And away we go!
This is Anthro; he was created by Howie Post, and first appeared in SHOWCASE #74 in 1968. Morrison has said that FC will begin with the first boy on Earth and end with the last boy on Earth (Kamandi). The standard line on Anthro is that he's the first Cro-Magnon boy. (And Metron calls him "man"; I suspect that the distinction between boys and men may be thematically significant, as well as the distinctions between gods and men and between mortality and immortality.)
So what period are we seeing here? Cro-Magnons, specifically, seem to have first appeared about 45,000 years ago; modern humans date to something 130,000 years ago; the people Anthro attacks a little while later seem surprised by fire, although controlled fire predates modern humans by many hundreds of thousands of years; at the end of this issue, Anthro's got a bow and arrow, which were invented only around 10,000 years ago. In other words: this happened a long time ago, and Morrison is hand-waving on the details.
Metron, sitting in his "Möbius Chair" on the right, is the first of many, many characters we'll see in this series that were created by Jack Kirby. He first appeared in NEW GODS #1 in 1971, and apparently died in THE DEATH OF THE NEW GODS #7 a couple of months ago.
Metron is significant in connection with Morrison, who claims to have summoned him in a magical ritual. He's talked about it several times, notably in this Arthur interview: "So when Chaos Magic came along to say that instead of summoning up Hermes, you could just as easily summon up DC comics super-speedster The Flash and The Flash would appear, visibly, I was naturally excited. [laughs] So I’m going, Bullshit, and I summoned Metron from the “New Gods” comics…and I got Metron! Or I should say what I got was the distilled, descending power and magic of language, speed and information which was wearing Metron drag in order to talk to me."
It's also worth mentioning the connection to Morrison's SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY project here. SEVEN SOLDIERS #1 includes a scene drawn by J.H. Williams III in high-Kirby style, in which we learn about the origin of super-heroics on Earth: in 40,000 B.C., "the sky tribes bring structure to a savage world," the caption says, and we see Neanderthals running from Metron, Orion and Lightray of the New Gods. Aurakles, a Neanderthal warrior, becomes Earth's first superhero, and a civilization arises, until the world is harrowed, leaving just enough people for humanity to rebuild itself. (Call it the Sheeda catastrophe theory.) Presumably, that all happens before Anthro's time. Unless Anthro is actually Aurakles, which doesn't seem right: his hair is reddish here, but it's not Aurakles-style flaming red.
Panel 3: The fiery sign Metron is making with his finger appears to be the astrological symbol of Mars, the god of war. Is Metron playing Prometheus, giving fire-as-knowledge to mortals? Sure looks like it, and the caption on pg. 7 reinforces that idea.
The black-haired guy in the middle is the immortal Vandal Savage, who was created by Alfred Bester and Martin Nodell and first appeared in GREEN LANTERN #10 in 1943. (Man, that's a good cover.) He's been around since roughly 50,000 B.C.
The characters in the original Anthro stories could talk. Nobody's sure when spoken human language developed, but one guesstimate is around the time of Vandal Savage's birth.
Panel 4: Is there a more enduring cliché than the caveman dragging a woman by her hair?
Grant Morrison's script for this and the next four pages can be seen at Entertainment Weekly's preview here. My favorite detail: Morrison's description of Turpin as "Jack Kirby as drawn by Frank Miller."
We seem to be in Metropolis in this scene--note the "Star Liner" ship. (Metropolis has a little bit of a star/planet motif: in the early years, the Daily Planet newspaper was the Daily Star.)
Panel 2: Dan "Terrible" Turpin was created by Jack Kirby, and first appeared under that name in NEW GODS #5. (There's a retcon I'm not gonna get into here that would have made him appear earlier as Brooklyn of the Boy Commandos.)
Panel 3: Orion was also created by Jack Kirby, and also first appeared in NEW GODS #1. When we last saw him, in COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS #2, he had just ripped out the heart of his father, Darkseid, and was staggering off into the distance, badly injured. If Orion's Mother Box has been destroyed, though, you'd think his face would appear more bestial. [ETA: Per that infamous Morrison interview, we've... actually last seen Orion in DEATH OF THE NEW GODS #6, and COUNTDOWN #2 is more or less apocryphal.]
Panel 4: "Six missing kids": besides the obvious referent later this issue, this echoes the group of six Titans that Dark Side is trying to collect in this week's TEEN TITANS.
Panel 1: As we saw in the Metron/Anthro scene, knowledge-as-fire burns.
Panel 3: "They" are presumably the New Gods (killed off in, naturally, DEATH OF THE NEW GODS); "he" is presumably Darkseid.
Panel 4: That's the (newly redesigned) death avatar Black Racer in the background: created by Jack Kirby, who else, he first appeared in NEW GODS #3. Note that the sky has turned red over the course of the page: the Crisis is on now.
Panel 1: The script says this is the version of New York seen in SEVEN SOLDIERS--the "Cinderella city" between Metropolis and Gotham City--but commenter chad nevett points out that it's actually drawn as Detroit, which is what the script for the second panel asks for.
