1 out of 5
It’s a harsh rating, I know. And I’ll throw up my hands in defeat: A lot of it is because I just don’t understand Final Crisis. I’ve read a lot of Morrison, and I feel familiar with his story telling obsessions and beats, and so I can feel my way through the way Crisis posits the rebirth of the New Gods as a way of kicking off a new wave of storytelling for the DCU, with Grant signposting his adoration for aligning creative landmarks like Superman and Batman with core human needs for expression; I can read the annotations for the series and follow along, and nod, and accept that, yeah, I guess I did get the gist of what’s what. But I still don’t understand it. I don’t understand the why of its construction, or even what it accomplished beyond, I guess, allowing Grant to give a long-winded explanation for 52 Earths.
Crisis on Infinite Earths; Zero Hour; Infinite Crisis: read ’em. They’re all relative versions of messes, but I get whatever the Threat is, and I feel the attempts at putting the heroes through their paces in trying to stop that threat. I’ve never been much of an Event book guy, so admittedly some of the Wow factor zooms past me without much effect, but again, in general, I can accept them as comic books with beginnings and endings.
Final Crisis, though? I don’t get it. New God Orion is murdered! Darkseid is falling backwards through time! But also Darkseid and the other bad Kirby gods are possessing people, and the world shall succumb to Anti-Life! Indeed, much of Crisis is about this, except there’s no real sense of buildup to that. The stage is set dang early on, and then it’s a whole bunch of people spouting Grant-y cosmic dialogue, with special appearances by every hero lost and forgotten along the way. …Darkseid is coming, though! Or he’s here already! The threat doesn’t evolve. The heroes, instead of doing the comic book thing of coming up with plans that fail until a final confrontation, just seem to be doing that cosmic chatter thing, with no conversation lasting longer than a panel (like, throughout the whole series), so there’s no chance for a “main” cast or thread to emerge. …Darkseid! Or, uh, wait, nevermind, that was easy, and now it’s a narrative-sucking vampire!
The final issue does do the whole pile-up megafight, but it’s told in a rather hilariously underwhelming “and then this is what happened” bit of flashback, which is all happening sort of after the main story I kinda sorta thought we were following had seemed to mostly conclude any way, so…?
I could commend J.G. Jones’ art, except I’m not sure that I can: early on, he seems to be missing several cues from the script, and then there were the inevitable delays that led to 4 and 5 other artists assisting on the last few books, which guarantees a wonderfully desirable inconsistency with the look. This is an easy criticism to make, but, look: these types of books are just packed cover to cover with insane, over the top events and 100s of characters. It’s gotta suck to draw that kind of stuff non-stop, especially when I have no doubt that it’s hard to get an exact grasp on what you’re writer may be describing at points. So this criticism is more that the writing, for me, is a chore to get through, and the art loses pace with it early on, making it even more of a disconnected reading experience.
Event books, and Crisis books specifically, are always jam-paacked with characters and between panel deaths and starts and ends of multiverses, and yes, this is a Grant Morrison spin on that. But around this time – and in my head-canon, I blame 52 for this – Grant had taken a step back from some of his storytelling devices which had made him a brand name and began experimenting with structure. Sometimes this paid off, but in the case of Final Crisis, it just turned it into a confusing pile of words and floaty concepts. However, I’m happy to admit that this is me, maybe just not getting the whole deal.