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Sunday Slugfest: Final Crisis #7

Posted: Sunday, February 1, 2009
By: Thom Young

Grant Morrison
Doug Mahnke (p) with various inkers and various colorists
DC Comics
The final chapter of the seven-part last crisis for the DC multiverse concludes with an apocalyptic battle for the salvation of 52 universes.

Dave Wallace:

Chris Murman:

Paul Brian McCoy:

Kyle Garret:

Dave Wallace:

After reading Final Crisis #7, I decided to go all the way back to issue #1 and re-read the series through in its entirety. In doing so, I was able to better appreciate the intricate collage of the DC Universe that Morrison has put together with this series, and what a satisfying conclusion issue #7 is to the series as a whole.

Morrison's detractors have made much of the book's frenetic pacing over the past couple of issues. Some readers seem to find the writer's "channel zapping" approach quite off-putting, complaining that it made the book difficult to connect with emotionally, and hard to follow. However, reading the past couple of issues in the context of the series as a whole, it's possible to see how Morrison has carefully controlled the pacing from the very first issue.

Issue #1 opened with a succession of full splash pages depicting the meeting between Anthro and Metron--a sequence that, in retrospect, seems luxurious in terms of the amount of space that's devoted to a single scene. From there, Morrison has gradually ramped up the pace of the story, through the increasingly choppy middle issues all the way up to this final chapter, which refuses to stay in one place for more than a couple of pages at a time, at most.

I don't believe that this disjointedness is a side effect of any problems with producing these final issues (such as the rumoured rewrites, or the collaboration of many different artists rather than one single art team). Dialogue from the characters confirms that Morrison is intentionally trying to create a sense that “time is out of joint”--or, as one character says, “everything is splitting up” as the story rapidly approaches its end (“Time! Space! Shredding!”).

Morrison even throws in some innovative touches that are reminiscent of his work in Superman Beyond, with tilted panels that appear to have rotated on a vertical axis in order to create the illusion that they have been squashed into a smaller space than they could ordinarily occupy. Characters break the borders of these panels, and appear to move outside of their usual three-dimensional boundaries (represented to us by the usual two-dimensional visuals), transcending time and moving freely within four-dimensional space (represented to us by the three-dimensional effect).

Once the crisis has passed, however, the final pages of the book show a return to a more relaxed and considered style of storytelling. It's a highly effective device that creates an immense amount of tension during the climax of the story, and the compressed style also makes the book feel very dense, and packed with ideas. As a result, it's one of the few $3.99 books on the market today that doesn't warrant customer complaints about the price tag as there's certainly enough substance here to justify that extra dollar. In fact, it's worth discussing the content of the story.

Considering that Morrison serves up so many wildly different concepts, there's a fairly high hit-to-miss ratio. I enjoyed “President Superman” on the parallel Earth where the characters are of different ethnicities than the ones we know. I also enjoyed the positive propaganda produced by Lois Lane and the Daily Planet ("Earth Endures" reminded me a little of V for Vendetta's "England Prevails"). Additonally, there was the enjoyable Superman/Lex Luthor team-up, as well as Frankenstein’s grand entrance into battle.

Particularly effective was Superman bringing harmony to the multiverse with a song and his later wish for a happy ending--both read like something out of All-Star Superman (as does the appearance of the multiversal "Superman Squad"). It’s all wonderfully imaginative stuff that only makes me miss Morrison’s ASS even more.

The only real disappointments with the series as a whole are the sidelined role of Wonder Woman, and the lack of depth with which the machinations of the Monitors were examined. However, the final fate of the Monitors is handled perfectly here. Readers of Superman Beyond will doubtless appreciate Morrison's continuation of the idea that the story of the multiverse as a living being, and the end of the Monitors' involvement provides a perfect cap for the themes explored in those couple of issues.

Despite the briskness that's necessitated by the compressed storytelling style, Morrison always provides enough information to give us a sense of what is happening throughout the universe (if not the multiverse)--leaving us to fill in some of the gaps, but never being obscure or obtuse. If you can read comics, then you should have no problem understanding most of the content of this book.

