Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Final Crisis: Rogues' Revenge 1

Cover: The sliver cover is based on, or at least inspired by, George PĂ©rez's image of the dying Barry Allen in CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS #8. The portrait cover bears some resemblance to FLASH #193 from 1969, which Johns has noted was the first Flash comic he ever read.

Pg. 1:

Here's that lightning again!

The Flash they killed was Bart Allen, in THE FLASH: THE FASTEST MAN ALIVE #13.

Pg. 2:

"Uh" isn't really a Scots-accent way of saying "a," is it? It just reminds me of Captain Beefheart.

Pg. 3:

"Lex Luthor eatin' outta his hand": guess Luthor was impressed by the explosion in FC #2 after all, so this scene dates this issue to some time after that one. "You better not be dealing again": in Johns-written comics, Captain Cold is vehement about his no-drugs rule for the Rogues (and he beats up Mirror Master for doing cocaine in FLASH #213). So the Rogues' coke scene COUNTDOWN #50 provoked a reaction from him...

Pp. 4-5:

It's maybe not quite correct to say that they "murdered Kid Flash"--Bart was the full-on Flash at that point, and had only gone under the name Kid Flash briefly--but the general cadence of the descriptive blurb is very much like the top-of-page-1 blurbs that used to run in Marvel comics in the late '70s and early '80s. The "Gaspar" on the Daily Planet clipping has to be a reference to Gaspar Saladino, the longtime DC letterer who for a few years did the lettering on every DC splash page... and "I hate running"--of course they would.

Pg. 6:

"Climate is what we expect...": this is often attributed to Mark Twain, but I've yet to see an identified source. (As "Climate is what you expect...," it was used by Robert A. Heinlein in Time Enough for Love in 1973. It's also sometimes attributed to meteorologist Edward Lorenz.)

Pg. 9:

The first Trickster, James Jesse, was created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino, and first appeared in FLASH #113 in 1960. The one we're seeing here, Axel Walker, was created by Johns and Kolins, and first appeared in FLASH #183 in 2002.

Pg. 10:

James Jesse was killed by Deadshot in COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS #22. Tar Pit was a Johns/Kolins creation who hasn't appeared in a while. Zoom turned up in FLASH: THE FASTEST MAN ALIVE #10, hired by Iris to attack Bart in order to protect him from Inertia. Not sure how the Flash Museum enters into that scenario. Computron, I'm guessing, is Colonel Computron (now there's a name I haven't heard in a while); the Rogues were indeed banished to the "war planet" in SALVATION RUN. Double Down is another Johns/Kolins creation; Bart was tight with the Titans, so of course their enemies would assume that the Titans would take some kind of revenge.

ETA: Commenters point out that a new floating-head Computron was introduced in FLASH #217... and was killed in CHECKMATE #11.

Pg. 12:

"Gambi" is Paul Gambi, the Crime Tailor, who's made occasional appearances since 1963. But what would he do with a bunch of heavily used villain suits?

As David Uzumeri points out in the comments, that's really not how Bart's death happened. Although, of course, the Rogues have tremendous capacity for self-deception--and the Pied Piper noted in that issue that he had his own agenda.

Pg. 13:

Jared Morillo and Fred Chyre, created by Johns and Kolins, first appeared in FLASH #171 in 2001. The Pied Piper, created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino, first appeared in FLASH #106 in 1959. He had reformed as of FLASH #20 in 1988.

Pg. 17:

Iris Allen was married to the second Flash, Barry Allen, as of 1966's FLASH #165; created by Robert Kanigher, Carmine Infantino and Joe Kubert, she first appeared in good ol' SHOWCASE #4 in 1956. She was born in the future, died, came back to life, etc. ... long story. As good an explanation as you're going to get is here.

Pg. 19:

"This is a rock." The rock-as-first-murder-weapon is one of the central symbols of the Religion of Crime--see 52 and CRIME BIBLE: THE FIVE LESSONS OF BLOOD. And see David Uzumeri's comment for who some of the folks Libra is talking to are. "Evil's skin is the tool of murder": Squashua notes that Darkseid's skin is rocklike.

Pg. 20:

"One of my... shaving mirrors" would be funnier if Light hadn't vehemently refused Mirror Master's offer of "Peruvian flake" in FC #1 ("No, no! Do I look like some junkie?").

Pg. 21:

Inertia, created by Todd DeZago, Grant Morrison, Mike Wieringo and Ethan Van Sciver, first appeared in 1999 in IMPULSE #50. He was frozen into statue form in last year's ALL-FLASH #1.

