Wednesday, January 28, 2009

When Words Collide: Final Crisis -- Here is Knowledge

Thus, an era of comics-I-am-
eagerly-anticipating comes to a close. Now that "Final Crisis" is done, comic book shopping on Wednesdays seems to have lost its luster. The world is a little dimmer now, isn't it?

This week's "When Words Collide" was delayed because I wanted to tackle "Final Crisis" in its entirety, #7 included, and so I could hit my usual deadline of 5:00 PM on Tuesday night, unless Darkseid himself dropped off a copy of the last issue on his way back through time (clearly, he had other things to worry about, and I don't hold it against him). Then the snowstorm hit New England this morning, and that delayed my purchase of the issue even more. But I read it like crazy and ignored my family tonight, and submitted my column, "Final Crisis: Here is Knowledge" just in time to make Wednesday's CBR.

Actually, the CBR folks had to work a little overtime to get it posted, and that's just another example of how awesome they are.

So read my column, then come back here and tell me how wrong I am, and I will destroy you with the power of song.


JayW said...

You're not wrong - you always have good insight when it comes to Grant Morrison's work. What I would add to your statements, however, is that while Superman is the center of the universe, Batman is the character who can never be defeated. Every time you think he is out of this story (and R.I.P.), he finds a way back again, to fight another day. Great stuff.

Ultimate Matt said...

Hey Tim, I think we may actually see completely eye-to-eye for once.

Maybe tonight you'll watch LOST and realize how very, very wrong you are. And all will be right.

Kris Krause said...

Nice column. My only criticism is that you really should have included the two issues of Batman in the reading list.

Final Crisis was a fun ride for me. It is truly an anachronism, and whether or not it is the clairvoyant style Morrison was attempting for it to be, remains to be seen but I would sure love to read another comic like it one day.

Timothy Callahan said...

I thought about the Batman issues, but they are not exactly final crisis-centric. They aren't essential the way Superman Beyond is.

ALTHOUGH, yes, my ideal ABSOLUTE FINAL CRISIS would include those two issues. So, KK, you are right.

Ultimate Matt said...

I was just thinking about this in the shower (bad intro, I know). Am I the only one who can totally see an ultra-compressed, one issue version of FC done in full-on silver age style?

I can picture the cover, with a sweaty but stoic Superman, hunched over his workbench in the Fortress, with a word balloon that says, If I can't finish this MIRACLE MACHINE, the UNIVERSE is DOOMED!" while Mandrakk looms over him, all Nosferatu-esque.

Morrison should write that. Rick Veitch or J.H. Williams could draw it.

Preston said...

Tim, since I don't post on CBR I feel obligated to point out what I think might be a typo. In the first paragraph you said:

""Final Crisis" was an attempt to heal a DC Universe that had fallen ill. It was a sigil of renewal, a narrative of hope, and a reminder of the splendor of these fictional gods."

You do mean, "Final Crisis was NOT an attempt..", right? Just trying to help, not sure if that was what you meant.

Preston said...

Actually, ignore my comment. I read it too quickly and just assumed by the non-rebooting nature of FC that that was what you meant, oops.

Rob Pugh said...

Morrison has a slightly different Final Crisis checklist in an interview at Newsarama -

BATMAN #682 – 683

- I still think having a fan have to buy 4-5 titles to get the story the way the author *really* intended it is kind of wrong.

One thing I have noticed is that the praise for the quick cut/channel zapping/surfing style Morrison adopted for FC, and that he thinks may bode for the future... Does no one else only channel surf until they find something they actually *want* to watch? Once I've found something good, constant quick cuts away are just annoying.

Anyway, haven't actually read FC#7 yet, so I can't say whether I think GM pulled off the save...

Timothy Callahan said...

Yeah, I saw Morrison's checklist (and read the interview) AFTER I submitted my column.

If people follow writers, then there should be no problem. If they follow titles or characters, then screw 'em. Who follows titles and characters instead of creators once you get past, like, 12?

When I'm in channel-flipping mode, I constantly flip back and forth between 2 or 3 things. The only time I ever watch a show all the way though is if it's on DVD or if my wife is watching it with me (and she will kick me in the throat if I click around).

And, you know what? I just reread Crisis and Infinite Crisis, and those comics flip around just as much from scene to scene (maybe not as much as FC #7 does), and the only difference is the narrative captions. When you read older comics, do you even read the narrative captions? I don't. They rarely contain anything interesting.

JayW said...

Unless I missed something (I need to go back and re-read FC 7), the new "Kirby earth" does not feature the New Gods. I guess that would be my only disappointment with the new direction, is that the New Gods have been erased from DC. I was sort of hoping that the horrible Starlin mini-series would be seen as nothing more than a cruel joke.

Rob Pugh said...

"If people follow writers, then there should be no problem. If they follow titles or characters, then screw 'em. Who follows titles and characters instead of creators once you get past, like, 12?"

I follow some creators and I follow some characters. And I follow some genres. No need to be insulting or dismissive. Do you say the same for everybody who wants to see the latest James Bond flick? Or someone who watches more than one episode of the same TV show every week [regardless of the writer/director]? Some things in some characters resonate.

