Final Crisis #3: Quiet the Clamor!

Yesterday, Final Crisis issue 3 came out, penned by Grant Morrison, one of my favorite writers, with art by J.G. Jones (who is perhaps best known for his work on Wanted and 52). Unsurprisingly, the internet fanboys are launching blood-caked bricks from their assholes, with critics calling the issue lazy, too off-the-walls, and a disaster overall. I’ve not witnessed such controversy in a mainstream comic for some time.

As many of my readers are comic book fans (and as I’m throwing myself out there on sites such as The Weekly Crisis, where author Kirk Warren published the most vehement criticism of the issue I’ve seen yet), I figured it was only fair that I throw out my own two cents on the issue. Off the bat, I actually thought it was pretty fantastic, and I wonder if the people levying the hate against DC are at all familiar with Grant Morrison’s work, as the alarm isn’t quite clicking with me.

For those that haven’t read the issue, it is composed, like the two that preceded it, of a number of short, disjointed scenes illustrating the mounting calamity across planet Earth. While I don’t normally like to give lengthy story summaries in my reviews, I think it’s somewhat necessitated here, as this write-up is spurred on mostly from the criticisms that the issue has been drawing from others, largely for what they perceive as plot and writing-related issues. Final Crisis #3 opens with a sequence involving Frankenstein (from Seven Soldiers of Victory) and The Question attempting to track Dan Turpin, where we also learn that there’s currently a situation in a Bludhaven weapons bunker involving a hostile takeover. A German superhero crashes through a building, delievers what seems to be a cryptic warning to the Question, and perishes. S.H.A.D.E., the Super Human Advanced Defense Executive, detains the Question, and the scene then cuts to the reincarnation of the Monitor (seen in the previous two issues) getting fired from his job at Big Belly Burger for creeping his customers out with “bizarre, unsettling questions.” (Not, as my friend Kirk Warren at The Weekly Crisis would have you believe, for merely saying the world “gravitons.”) The Monitor sees a news report about a strange piece of cave art being discovered in a subway, and the story transitions to the household of Jay Garrick, the first Flash, as he describes the return of Barry Allen (who was thought dead after the first crisis in 1985) and the murder of New God Orion to his family. Cut to Libra‘s hideout, where the Human Flame is forcibly exposed to the Anti-Life Equation by his villainous benefactor. Lex Luthor confronts Libra, but is seemingly overrun by his forces. Libra lays down an ultimatum. “In less than 24 hours, the ability to make decisions will be forcibly removed from the inhabitants of this planet, Mister Luthor, so I’d treasure this once-in-a-lifetime offer. Join us, like Mike, with a helmet on your empty head. Or renounce science, swear an oath on the Bible of Crime and pledge your service to the Master of All Evil. The day of Apokolips is at hand, sir, and I am only its prophet. Choose.”

(Libra does not speak with such convenient links to Wikipedia in the comic book, for the record.)

After this disturbing confrontation, we’re taken to Metropolis Memorial Hospital, where Superman as Clark Kent waits at Lois’ bedside as she suffers from injuries resulting from Libra’s attack on the Daily Planet in the last issue. He utters a pretty stupid line about how his heat vision is all that keeps her heart beating now (a line that many are dimly using to excuse their distaste for the entire issue), and then a mysterious being enters the room, declaring “I know you’re secretly Superman. I know everything about you. I offer you one ultimate chance to save her! But we must leave this world now before it’s too late!” Scene shifts to Hal Jordan’s wrongful arrest by the Alpha Lanterns, one of whom is possessed by the nefarious Granny Goodness, an evil celestial being from Apokolips. Wonder Woman and Alan Scott flip a shit, but Hal goes peacefully to appear in front of the Guardians of the Universe. (This scene is probably my favorite in this issue, as it features a pretty hilarious exchange between Alpha Lantern Boodikka and Hal). Concerned by recent events such as the disappearance of Batman (who was abducted by the Granny Goodness Alpha Lantern last issue), the murder of Orion and the Martian Manhunter, the brutal attack on the Daily Planet, and their suspicions that evil New Gods are afoot, Wonder Woman and Alan Scott decide to bring as many super heroes together as possible in a makeshift army, recalling President Roosevelt’s “Draft X,” which assembled over fifty mystery men for the WWII war effort. A lot of people have been complaining about this moment, asking “Why didn’t they just use the Justice League and Justice Society, or just put out a general call for help to all super heroes?” Well. That’s basically what they did, isn’t it? “Draft X” accomplishes that while highlighting that this is a crisis that many of Earth’s heroes may not come back from. Works for me.

