Saturday, October 31, 2009

Final Crisis Aftermath Aftermath Hits THE SPLASH PAGE: Part 1 of 2

Chad Nevett and I are back with another installment of THE SPLASH PAGE, this time on the finale of the "Final Crisis Aftermath" comics. Our last discussion prompted some heated debate, plenty of comments, a couple of follow-ups from Chad and I, and several responses from angry fans. Will this week's SPLASH PAGE provoke such reactions? Maybe I should interject something about Geoff Johns's awesomeness...

Chad Nevett:
Five months ago, Tim and I discussed the first issues of each of the four "Final Crisis Aftermath" mini-series that DC put out, each launching out of an idea or character featured in "Final Crisis," and we said that we'd check back in on the books when they finished. Well, the two that we both stuck with, "Escape" and "Dance" finished, so here we are. When I suggested the topic to you, Tim, you weren't sure there was anything to discuss. Why? What did you eventually think of "Dance" and "Escape"? Also, you buy everything... no "Run!" or "Ink"?

Tim Callahan: I stopped buying "Run" and "Ink" along with a dozen other comics that I no longer had any time to read. I found them just piling up in the "to read" pile, along with stuff like "Amazing Spider-Man," "Mighty Avengers," "Batman: Streets of Gotham," and some other mid-level comics. As my "to read" pile grew, and my time was filled up with more any more work-related and family-related activities, I just had to stop the bleeding somewhere. I did really enjoy the middle couple of issues of "Run" -- it turned into a crazy z-list supervillain romp pretty quickly, and I might finish the series eventually. "Ink" I just don't care about at all.

And, honestly, I ended up not caring about "Escape" by the end, either. I didn't think Marco Rudy was an amazing artist or anything, but I lost interest in the issues he wasn't drawing, and I don't even know what that series was even about in the end. What was it about, really?

"Dance" was the best of the bunch, but it faltered in the middle (because of the change in artists, probably), though it did finish pretty strongly. For me, it followed an inverse pattern compared to Joe Casey's other fall project: "Dark Reign: Zodiac." I liked the first issue of "Zodiac," LOVED the second issue, but thought the final issue was a bit disappointing. With "Dance," it was strong in the beginning, weak in the middle, and good at the end. I don't know if that means anything, but I found the contrast interesting. Though Nathan Fox's art trumps any page of "Dance."

Part of my lack of engagement in these "Final Crisis Aftermath" comics is that all my comics are in storage right now, awaiting our move to the new house (which should have happened by the time this "Splash Page" hits the interwaves), so I can't go back and read either "Dance" or "Escape" from start to finish. Maybe they are better than I remember them being. Maybe worse. What say you?

CN: What was "Escape" about? A lot of promise that doesn't really turn into anything that great. I know what you mean about the lack of Marco Rudy. His replacement, Cliff Richards, is on the same level when it comes to actual drawing skills -- their figures aren't that far apart -- but, man, Rudy was doing some fantastic layouts. Very inventive stuff that worked with whatever the idea/theme of that issue was. I loved the idea of having a page in the shape of a pawn from chess near the beginning of the issue and, then, an upside-down pawn at the end when things had gone south. That willingness to do a little more work made "Escape" a visually interesting series until he left. After, it wasn't as much. Although, Richards did some great work in the final issue.
Storywise, it was weird for the sake of weird it seems. All tests to prepare Nemesis (and everyone else) to be a member of the Global Peace Agency... except we never really learn that the GPA is about. I think Ivan Brandon set himself up to fail with those obtuse, surreal first issues that didn't really lead to anything. It was actually a very mundane story in the end, one that didn't approach the broad themes and ideas of Morrison's work as we thought it would. Maybe it will read better as a whole, I haven't had a chance to reread the whole series yet.

