Sean T. Collins has written about comics and popular culture professionally since 2001 and on this very blog since 2003. He has written for Maxim, The Comics Journal, Stuff, Wizard, A&F Quarterly, Comic Book Resources, Giant, ToyFare, The Onion, The Comics Reporter and more. His comics have been published by Top Shelf, Partyka, and Family Style. He blogs here and at Robot 6.
* Final Crisis #7, by Grant Morrison and Doug Mahnke, came out yesterday. I reviewed the entire series here. There's a burgeoning comment thread attached to that review, mostly focusing on critical approaches to Grant Morrison comics, here. And there's a semi-related post about how Morrison uses the concept of "the future," and about the Icelandic trip-hop/techno outfit Gus Gus for some reason, here.
* Believe it or not, other websites have been discussing this comic too! Here's Jog's review. As with most of his FC reviews, he's skeptical...
...but ultimately mostly pleased. Kudos to him for leading with how the opening of this issue is basically Morrison dragging Dark Reign's zeitgeist misreading out into the street and beating it to death. Made me laugh to beat the band, as the fella says. Did everyone note the pharaonic architecture of the, ahem, White House?
* Douglas Wolk does his usual annotation thing, as does David Uzumeri. Both of them detect a heaping helping of Watchmen references and Alan Moore bashing--young(er) imaginative Morrison slaying the Dark Father, that sort of thing. Personally I didn't see it--I remain a bit thrown by how out of the blue the Mandrakk/Monitor climax seems after six issues of "this comic is about Darkseid," though Jog's comparison of the Monitor digression in Final Crisis/Superman Beyond to the similarly tangential presence of Darkseid himself back in the Sheeda-centric Seven Soldiers helped me contextualize it a bit better. But if you're really going to read the climax as Morrison slaying a particular way of doing comics, Moore is as good a target as any, though Matthew Perpetua prefers Brian Bendis.
I wanted to be faithful to the spirit of the King. This had to be a story of gods, of God in fact, hence the 'cosmic' style, the elevated language, the total and deliberate disregard for the rules of the 'screenwriting' approach that has become the house style for a great many comic writers these days. The emphasis on spectacle and wonder at the expense of 'realism', the allegorical approach...it's all my take on Kirby.
This certainly isn't the first time he's taken fairly obvious swipes at the Master of the House of Ideas.
* Just as interesting, however, is the way he uses this interview to express anticipatory displeasure and dismissal of how his own publisher will handle many of the ideas he introduced in Final Crisis. I'll be honest, this bothers me a bit, since I think he has not exactly been forthcoming about his own role in both the series' delays and in DC's inability to properly situate it amid the rest of their line. But that doesn't mean he's wrong about this.
* As is his wont, he goes after the peanut gallery too:
Of course I'm aware of a perpetual and chronic discontent from a particular jaded minority on the internet but I try to overlook their constant expressions of dissatisfaction on the grounds that it's depressing and often personally abusive.
Surely part of the fun of comics includes following stories across titles? If you like comics, what's so awful about buying another one to see what happens next? And if you don't want to buy it, don't bother. Do something else. Buy cigarettes or booze or bananas. I don't know!
Every time I read about the agonizing pains of 'event fatigue' or how '3-D hurts my head...' or how something's 'incomprehensible' when most people are 'comprehending' it just fine, it's like visiting a nursing home. 'Events' in superhero comic books FATIGUE you? I'm speechless. Admittedly they do tend to be a little more exciting than the instruction leaflets that come with angina pills but... 'fatigue'?
Superhero comics should have an 'event' in every panel! We all know this instinctively. Who cares 'how?' as long as it feels right and looks brilliant ?
"As long as it feels right and looks brilliant." Aye, there's the rub, Grant! YMMV, as they say. But it's nice to see him once again explicitly prescribe a "buy what you want, read what you want, ignore what you want" remedy for Dem Ol' Konfuzin' Event-Komik Blues--even, if he is to believed in this interview, when that cuts against the lasting impact of his own work.
* So what would he want you to want to read, and how would he want you to read it? Comme ca:
FINAL CRISIS # 1- 3
SUPERMAN BEYOND # 1 - 2
FINAL CRISIS # 4 - 5
BATMAN #682 - 683
FINAL CRISIS # 6 - 7
I'll probably give the whole shebang another read-through in that order. It's too bad it's not going to be collected like that in the near term, but in much the same way that the heroes pray for resurrections, the readers pray for Absolutes.