This, sadly, creates some difficulties with the timeline, as David U. points out. The Flash Museum was badly damaged by a fire in FLASH #241, so Wally retrieved Inertia from it; by then, though, Iris West was no longer in the condition she's in on pg. 28.

Pg. 22:

Gregory Wolfe (the warden of Iron Heights), created by Johns and Van Sciver, first appeared in 2001's THE FLASH: IRON HEIGHTS. Apparently he didn't actually die in OUTSIDERS ANNUAL #1 after all.

Pg. 25:

The patented Geoff Johns Gross-Out! Yeah, that's quite a myth: the intestine's unstretched length is usually between 20 and 28 feet, and it might be able to stretch a few feet beyond that, but it's really not all that elastic.

Pg. 26:

The Pied Piper's real name is Hartley Rathaway, so he's in the family estate here. (His father paid for Will Magnus to cure his childhood deafness, according to FLASH #190.)

Pg. 27:

The "I'm not a murderer" speech here reprises Cold's dialogue in FLASH #182.

Pg. 28:

Jai and Iris first appeared in FLASH #225 (although we didn't learn their names until ALL-FLASH #1). Their mom is Linda Park-West, created by William Messner-Loebs and Greg LaRoque, who first appeared in FLASH #28.

Pg. 30:

Zoom showed up in DC UNIVERSE ZERO, so I'm sort of wondering what took him this long. His deal is that he "challenges" heroes to make them better... although he tends to be pretty homicidal about it.


Looks like, thanks to the FC #3 delay, I probably won't be posting here again until August 6 or so. In the meantime, if you happen to be in San Diego for Comic-Con International, why not come by one of my panels? I'll be moderating six of 'em:

July 24:
1-2: The Future of the Comics Pamphlet, Room 32AB (with Joe Keatinge, DCU 0 namesake Carr D'Angelo, and other luminaries to be announced)
6-7: The Comics Blogosphere, Room 32AB (with David Brothers, Jeff Lester, Laura Hudson and Tim Robins)

July 25:
5-6--Teaching Comics--Room 4 (with Phil Jimenez, Matt Silady, James Sturm and Steve Lieber)

July 26:
11:30-12:30: Image Comics/Tori Amos--Room 6B (with Tori herself and a cast of thousands)
2:00-3:00: Lettering Roundtable--Room 8 (with Todd Klein, John Roshell, Tom Orzechowski and Jared K. Fletcher)
4:30-5:30: The Story of an Image--Room 4 (with Kim Deitch, Jim Woodring, Jim Ottaviani and Kyle Baker)

And, on Friday the 25th at 11:30, I'll be giving a talk called "Against a Canon of Comics" as part of the Comic Arts Conference in Room 30AB, and probably signing Reading Comics somewhere afterward.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Final Crisis: Requiem

I confess that this is the one announced-to-date issue in this entire project that made me think "let's just get this over with" before I'd even seen it. So... let's get this over with.

Pg. 2:

Clockwise from top left: Dr. Mid-Nite (I think), Wildcat with somebody or other behind him, Wonder Woman, Grace, Wonder Girl, Black Lightning, looks like Captain Marvel, Superman with somebody else behind him, Mr. Terrific, Firestorm, Hawkgirl, Booster Gold, Starman, Plastic Man, Bulleteer (who never to my knowledge even met J'onn), Green Arrow, Stargirl, Aquaman--

Wait a second! Aquaman's dead! What's he doing here??

--Anyway. Donna Troy, Starfire, Batman, somebody whose white legs I don't recognize, Red Arrow, Geo-Force, Flash/Wally West, Ion/Green Lantern/Kyle Rayner (who was alleged in MARTIAN MANHUNTER #1,000,000 to have been a key player in a moment in J'onn's life when "everything seemed darkest," although that issue also presents J'onn as being alive and having his consciousness unified with Mars 853 centuries in the future--but then again BOOSTER GOLD #1,000,000 just came out this week, so I'm assuming that future is still in play), Power Girl, Adam Strange, Supergirl, Hourman, Damage, a boot that appears to belong to Dr. Light/Kimiyo Hoshi, Blue Beetle, Sand, Zatanna comparing fishnets with Black Canary, Green Lantern/Alan Scott, Huntress, Red Tornado, Steel, Flash/Jay Garrick, Hawkman with somebody behind him I can't identify, a green boot that might well belong to Green Lantern/John Stewart, Cyclone, a totally unidentifiable figure, Green Lantern/Hal Jordan, Vixen, Nightwing and Robin with Beast Boy and Raven behind them, Metamorpho. [Thanks to Adan and Don MacPherson for correcting some of my more egregious errors.]

