Did you feel like Martian Manhunter’s death in Final Crisis #1 didn’t get the attention it deserved? Are you even remotely a Martian Manhunter fan? Do you like to see a great hero fight against overwhelming odds? Do you like really pretty art? Final Crisis: Requiem is a book for people who answered yes to any of these.
FC:R begins, essentially, with Martian Manhunter’s capture, as he’s jammed with a few hundred pyro-tranquilizers designed special for this by Dr. Sivana. That right there sets up just how scared of the Manhunter the villains are – they treat him with the utmost respect, keeping him paralyzed for fear of his retaliation. If you wanted a lengthened scene of the fall of Martian Manhunter, you’d love this book.
Unfortunately, there are a few disconnects between this and the main narrative. First off, for al that people did complain about the suddenness of Martian Manhunter’s death, it was a rather pivotal theme-setting moment in the book. It set the idea that nothing was sacred. The Martian’s death wasn’t heroic – it was a brutal execution, and Morrison portrayed it like that for a reason. People whined about how disrespectful it was to the Martian Manhunter, completely missing or unwilling to accept the point: the villains WERE disrespecting the Manhunter, and they had the power to do it.
Another disconnect is more minor, and more subtle. In the first two books of Final Crisis, I don’t recall anyone saying the Batman was still Bruce. I don’t recall ever seeing Batman without his mask. Final Crisis takes place after RIP, and Morrison seemed to be playing a little cagey on just who Batman was. There’s nothing to suggest it ISN’T Bruce, but he keeps up that little bit of mystery intact for RIP fans – mystery that is ripped away by Requiem, which repeatedly says that Bruce is still Bruce, Alfred is still Alfred, Dick is still Dick, etc…. So, either there are some pretty big spoilers here, or DC’s editorial managed yet another massive cock-up – not that just such a mistake would be uncommon, given their recent track record on Countdown and DotNG.
The sense that the villains are powerful and, for the first time, have the ability to really hurt the heroes has been destroyed in this book, which seems designed to cash in on both the Manhunter fans and the Final Crisis fans. In the end, however, this book is mainly for the J’onn fans, and it’s a pretty good one for them, providing great art from Doug Mahnke, an interesting history of Mars and J’onn’s life there, and a plenty of references to J’onn’s past books. To fans of Final Crisis, it proves a startling disconnect from the ideas and themes of the main book, while adding nothing particularly consequential to them, at least at first glance, making it the worst kind of tie-in: it contributes nothing whatsoever to the main story. It’s still a pretty good story, but don’t read it just because you’re interested in Final Crisis. The meat of the story is in the main book – this is ultimately just fluff for the fans.