Comic Fodder

Your Complaints Re: Final Crisis are Wrong

So while the mainstream media was buzzing about a pretty hokey publicity stunt Marvel pulled this week, having Spidey meet President-elect Obama, comic fans were gnashing their teeth in regards to Final Crisis #6.

Spoilers ahoy below, so...

If you have not yet read the issue and do not want Final Crisis 6 spoiled, do not proceed.

There's no question there's a vast, vast divide out there in the internets right now between folks who are enjoying Final Crisis versus those who are not. So either this series is working for you, the reader, at this point, or it is not.

I'm not entirely clear on what the complaints are at this point. One can point to a few appearing online as an example, but I'm not sure that's entirely helpful.

I think we've moved on beyond the "Secret Invasion is so easy to understand and Final Crisis is not!" argument at this point. So this column will not address that particularly baffling meme.

Nothing happens in Final Crisis

Morrison's structure for Final Crisis has not been altogether as linear as the average series, but its also not been a huge departure from his larger JLA stories (I'm think Rock of Ages and World War III). What some readers may find confusing is the accusation that a series that has gone from finding a dead god (small G) in a dumpster to the enslavement of mankind, collapse of reality, return of Barry Allen, compromise of Wonder Woman and death of Batman in six issues is dull or that there hasn't been adequate narrative advancement seems a bit off.

What I suspect, and tell me if I'm wrong, but what I suspect is that because Morrison's tactic in telling Final Crisis is to present events unfolding as they are, with no thought bubbles to help the reader along and with a minimum of expository scenes of talking heads chatting about what's happening, some readers feel the almost documentary, detached style of storytelling suggests that nothing is happening.

This may lead to the old chestnut...

It's confusing

Until the most recent issue, this complaint seemed odd. The story, itself, has been very straightforward, and one need not get a summary of the story here.

This issue pre-supposed the release of Superman Beyond 2, I believe, and probably the conclusion of "Legions of 3 Worlds" stories. And it certainly would not have hurt to have picked up "Final Crisis: Submit" and 'Final Crisis: Resist". If you've been following these tie-in's, then this probably made more sense to you.

It would be deeply, deeply helpful for DC to collect "Submit" and "Resist" directly into the Final Crisis trade collections as they are crucial to the overall understanding of what is happening iwth Final Crisis.

Fans might worry more about whether DC were killing their audience with tie-in's but Marvel has learned to make that such common practice that when you don't follow a series (I gave up on Secret Invasion in the fourth issue), the tie-in's don't mean a whole lot. But when every book in the line is a "Secret Invasion" tie-in... Civil War alone had something over 100 possible comics to pick from that tied into the main series.

The art is subpar

This is going to be a matter of taste. I will admit that losing JG Jones on the series, whether for a slow production output or for other rumored reasons, has been a bit of a blow. And while this reader was pleased with Pacheco's fill-in work, the prospect of Doug Mahnke's inclusion is seen as a huge plus (I've been a fan of his stuff since his work on the Superman titles about five years ago (prior to JLA: The Obsidian Age).

That said, different artists on a series can be disruptive, so that aspect of the complaint is fairly constructive and demonstrates DC's weak management of the Final Crisis development and production plan. But complaints that anyone was turning in work that was less than impressive? That's a bit more difficult to illustrate.

It's depressing

Yes. Driving all of humanity into a horrible hellscape of broken wills driven in front of gods whose only desire is mastery and control at any cost... That's a bit of a downer.

Before we give in to the Anti_life equation, though, there are a few options for how this story will wrap up:

1) One way or another, at the conclusion of Final Crisis things will return to normal. Which means that what issue 7 holds is the fight many readers have been waiting for, and isn't fighting back against the horrors inflicted upon the Earth sort of more worth it when all seems lost? Aren't readers a little curious to see what happens?

2) The heroes lose. And... well, that's a very, very different status quo for the DCU. And, honestly, I don't see DC thinking they're revamping the DCU so tha its based on a world dominated by Darkseid and the anti-life equation.

3) Like Crisis on Infinite Earths, this is the end of the DCU. In which case... that's some pretty serious business, and I have no idea how they'll manage it given the forward trajectory of the DCU. We'll see.

There's the folks who are saying "it's not fun". Granted, t's no "Tiny Titans" (which is, seriously, like a day at the carnival), but sometimes its about the journey. Is "Lord of the Rings" fun from start to finish? Isn't Empire Strikes Back considered the best of the series?

And in comparison to other series? This reader doesn't wish to begin naming names, especially of series I didn't read or finish, but is the conceit of an alien invasion and finding out everyone you thought you knew was someone else "fun"? Or a war amongst peers and allies over whether or not to bow to government a real bowl of cherries?

A "lack of fun" is the weakest argument in the batch, as the term "fun" is so terribly subjective (I enjoy watching football, but know that sounds like grim death to others). It's one thing if you don't like a story, but everyone comes to a story looking for something different. A zany children's story, this is not, but nor can we condemn it as preaching doom and gloom. At least not until the final issue.

And yet, despite the death of infinite universes in COIE, few railed against that series as a "lack of fun". Or Dark Knight. Or Watchmen.

There's no characterization

It is easy enough to attribute the suggestion that Morrison is not demonstrating characters to the lack of thought bubbles and thought caption boxes. But we have seen character moments, between Barry and Iris, in the Submit and Resist one-shots, and elsewhere. On every page, we understand the effects of the Anti-Life equation based upon how characters have resisted, how they've moved out of character, what have you...

Morrison has always been one to demonstrate character through action, not through declarations or words, especially in his ensemble work where each panel is a premium of space sucha s his run on JLA. So while this may not be the same character study that we might find in a single character book, seeing our characters raise themselves up through what they do, and I think we've still got an issue left here to see that arc.

