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MockBot MockBot is offline
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Old Feb 4th, 2009, 01:27 PM        Weekly Comic Review: Final Crisis 6-7
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Doctor_Who Doctor_Who is offline
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Old Feb 4th, 2009, 01:40 PM       
I have to say, Final Crisis was a large improvement over Countdown, but it was no masterpiece. Hopefully the lukewarm reactions this and Civil War have gotten will convince DC and Marvel that we are sick of big sprawling storylines that require buying a hundred issues just to understand, and stop trying to be so damn "epic" all the time.
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Old Feb 4th, 2009, 01:56 PM       
Max, I'm glad you reviewed this, because I could not have said it better myself. You've summed things up pretty much perfectly, and I largely agree with your interpretation here.

I can't really say I disliked the book. I very much want to like the book. But I cannot do so yet. Because I don't fucking get it, and that frustrates me. I've been told that to fully understand it, you have to read Superman Beyond, and this tie-in or that tie-in, because otherwise you won't know why the fuck this or that group of characters comes out of nowhere and does whatever it is they do.

Well, I didn't read any of the tie-ins. I've been burned too badly by crappy tie-ins before, so I made a conscious decision to avoid them with Final Crisis and Secret Skrull Orgy. With Marvel's event, it wasn't detrimental to my understanding of the rather simplistic story, but with DC's it seems to have left me in the dark on some very important details. I think to also fully understand a lot of Morrison's work you have to be intimately familiar with decades worth of the most obscure corners of DC Comics history, which sadly, I am not. So I know I'm missing little references here and there, because I simply don't have the historical background to pick up on them. Morrison's books need Cliff Notes where somebody else does the research and I can just read that and then understand who this or that seemingly minor character is and why he's important to the story (come to think of it, there's probably something like that online...I will have to look). I appreciate that Morisson puts all these little easter eggs and references in his stories but that makes them HUGELY inaccessible to a majority of readers.

Hopefully upon rereading the story it will make more sense, as it doesn't help when you have delays and you end up reading the last issue almost a year after reading the first. It's kind of easy to forget earlier details or story nuances over that kind of time frame.

Though I am frustrated by the fact that all the main narrative points required to understand it are not located in one book, I still found this event more interesting than Marvel's Skrull Mess, which basically involved nothing more than a bunch of suspicious heroes punching each other in the face a lot in the Savage Land, and then having those same heroes punching lots of Skrulls in the face in Central Park. Not exactly complex. I have to say that even when I was annoyed and driven to the brink of madness by Final Crisis, I still found it basically interesting and I wanted to know more. I think that in itself speaks volumes about why it was better than Marvel's boring event, but I myself would be hard pressed to give the series more than three pickles as it stands right now, and that's being slightly generous. I couldn't recommend this to anyone but the most hardcore comic geeks and even then only with reservations.
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mcmcgrady mcmcgrady is offline
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Old Feb 4th, 2009, 03:44 PM       
There are some excellent annotations at http://finalcrisisannotations.blogspot.com/. I definitely would not have understood most of Final Crisis without them.

That being said, my mind was blown roughly the same amount as the first time I read Preacher. I loved Final Crisis. For me, it changed the way I am looking at and evaluating new comics, both in terms of storytelling and story content. I understand that if a story requires you to look up annotations and interviews with the author in order to really "get it," a totally valid response is to say "Why not just put all that info in the story in the first place?", but I felt like even the way the story was being told was commenting on the state of comics, so I didn't feel put off by having to read supplementary information.

Morrison has compared Final Crisis to "channel surfing" comics, and I think it's a good comparison. The story is disjointed, but I think the comic is intentionally pushing the reader into shifting mindsets and storylines frequently. Think about reading something on Wikipedia, and how quickly you can shift from one subject to another just by clicking on a link. I think Final Crisis is an attempt at telling a story for a generation of people already used to rapidly shifting their focus at a moment's notice. Storytelling with ADD, but not necessarily in a bad way. The scene with Nix Uotan trying to coordinate all of the events reminded me a lot of the scene in Watchmen when Ozymandias is viewing all of the rapidly changing television stations, and I feel like the comic is essentially written for an audience a slightly more accustomed to "changing channels" than we are. This is not to say that Morrison is writing comics for the future or anything, but I think he is attempting to embrace what he sees as a shift in human thinking. If you believe The Medium is the Massage, then our brains are shifting the way we think as a response to technology and I think Final Crisis can be seen as an attempt to write a story for brains used to switching focus all the time due to the availability of information because of the internet and other communication technology.

