Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Final Crisis #5 Review

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by J.G. Jones, Carlos Pacheco and Jesus Merino

While not without faults, Final Crisis came out swinging this month with what I consider to be the best issue of the series so far. From the stirring conclusion to the trial of Hal Jordan to probably the villain monologue of the year from Darkseid near the end, Morrison managed to tell a cohesive and thrilling story from start to finish that felt like it was truly building to something for the first time since the series began.

Opening the issue with the trial of Hal Jordan did a great job of setting the tone for the issue. One of the highlights of this scene was the Granny Goodness possessed Alpha Lantern injuring a Guardian of the Universe before attempting (she fails) to destroy the central power battery. While I think injuring Guardians is becoming the new 'SHIELD helicarrier crashing' for DC (it seems to happen every other event these days), I still think it worked rather well here. Hopefully, with the Guardians final line telling Hal he has 24 hours to save the universe means the Green Lanterns will play a huge part in the conclusion to this event, as they skirt the periphery of the main conflict, just getting to Earth by the end of the issue.

From here, we darted over to check on Checkmate, whom I assumed would have a huge presence in this issue after the events of Final Crisis: Resist. Unfortunately, I was left rather confused by what I saw. In Resist, the tie-in ended with Mr Terrific leading an army of thousands of OMACs and the last survivors of the Antarctic base out to, well, resist Darkseid's rule. In fact, the entire, brief, Checkmate segment seemed to be full of continuity errors in regards to what we've been shown so far.

Here, we're treated to a base that wasn't overrun by the Anti-Life Equation controlled forces and Amanda Waller telling the Question, who should be fighting Cain / Vandall Savage over in Revelations still, about their new seven day BIOMACs, a new version of OMAC that look like the old Silver Age versions with the mohawks.

Renee, who has seen all kinds of crazy, especially in regards to the world going to hell in a hand basket and her appearances in Revelations, is seen here complaining about not having much experience with this kind of stuff and how she doesn't 'do the science fiction stuff'.

Finally, still with Checkmate, it appears Mister Miracle was wearing a bullet proof vest and the gunshot he suffered didn't kill him. Oookkaay. What was the point of that again? Cheap theatrics by the looks of it. Speaking of Mister Miracle, contradicting the whole Tattoo Man circuit delivery storyline, it is actually Mister Miracle who delivers the circuit pattern to Checkmate and tells them to all paint it on their faces.

I don't mind small errors or contradictions in most major events, but Final Crisis has like five tie-ins, all overpriced and only one or two actually seemed to have anything to do with the main title. When those one or two seemingly important books get retconned / ignored a month later in the main book, it irks me a lot more than something like Secret Invasion's hundredth tie-in not lining up right with the main title. I just don't see how you can mess up something like that with so few books and, supposedly, three years of planning.

Ignoring this little segue, the rest of the issue goes off flawlessly with my only complaint being some of the scenes felt a little rushed. For instance, we jump into the assault on Bludhaven with Black Adam and Captain Marvel leading the charge against Mary Marvel, who seems to be possessed by Desaad instead of actually being corrupted now. This battle had the makings of something truly special, but was simply far too short to maintain the impact it should have had. After the opening clash, Black Adam is simply tossed into a car and taken out of the fight while Mary moves on to grind her crotch on a beaten Captain Marvel and make some small chat before the scene changes. Another page or two and it would have given time to flesh the fight out a bit more.

Speaking of the rushed feel of this ending, the scene with, what I believe is, Bobo from Shadowpact, a random 'mute' with a rubik's cube and the wayward banished Monitor, now captured by Darkseid's Purifiers. We were told this room was for the people that the Anti-Life Equation didn't work on and they would be experimented on and eventually killed when they were through with them.

While this is all fairly straight forward, we then jump back and forth between a few scenes and the so-called mute solves the rubik's cube in 17 moves, which is supposedly impossible and was said by Bobo to be the number of God, and the room and the Purifiers are engulfed in light. We cut back later to Darkseid's men grovelling to him and each blaming the other for what happened and, as far as I can tell, it has something to do with Batman and his 'psycho merge clone army', which I assume is what happens next week in the Grant Morrison Batman tie-in. Here, it just felt like I was missing pages where this was supposed to be explained.

However, this still didn't really nag at me like some of the more disjoint and jarring scenes from earlier issues did and it was all made up for with the emergence of Darkseid and his speech about taking everyone to a hell with no exits and crushing their very souls. It was definitely one of the best monologues from a villain I've read in a long, long time and worth picking up the issue alone for.

This was all contrasted with the rebirth of the Monitor and he is being heralded as the judge of all evil. I'm curious as to what this will mean and does this tie into that evil Monitor from the Superman Beyond tie-ins or will that even spill back into Final Crisis?

Verdict - Must Read. While not a perfect issue, the few flaws I do talk about, seemingly at length, didn't affect my enjoyment of this issue in the least and Final Crisis may just deliver on much of the hype. However, the art, which I didn't really mention in the review, looks terrible in comparison to earlier issues and it's a shame.

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