Robot 6

Bon voyage, Blackest Night — but where was the Final Crisis love?

Darkness and light: Final Crisis hardcover by J.G. Jones; Blackest Night #8 variant by Doug Mahnke

Darkness and light: Final Crisis hardcover by J.G. Jones; Blackest Night #8 variant by Doug Mahnke

Yesterday the eighth and final issue of Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis’s hit event comic Blackest Night came out, and DC has been celebrating its successful conclusion (how about that fold-out spread, huh???) in grand fashion. On Tuesday, DC’s official blog, The Source, hosted an open thread for fans to share their favorite Blackest Night moments and memories. Source blogger and PR guru Alex Segura posted a heartfelt encomium to the series, its spinoffs, and its creators once it wrapped on Wednesday. Today, editor Eddie Berganza contributed a eulogy of his own.

All well-deserved, as far as I’m concerned: Blackest Night clearly worked for its intended audience, myself included. A hook everyone could understand, a huge (and fun!) expansion of the Green Lantern mythos that convincingly roped in characters from the Flash to Lex Luthor to Hawk and Dove, rock-solid art from Ivan Reis, perhaps the most t-shirt-friendly concept in comics history…I had a hoot with this book and its parallel Green Lantern tie-ins as well, and judging from the uniformly positive fan feedback in the comments for Segura’s tribute, I’m far from alone.

But those same comments raise an interesting question: Do you recall seeing this kind of effusive praise and PR from the company when its last event comic, Final Crisis wrapped?

In a way, it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison: The Source didn’t exist when Final Crisis #7 came out in January 2009, so there really wasn’t an official channel for the company to utilize. Then there are the differences, quantitative and qualitative, between the series themselves. On a numbers level, though Final Crisis was DC’s biggest title at the time, it didn’t put up Blackest Night sales. Nor did its mostly indirect tie-ins thrive the way BN‘s more clearly linked spin-offs did. And even Final Crisis‘s biggest fans — you’ll find none bigger than me, by the way — admit that it’s an acquired taste, containing some of writer Grant Morrison’s most challenging and experimental superhero-comics work. Of course, for the book’s detractors — and again, check the comments for that Blackest Night tribute for more than a few — you can substitute “challenging” for “confusing” and “experimental” for “incoherent.”

All that being said, I think there’s still an observable difference in how the series were handled by the publisher. The clearest example is the way then-VP – Executive Editor Dan DiDio poked fun at Final Crisis during the 2009 New York Comic Con, DC’s first convention appearance after the series wrapped. Moreover, his promotion of the series in its waning weeks, during his last couple of Newsarama interviews prior to the final issue’s release, was minimal at best. And of course there was no Brightest Day-style linewide plan designed to capitalize on story threads from FC once it concluded — the closest DC came was the Final Crisis Aftermath minis, which launched months later. Linkrot makes searching the archives for the weekly DC Nation column that far back difficult, but a look at the January 2009 installments, including the DC Nation for the week Final Crisis #7 came out, reveals nary a mention of the book; indeed, the image in the January 28th, 2009 column is a teaser for…Blackest Night.

Again, you can chalk this up to many things — heck, I’d imagine some fans who thought Final Crisis wasn’t as good as Blackest Night would praise DC’s relative quiet about FC‘s conclusion as just a lack of BS. But as a person who enjoyed both events and a big fan of both their architects, Morrison and Johns, I just wanna see both series get the props they deserve.

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21 Comments

James P. McDougall III

April 1, 2010 at 9:42 am

DC had more faith in Johns product because they knew it was better than Final Crisis. The Ring promotions were fun and helped the book sell fairly well.

Final Crisis wasn’t a good read. It wasn’t entertaining and it wasn’t fun. Blackest Night was the 1 thing that kept DC afloat in this bad economy and DC knows that. That’s why Johns is so loved over there.

I love that you’re not afraid to champion what you enjoyed, STC. I loved FC, too, and I wish DC didn’t treat it the way they did. Was it Mark Waid who said that people at DC were making jokes about it?

All right, Sean, I hated Final Criis. And I hate it for, at the end of the day, as you say above, its being “challenging and experimental”.

I was told, in order to understand what’s happening in the current era of Batman-the Grayson era-Final Crisis and Batman R.I.P. have to be read first. Well, I researched as much backstory as I could before tracking these trades down, and they were still bad!

They were confusing, and for 2 stories that are supposed to tie into each other, I can’t make any connection. Basically, DC could have just published a one-shot where Darkseid killls Batman, and that would have been that.

No giant battles. No Martian Manhunter dying. No confusing Multiverse crap. Darkseid kills Batman…well, sends him back in time. But anyway, that’s ALL THAT HAPPENED.

Honestly, I could have just picked up Batman from #688 onwards (which I did, and I’m still getting it every month. It’s great!) without having to do all this reading beforehand.

Final Crisis was pointless.

At least, Blackest Night (though I’m waiting for the trade, and haven’t read that much of it, consequentially) seems like a story that actually DOES affect the DCU, and makes sense besides.

Sean T. Collins

April 1, 2010 at 9:52 am

I remember him saying something to that effect, but when I was searching for links I couldn’t find the relevant comment, just some impassioned defenses of Morrison’s writing by him and Kurt Busiek.

Sean T. Collins

April 1, 2010 at 9:55 am

Sorry, that was directed at Jake.

