Final Crisis #4 (***1/2)
Best issue of the series to this point. Looks like most of the blatant silliness of the plot was setup, and we’ve now reached the meat of the story. Thus, I can sit back and really let the sense of dread wash over. It’s a more straightforward story that is now relying more on plot pieces from earlier issues than plot pieces from ealier generally unrelated comics. Now, something like utilizing The Ray for a good chunk of the book without any real discussion of who he is and why he should be important doesn’t really work for me, mostly because I don’t really have any initiative to dig deeper into the character. It didn’t take away from things as much this time around. But I really want to talk about DC and their attempts to publish this book. DC COMPLETELY dropped the ball on this series. We saw no issue in July, and no issue in September. There was a twelve week hap between issues three and four. Ostensibly, this was designed to allow for the tie ins to take cetner stage. But they couldn’t even do that right, with a book like Final Crisis: Submit, that is blatantly designed to bridge the third and fourth issues, being unable to come out in that twelve week gap. Putting those two books on the stands on the same day completely ruing the point of the skip month. Things came out in bunches, and DC didn’t try particularly hard to push these tie ins, which made it very easy to disconnect for folks (like me) that aren’t heavily entrenched in the series. Of course, the real reason for the skip month was to give JG Jones enough lead time to finish the series. And we all know by now that he won’t even have ANY work in the seventh issue. So if we believe what Morrison says about when he finished the script for issue one, JG had more than a year to work on this, and managed to get a total of three issues done on his own. Plus, issue five is being pushed back a week to the beginning of December. The funny thing about all of this is that I actually prefer the Jones/Pacheco team. I still don’t like the way Jones draws faces, so the Pacheco were way more enjoyable. Jones still does the big splash moments very well, but I’d rather have Pacheco than a rushed Jones doing the quieter moments. Final word: nothing in here particularly bothered me. The Darkseid stuff was good. The art was improved. It didn’t wow me completely, and I still don’t think it’s high art, but at least it’s gotten better.
Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns (****1/2)
See, this is the Geoff Johns that I like. Haven’t seen him in a while, but he’s back now. It’s also nice to know that this book proves I didn’t have to read the rest of Secret Origin, because the big characters are explained in a way that does not require prior knowledge (outside of things garnered from the series itself), and as someone that only read the first three issues of Secret Origin, I didn’t miss a thing. This is something I don’t get often from a Johns book. This issue really is what I love about Green Lantern. As others have mentioned, this book itself is very reminiscent of the Sinestro Corps War Special one shot, and even though I still contend that Secret Origin was a waste of seven months, but at least Johns is back on track. The Red Lanterns are certainly an over the top bunch of folks, what with the anger and the fire and the puking blood and such, but it fits with their MO. Shane Davis sure does make them come alive, and the fact that all the artists are working from Ethan Van Sciver’s original character designs leads to a nice sense of continuity. But beyond all the Red Lantern hysteria, you’ve got a second mini story following Hal Jordan. This is the first time we’ve seen Johns writing Hal in the present in a long time, but quite a bit has gone on in the Green Lantern Corps book during that time, so there’s a bit of a disconnect, but it’s not enough of one to ruin things. Doesn’t really have much of anything to do with Final Crisis other than time line constraints. Hal’s going to have to get back to Earth pretty soon so he can get framed and arrested. That little bit does strain on the credulity. But other than that, good stuff.