Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials
Final Crisis #5Scheduled to arrive in stores: December 10, 2008
Cover date: December 2008
Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciller: JG Jones, Carlos Pacheco, Marco Rudy & Jesus Merino
Inker: Alex Sinclair
Cover Art: JG Jones/Carlos Pacheco & Jesus Merino & Alex Sinclair
Reviewed by: Barry Freiman
On Oa, Hal Jordan is on trial for deicide and the attempted murder of John Stewart. Kyle, Guy, Blue Beetle, and someone else (?) show up to defend Hal. They tell the tribunal that they believe Hal has a cut in his head not because of the fight with Stewart but because he had a chip implanted. Guy accuses Alpha Lantern Kraken of being an Apokoliptian god in hiding. Exposed, Kraken reveals she's Granny Goodness. The Guardians order the lantern protected and initiate a Krona protocol which causes the lantern to disappear. They overpower Kraken/Granny and cage her in a sciencell. Hal is cleared of all charges and gets his ring back.
Amanda Waller leads Renee down into the Checkmate secret factory where prototype robotic soldiers have been worked on for years as a plan for the day the superheroes failed humankind. Amanda wants Renee to join up with them.
In Bludhaven, anarchy continues its reign. The new Furies - an enslaved Wonder Woman, Batwoman, Catwoman, and Giganta - keep guard.
Underneath Bludhaven, Darkseid's followers grovel at his feet.
At Castle Checkmate, the remaining heroes fight on, battling against anti-life-affected colleagues. Mr. Miracle reveals he was - naturally - wearing his impact proof vest when he was shot. Mr. Terrific explains to Miracle that the Castle is a target to keep the forces of evil busy while a strike force heads to Bludhaven. Mr. Miracle tells Terrific to have all his people draw the Metron symbol on their faces just as Miracle and his team have done.
An army of superheroes attack Kalibak's forces. Above them, Mary Marvel streaks down anticipating with glee a coming fight with Supergirl. She's attacked from behind by Black Adam who sees a leering old man in Mary's eyes and realizes she's possessed. Mary tells Adam and Captain Marvel she has New Gods and a new word that provides her power. Mary and Cap fight. Tawky Tawny threatens Mary with a weapon confiscated from Sivana's son called the Quantum Blunderbuss. Freddy orders Tawny away. Captain Marvel appears to be overpowered by Mary Marvel. And Tawny is attacked from behind by Kalibak.
Elsewhere, the fallen Monitor is placed in a dungeon filled with others unaffected by the anti-life equation. He's encouraged to remember his past life as a Monitor by what appears to be a simian. Darkseid's forces enter and approach the fallen Monitor, getting ready to have him punished for being different. There's a guy in a wheelchair doing what appears to be a Rubik's cube. He puts it together in 17 moves, his eye flashes for a moment, the cube makes a "ping" sound like a Mother Box and suddenly there's a blinding white light of energy.
Libra is about to publicly assassinate the Calculator. Lex Luthor and Sivana watch. Lex appears to be unhappy as a mere tool for Darkseid.
Supergirl and John Stewart try to break into Command-D in Bludhaven. Inside Darkseid rises. His former allies seem to die around him with barely a thought. Darkseid boasts that the DCU has only faced the idea of a god before but now Darkseid is now true master of all he surveys. Kara's super-vision can see the bunker - and sees a brain signal emanating from the bunker spreading out toward a gigantic nervous system.
Kara flies toward John to tell him when she's attacked from behind by Mary Marvel.
As John Stewart fights on Earth, the Guardians dispatch Hal, Kyle, and Guy along with others of the GL Corps to help.
The President of the US is demoralized as he sits in a hidden bunker that's just been located by the Justifiers.
Darkness falls over the Earth and Darkseid is everywhere. Three billion Earthlings act and speak in unison with Darkseid. They are his automatons and slaves, and are all prepared to die proudly for Darkseid.
Back in the place where the fallen Monitor had been brought, he has suddenly returned to Monitor form as his pictures float around him and holographic images flood his brain with everything that's going kablooey in the Multiverse.
To be continued...
Story - 3: I read an interview with Dan Didio recently where he was referring to Grant Morrison having a story that he wants to tell about a certain character and that, when he has the time, it's Morrison's story to tell as he sees fit. It isn't the first time I've read†into Didio's words an attitude of laisez-faire over his†'A-list' of Morrison,†Geoff Johns,†and Greg Rucka. While that's a writer's dream come true for Morrison, it results in comics like "Final Crisis #5" that really would benefit from some editing.
This is the least abstract issue of "Final Crisis" so far, and that's largely a good thing. Back in the late 1980s, I read Morrison's run on "Doom Patrol" for two years and understood only small parts of what I was reading. I often wondered where Morrison got his drugs because only someone on hallucinogenics could have come up with concepts like a sentient transvestite street.