And do you really think half as many folks would be picking up Final Crisis in the numbers they are if they featured, say, the Wildstorm Universe characters? Of course not, because part of the appeal is the characters. As Morrison himself says, Superman will live long past him.

And it's kind of a problem, for me, and imho, and especially when finances are as limited as they are in this economy, when a company or creator says "Buy this story! It's almost all self contained. Except for these miniseries. But to really 'get' it, the writer also says buy this, this, this and this too!" It's a cheap move.

"When I'm in channel-flipping mode, I constantly flip back and forth between 2 or 3 things... if my wife is watching it with me (and she will kick me in the throat if I click around)."

Count me as a throat kicker with your wife. Watch one thing and give it your attention. I hate trying to watch with ADD people who can't focus or decide what they really want to watch. Personal preference, of course.

But you'd think a meditator like Morrison would get that.

"When you read older comics, do you even read the narrative captions? I don't. They rarely contain anything interesting."

Yeah, I do. And I think that's kind of a huge generalization about the interesting bit. And in huge series with lots of characters, it helps with exposition. Which, with the written word, can be kind of important.

I think my problem with FC 1-6 has been that I really don't care about what happens to any of the characters. There are a lot of interesting ideas but I haven't seen anyone in the story developed enough to connect with them, imho.

And I think one of the big things is I've never really had the man-crush on Kirby's New Gods that a lot of folks, including Morrison, have.

I'm looking more forward to what Morrison does next, to be honest, than picking up the last FC.

Jim McD said...

Really liked your comments this morning on CBR about the various Crises DC has gone through. A very even handed and insightful take on past and present. Gave me a lot to think about with regard to Morrison's opus, too.
For me, one of the really interesting things about the Crises has been the meta-level, how Infinite Crisis, for instance, was as much (and at times self-consciously) the story of DC editorial as anything else. Even more explicitly Countdown, as disastrous as it ended up being as a story. The Monitors, stand ins for the editors, trying to watch and also control, and creating some real problems along the way. It's ironic, really, the problems they caused in the comic were so parallel to the problems of the comic.
Maybe it's only with Morrison's much more free-flowing, diverse epic that DC can have the sort of hope and freedom that I think it's been searching for.
You've given me a lot to think about. Really appreciate the piece. (Sorry for the mucho babble.)

rb said...


Have been following your reporting of Shaman Morrison with interest for a while now. I enjoy the careful reading that you give his work, and this review is no exception. Solid work and impressive to jam it out the same day that the book is released.

My favorite aspect of this entire mad ride was the exuberance, the celebration, as completely dire as things were, the way that the pages were just charged with this wild joyful energy, love for sequential superheroics kind of feeding back on itself in a loop; and I felt that simmering beneath the words in your review, as well.

rap said...

It was the death knell of the Silver Age, with the death of the Silver Age's icon, Barry Allen's Flash, as a symbol of the move from scientific fantasy to grim "reality."

Really? What's your source on this, Tim, or is it strictly your opinion.

My recollection was that the sole purpose of COIE was to "simplify" the DCU. Don't recall anything about "grim reality."

Timothy Callahan said...

My source on this is DC Universe post-Crisis. The Death of Barry Allen shut the door on the Silver Age.

Just to take one example, see John Byrne's more "realistic" take on Superman, which almost completely removed the Silver Age additions to the character's mythology.

Luis Henao said...

I haven't seen anybody recalling what Bat-mite said in Batman 680: "Imagination is the 5th dimension".

All this FC trip has been a nice metaphor of the struggle of dreamers, creative minds, artist again the monotonic, single-minded society.

A really nice take of Morrison on the trade (a Cervantes sort of comment).

Sadly I found it too confusing, too anti Epic to see the metaphor clearly. I needed the comments of Tim and others to understand what all this was about. (I missed some tie ins, that now I feel are worthy to read).

Thanks for your serious an passionately annotations.

rap said...

Well, that's not a "source" but an opinion.

Not saying that it's incorrect, but I don't think it was the stated intention of COIE to make a transition to "grim reality."

And citing Byrne as a reference for anything by Wolfman is problematic, Tim, to say the very least.

Anonymous said...

Morrison's in ur comics, rejecting ur grand narrative of superheroes.

md said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Why o why do I suddenly want a BATMAN mini-series, written by Grant Morrison, set in the prehistoric age?

Batman fighting cavemen? Yes please.

jmb418 said...

Thank you, Tim. That was great. I want to reply to every negative review and comment I find with a link to this column.

Chad Nevett said...

I disagree with Morrison regarding reading order as I'd put the Batman issues before issue 5 since there's a line about how Batman destroyed the clone army... But that's about all I disagree with him about regarding this series.

Also, Tim, I'd add the Mister Miracle/Darkseid scenes from Seven Soldiers #1 as an "epilogue" to Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle as those scenes are "essential" (especially since they're referenced directly).

monstermike said...

I just reread it in Morrison's suggested order, and it really is a shame that it's not coming out in a 12 or 13 issue trade (or Final Crisis Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 like the Sinestro Corps).