Here, in the first issue of Final Crisis, begins the supposed last installment of the Crisis Trilogy. This assertion is a tad ballsy coming from the people who inflicted the Countdown series on us like a weekly subway mugging.
Two-thirds of the way through Countdown, it was plain to readers that the characters' actions (all four of them) were stalling tactics. The real action was over in another series called Death of the New Gods. Err... wait. Try Countdown Arena. Even hackwork from Scott McDaniel has to go somewheres! Or not. DC editorial eventually told us what they were counting down to...
That means an entire YEAR of mediocre comics was the cost (in brain cells) of this conspicuously gorgeous J.G. Jones series. A year of comics that killed my interest in their resolutions by being incoherent and dull. A year in which, had DC's landscape not become a crud-topia, my questions regarding dying New Gods and multiple Monitors would have simmered organically.
But alas, here we is. DC's dependables are finished chopping up Grant Morrison's Big Ideas like just-auctioned blue fish (Gail Simone being a notable exception), and the thing we're supposed to care about is before us. The first interaction we see, disconcertingly, shows Metron giving paleolithic Man (Anthro) the knowledge to make fire. So immediately Morrison's tweaking the game so that the New Gods are literally creators of civilization rather than alien superheroes.
Now, I love the guy. His shtick of moonwalking back and forth over fine lines of continuity and cutting edge works ninety-eight percent of the time. If this is part of the story, great. I'm sure many intriguing revelations are forthcoming. I fear, though, that there's an equal chance these images from the dawn of genocide (New X-Men wants its opening back) have been thrust in place to give the tale grandeur.
But what else is in here? We see New God Orion, half-alive on a ship bound for garbage island. We see Darkseid making unsubtle plans to reshape Earth after the demonic fashion of Apokalips. We get another version of the Injustice League, in front of whom the mysterious turk Libra trots a Martian Manhunter weak enough to kill. Also, Monitors showing emotions other than homicidal psychosis.
It's hard to distrust these pages because of their sheer beauty. Yet, thanks to the glut of preparatory mini-series, none of these ideas are fresh any more. I want Morrison and Jones to floor me with this series, but I resent that it has to stink of "A-List Creators' Projects Are Better".
Speaking of which, across the hall we've got the last Joss Whedon issue of Astonishing X-Men. It's four months late, it's a little longer, with scanned-in skyscrapers as unobtrusive as pink cats, but holy fuck is the writing delicious. We discover, for example, that Agent Brand of S.W.O.R.D. is in love with Beast: "I'm so frikkin' hot for you right now I could pass out." This is not a throwaway line. At the end, Brand offers Beast a position with her group and at her side, based solely on their intellectual compatibility. The fact that cat man is handled with this much heart is absolutely wonderful.
Quite a bit of the Marvel U shows up in support of the X-Men- Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, the Sentry and even the FF with that weird female Thing from Walt Simonson's run. The scene where we find they're being mind-controlled is beautiful- creepy, CHECK PLEASE smiles all around.
Both Kitty and Peter live up to their potential in heart-rending ways, the former phasing a giant bullet through the Earth (and being unable to let go of it), the latter threatening to rule the BreakWorld by force if necessary. And as literal events, these stand one way. But also running throughout the book is Whedon's tying up of emotional loose ends, hitting every right note concerning Emma and Kitty's animosity like only a man of his range can.
Well, now we get to wait, shitting in fear of what Warren Ellis will do. Is he going to take this seriously, as if it were his precious Ms. Sparks and company? Or will we get the multi-tasking hitman who'd really rather be crooning with Nick Cave in the Middle East basement?
Tedious considerations like sleep and work must cut short this missive, my nerdlings. But more to come in the near future.
And never forget- I want to have all of your babies.