Where were we again? Oh, right! Back in August!
Mammon isn't actually a god--what Luke 16:13 and Matthew 6:24 refer to is just a word for worldly riches or property. But an abstract concept that's become a living thing is just what Ultraman's talking about here. The "infinite book" might also be the collected works of the corporate entity DC Comics: work made for hire. And I'm amused by the inversion of the usual "found something greater than myself" formula.
This monologue is rather "the crime is life, the sentence is death," isn't it?
"52 universes": weren't there just 51 left after the death of moving part 51?
Übermensch seems to have recuperated from having his blood drained pretty quickly.
The boy appears to be Billy Batson, the normal-human counterpart of Captain Marvel. I think I neglected to mention last time that he was created by C.C. Beck and Bill Parker, and first appeared in 1940 in WHIZ COMICS #2. As established last issue, he's the Fawcett-world (Earth-5) Billy, not the one from universe 0.
"I don't like Nazis telling me what to do": not least because one of Captain Marvel's enemies in the WWII era was Captain Nazi.
"Whiz Media": a nod both to Billy's comic-of-origin and to his earlier incarnation's radio station, WHIZ.
"Savior or Majestic, Supremo, Guardsman, Hyperius, Icon or Principal": A loaded line of dialogue. All of those are blatant stand-ins for Superman, most with thinly disguised names (because the real ones aren't in the infinite book)--and thanks, as always, to Uzumeri for catching some of these I wouldn't have:
Savior is Samaritan from KURT BUSIEK'S ASTRO CITY.
Majestic is the Superman-analogue from the WildStorm universe, and has had his own title a few times.
Supremo is the Rob Liefeld-created Superman-type, Supreme.
Uzumeri argues that Guardsman is the Sentry, the latter-day back-in-the-day Marvel character with the power of ten thousand exploding suns. I'm not so sure, but that cover's a solid argument for it.
Hyperius is Hyperion, the Superman-type from the Squadron Supreme/Squadron Sinister, Marvel's stand-ins for the JLA
Icon... well, he's now officially part of the DCU, but he was conceived of as the Milestone universe's Superman type.
Principal is Prime, from Malibu Comics' Ultraverse, who's actually more of a Captain Marvel type than a Superman type.
Hey, where's Marvelman/Miracleman on this list? Or would that have been too much of a can of worms? Also notable by his absence from this list: Apollo, who was established in COUNTDOWN PRESENTS ARENA as actually being an alternate-universe Ray. (Cough.)
And is Billy's magic word really "Shazam," still, if the old gods have been replaced with new ones? (Although that hadn't happened yet as of the moment in FC #3 where Superman disappeared.)
The "monitor mind" may be one of the capital-M Monitors, but--you know, who's really watching? Who sees the characters in the story as no more than a few inches tall, but maybe finds them enormously significant?
The Shadow Demons from Wolfman and Pérez's original Crisis are a great all-purpose scary visual.
I'm curious about the way that weapons for specific purposes keep coming up in the course of FC. Also about what Vintage-Football-Helmet Guy is doing with that fish skeleton.
As Uzumeri notes, a lot of this story is making Morrison's perpetual slaying-the-father issues with Alan Moore even more explicit than usual. What else is there to say about a panel where Superman is telling a Dr. Manhattan (who's about to self-replicate) "come back to us, Allen"?
"Warn everyone, like Paul Revere!" Superman is so American.
"There are no dualities"--this is one of Morrison's favorite philosophical points, and another callback to the climax of THE INVISIBLES.
As for where the Anti-Monitor is: possibly lurking around in the consciousness of the scarred Guardian over in GREEN LANTERN?
And it's even funnier to see Dr. Manhattan saying "only symmetries" on a page opposite the ad for Watchmen, whose cover color scheme is the same as the Ultima Thule Yellow Submarine's.
Dr. Manhattan (I can't stop calling him that) as "the endgame of the idea that spawned the likes of you"--yes, there's the good/evil vs. beyond-good-and-evil duality (or symmetry!), but there's also the idea of Dr. Manhattan-as-Captain Atom-as-Superman--the multi-leveled meta-referential games Morrison is playing here--as the endgame of the idea that started with the likes of Ultraman appearing as an alternate-world version of Superman back in 1964.