Just to be clear though, I think everything I just said only really relates to Final Crisis and Superman Beyond. The rest of the spin-offs were interesting enough, and I enjoyed reading them, but only because they sort of filled in details. I don't think they are making nearly as much of an argument for anything as Final Crisis is.
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mcmcgrady mcmcgrady is offline
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Old Feb 4th, 2009, 03:55 PM       
Also, I'm new to a lot of stuff in DC comics history, so that might have helped me not get too bothered by being confused, since I had to look up pretty much everything anyways. I didn't know what the 4th world was before I read Final Crisis, and the only time I had seen Darksied was in one of Alan Moore's Swamp Thing books. This was also the first time I had seen Checkmate, and for a lot of the other characters, I had only seen them in the first two Crises, so I came into Final Crisis knowing that I would be confused for a majority of it. I had actually forgotten that Barry Allen had died, so I had to check Wikipedia to find out why it mattered that he was back.
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Old Feb 4th, 2009, 04:49 PM       
I read 6 out of 7 issues of Final Crises (I missed Issue 5) and Superman Beyond. I've been reading comics for pretty much my entire life, and honestly... I found it to be masturbatory. Grant Morrison lecturing me on how he thought story telling should work. I think that sort of thing can be interesting, but I don't think it's fitting as a universe hanging work. The whole thing is just a meta-textual exercise, and what's more, I think Morrison made a conscious effort to try and make it impossible to understand. That last issue especially, where he told half in flashback and even the flashbacks had sudden jumps through time, plus the fact that he seems to have just thrown in every idea he had... Look, I'm with you in some respects, Max. He did some interesting things, some of the individual moments in it are incredibly interesting, but I think that looking at it as a whole, it's just a mess. It's Morrison being paid to be self-indulgent and DC not having any editorial control over what he was doing.

I'm sick of events. I'm sick of everyone writing just for trades. The fact of the matter is, we don't have writers anymore who can tell a solid story in twenty two pages, and that sucks. I know that plenty of people out there think that single issues are crap compared to long stories, but they don't get it. The truly great comics are the ones where you can pick up any issue without having read the whole, but if you read them all you can actually see an arc to the characters. Morrison can't even write a single trade that works.
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Old Feb 5th, 2009, 03:34 AM       
My problem is kinda the same as everyone else's, but it didn't leave me with love for Final Crisis, or the enormous apparent ego-stroking that Grant Morrison seems to have accomplished here. Shit happened for seemingly no reason, with no warning or with seemingly little care, feeling mainly done just to be "daring and edgy" just to prove that they (or he) could do this. And don't get me started on those f'n tie-ins, which DC's probably set a record for in "Useless F'N tie-ins" that only served to further clutter up the whole damn narrative.

To me this wound up being more of an actual clusterfuck than Secret Invasion, I could at least follow THAT mega event, and didn't need to collect every god-damn tie-in, and apparently have an extensive knowledge of Marvel history, (even moreso than I already DO) just to scratch the surface of what was really going on.

I'm hoping we're really done with the Crisis-stuff now... but part of me knows that this is probably only going to get worse.

At least we have the "Blackest Night", and "Return of Barry Allen" stuff to look forward to. e_e
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Old Feb 5th, 2009, 06:43 AM       
Whoa. I came in here, tried to devour those opening two paragraphs, then saw the slabs of commentary. Screw this shit; one hideously out-of-control multiverse is enough for me, thank you.

To be honest, my DC fandom always began and ended with Babs Gordon. I can only be so much of a nerd.
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Alcibiades Alcibiades is offline
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Old Feb 5th, 2009, 11:10 AM       
I think, the problem with comics is becoming that it's just getting absurd to assume that the same characters have done SO much.

All great fiction has a beginning, middle, and end (even if they weren't planned at inception), but comic heroes stories drag on forever in the mainstream. I'd like for someone to figure out how many times Superman has saved the world, apparently died, fell in love, lost said love, traveled to an alternate dimension, and bested a plan of Lex Luthors. I don't care how cool Superman is, his life is not going to just have THAT MUCH ADVENTURE.

I just can't read about any of the major Marvel or DC players anymore because I know I'll leave the whole thing unsatisfied and unresolved. So I tend to stick to things more like Preacher, Sandman, etc. I usually wait until a big bulk is out and then read it in one shot. Oh, and the Runaways, that's good stuff.
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Graystreet Graystreet is offline
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Old Feb 5th, 2009, 11:27 AM       
I only skipped four and five, I think, but this was just bad. Batman's death was silly, and the fact that he used the Omega Sanction? What purpose did that serve beyond NOT killing Batman? For those of you not geeky enough to recall, all the Omega Sanction does is teleport the individual to an alternate universe, one that theoretically will be a bad universe, while destroying (in some stories, not all.) a duplicate version of their body in this universe.

