ) translates as "I am." Thus, Metron is essentially saying to Anthro, "Yahweh Metron"--similar to the way that God replied to Moses in Exodus 3:13-14:
And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
The Hebrew text actually has God saying, "YHWH ASR YHWH"--or "Yahweh asher Yahweh" ("I am that I am").

In essence, then, Morrison has Metron saying unto Anthro, "Yahweh Metron"--which would translate out of the Hebrew and Greek as "I am the measure" since metron is the Greek word for measure or meter (as I'm sure Kirby knew when he named his New God of Knowledge).

However, the fact that it's Metron saying this to Anthro also calls to mind the motto of the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Protagoras (about 490–420 BC), "Anthrōpos metron"--which translates as "Man is the measure (of all things)."

Of all the writers working in comics today, Morrison is one of the few (with Alan Moore being another obvious choice) who would play with these meanings within a rich mythological scene in which a Cro-Magnon youth has a literal epiphany by meeting a god who essentially says, "Anthro (Adam), Yahweh Metron" or "Man, I am the Measure"--as in God is the measure of Man, or that to which humans must aspire.

What's more is that Jones presents this meeting in two beautifully illustrated pictures that actually forms a sort of triptych across three pages. This is an astounding artistic achievement, and so Final Crisis had me from the moment I saw those first three pages.

Sure these two images by Jones could have been presented as merely two panels on a single page that contained an additional four panels (such as those found on page four). However, this moment between Anthro and Metron is of such mythic importance, and contains such a significant subtext, that it deserves this full-page and double-page treatment.

Then, on the fourth page, Metron imparts knowledge to Anthro--just as Yahweh imparted knowledge to Moses. In fact, the last panel on page four shows Anthro standing next to "a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush," just as Moses stood next to the burning bush in Exodus 3:2-4.

The fifth page is another full-page image--this time it is of Anthro's Cro-Magnon tribe engaged in a battle with a Neanderthal tribe--and I suspect the Neanderthal in the center of the picture is none other than Vandar Adg, who in DC continuity achieved immortality and increased intellect after being irradiated by a meteor.

Now, you might jump on that idea of Vandar Adg eventually being irradiated by a meteor and think that this is a parallel to Anthro meeting Metron (that's what I initially thought anyway)--and it might well be that Morrison is playing with the language in this way.

Unfortunately, though, metron (or meter) is not etymologically related to meteor, which is derived from the Greek word mater (or mother)--which means the meteor was the mother to the Neanderthal who became Vandal Savage.

Still, if the Neanderthal attacking Anthro's tribe is Vandar Adg (or Vandal Savage, who appears later in the story in his current guise with the Society of Super-Villains), then the sub-textual play on words is there to enjoy.

Additionally (and somewhat ironically) the species of hominid known as "Neanderthal" didn't receive that name because they were the "new men"--which is what "neander" means ("neo-anthro"). Rather, the first fossils of that species were found in the Neander Valley in Germany--which, of course, means "Valley of the New Men." Thus Vandar Adg could have received his intellect and immortality in the Valley of the New Men.

Anyway, at this early point in the story it seems that the knowledge that Metron gave Anthro was the gift of fire (such as Prometheus stole from Zeus in Greek mythology). In fact, Anthro then uses fire (undoubtedly taken from the burning bush) to drive off the Neanderthals invading his tribe.

Later, though, we see Anthro drawing a Kirby-esque design in the sand (next to a fire over which he's cooking a large bird or rabbit impaled on a spit). We don't know what this Kirby-esque design is.

However, at that moment, Anthro suddenly has a vision of (or there is a temporal gateway that allows him to see) Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth, who tells Anthro that "we" need the "weapon against the gods" that Metron gave to Anthro.

Obviously, Metron gave Anthro more than just the knowledge of fire.

However, getting back to the fire that Anthro used to drive off the Neanderthals--that scene segued into Dan Turpin (one of the original characters from Kirby's New Gods) lighting a cigarette (though it should be a cigar) and thinking that the invention of fire was humanity's first mistake (because it led to the development of more destructive technology).

Turpin then discovers Orion lying near death in a pile of rubbish, and he reaches out his hand to touch him. However, Turpin's hand is burned after it makes physical contact with a deity. Yet that touch also seems to be what revived Orion for a moment so that he could impart cryptic information to Turpin--namely, that the New Gods are still alive but are manifesting themselves in human bodies.

Thus, we have a sort of reversal of the opening scene. First we have the New God of Knowledge, Metron, touching Anthro to dispense knowledge to humanity. Now we have Turpin touching Orion, the New God of War, as a "laying on of hands" that temporarily revives the god (though it burns the man's hand to do so). Significant images and motifs of this sort are scattered throughout the issue, and they demonstrate the careful planning that Morrison put into this project to provide a rich reading experience through layered subtexts.

While, Turpin doesn't know it, the revelation he received from the revived Orion is connected to the case of six missing children that he is working on as he is unknowingly investigating the transmigration of the souls of the New Gods into mortal forms at the Dark Side Club. Similarly, Libra (a villain who was once "one with the universe") has taken corporeal form to bring religion to DC's supervillain community.

This is an intriguing opening chapter that is rich in religious allusions and motifs. It's a stunning piece of work when taken on its own--separated from any of the lead-in series that DC tried to convince fans were necessary and significant. I highly recommend Final Crisis as long as you forget any of the crap that DC put out as a countdown to or build-up of this series.



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