Saturday, January 17, 2009

Final Crisis #6 Hits THE SPLASH PAGE

Since Sequart continues to have trouble with its online presence, Chad Nevett and I are continuing our long-running "Splash Page" column via the cross-blog express.

This week's topic: Final Crisis #6, obviously!

Chad Nevett: And we return with our first column of 2009 to, once again, discuss the new issue of Final Crisis. Can I assume that you enjoyed the issue, Tim? Or did the art finally diminish your enjoyment a bit? Because, honestly, it's starting to bother me (especially the colouring of Shilo Norman), but I know that the quality of art plays a larger role in your enjoyment of a comic than mine, so I can only imagine that it's starting to bother you. Am I right?

Tim Callahan: Honestly, the art on the new issue of Captain Britain (which one of our colleagues gave FIVE STARS to) bothered me a whole lot more, with its Mike Collins fill-in hackery on a few pages. Final Crisis #6 did have three artists working on it, and some of the Pacheco pages looked a little rushed, but I actually didn't mind the art at all. I thought Jones's pages looked mostly great, and the Mankhe Superman pages looked chaotic and bombastic and a little sordid, and that final page gave me the chills, even though we all know that it probably doesn't mean what it seems to mean.

I don't think we need to put up and SPOILER alerts at this point, considering all the other coverage that people must have been exposed to, but, yeah, Batman's dead. Deceased. A stiff. Totally and absolutely dead.

I would like to talk about some other aspects of Final Crisis #6, but Batman's death is pretty damn important, so let's get that out of the way first. What's your take on how the Batman sequence played out?

CN: Honestly, I thought the showdown with Darkseid was great, but Batman dying didn't surprise me at all. For the supposed death of one of the biggest superheroes around, it was surprisingly underwhelming. When I saw that Newsarama had a story up about it, that's when I went "Oh yeah, Batman's dead... people probably care about that, don't they?" Otherwise, fantastic sequence. I know it's unclear if Darkseid died as well, but I think Darkseid's downfall coming in such a quiet way would work very well.

TC: I thought Batman's death was a perfectly placed big-superhero final showdown moment, but that's only because I just read the final two Morrison Batman issues. Does Batman's appearance in this issue even make sense otherwise? I mean, he's totally out of the comic -- easily disposed of in issue #2 -- and then he randomly reappears now and defeats Darkseid basically out of nowhere?

I like the bit with the gun, and we should have known that god-killing bullet would reappear to, uh, kill a god, but in the context of Final Crisis itself, does this Batman climax even work properly?

CN: How would I know? I've read those same Morrison-penned Batman issues. I think the mention of Batman killing the clone army in issue five may provide enough of a reminder that the most dangerous man in the world is in the building, but I can't say for sure. Then again, it works for me since I have read those other comics.
Speaking of other comics, did the opening of this issue bother you? It obviously references the end of Superman Beyond 3D, which comes out next week. Or the possibility of spoiling the end... kind of... of Legion of Three Worlds?

TC: It does make Superman Beyond seem kind of pointless, since he just apparently hangs out in the bleed for a while and then hitches a ride from Brainiac 5 to get home. I don't think it spoils the Legion spin-off, but who knows.

I liked the Miracle Machine bit.

If you recall, which you probably don't because you are not a Legion geek, Matter-Eater Lad once went crazy because he ate the Miracle Machine, so I can only imagine what Morrison's going to do with it in Final Crisis #7.

So, to recap: I was barely annoyed by the art, slightly annoyed by the spoiling of Superman Beyond, which ties in with my overall great annoyance at the terrible shipping pattern of this book and the spin-offs, and I was not annoyed at all by the Batman death, and I enjoyed the heck out of this issue overall. It felt vast. It had scope. It feels like a pretty big Crisis now, for all those haters in the audience who said it wasn't Crisis-y enough at first. And even though we didn't get nearly enough of the new Nix Uotan in this issue, Morrison has primed us for a big conclusion with Flashes running real fast, Superman real pissed, and the Super Young Team finding themselves useful for once.

CN: I didn't mind the spoiling at all, because the end result isn't of primary importance in a Morrison comic. The journey is almost always much more important. As well, we all expected that little adventure to end with Superman rejoining his fellow heroes, so there's no big shock there. It's really just a sign of DC's bizarre and inept scheduling.

I'm with you, I really enjoyed this issue... but that's not really a surprise since we've enjoyed every issue so far. I love the Nix Uotan two page bit--it was a very inventive layout that worked with his new abilities. There were a few small moments that I don't think worked (the Hawkman/Hawkgirl dialogue, which served what purpose?), but, overall, a standard great issue.

As well, I haven't paid too much attention to the online reaction, but I've noticed a lack of people, for the most part, complaining that they don't get this series. You're much more tuned into reactions from across the internet, have you noticed an altered reaction to this issue?

TC: Not really. The people who don't get it still don't get it, and the people who like it still like it. But there are, of course, people who get it and don't like it, and maybe there are people who don't get it but like it anyway. I'd say that the reactions have remained pretty consistent, which doesn't make a lot of sense, now that I think about it, since the middle issues seemed to be way more in tune with what people said they wanted from issue #1. But there's no pleasing the haters, I guess.

