Saturday, February 14, 2009

Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #3

Sorry so late on this. There's actually not a lot to annotate this issue, despite the amount of on-panel chaos, and the Legion blog has already gotten to a lot of it... so let's get to the rest:

Pp. 6-7:

Tyr, created by Cary Bates and Dave Cockrum, first appeared in SUPERBOY #197. Neutrax, created by Gerry Conway and Joe Staton, first appeared in SUPERBOY AND THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #253. Ol-Vir, created by Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen, first appeared in LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #294.

Pg. 10:

Yeah, Karate Kids don't have much luck. Tusker, created by Jerry Siegel and Jim Mooney, first appeared in ADVENTURE COMICS #331.

Pg. 16:

Valor is an alternate version of Mon-El whose backstory makes my sinuses flare up. Andromeda, here, is the L(II) variation on L(I)'s Laurel Gand--created by Mark Waid, Tom McCraw and Lee Moder, she first appeared in LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #66 in 1995, but the original Laurel was created by Tom and Mary Bierbaum, Keith Giffen and Al Gordon, and first appeared five years earlier in LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #5.

Andromeda hasn't seen Kal-El on panel before; this has to be a reference to Johns' "untold first meeting of the three Legions" thing.

Apparition is the L(II) version of Phantom Girl.

Pg. 19:

Luthor lived in Smallville (and started losing his hair in his teenage years) per ADVENTURE COMICS #271, as well as SUPERMAN: BIRTHRIGHT.

Luthor's father is Lionel Luthor on the Smallville TV series; was he ever given a name in pre-Smallville comics? Anyway, showing him from the back and leaving him unnamed here gets around the problem.

Which sister? Not Lena Thorul? Or is it? I imagine we'll be seeing more of this stuff in Johns' forthcoming history-of-Superman mini.

Pg. 20:

Only one brain in a jar!

Pg. 21:

The Legion Omnicom has a pretty comprehensive rundown of what's in the trophy room, so I won't repeat it here.

Earth-247 out of... 52? We saw it before in INFINITE CRISIS #6.

"The keystone to the multiverse"? Earth-0, then? The Flash connection to Keystone City is appropriate, I suppose.

Pp. 22-23:

Okay, this is all fairly baffling, so let's try to debaffle:

Don and Dawn Allen, the original Tornado Twins, were created by Jim Shooter and Win Mortimer, and first appeared in ADVENTURE COMICS #373. (...In a story that's now out-of-continuity post-Crisis, but does have a fine Neal Adams cover.) Don Allen and Meloni Thawne are the parents of Bart Allen, a.k.a. Impulse/Flash IV/Kid Flash. (Meloni and Digger Harkness are also the parents of Owen Mercer, the new Captain Boomerang.) Dawn Allen and Jeven Ognats are the parents of Jenni Ognats, a.k.a. XS.

The whole business with Professor Zoom, his "25th century speed soldiers," Starman's uniform as a map to the multiverse, etc.--the first Lo3W story--is all being mentioned for the first time here.

Pg. 26:

Tharok, created by Jim Shooter and Curt Swan, first appeared in ADVENTURE COMICS #352.

Pg. 30:

Bart Allen/Kid Flash here, created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo, first appeared in 1994's FLASH #91.

And that's it until the last two issues come out, which I gather is going to be a while--#4 is currently scheduled for Mar. 25 and #5 for May 13, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them later than that...

Also, in reply to a couple of queries, I don't think I'm going to be dealing with the FINAL CRISIS AFTERMATH books here. But I look forward to seeing what other people have to say about them.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Final Crisis: Revelations #5

Right. This one.

Pg. 1:

Genesis 1:1-3 in the King James Version. Just to state the obvious.

Pg. 4:

She's technically praying to Mary.

Pg. 7:

I'd hoped that at some point this series would have a clever reversal involving Cris's sons, but no. I know I keep saying this, and I know they're both apparently alive as of the end of the issue, but just one more time for the record: In INFINITE CRISIS AFTERMATH: THE SPECTRE #3, the issue that is the impetus for this entire story, the Spectre killed Malcolm Allen, not Jake Allen. Really.

Pg. 9:

"Shalt" is actually used only for the second person. I shall, thou shalt, God shall. "Tastes like mutton" is a good line, though: the blood of the Lamb!

Pg. 20:

If I am reading this correctly, the bum-rushers of Cain here are the dudes who killed the Radiant when she was a person, although the storytelling is mighty unclear.

Pg. 21:

"Longinus cured the blind": this is a new one. Longinus, remember, doesn't actually show up in the Bible--he's in the apocryphal 4th-century Gospel of Nicodemus. According to Jacopo da Varagine's 13th-century "Golden Legend," Longinus was himself blind (a blind centurion?), and was healed by a drop of Christ's blood. But the only thing that he did that resembled healing the blind was that the provost who tortured and killed Longinus went blind, then repented and regained his sight. The Spear wasn't involved.

Pg. 22:

"No question": a nice twist on the "good question" formula (which we'll see again at the end of this issue).

Pp. 24-25:

Everybody's celebrating and beating back the Justifiers, the Statue of Liberty is restored, etc.: isn't it a little early in the timeline for this?

Pp. 26-27:

So much for the crime cult. "You have been judged and found wanting": a riff on Daniel 5.

Pg. 30:

No safety? No safety from what, if he can't be harmed? "I'm not going to kill you, I'm going to do something worse: people will throw stuff in your general direction!"

Pg. 31:

Tears coming from the tip of the spear, as we saw in the fragment of the Book of Lilith in FC SECRET FILES. And the Spectre and the Radiant evidently head off to get noshed on by Mandrakk in time for FC #7.

