Reading FINAL CRISIS #1 after having read some advance reviews of it (and listening to the opinions of friends who’d read advance copies both obtained legally and otherwise), I fully expected to be disappointed by it; I kept seeing that it sucked, was too confusing, that nothing happened, and so on and so on, and I was convinced that it’d be another product of the Morrison mind that knows what it wants too well, so much that it sometimes skips telling other people what’s going on. Instead, I came away from it thinking that it was a Good opener, and wondering if most people these days just want simpler, explosion-filled, stories.
First things first; Am I the only person who read it and thought that it felt as if Countdown To Final Crisis and all the related spin-offs had been reverse engineered from the initial script way back when? There are the Monitors, talking about the destruction of Earth-51, after all, and there’s Orion, dying… but none of it really hinges on the Countdown events, and in most cases, works better when you ignore them altogether (Especially the Monitor scenes, which suggest that the independence of the Monitors has been around for a lot longer than less than a year, considering they seem to have constructed a legal system of sorts. Also, Nix is being punished for… what, exactly? Being somehow responsible for the destruction of Earth-51, when he definitely wasn’t, from what we saw in Countdown). Despite some complaints, I found it less confusing to approach the majority of this issue as if I’d not read Countdown or Death of the New Gods, because you get all the main things you actually need to know in the (somewhat melodramatic; Jog’s right, this is definitely Morrison channeling his JLA run again for good and bad, all broad strokes and epic scale) dialogue.
Overall, I liked that it was scattered and frenetic, which I’ve seen complaints about – There’s still a sense that it isn’t entirely random, despite the different pieces (We see the first and last boys on Earth getting messed with by Metron in different ways, interestingly enough; is this a comment on some baseline humanity tinkering that the New God is up to, or a throwback to the shrinking of time at the edges from something like Zero Hour? More easter eggs for longtime fans that can be read without that knowledge by everyone else, just seeing a caveman and a boy in some post-disaster New York City), after all, and it opens up the story and introduces the themes while keeping things fairly grounded. What it lacked, however, was what Secret Invasion #1 provided in spades: Big explosions and immediate threat for our marquee heroes. I don’t care about that – I liked the slow burn threat and creepiness of anti-life children, crystal Metron and serial killing of superhumans well enough, thanks – but I can’t help but wonder if a lot of the complains about this first issue come from those who expected more of a direct competitor to Marvel’s louder opening issue. Never mind the quiet, depressing murder of J’Onn J’Onzz (which was somehow even worse for the almost off-handed manner in which it took place), I wonder whether some people would’ve been happier to see Snapper Carr betray the League to Libra and blow up the Hall of Justice again…
(The worst thing about the book is, for me, the art. Oh, don’t get me wrong; parts of it are glorious, but the scene with Vandal Savage talking to Libra seemed oddly rushed and/or inked by someone else entirely… It stood out, and not in the way it was probably intended to. Is this the dreaded deadline doom hitting in the very first issue… or something much more sinister?)