Admittedly, a fairly close reading is often required, and some details don't become apparent until a second reading. For example, I've seen some people query the sudden appearance of the red beams that follow the Flashes as they lead the Black Racer towards Darkseid. However, those people appear to have missed some of the detail contained within the previous panels, which show the crowds of Anti-life infected hordes firing the beams out of their eyes.

Having said that, in order to get the most out of this final chapter, I'd certainly recommend that anyone who buys Final Crisis #7 withhold reading it until after re-reading the previous six issues. In fact, I'd also include DC Universe #0, and the other Morrison-penned tie-ins--such as Submit, Batman #682 and #683, and Superman Beyond in that re-reading strategy.

Plot strands that have seemed a little disjointed from issue to issue now hang together a lot better than they did when the issues were released on an individual basis (and the erratic shipping schedule surely didn’t help matters). Read as a whole, the series proves surprisingly coherent.

However, there are some sections where the story still isn't completely clear--or at least is open to a certain amount of interpretation. A good example of this is the final battle with Mandrakk, which might be confusing for those who haven't read Superman Beyond.

Also, the device of having characters relate the events of the book to listeners in the future not only saps a little suspense from the story, but also makes it occasionally difficult to be sure of exactly when events are happening in relation to one another (although I'm sure that's intentional, at least in part, given Morrison's acceleration of the timeline).

Finally, the closing pages provide a sequence that follows up on last issue's cliffhanger involving Batman--but it does so in a very enigmatic way, never making it clear exactly what the significance of the scene is nor how the rocket containing Lois Lane's story factors into things (did the rocket travel back in time, or to an alternate universe?). I look forward to seeing Morrison follow up on these developments in future, However, as a finale to this series, the final two pages are more ambiguous than that are exciting.

On another note, this issue sees yet another change in the art team. Usually, I'd be disappointed by a series like this that features a constantly changing roster of artists as I think visual consistency is important--particularly for self-contained miniseries like this one. There are occasional moments where the inking appears a little rushed or the panels a little bare, but it's generally a solid job.

Overall, Doug Mahnke's visuals are impressive in clearly bringing Morrison's ideas to life and in providing a visual connection with Superman Beyond and the ideas established in that series. He handles the major beats of the story well, but it's with the smaller moments that he really impresses.

I love the panel that shows the multiversal submarine breaching the walls of reality. Too, there's a real sense of character in some of the quieter shots--such as the panel that shows Superman in Metron's chair drawing up blueprints for the Miracle Machine. Finally, there's a genuine feeling of coldness and emptiness as Superman faces Mandrakk one final time.

To my mind, people who are complaining that the series is going to have a minimal impact on established DC continuity are missing the point of stories like this. Perhaps such readers might be better served by following the revolving door of events at DC's foremost competitor.

Final Crisis is a story that has been epic in scope, innovative in execution, and filled with imaginative ideas that could sustain an entire publishing line. Morrison has left a lot of characters in interesting places for creators to pick up and play with in future should they choose to do so, and I'd much rather see several different possible directions set up in this manner than see the DCU locked into a forced, rigid trajectory.

Hopefully this series will signal the advent of a publishing strategy for DC that will be more experimental, more open to the possibilities offered by the medium of comics, and more willing to push the boundaries of the medium rather than endlessly recycling the same tired old ideas every month. I applaud the company for taking such creative risks with such a high-profile series, and I can only hope that Final Crisis will be a model that is followed for "event" comics to come.

Chris Murman:

I won’t pretend to know how to discern the panels presented to us in this closing chapter--that’s why we have Thom Young around. Usually I have to read his reviews before I can speak somewhat knowledgably about this series, so please bear with me.

Even resorting to asking my wife for Spanish translations, I was searching for answers as I perused the final chapter in the Sanskrit-laced tome Morrison presents to us. There was a voice that rang true for me, no matter if you’ve read the Seven Soldiers series or not. It was the narrator.

