Across the DC Universe #27 - Part 1

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It was the week that the Darkseid Belly Flop briefly supplanted Hypertime and the Superboy Punch as a continuity catch-all and fandom was split down the middle as to whether Final Crisis was a stunning work of metatextual genius or a bewilderingly incomprehensible and disjointed nightmare. In the first part of this week’s DC coverage we look at some of the FC dangling plot threads that may be picked up in the future as well what’s happening in the world of magic in the DC Universe. But first remember our Spoiler Warning: Read no further if you’ve not had your DC fix this week and don’t want to read about key story elements.

Worlds Will Live Worlds Will Die...

Once again I shall leave the metatextual interpretations of Final Crisis #7 to each reader’s own imagination and concentrate solely on the individual story points that are likely to play out in future DCU offerings. I’m sure we can all draw our own conclusions as to what is represented by the powerful imagination of Nix Uotan rallying the forces of the DCU against the grim and destructive negativity of Mandrakk the Dark Monitor after all...

Ties to other FC crossovers in this issue include the return of the aforementioned vampiric Monitor Mandrakk from last week’s Final Crisis: Superman Beyond 3D #2, the latest version of the OMACs last seen in Final Crisis: Resist #1 mopping up the remnants of the Justifiers and the Spectre and Radiant from Final Crisis: Revelations who are taken out rather easily by Mandrakk in an ostentatious display of power.

The threats to the DCU in Final Crisis #7 come from two fronts. Initially the heroes/villains of New Earth, or Earth-0 as we seem to be referring to it now, fight to rescue existence from Darkseid’s ascension. Checkmate’s Black Gambit to save Earth by shifting it into the parallel "graveyard" universe comes close to failure and results in a number of notable casualties. And Superman works with the DCU’s greatest minds to make the Miracle Machine a reality and realign the Multiverse.

In the wake of Darkseid's demise Mandrakk uses the resulting chaos to attack the weakened Multiverse but is fought back by the army of Superman assembled by Captain Marvel and the Question. There are a number of thinly-veiled "Supermen" from the pages of other publishers as well as a few familiar faces from the DCU. These include Apollo from The Authority and Majestic (both from Earth-50), Sunshine Superman from Morrison’s Animal Man run and the Red Son Superman.

Also joining the battle are members of the Zoo Crew, directly following the events depicted in 2007’s Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew: The Final Ark. Wonderful to see these characters again even if their Earth of origin is misnumbered 35 here when it was clearly Earth-26 in said miniseries. The combined forces of Supermen, the Green Lantern Corps and the angels of the Pax Dei take out Mandrakk, allowing Superman’s Miracle Machine the necessary time to create its "happy ending" for the Multiverse.

The Final Crisis turns out to be the Monitor’ last stand as they withdraw from existence in order to protect it from their damaging influence and interference. Events come full cycle though when Nix Uotan wakes up in a human form once again at issue’s end. Batman fans get the most intriguing epilogue when it is revealed the Dark Knight is alive in the past and present for the last days of Anthro, the first boy. Whether this is the Omega Sanction at work or a side effect of the "message in a bottle" rocket fired from the Watchtower earlier in the issue remains to be seen.

...and the DC Universe Shall Never Be the Same Again...?

Final Crisis #7 moves at such a breakneck speed that it's possible to miss some of the almost throwaway, yet hugely significant, story threads it leaves for subsequent stories to pick up on. Let’s consider some major plot points that will doubtless be followed up on in the upcoming months:

A version of Aquaman arrives, as prophesied, to save his people in their time of greatest need.

The Super Young Team are confirmed as the Forever People of the Fifth World. We have to assume then that these heroes were the ones the Dark Side Club were looking for when originally abducting teen heroes. While the Club’s recent appearances have moved away from that motivation it was originally hunting for "Forever People" after all...

The New Gods are reborn in the "Kirbyverse" of Earth-51 in what appears to be their traditional forms.