See you next week for Lo3W #3!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Final Crisis #7

I'm still kind of processing this one. I'm sure these notes will change as it has a while to sink in and people respond...

Pg. 1:

"The end is nigh": one more WATCHMEN callback.

The world we're seeing here is a little like Earth-D from LEGENDS OF THE DCU: CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS #1 (there's a bit of it excerpted here; the black President Superman's yellow-on-red design recalls Sunshine Superman, who appeared in ANIMAL MAN #23 and #24 (although it's not him, since we'll see him later this issue with the normal Superman color scheme). And of course he knows what gravitons are; it's so nice to have someone competent in the White House. So there to anyone who thinks this is a pre-Obama series--!

"Vathlo": reclaiming the name of Krypton's Vathlo Island, as cited in SUPERMAN #239, the home of a "highly developed black race," oh dear. (It's also mentioned in the inexhaustible SUPERMAN ANNUAL #11.)

Pp. 2-3:

Nubia is a variation on a character created by Robert Kanigher and Don Heck, who first appeared in 1973's WONDER WOMAN #204.

The "Wonder Horn": I can't find any previous DC reference to this, but it has to be a reference to the German folk-poetry anthology Des Knaben Wunderhorn. Interestingly, the most common English-language use of it these days is in a series of children's books that begins with "Jason and the Wonder Horn," and later on this spread we have a reference to the Argo--the ship, as in Jason and the Argonauts. (Although, of course, Argo in the context of Superman can also refer to Argo City.)

"The great sad music" that Overman mentioned in SUPERMAN BEYOND #1.

Pg. 4:

The alternate Supermen mentioned but not seen in SUPERMAN BEYOND #2, pg. 5--visual nods to various Superman-analogues (stick a mask on Sentry and you get Guardsman, etc.).

Pg. 5:

Lois starts narrating. This Watchtower appears to be a bolted-together version of the JLA satellite (so we can assume Ollie and Dinah got rescued from it later), the Hall of Justice (?), Titans Tower and Superman's Fortress of Solitude.

Earth-44: we haven't seen this one before, but a human Red Tornado building a robot JLA is a nice idea.

"Irreplaceable mementoes were lost forever": even in the face of Armageddon, we do like our collectibles.

Pp. 6-7:

Hey, it's the giant penny. Also: Batman's cowl, Dr. Fate's helmet, Hawkman's mask (foreshadowing!), Wonder Woman's tusky-mask, and... over at the right, is that the weird curvy blade that also showed up in Rip Hunter's lab in 52 #6?

Putting the elements of the story in a very Baby Kal-El-like rocket and firing it out into the... bulrushes. Apparently that's a compact model of the Bat-Signal.

Pg. 8:

And the story Lois wrote begins (from where we left off last time).

Pg. 10:

"The roar of a gunshot yet to be": here's that "starter's pistol" from DCU 0 again. It's the sound of the shot that Darkseid is about to fire, going back in time.

Pg. 11:

Of course Superman can see fast enough to identify Barry. Note the radion bullet flying the other way, and Darkseid's smoking gun in the next panel.

Pg. 12:

"Also: Aquaman."

"In us... in all of us..." See Orion's last words, to Turpin, in #1: "He is in you all! Fight!"

Pg. 13:

Cassie here, the current Wonder Girl, was created by John Byrne, and first appeared in 1996's WONDER WOMAN #105.

Red Devil, formerly Kid Devil, was created by Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn and Alan Kupperberg. He first appeared (in that guise) in 1985's BLUE DEVIL #14.

Can anyone translate the first Spanish sentence? The second one seems to be "To live in a world with a man like that." (We know from #5 that he idolizes Superman.) Might "arrancar" mean something like "reboot"? A way to sneak that freighted idea in without being quite so explicit about it?

I suspect the pipe-smoker in the bottom panel is "Doc" Magnus.

Pg. 14:

Ah, I see the OMACs from RESIST finally showed up. For one panel.

"The engines canna take the strain!"

Pg. 15:

Ray has made the Metron-symbol to protect the whole planet, not that it seems to have been terribly well protected.

Pg. 16:

Lois is still narrating, but her story intersects with the one Supergirl is telling the kids. The last story, like the first ones: made to amuse children.

The panels-seen-from-an-angle trick again--note Sonic Lightning Flash racing from one panel to another (and the motion going right-to-left, as in the climactic sequence of 52 #52).

Bye, Mr. Terrific. Bye, Hawkman and Hawkgirl. Now we know what that panel last issue was setting up.

Pg. 17:

Now Renee is telling the story (to the parallel Supermen) of how she and the other people around the Checkmate Tower ended up in the "graveyard universe," #51 --post-Great Disaster, hence the sunken Statue of Liberty. Evidently that's the world this Sonny Sumo fell sideways from.

Last we saw Overgirl, she was defying the dissection instruments in Checkmate HQ. I guess Overman's brought her outside to recapitulate the cover of CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS #7, Nazi-style.

Pg. 18:

So Darkseid was the one who fired the bullet that killed Orion backwards in time after all.

As we saw last issue, Luthor and Sivana are able to control anyone wearing a Justifier helmet.

Pg. 19:

"Time for bed," as we'll see on the next page = "you're about to be miniaturized and frozen." Good to see Streaky made it through too.

Pg. 20:

Metacommentary! Plus, as Uzumeri's invaluable-as-always notes point out, the ultimate women-in-refrigerators moment! Our first narrator is now in the fridge...