Panel 4: "2814.2": John Stewart is one of the two Green Lanterns assigned to Space Sector 2814, which includes Earth. [Thanks for the correction, doc_loki.]
Panel 1: "Metropolis Special Crimes Unit": a division of the police department devoted to superhuman-related affairs. Created by John Byrne, it was first referred to in SUPERMAN #4 in 1987.
Panel 4: 2814.1 would be Hal Jordan, who's based in Coast City (commenter pla points out that it's apparently somewhere in California).
Panel 2: The woman in the hat is Renee Montoya, a.k.a. the Question. In her civilian identity, she was created by Paul Dini and Mitch Brian, for Batman: The Animated Series, and first appeared in comics in BATMAN #475 in 1992. She became the Question over the course of 52.
Panel 3: The first Question, Charles Victor Szasz, a.k.a. Vic Sage, was created by Steve Ditko and first appeared in BLUE BEETLE #1 in 1967. He did indeed die of lung cancer in 52 #38. Which, as Turpin suggested earlier, sort of counts as another way of using fire to kill oneself.
Panel 2: "Danny boy": the previous Question sang "Danny Boy" at dramatically significant moments in THE QUESTION #2 and 52 #34.
Panel 4: The Dark Side Club first appeared in SEVEN SOLDIERS: MISTER MIRACLE, and has been turning up in various DC titles over the last couple of weeks.
Panel 1: The Mister Miracle poster on the wall is presumably for the Shilo Norman version of the character, as seen in SEVEN SOLDIERS: MISTER MIRACLE.
Hal's facial scar here is significant, the Director's Cut edition notes.
Panel 1: "Lagrangian point" (or Lagrange--not "LaGrange"--point) is defined here; there are actually five such points in the planet's orbit, I believe, but hey, the Guardians are guardians, not astrophysicists. And "dust for radiation prints"--I get what they're saying, but the metaphor's a little strained.
Panel 2: The Alpha Lanterns are essentially the Green Lanterns' internal-affairs investigation force.
Panel 1: Metron's Möbius Chair.
Panel 2: Sparx, created by Karl Kesel, Tom Grummett and Ed Hannigan, first appeared in ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN ANNUAL #5 in 1993. Empress, created by Peter David and Todd Nauck, first appeared in YOUNG JUSTICE #16 in 2000; David Uzumeri points out that she has a piece of the Anti-Life Equation in her brain. Mas y Menos, created by Sam Register, Glen Murakami, David Slack and Alex Soto for the Teen Titans animated series, first appeared on-panel in comics in TEEN TITANS #38 in 2006. This is the first we've seen of the League of Titans. And, most likely, the last we'll see. Is the New Gods' domain really "another reality"?
Panel 4: Dr. Light was established in IDENTITY CRISIS as a serial rapist.
Panel 1: [ETA: Commenter raphaeladidas points out that the guy in the yellow cape is Signalman, created by Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff, who first appeared in BATMAN #112 in 1957.] (And shouldn't most of these folks be in jail anyway? Or is there something we don't know from SALVATION RUN? For that matter, what's Red Tornado doing with a body?) On the right: Black Canary, a version of a character created by Robert Kanigher and Carmine Infantino who first appeared in FLASH COMICS #86 in 1947. (This is actually that character's daughter, although explaining how and when the switchoff occurred is kind of a headache.)
Panel 1: The bald guy is Doctor Sivana, created by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck, who first appeared in WHIZ COMICS #2 in 1940.
Panel 4: Libra is now sitting in Metron's chair, and has a Crime Bible. [Thanks, alonso.]
Oh, Mike. Sigh.
Might be a red herring, but commenter michael suggests that Libra's staff might actually be the Spear of Destiny--the spear that pierced Christ's side, which is a very powerful mystical artifact in the DCU. The long explanation is here, but when last seen (in DAY OF JUDGMENT SECRET FILES #1 in 1999), it had been hurled into the sun and could only be retrieved by the Sentinels of Magic working collectively. [ETA: The solicitation for FC: REVELATIONS #2 mentions the Spear of Destiny being in Vandal Savage's hands...]
Yes, maybe fire was a bad idea. The guy with the flaming head here, as David Uzumeri points out, is Effigy, created by Ron Marz and Darryl Banks, who first appeared in GREEN LANTERN #113 in 1999.
Panel 3: M'yri'ah was the Martian Manhunter's late wife. I suspect that J'onn isn't really dead--not just because N.E.R.D. in superhero comics, but because we've seen in MARTIAN MANHUNTER #1,000,000 that he's alive many centuries in the future, and his history is bound up with Darkseid's.
Panel 2: Blüdhaven, located near Gotham City, was destroyed in INFINITE CRISIS #4. This is Rev. G. Godfrey Goode, a variation on Glorious Godfrey, a demagogue created by Jack Kirby who first appeared in FOREVER PEOPLE #3 in 1971. [Thanks for the correction, innerbrat.]
