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Final Crisis #6 Final Crisis #6

Final Crisis #6

Scheduled to arrive in stores: January 14, 2009

Cover date: January 2009

"How to Murder the Earth"

Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciller: JG Jones, Carlos Pacheco, Doug Mahnke, Marco Rudy, Christian Alamy & Jesus Merino
Inker: Alex Sinclair & Pete Pantazis
Cover Art: JG Jones/Carlos Pacheco & Jesus Merino & Alex Sinclair

Reviewed by: Barry Freiman

Click to enlarge



Sometime in the 31st Century, Brainiac 5 brings Superman to the Miracle Machine which is capable of turning thoughts into things. Brainy and Supes have 72 and some odd seconds to reach the machine and repair the time breakdown that the "Final Crisis" is causing to reach the future century. Brainy tells the fading Superman he doesn't need to reach the machine, just look at it.

Cut to the JLA satellite. Black Canary makes the Tattooed Man an honorary JLA'er. The JLA satellite is attacked by Darkseid's army. The Ray abandons his team at BC's order, in an effort to get the Omega circuit/tattoo down to Earth.

In Bludhaven, Kara and Mary continue to fight. Black Adam hears the voices of the New Gods in his head and asks Mary who Desaad is. Freddie/Cap/Shazam has an idea to subdue Mary. Meanwhile, Kalibak faces Tawky Tawny and Tawny sinks his teeth into Kalibak's shoulder. Cap grabs Mary from behind and screams "Shazam!". The magic lightning transforms them both back to their human personas. Kalibak is distracted momentarily and Tawny's claws puncture Kalibak's armor. Kalibak dies. Kalibak's feline army turns to Tawny and get on their knees in prayer. Tawny is their new god.

At Checkmate, the force shields are gone. Mr. Terrific initiates the Black Gambit, an overly complicated way with a bunch of overly complicated names to move all the remaining people of New Earth to another Earth.

On Earth, Sivana and Luthor come upon the Calculator and others strung up by Libra, being on the verge of death by hanging forever. Sivana, after having been forced to watch his daughter submit to anti-life, designs a way to block the signals of the anti-life helmets. Luthor, powered up in his warsuit for a final battle against the superheroes, turns on Libra and zaps him. Libra appears to disintegrate. Sivana tells Luthor to speak through the helmet and they'll hear Luthor's words in Darkseid's voice in the helmets.

Jay, Barry, and Wally convene. Barry tells Wally that the Black Racer is still after him. Wally tells Barry he thinks the Black Racer was once the Black Flash and that Wally outran him. Barry isn't surprised. The trio of Flashes are going to use the Black Racer to reach Darkseid at the center of a personal singularity beyond the reach of light. The Black Racer approaches and the Flashes run into the void.

Batman faces Darkseid and explains that Orion, falling through infinite deaths after being shot by the radion bullet, wounded Darkseid beyond repair in battles (as depicted in "Countdown to Final Crisis" and "Death of the New Gods"). Batman pulls out a gun, the gun that killed Orion. In the utility belt, Batman's been carrying the radion bullet that killed Orion. He tells Darkseid that, for once, he's going to use a gun and a bullet contrary to his vow never to use firearms. Darkseid spits the Omega Sanction at Batman. Batman fires the gun. The bullet strikes Darkseid's chest. Moments later, Batman utters his last word "Gotcha" as the Omega Sanction hits Batman.

In Metropolis, Lois and Jimmy use Jimmy's watch to signal for Superman. Hawkman and Hawkgirl discuss death. The GLs still can't reach Earth, which seems to be getting further and further away perhaps due to the Black Gambit. Metron and Nix Uotan observe all. Metron tells Nix his arrival inaugurates the Fifth World, defined by Metron as the age of men as gods.

The sky bleeds red. Suddenly a blue, yellow, and red blur zooms through Bludhaven. Superman, with heat rays blasting from his eyes, smashes into Darkseid's fortress. He emerges with a charred corpse in a Batman suit.

To be continued...

2Story - 2: The issue is so uneven, it really starts to show the bleed-through effect of Grant Morrison's writing. He spends half this issue chasing his own tail with stilted dialogue with the sole purpose of cleaning up continuity errors in the books that directly led into "Final Crisis". There's the stilted explanation of the multiple deaths of Orion and the New Gods in "Countdown to Final Crisis" and "Death of the New Gods" that seemingly contradicts his death in "Final Crisis". Morrison uses this to conveniently explain away not only why Orion died contradictory deaths but why Batman seems to have as well.

Morrison then spends the other half of the issue making the opposite point of his intended amp-up of the New Gods to Fifth World status. The New Gods are still as easy to overpower as they were in the Fourth World, maybe easier given Metron's indication that the new godly age is one of men (imperfect beings at best)as gods. A talking tiger who hangs out with the Shazam-spouting Marvel Family takes on the son of Darkseid and wins? How is this any different than Jimmy Olsen's Turtleboy going mano a mano with Darkseid in "Countdown"? It isn't. Kalibak is a god capable of being killed or subdued by an ordinary tiger empowered to the strength of ten? Some New Gods upgrade. So an intelligent tiger with the strength of 10 intelligent tigers is sufficient to defeat a god of the Fifth World? The only thing that makes Tawny different from a normal tiger is his ability to speak and reason. This is the C-3PO is a god to the Ewoks moment, nothing more. And Morrison is trying way too hard to fill the writing with subtext, hidden meaning, symbolism, and metaphor to the point that all the gobbledygook overpowers the story.