Maybe it’s because I was raised watching television shows like The Wonder Years, but having a good narrator can make all the difference between a good story and a great story. While I had my problems with it as well, Brian Michael Bendis managed to find a voice to help narrate Secret Invasion #8.

It’s not difficult to write with the tone and mood of Lois Lane, anyone with cable can see it in Campbell Brown’s delivery of today’s headlines. You just know what you’re getting with Lane: She’s ever the honest reporter but with a blend of ideological desire to see the day saved. Maybe Lois would be the same woman without Clark as her husband, but I choose to believe she wouldn’t.

While I initially thought it was clichéd to have Lois tell the tale of the ending, on second thought it’s that type of approach that I actually like about DC Comics. There are some things that are just supposed to be, and having Lois narrate the conclusion is one of them. It provides the balance she is meant to provide: A grim outlook versus a hopeful outlook.

As I followed Mrs. Kent panel by panel, I could just feel the weight of the air. It was a drawing, and I could see the palpable tension Hawkman and Hawkgirl were flying through. Up until the panel of Supergirl and Wonder Woman telling the children how the final crisis had ended, I was sitting right beside the young ones.

After that, I sort of got lost in a bunch of questions I had.

Let’s ignore the fact that I can’t keep straight which special bullet is where from issue #6 to #7. Was it completely necessary that Batman sacrifice his life to fire a bullet into Darkseid, only it didn’t kill him after all? We had to have the two Flashes come through with their own special bullet and the Black Racer.

I’m the last person to agree with the death of my favorite character in all of fiction itself, but if he’s going to have to die (whether Bruce stays gone or not), could it actually matter in the long run? Sure he was wounded, but Darkseid looked like he could have run out for a latte before tangling with the Man of Steel.

While we’re at it, I’m glad you didn’t need to read any of the mini-series associated with Final Crisis in order to understand what was going on (like we were promised we wouldn’t need to). [The reviewer states sarcastically.]

If I had not read the 3D Superman Beyond two-parter, I would have been clueless as to why there was a vampire Superman and some other vampire named Mandrakk who suddenly showed up--and which were necessary to kill with a Green Lantern stake before the story could end. Maybe someone will be able to explain it well in this slugfest, but after re-reading all my collected issues I am still unable to comprehend what the purpose of that was.

Nevertheless, the end is just as I expected it. We have yet again hit the reset button and wiped a lot of the slate clean for the current crop of Didio-ites to write their little hearts out. DC wants us to spend our recession-stretched dollars to figure out everything that has changed. I did the last time they had a crisis--fully buying into the “One Year Later” concept.

They won’t catch me so gullible this time. Maybe it’s the time I’ve spent at this Web site that’s made me more aware of what’s going on. It could be I’m just older and care less. Regardless, a chapter of stories has reached their end and a new set waits, beginning with Flash: Rebirth and Blackest Night.

As for the art: It’s a shame that J.G. Jones could not finish this series out because I am sure he spent a ton of time with Morrison to come up with the look and feel of the project. Doug Mahnke should thank his lucky stars he was able to jump in on the tail end of this series. I’m not exactly sure the two styles matched, but not many could. There were many scenes that were dripping with love from the man’s pencil. I will say this, once Mahnke jumped on the art, he got things wrapped up fast.

When viewed from a vacuum, I think Final Crisis is definitely likeable. The covers were gorgeous, which is reason enough to hold on to the single issues over time. There were times I was frustrated at the end of a read, but I feel better for pushing through to the end.

Where we go from here is a different story, but I’m not going to judge this series based upon that. I’d rather enjoy this final chapter for what it was: an ending that will hopefully make just as much sense in time as the rest of the series.

Paul Brian McCoy:

Where to begin?

Don’t even try to make sense of how this book wraps things up if you haven’t read Superman Beyond (in glorious 3D). Just don’t. But at the same time, don’t bitch about it not making any sense, if you haven’t read Superman Beyond (in glorious 3D).