Pg. 21:

Wonder Woman gets her "big moment," such as it is. In the words of DESTROY!!: "Well, at least no one was hurt." I don't think the top tier of panels--of her crushing the mask--happens as part of the middle-tier flashback-to-the-big-fight sequence; I think it's happening in the same timeline as the top and bottom tiers of the previous two pages, i.e. after all the kids are snugly in their "beds."

Pg. 22:

"Darkseid always hated music": can this possibly be a callback to NEW GODS #7, with the "you know, Izaya, I've never heard you sing" routine?

Pg. 23:

"Element X": as seen in MISTER MIRACLE #9, this was the element discovered by Himon that powers the Mother Box. "Fire of the gods": recapitulating the gift Metron gave humanity in the first issue. Can I just say how much I love the Morrison Superman's habit of detachedly narrating everything he does?

Pg. 24:

Mandrakk, from SUPERMAN BEYOND--not just man/Dracula, but a variation on the name of Mandrake the Magician, the first super-powered hero in American comics (!)--shows up with his vampire Ultraman in tow. The "servants of God" they've feasted on are the Spectre and the Radiant, from REVELATIONS.

Pg. 25:

I suspect that top panel is enormously significant--the galaxy-like spiral next to a huge hand? That's Krona's vision of the beginning of the DCU, not to mention the same image the lost-in-space crew saw at the moment of confusion/re-creation that launched their story in 52. (The shape is also close to the vision of Limbo from the outside that we saw in SUPERMAN BEYOND last week.) It's Superman-as-God saying "let there be light," and making a wish.

The wormy things are Mandrakk's gear, I guess.

That "look up in the sky" line never stops working, does it?

Pp. 26-27:

I count at least 58 Superman here, but hell, there were more than 52 Monitors in the middle of COUNTDOWN, weren't there? Sunshine Superman's in the middle of the left-hand page (and would that be Omega the Unknown above him?). Between Billy and Barack, that sure looks like Apollo: alternate-reality Ray, my ass. In the upper right-hand corner is Red Son. The rest are left as an exercise for the reader.

And now Nix Uotan starts narrating a flashback!

Pg. 28:

I also love that everything is canon to Morrison. The animals here are Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew, who were transformed into real animals at the end of CAPTAIN CARROT AND THE FINAL ARK! #3. (Also: the pig is Peter Porkchops, created by Otto Feuer, who first appeared in 1947's LEADING COMICS #23.) The Pax Dei are Zauriel's crew from Morrison's mid-'90s JLA. Light dispels darkness! The son slays the father! Grant Morrison reigns supreme! etc.

Pg. 29:

Every cavalry arrives at once, and the DC Universe is not short of cavalries. This is, for all practical purposes, a spell to get rid of vampiric thought processes in comics, I imagine. Even big money (in the person of Super-Bat) is impressed!

"Taaru" was the word from the original FOREVER PEOPLE series that they used to change places with Infinity Man--the role that Nix/the Judge of All Evil is now filling.

Pg. 30:

Lois, who's now warmed up, is narrating. This has to be the "one scene" included at DC's request, right? The "hey, everybody, we totally made it through and everything's fine now" scene?

The three little inset panels are the heroes that were lost: Batman's cowl, obviously; the pyramid representing the Martian Manhunter (it was his headquarters); two feathers for Hawkman and Hawkgirl, who evidently died destroying Lord Eye back on pg. 16, as they'd expected would happen last issue.

Pg. 31:

So Zillo Valla and Rox Ogama were responsible for Earths 43 and 31? It appears that 43 was the world of vampires from COUNTDOWN PRESENTS: THE SEARCH FOR RAY PALMER: RED RAIN, etc. (which would fit for Ogama, I suppose), and 31 is more or less THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS world. Hm.

Chaining up the earth and dragging it: yeah, that'll help. (I can't help but think of MARVEL TEAM-UP #28, where Hercules drags Manhattan back into place--the wrong way--with a big metal chain.)

Looks like Barry and Wally both made it back fine.

Pg. 32:

The first flower growing in the dead world is a much more graceful version of a plot point from COUNTDOWN #13, I believe.

Is that a now-chairless Metron hovering in the first panel? Seen from behind in the second: Mr. Miracle, Highfather, Lightray, Barda, plus a hint of some Forever People.

Earth-51 has apparently been recast as Earth-Kirby Stuff. The map is the one from KAMANDI #1.

And Kamandi, the Last Boy, shows up again near the end of the story, rather than at its very end, which was the original plan! Was his "vision" where he saw Anthro back in #1?

Pp. 33-34:

The tragic romantic ending, as the Monitors are re-absorbed into the Overvoid/lose their individuality. (The bubbly shapes recall the beginning of Monitor existence in SUPERMAN BEYOND #1.) Wishing for a happy ending is a very Superman-like thing to do, but didn't we just establish last week that these stories are always To Be Continued?

Pg. 35:

A recapitulation of the last page of #1; the Monitors, or at least Nix, are now on the same plane as the DCU. Wouldn't his happy ending be being together with Weeja Dell somehow? Or is that the to-be-continued part he now gets to move toward?

Pg. 36:

Note that the rocket has landed near Anthro, and he's paying it no mind. His job has been to spread the signs Metron gave him everywhere, and he's done it. "The shining one and the burning bush": another Moses allusion.

Pg. 37:

And it looks like the same thing happened to Batman--being thrown into the past--that happened to the original Sonny Sumo.


I'll be back later for REVELATIONS #5 notes, and later still for the last three LEGION OF THREE WORLDS. But first! Three announcements!