Of all the issues of "Final Crisis" released to date, this issue seemed more like a conventional adventure story and less like the existential love-letter to the DCU the series has largely seemed like up until now. The problem is nothing particularly surprising happens amidst all this action. It's full of†information that we readers already knew. I guess I don't feel the exigency of a "Crisis" when I'm†already thinking two steps†ahead of the heroes - and the villains.
Nothing†unexpected happens. Mr. Miracle wasn't shot dead. We knew that. A superhero slash escape artist would naturally always wear a bulletproof vest of some kind. And Morrison wouldn't have gone to all the trouble of spending so much character time on Shilo to just kill him off.
Hal Jordan didn't commit deicide. We knew that. Now the Guardians do.
Alpha Lantern Kraken is the host body of Granny Goodness. We knew that. Now everyone does and we're left wondering how the Guardians of the Universe made themselves so vulnerable to infiltration. The short-hand story device of having the New Gods out-smart the Guardians once again leaves this reader with the conclusion that the Guardians are like a homogeneous United Nations - a peacekeeping force largely in name only. If the Guardians are truly the DCU's guardians, they fail in that role over and over. Even their own 'army' of Green Lanterns knows it.
Finally, the fallen Monitor reclaims his birthright and seemingly his full memories. We knew he was a Monitor even if he didn't so his return to power was inevitable and expected. It is also a rather dull cliffhanger. I would much have preferred the issue to end without that glimmer of hope. The natural place to end the story would have been with the penultimate page. Darkseid has a grasp over three billion human souls. The fallen Monitor is caught in a blinding explosion of light - is that a good thing or a bad thing? It's a pivotally dark moment that would be a terrific nail-biter of a cliffhanger. It still is to a degree but its impact is certainly dampened by the last page revelation of the Monitor regaining his mojo.
A final thought to ponder with the all-new, totally the same, intensified, pink-omega-fisted Darkseid. If he is built upon the building blocks of the man who was once Dan Turpin, does that mean Turpin or some other force for light still exists inside Darkseid?
Decades ago, I'd read that one of George Lucas's influences in the creation of the Star Wars universe was the work of Jack Kirby. It's an easy analogy with the basic characters; heck Darth Vader even looks like Darkseid. But now it seems "Star Wars" returned a favor to the New Gods. The recreation of Darkseid involved a loss of hope in the forces of light. Hopelessness overcame a basically good man (Dan Turpin) and that allowed evil to overcome him. But if the loss of hope is at the very core of this new Darkseid, does that mean Dan Turpin is still in there somewhere capable of being redeemed or saved? That'd certainly put a new spin on the ultimate quest of the forces of good in the Fifth World - not to defeat Darkseid but to save him.
Meesa wonder if Jake Lloyd can play little Danny Turpin in the movie? Oh moy moy.
Art - 3: J.G. Jones' hand can still be felt in the series. Though the number of artist credits is up to four now, much of the book is well drawn and has a mostly unified style. Though I doubt many would read the book and not immediately realize it's being drawn by more than one artist.
The page that feels the most out of place in this issue is the one-page scene between Amanda Waller and Renee Montoya. Amanda Waller looks more like a middle-aged Asian male than a middle-aged African American female. And the page overall just seems flatter than the rest of the book.
There are little details here that the art team gets right that would have been easy to mess up. I'm sure there's a Morrison-reason that the red skies are everywhere except the soulless Bludhaven. Were it any other writer, I'd tag it as an artist error. Morrison seems like Tim Burton when it comes to storytelling. His great strength is to paint a big picture that draws you in. I don't think you can write like Morrison and not be considered in some way a part of the art team.
Cover Art (Sliver Cover) - 4: The sliver cover is fun. No matter who inhabits Mary Marvel's body, who doesn't want to see a catfight with Supergirl and Mary? And catfight it is. Mary Marvel pulling Kara Zor-El's hair is worth the price of admission. I just wish the fight could look bigger on the cover - which it could if the "Final Crisis" logo weren't taking up so much darn room.
Cover Art (Wonder Woman) - 3: Pretty picture but that's all it is. There's no substance to these covers, nothing to equate the cover image with the character inside. Wonder Woman on the cover in an issue where her anti-life-overtaken-self only cameos? None of these covers are going to compete with the covers to "Crisis on Infinite Earths". The covers to the first "Crisis" are as memorable 20 years later as they were the day I brought each book home in 1985. These covers are merely posters waiting to be made and will never evoke "Final Crisis" the same way every part of the first "Crisis", including its covers, did.
Mild Mannered Reviews
2009Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.