* This sort of thing drives me crazy, and is actually part of my problem with the intensity of focus some critics have on Morrison comics too:
I found myself wondering what it would be like if comics' storytelling stopped aping film or TV and tried a few tricks from opera, for instance. How about dense, allusive, hermetic comics that read more like poetry than prose? How about comics loaded with multiple, prismatic meanings and possibilities? Comics composed like music? In a marketplace dominated by 'left brain' books, I thought it might be refreshing to offer an unashamedly 'right brain' alternative.
Some really, really needs to banish Grant Morrison to Earth-PictureBox Inc. Seriously, there are a lot of exactly these kinds of comics out there. I'm always disappointed when intelligent people--intelligent professional comics-writer people, for god's sake!--act as though there aren't because Martian Manhunter hasn't been in one. How I would have loved to title a post "Carnival of Acme Novelty Library #19"! I really want Alvin Buenaventura to comp Morrison a copy of Kramers Ergot 7. You don't need the combined might of Superman and Captain Marvel to lift it, Grant, I promise.
* This is getting into the minutiae a bit, but there's a passage about Wonder Woman that echoed something my friends and I were discussing just yesterday:
NRAMA: Regarding the big legends of the DCU: Superman got his mini-event, Batman took on Darkseid, Flash tries to outrun death, Green Lantern overcomes granny . . . but Wonder Woman turns out to be Anti-Life Patient Zero and spends the bulk of the series as a disfigured thrall. Why does Wonder Woman not have a comparable moment in that context?
GM: I wondered about that myself. I love what Gail Simone (especially) and other writers have done to empower the Wonder Woman concept but I must admit I've always sensed something slightly bogus and troubling at its heart. When I dug into the roots of the character I found an uneasy melange of girl power, bondage and disturbed sexuality that has never been adequately dealt with or fully processed out to my mind. I've always felt there was something oddly artificial about Wonder Woman, something not like a woman at all.
Having said that, I became quite fascinated by these contradictions and problems and tried to resolve them for what turned into a different project entirely. Partly because I didn't want to use any of that new material in Final Crisis, I relegated Wonder Woman to a role that best summed up my original negative feelings about the character. My apologies to her fans and I promise to be a little more constructive next time around.
Wonder Woman gets a 'moment' in Final Crisis #7 but by that time, Mandrakk has sucked all the life out of the story!
The thing about DC's Big Three (or Trinity, if you must) is that the only thing that inherently links those three characters is their pop-culture currency from 1966-1978, and the fact that their copyrights are controlled by the same corporation. On an alternate Earth, the DC Trinity consists of Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, and Doc Savage, while Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are consigned to the Wold Newton Universe and WildStorm comics written by Alan Moore and Warren Ellis.
(My pal Matthew Perpetua pointed out to me that in most regular readers' eyes, the real trinity at this point would probably be Superman, Batman, and Hal Jordan. I'd probably rather read interaction between those three, if only because it probably wouldn't be about how important the three of them are to each other and the world.)
Thinking about this, I realized that what Wonder Woman needs is an Ed Brubaker/Captain America run. To quote Tyra Banks, I always thought that Captain America had all the potential in the world, I obviously recognized his important role within the fictional Marvel world, he was fun to see in team-ups, and it would constantly frustrate me that no one was producing the post-9/11 Cap book of my dreams, but for the most part I'd written him off because almost all the stories done with him were so lame. In other words, he was Marvel's Wonder Woman--seriously, replace "post-9/11" with "feminist" and the situations are almost identical. If Marvel had structured their entire universe around, say, Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Captain America as a "Trinity," Cap would have looked like a total unreadable punk by comparison. But they didn't do that, they used him where it made sense, and eventually they got lucky and Brubaker came along knowing EXACTLY how to use the character, and he turned out to be awesome. Then they killed him and somehow he got even more awesome. Now he'll come back, probably around the same time as the movie hits, and he really WILL be a big deal to the fans.
To be fair, I actually agree with Mark Millar that Marvel's real pop-culture magical characters are Spidey, Wolverine, and the Hulk, not Cap, so it's not a perfectly analogous situation to Supes Bats and WW, but you know what I mean. Point is, instead of forcing her into an "important" role in every because she's an "important" character--and certainly instead of making every run on her solo book be about how important she is--just tell a cool story with your biggest characters. Eventually someone will come along and really know how to make the character sing to people who didn't write papers on her in college/aren't bloggers who focus on gender in DC comics/don't want her to be 300 in drag, and THEN you can start making a big deal of her again. (Chances are that writer will be Geoff Johns or Grant Morrison, as has been the case with basically all the other major characters at DC over the past few years, and it sounds like in this case it will be Morrison.) I don't purport to know how that would work anymore than, in the end, I had a clue how to make Captain America work. But I gotta believe someone does, and Morrison seems like a safe bet.