Robot 6

Your Mileage May Vary

DC finished off its big event of 2008 this week with Final Crisis #7. Naturally, there have been a lot of thought about the issue.

Evan Waters really appreciated the payoff:

But what FINAL CRISIS does right that so many of these events don’t is in delivering the payoff. FINAL CRISIS #7 is the issue of triumph and glory, and too often as of late, as a result of trying to raise the stakes as high as possible, superhero victories have been so pyrrhic and brief as to be unsatisfying. Here, we take our time, we see Dr. Sivana and Lex Luthor smiling as they help put together a machine to rewrite the laws of physics, we see Supergirl and Wonder Woman tell the story of how the universe was saved to a room of waiting children before they go to deep-freeze, we get payoffs to arcs that weren’t even technically part of this crossover, we get a sense that the world might actually become more interesting as a consequence of all this.


Timbotron thought that the story didn’t work:

Well. I’ve been posting about this book all over the interwebs, but here’s the main deal. This story is a failure as a narrative. It certainly had some wonderful dialogue, some fantastic art, great ideas, and neat plot twists. But the story does not hold up. If Final Crisis were the alphabet, it would have been A, C, J, K, M, D, E, X, Z. So basically, out of order and missing a lot of pieces. There is too much that doesn’t make sense for this comic to be considered a success. There are too many glaring plot problems. I’m totally unclear on the resolution and current status of most of the key players. In the spirit of Final Crisis, here’s a list of my first thoughts and questions in no particular order:

While Danielle Ni Dhighe has interesting thoughts about Grant Morrison’s writing style:

Final Crisis writer Grant Morrison has admitted to heavy use of psychedelic drugs in the past as a way to expand his consciousness and once said that he thought David Lynch films reflected real life. Some of his stories in Doom Patrol were inspired by Dadaism, and his later work on The Invisibles was influenced by Robert Anton Wilson, Aleister Crowley, and William S. Burroughs. Although he’s also written more mainstream comics, like JLA and New X-Men, Morrison at his best is a mad genius who likes to challenge his readers.

I don’t think Morrison tries to be deliberately confusing, he simply applies his own internal logic to his works. Lynch refuses to explain his films because he believes that it’s more interesting to see how viewers interpret them for themselves. I think Morrison needs to be read the same way. Neither creator is talking down to the audience, they actually want the audience to think.

So what do you think?

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It was a story about fueling the imagination that asked it’s readers to engage it by… wait for it…. using their imaginations. So many threads don’t get explained because it gets left to you to fill in that blank. My only hope is that this does raise the bar for the DCU and that other writers are allowed/encouraged to adopt the ideas/devices that Grant littered this work with. I’d actually love to hear Grant’s co-writers on 52 take on FC, as well as Kurt Busiek, James Robinson and Peter Tomasi. Maybe Dan will find a way to do an adventures of the DCM comic that’ll have stories of the Great Ten, Super Young Team, Big Science Action, Vathlo Superman, Overman, and (PLEASE!) Grant’s Billy/Cap, as well as SuperDemon, Doc Fate, Gothy Forever People…. It seems Batman and the Outsiders will pickup the “everyone knows the multiverse exists” thread with Owlman, and it sounds like James Robinson may touch on it with Justice League. No more film treatments!

I tried to understand this series, I really did. But if it wasn’t for the implied ties to Blackest Night (which I didn’t see) I would have dropped this after the first issue. For me the whole “story” left me confused and ambivalent to the whole thing. I didn’t recognize half the characters and the ones I did weren’t featured enough to grasp my interest. The entire series was a collection of random scenes and sequences that made no sense to me, the casual fan. If this is the best DC has to offer to entice new readers then they are royally screwed.

I was very disappointed with this series. There was hope when the series was announced. There are many story elements of intrigue but there is a lack of cohesive logic to the whole story. There was no empathy for any character. Everything is just dangling. The best way to sum up this series is just imagine if DC hired Carlos Castaneda to write a comic book series for them. Grant get off the peyote path and join reality and give us some straight dope. I am tired of writing like this. Living on your past glories. Give us something fresh Grant, you have the talent don’t insult our intelligence.