- Action Comics #871
- Superman #682
- Adventure Comics Special Featuring The Guardian #1
- Supergirl #35
- Superman/Batman #54
- Superman/Supergirl: Maelstrom #1
- Superman/Supergirl: Maelstrom #2
- Trinity #23
- Trinity #24
- Trinity #25
- Trinity #26
- Superman & Batman vs. Vampires & Werewolves #3
- Superman & Batman vs. Vampires & Werewolves #4
- Justice League of America #27
- Justice Society of America Kingdom Come Special: Superman #1
- Justice Society of America Kingdom Come Special: Magog #1
- Justice Society of America Kingdom Come Special: The Kingdom #1
- Justice Society of America #21
- Tangent: Superman's Reign #9
- Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #20
- Super Friends #9
- Action Comics #872
- Superman #683
- Supergirl #36
- Superman/Supergirl: Maelstrom #3
- Superman/Supergirl: Maelstrom #4
- Trinity #27
- Trinity #28
- Trinity #29
- Trinity #30
- Trinity #31
- Final Crisis #5
- Final Crisis: Secret Files #1
- Superman & Batman vs. Vampires & Werewolves #5
- Superman & Batman vs. Vampires & Werewolves #6
- Justice League of America #28
- Justice Society of America #22
- Tangent: Superman's Reign #10
- Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade #1
- Super Friends #10
- Action Comics #873
- Superman #684
- Superman/Batman Annual #3
- Supergirl #37
- Superman/Supergirl: Maelstrom #5
- Trinity #32
- Trinity #33
- Trinity #34
- Trinity #35
- Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #2
- Final Crisis #6
- Final Crisis #7
- Justice League of America #29
- Tangent: Superman's Reign #11
- Black Lightning: Year One #1
- Black Lightning: Year One #2
- Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade #2
- Super Friends #11
- Action Comics #874
- Superman #685
- Supergirl #38
- Superman/Batman #55
- Adventure Comics #0
- Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #3
- Trinity #36
- Trinity #37
- Trinity #38
- Trinity #39
- Justice League of America #30
- Tangent: Superman's Reign #12
- Black Lightning: Year One #3
- Black Lightning: Year One #4
- Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade #3
- Super Friends #12
- Superman: World of New Krypton #1
- Action Comics #875
- Superman #686
- Supergirl #39
- Superman/Batman #56
- Superman/Batman #57
- Trinity #40
- Trinity #41
- Trinity #42
- Trinity #43
- Justice League of America #31
- Black Lightning: Year One #5
- Black Lightning: Year One #6
- Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade #4
- Super Friends #13
- Superman: World of New Krypton #2
- Action Comics #876
- Superman #687
- Supergirl #40
- Superman/Batman #58
- Superman/Batman #59
- Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #4
- Trinity #44
- Trinity #45
- Trinity #46
- Trinity #47
- Trinity #48
- Justice League of America #32
- Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade #5
- Super Friends #14
- Superman: World of New Krypton #3
- Action Comics #877
- Superman #688
- Supergirl #41
- Superman/Batman #60
- Trinity #49
- Trinity #50
- Trinity #51
- Trinity #52
- Justice League of America #33
- Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade #6
- Super Friends #15
- Superman: World of New Krypton #4
- Action Comics #878
- Action Comics Annual #12
- Superman #689
- Supergirl #42
- Superman/Batman #61
- Justice League of America #34
- Super Friends #16
- Superman: World of New Krypton #5
- Action Comics #879
- Superman #690
- Supergirl #43
- Superman/Batman #62
- Wednesday Comics #1
- Wednesday Comics #2
- Wednesday Comics #3
- Wednesday Comics #4
- Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #5
- Justice League of America #35
- Justice League: Cry For Justice #1
- Super Friends #17
- Superman: World of New Krypton #6
- Action Comics #880
- Superman #691
- Adventure Comics #1
- Superman: Secret Files 2009 #1
- Superman Annual #14
- Supergirl #44
- Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #2
- Superman/Batman #63
- Blackest Night: Superman #1
- Wednesday Comics #5
- Wednesday Comics #6
- Wednesday Comics #7
- Wednesday Comics #8
- Justice League of America #36
- Justice League: Cry For Justice #2
- Super Friends #18
- Superman: Secret Origin #1
- Superman: World of New Krypton #7
- Action Comics #881
- Superman #692
- Supergirl Annual #1
- Supergirl #45
- Adventure Comics #2
- Superman/Batman #64
- Blackest Night: Superman #2
- Wednesday Comics #9
- Wednesday Comics #10
- Wednesday Comics #11
- Wednesday Comics #12
- Justice League of America #37
- Justice League: Cry For Justice #3
- Super Friends #19
- Superman: Secret Origin #2
- Superman: World of New Krypton #8
- Action Comics #882
- Superman #693
- Supergirl #46
- Adventure Comics #3
- Superman/Batman #65
- World's Finest #1
- Blackest Night: Superman #3
- Justice League of America #38
- Justice League: Cry For Justice #4
- Super Friends #20
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Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2009.