"A higher dimension": the third, by our standards, or fourth, by theirs.
This is as explicit a visual callback as you can get to two of Morrison's favorite visual motifs in the work leading up to this: the character reaching out through the fourth wall to touch the reader (Zatanna in SEVEN SOLDIERS: ZATANNA, Animal Man's "I can see you!"), and the motion from a lower dimension to a higher one represented by seeing a comic book panel from an angle (used most notably in SEVEN SOLDIERS: MISTER MIRACLE, which also revolves around a climactic shot of a tombstone). "From a direction that has no name comes a sound like breathing... as if cradled": you, the reader, are holding the comic book, and you're just beyond Superman's available directions--but now he's got 4-D vision!
It also occurs to me that this is the ultimate Superman-Red/Superman-Blue story. And that the robot/armor is a fiction suit, in the sense of an outfit for navigating one's way through the blood vessels of fiction.
"Yivaroth" is an invented word, but it resonates with "sephiroth." "5555 different words for nothing": a great riff on the old "words for snow" canard. "Long ago": not very much time has passed in our world since FC #1, but it looks like plenty of time has passed in theirs. It's not clear from the perspective here, but the Monitors are actually much tinier than the Superman-bot.
ETA: Weeja Dell is the Monitor of Earth-6... which, as we saw last issue, is (a stand-in for) the Marvel Universe (616)!
"A doomsday countdown reaches zero": more Watchmen-isms!
"A shattered jar": looks like the Orrery has been smashed, and all the moving parts are rolling around. We haven't really seen Ogama since he was doing his stage-villain thing back in FC #1, have we?
There is certainly the open question of whether the Monitors-as-vampires are a metaphorical representation of comics' readers, and we'll see that play out on the next few pages.
"The elixir"--that which grants eternal life and youth--is controlled by the Monitors. And if the Monitors are the readers, we have the ability to keep Superman and Lois and all the others forever young and healthy...
The "self-assembling hyper story" is, perhaps, the same thing as the infinite book. As Uzumeri notes, Mandrakk is very close to Starbreaker.
And now we circle back around to the splash page from #1.
Thoughts-into-existence--which is what the Miracle Machine and power rings and other machines do--isn't the same thing as belief into existence. And Superman isn't just unstoppable and indestructible, so is his story; it's always to be continued.
It appears that the final burst of whatever is coming out of the Superman-robot's eyes takes the eyes with them.
ETA: Here's a question: as Ultraman pointed out last issue, only one Superman gets the prize, and that's our Kal-El. Does that mean that the other champions have failed to get what they want? Certainly, Overman doesn't get to rescue his cousin--but she was already dead (fallen out of the Bleed) by the time Zillo Valla took Superman away in FC #3. And Captain Marvel, we see here, has found his treasure--the Rock's fragment.
ETA: "I daren't speak": why not? Because, as commenters over at Funnybook Babylon pointed out, he's got the Bleed in his mouth. As opposed to the vampires, who have blood in their mouths but consume it instead of kissing it away.
We've seen a vampire Superman before--WORLD'S FINEST #249 comes to mind.
Apparently Zillo Valla was as good as her word. If Batman thinks of everything, Superman can do anything. Note that Clark was even kind enough to keep the orderly's cups from falling before going in to kiss Lois awake.
That ending wink would have to be a... wink toward "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow," all right. But let me see if I've got this straight: Zillo Valla zaps Superman away in FC #3, but his adventure and return happen in the space between heartbeats; then he cures Lois and leaves the hospital, the rain stops falling and the sun comes out, and straightaway he gets the Legion's summons to the 31st century in Lo3W, which is where he returns from in FC #6. That seems off somehow, story-structure-wise.
You can pray for a resurrection, and if the subject of your prayers is a superhero, you'll always get what you ask for. ETA: As Steven notes in the comments, all superhero stories begin "Previously," and they all end this way.
See you next week for the Big One.