Should Superman Beyond have been included in Final Crisis Proper? There’s no way to make it work in the confines of this title. Just like there was no way to make Batman’s experience while captured by Darkseid work in this framework. Both Batman 682-83 and Superman Beyond 1-2 are tangential, but essential.

Imagine Final Crisis as a line extending out from your brain. Batman and Superman’s stories both spring forth from the main line--Batman’s during issue #2 and Superman’s during issue #3--but then they spiral around the Crisis following very different, but complementary, trajectories before reconnecting back with the central narrative in issue #6. Those are all the books that you needed to read.

Sure, you could have read all of Morrison’s work from Animal Man through Seven Soldiers, and maybe it would have been easier going. However, it wasn’t essential to do so.

Would it have helped to have some understanding of Kirby’s oeuvre as well? Of course. Again, though, not essential. If it makes you feel any better just about everything Morrison and Kirby have done for DC are available in collected formats, so feel free to start dipping into those waters.

Is it a perfect work? Unfortunately not.

Even giving consideration to the aesthetic constraints and experiments with which Morrison was attempting to work, this final issue falls just a little short--not for lack of imagination or fear of failure, but due (mainly) to the shortcomings of the medium.

As with the visual concept for how Batman and Superman Beyond relate structurally to Final Crisis, there’s only so much that can be done with sequential art at the moment. It was possible to tell this story better, but not in a seven-issue format with only two side projects.

Final Crisis is a story that requires sound and music in order to fully express what Morrison was attempting--along with hyperlinked footnotes, a variety of visual effects (like 3D), and immersive sensory intake. Consuming a special chemical concoction would probably enhance the overall effect as well.

Additionally, the production schedule has to take some of the blame here. Given enough time, Mahnke’s art could have been much better, and some pages are simply gorgeous--particularly the two-page spread of Nubia using the Wonder Horn as the Yellow Submarine arrives. However, some are not--and the range of good to bad pages see-saws constantly throughout the issue. While good, the art in this final chapter really doesn’t compare to the unrushed work of J.G. Jones.

So, even with rushed art and some final story elements that demand outside reading in order to make sense--or other elements that just didn’t quite play as well as they could have in a silent, sequential, 2D medium--why do I give it such a high score [And a score of five bullets for the series as a whole]?

Because this book is the realization not just of a comic adventure story but of the culmination of two separate lines of criticism of contemporary mainstream comic aesthetics that could (arguably) be traced all the way back to Morrison’s UK series, Zenith.

The first of these critiques is structural in nature, as Final Crisis sets itself up as the Anti-Event Comic--specifically, the Anti-Geoff Johns-styled Event Comic. So is there any surprise that there was such a negative reaction to it from the most vocal of the Internet fan base? It should be noted, clearly and definitively, that by “critique,” I’m not saying that Morrison is insulting Johns’s style of writing. He’s simply using it as a launching pad to explore other ways stories can be told in this medium.

In the construction of his Crisis, Morrison is improvisational--almost always choosing to circumvent expectation and tradition while making his way from plot point to plot point. We’ve already seen this time and time again as he’s avoided extensive setting up of scenes--choosing instead to “Channel-Zap” into scenes already in play and then “Zap” away before scenes fully finish, allowing the artist to provide establishing shots to guide readers through the narrative.

Morrison has also been setting up expectations for particular scenes, but then rather than allow them to occur as they would in a clockwork script by Johns, the action is either simply not shown, or deferred--perhaps indefinitely. My favorite example of this was last issue’s scenes of the Green Lantern Corps caught in the Earth’s gravity well, falling and falling, but never getting any closer to Earth (along with their promise to kick Darkseid’s ass should they ever actually get there).

Issue #7 ups the ante structurally by not only jumping from place to place but also by suddenly playing with temporal shifts. Once the various Alternate Universe Supermen are gathered in the opening pages, we jump to the end of everything. All that’s left is a conglomerate of Watchtowers floating in a void that is all that’s left of Darkseid.

