Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Final Crisis: Revelations #1

By way of transition, let's start out with a quote from Darkseid in FOREVER PEOPLE #3, the source of the original Justifiers: "I like you, Glorious Godfrey! You're a shallow, precious child--the Revelationist, happy with the sweeping sound of words! But I am the Revelation! The tiger-force at the core of all things! When you cry out in your dreams--it is Darkseid that you see!"

I have to confess I'm disappointed that the Powers That Be ended up going with "Revelations" instead of "Revelation" for this--what people think the book of the New Testament is called, rather than what it actually is called. And now it shares a foreboding subhead with THE PHOENIX RESURRECTION: REVELATIONS, SOLAR, MAN OF THE ATOM: REVELATIONS and the uncomfortably recent WILDSTORM: REVELATIONS. (The only American comic that's ever gotten it right, as far as I can tell, is WOLVERINE/THE PUNISHER: REVELATION.)

Pg. 1:

Great opening line. The scene here is the memorial statues of Superman and Superboy in Metropolis that were unveiled in 52 #1; what's being broadcast is Superman's funeral oration for J'onn J'onzz from FC #2. "Homicide: we work for God" is probably most familiar as a line from a 1993 episode of Homicide: Life on the Street.

Pp. 2-3:

We seem to have moved away from Metropolis, since the rain raineth chiefly on the just. Arthur is, of course, revising his involvement upwards. And he has more specific tastes in his victims than we ever knew: check out the oversized bracelets on "Donna."

The implication is that Light's party is happening at the same time as, or immediately after, the memorial service, but Light is still around in Libra's entourage as of the scene after the funeral in FC #2. Maybe he's just gone on a multi-day bender. (ETA: The solicitation for #4 mentions "a Justifier siege," so that issue apparently happens after FC #3.)

It's worth mentioning that Dr. Light hasn't always been Mr. Rapey-Rape--I don't think that was part of his profile until IDENTITY CRISIS, actually. For a long time, the deal with him was that he had no particular arch-enemy: he got his ass handed to him by everybody in turn, first by the Justice League, then the Atom, then Green Lantern (although now I have to wonder if a "Missouri mule" would be some kind of sicko sexual reference), then the Flash (on one of those famously wide Central City sidewalks), and eventually Superman and Batman together, Superman on his own, Batman with Supergirl, Aquaman, Teen Titans both old and new (he's totally checking out Starfire's butt there, the bastard)... the punch line to all this was a story I still remember from FLASH #12 in 1988, in which he gets taken down by the children of Little Boy Blue & the Blue Boys.

Pp. 4-5:

Well, this one's been a long time coming. (And, of course, now Arthur's revising his involvement downwards. Weasel.) The out-out-brief-candle bit is another example of the Spectre's fondness for punishments that fit crimes; Dr. Light has been given the same weakness that J'onn had...

But, if you'll forgive a bit more Dr. Light biography: he is well familiar with the DCU afterlife's revolving door, because this is in fact the fourth time he's died. A Parademon killed him in SUICIDE SQUAD #36, which you'd think would have taught him not to mess with Apokolips; having gone to Hell, he was resurrected three times (and killed twice more) in the course of SUICIDE SQUAD #52.

Pg. 7:

St. Faustino (and his friend St. Giovita) are the patron saints of Brescia, Italy; Faustino was a 15th century martyr who's often considered the patron saint of singles, too.

I don't think Dr. Tochioka has appeared before.

Pg. 8:

I also couldn't tell you who Sister Clarice is (or, uh, was). But one important Clarice in the Spectre's life was Jim Corrigan's fiancée Clarice Winston; the Spectre had been keeping her alive for a long time, and severed her lifeline in 1995's SPECTRE #30. Also, thinking of "Clarice" and "Spectre" together led me to think of the author Clarice Lispector.

Pg. 9:

Martyn Van Wyck was Effigy, the flame-based villain who helped kill the Martian Manhunter in FC #1. First Cris snuffs the candle, then he snuffs the wick...

Pg. 10:

I really wish Cris would avoid conflating the concepts of crime and sin. (Crimes are committed against secular laws, sins against divine laws. Jaywalking is a crime; violating the Sabbath is a sin; murder is both.)

Effigy burned the "Hollywood" sign in, I think, 1999's GREEN LANTERN #113.

Pg. 11:

Montoya became the leader of the Order of the Stone at the end of what I prefer to think of as THE QUESTION: FIVE LESSONS OF BLOOD (a.k.a. the CRIME BIBLE miniseries, which led out of the "crime religion" plot of 52).

Pg. 17:

The Hangmen--Killshot, Shock Trauma, Provoke, Stranglehold and Breathtaker--were created by Jay Faerber and Paul Pelletier, and first appeared in 2000's THE TITANS #21. They were roundly mocked by Scipio in 2005, and apparently killed by an angry mob under the direction of Dr. Psycho in 2006's MANHUNTER #21.

Pg. 19:

How many mortal shells has the Spectre worn? Was there anyone before Jim Corrigan? Anyone know?

Pg. 20:

You know, killing off characters loses something of its dramatic impact when they were already dead last time we saw them.

Pg. 23:

I know I've been crying wolf about this particular artifact a lot in the course of these notes, but I'm going to guess once again that what we're seeing here is the Spear of Destiny, which was introduced to the DC Universe in 1977's WEIRD WAR TALES #50, by Steve Englehart, Dick Ayers and Alfredo Alcala. "In the ocean off the coast of England" isn't something I'd previously imagined as a likely spot for the Spear, seeing as how the last time it popped up it had been hurled into the sun; is there a story I missed? [ETA: Yes there is. Commenter narm00 points out that the Spear ended up in the ocean in JSA CLASSIFIED #8-9.]