Tim, I think all of the things you mention become a chicken-and-egg question: Did Final Crisis not affect the DCU because the company didn’t make the moves in editorial and promotional terms that would have ensured it, or did they not make those moves because they felt it wasn’t affecting the DCU?

I remember him saying something to that effect, but when I was searching for links I couldn’t find the relevant comment, just some impassioned defenses of Morrison’s writing by him and Kurt Busiek.
——————

Busiek? I’ve never seen that. Would you mind posting a link?

And I found the Mark Waid comments, STC.

http://forums.boom-studios.net/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=435&start=30

Fifth post down.

Ha, same thread. I’m guessing you already saw those comments, then.

“They were confusing, and for 2 stories that are supposed to tie into each other, I can’t make any connection. Basically, DC could have just published a one-shot where Darkseid killls Batman, and that would have been that.”

RIP doesn’t tie directly into Final Crisis, but the last two issues in the RIP hardcover do, as they explain what Batman’s up to after his capture in Final Crisis.

And if you couldn’t figure that out….

Well, you’re probably the Blackest Night target audience.

I loved Final Crisis (and Blackest Night), but the series failed due to perceived mis-communication and editorial fuck-up, and that horrible, horrible, HORRIBLE combination of Countdown to Final Crisis series and tie-ins, as well as the completely off-kilter Death of the New Gods.

Basically there was way too much lack of coordination for Final Crisis; too many cooks in the kitchen without a head chef. That botched it for us, the readers.

Sean T. Collins

April 1, 2010 at 10:32 am

Jake–Ha, somehow I missed that post! Anyway, he’s referring to the same panel I linked to in the piece.

Adam and Squashua: I think the confusion as to how the various FC-related projects–from Countdown to Death of the New Gods to FC proper to Batman RIP to Last Rites to Legion of 3 Worlds to Superman Beyond to Revelations to the Dark Side Club storyline in Teen Titans–tied together, particularly when events in one appeared to contradict events in the others, definitely contributed to the fan disapproval of the overall project, regardless of the merits of each individual title.

I refuse to accept the notion that Final Crisis deserves any criticism based on Countdown or Death of the New Gods.

Sean T. Collins

April 1, 2010 at 11:03 am

That’s my position too, Adam. If you wanna read me go on for way too long about it:

http://www.alltooflat.com/about/personal/sean/2008/12/i_got_dem_ol_konfuzin_eventkom.html

Check out the comment thread too: Tons of interesting stuff in there from Tom Spurgeon, Marc-Oliver Frisch, Ben Morse, Tim O’Neil, Tucker Stone, Kiel Phegley, and many more.

That was exactly the kind of thing I was looking for back when I did my re-read.

Blackest Night was so not confusing…

Like having life originate on Earth…which popped up billions of years later than other galaxies? Makes total sense! Or the fact that the emotional spectrum was created by the first animal to have that emotion–Greedy Snake! Raging Bull! Compassion Squid! That makes so much sense I don’t know why I never thought of it. Or the fact that we got seven issues of Power Ranger shooting their colorful laser until Deadman pops up and says, “Hey, this is the final issue…so I guess I’ll just tell you how to defeat the bad guy!” I love that kind of writing! Oh man, and now death REALLY counts in the DCU?! I’m going to really be concerned now when a character dies!

All Final Crisis was boring awesome stuff like Batman shooting a space gun with god-killing bullets. Or Superman saving the day by singing. Or Frankenstein riding a dirtbike with an army of riding vehicles made of Metal Men.

But where was the blue bird that invented hope? Where was text pages written in some space language Where was the resurrection of Aquaman and the death of Hawkman and Hawkwoman…oh wait, Final Crisis did have that…until DC decided to make it confusing and discount a story that came prior to Blackest Night.

You know, I was thinking the other day that a Frankenstein book where he rides a dirtbike and shoots monsters all day would be just glorious. Especially with art by Doug Mahnke.

Sean, I love you because you actually think my name has enough value to put me in a list of people who commented on a thread where my sole contributions were noting that Greg Rucka wrote a Final Crisis one-shot and making a Turtle Boy joke. :-)

“RIP doesn’t tie directly into Final Crisis, but the last two issues in the RIP hardcover do, as they explain what Batman’s up to after his capture in Final Crisis.

And if you couldn’t figure that out….

Well, you’re probably the Blackest Night target audience.”

And just like that you see the problems with not only Grant Morrison, Final Crisis but also it’s fans, they think it’s alot more challenging, smart and better than it is. FC was a clusterfuck, it was Morrison at his egotistical worst throwing idea after idea at the reader with no real focus or planning things just happen as an excuse for Morrison to show how smart and different he is from all other writers. The reason DC didn’t celebrate it was because it failed in everyway, critically, sales wise and with fans all accross the board DC didn’t get the bump they expected from the event.

Christian Otholm

April 2, 2010 at 7:02 am

Everyone defending Final Crisis:

Nobody wants to be challenged in their funny books! Stop thinking! Anti-life justifies my hatred!

Sean… Thanks for picking up on my comments on the DCU blog and supporting Final Crisis. I felt abandoned by DC at the end of FC and was really annoyed at Didio’s responses about it’s conclusion after he’d talked it up for over a year.

@Christian Otholm… LOL!!!

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