Thursday, June 19, 2008

Final Crisis #1

Release Date: May 2008

Cost: $4

We are in a unique time in the comics industry. The writers and artists of today grew up reading comics and thus are just as nerdy as we are. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (among others, settle down Dikto fanboys) created some of the most memorable superheroes ever, but they didn’t grow up reading them. We are now in an age when an artist or writer is able to reshape and work with the very characters that drew them to comics.

Sometimes this is great, but sometimes I feel like I am being put through a test. I remember thinking that every issue of Universe X made me feel like I was constantly being quizzed on my knowledge of the Marvel Universe. It's not pleasant to wade through an issue desperately trying to remember why this or that character was important back in 1973.

This brings us to today’s review, Final Crisis #1 from DC comics. This is the final chapter in the Crisis Trilogy (after Crisis on Infinite Earths and Infinite Crisis) and will also be the final saga of the multiverse. As DC comics’ big summer crossover it will feature almost every major hero and villain in the DC universe. Summer crossovers should be fun and easy to read: a reward for longstanding fans, but also a jumping on point for new readers.

Final Crisis does not help new readers at all. You are flung in media res to several divergent storylines which seem to stem from the death of the New Gods characters. But maybe I am getting a little ahead of myself. Are you confused? So was I about 3 pages in. I guess that I should have read the 51 issue series Countdown to Infinite Crisis, along with the Death of the New Gods miniseries, but, silly me, I thought that I could pick up Final Crisis and have some idea of what was going on.

To sum up some of the story points the New God Orion is dead, Darkseid is in human form, Libra has killed Martian Manhunter and there is some kind of side story with the Monitors. Oh and Anthro (the first boy on earth) and Katmandi (the last boy on earth) are also in it.

The art by J.G. Jones is great and the dialogue by Grant Morrison is stellar, but I am put off by comments such as these:

"When we started work on Final Crisis, J.G. and I had no idea what was going to happen in Countdown or Death Of The New Gods because neither of those books existed at that point. The Countdown writers were later asked to ‘seed’ material from Final Crisis and in some cases, probably due to the pressure of filling the pages of a weekly book, that seeding amounted to entire plotlines veering off in directions I had never envisaged, anticipated or planned for in Final Crisis. "
—Grant Morrison

What!? Your original ideas for the plot of this series changed due to the insanity of publishing a 51-week prequel comic? That is ridiculous.

So should you buy it? $4 per comic for 20 minutes of entertainment is $12 per hour. Pretty pricey for the superhero exam you are going to be forced to take. If you knew who Anthro was before this article you should definitely pick it up. It will probably match your Hawk and Dove bed-sheets or your Haunted Tank underpants. If you are not the hardest of hardcore DC fans, but still love DC and wish to know how Superman and Green Lantern will get out of this one, wait until there is a collected trade paperback. In the mean time read the Wikipedia entry for Final Crisis once a month. That you can understand.