Panel 3: This is Mark Richards, the third Tattooed Man, who first appeared in GREEN LANTERN #9 in 2006; he's a variation on a character created by Gardner Fox and Gil Kane in GREEN LANTERN #23 in 1963.
Panel 5: We're in New York now--cf. the Statue of Liberty in the background. I guess Turpin doesn't have to worry about jurisdiction issues.
Dark Side is a sort of human projection of Darkseid, the evil god created by Jack Kirby who first appeared in SUPERMAN'S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN #134 in 1970; this version of him is the one seen in SEVEN SOLDIERS: MISTER MIRACLE.
Panel 3: The original versions of Kalibak and Kanto are also Kirby kreations, respectively first seen in NEW GODS #1 and MISTER MIRACLE #7, both in 1971.
Panel 5: "My father used to say the same thing": Turpin is being identified as, perhaps, the new Orion, since Darkseid was Orion's father. "Granny" would be Granny Goodness, created by Kirby for MISTER MIRACLE #2 in 1971. Her Dark Side Club incarnation was apparently killed (gruesomely) in last week's BIRDS OF PREY #118.
Panel 1: "There was a war in Heaven... and I won." Compare Metron's speech in SEVEN SOLDIERS: MISTER MIRACLE #1: "There was a war in Heaven. And the wrong side won. The dark side won."
You know, you'd think Superman would talk about the New Gods in a more familiar way, since he was on panel for most of DEATH OF THE NEW GODS. (The aforementioned Morrison interview notes that those stories were written after this one.)
Panel 1: Green Man, created by Mike W. Barr and Keith Pollard, first appeared in GREEN LANTERN #164 in 1983. Boodikka, created by Gerard Jones, Pat Broderick and Romeo Tanghal, first appeared in GREEN LANTERN #20 in 1992. Varix, created by Paul Kupperberg and Trevor von Eeden, first appeared in TALES OF THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS ANNUAL #2 in 1986.
Panel 2: "New Earth" is the main DC Universe Earth, following the rejiggering of all creation in CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, INFINITE CRISIS and 52.
The universe of Earth-51 was destroyed in COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS #13, then partly re-created and re-destroyed, as far as I can tell. (I'll get around to reading that series one of these days. Maybe.) If anyone can identify these Monitors by their hairstyles, please do. The original Monitor was created by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, circa 1982, and appeared in a bunch of comics leading up to CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, in which he was a major character.
Nix Uotan first appeared in COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS #21 (thanks, commenter amedeo turturro). I think this is the first named appearance of both Tahoteh and Weeja Dell.
Ditto for Zillo Valla and Ogama. The creepy Monitor in the last panel is Solomon, who was seen in COUNTDOWN.
Apparently Anthro has also invented both dreadlocks and cooking, and possibly also archery. Smart kid. And he's drawing Metron's costume design in the dirt.
Panel 1: One effect of the original Crisis on Infinite Earths was temporal anomalies like this. The blond kid is Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth, created by--ready for this?--Jack Kirby, and the sunken Statue of Liberty recalls the cover of his first appearance, 1972's KAMANDI #1, as well as the COUNTDOWN teaser image (and, of course, Planet of the Apes).
Panel 4: The Metron costume design has appeared on Anthro's face. My guess is that, through contact with the gods, people become those gods: we've earlier seen Turpin becoming Orion, and here, Anthro has mastered knowledge and fire, and is invoking Metron in himself, in a sort of ritual to access his ability to transcend time and space. But other theories are more than welcome here.
Panel 1: This appears to be Nix Uotan suddenly finding himself mortal and in an apartment full of human stuff, but I initially read it as the Tattooed Man waking up without his tattoos. And does his Mohawk hint to anybody else that he's got some connection to OMAC?
Panel 2: Nix's bookshelf appears to include a Super Bat title (as seen in the FC Sketchbook). Jog points out that "aww, man" echoes "Man" on pg. 1.
Panel 3: Mark Simmons points out that Nix's head is framed by the image of the sun here--some kind of sun-god thing going on, perhaps?
Panel 4: On the TV is Green Arrow, created by Mort Weisinger and George Papp, who first appeared in MORE FUN COMICS #73 in 1941. Timothy Callahan points out that Nix's wall has a postcard from Oolong Island, the vacation retreat for evil scientists from 52.
As for the title: Mars is the god of war, so the reference might be to Orion (who filled that role in the period of Morrison's JLA stories when the lineup was meant to be analogous to the Greek pantheon) or to the Martian Manhunter, or both.
Please post questions, corrections and emendations in the comments, and I'll try to incorporate them into these annotations. (And note that David Uzumeri has his own excellent annotations up here.)
A quick procedural question: when I link to individual issues at the Grand Comics Database Project, do you prefer links to the issue details or the big cover art?
Also, if these notes are helpful or interesting to you, please consider buying a book from the Amazon links you see on the right.