Lois Lane narrates as the last survivors launch a message in a bottle/rocket telling the story of the Final Crisis. This scene is also broken up with a concurrent flashback showing the Metal Men of Earth 44 going berserk and finally being stopped by the arrival of Luthor and Sivana. There’s no commentary on the action, only the narration about the launch of the rocket.

Then we jump back to where issue #6 left off, and we see Superman’s confrontation with Darkseid. Contrary to expectation, Superman doesn’t do battle with him. Instead, the Flashes slip into and out of the scene, allowing the Black Racer to arrive and actually claim Darkseid’s life.

From there we are taken to some point after everything is nearly over. The conclusion of the conflict with Darkseid’s armies is all told in flashback, and we discover the final fate of Checkmate and the Black Gambit. Just a hint, Lord Eye, the computer orchestrating everything there, has Maxwell Lord’s brain powering it. Guess what doesn’t work as planned?

Here, as with Darkseid’s final defeat, it is the New Gods who save the day; specifically, Mister Miracle’s Motherboxxx, who opens a Boom Tube to transport everyone from Checkmate headquarters to Kamandi’s alternate Earth. It’s Kirbyrific.

At this point we discover that the gathering of Supermen is occurring after all of this, before jumping back to the final confrontation with Darkseid’s forces. Rather than another entire issue of battles as Luthor arrives, we get splash pages detailing plot points that are being told to a group of children by Supergirl and Wonder Woman.

We don’t even see the team-up of Heroes and Villains as they take on Darkseid’s army. It’s a story now--already mythic and being told to children as history. And then, casually, practically off-panel, Superman saves everyone.

Finally, after all of this, we are in the present tense of the narrative.

Darkseid is a barely tangible ghost, only good for whispering threats, and he is easily dismissed--not by fighting, but with the singing of a musical note. Mandrakk arrives to be confronted by an army of Supermen, Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew, the Green Lantern Corps, the Forever People, and an army of Angels.

Morrison embraces all of the multiverse here, not just the obvious heroes. However, being a giant vampire, Mandrakk is defeated without a single punch being thrown. The ultimate threat ends up an ultimate joke, defeated almost as an afterthought, with heat vision and the bare remnants of Green Lantern power.

After all of that, there are still four more narrative jumps as everything begins to settle and we discover that the “final crisis” was actually the “Final Crisis of the Monitors” as they are swallowed up by the infinite white of the blank page--well, almost all of them.

And then we close with a scene mirroring the opening scene of the entire series, as we watch Anthro’s final moments--no longer a boy, but an old man. And guess who’s there with him, along with the Message in a Bottle/Rocket that was launched from the Watchtower. And guess what the emphasis of the scene is: The telling and retelling of stories.

That narrative is chaotic and poetic, and it goes radically against the grain of the more conservative aesthetic demands of the majority of mainstream comic readers, who, in many ways, outright reject experimental approaches to narrative or characterization unless it is ghettoized as out-of-continuity or published under another banner (like Vertigo).

This conservatism is at the heart of the contemporary popularity of Geoff Johns. With Johns, expectations are met with linear narratives, traditional set characterizations, and a steadfast and smothering embrace of the three-act structure as defined by screenwriter Syd Field. Objectively, that’s not a bad thing, and it implies nothing about the comparative intellects of Johns, Morrison, and/or Kirby enthusiasts.

However, it does say volumes about these groups of readers’ expectations and desires when it comes to which comics they read—and, more importantly, why they even read comics in the first place. The three-act structure is not the end-all, be-all of telling stories.

And this is where Morrison’s second area of critique manifests--and this one is actually calling out contemporary mainstream writers.

The central thematic conflict of Final Crisis involves the corruption of Idealized, Mythic Narrative by Cynicism masked as Realism. This corruption is tied thematically back to two works: Crisis on Infinite Earths and Alan Moore’s tenure on Miracleman.