1) We've got some winners for the contest we announced back in the very first post. Don Sticksel correctly guessed that the final issue of FINAL CRISIS would come out Jan. 28 (and David Uzumeri said January '09, which isn't as precise but God only knows I've cribbed enough from him); Johnny Zito guessed that there would be six additional tie-ins announced, and Simon Hacking guessed that there would be none (there were four, counting LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT, or three not counting it, so they both win). And Matt gets a prize too, since he announced that the final issue would be out Mar. 4--the latest guess that anyone offered--and the final issue of LEGION OF THREE WORLDS is currently scheduled for Mar. 25. (The same day as the fourth issue, so I think we can expect to see it considerably later.) Congratulations, gentlemen--email me at finalcrisis at-sign douglaswolk dot com, and we'll work out what your prizes will be.

2) If you look at the Amazon links to the right, as of this writing, SEVEN SOLDIERS vol. 1 can be had for four bucks, and if you haven't read it yet, that's an excellent deal.

3) I'll probably get to the next couple of tie-ins before this happens, but I'll be at New York Comic-Con Feb. 6-8, moderating three panels and doing a signing:

*"Her Face Was an Open Book: The Art of Character Design" with Carla Speed McNeil, Christine Norrie and Thom Zahler, Friday at 6 PM

*"Coming of Age in Comics" with Jeff Parker, Raina Telgemeier, Jason Little and Mariko Tamaki on Sunday at 11 AM

*"Scott Pilgrim vs. the Panel!" with Bryan Lee O'Malley, Sunday at 1:30 PM

I'll also be signing copies of Reading Comics at Table 6 in the autographing area on Saturday, noon-1 PM. Come say hi and tell me you read this blog, and I'll have a special present for you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #2

Where were we again? Oh, right! Back in August!

Pg. 1:

Mammon isn't actually a god--what Luke 16:13 and Matthew 6:24 refer to is just a word for worldly riches or property. But an abstract concept that's become a living thing is just what Ultraman's talking about here. The "infinite book" might also be the collected works of the corporate entity DC Comics: work made for hire. And I'm amused by the inversion of the usual "found something greater than myself" formula.

This monologue is rather "the crime is life, the sentence is death," isn't it?

Pg. 4:

"52 universes": weren't there just 51 left after the death of moving part 51?

Übermensch seems to have recuperated from having his blood drained pretty quickly.

The boy appears to be Billy Batson, the normal-human counterpart of Captain Marvel. I think I neglected to mention last time that he was created by C.C. Beck and Bill Parker, and first appeared in 1940 in WHIZ COMICS #2. As established last issue, he's the Fawcett-world (Earth-5) Billy, not the one from universe 0.

"I don't like Nazis telling me what to do": not least because one of Captain Marvel's enemies in the WWII era was Captain Nazi.

Pg. 5:

"Whiz Media": a nod both to Billy's comic-of-origin and to his earlier incarnation's radio station, WHIZ.

"Savior or Majestic, Supremo, Guardsman, Hyperius, Icon or Principal": A loaded line of dialogue. All of those are blatant stand-ins for Superman, most with thinly disguised names (because the real ones aren't in the infinite book)--and thanks, as always, to Uzumeri for catching some of these I wouldn't have:

Savior is Samaritan from KURT BUSIEK'S ASTRO CITY.

Majestic is the Superman-analogue from the WildStorm universe, and has had his own title a few times.

Supremo is the Rob Liefeld-created Superman-type, Supreme.

Uzumeri argues that Guardsman is the Sentry, the latter-day back-in-the-day Marvel character with the power of ten thousand exploding suns. I'm not so sure, but that cover's a solid argument for it.

Hyperius is Hyperion, the Superman-type from the Squadron Supreme/Squadron Sinister, Marvel's stand-ins for the JLA

Icon... well, he's now officially part of the DCU, but he was conceived of as the Milestone universe's Superman type.

Principal is Prime, from Malibu Comics' Ultraverse, who's actually more of a Captain Marvel type than a Superman type.

Hey, where's Marvelman/Miracleman on this list? Or would that have been too much of a can of worms? Also notable by his absence from this list: Apollo, who was established in COUNTDOWN PRESENTS ARENA as actually being an alternate-universe Ray. (Cough.)

And is Billy's magic word really "Shazam," still, if the old gods have been replaced with new ones? (Although that hadn't happened yet as of the moment in FC #3 where Superman disappeared.)

Pg. 6:

The "monitor mind" may be one of the capital-M Monitors, but--you know, who's really watching? Who sees the characters in the story as no more than a few inches tall, but maybe finds them enormously significant?

Pg. 7:

The Shadow Demons from Wolfman and Pérez's original Crisis are a great all-purpose scary visual.

Pg. 8:

I'm curious about the way that weapons for specific purposes keep coming up in the course of FC. Also about what Vintage-Football-Helmet Guy is doing with that fish skeleton.

As Uzumeri notes, a lot of this story is making Morrison's perpetual slaying-the-father issues with Alan Moore even more explicit than usual. What else is there to say about a panel where Superman is telling a Dr. Manhattan (who's about to self-replicate) "come back to us, Allen"?

Pg. 9:

"Warn everyone, like Paul Revere!" Superman is so American.

"There are no dualities"--this is one of Morrison's favorite philosophical points, and another callback to the climax of THE INVISIBLES.

As for where the Anti-Monitor is: possibly lurking around in the consciousness of the scarred Guardian over in GREEN LANTERN?

