Ultimate Final Secret Crisis Wars: The Crisisization

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You may not have been aware of it, but DC’s Final Crisis mini-series mega-event wrapped up last month. That was it. No more crises after this. That was the final one.

I usually avoid this kind of continuity-wide mini-series. I’ve just read too many of them that are all, ‘this will change everything,’ and then nothing ever changes, except that DC or Marvel sells slightly more issues, and some minor hero’s sidekick’s cousin gets killed. In Canada.

But I spent the weekend reading through the full run of Final Crisis, and I gotta say, it kind of rocked.

The plot is close to unsummarizable (though the million typing fingers of Wikipedia take a pretty good shot at it). Basically Orion, of the New Gods, and J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter, bite it in the first issue. Various people, super- and non-, start investigating their deaths (the setup isn’t that different from Watchmen, now I think about it). The whole thing slowly morphs into a war against Darkseid, who’s trying to enslave humanity with something called the Anti-Life Equation. And some Monitor gets de-frocked. And an evil god has infiltrated the Green Lantern corps. And a dead version of the Flash either is or isn’t back. It’s really, really complicated. You’d have to be seriously fluent in DC universe lore to get it all, which I am not.

But it kind of doesn’t matter. You just wallow in the richness of it. I’ve finally given up and accepted that I will never understand the physics of boom tubes and mother boxes, and I feel fine. So now there are like seven different color lantern corps, not just green? OK! So, Tawny, you have the head of a tiger, or maybe you are a tiger, and you’re wielding something called a quantum blunderbuss? Awesome. I accept you.

[Note: it wasn’t until halfway through this post that I discovered the great Douglas Wolk’s Final Crisis annotations blog. Indispensable.]

The writer — Grant Morrison, who at this point I think I just need to admit I am a fan of — keeps pushing things just a little farther than you think he’s going to. When Mary Marvel gets possessed by an evil god and starts beating on Black Adam, Supergirl and Captain Marvel, Jr., she actually gets sexually excited! It’s just so hot to be scantily clad and evil! There’s no social agenda. There isn’t even the brooding hard-boiled earnestness of Dark Knight. It’s just fun. The language is so over-the-top it approaches sheer abstraction:

– “Hurry, Superman! I calculate we have exactly 72.4 seconds before time breaks down and this sentence becomes meaningless.”

– “I’m inside a self-assembling hyper story! And it’s trying its best to destroy me.”

Morrison really pulls from all possible corners of the DC continuum. He even dredges up Sonny Sumo, apparently last seen in Forever People in 1971, and turns him into a psychologically complete, totally sympathetic character. (Sonny is joined by a hilarious team of junior Japanese superheroes, who talk in manga-style melodrama. “We have never been in a fight either. Most of our powers are cosmetic!”)

If there’s one aspect of the series I can’t understand, it’s the apparently universal fascination with the ongoing saga of the Flash family. Jay, Barry, Wally, Bart … I’m sorry, I just can’t keep you straight. One of you is always dying or being resurrected or something? Or getting exiled to the speed dimension? Just shut up and run already!’

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