I don’t think that it’s too much of a stretch to tie these two stories together in this manner. Both were published around the same time, and both were major revisions of the more innocent, idealized comic creations that came before. Additionally, both were also turning points in the use of extreme graphic violence as plot elements in mainstream comics.

Hell, it’s called Final Crisis after all--and we do spend quite a bit of time with Mary Marvel as a deliberate nod to Kid Miracleman.

When Morrison chose to reference Moore’s Miracleman plot with regards to Mary Marvel’s rampaging destruction of Blüdhaven, culminating in her forced transformation back to human, he reworked the scene in two fundamental ways that comment on the original source. Most importantly, when Mary changes back and is horrified by what she’s done, instead of being killed, she is comforted and supported.

Rather than being executed by Captain Marvel (Miracleman), this forgiveness signals one of Morrison’s main issues with contemporary comics, and it ultimately ties into his underlying subjects of redemption and heroic triumph. It is a rejection of the cynicism that masquerades as realism in mainstream comics--from the mass murders that populate each new Johns “epic” to the oversimplified political corruption that is consuming Marvel’s Universe at the moment.

The reason that Morrison can so easily incorporate positive story elements is, in part, related to the second way he is commenting on Moore’s 80s work. Unlike Kid Miracleman, Mary is not responsible for what she did. In fact, when it is revealed that Mary is possessed by Desaad, or “a leering old man,” it’s not too hard to imagine Alan Moore settled in behind her eyes.

To some extent, this substitution of another creator for Desaad is due to the way Morrison refers to the New Gods and the Monitors as existing outside the narrative reality of the DC Universe. The Monitors repeatedly describe humanity as germs--and Superman Beyond demanded 3D sections in order to help visualize the realm where they exist as they watch and tamper with all of the stories inside the Orrery.

Similarly, Morrison had already set himself up as a Higher Being outside the DC Universe in his Animal Man series (as well as in Seven Soldiers series to a lesser extent)--existing on a higher dimensional plane of existence than do the characters in the stories he creates.

When the Monitors interact with the narratives, they corrupt them--going back to the first Crisis. Likewise, when the evil New Gods (whose true forms are beyond comprehension and exist outside of reality) manifest in physical form, they corrupt the players in those narratives.

This corruption can be equated to the work of comic creators, and the demands of comic readers, since the early 80s--and it’s why there was so much focus on the Supergirl vs. Mary Marvel battle. It was a battle between idealism and cynicism; innocence and corruption. It’s why the ultimate evil is a parasitic vampire god, sustaining itself by destroying and corrupting the narratives that it was supposed to safeguard. The evils being defeated here are the comic creators and readers who crave this cynicism because they believe it to be “mature” and “realistic.”

It’s why, in the end, both Darkseid and Mandrakk are barely even worth paying attention to. It’s why Morrison allows us only glimpses of the renewal of Earth 0. It’s why, as Nix Uotan says, “the germ creatures themselves reestablished the symmetry of the Orrery, the ‘multiverse’ as they call it.”

For Morrison, the DC Universe has been purged and rebuilt, flushing out the corruption of the 80s icons and reveling in the mythic imagination of Jack Kirby as the inspiration for what’s to come.

This series, like all of Morrison’s stories, has themes, not morals. It uses poetic imagery over obvious, explanatory dialogue--and, as with almost every work, the telling of the story is as important as the story itself. Morrison pulls in references from art, music, philosophy, literary theory, fringe science, and wherever else a bizarre kernel of an idea might be found--much like Kirby did at the height of his creative powers.

I’d say that Final Crisis is the epitome of Morrison’s DC work. A grand symphony of tunes strange and familiar, yet not quite familiar; melodies played on instruments refurbished and refashioned. It’s not Top 40, but it is Pop. It’s just Morrison’s idea of what Pop should be.

Kyle Garret:

I come not to praise Final Crisis #7, but to bury it.