Pg. 10:

And it's even funnier to see Dr. Manhattan saying "only symmetries" on a page opposite the ad for Watchmen, whose cover color scheme is the same as the Ultima Thule Yellow Submarine's.

Dr. Manhattan (I can't stop calling him that) as "the endgame of the idea that spawned the likes of you"--yes, there's the good/evil vs. beyond-good-and-evil duality (or symmetry!), but there's also the idea of Dr. Manhattan-as-Captain Atom-as-Superman--the multi-leveled meta-referential games Morrison is playing here--as the endgame of the idea that started with the likes of Ultraman appearing as an alternate-world version of Superman back in 1964.

Pg. 11:

"A higher dimension": the third, by our standards, or fourth, by theirs.

Pg. 12:

This is as explicit a visual callback as you can get to two of Morrison's favorite visual motifs in the work leading up to this: the character reaching out through the fourth wall to touch the reader (Zatanna in SEVEN SOLDIERS: ZATANNA, Animal Man's "I can see you!"), and the motion from a lower dimension to a higher one represented by seeing a comic book panel from an angle (used most notably in SEVEN SOLDIERS: MISTER MIRACLE, which also revolves around a climactic shot of a tombstone). "From a direction that has no name comes a sound like breathing... as if cradled": you, the reader, are holding the comic book, and you're just beyond Superman's available directions--but now he's got 4-D vision!

It also occurs to me that this is the ultimate Superman-Red/Superman-Blue story. And that the robot/armor is a fiction suit, in the sense of an outfit for navigating one's way through the blood vessels of fiction.

Pp. 14-15:

"Yivaroth" is an invented word, but it resonates with "sephiroth." "5555 different words for nothing": a great riff on the old "words for snow" canard. "Long ago": not very much time has passed in our world since FC #1, but it looks like plenty of time has passed in theirs. It's not clear from the perspective here, but the Monitors are actually much tinier than the Superman-bot.

ETA: Weeja Dell is the Monitor of Earth-6... which, as we saw last issue, is (a stand-in for) the Marvel Universe (616)!

Pg. 16:

"A doomsday countdown reaches zero": more Watchmen-isms!

Pg. 17:

"A shattered jar": looks like the Orrery has been smashed, and all the moving parts are rolling around. We haven't really seen Ogama since he was doing his stage-villain thing back in FC #1, have we?

There is certainly the open question of whether the Monitors-as-vampires are a metaphorical representation of comics' readers, and we'll see that play out on the next few pages.

Pg. 18:

"The elixir"--that which grants eternal life and youth--is controlled by the Monitors. And if the Monitors are the readers, we have the ability to keep Superman and Lois and all the others forever young and healthy...

Pg. 19:

The "self-assembling hyper story" is, perhaps, the same thing as the infinite book. As Uzumeri notes, Mandrakk is very close to Starbreaker.

Pg. 20:

And now we circle back around to the splash page from #1.

Pg. 21:

Thoughts-into-existence--which is what the Miracle Machine and power rings and other machines do--isn't the same thing as belief into existence. And Superman isn't just unstoppable and indestructible, so is his story; it's always to be continued.

Pg. 24:

It appears that the final burst of whatever is coming out of the Superman-robot's eyes takes the eyes with them.

Pg. 26:

ETA: Here's a question: as Ultraman pointed out last issue, only one Superman gets the prize, and that's our Kal-El. Does that mean that the other champions have failed to get what they want? Certainly, Overman doesn't get to rescue his cousin--but she was already dead (fallen out of the Bleed) by the time Zillo Valla took Superman away in FC #3. And Captain Marvel, we see here, has found his treasure--the Rock's fragment.

Pg. 27:

ETA: "I daren't speak": why not? Because, as commenters over at Funnybook Babylon pointed out, he's got the Bleed in his mouth. As opposed to the vampires, who have blood in their mouths but consume it instead of kissing it away.

Pg. 29:

We've seen a vampire Superman before--WORLD'S FINEST #249 comes to mind.

Pg. 30:

Apparently Zillo Valla was as good as her word. If Batman thinks of everything, Superman can do anything. Note that Clark was even kind enough to keep the orderly's cups from falling before going in to kiss Lois awake.

Pg. 31:

That ending wink would have to be a... wink toward "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow," all right. But let me see if I've got this straight: Zillo Valla zaps Superman away in FC #3, but his adventure and return happen in the space between heartbeats; then he cures Lois and leaves the hospital, the rain stops falling and the sun comes out, and straightaway he gets the Legion's summons to the 31st century in Lo3W, which is where he returns from in FC #6. That seems off somehow, story-structure-wise.

Pg. 32:

You can pray for a resurrection, and if the subject of your prayers is a superhero, you'll always get what you ask for. ETA: As Steven notes in the comments, all superhero stories begin "Previously," and they all end this way.

See you next week for the Big One.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Final Crisis #6

Only going from the Newsarama preview so far, but what the hell, there's a lot to chew over here. I'll update Wednesday or Thursday, after I have a chance to spend some time with the rest of the issue.

Pg. 1:

This is clearly happening after SUPERMAN BEYOND #2--not out until next week, but already previewed enticingly at Newsarama--but the relationship of this moment to Lo3W is unclear: in Lo3W #1, we saw Superman summoned to the 31st century via temporal ripcord from what looked like a nice sunny day, rather than like the end of SUPERMAN BEYOND.

2960 would've been around the time the Legion were still making scattered guest appearances, before their run as a feature in ADVENTURE COMICS. It's been established that the Guardians' tech is in a bad way in 3009, but will-to-reality machines are what their rings were. "The ultimate technological artifact": come to think of it, isn't all technology meant to turn will into reality?