I can only assume that due to the constant flux of the multiverse at Batman's time of death, he was teleported to a random point in time on the standard DC Earth, meaning that within time, probably a few weeks, Booster Gold or another time traveler will find him and bring him to the present so he can grimace and say "I'm done being Batman! I'm not worthy! I killed Darkseid!" then toss his cowl dramatically at Dick Grayson or New Dick Grayson, or New Dickina Grayson.


I can never remember all the Robins names, he's had like five in the current version, hasn't he? One that is Nightwing, one that is a girl, now Spoiler, one that is legally his son because Captain Boomerang finally got that one-in-a-million kill, one that died and was never shown, but decided he wanted nipples on his costume so they shot him.
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mburbank mburbank is offline
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Old Feb 5th, 2009, 12:55 PM       
Alcebiades;

I think what you're looking at and being irritated by, are the problems inherent in what I call long form fiction, and I think I discussed in one or another of my 'Hey Dork' columns.

I'm sure there are folks out there with more letters after their name then I currently have who have identified this form and called it something else, but whatever it is, in terms of fiction is a pretty modern thing.

you can find it in any fiction with multiple writers, some nod to continuity and a fairly long time frame.

The longest examples would be soap operas, about which I know next to nothing, but I gather some of them are still on the air that began on radio and feature an admittedly strained but ongoing continuity. You find the same thing in multi season television series, and comic books.

It isn't just a young art form, which al by itself accounts for lots of failure, it's a collaborative art for with all the pitfalls of any collaboration (movies, theater, group sex) plus it has an evolving dynamic. Not only do all the creators not know each other, same of them are sepearted by generations at this point.

What I admire about Morrison is that he treats comics like an art form and takes a whack at accepting and incorporating it's problems, strictures and limits.

I also like one issue stories or short arcs that don't deal with continuity, or thumb their noses a it or just go along with a good yarn without worrying about it. BUT I credit Morrison with taking a look at long form for what it is and trying to do something with it.

The tie ins are what I think are a mistake. Not only is it too expensive, but you can't count on them to be readable, let alone in a league with the major work.

If a writer counts on tie ins to fill in the blanks, or even flesh out the story, he's partly responsible if they suck and fully responsible if he leaves gaping holes in his own stuff others don't fill.

It's problematical, and I can't imagine what the vast majority of readers make f the whole mess. I think they just probably ignore it and move on
and that's fine for an audience, but I think writers do to, and that is one of the big pitfalls in a longform fiction
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Old Feb 5th, 2009, 05:27 PM       
I really hate this kind of crap because as a casual comic book reader it makes it completely impossible for me to get into any series I want to read! Comic books, at least as an actual comic book (marvel and dc make all their money off of tv/movies and merchandising now days) are dying a slow death, never becoming fully main-stream like other mediums and the reason imho is this sort of crap. I have no problems with writers making long compaigns of universe altering arcs and crazy visits to alternate universes, but perhaps it's time for comic books to take a page from the more popular mediums and implement the "saturday morning cartoon" laws.

1. All characters shall remain in the same clothes, drawn exactly the same way forever!
If for some reason any of the character's costumes need to be changed, the series must end in leu of a new series starring the same characters.

2. Any problems or journeys involving parallel worlds or crossovers with other series are fine, but they must be COMPLETELY RESOLVED by the end of the story arc. By "resolved" I mean anything that happened must be wrapped up in such a way that anyone who missed the arc would never know it or could be filled in in a few seconds.

3. Main characters never age or die. If they do age or die, then the series must END!

I think a perfect example of how to properly do a strange, universe-altering story-arc is the recent "Angel: After the fall" I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but basically the way it is wrapped up, we are right back where we started when the tv series went off the air and the story-line doens't interfere with the ongoing buffy comic one bit.

In other words, the way to properly do a universe-altering comic is to not really alter the universe!
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Old Feb 5th, 2009, 07:45 PM       
Yeah, but that's really not good either if the status quo is never changed and they're always just spinning their wheels. Granted, the status quo rarely changes in truly substantial ways (see Barry Allen), but at least the characters have evolved slowly over time.
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Old Feb 5th, 2009, 09:37 PM       
Peter Parker was a perfect example of the greatness that is possible with your typical superhero comic (and television show, comic strip, and comic books in general) by which I mean, a character created with a beginning (origin) and a middle (Status Quo) he started out as a rascally teenage boy, lost a love, grew into a rascally young man, got married, grew into a man, became a teacher and widely accepted by the population at large, even becoming an avenger, then Jose Quesada (Hint; if the writers of a superhero movie use your name for a rapist, and then kill that character off in the most brutal death of the entire movie, find a new job.) decided that as opposed to doing the totally organic thing of letting this thirty year old man let go of his fifty billion year old aunt, he should sell his wife to Satan, so he can complain about the lack of fictional wheat-based foods.