I’m really amazed at some of the vitriol for this series. It has its holes, but on the whole I enjoyed it.

I’ve decided to re-read it from start to finish, in the order Morrison suggested in his Newsarama interview. I suspect I’ll render my final judgment once I’ve done that.

FC wasn’t for everyone, obviously, and that’s fine.

But much of the anger and criticism seems to have been about how the series was “hyped” or promoted, rather than about the story itself.

And looking at the brilliant annotations by Wolk, Uzumeri and others, and the comments they engendered, there are many people who enjoyed FC’s meta- and sub-textual writing (and art). Others prefer things to be a bit more obvious (Face Front, True Believers!)

I thought it was a challenging, thoughtful and prodigious accomplishment.

Flawed? Sure, but give Grant full credit for making the effort and achieving most of what he set out to do.

ElCoyote's Prophet

January 31, 2009 at 2:25 pm

“And looking at the brilliant annotations by Wolk, Uzumeri and others, and the comments they engendered, there are many people who enjoyed FC’s meta- and sub-textual writing (and art).”

You say meta and subtextual, I say ‘cutesy self referential bullshit’.

Potato, tomato.

I want my story to be about the characters, and the ideas, not about kickass Grant Morrison is and how he can work his voodoo on a generation of readers who are convinced he’s better than Alan Moore (which he ain’t, whatever Moore’s insane process and stylistic flourishes were, he always told stories that worked simply as stories) or that his stories make sense because they make sense if you spend hours researching his obscure references and read every word that dribbles out of his mouth.

The work itself is the work, if it does not make sense on it’s surface, the writer and artist have FAILED. Have all the subtext you want, if the TEXT makes NO SENSE, if the story does not flow, does not have any cohesion, does not, I repeat, MAKE SENSE, then why bother with subtext?

Morrison has been doing comics bass ackwards for ten years now. He’s created a cult of personality that is convinced themselves that even if a comic doesn’t make sense on the first read, if you waste enough time eventually you will puzzle it together.

F*ck that sh*t. I refuse to re-read anything that does not satisfy me the first time through. Why bother? If I eat a meal and it SUCKS, I’m not going back to the same restaurant and order the same damned meal that sucked before just to see if I can taste something NEW. My life is too damned short to waste time reading things that don’t work as stories because of meta-fictional subtext.

Story first, subtext second, I thought everyone understood that. It was the lesson Moore taught us all with Watchmen, not that super heroes can be dicks, but that you can tell an interesting, gripping, thoroughly realized story using these characters and include commentary that sinks in upon second and third readings.

Personally, I could care less about metal and subtext, it’s too cute by half.

Tell me a story, and tell it well.

More has been unable to do that for about a decade.

ElCoyote's Prophet

January 31, 2009 at 2:26 pm

“And looking at the brilliant annotations by Wolk, Uzumeri and others, and the comments they engendered, there are many people who enjoyed FC’s meta- and sub-textual writing (and art).”

You say meta and subtextual, I say ‘cutesy self referential bullshit’.

Potato, tomato.

I want my story to be about the characters, and the ideas, not about kickass Grant Morrison is and how he can work his voodoo on a generation of readers who are convinced he’s better than Alan Moore (which he ain’t, whatever Moore’s insane process and stylistic flourishes were, he always told stories that worked simply as stories) or that his stories make sense because they make sense if you spend hours researching his obscure references and read every word that dribbles out of his mouth.

The work itself is the work, if it does not make sense on it’s surface, the writer and artist have FAILED. Have all the subtext you want, if the TEXT makes NO SENSE, if the story does not flow, does not have any cohesion, does not, I repeat, MAKE SENSE, then why bother with subtext?

Morrison has been doing comics bass ackwards for ten years now. He’s created a cult of personality that is convinced themselves that even if a comic doesn’t make sense on the first read, if you waste enough time eventually you will puzzle it together.

F*ck that sh*t. I refuse to re-read anything that does not satisfy me the first time through. Why bother? If I eat a meal and it SUCKS, I’m not going back to the same restaurant and order the same damned meal that sucked before just to see if I can taste something NEW. My life is too damned short to waste time reading things that don’t work as stories because of meta-fictional subtext.