Pg. 2:

Note that Superman's already turning transparent in the final panel.

Pg. 3:

Payoff time. The Miracle Machine first appeared in ADVENTURE COMICS #367, as a deus ex machina device presented by the grateful Controllers to the Legion some time earlier; it later popped up in SUPERBOY #213, and--David U. pointed this out--was never shown from the front in either issue. (And what does it look like from the front? ...Why, Metron's circuit, of course!)

Now, here's an interesting side note: the Miracle Machine has made a few other appearances. It turned up in ALL-NEW COLLECTOR'S EDITION #C-55--the 1978 tabloid in which Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl were married, and in which the Time Trapper was revealed to be a Controller (!). Then it reappeared a year later, in a story that was originally going to be a 64-page special but was re-edited into SUPERBOY & THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #250 and #251, in which Brainiac 5 used it to create an unstoppable menace called, wait for it, Omega; the crisis was resolved when Matter-Eater Lad ate the Miracle Machine, and thereby went insane. (A story, I should note, that was written by Paul Levitz and Jim Starlin, the latter credited as "Steve Apollo." ETA: TIm notes in the comments that we never actually see the machine in the story as published) A 20th century prototype (with a much plainer, grille-type front) also appeared in DC COMICS PRESENTS #50; maybe that one was Crisis'ed away.

Up until this point, though, it's appeared that the Johnsverse Legion diverged from the L(I) Legion sometime during the five-year gap before LSHv4. But if the Miracle Machine remains un-nommed, then we may be dealing with yet another variation of the Legion. Or--you know, it's a device that can remake reality; continuity is as nothing to it, most likely.

"Just look": because the important part is the Metron sigil?

Pg. 5:

Korll is the home of the villainous Queen Bee, as seen in 1963's JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #23.

I can never see Ray and Dinah together without remembering that they had a very brief fling in THE RAY #11, but they've moved past it (...more than I have). Actually, I suspect it's one of those "let us never speak of it again" things.

I guess the Guardians' "nothing gets in or out" cordon is very permeable. Nice Star Wars-influenced ships, too.

Pp. 6-7:

"How you doing, honey?": This is the second Liberty Belle--Jesse Chambers, created by Len Strezewski and Mike Parobeck, who first appeared in 1992's JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #1. Formerly Jesse Quick, she became Liberty Belle after Infinite Crisis. The original Liberty Belle, created by Don Cameron and Chuck Winter, first appeared in BOY COMMANDOS #1 in 1942 (and what a Kirby Kover that is--go click).

Her husband is the second Hourman, Rick Tyler, created by Roy and Dann Thomas and Todd McFarlane; he first appeared in INFINITY INC. #20. The original Hourman, created by Ken Fitch and Bernard Baily, first appeared in 1940's ADVENTURE COMICS #48.

"What is this, Tyler...": the first Wildcat, created by Bill Finger and Irwin Hasen, who first appeared in 1942's SENSATION COMICS #1.

The Marvel Family throwing buses at each other is very MIRACLEMAN #15, don't you think? Not to mention the "I can never say the word again" bit later this issue.

Pg. 8:

"You? Calling me a slut?": I can't help but think of my least favorite moment on any DC convention panel of recent years, when somebody explained the changes coming up on Supergirl: "New creative team, the book won't suck, she won't be a slut."

I guess everyone was right about Mary hosting Desaad.

Pg. 10:

And Kalibak is a... what?

Pg. 13:

Iman's dialogue translates roughly as "Something coming... like the sound of horses..." Note the Four Dogswomen of the Apocalypse approaching in the background.

Pg. 14:

I really like the Uzumeri hypothesis about this scene.

Pg. 15:

I don't understand why Shilo keeps getting colored as white either.

Pp. 16-17:

This explains what's up with Sonny, the original of whom remained back in time in Kirby's FOREVER PEOPLE #7. Although the parodic "I can't tell him how I feel about him" manga-soap-opera routine grates a little in contrast to Canary's operatic emotional moment on the next page.

Pg. 18:

I love all the little advertising slogans for Anti-Life.

Pg. 20:

Ray Palmer/The Atom, created by Gardner Fox and Gil Kane, first appeared in 1961's SHOWCASE #34. He was one of the Monitor-monitors as of the end of COUNTDOWN; so much for that role. Ryan Choi was clearly based on that version, and created by Gail Simone, Grant Morrison and... does anybody know who designed his appearance?... He first appeared in 2006's DCU: BRAVE NEW WORLD.

The psychics in Room 90: Miss Martian and who else? It looks like she's having severe psychic nosebleed problems.

The mystics: that's obviously Zatanna in the middle, and the guy in the top hat could be Zachary Zatara (or Ali-Ka-Zoom!). Who's the one with the headdress?

Somebody's getting ready to do some very nasty things to Überfraulein's corpse, it looks like. Cue the great sad music.

Pg. 21:

As Uzumeri pointed out, the "Lord" has to be Maxwell Lord's brain-in-a-giant-globular-jar (with Omac-style eye speech balloons), and Renee's being set up as the head of the (faceless) Global Peace Agency from Kirby's OMAC. Perhaps this might be one resolution of FC: everyone who escapes ends up on an Earth that has never dealt with super-types before? (Wasn't that pretty much the premise of Morrison's abortive run on THE AUTHORITY? And what Earth would they be going to--the one within Qwewq, perhaps?)

Pg. 23:

"I know there's good in you, Luthor." I note also that he's cut the Calculator down.

Pg. 24:

The Black Flash: see the 1998 story that reached its climax in FLASH #141.