Another great example, and this one still exists, is Black Lightning, originally a racist stereotype that wore a break-dancing outfit and existed simply to be Africa American, they went so far as to make him from the ghetto (albeit, Metropolis's ghetto.) but he has recently grown into an interesting, useful character between his appearances in various books.
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Old Feb 5th, 2009, 10:27 PM       
I am so glad I ditched DC years back. Best decision I ever made.
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Protoclown Protoclown is offline
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Old Feb 6th, 2009, 11:29 AM       
You must have a track record of making really horrible decisions
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Old Feb 6th, 2009, 02:52 PM       
If I had hung around then Identity Crisis alone would have made me march on DC with the flaming torches.
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Graystreet Graystreet is offline
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Old Feb 6th, 2009, 03:08 PM       
52 was great, the current New Krypton storyline is great.


I cannot tell you a single title worth reading from Marvel off the top of my head. I liked Machine Man in Marvel Zombies 3, but that is over. I don't really see the point in Dark Reign, since Komodo should just pop a cap in Osborne and end the storyline.

Heck, all comic books are better pretty crappy now besides Superman, Supergirl and Adventure Comics. I dropped Walking Dead after that one guy started bawling about wanting to shoot Gimpy, the one handed idiot, I didn't like the end of the prison storyline, it was a silly tabula rasa ending that only happened because the writer got bored. but the storyline has totally lost all of its organic nature since they first encountered The General. Not to mention that each issue seems to be getting smaller and smaller, but containing more and more filler.

I remember thinking while reading one of the last issues I read "What just happened?" and not in the good way. They drove for a few minutes, somebody went to pee, got attacked by a zombie, the zombie got killed, two characters talked for two or three panels, it was over. It wasn't even good talking, it was standard macho posturing that does nothing to establish anything.
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Protoclown Protoclown is offline
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Old Feb 6th, 2009, 07:16 PM       
Quote:
Originally Posted by Graystreet View Post
I cannot tell you a single title worth reading from Marvel off the top of my head.
Immortal Iron Fist is probably the best superhero book being published at the moment, by any company. Daredevil and Captain America are highly worth reading as well.
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Graystreet Graystreet is offline
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Old Feb 6th, 2009, 07:41 PM       
Quote:
Originally Posted by Protoclown View Post
Immortal Iron Fist is probably the best superhero book being published at the moment, by any company. Daredevil and Captain America are highly worth reading as well.

Ooh, I forgot about Daredevil, the Lady Bullseye storyline has been great, I hate the art style though, it's got that cheap look like they had someone pose for pictures, then ran 'em through a Photoshop filter. Good thing I mentioned that I was going off the top of my head. :P


I haven't read Iron Fist though, I try avoid comic books that seem doomed, so I don't have to experience the sadness of random cancellation, I'll have to pick it up now that I've got your recommendation.
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mburbank mburbank is offline
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Old Feb 6th, 2009, 09:12 PM       
I like the current run on FF. It basically ignores Marvel's current continuity.
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Rufus the Perturbed Rufus the Perturbed is offline
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Old Feb 7th, 2009, 04:25 AM       
This is why I stopped reading comics. Caveman superhero? Batman sent back to prehistory? Head....hurts...AAAAAAHHHHHH!
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Protoclown Protoclown is offline
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Old Feb 7th, 2009, 12:09 PM       
Quote:
Originally Posted by Graystreet View Post
I haven't read Iron Fist though, I try avoid comic books that seem doomed, so I don't have to experience the sadness of random cancellation, I'll have to pick it up now that I've got your recommendation.
I can understand that mentality. If you'd told me two years ago that Iron Fist would be one of my favorite books I would have laughed at you. But it totally is, and it's going to be around for a while too if it maintains this quality (and sales). Start from the beginning on this one though...they've already got a couple trades out.

Max, I've been enjoying Millar's FF run as well. So Marvel definitely still has some good books, you've just got to know where to look for them.
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mburbank mburbank is offline
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Old Feb 7th, 2009, 01:02 PM       
Does "Fist" totally or mostly ignore current marvel continuity?

FF and Cap both pay as little attention to it as possible, and they are my two favorite marvel books.
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Old Feb 7th, 2009, 02:52 PM       
I have avoided Final Crisis like the plague.
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