Incidentally, what about women as goddesses Grant? Unless you actually mean that the Fifth World literally will be one of men as gods - and presumably women as something beneath gods? And you surely aren't making that statement Grant. If you are, Hera help you. Female fanboys are called fangirls and I wouldn't be surprised if you hear from some of them. Amidst this new age of men as gods, you've got Wonder Woman, Batwoman, and Catwoman subjugated by anti-life; Mary Marvel is corrupted by absolute power (and her last remark in the book, about making Billy proud, shows she's still screwy in the head - PRIDE is one of the Seven Deadly Enemies of humankind per Shazam lore); and Supergirl literally finds herself overshadowed by her cousin.

On the subject of women, what happened to Lois Lane in between the first issue and this issue's astounding recovery? She's dying in a hospital when Superman chooses to leave Earth with the female Monitor. Wouldn't she be one of the first to succumb to anti-life given she's hooked into computer operated, networked, computerized medical devices? I suppose a full recovery could have taken place in "Superman Beyond #2", which is being released next week, but it shows this reader that Grant's lostcontrol of the plot. And that he just may not be as gifted a storyteller as he was 20 years ago.

Seven bonus pages in the last issue as a bonus for the readers? The bonus is for Grant Morrison, not the reader. Morrison's the one who's proven incapable of telling the story he sought to tell in seven issues in seven issues. Not only do the single issues not have a beginning, middle, and end, the entire series lacks that spine. He's saving way too much resolution for the final seventh issue.

And he's barely plucked at the strings of the Multiverse even with this issue's revelation that Sonny Sumo jumped into the life of the New Earth Sonny Sumo when New Earth Sonny went back in time and lived life in feudal Japan. There's so much time wasted in earlier issues on concepts like the Japanese heroes and now that Morrison's playing catch-up, all he has time for is stilted dialogue meant to bring Mister Miracle's backup singers to further life. But it falls totally flat. "I can't tell Mr. So and So I love him but let's go into action." And the corollary "I can't tell Ms. So and So I love her but no time for that now". You're better than this Grant. Well at least you used to be.

Then there's the ending of this issue. The Death of the Batman. It's far from the first death of Batman shown in comics. Thanks to Morrison's convenient creation of the Omega Sanction (Darkseid's own version of Hypertime or a Superboy-slapped limbo wall or even this issue's Miracle Machine?), Batman can die however Morrison wants him to die in "Batman, R.I.P." and have it be totally different in "Final Crisis". The answer to the riddle of "Batman, R.I.P." is that Batman can die, Superman can die, Flash can die, Green Lantern can die, Green Arrow can die, Hawkman can die, and so on. They can die in any number of ways - even simultaneously - and ultimately none of it matters. As fiction, they can also be reborn in any number of ways at any time. Isn't that the whole point of two of the major plot points of "Final Crisis" -- the return of Barry Allen and the murder of J'onn J'onzz and virtually simultaneous consideration by the heroes of a potential resurrection.

Death is a trap. It's like the cliffhanging Wednesday night sure-death of the 1960's Adam West "Batman" series, followed by the convenient bat-way-out in the opening minutes of Thursday's part deux. If that's what Morrison means to say about super-hero death, then Batman's the right character to use to make the point. The live-action TV Caped Crusader seemingly died a similar death in a Mad Hatter episode (and Hatter is on the minds of Sivana and Luthor, hmmm?) of the 60s action comedy. Batman and Robin are trapped in a radioactive cabinet and infused with so much radiation, they are disintegrated - leaving behind only skeletons in bat-costumes. This is the same thing bloated with lots ofbig words.

There's not even anything original in Batman's last case requiring him to use a gun andrequiring him to retire perhis own moral code. Watch the two-part opener of "Batman Beyond" where Bruce is truly left with no other way than to use a gun. Bruce is suffering cardiac arrest in the middle of a kidnapping rescue and truly has no choice but to point a gun at the bad guys to hold them off. Here the gun explanation just seems too convenient and Darkseid as an all-new New God ought to be smarter than this.

3Art - 3: Two more artists than last issue brings the total up to six. The book remains well drawn but the number of artistic contributors shows at the cracks a little more than last issue. The opening Superman and Brainiac 5 scene feels like pure J.G. Jones. The scenes in the JLA satellite and down in Bludhaven fluctuate in artistic quality. Things pick up again for the Dark Knight's darkest night.

4Cover Art (Sliver Cover) - 4: Finally a hero is showcased where he should be showcased. Given where things end for the Caped Crusader, Batman's earned this cover. The similarity of the Bat's pose and similarly rendered sinewy musculature to the two page climactic image of the Batman's alleged DCU finale helps with the unity of the issue as it's clear J.G. Jones was the main penciller on both the main cover and the bullet shot heard around the comic book store.

2Cover Art (Darkseid/Superman) - 2: Darkseid standing over a near-dead Man of Steel? Did they mix this penultimate cover up with the next issue? It sure seems that way. Is it symbolic of the Batman's death? In a way, I suppose it is. It's evocative of the death of the DCU. But the cover's symbolism is much like the overly complex plot. It dances around the story's core but never really digs into the nitty-gritty.


Mild Mannered Reviews

2009

Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2009

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