Posts Tagged ‘final crisis’

Final Crisis and Batman R.I.P. (and annotations)

October 22nd, 2008 by jason

I’ve finally caught up on the main Final Crisis books, which shouldn’t have been hard since there are only three out right now, as well as Batman R.I.P., which is still in progress as well. Ah, Grant Morrison. You kooky, wacky Grant Morrison. I love reading you, I really do. But man, I still think you’re leaving out some of the words. Maybe some of the word balloons. Perhaps even some panels or even pages. Grant, when you read the comic, are there extra panels in your mind that we don’t see? Do you write a page, keep a page in your head, and then write another page? I mean, I understand what’s going on–for the most part–but it just seems like the story jumps a few times. Jumps like Batman jumping from rooftop to rooftop. And sometimes those jumps are really long jumps, which Batman is able to clear a lot better than I am.

Grant Morrison gets spoken about on a lot of podcasts, he gets a lot of press, and feelings about him run pretty strong. There are videos of him, including one of him speaking at Disinfocon, available to view on YouTube. I think the man is a great writer, but I have to be honest. Sometimes I’m unsure about his “storytelling” ability. I also think there’s a bit of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” going on with him. I really do think that there are a lot of people who have a difficult time following Morrison’s writing, but are afraid of admitting it for fear that they’ll be considered dumb, or at the very least, not discerning readers. And some of his stuff is easier to follow than other things. His run on X-Men seemed a bit more straight forward. I haven’t read his Animal Man or Doom Patrol in years, but I know he got a bit out there in those titles.

For Final Crisis and Batman RIP, we now live in the age of the Internet, and fortunately we have resources. Douglas Wolk and Gary Greenwood, who both have sites up annotating Final Crisis, and Timothy Callahan, who is annotating Batman RIP, do a lot of the legwork for us. All three sites go page by page and panel by panel, noting who characters are, what their historical significance is, what their relevance is to the current plotline. Readers guides for these somewhat convoluted stories, if you will. These guys have all gone above and beyond, helping us, the gentle reader, keep from pulling our hair out trying to keep track of everything, especially through delays in releases. Maybe that’s Grant’s diabolical plan–to induce baldness among comics readers around the world, and thus make his audience over in his own image. One of these days, someone is going to collect all of these annotations together into a comprehensive tome: The Annotated Grant Morrison. It’ll be a bestseller.

Infinite Invasions of a World War Crisis

May 5th, 2008 by jason

On a recent sleepless night, I read the Sinestro Corps War saga that ran through the Green Lantern titles last year. At the end of it, I felt a sense of satisfaction with the story, the epic, the huge event. It felt complete, while hinting at the repercussions from the saga that will occur over the next couple of years in the DC Universe. I felt like I got a full story, which stayed exciting right up until the dramatic conclusion. I realized, at the end, that this was kind of a new experience for me: satisfaction with a “comic event storyline”. I think the closest I’ve come to that sort of satisfaction was with the conclusion of Crisis on Infinite Earths over two decades ago, but to be honest, I felt a little let down at the end of that as well. I think that’s the trend with comic book Events. Big E Events, with Earth-shattering ramifications! They’ve become the comic book equivalent of summer blockbuster season, with one event bleeding into the next event, and sequel after mega-sequel.

We’re getting ramped up into the two latest events from DC and Marvel with the upcoming Final Crisis and Secret Invasion respectively. Both of these are sequels or continuations of previous events. Both of them will cause the very foundations of their respective universes (or multiverse) to quake! And as far both of them go, I’m exhausted already. Over the past several years, we’ve experienced event after event after event. Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis, One Year Later, 52, World War III, Amazons Attack, Countdown, Disassembled, House of M, Civil War, World War Hulk, and that’s not even counting the ones that are exclusive to the X-Men titles. My god, living the life of an X-Man would be tiring. Not just from the pitched battles with your foes, but from having to take part in all these events! You don’t have time to sit down, take a breath, before you’re flung from one cataclysm to the next crisis. It’s possible now that you may be taking part in simultaneous crossovers. There won’t be room on the cover for any art, just event logos. I fully expected to see a comic with World War Hulk at the top, the Initiative listed underneath that, a quarter page of art and a flashback to the Civil War single color bottom half. Oh, with the title listed somewhere among all that.

I’m prepared for the DC events this summer, having just finished Countdown yesterday, which fizzled like a sparkler at the end of its sparkle. What started out a year ago as skyrockets, in the end was merely a punk. I was really looking forward to this series wrapping up and meaning something, but the last issue, Countdown #1 really seemed like the writers had lost their steam somewhere along the way. There were awesome moments in Countdown, like in 52, but at the end, maybe it was just too much, too quickly. And to be honest, all the action happened in the various other mini-series happening around the DC Universe, like Death of the New Gods, Countdown to Adventure, and the mini-epic going on in Batman and Action, The Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul and Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes, respectively. There were some very fun stories to be found in the DCU this past year, but the “spine”, as described by Dan DiDio, was suffering from a calcium deficiency.

The follow-up to Countdown, and the bridge leading into Final Crisis, is DC Universe #0, written by Grant Morrison and Geoff Johns, and illustrated by everyone and their brother. You get a little taste of everything in this issue, with vignettes featuring Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, the Trinity of the DC church, plus the second tier of character who will be having major stories happening over the next year, including Green Lantern, the Legion (or at least one of them), the Spectre, and a surprise guest (who is really no surprise if you’ve been paying attention). Countdown was a mess that couldn’t seem to tie itself together without massive Dei ex Machina leaving axle grease all over the place. The stories in DC Universe, by contrast, were gourmet hors d’œuvre, served up in a pleasing series of courses, each giving a taste of the multi-course meal coming up. That some of the courses may leave you feeling a bit gassy, bloated or unsatisfied remains to be seen.