I could delve into all the things that make the last chapter of Final Crisis great. I could talk about the genius of including not one, not two, but three moments that make this series circular (Darkseid fires his bullet, Nix Uotan wakes up on Earth, and the last page leads directly into the cover of the first issue).

Additionally, I could mention the various narrative techniques--from telling the story out of order or having the sequence with the Japanese heroes read right to left (as manga does in its native form). I could even make the case that the two greatest characters in this series are Superman and the Question, that Superman and his generation are now new gods (not capitalized), while the Question is the template for comic book superheroes going forward--an intentional choice meant to stand in contrast with Superman.

However, I am going to leave the praise for Final Crisis #7 to my esteemed colleagues, many of whom have been reviewing this series since it began. I have no doubts they’ll cover everything I could think of and more.

No, instead, this four-bullet review is going to focus on the things I disliked about this issue, the things I don’t believe worked, the things that prevented it from getting a higher score, which so many of its earlier chapters and tie-ins did receive from me.

Specifically, there are three scenes in this issue that don’t work given the structure of the issue itself, let alone the structure of the entire series.

Part of what I loved about Final Crisis is how deliberately structured it is. Specific pages aside, the first three issues encompass one arc, that of Darkseid infiltrating the Earth. The next three issues all deal with life after the takeover. And the final issue deals with the end of the world--which is fitting for the last issue of a series called Final Crisis. Yet, I felt like Morrison went off the rails a bit in the last part, and it was the first time I felt a lack of thematic cohesion in any of these issues.

For example, while it’s told in flashback (flashback being an ultimately meaningless term when time/space has broken down), the five-page fight sequence we get against Darkseid really has no connection to the rest of the issue. The real problem is trying to save the world as the planet slips into the abyss--Darkseid’s reign has ended.

Part of what I loved about this final issue was that it established that Darkseid’s attack was prologue; what came after was what would truly define this as the final struggle. And, while I appreciate the desire to end the previous issue with Batman’s body in Superman’s arms, I don’t feel like the shock was worth it when it meant sacrificing flow. For that matter, it’s five pages Morrison could have dedicated to other things.

The second (and the only other) example of a lack of thematic cohesion is Wonder Woman’s story. Now, I understand the complaints that people have about Wonder Woman’s treatment in Final Crisis. I also understand Morrison’s stance. However, if Morrison’s exit interviews are to be believed, there’s a single scene in this issue that DC asked to be added. My money is on it being Wonder Woman’s rather hollow moment to shine.

There’s absolutely no reason for her story to be told, as Darkseid’s hold on the Earth was already falling in numerous ways. On top of that, it comes out of left field, again disrupting the flow of the story. It’s also, to a certain extent, patronizing--as not only is her supposed freeing of people unnecessary, she supposedly binds the god of evil with her Lasso of Truth, which does absolutely nothing.

I could go on, but suffice to say Wonder Woman’s shining moment feels shoehorned in--and it is, yet again, more pages that Morrison could have used elsewhere.

In the very least he could have used them in the final battle with Mandrakk. I can appreciate attempts at subverting superhero clichés as much as the next guy, but the big battle with Mandrakk--the one that requires the newly all-powerful Nix Uotan, the one that requires all the Superman analogs from the multiverse, the one that requires the entire Green Lantern Corps, the army of God, the Forever People (as the Japanese heroes), and even Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew--that big battle lasts three panels. Three panels! And, in the end, Mandrakk is killed by a giant green stake!

A few more pages for that sequence, and a few more pages for the aftermath, would have been greatly appreciated. I don’t think it would have cost Morrison any of the meta textual elements he was going for.

I enjoyed Final Crisis as a whole. Honestly, it was worth it just for the creation of Earth-Kirby (aka Earth-51). But the final issue didn’t hold to the standards of the first six, and that was something of a disappointment. Still, it was a heck of a ride, and I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to go to the comics’ shop on Wednesday. That, in and of itself, is pretty amazing.

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