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.


Roberto said...

Iman says: "He is going to start/boot the time, that's what they told me. To live in the world with a man like him."

Arturo Ulises said...

"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.)"

IIRC, on the JLA vs angels Morrison story, Superman was originally supposed to move the moon with two huge chains. Unfortunately, Morrison was caught in the middle of the ridiculous electro-Supes idiocy, so he had to move it using magnetic force or something. Guess Morrison never got over that. :-)

Anonymous said...

"Arrancar" also means "to tear" or "to pull out." Even though what Morrison most likely meant with the word is "to start," I think it could work both ways.

Anonymous said...

The panels with the Japanese super team flowing from right to left is also a nice nod to how Japanese comics (and Japanese writting in general of course) are all drawn right to left. Just a nice little touch.

David Uzumeri said...

Great job as always, man - the galaxy/hand thing *is* a fantastic catch. I just wanted to point out that I really don't think Mr. Terrific bites it - he's surrounded in a *blue* light, so I think he gets sucked into the Boom Tube, for better or for worse. Hawkman's replaceable, but honestly Mr. Terrific is one of the most interesting black characters in comics and losing him would be retarded, Sasha or no Sasha.

astroport72 said...

Spanish is my first language. Iman meant that Superman was to start, jumpstart or boot time, as Roberto pointed out.

Great ending(s) by the way.

Nikki said...

chaining up the world and dragging it is what happened at the end of the last series of Doctor Who which Morisson wrote for

Anonymous said...

I believe that's Majestic in the upper right-ish of the big super spread, meaning that we can have multiple Superman stand ins on each earth, thereby accounting for more than 52 all together, no?

Adam said...

Thank god for these annotations. I hate Grant Morrison's over-reaching writing style. I've waited for each annotation of each issue.

Caleb said...

In the scientist panel, the guy in the wheel chair talking to Magnus appears to be the Doom Patrol's Niles Caulder.

And I THINK the Superman at the tip of Captain Marvel's right cape tip in the Supermen of Many Earths spread is the Superman from the Elseworlds Superman: The Dark Side, but I'm not positive, as I never read it and found out if he ever put on a blue suit and cape at the end of it.

Anonymous said...

I just read FC#7 and it ends as it began, as utter rubbish. This was a classical, historical, mishmash of loose ideas and vague concepts strung together with last-minute unbounded solutions and ridiculous attempts at characterization.

Grant Morrison is so obsessed with coming off as clever and so busy juggling silly ideas and referencing golden-age nonsense and making tongue-in-cheek nods to things that only 50 year old comic book readers will get, that he forgets that he's supposed to be a writer of stories. He's got no self-control; he just randomly vomits ideas without the slightest bit of restraint.

Grant Morrison isn't a storyteller; he's a reinterpreter of stale ideas and grating concepts. That's why The Invisibles was a high-concept mess and that's why most of his other "sagas" invariably also end up as manure.

Anonymous said...

As I said somewhere else -- I'm making an educated guess here: Morrison has either recently read Ende's The NeverEnding Story, or rented the movie a few times.

Anonymous said...

On page 23, doesn't Element X resemble the Worlogog from Rock Of Ages?

Scott Cederlund said...

I loved Wonder Woman's line about meeting Frankenstein for the first time. There's a wonderful symmetry there about two artificially created beings meeting up.

awesomedudester said...

I kinda like the idea of the miracle machine being the ultimate deux ex machina, and morrison being so straightforward about it. And yes the happy ending its a very superman thing.

Anonymous said...

I can see some of the rage over Morrison's use of obscure comics/events/characters/etc... but to me, that's part of the fun of reading comics - discovery.

When I first picked up comics, I had no idea who any DC character was that wasn't a Super Friend. But I wanted to learn more about that little blue guy, or the green bald guy, or that red guy that ran fast. I gobbled the DCU mythology up, just like kids gobble up the names of dinosaurs, pokemon and the like today.

