This review has been a long time coming because I didn’t find the individual issues all that enjoyable in isolation. When a fan at a convention raises any of the concerns I’ve had, DC Editor in Chief Dan DiDio insists that it’s a much more rewarding experience when read in a single sitting, so that how I read it this time. What kind of difference does it make to do so?

General Information

Title: Final Crisis #1-7

Author: Grant Morrison

Illustrator(s): J.G. Jones (pencils and inks, isses 1-6), Carlos Pacheco (pencils, issues 4-6), Jesus Merino (inks, issues 4-6), Marco Rudy (inks, issue 5), Christian Alamy (inks, issues 6-7), Doug Mahnke (pencils, issues 6-7, inks, issue 7), Walden Wong (inks, issue 7), Tom Nguyen (inks, issue 7), Drew Geraci (inks, issue 7), Rodney Ramos (inks, issue 7), Alex Sinclair (colours, all issues), Pete Pantazis (colours, issue 7), Tony Avina (colours, issue 7)

Cover Dates: July 2008 – March 2009

Cover Price: Each issue $3.99 US

Premise

Darkseid has won a war many readers didn’t even know he was fighting. When Jack Kirby created the new gods, he established that Darkseid was searching for the Anti-life equation, which would grant him the power he sought out to finally rule the known universe with an iron fist. Orion, his adoptive son, was willing to do whatever it took to stop his evil adoptive father from gaining the power he craved. Cue issue #1.

This series opens with the discovery of Orion’s corpse. Orion is, in fact, a god; this draws the immediate attention of the Guardians of Oa, along with Earth’s native heroes. By the time they realize what’s happened, it’s too late; Darkseid has set himself up as the entity that’s running reality.

High Point

Green Man: The Earth is ground zero of a doomsday singularity. The impact of Darkseid’s fall is causing cracks to spread through all space sectors.
Guy Gardner: What’d I tell ya! John Stewart’s still down there! Darkseid’s dragging all our friends into Hell with him!
Hal Jordan: Then I say we go in after him, Guy. You, me, Kyle, anybody else who wants to. And we kick his ass.

Low Point

The literal deus ex machina conclusion.

The Scores

The concept is original. The bad guy wins before the good guys even know anything’s going on. I give it 5 out of 6.

The artwork is erratic. Each artist is good, but there’s a “too many chefs” thing going on with the huge art crew used to approximate an on time schedule. Any one team could have produced a good product, but there are some moments that jump pretty clearly from team to team or inker to inker, particularly in the last two issues. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story really does make a lot more sense when read in a single sitting. It doesn’t work as well reading the issues spread out over several months because so many elements are set up very briefly a few issues before their importance is known, and are easily forgotten. It actually holds together far better than I originally thought. Some elements of the final issue would make more sense if you read “Superman Beyond” as well, but I still don’t recommend that. It also may be hard to get into it in the first place. There’s next to no background to the New Gods given in the story. I’ve read a fair amount of DC, but I have definite gaps in my background knowledge. Still, having read a couple hundred issues each of Green Lantern and Justice League, as well as some Batman and Superman stuff and the complete run of “Greatest Hits” and “Infinite Crisis” titles, I’m not exactly new to the DCU. Despite all that, if I hadn’t watched the Bruce Timm animated series from the 1990s and beyond, I’d have had no idea who Darkseid was or what he was trying to accomplish. I give it 4 out of 6.

The characterization works on the basest level. We don’t see depth or growth from anyone, but the majority of the actions taken are consistent with the characters as I know them. There’s only one moment, in issue 6, when a character breaks a long-standing rule that irks me a bit. I’m sure it’s there to convey the gravity of the situation, but it still sticks in my craw. I give it 4 out of 6.

The emotional response is also much better in a single sitting than as individual issues. The buildup and connections are much easier to see. When reading the issues as they come out, the crossovers are almost distracting; it’s a lot of extra stuff not directly related to the main story, making it hard to put the whole package together. Yes, there’s still missing information there, but some of it doesn’t matter as much. The event structure is better suited to trade collections than Marvel’s is, in some ways. (If the cross-overs get too independent, then one wonders why you need the cross-overs at all, so there needs to be a balance in the middle somewhere.) It’s definitely more successful at involving the reader this way. I give it 4 out of 6.

The flow is still a little jarring. The scene changes are sudden, and they jump around the wrong parts. (For example, we see attackers coming towards one of the last pockets of human resistance. Cut away, and cut back later to the defeated resistance. I’d have liked to see them, you know, resist.) I give it 4 out of 6.

Overall, the complete set reads better than I thought it would. I wouldn’t recommend reading the series as a set of individual issues, but the collected editions will be decent. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, Final Crisis #1-7 receives 29 out of 42.

Final Crisis Checklist