Final Crisis 5

The battle for Earth continues on various fronts, with the forces of Darkseid threatening to underwhelm the human resistance as DC’s biggest event series for years continues. There are some brilliant moments, surprising turns of events, which I won’t spoil; suffice to say that writer Grant Morrison is having a tremendous time playing in DC’s playpen. Even when the toys may not have existed previously – Sivana Jr’s quantum blunderbuss, at a guess – you know they should have.

There’s also some great dialogue, including the spouting of, basically, anti-life advertising slogans, and my favourite line: ‘Have you any idea how easy it is for a god to hollow out a living mind and hide in the bleeding shell?’ Scary – and that’s a feeling comic book gods rarely evoke.

Incidental delights include someone from the Marvel Family actually noticing Mary is in big trouble, the Guardians quoting Flash Gordon and the appearance of a restored Tempest.

An irritation is the lack of captions. Scenes change from page to page with nary a word of explanation – if ever a series needed a Marvel-style recap page this is the one. I’ve been following Final Crisis throughout, and reading most DC superhero titles for decades, and I was occasionally scratching my head. I believe the thinking is that scene changes without Meanwhiles and Elsewheres or setting notes make for a smoother, more cinematic read (hey, comics have to pretend to be movies, except when they trying to be TV, with ‘Seasons’ rather than volumes). Not so. Instead of transitions, we get jerks. Rather than being pulled along at breakneck speed, I’m thrown out of the comic by trying to work out where in the story I am. Would it really ruin the beauteous flow of the book to occasionally give a reader a hand?

JG Jones, Carlos Pacheco, Marco Rudy and Jesus Merino provide some sensational artwork, bringing drama to the battles scenes and intensity to the quieter moments. Their spread of the heroic underground attacking Darkseid’s goons is, as they used to say, suitable for framing.

So that’s five issues down, two to go, and hope in sight for Earth. Wouldn’t it be nice if DC forgot about the Anti-life Equation and solved the On-Time Shipping Quandry? We can but hope.

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