We’re then taken to Japan, where Sonny Sumo and Mister Miracle are attacked on an airplane runway but rescued by the Super Young Team, headed by none other than Most Excellent Super Bat. That segment ends and we are then at Bludhaven with Wonder Woman and the Atomic Knights, who patrol its borders after the city was decimated by Chemo during Infinite Crisis. They’re about to investigate the weapons site (alluded to in the opening scene, you’ll recall) but are attacked by evil Mary Marvel, who is sporting a new S&M style and reveals that the evil New Gods from Apokolips are hiding in the bodies of humans. Before anything can be done, however, Wonder Woman is exposed to a disease (presumably from the weapons lab) that puts her under Darkseid‘s (the Master of All Evil, as alluded to by Libra) control. Five minutes later, Mokkari of Apokolips releases the Anti-Life Equation via e-mail (somehow), and Earth gets fucked. This scene has definitely drawn the most heated criticism, as there isn’t any explanation as to how Anti-Life is dispersed, and Oracle yells “We have to kill the net! Pull the plugs!” which is, yeah, pretty obscene. We shoot forward in time by one month by way of the Flashes, and find that Earth is in complete ruin under a blood red sky. The baboon-faced Wonder Woman from the issue’s cover patrols a city on top of a gigantic pit bull, sees the Flashes, and simply says “Superheroes. Kill.” To be continued!

So, what you can gather from this lengthy summary is that a lot went down in this issue. It’s a jumpy narrative, difficult to take in all at once, but it does build upon all of the established threads in a satisfactory manner. At this point, I’m going to take an excerpt from Kirk Warren’s review on The Weekly Crisis; his is the only comic blog I read regularly, because it is awesome, and his is also the only one I’ve come across thus far that has a well-written, legitimate review of this issue. I happen to disagree with it, and here’s why:

The excerpt:

Remember how Batman was captured last issue? No follow up on that. How about the return of Barry Allen? Nope, all we got was some hideous artwork of Jay crying over his disbelief at Barry being back with Iris as we find out Orion died from a bullet from the future shot back in time that Barry was trying to catch for some reason. Oh, and Barry and Wally ran to the future and Barry cries over his own existentialism. What about Dan Turpin and Dark Side? Question is looking for Turpin, but, no, he’s not in this issue either. How about Superman and the ‘death’ of Lois Lane? Well, Superman spent the last day or so at her bedside crying over it. That’s it. That is how Libra takes down Superman.