Story first, subtext second, I thought everyone understood that. It was the lesson Moore taught us all with Watchmen, not that super heroes can be dicks, but that you can tell an interesting, gripping, thoroughly realized story using these characters and include commentary that sinks in upon second and third readings.

Personally, I could care less about metal and subtext, it’s too cute by half.

Tell me a story, and tell it well.

Morrison has been unable to do that for about a decade.

You see, I understand why people don’t like FINAL CRISIS or think it’s not good, there are valid points to be made there.

The sheer level of HATEHATEHATE is just baffling, though, even considering this is the Internet. Particularly how focused it is on Grant Morrison and to a lesser extent his fans.

The HATEHATEHATE is in part a response to the people who liked it saying that the people who didn’t like it or didn’t understand it are too stupid and too lazy to get it.

Yes, but where is that cacophony of insulting and condescending voices? I’ve yet to stumble across it.

I’m not a “Morrison is GOD” type. Some of his quirks tend to irritate me and for a good portion of Final Crisis I was lost. After re-reading 1-6 and Superman Beyond 1 and 2, I found #7 to be very enjoyable and a good ending. I know that some fans wanted it to move mountains but at the end of the day I feel it did show that good will conquer evil and thats what I wanted from it.

“The work itself is the work, if it does not make sense on it’s surface, the writer and artist have FAILED”

As I said, FC wasn’t for everyone, obviously, and that’s fine.

No need to be angry. It wasn’t for you.

Some people like vanilla, some like strawberry and some like chocolate.

No worries.

Eat (and read) what you like.

“FC wasn’t for everyone, obviously, and that’s fine. But much of the anger and criticism seems to have been about how the series was “hyped” or promoted, rather than about the story itself.”

Yes, FC wasn’t for everyone. Unfortunately, it was heavily promoted by DC as a book that “EVERYONE MUST READ OR DIE!!!!!”

Seven Soldiers — which is alternately more and less sensical and has many direct ties to FC — never engendered this kind of vitriol because it never received the same level of promotion.

Likewise, few individuals are saber rattling in SS’s defense; this is not because they didn’t like it and don’t think it deserved more exposure. This is simply because no one is running around going “GAWD, SEVEN SOLDIERS SUX SEVEN SWEATY BALLS!?#”

The people who liked SS found it. The people who hated SS walked away.

It is harder to walk away from an event book in a universe you like even if you hate the story.

“And looking at the brilliant annotations by Wolk, Uzumeri and others, and the comments they engendered, there are many people who enjoyed FC’s meta- and sub-textual writing (and art). Others prefer things to be a bit more obvious (Face Front, True Believers!)”

Obvious is not bad. Brilliant is not bad, either. Your bias is showing.

The truth lies somewhere in between. Yes, I enjoyed FC. Do I think it did its duty as an “event” book? Not even close.

For all of their flaws (and some would argue mediocrity) Civil War and Secret Invasion both do what needs to be done. They set up larger conflicts, expand those conflicts into the universe at large in an ACCESSIBLE way, and conclude with a new and clearly established status quo.

FC fails on ALL of these fronts. That doesn’t make it a bad story necessarily. But, likewise, it did not help expand DC’s overall line market share nor did it increase DC’s bottom line to the degree it could have or should have.

It was, in short, not the moneymaker it ought to have been.

Unfortunately, no product exists in a vacuum. The (original) Producers is a riot today. That doesn’t mean it would have played to hoots in an Auschwitz barracks. Likewise, an event book exists in the context of its promotion, its stated intention, its reception, and — lastly — its execution.

“As I said, FC wasn’t for everyone, obviously, and that’s fine. No need to be angry. It wasn’t for you. Some people like vanilla, some like strawberry and some like chocolate. No worries. Eat (and read) what you like.”

Sorry, Richard.

I fall on the pro-Final Crisis side, but (in this instance) this argument is crap. The vitriol against FC is deserved.

Final Crisis is an EVENT BOOK. DC did absolutely everything they could to strong arm readers into picking up this book.

In your words, this is a book that “isn’t for everyone” marketed TO everyone and their grandparents. The people who don’t like this sort of book feel forced into buying it, and they have every right to feel that way. It happened.