Hawkman and Hawkgirl apparently die as Checkmate’s Black Gambit starts to fail. Does this have any ties to events in Hawkman Special #1 where we learnt of Hawkman’s status as one of the continuity-confused Aberrant Six and first heard the claims that Hawkman’s New Earth origins were a fabrication?

Mr. Terrific possibly meets his end in panels that hearken back to the characters consumed by anti-matter in Crisis On Infinite Earths. Unlike the other deaths in the series this isn’t referenced at the end however. We’ll need to keep an eye on upcoming issues of Justice Society of America for the answer.

The people of New Earth/Earth-0 are very much aware of the Multiverse at story’s end which opens up a world (or worlds) of story possibilities in the future.

And, finally, as a nod to the Earthwatch section we used to include as part of this feature there are a few more identified/shown in Final Crisis #7:

Earth-? – Unnamed Earth where the major DC characters are all black and Superman is President of the United States.

Earth-44 – A parallel world where "Doc" Tornado (a human Red Tornado?) constructed his own Metal Men (who are a robotic JLA).

Earth-Bizarro – Not shown on any story pages but the square Bizarro-Earth is portrayed as one of the Multiversal Earths on one of the two covers to Final Crisis #7.

Earth-51 – I’ve lost count of how many times this Earth has been destroyed and remade between here and Countdown. However, just like the end of that ill-fated weekly series it is, once again, the home of Kamandi and a Kirby-centric world in its own right.

Black Magic

Final Crisis #7 has taken up an understandably large proportion of our word count this time around so let’s hurriedly go on a whistle stop tour of mystical happenings in the DC books this week. Final Crisis: Revelations #5 puts an end to Cain’s use of the Anti-Life Equation and the Religion of Crime to further Darkseid’s agenda/grip on reality. The Question (whose appearances here and in Final Crisis are difficult, to say the least, to put into a coherent timeline) reclaims the Spear of Destiny from Cain in a rather dramatic fashion and uses it to heal The Spectre/Crispus Allen’s soul by restoring his son to life. This is, of course, the same son Crispus, as the Spectre, was forced to judge and execute back in Infinite Crisis Aftermath: The Spectre #3.

Those who followed Cain willingly are prey to the Spectre’s unforgiving judgment (does this wipe out the entire Religion of Crime I wonder?) while Cain is exiled in a manner resembling his Biblical fate in the book of Genesis, presumably writing Vandal Savage out of the picture for a while as well. As an aside, I’ve been unsure throughout this arc where this leaves another long-standing DCU Cain, the host of House of Mystery who was also supposedly the original bearer of that name...

In Reign in Hell #7 Lord Satanus savors his victory over Neron last month as the different factions converge for the final battle in the supernatural war next month. Teen Titans #67 also ties in to this event as we learn how Brother Blood escaped the underworld during the events of Reign in Hell #4. A chance encounter with Kid Eternity on the war-strewn streets of the Netherworld leads to a battle that spills over to the earthly plane when the Kid opens a portal leading to Titans Tower. Birds of Prey fans will enjoy the role of new Titan Misfit and Tracy 13 also joins the proceedings. Of particular note here is Brother Blood noting the taint of Neron on Red Devil – a comment that does not go unnoticed by Wonder Girl.

Finally Justice Society of America #23 follows up on both Black Adam: The Dark Age and The Trials of Shazam! With the return of former JSAer Teth-Adam. Adam and Isis take their revenge on Felix Faust and steal the power of Billy Batson on the Rock of Eternity, stripping him of his pseudo-Shazam role and leaving him powerless. There’s a Final Crisis tie here as well. Those hoping Mary Marvel would return to the side of the angels after escaping Desaad’s possession may be disappointed as she at least appears to join the Black Marvel Family in the story’s cliffhanger ending...

We will be back to round up the rest of this week’s DC releases tomorrow...

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