In short, Mr. Warren is a little miffed that we have so many dangling threads. A lot of people are saying that Morrison’s Seven Soldiers of Victory is recommended reading prior to jumping into Final Crisis, and though I would disagree from the standpoint of plot, I do think that’s decent advice insofar as it’ll prepare you for the sort of storytelling we’re getting here. We’re three issues in to a seven part series. There are going to be unanswered questions. Morrison – who has had books written about him, for crying out loud – has proven time and time again that he’s a good writer, but he is also a writer that is perhaps best taken in all at once, precisely for the reasons that Kirk has outlined above; it oftentimes takes him a long time to get where he’s going. He likes to meander and show you things that at first seem unrelated to the story at hand. But what his work on Seven Soldiers, Animal Man, Batman, New X-Men, and so forth has taught us is that he always brings it together at the end. I am not concerned that we’re not seeing Batman in Darkseid’s lab here, as it would probably not be pertinent to what’s going on – there will be follow up at some point. As far as Barry is concerned, why would Morrison ruin the momentum of his story to delve into that further than need be? I thought the scene with Jay was good (and I do not understand the art complaints at all) because it reminded readers that the Flash was beloved and missed; it puts Barry’s return in perspective and makes him a relevent character for those of us who didn’t really care about him to begin with. Turpin is alluded to but M.I.A. in this issue – so what? Does that have any effect whatsoever on what’s going on in this particular issue? The complaints that I’ve read – from Kirk and others – all seem like fanboy nitpicking. Yep, Mary Marvel sure is fucked up and different. In what way does that make this an unworthy issue? The corny Superman and Oracle lines were pretty bad, but do not affect the plot in any way, so who cares? And what’s Superman supposed to do but be at Lois’ bedside? In what ways was this not a good plan by Libra?

One problem I see time and time again when people review comic books is that they’re not reviewing the issue in their hands but rather what they would like the issue to be. Comic fans are a very protective lot; they don’t want their beloved characters to be different. They don’t want new and edgy. Geoff Johns, for instance, is such a popular writer not for his innovation or creativity, but because he’s so good at playing with the toys that are already in the sandbox. Grant Morrison digs deep, maybe throws some dirt and water in there for the Hell of it. What comes out is almost always different, which some people don’t like, but more often than not, it’s pretty awesome, too.

So here’s what I’m going to say. I was entertained by this issue. There were significant happenings on almost every page, and there is a lot of buildup for what’s yet to come. We are three issues in, guys. If by the seventh issue, we still don’t have closure on everything, are still wondering about where Batman went or why Mary Marvel is such a miserable little cunt, then you can say I was wrong and we’ll all walk away disappointed. It’s sort of a shame that Final Crisis has to be released so slowly, since Morrison is a writer that’s best read in large chunks, but hey, informed readers know what they’re getting themselves into and we’ll deal with it. I’d like to read some criticisms of this issue that actually deal with something significant other than an annoying couple of lines or the abscence of a character or two, because there isn’t a place for that criticism yet; we do not have the full picture.

I’m going to be back here for issue #4. I expect good things.

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7 Responses to “Final Crisis #3: Quiet the Clamor!”

  1. THANK YOU! Too bad Kirk Warren is a douche

  2. No. This is not what this is about. Kirk Warren is not a douche, he’s a good writer, and he raised some decent enough criticisms that I would dub as premature. Let us not have any more comments of that sort.

    You’re welcome, though. :p

  3. Thanks for providing an alternative take to both sites like ign and comicbookresources and other bloggers like Kirk (whose blog I love, btw).

    I’m glad someone seemed to enjoy final crisis #3 as much as i did!

  4. […] Damon Beres Presents: A Blog of Glunders Updates Are Regularly Irregular « Final Crisis #3: Quiet the Clamor! […]

  5. Tom Vutayan Says:

    You did a good job of countering Mr. Warren’s trashing of FC #3. I don’t know who half the characters are, and I could still follow the story. To not be able to appreciate the underlying layers didn’t kill my enjoyment of the story.

    Also, J.G. Jones deserves an applause for a 3rd solid effort on the visuals. It’s a bit more minimalistic than the 1st two issues, but hey minimalism isn’t all that bad. Yes, people are used to his stuff being more detailed. The thing is this: the guy is both pencilling and inking. The fact that he has demonstrated in FC his solid skill in drawing has to say something. As for the complaints about his storytelling that I’ve read about on the web–I was able to follow what was going on. If you want an example of bad storytelling, look at that awful “Hercules” book from Radical Comics. Jones is a top-tier artist in comics.

  6. great response to the unfounded criticisms. thanks.

  7. […] deliver on DC’s dramatic promise that “Evil has won.” You may recall from my review of the third issue that I’ve felt the series has been a success from the start. And so, I […]

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