Final Crisis vs. Blackest Night, in better words than mine

I just came across an entry on Mindless Ones that basically nutshells the shit out of my Blackest Night post while simultaneously embracing more of an intellectual tone. (Then again, it is my belief that a silly comic deserves a silly post.)

In any case, check this out:

If Final Crisis is a story about DCU stories, which it undeniably is, then of course Earth is the most important place in the universe. Also, whether or not you like Final Crisis, whether or not the series succeeds, Morrison was undoubtedly trying to say interesting stuff with his mythological noodlings: about genre conventions, about art and about life. It’s striving to be bigger than the sum of its parts,  and at the very least provides us with some fun, internally consistent, higher order game playing.

Johns on the other hand, he’s not saying anything that isn’t written on the tin and what’s written on the tin is genuinely weird*. The Green Lantern concept allows Johns to quite literally reify just about anything he likes and so he has: Life? Check. Death? Check. Avarice? Check. Rage? Yup. Everything is reduced to spandex and glowing energy. In that way he’s not entirely unlike Kirby or indeed any number of other writers, but unlike some of those writers Johns has none of Kirby’s wild creative energy, add that to the very particular world view that comes through in his comics (love=the Predator remember) and the overall deficit of broader, non-DCU, non Green Lantern orientated concerns gives Johns’ mythology a parochial and bizarrely concrete feel… Morrison doesn’t need to worry over much about things like physics because he understands and he wants you to understand – as he explicitly demonstrates in Final Crisis – that the history of the DCU is the history of a fiction, and within fiction things are more flexible, ambiguous and open to interpretation. Johns mythology is modelled rather more on the history of real places, it’s an unambiguously physical history of life the universe and everything. The consequence being that the reader – even the reader disinterested in big C Continuity – is tempted if not quite compelled to start asking really awkward questions like: is DCU Earth older than the Sun?

Frankly, it’s pretty obvious that Final Crisis and Blackest Night are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least bit if DC’s Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Dan DiDio approached writer Geoff Johns midway through Final Crisis’ publication and said, “Listen, people aren’t getting this, Blackest Night needs to blow shit up.”And that would be fine if it didn’t also blow ass.

Even fellow die hard Grant Morrison fans probably think I’m a bit loony when I say that Final Crisis is probably one of the most important mainstream comic works of the 21st century and that the entire thing is a manic meta-textual experiment that just works, at least as read in the collected hardcover edition, but most would probably agree that Blackest Night is a big stupid rag that we all ought to be very, very disappointed in DC for releasing as a follow-up. Hell, I’m disappointed in it as a direct sequel to the Sinestro Corps War storyline, also by Johns, which was much more grounded, tense, and – mm – crisp.

I’ve said that I understand why people like Blackest Night. It’s a flashy turn-your-brain-off blockbuster that basically has a direct analogue in things like Michael Bay’s first Transformers movie. But, uh, you know, what’s there to applaud in an intellectually void story when DC had just shown us its biggest events can go above and beyond the artistic merit of even the most revered creator-owned works?

Surely I’m not the only one that wonders about this?


One Response to “Final Crisis vs. Blackest Night, in better words than mine”

  1. No I think Grant Morrison fans all understand Final Crisis to be one of most beautiful and important love letters to Fiction. It experiments with the very idea of how a narrative progresses in ways that shake up traditional comic book writing. Final Crisis maybe unpopular now but I would be willing to put my life on it being the considered one of definitive inspirations for future writers.

    I really dig was the mindless one is saying. Except i think perhaps he (and you by extension) are being to kind. Yes, Blackest Night is the equivalent of a popcorn flick. Except it always been defended, especially by johns, as a little bit more than that. Its supposed to be a commentary on death and endurance. Some pseudo-philosophical tract on the nessecity of opening oneself up to the “spectrum” of emotions. blah blah blah. It is that defense that makes blackest night the most egregious in my opinion. It tries to transcend itself but it does so only by embodying quite literally its themes (which the review you quote quite elegantly shows at the end of the blurb). The only way it knows to conjure things like loss is to give a physical and tangible personification in its narrative. Such writing is the domain of a hack.

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