Oh noes! They've killed Batman!

For some reason that I wasn't able to really glean, Val D'Orazio took particular exception to the events of the recent issue of Final Crisis. See here and here.

Now, when it comes to DC, one does not (nor should they) expect complete objectivity from Val, so its tough to separate hyperbole from whatever is really going on. But what surprises me is two fold.

1) That anyone over the age of 18 would believe that Bruce Wayne is dead forever and that Batman no longer exists. There are a billion bat-reasons the WB generated just last summer at the box office that tells me that Bruce Wayne is no goner. Not to mention the endless toy sales, and general public investment in Batman that sells underoos, t-shirts and mac-n-cheese. Also... anyone notice they didn't cancel "Batman" or "Detective Comics"?

So while we all appreciate your concern, and no matter the appearance...

2) Did Morrison not just spend two years building up to a story, the moral of which was "Batman plans for every contingency"? Only to have him walk into certain death?

Have some faith, people. Even if Bruce Wayne is dead, we've got an issue left of the series. Don't pass judgment until you see where he's going with this.

3) Batman dies all the time. From his "death" in DKR to his actual death in "Rock of Ages" to parlor trick deaths like that in "The Obsidian Age". The only permanent death is the pre-COIE Earth 2 death.

4) If I was right about my point above regarding the end of the current DCU, then Batman may be dead. And that's kind of nuts, but it also leaves us wondering what is coming next. And that's kind of interesting, isn't it?

So in conclusion

Part of what this reader enjoys about a Morrison epic is that I'm usually unable to outguess the writer. I don't know if readers come to serial superhero comics for the comfort food of the inevitable victory of our protagonists and the push to return to the status quo (even if that means Spider-Man must make a deal with the devil to make it happen). It does seem that when things seem to get their darkest, superhero fans seem to get oddly uncomfortable with a story.

But being unable to outguess a writer or feel the story beats with such familiarity that your status quo ending is never in doubt does not make a compelling story. Perhaps its the iconic nature of the DCU and the scale of the threats that leaves readers outside of their comfort zone when things get particularly bleak. Who knows?

It's a difficult nut to crack, but the "Final Crisis is killing comics" comments are kind of silly. While this reader will respect that you may not enjoy the story, it's just gotten ridiculous out there in the interwebs.

Before you cancel all your DC comics pulls, and before you begin gnashing your teeth over how DC hates kittens and goodness:

Take a breath. Re-read the issue. Quit believing AwesomeDarkLord67's predictions about how Morrison will kill all comics. And if that doesn't work, a cup of milk and a hot bath will help.

Questions? Comments? Hate mail?

Come on, I can take it.


Ryan is an Op/Ed columnist for Comic Fodder. He keeps his comics and himself in Austin, Texas where he manages the long running blog League of Melbotis.

He likes Superman.

You can reach Ryan (aka: The League) at

I'm all for waiting to see what Morrison has cooked up, re: Batman's 'death'. However, what I take issue with, is the resolution won't be in Batman, where the six issue, well, now seven issue story started. We all get Batman will be around forever. I suspect at some point, someone will figure out that, Bruce Wayne won't.

And that will be a dark day....

-- Posted by: Matches Malone at January 18, 2009 9:31 AM

Well, I'm not one to say that the end of RIP wasn't kind of a mess, especially this close to Morrison's plans for Bats in Final Crisis.

The whole thing is kind of weird. While I'm following it with no trouble from title to title, those who come after and will try to piece this together are going to be pulling their hair out.

-- Posted by: Ryan at January 18, 2009 4:11 PM

You missed another common criticism - the issue wasn't very good.

Seriously, the story was nothing but plot points with "foreshadowed" and poke-their-heads-in expostion from characters who have played almost no part in the story (Hawkman and Hawkgirl for example).

4+ pages of Tawny and Tiger Kalibak? Really? In the penultimate chapter of a supposedly great saga this is what we get? It was cool for the first 3 or 4 panels but after that, meh. I couldn't give a rat's ass about the Super Whatever Team yet here we have another 3 pages devoted to them standing around expousing about WHO CARES WHAT! Mary Marvel, whose fight with Supergirl can be summed up as "Skank! Whore! Slut!" is taken out by a lightning bolt because Freddy "suddenly" feels it will work? Pardon me while I yawn (groan?).

The art was inconsistent and when it was bad it was dreadful. Look at the Watchtower scene and find any emotion in Tattooed Man's or Black Canary's face during their conversation. The issue's panel pacing was crowded - again (still?) - with one notable exception: the very cool layout for the scene with Metron. Even the seminal Menhke, who delivered in the opening sequence just fine, gave us a stone-faced Superman on the last page, stone-faced as in 'nothing there' not 'determined'.

This issue was slapshot from cover to cover. To see how to pace a book of this type, go back and look at #4. To see how to juggle multiple artists, go back to #5. Both can be done. Here - neither were.

-- Posted by: David at January 20, 2009 5:20 PM

This is still an event DC comic, and so I guess I am not put off by scenes such as the one between Tawny and Kalibak. More characters have been drawn into the fray, and I expect to see a wide range of characters in any given issue of DC event comics.

I care about what the Super team had to say. It was advancing the plot, was specific to the story and gave us some new ideas vis-a-vis Kirby's designs of the past 40 years. It was an interesting few pages.

As per art... if you wanted to pick an issue where it wasn't great, this was the one. Overall, I believed it was more than serviceable, but I am very much looking forward to Mahnke's arrival with issue 7.

-- Posted by: Ryan at January 22, 2009 4:02 PM