Saturday, October 25, 2008

Review: Final Crisis #4

It has been a long two months for fans to wait, but Final Crisis #4 finally was released to this week.

This was the first issue in which JG Jones did not provide complete art, with Carlos Pacheco stepping in to help. One good thing I need to emphasize is that Pacheco's art seemed to flow seamlessly with Jones' work, as a result there was no jarring discontinuity in styles to disrupt the story.

There is very little Supergirl in this issue so feel free to scroll down about halfway to see her one panel.

This was the issue in which "evil has won". Unfortunately, not much happens to progress the story line and as a result that was pretty disappointed.

We find out early on that Darkseid was able to take over the Earth by broadcasting the anti-life equation on all electronic media be it radio, television, e-mail, the Internet ... you name it. Anyone caught listening was taken over. This Earth seems to mimic the Darkseid controlled one from Grant Morrison's 'Rock of Ages' JLA run, with people enslaved and put to work in factories. Super-powered Justifiers roam the land to keep control.

We also learn that several pockets of super-heroes are holed up in Watchtowers across the Earth. One is in the Hall of Justice. This team includes Oracle, Green Arrow, Black Canary, and the extended Flash family. Another is in Switzerland, manned by Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Mister Terrific, and others. Another tower is in Africa; yet another in China. These heroes are constantly defending themselves against attacks but seem to be mobilizing for some final all out attack at Bludhaven ... an attack called The Omega Offensive.

I did find that this panel from the Switzerland Watchtower interesting, in which Earth heroes are quantified and marked as alive, missing, or corrupted. How intriguing that Uncle Sam (upper left) is corrupted ...perhaps a political comment?

As for Supergirl, she leads one of the Watchtowers at the Fortress of Solitude. I am pleased that Grant Morrison felt Supergirl was strong enough to resist the Anti-Life equation. When you and look at the components of that equation (loneliness, mockery, fear, despair, self-worth, condemnation, etc) and look at the way Kara had been written early on in her own title, you would think she would be the first to fall.

Here's a close up.

While the heroes prepare for the attack, Black Canary's group gets overrun by Justifiers. Green Arrow sacrifices himself to get the rest of the group into transporters to the JLA satellite where they begin priming weapons. Of note, Metron seems to have manifested in the Tattooed Man, a villain who has reluctantly joined the heroes.

In the mean time, the 2 Flashes (Wally and Barry) share a moment in the bedlam around them, escaping Wonder Woman's Justifier squad. Later, there is a nice scene where Barry kisses Iris and releases her from the Anti-Life.

Mister Miracle, who had been gathering a new Forever People earlier in the series, returns with the promise of the victory over Darkseid's forces only to be gunned down.

As for the villains, they rejoice as Dan Turpin's will finally succumbs and he becomes the latest manifestation of Darkseid on Earth.

The truth is that while there were 22 pages of action, this issue did not inspire the same confidence in the title I had last issue. I still can't wrap my head around Darkseid's 'falling downward through the universe' and causing all this mayhem. But even if I can get past that ... exactly what do we know after this issue that we did not know last month with the final shot of the transmogrified Wonder Woman. Not much. It is as though the plot moved forward a couple of baby steps rather than the giant steps I was hoping for.

Yes, in this issue we saw that evil had won. But we knew that.

And we saw that some heroes are hiding awaiting the right time to mobilize. But we don't see a plan here, only hear about one vaguely. There is no sense that the heroes understand what is going on any more than I do.

And there is a palpable absence of the 'big characters'. I know that Superman is off in the beyond, Batman is captured, and Womder Woman is evil. And I understand how that adds to the peril the heroes are in. But can we have a super-mega-event where the main characters are Black Canary and Green Arrow? While their scenes here were touching, they don't carry the same weight. And even when we see semi-big characters (Flash, Alan Scott GL, Captain Marvel, Black Adam) we see them fleetingly. There is a lot of going on in this issue no doubt ... but I don't get the sense of a skeleton of a story for this stuff to stick to. And there are no main characters I can identify with or latch on to. Contrast that to Morrison's Doom Patrol. There was a lot going on in those issues too. But I always knew that there would be Cliff, Rebis, and Jane there as anchors for me as a reader.

I may be contradicting myself, because I praised last issue for not spelling it all out for me. But the truth is we are half way through the story and I am still pretty perplexed. And frankly, I want to care about what happens and where this is going. But between the delays and the cryptic plot, I was a bit underwhelmed.

Are those glowing eyed kids from issue one part of the plot anymore? Where is Libra? And we still need to take this story away from being simply a battle for Earth and make it a battle for the universe. We still need to see how the Monitors all fit in. We still need to have the Dark Monitor arrive. I still hope to understand how it all ties together, something I couldn't say about Morrison's Seven Soldiers, for example.

I have shut Pandora's box and I am holding on to hope that this title turns itself around and becomes the masterpiece I want it to be.

But this issue just didn't do it for me.

Overall grade: C-


Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter, suffer the little children to come unto her...and she brought Streaky to the Fortress.

Ye Olde Supergirl wouldn't know how to comfort a frightened child and she was NOT a cat person as there is hope for Supergirl and for the comics.
John Feer

TalOs said...

Meh. Aside from Supergirl I didn't like this issue either, anj. Maybe I'm all 'Crisised' out from having 3 Crisis in such a short period of time? :/

Eric said...

Nice review of the issue. I agree with a lot of what you said here. However, for me, the issue was the first one that I actually liked; something was actually going on and I felt like there was at least an undertone of impending danger throughout the issue. I am a bit worried about the resolution of the entire Final Crisis however... We're more than half way done and I feel like the story is just getting started which might suggest the last few issues will try to cram too much in and leave the readers disoriented and confused. I guess I fear that Final Crisis' conclusion might mirror the end of Morrison's run on X-men where events were occurring left and right with no clear explanation or logical connection.

Anj said...

It doesn't matter, suffer the little children to come unto her...and she brought Streaky to the Fortress.

I did think it was great to see the kids flocking to her, Streaky at her feet.

I think Morrison has a good 'sense' of who Supergirl should be.

Anj said...

I am a bit worried about the resolution of the entire Final Crisis however... We're more than half way done and I feel like the story is just getting started which might suggest the last few issues will try to cram too much in and leave the readers disoriented and confused.

Thanks for the post.

This is my concern too. I don't think many people will be happy with a major event like Final Crisis being impossible to understand.

I hope Morrison pulls the rabbit out of the hat and makes it right.

Nikki said...

I like to think that Darkseid's fall was line a huge brick on a trampoline. He's fallen and weighing down the fabric of reality. Anyone who happened to be on the edges went down with him. It seems Like KC superman was the first and then earth 10 supergirl and probably the new aquaman