Moving on--

Pg. 4:

A flashback to FC #1, obviously. But there's still a missing bit of information here: what led up to this, to recap, was that J'onn went to the prison planet in SALVATION RUN to see what was going on, disguised as Blockbuster; he saved Catwoman's life (in her own series), for which she repaid him by betraying him to Luthor; Luthor imprisoned him in a flaming cage, then left him behind when he brought everyone else back to Earth; and J'onn disappeared via boom tube in JLA #21. Who called up the boom tube and delivered him to Effigy and Dr. Light? And if that was Libra, what does he need Effigy and Dr. Light for?

Pg. 7:

Yeah, I didn't like that new uniform either.

Pg. 8:

Panel 3: The stretchy guy at left is the Elongated Man, who is also presently dead.

Pg. 10:

Panel 1: I guess he really is a "hairy-chested love god"!

Pg. 13:

"Malacandran": Martians call Mars "Ma'aleca'andra," as in "Malecandra" from C.S. Lewis's Out of the Silent Planet. "I know how it all ends": might that be some kind of reference to DC ONE MILLION?

Pp. 14-15:

I see that Superman is talking to himself again, and that he's still forgetting his participation in THE DEATH OF THE NEW GODS. And perhaps he should have kept a closer eye on Lois, you know?

The invisible chick in the bottom tier is Gypsy, created by Gerry Conway and Chuck Patton, who first appeared in 1984's JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA ANNUAL #2--one of J'onn's teammates from the mid-'80s "Justice League Detroit" era; after her own death, she was resurrected thanks to J'onn's intervention with his god H'ronmeer in MARTIAN MANHUNTER #12. And you thought Superman was a "proactive God"! Squashua points out that she's a human/Martian hybrid.

Pg. 17:

The Rose Center for Earth and Space exists in the real world, believe it or not.

Pg. 18:

Wait, so they kill J'onn in Central City (which I think is generally considered to be in the Kansas City sort of area) and then transport his body to New York City just so they can staple it to a model of Mars in the Hayden Planetarium? Seems like kind of an excessive gesture.

Pg. 19:

I'm betting all the framed pictures in panel 2 are redrawn versions of old JLA covers; anyone want to identify them? UPDATED: top row is something that looks fairly unidentifiable, JUSTICE LEAGUE #1, and a variation on THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #28; lower row is something that's sort-of-but-not-really like JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #258, and two I can't identify, although something keeps calling Darwyn Cooke to my mind in conjunction with the middle one. [Thanks to Don MacPherson again.]

Pg. 21:

A Turkey Tearror Broadhead is a very nasty-looking (but reportedly sort of ineffectual) arrowhead for shooting turkeys with a bow.

"My Favorite Martian."

Pg. 22:

Oh Jesus, Batman's a Skrull too?

"Green and white tore each other apart": the division between Green and White Martians first came up in the first Justice League series (as Garrie Burr points out), and reappeared in the early issues of Grant Morrison's mid-'90s run on JLA.

H'ronmeer was first mentioned in the 1988 MARTIAN MANHUNTER miniseries, I think. Ma'alefa'ak turned up in MARTIAN MANHUNTER #0, ten years later. These five pages are more or less a recap of the John Ostrander MM series.

Pg. 24:

The Josh Johnstone thing happened in MARTIAN MANHUNTER #20. The Bronze Wraith and the rest of the Justice Experience first appeared in CHASE #6.

Pg. 27:

The Fernus business happened in JLA #84-89, which Mahnke drew.

Pg. 28:

J'onn's fondness for Oreos was a running gag in the Keith Giffen JUSTICE LEAGUE series. They became "Chocos" as of MARTIAN MANHUNTER #24, an issue that is yet another example of the plural form of "Revelations."

Jeff notes that the Spectre moved J'onn's ancestral home to a pyramid in the Gobi desert--where there aren't actually pyramids, so I bet it won't be missed now that Superman's re-relocated it to Mars--in MARTIAN MANHUNTER #23.

Pg. 30:

Interestingly, the first Martian Manhunter story that Peter J. Tomasi wrote--back in SHOWCASE '95 #9--was also on the theme of death reuniting people with their loved ones.


In other news, FINAL CRISIS #3 has officially been bumped to August 6. Congratulations, everyone who guessed that issue in the contest! Email me at finalcrisis [at-sign-goes-here] douglaswolk period com, and we'll figure out what your prize is.