I really felt issue 7 was a last minute rush job to catch some of the Obama comic cash grab like they did at Marvel. It just proves this series was a shot from a hip loaded mumbojumbo crapolla. Grant can write like this with his eyes shut just like the way Kirby would draw the same pose over and over and everybody would think that it was amazing. I used to cringe at Kirby’s work when I was young. Now he is a genius. Go figure. If Crisis was written like this for a movie, I think everybody would leave from the beginning of the movie. I am telling you with the way things are in the economy people would rather spend 3.99 somewhere else. Comic companies better wake up and give us better stories. The Barry Allen story was not played well, a major character like that was just shoved in the complex background of gibberish. The Prisoner was a great series, but the ending left everybody hanging and wondering why did I invest some much time in a series like this to come to an ending of nonsense. The intellectual snobs will defend it till the end as do the Grant snobs who think the general readers are too dumb to understand this series. I am sure many readers felt this way, and please no more crisis stories. I can’t take another. I will go into a personal crisis and take my money somewhere else.

As I said, “But much of the anger and criticism seems to have been about how the series was “hyped” or promoted, rather than about the story itself.”

“Event” books don’t mean very much to me. Neither does “marketing.”

Read a comic. Don’t read a comic. Whatever.

Judge the book on the book and the experience involving the work. Or don’t.

My only bias is for things I like.

For example: I hate asparagus. It’s terrible, awful. Smells bad. The Department of Agriculture says that I have to eat asparagus. EVERYONE (in all caps) should eat asparagus.

I tried asparagus. I didn’t like it. Should I be angry because of the way it’s “hyped?”

Pass the broccoli.

“Final Crisis is an EVENT BOOK. DC did absolutely everything they could to strong arm readers into picking up this book.

In your words, this is a book that “isn’t for everyone” marketed TO everyone and their grandparents. The people who don’t like this sort of book feel forced into buying it, and they have every right to feel that way. It happened.”

In most situations, I would agree with this. Maybe a typical line-wide event should cater to everyone and be as straightforward as possible, or whatever the argument is.

However, Final Crisis was not that. DC has changed their publishing strategy lately, going from linewide events to franchise-focused events. It was a decision made shortly after Amazons Attack and the Sinestro Corps. War concluded to drastically different results, and DC, learning from that lesson, has altered their event models accordingly.

Final Crisis is not a line-wide event–instead, it is the event of the Crisis franchise, dealing with plot threads involving the multiverse, the Monitors, and the concept of dealing with every character in DC’s stable.

Meanwhile, the other franchises have had their own events–Superman’s Braniac and New Krypton, Batman’s RIP and Battle for the Cowl, Wonder Woman’s Rise of the Olympian, Green Lantern’s War of Light (leading into the Blackest Night), the Justice Society’s Kingdom Come sequel, and more. It has been made very clear that you could pick and choose which titles you wanted to follow, and that events would be largely self-contained to their respective franchises.

Will there be some crossover? Of course–that’s one of the perks, and prices, of a shared universe, so yes, there will be some spill-over from Final Crisis into other books, just as there will be spill-over from New Krypton and Battle for the Cowl and whatever else, but in no way are any of those the traditional line-wide event that everyone must read.

If Final Crisis followed the traditional event model, the way Secret Invasion did, then I could absolutely understand the complaint–it certainly was not a traditional event, and for those expecting it to be, yes, I can understand that disappointment. However, Final Crisis wasn’t designed as an event–it was designed as a story. Many eventful things happen in it, sure–you can’t argue that it isn’t an event, but I think you can make a very important distinction about what kind of event it is, and judge it accordingly.

I would also like to point out something that no one else has mentioned: Final Crisis failed as an event comic because

1) It was late
2) had too many fill-in artists

Final Crisis is a jumble of talent. I was browsing through a copy of the HC at my LCS, and there has to be like 20 or so artists credited. 20!

You can say what you like about Secret Invasion being boring or not thought-provoking, but at least it had a stable creative team and was shipped on time (a two week delay doesn’t count).

And at least SI lead to a new and exciting status-quo.

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