"Dance" also suffered from art changes, as you said, but was the best of the bunch. Joe Casey exploring the tropes and make-up of superhero teams, young superheroes, capitalist superheroes, and whatever else is always going to be worth three bucks each month. The end was stronger than I think most people realise since it was a subtle point about how wanting wealth and fame isn't the opposite of being a hero as many seem to think, that the Super Young Team can have both. Except Casey doesn't hit you over the head with that idea, he just hints at the question: what's the difference between Bruce Wayne/Batman and Tony Stark/Iron Man and the Super Young Team except that the Super Young Team doesn't take off the costumes? Not only that, it was a book that discussed these ideas and concepts while having an interesting 'coming of age' story as the main plot.

Now that the books have finished, do you think any of them are worthy follow-ups to "Final Crisis"?

Here's an anecdote for you: As I was cleaning up some loose comics and throwing them in boxes, I came across "Dance" #5, flipped though it, and realized I had somehow never even read that issue. So I stopped my packing and read the sucker. It was really good, and it made issue #6 even better now that I know the lead-in. Duh. Amazing how that works! But I just assumed that I'd forgotten the previous installment in the haze of getting ready to move and the general overflow of too many comics in my brain. No. I just hadn't read the penultimate issue.

So to answer your question, I would say YES, "Dance" is a worthy follow-up to "Final Crisis." Is it better than "Final Crisis"? Hell, no, but it's at least about something. And though "Run" might have turned into a fun romp, and it did -- though I don't know how it ended -- and though "Escape" may have begun as something cool and different, only "Dance" actually said anything interesting about the role of the superhero.

Maybe it's just that Super Young Team is the best concept coming out of "Final Crisis." Maybe it was hard to screw it up. (I know it would have been easy to screw it up, though, because I've read comics inspired by Grant Morrison concepts that have been pretty terrible. I won't name any names, but, well, they all have tended to be terrible if Morrison thought them up and someone else wrote them. Except "Dance.") I just love Most Excellent Superbat's mask and partial Superman "S" shapes on his costume that become pure abstraction when removed from the "S" shield context (so much so that the cover artist paints them as triangular shapes instead of parts of the Superman insignia). And I love how the whole team is just an analogue for the original JLA but so they represent the essence of a classic superhero team while being totally wired into the now. I love the exaggerated pathos and the playfulness.

"Dance" was good. Even if the art was annoyingly inconsistent.

What about you, do you think "Dance" or "Escape" were worthy follow-ups? Do you think they even work as follow-ups at all? Because the "Escape" tie-in seems less than essential.

To be continued at GraphiContent!


Matthew E said...

I've read comics inspired by Grant Morrison concepts that have been pretty terrible. I won't name any names, but, well, they all have tended to be terrible if Morrison thought them up and someone else wrote them. Except "Dance."

Do you include "The All-New Atom" in there? I thought it was great. Is having All-New Atom! Gail Simone or death!

verification word: booketic. Exactly!

malpractice said...

I really enjoyed "The All-New Atom" quite a bit too.

Timothy Callahan said...

Yeah, "The All-New Atom" is not very good. I tried to like it. I tried to find the goodness. But it just doesn't work. I don't think it's actually terrible, but it never rises above average, and some of the absurd stuff was jarringly out of place, like Simone didn't know how to fit the tonal shifts together coherently.

What did you guys like about it?

Chad Nevett said...

I gave that title an issue or two, but it never really grabbed me either.

We'll have to see what The Great Ten is like since the ads promoting it hype Morrison as the creator of the concept...

tsmoreau said...

For shame gentlemen. Tom Peyer's Hourman is the greatest follow-up to a Morrison concept written by someone else. By far. This is fact and cannot be argued. Timazo, Humazo, The Hourman Century, Gombeziis, seriously, the argument makes itself.

Matthew E said...

What did you guys like about it?

I liked Ryan and his supporting cast, including the use of Giganta. I thought the Lighter Than Air Society was brilliant. Head was hilarious. I liked that it was partially about science. I liked Simone's sense of humour ("Do not presume to plunge M'nagalah!"). The interior art was okay and the covers were fantastic. It's been long enough since I read it that I can't think of individual story points that I liked, but I know there were some.

Rebis said...

I'll chime in with a big note of approval for Tom Peyer's Hourman. I miss that lovable robot! I miss that iteration of Snapper Carr, too — he finally became a worthwhile character!