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Final Crisis #7: The End of the DC Universe?

Written by: Joey Esposito, Special to CC2K

ImageFor the first time in a very long time, I'm at a legitimate loss for words after I close the final pages of a comic book. Certainly, this could be from my brain being turned to complete slush after reading Superman Beyond #2 and Final Crisis #6 back to back, creating a metaphysical mind gap in my head, but more so I think it's the fast one that Grant Morrison and DC Comics have just pulled on me.

All along, Final Crisis has been hyped as "The Day Evil Wins" and quite literally the end of the world. Except, through his unique pacing and jarring transitions, Morrison crafted an "event" comic like none we've ever seen, turning this disasterpiece into a masterpiece that tells us what these iconic characters mean to not only the DC Universe, but ourselves as readers. The final moments in this issue are an absolute revelation as we realize that this story is not about defeat at all, but the willfulness and longevity of the human race, and let's face it, more importantly, the superhero. Grant Morrison used this entire apocalypse scenario to craft a tale that will be looked upon as perhaps one of the greatest superhero stories ever written, one of hope and all that these heroes stand for in the first place, and a story that in it's essence, actually proves that superhero comics are modern mythology. As he hints throughout the issue, this is truly only the beginning.

The issue begins, as usual, with a rather strange group of characters that leads the reader to ponder in what manner these previously unseen characters will be brought into the fold of the main plot. One of Morrison's amazing strengths that bleeds through every panel of this issue is his familiarity with the absurd concept of the Multiverse and the pseudo-science he uses to explain it. More importantly, it's his skill to make readers buy into it and understand it just as well, without a second thought. There are so many ideas and concepts jammed into this last issue, yet it's not overwhelming. Yes, it's dense, but then, paying $3.99 for a comic sure as hell better getting me thinking.

In Final Crisis #7, Morrison remains untraditional in his telling of an event comic of this stature. Whereas a book like Secret Invasion was ultimately an unfortunate distillation of the pre-established "format" of event books (setup, inciting incident, fight, fight, fight, someone dies, resolution, and somewhere down the line, retconning), Final Crisis has absolutely turned said format on its head. In fact, it will be quite interesting to see how Blackest Night measures up this summer, after Morrison has set the event comic bar so damn high. This last issue, while it certainly provides its fair share of closure on the overall plot of the series, it absolutely leaves you drooling for it's cliffhangers. Namely, the ultimate fate of Bruce Wayne revealed. Gasp!

A gripe that some fans may have with this final issue is it's narrow focus. I mentioned that the jarring transitions are still in tact here, bouncing between all of the involved parties – the Green Lanterns, the Flashes, the remaining heroes on the Watchtower, and some others – it's clear here that the key players of this finale issue are Superman and Darkseid, and those immediately related to them. While that's all well and good for a Supes fanatic like myself, other readers may scoff at the lack of panels featuring other key members of the DCU. But hey, Superman is on the cover after all.

As brilliant as this issue is, it comes with a certain cloud of disappointment. This issue marks the complete exit of JG Jones from the series. What started with amazingly rendered panels in issue #1 with that signature Jones style, is gone. Not to take anything away from Doug Mahnke, as the man is a masterful veteran in his own right; imagine getting the deluxe hardcover of this series (or an Absolute edition perhaps) and opening page after page of glorious JG Jones work. I suppose my point is all about consistency, and it's unfortunate that there is none within the series as a whole. Thankfully, unlike issue #6, the self contained consistency of the issue itself is spot on, with Mahnke handling all the penciling duties himself.

Mahnke has a great talent in not only drawing the intense, and often bizarre, action sequences that Morrison calls for, but also allowing his characters to emote efficiently. The best examples in this issue is a scene near the end with the two monitors, Nix Uotan and Weeja Dell, as they live out their final moments, as well as the confrontation of Superman and Darkseid. Both scenes feature characters with completely different emotions that register on opposite ends of the spectrum, but each are drawn with precision and care. And hey, a Captain Carrot cameo never hurt anyone.

What we are given in Final Crisis #7 is so much more than a mere final chapter of an event comic. Morrison has given birth to the Fifth World, ushering in a whole new era of storytelling that will most certainly follow in Jack Kirby's footsteps. He has redefined what a blockbuster comic can do, both in it's own pacing as well as the books that tie into it. And although future readers may quabble with the strange art to and fro, there will be no denying that this is a superhero story for the ages; one that defines not only the DC Universe, but the essence of superhero comics in and of themselves. Though it does the job that any decent superhero book should do, which is lead its readers into the next story, Final Crisis #7 does it in a way that literally allows you to sense that it is truly only the beginning of a larger story, a story in which we are meant to see the fourth wall removed and realize that these characters are forever, that they are truly our society's mythology.

5.0 out of 5.