And when discovery wasn't an option? The next experience was imagination... which is one of the big points of this series. Not having every little thing spelled out for me in FC made using the ole' noggin to fill in the blanks fun.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for your Final Crisis annotations.

PS. Native Spanish speaker here:

"He is going to jumpstart time, that's what they've told me.

To live in a world with a man like [him/that]."

Anonymous said...

Great job Doug. Your blog and FunnyBabylon make my week sometimes. Are you going to SDCC09?

Garrie Burr said...

The image of Superman pulling the earth made me think of World's Finest 208 -- the great Neal Adams' cover with a Len Wein story teaming Supes and Dr. Fate...

Did anyone catch Morrison's interview in Newsarama yesterday (?), with the recommended reading order of the series and spin-offs? He only included the stuff he wrote himself (though he mentioned the other things were worth reading...)

And the order is:

BATMAN #682 – 683

I need to re-read this all over again -- it would be interesting to sit down with 52 again, first, at this point. Perhaps even go back to JLA Classified and Seven Soldiers.

Wanted to thank Douglas and those fine folks at the Babylon of Funnybooks, too. I've still got a lot to learn, but know more than before thanks to them...

Floating World said...

So much cool stuff to process! The Flashes chasing a bullet that was shot backwards through time... they race forward through time as it travels backwards back into the gun. What is this William Blake? On a second reading, the one emotion that kept returning was 'beautiful'.

This has probably been mentioned, but the bleed is also a printing reference. Anything past the bleed line is all the area outside of the printed page.

So Obama was in a marvel comic, almost like product placement. This is the spirit of hope and change in comic form. When Nix wakes up on Earth again it reminds me of the post-apocalypse issues at the end of Promethea.

And if Anthro was the prototypical first hero, I can't think of a better successor to be there with the rocketship.

Almost surprised we didn't run into Greg Feely or Spartacus Hughes. or didnt we?

Anonymous said...

It's Superman-as-God saying "let there be light," and making a wish.

Another way to frame it is that Superman prays.

"A super-communications device--like a cellphone to the gods, I heard."

"Superman. Your signal has been received and understood. This is between Monitors now."

Anonymous said...

re: The Flashes v. Darkseid

Seems redundant and unnecessary (Why does the Black Racer need directions to a dying god?). Actually, it's the god-level symbolism that mades Batman's coup possible. Note the parallels:

Batman <-> Flash
repurposed bullet <-> redirected Omega beams ("This was suicide, Darkseid.")
radion poisoning <-> Black Racer

"Beyond the superluminal barrier, matter converts to pure information." The Flashes provided the idea of Darkseid's defeat; Batman, the reality.

Unknown said...

Thanks for this. It's going to help a lot. I just re-read FC 1-4 and I'm going to finish it with a new perspective.

Anonymous said...

I still don't know whether Hawkman/Hawkgirl bites it. There is so much confusion around, I'm just gonna go with "they got better" and leave it at that. Blissful ignorance is always best ^_^

Anonymous said...

I'm in love with the fact that the first Monitor to fall corrupted by the Darkness of Mandrakk, Ogama ... was basically the DCU equivalent of Frank Miller.

Apparently Morrison blames him for quite a bit of the modern grim & gritty crap.

And how does he depict Miller? As a slavering minion, clinging to the bottom of New Earth (DC Continuity) and trying to scratch and ruin it. Spreading the propaganda of a false god.


Also, for Zillo being the Monitor of Red Rain Earth ... I called it a while ago, and I'm glad that was the case.

I didn't get the "women in freezers" bit at first, didn't even think about it. Amazing.

Is it possible that the hand seen at the dawn of time by the Oans, Krona, and in the subsequent Crises, was actually the hand of our main man, Superman?

Jarrett Duncan said...

Someone else caught this, but the last page of #7 leads back to the sliver cover of #1.

awesomedudester said...