Pg. 25:

"Godspeed." What a line. And we're about to hear that starter's bullet from DCU 0 again!

Pg. 26:

A visual callback to SEVEN SOLDIERS #1.

Pg. 27:

Someone will know this--I recall a Batman story from sometime in the last couple of decades in which Batman uses his little-seen skills as a sharpshooter to do something involving... a ship in Gotham harbor? Anybody able to cite it? See also the apparently-now-out-of-continuity DETECTIVE COMICS #575, 576, 577 and 578, as well as #710.

This also echoes, rather strongly, the climax of THE INVISIBLES: "a bullet in the right place..."

"The Omega Sanction... the death that is life": as we saw in SEVEN SOLDIERS: MISTER MIRACLE, this consists of endlessly living all your possible lives. Or, in other words, something Batman already did on his way to see Turpinseid, over in BATMAN.

One last "Hh."

Pp. 28-29:

And that's a classic "We haven't heard the last of him!" if ever I saw one. (Two haven't-heard-the-last-of-him situations, actually.) I'm wearing my Batjew T-shirt out of mourning today anyway.

Pg. 30-31:

The layout of images around Nix's head echoes the final page of last issue, where he's in the middle of the TV-set sphere. Morrison to Wizard today: "Final Crisis #7 is almost inventing a new style. We had widescreen comics and decompression and super-compression. This is channel-zapping comics."

Lois seems to be just fine; I assume we'll find out how next week. Streaky looks good too.

Hawkman and Hawkgirl, created by Gardner Fox and Dennis Neville, first appeared in 1940's FLASH COMICS #1. The current incarnations are Carter Hall and Kendra Saunders, and the reincarnation/frustrated-love business has been a running thread of their appearances over the past few years.

Bulleteer puts in another one of her famous one-panel cameos.

Guess there wasn't room for much more of the Green Lantern business this issue.

"Germ-people": cf. Zillo Valla saying "you germs are truly worthy of our attention" in the SUPERMAN BEYOND #2 preview.

So is the fifth world Darkseid's world, or "the age of men as gods," or both?

Pieter Cross/Dr. Mid-Nite, created by Matt Wagner and John K. Snyder, first appeared in 1999's DOCTOR MID-NITE #1; he's strongly based on the version created by Charles Reizenstein and Stanley Josephs Aschmeier, who first appeared in 1941's ALL-AMERICAN COMICS #25.

"Billy" was the first Captain Marvel, Billy Batson, a different version of whom is showing up over in SUPERMAN BEYOND. Does it strike anyone else as odd that the Marvel Family gets so much space in this issue (including the Sivana and Tawky Tawny scenes)? Especially considering that Batman's big leavetaking is four pages?

Pg. 33:

Well, at least Rick got back to his wife in the space of two pages. The person saying "Dad?" is Tom Bronson, the fourth (or fifth) Wildcat and Ted Grant's son; he first appeared in 2007's JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #2.

See you next week for SUPERMAN BEYOND, although I might go ahead and put up some notes for the preview if some spare time falls into my hands unexpectedly.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Final Crisis: Secret Files

I've updated the FC chronology and the schedule to reflect current information. It's maybe worth noting that of the 14 comics with "Final Crisis" in the title (plus two relevant issues of BATMAN) solicited for release between Sep. 17 and the end of 2008, exactly one--REVELATIONS #3--actually hit its initially announced ship date.

Also, the contents of this issue aren't particularly close to what was solicited. For future reference: "Written by Grant Morrison and Peter J. Tomasi; Art by Frank Quitely and various; Covers by Frank Quitely and Jim Lee and Scott Williams -- Finally, the secrets of this year's most talked about event can be revealed! Witness how Darkseid's death shattered the Multiverse, creating continuity ripples throughout the DC Universe! Submit to Darkseid and read the full Anti-Life Equation! This is a book you cannot resist to buy!" ("Cannot resist to buy?")

Pg. 1:

Title ending in an exclamation point as the end of a line of dialogue? So EC Comics!

Pg. 2:

As far as I know, we haven't seen the name Justin Ballantine before. (Although this kind of puts paid to the "alien warlord" bit from JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #21.)

Pg. 5:

I haven't looked at my old STARMAN comics in a while, but have we ever actually seen Ted Knight teaching before? He was originally an unemployed playboy and later a more-or-less self-employed astronomer, right? And was it public knowledge that he had been Starman?

Pp. 11-15:

This is more or less a condensed version of JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #111.

Pg. 18:

Desaad, created by Jack Kirby, first appeared in FOREVER PEOPLE #2.

Pg. 22:

"Good and faithful servant" is an allusion to Matthew 25:23.

Pg. 24:

I suppose action figures on scales are better than action figure chess.

Pg. 25:

This is laid out to look like the pages from the Crime Bible in 52 AFTERMATH: CRIME BIBLE: THE FIVE LESSONS OF BLOOD. Until the spear weeps, huh? I wonder if the Spear of Destiny might have something to do with Bulleteer-as-"the spear that never was thrown" from SEVEN SOLDIERS. (Probably not.)

Pg. 26:

I love explanations of "math" that make no distinction between an equation and a proof.

Sonny Sumo: see FOREVER PEOPLE #5. "Billion Dollar" Bates: see FOREVER PEOPLE #8.

The Anti-Life Equation in humanoid form: this was Jim Starlin and Mike Mignola's COSMIC ODYSSEY miniseries in 1988.

"'Death' of the New Gods": Starlin's miniseries of the same name.

The Shilo Norman business was the plot of SEVEN SOLDIERS: MISTER MIRACLE.

