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...
"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.)
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.
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.).
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.
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.
And the story Lois wrote begins (from where we left off last time).
"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.
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.
"In us... in all of us..." See Orion's last words, to Turpin, in #1: "He is in you all! Fight!"
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.
Ah, I see the OMACs from RESIST finally showed up. For one panel.
"The engines canna take the strain!"
Ray has made the Metron-symbol to protect the whole planet, not that it seems to have been terribly well protected.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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...
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."
"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?
"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?
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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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?
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.
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.