A lot of people seems to be mad about having to re-read or searching in the web after any FC issue. But in a day and age in which information its so at hand like now, is it that so bad??? I do it anyway with any tv show, movie or book I read, and I know for sure I'm not alone in this (just as an example, LOST probably wouldn't be so much fun without people trying to decipher every little clue the producers toss to the viewers)so I really don't get all the bad mojo. I have never found any Crisis event new-reader-friendly anyway, just for the shear amount of characters that are involved or its relationships with previous Crisis. Any regular joe thinking a Crisis its the perfect moment to get to really understand the DCU will probably end up with his head blown up anyway, so what's the fuzz???
Anyway, its nice to find a site fanrant-free for once in a while. Nice job, cheers!

hilker said...

I think the Omega Gambit wormhole collapse may have teleported and time-displaced Mr. Terrific a few weeks back to Antarctica. He comments on the cold as it happens, and it would explain how he seemed to be in two places at once during the series.

Anonymous said...

One thing you don't mention - the Green Lanterns use a Kryptonite stake on the vampire Superman.

neftones said...

"One thing you don't mention - the Green Lanterns use a Kryptonite stake on the vampire Superman."

No they don't, they stake Mandrakk (and it's not Kryptonite, it's just green energy from their rings); the Supermen burn Ultraman with heat vision.

Anonymous said...

'Kay, I have a question:

Issue 2, page of "See how selflessly..." there's a stargate of sorts in the Command D bunker that looks remarkably similar to Checkmate's tunnel. Significant?

Anonymous said...

"So sad, so hopeful, so brave" could certainly describe the John Williams theme for "Superman", which isn't a a bad choice for theme for the DCU.

One thing that's missing is how we get from the end of the battle in Bludhaven - Wonder Woman breaking her mask, Darkseid dying, etc. - to the Watchtower in a collapsed universe. You can certainly fill imagine a narrative to fill in those blanks, but it'd be nice to actually see those details, as well as how it connects to Checkmate/Earth 51 - did those people end up on the Watchtower too? (Probably not...)

David Alexander McDonald said...

I actually read the "final crisis of the Monitors" business as Morrison calling for less editorial fiat and interference, in that too much editorial control and direction ends up distorting and destroying otherwise good stories -- just as we've seen Monitors screwing up their worlds by attempting to exert control, rather than simply monitoring and recording.

I caught the "when I get back of the fridge" bit -- made me smile.

I think the one thing DC made him put in was the last page. Some people probably won;t get what happene to Batman even so...and everyone else knows it;s a matter of time before Bruce Wayne is back and bat-suited.

Anonymous said...

No, I believe Batman in the "endless death trap" and starting in the past was part of Morrison's plan all along. He's even going to be getting back into the "Fate of Bruce Wayne" and whether or not Doctor Hurt is the "Devil pretending to be Thomas Wayne", or "Thomas Wayne pretending to be the Devil".

I think it was the Hawks biting it that was added in at the behest of editorial.

Anonymous said...

Morrison himself confirmed that the Batman cliffhanger was the part editorial asked him to put in.

He said his ending was the same, but more vague, and they wanted it more obvious.

I'm actually going to give this one to DC Editorial. I think the ending was huge.

Anonymous said...

In the Superman from all worlds scene, one on the far left with the red suit and white cape made me think of the oldschool Superman arcade game. Long live Superman P2!

Anonymous said...

David Alexander McDonald:

RIGHT ON! Though I read this as the Monitors standing in not just for editorial fiat, but as "authors imposing their will on the creation." The "hero" Monitor is the one who became a character in the story and is working in harmony with the creation as opposed to exerting his will by force. (In Morrisonese, he put on his fictionsuit.)

Also, re: Nix Uotan -- has anybody dwelled on the rather obvious Christ parallels? ("Son" of creator god projected into the Creation in mortal form and opening a new way?)

Re: Mandrakk -- I've mentioned it before, but I can't help thinking this is an oblique/backwards reference to Alan Moore's "Pictopia" story where the Mandrake figure watches in dismay as the grim-'n'-gritty 90s heroes turn the comic strip "neighborhood" into a ravaged ghetto.