The business with the "First" etc. is the standard invocations of the Crime Cult. The First is Cain (although more the Biblical Cain than the keeper-of-the-House-of-Mystery Cain, although that house appeared in 52); the Red Rock is not actually named in Genesis 4, although it's semi-traditional that Cain killed Abel with a rock. Commenter Ragtime points out that red + rage could be cues toward "Rage of the Red Lanterns."

Pg. 26:

Cris, as the Spectre, killed his son (who had killed the crooked cop, coincidentally named Jim Corrigan, who had killed him) in CRISIS AFTERMATH: THE SPECTRE #3--a story that, as Rucka has noted, doesn't exactly echo Genesis 22. Which leads Cris to echo Matthew 27:46 here.

The "mercy/vengeance" thing that's being batted around this issue, in combination with the reference to the "Angel of Mercy" in that interview and Rucka's mentioning a new character who'll show up in #2, makes me wonder if the mysterious Clarice might not turn out to be a Spirit of Mercy of some kind.

(ETA: The solicitation for #4 mentions a character called Radiant; the light-vs.-shadow implications of that name w/r/t "Spectre" makes me think such a character might be something along those lines, too. DC already has a different character called the Radiant, but that's never stopped anyone before.)

The DCU's Hell, of course, has its own problems right now--cf. REIGN IN HELL.

Pg. 30:

Hey, it's the old GOTHAM CENTRAL team back together!


Ragtime said...

The "Spear of Destiny" part seems to be referring much more directly to the "Rage of the Red Lanterns" idea ("Praise to the first, to the rage and the red rock")

Douglas Wolk said...

The "First"/"Rage"/"Red Rock" deal is the argot of the Crime Cult: the First is Cain, the rage is his rage against Abel, the red rock is the weapon. I'll actually clarify that in the text itself too...

Snow Princess said...

i don't get what you're saying about donna and light's taste...but i suspect i'm being dim. :-(

Douglas Wolk said...

Snow Princess, the girls in that scene obviously aren't the actual Titans (despite what a few people commenting elsewhere have thought). Dr. Light has dressed up some very young girls like three of the Titans--"Donna" is wearing bracelets that are way too big for her--so he can pretend they're the actual Titans. The implication is that he's not just a serial rapist (& prob. child molester, not to mention child murderer--he killed Sparkler in SUICIDE SQUAD #27): he specifically has a violent sexual thing about superheroes.

Don MacPherson said...

If memory serves, John Ostrander wrote sequences in The Spectre series he did with artist Tom Mandrake that suggested there were many more Spectre-hosts before Jim Corrigan.

Come to think of it, if that is the case, doesn't that open the door to a team-up possibility featuring a pre-Corrigan Spectre and an earlier incarnation of Hawkman? How about a Wild West Spectre (possible host: Jonah Hex?) and Nighthawk?

God, I'm a geek.

David Uzumeri said...

Man, why can't *I* be the "Tiger-Force" at the core of all things?

David Uzumeri said...

Also, Don MacPherson, that's unlikely since Jim Starlin has seen fit to declare Hawkman's entire history as Prince Khufu a DEVIOUS LIE made up to confuse him.

Steven said...

To follow up on what Don said, the Spectre has had a mortal host since the birth of Christ (there was no room for vengeance when mercy and forgiveness walked the Earth) and has been chained to a series of human souls since the Crucifixion, so that vengeance would be tempered (more or less) by human compassion.

We only see three previous Spectres in the series, the first, an Indian man who later became the demon Asmodel), a Celtic woman with a banshee, or corrigan, motif, and an American Indian with a buffalo head.

Keith said...

I cringe every time lolDr.Lightisarapist is brought up. Hopefully it's done and over with (but I doubt it in the first part of a five part series).

David Uzumeri said...

Hey, didn't Rucka hint that we'd see a Spirit of Mercy or something in this? I'm afraid I forget where I read this idea (I'm totally cribbing), but I can't see any immediate purpose for the Clarice pages, so perhaps it's setting up that?

David Uzumeri said...

This is what I get for responding to articles without rereading the original article - I did a search, but I could have *sworn* it was from a comment, and now I feel embarrassed and sad and ashamed like Darkseid wants me to be. :(

narm00 said...

"In the ocean off the coast of England" isn't something I'd previously imagined as a likely spot for the Spear, seeing as how the last time it popped up it had been hurled into the sun; is there a story I missed?

Yep. JSA Classified #8-#9, by Peter Tomasi, where the Spear ends up lost in the Atlantic. Tomasi doesn't explain /how/ the Spear got back from the sun, but does mention that was its last known location.

I cringe every time lolDr.Lightisarapist is brought up. Hopefully it's done and over with (but I doubt it in the first part of a five part series).

Eh. Think it /is/ done with, as Light isn't who the series is about.

As regards other Spectre hosts, we also get one-panel glimpses of a ninja-Spectre and a French Revolution-era Spectre. Which - including Jim, Hal and Cris - would make at least eight Spectre hosts over the last two millennia.

Ragtime said...

You know, killing off characters loses something of its dramatic impact when they were already dead last time we saw them.

Can someone explain to me what this comment is referring to?

David Uzumeri said...

Rucka kills off the Hangmen something like three pages after claiming Dr. Psycho faked their 'deaths' a year or two ago in Manhunter #21.

Douglas Wolk said...

Thank you, narm00! I'll fix that. And narm00 also suggested over at that we might be seeing a counterpart who's a spirit of mercy or, conversely, a spirit of crime...

leo said...

Dr. D. Tochioka did not appear before Final Crisis #1. I think this might be the character that fuses Barbara Gordon's spine. It would be cool to have Oracle back in action as Batgirl!