Kwik Thots

Final Crisis #3 (of 7)

I didn't like this as much as prior issues, although a glance around the internet suggests I'm in the minority.

And I think that's maybe a case of the comic slowly shifting gears to give due attention to certain big-time superhero megacomic aspects that don't really match up with my own tastes - I don't read a lot of these types of stories, after all, and this chapter's a bit more like a proper Event comic than usual, what with its heavier focus on recent continuity coming to a head, along with a showcase throwdown between especially punchy combatants, lots of affirmations of superhero universe bigness and maybe a few nods toward upcoming supplemental miniseries that might interest the discerning reader.

Oh, there's still some fine moments, some interesting stuff. This remains the sort of understatement-focused Big! comic that'll have the Anti-Life Equation disseminated via email spam, after which Darkseid conquers the world off-panel - so it goes with barely-seen troubles spreading until one day you stop running and look around, and everything's just awful. As the best exchange of the issue went: "Our customers expect burgers with fries. Bizarre, unsettling questions? No." But that's how it sneaks up on you! Good thing Grant Morrison and J.G. Jones have this unsettling attitude, eh readers?

Naturally, I also applauded for all the references to other comics I managed to understand, although some of them carried more weight than others; I mean, it was nice seeing Frankenstein again, but he didn't actually have much to do besides look cool and assure hopeful readers that his incarnation of the archetype hasn't been ejected into the Immateria yet.

More successful was the big bog encounter between homophobic supervillain Mike Miller (tee hee) and the costume-baring, revamp-minded Libra, a rather deliberate evocation of the Slaughter Swamp opening of Seven Soldiers #0, only with the 'creator' character slamming the hapless D-lister's new helmet onto his head and instantly imposing total subjugation. That's not how you remake a universe, but it is how you reverse the themes of an earlier work into a multiverse-shaking threat - and do note that Libra is essentially in the role of Mr. Grant Morrison!

Even better was the momentary casting of Super Young Team -- those awesomely ad hoc Japanese scenester superheroes -- as an ersatz Forever People, which seems a pretty ingenious bit of industry commentary married to in-story superhero globalization, just the sort of thing I'd expect from an omnivore of influence like Morrison. Although some of the Forever People themselves are supposed to show up later on, according to the Sketchbook... but hey, why settle on just one idea of youth?

Unfortunately, a compelling chapter didn't cohere for me. Sure, I didn't need to have read Countdown to get the basic mechanics of the Wonder Woman/Mary Marvel fight, but there's not a lot of resonance beyond the vague echo of something from somewhere else coming to a head - it's otherwise just Wonder Woman and Bad Former Heroine (amusingly dressed not unlike Oubliette from Morrison's and Jones' Marvel Boy) punching each other while an emotional hook is heavy-handedly imposed by a supporting character (from another book, I guess)mentioning how Wonder Woman totally inspires her, and then she tragically dies no more than three pages later - we know it's a sad and weighty moment, because another character mentions it.

I was sad to see the call-and-response first and last page game from the first two issues go, the big opening splash replaced by more small panels to pack in added story info. It's not all good. The Hal Jordan strand hasn't yet gone beyond 'framed man' boilerplate, I don't have nearly enough of an attachment to the Flash mythos to click with Jay and Barry and Wally all outrunning Death together, no matter how grave everyone's faces appear to be, and the Superman subplot has now gotten distractingly clumsy, with Our Hero feeling the need to announce his motivation aloud while comforting Lois in the same breath (like, 'I love you so much honey, if I so much as flinch you're dead' - jeez, Clark!), only to have another character burst in shouting "Superman! You are needed for an urgent tie-in!" Not in those words, granted.

It's still a fair enough creep forward, yeah. Just blander than before. It's kind of a thin line this project is balanced on - it's trying to be a different kind of Event comic (not your dad's crossover, as Morrison declares in his annotations to issue #1, if you bought that too), but its subtleties and soft touch do run the risk of transforming it into simply a more boring variant of the usual Event; I think this issue highlights that hazard, though maybe there's less trouble waiting those few weeks into the future.