I'm more curious about how Final Crisis meshes with Morrison's Batman stuff. In a recent interview, Morrison mentioned that when DiDio heard about his plans for Batman in Final Crisis (which was proposed back in 2006, I think), and then he heard about "Batman R.I.P." he thought that Morrison should kind of tie them together, even though "R.I.P." was intended to be a "psychological deconstruction" and not a literal death. That makes sense, and it explains why Morrison seemed to go out of his way to show that the explosion at the end of "R.I.P." wasn't Batman's final fate, even though it kind of implied that it was with the Nightwing pose and all that.

And I also wonder why I'm not getting calls from nationally syndicated radio shows this week, now that Batman has REALLY died, instead of just sort-of-but-not-really-at-all died. Don't people care about Batman's REAL, irrevocable, complete and non-refundable (but will probably be explained away within a year) death?



Ultimate Matt said...

I get the story, and I;ve been enjoying it, but one thing I'm totally lost on: why are there multiple Earths floating around, and what exactly are the mechanicics behind "time breaking"? Am I stupid or is that coming in issue 7?

Also, I'm totally caught up on Scalped, and I admit the errors of my ways. Awesome comic.

Mike Leader said...

Totally agree with how underwhelming the actual death of Batman was, and how strange it is that no-one seemed to pick it up for newsworthy coverage.

I loved the issue, and in particular the Bat-bits, but I think that it is indicative that on a discussion forum we were discussing the huge hype surrounding the Spider-Man/Obama crossover, and one poster suddenly cut in with 'hey guys, Batman died this week!', and it suddenly clicked for me how outside of comic-culture-outlets, this isn't being discussed. In fact, that post piqued the interest of other board members ('huh? what happened to Batman?'), much more than the Marvel issue at hand. Interesting, I thought.

As always, great to read your insights. Looking forward to the next part going up.


Thiago FLS said...

Why is it that so many reviewers are complaining about Pacheco's art in this issue? Did they mistake some of Marco Rudy's pages for his or something? The only pages that look like they were drawn by the Pacheco/Merino team are the first three.

Rudy is competent enough, but he draws some really ugly faces. The page where Black Canary punches Green Arrow is the worst example of that.

I wish Mahnke drew more pages, but I'm glad that Jones got to draw the Supergirl/Marvel Family sequence and Batman's death before leaving the book. I can always tell his pages from the others because of his unusual layouts.

Timothy Callahan said...

Marco Rudy is the inker, not the penciller, as far as I know.

andy khouri said...

The lack of news coverage is something I actually can speak to:

Batman already died in the final chapter of Batman R.I.P., didn't you hear???

Seriously, DC only gets to blow the Bat wad once, and they did so in November. Why did that barely blip on the radar? Because anybody can go into a comics store and read the Death of Captain America issue and understand it. Anybody can go read the Spidey/Obama issue and understand it. More importantly, a journalist can be told what happens in these stories and understand it.

Almost nobody can walk into a comics store, read the Batman R.I.P. conclusion, and understand it. And the Final Crisis death is even more oblique for casual readers.

And don't forget, DC already burned would-be new readers with pushing DC Universe Zero so hard -- "The return of The Flash! Who no one knew was dead! And he wasn't even in it anyway!"

And the press might just be over it, having pushed the Spidey/Obama thing so hard in the same week.

Nacho said...

I don't think that the DC mentality is to consider how many times they announced Batman's death.

The lack of immediate news could mean that the situation is temporary. Maybe even returning to life in the next issue.

If this was really Batman's "DEATH" you should have known it on wednesday's morning, before you went to the comic shop.


David Uzumeri said...

Tim, you're definitely wrong about Marco Rudy. He's a separate penciller/inker - his deviantart is here, with a few uncolored pages. No clue why DC gave him such a big project as essentially his first big assignment, but his work last issue was much nicer so I assume some of the wonky things here (like Barry's face) were just due to being rushed.

Timothy Callahan said...

I just assumed he was finishing over Jones's pencils, and that's why it looked like Jones but a lot more sloppy. Interesting that DC didn't announce Rudy's involvement in their train of "Pacheco is coming in to help out...and Mahnke is doing the final issue..and, oh yeah, this guy Rudy's going to draw some random pages too!!!"

David Uzumeri said...

DC isn't really in the habit of "announcing things." Did you know next week's issue of JLA is going to be by Len Wein and ChrisCross? Neither did I, until I saw the picture on eBay!

That said, while some of his pages here had problems (ESPECIALLY the Flash pages), I really enjoyed basically every page he did last issue and I'd definitely like to see more work from him.

Chad Nevett said...

Yeah, I figured Rudy was drawing rather than inking last issue and does a decent job, especially in making an effort to use a style similar to the one Jones draws in. This issue looked more rushed, probably because it was.

And Matt, who cares what the actual mechanices behind "time breaking" are? Just enjoy the ride, son.

Thiago FLS said...

On the DC boards, someone did a breakdown of who drew which pages of FC #4-6:

Now we know what DiDio meant when he said DC was pulling all stops to ensure Final Crisis would end in January. They really should have hired Mahnke to work on the book since issue #4, because Pacheco turned out to be even slower than Jones.