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Final Crisis
posted February 7, 2013

imageCreators: Grant Morrison, Carlos Pacheco, JG Jones, Doug Mahnke, Matthew Clark, Jesus Merino, Marco Rudy, Christian Alamy, Tom Nguyen, Drew Geraci, Norm Rapmund, Rodney Ramos, Walden Wong, Derek Fridolfs, Rob Hunter, Don Ho, Alex Sinclair, Tony Avina, Pete Pantazis, David Baron, Richard & Tanya Horie, Rob Leigh, Rob Clark, Jr., Travis Lanham, Steve Wands, Ken Lopez
Publishing Information: DC Comics, Hardcover, 352 pages, June 2009, it cost me $10 at the thrift store
Ordering: 1401222811 (ISBN10), 9781401222819 (ISBN13)

This hardcover version of the DC mini-comics event now nearly five years in the rear-view window folds in two of the related Superman-focused mini-series that came out around the same time. That's sort of a dick move if you think about it, a confession that the core series itself really didn't work as well as at least one editor compiling these books thought this different configuration might. Or maybe the essentialness of "this thing and this other slightly different thing" was communicated to everyone but me; I don't know. I agree this version is more effective: it works a lot better than reading just the core Final Crisis series, mostly because it jacks up the weirdness quotient with the Superman material and makes that character a de facto lead in a way that doesn't overwhelm the main narrative. Most DC mini-series are about how awesome the characters are, and this is one sort of is, too -- particularly with Superman but also with The Flash and Green Lantern. Morrison seems to have an excess of affection, splattering here, there and everywhere: for characters as minor as they come, and for hopeless situations, and for brave declarations of Silver Age optimism, and for basically the whole structural enchilada that is modern superhero comics. Final Crisis ends up a bit relentless for Morrison's overwhelming ardor, and thus strangely boring. It's comics told in the key of EEEEEEEEEE, with a few stand back and applaud moments where the reader may or may not fully understand the cause of their doing so.

Final Crisis story focuses on an attempted takeover of DC's earth-centric reality by reliable big bad Darkseid and his assortment of evil god beings from the Jack Kirby Fourth World cosmology. Part of the fun during the first part of the book derives from the fact that the super-vibrant Kirby material rests uneasily nestled in the bosom of DC's collective Golden Age/World War 2 genteel blandness. There's only so much juice you can get from placing one thing up next to another, though. Several of the plots introduced early on spiral into irrelevancy, but the story is told in a way where one could argue that all the choices Morrison makes that don't work are part of this book's commentary on narratives and fictional characters. That's a great trick, if you can pull it off. Final Crisis sort of has a Pim & Francie feel to it in that it comes across as a collection of scenes pulled from a larger, more cohesive work and scattered across a drafting table. The ugly ones are better than the pompous ones and the self-satisfied ones, that's for sure, but it's a curious narrative progression for all these crisis books that things always seem to move from more interesting to less so. It hardly seems final, and in fact, the over-under we'll see something similar from the New 52 version of the DC books has to be around 48 months.