Finally, It?s Over

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Final Crisis was supposed to be a no-brainer. One of the greatest writers in comics today, working with a skilled and talented artist to wrap up DC’s legendary "Crisis" trilogy. Miniseries would lead up to it and miniseries would tie-in to it, making it the major event of 2008-2009. You could expect nothing less than a critical and commercial triumph.

However, it didn’t work out that way exactly. There are a few people who believe that the miniseries is in fact an overwhelming success. But others view it as a disappointment, if not an outright failure. These naysayers point to major mistakes made by DC and others involved with the series as the reasoning behind their opinions.

I have to say I find myself in the "naysayer" category. I don’t think Final Crisis was an ultimate disaster, but more of a missed opportunity. But concerns have been raised that are hard to ignore.

The problem starts with the Countdown series. Having a year-long, weekly maxiseries that you have to buy to understand the big summer event is bad enough, what’s worse is when said weekly series actually contradicts the crossover event it’s supposed to lead into.

That is what happened here. Final Crisis is jump started by the death of New God Orion. This murder was supposed to be shocking and attention grabbing. Too bad Orion died twice in the months before, once in the Death of the New Gods miniseries and again in Countdown.

This caused Final Crisis to be hampered right from the starting gate. The effect of this important plot point was greatly diminished by lack of proper communication on the part of DC’s editors. The slavish devotion of fans to continuity is often mocked, but, really, since Countdown was marketed to these types of fans (it was renamed Countdown to Final Crisis for this reason), this kind of foible is infuriating.

While the story got off on a bad foot, it didn’t really do much to gain back much ground. Morrison’s writing makes for an okay story, but a poor blockbuster crossover event. There is a sense of ennui throughout the series. Events that are supposed to have pop are muted and the impact is missing. The miniseries feels like it is being written in a monotone, and, therefore it is hard for readers to get excited by the book.

Add to this the fact that Morrison’s writing isn’t the most accessible to new readers and you have another handicap. Crossovers such as these fare the best when readers don’t have to work so hard to follow along. I’m not saying that Morrison should have dumbed down his writing style completely, but he should have made the story easier to follow and held back a little more on his trademark obtuse ideas and concepts.

Artist J.G. Jones got in deadline trouble starting with issue 3, and DC had to bring in other artists to pick up the slack. Jones’ noble, if somewhat passive aggressive, apology aside, the change of artists wasn’t as damaging as when the same thing happened during Infinite Crisis. Carlos Pacheco and Doug Mahnke have talent on a similar level to Jones, so the transition flowed smoothly.

Perhaps DC should have had a similar back up plan in place for the peripheral Final Crisis tie-in series. The endings to both Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds and Final Crisis: Superman play a part in the plot for issue six, yet neither series was completed by the time that issue rolled around. Just another irksome thing to bother fans already upset about the Countdown debacle.

But most damning of all is the fact that it seems like there will be no permanent changes that will result from this series. The appeal of the "Crisis" miniseries is the promise that the world of DC will be changed forever (or at least until the next Crisis comes along). But the events of this series have all been ignored in other DC books. In Final Crisis, Darkseid has won and holds the Earth under his thumb. But future solicitations show no sign of this plot point, so we know that status quo will not last.

Yes, Barry Allen is back from the grave and it looks like Batman has been killed. But heroes die and come back so often in comics that these actions lose almost all their meaning. Instead of being excited the original Flash has returned, we wonder how he will play with readers who weren’t even alive when he died. And does anybody even believe that Batman will stay dead? It’s hard enough to get excited about DC killing off one of its most interesting characters without every cynical comic book fan believing his demise might not even last a month.

So, what could have been a fitting end to the "Crisis" trilogy becomes a disappointing case of missed opportunities. Where sales are concerned, it was a rousing success. Creatively, however, I believe it was lacking.

Final Crisis #7 goes on sale this week from DC Comics priced $3.99.

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