See you in mid-January for FC #6.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Batman #683

Pg. 1:

This would have to be a lost moment from BATMAN: SON OF THE DEMON. As would the fourth panel on the next spread. Oh, Bruce, you hairy-chested love god.

Pp. 2-3:

"What The Butler Saw" is probably best known now as the title of a Joe Orton play, but it's a commonplace phrase dating to the early 20th century--one might have seen it, for instance, in this not-suitable-for-work machine. Appropriately enough for the salacious glimpse at the conception of Damian here.

This spread, in general, is a tribute to the Neal Adams-drawn period of Batman. The shirtless swordfight is a commonplace of Batman/Ra's stories--BATMAN #244, for instance. The wheelchair/shark/Joker bit is from "The Joker's Five-Way Revenge," in BATMAN #251. The werewolf/Batman fight happened in BATMAN #255.

Pg. 4:

We're back in the Black Mercy-style fantasy from the end of last issue. That first fight with Man-Bat happened in DETECTIVE COMICS #400. Anyone able to name an early-'70s story in which something particularly horrible almost happened to Gordon? Alfred's still relatively young here... and why would milquetoast-Bruce be looking at "case files"? (Answer, as a commenter suggested: because, like his father, he's become a doctor.)

Pg. 5:

"Unlikely tales," you say?

"Chemical racketeers" again--this time connected to Boss Zucco from Robin's origin. Those chemicals, man, gotta watch out for them.

"I can't seem to get it out of my head": even the Kirbytech brainwashing can't expunge something this deeply rooted in Bruce's psyche.

Pg. 6:

Catwoman called herself Elva Barr in BATMAN #15, in which she enters a beauty contest for beauticians (!!). (What do you mean Batman never uses a gun? Just look at that cover.) (R.I.P. Eartha Kitt, by the way.) The glasses, as Uzumeri noted, make Bruce look awfully Clark Kent-like, but since when does he need corrective lenses? Mokkari is visible in panel 3.

Pg. 7:

We saw Bruce's mom starting to be overprotective last issue.

Pg. 8:

Might as well mention that Ace, the Bat-Hound, created by Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff, first appeared in 1955's BATMAN #92.

Pg. 9:

I love the intimation that if Bruce's parents had never died, he'd have eventually become Batman anyway--!

Pg. 10:

Batman/Deadshot fight from DETECTIVE COMICS #474 (thanks for this and other issue references, David U.). For a good chunk of the '70s and '80s, Bruce Wayne lived in a penthouse at the top of the Wayne Foundation building, rather than at stately Wayne Manor; this was the period after Dick Grayson went off to college (and subsequently became Nightwing) and before Jason Todd became the second Robin. And that would be Jason in the final panel, from BATMAN #408. (Created by Gerry Conway and Don Newton, he had initially appeared in BATMAN #357 and became Robin as of BATMAN #368, but had his origin revised post-Crisis to be a tire-stealing punk.) (Wow--Morrison's really making a lot of references to "Batman Year One" and the issues immediately before and after it, isn't he?)

Pg. 12:

Batman and Jason fought the Scarecrow in DETECTIVE COMICS #571. The Joker killed Jason in BATMAN #427. "My watch has stopped": recalls Groucho Marx's line "either this man is dead or my watch has stopped."

Pg. 13:

The Batman Pieta, from BATMAN #428. (And now we know why Batman put his outfit up in the Batcave: to hurt more.) The Joker bit is from THE KILLING JOKE.

Pg. 15:

Tim Drake appears as Robin in BATMAN #442 in the top panel. (And apparently I was right about what tipped Batman off about Lump/Alfred.)

I'm guessing the fight with the Mad Hatter is the one that happened right near the beginning of "Knightfall," in BATMAN #492.

Pg. 16:

The backbreaking bit is from BATMAN #497; the Azrael fight is from BATMAN #510 or thereabouts. Yes, they've done the "Bruce can't be Batman any more" story before.

Pg. 17:

I think the first panel is just a generic image from the "No Man's Land" Bat-event of 1999; can anyone provide a specific reference? The Batman/Hush fight was from BATMAN #619; Batman comforted Tim after Jack Drake's death in IDENTITY CRISIS #6.

Pg. 18:

"What do you deserve?"--a riff on INFINITE CRISIS #7.

Pg. 19:

The payoff for all the chemical mentions we've seen.

Pg. 20:

"If you flinch" etc.: from 52 #30. We saw bits of Batman's Thogal experience in BATMAN #673 and elsewhere. Damian snarking is from BATMAN #656. The "zur-en-arrh" image here is from BATMAN #680.

Pg. 21:

Very shortly after the end of BATMAN #681, and a bridge to FINAL CRISIS #1. (Bruce is cowl-less here, as he appeared when he attacked the helicopter in #681; perhaps Alfred is bringing him a backup cowl.

"The bat-costume my father wore to the masquerade": the one that inspired Bruce's own costume, first seen in DETECTIVE COMICS #235.

Back to Alfred's narration--although this seems to be the real one, as opposed to the fake Alfred from the beginning of last issue. Weirdly not-quite solicitations for this issue and last, compared to the actual content: #682 was described as "In his last hours, Alfred the Butler tells the life story of the Batman as you've never seen it before...," and this one was supposed to be "narrated by Sir Alfred Pennyworth." Maybe the "his" had a misplaced antecedent, but "sir"?

Pg. 22:

There was another scene (on pg. 16 of last issue) in which Batman put something important in his utility belt... and I am quite sure that bullet is going to turn up again.