Top Ten Best Comics of 2009


Better late than never, eh? This is my list for the top ten stories of 2009! Woo hoo! Now, before we get to all the fun of me voicing my opinions and you disagreeing with them, I have to get a few rules out of the way.

1. These are the top ten stories/arcs/whatever. Not comic in general, not trade, but best stories (What can I say, I’m trying to be somewhat unique).

2. These are stories that ended in 2009. They could begin at any time, but as long as they concluded in 2009, they’re eligible.

3. I tried to keep the list as diverse and reader-friendly as possible. I love certain writers, but it would be boring if it was three Morrison books, two Kirkman books, etc. So, a writer/artist will only appear once on the list. I tried to spread the love evenly. You will see Marvel, DC, and even indies on this list.

Wow, with all those rules, how did I come up with a great top ten? Well, I hope I did. Anyway, let’s begin the fun!

Continue reading

Top 5 Best Comics of August 2009!

And the Summer’s over! Really? That…went fast. I had fun, though. Hope you all did, too. Back to school, kiddies! I read 20 comics in August, and these were the best.


5. Invincible Iron Man #16

Matt Fraction’s writing is absolutely top-notch. Yes, this story will read better as a whole, but our connection to Tony, Pepper, and Maria is so strong, it hardly matters. The only thing that brings this issue, and the entire series, down, is Salvador Larroca’s Greg Land-esque art.

My Review

4. Ultimate Comics: Avengers #1

Speaking of Summer, you like those blockbusters that accompany the season, right? Well then, this is the comic for you! Just some awesome-kickass, supercool fun! Mark Millar gives it to ya, and Carlos Pacheco makes it look pretty. This opening salvo features a bombastic helicopter fight and a terrifying new villain.

My Review


3. Secret Six #12

Like my previous selection, this too is filled with action and good times, only with more twisted villainy. But this comic also has character and soul, and that counts for a lot. This is Jeannette’s issue to shine, and I think she blinded me. Carlos Pacheco’s beautiful interiors certainly contribute to UCA’s placement, but you know what? I’d put Nicola Scott up against Carlos Pacheco any day. Yeah, you read that right.

DC Lebeau’s Review


2. Batman and Robin #3

Holy hell, Batman! This series just gets better and better! The first and second issue topped my list in their respective months, and it’s only by some Marvel miracle that this one didn’t. Since I don’t have a proper review of this issue, I want to go over a few things:

Professor Pyg’s “sexy disco hot.” Who else had this song in their head?

Any guesses on who was watching Alfred? Could it be the same person who spied on Bruce & Jezebel all those issues ago?

Awhile ago, DC said, “Scarlet isn’t who you think she is.” That was a damn lie, and I’m pretty sure Red Hood is who you think he is too.

Seventh Soldier’s Review


1. Daredevil #500

A phenomenal conclusion to what turned out to be a great run. Brubaker did DD proud, and definitely cast away Bendis’ shadow. On top of that, you get a great short story and a reprint of possibly the best Daredevil comic ever! Yeah, I’m pretty sure that this isn’t just the best comic in August, it’s the best Marvel comic of the year.

My Review

For more comic goodness, go here.

Bruce Castle’s Mini-Reviews

I’m down, but not out!

Blackest Night #2

I was right there with Lebeau on the first issue, and you can find a bigger, better review of this issue from him. Johns definitely decreased the needless exposition this time around, but it’s not enough. This event is still moving at a dead snail’s pace. He spends too much time relishing in ghastly, deceased heroes terrorizing live ones. However, you can still find scenes to enjoy here, especially if you’re already fond of Johns’ particular brand of fun. Nightmarish sharks devouring Atlanteans here, a two-page, vertical splash of a resurrected Spectre there. The most impressive element of Blackest Night so far has been the images rendered by Ivan Reis. He’s officially a superstar.

Grade: C+

The Boys #33

Why is John McCrea drawing this? Shouldn’t he be drawing Herogasm? I’m not complaining. Carlos Ezquerra’s art has been sloppy the last few issues, and while McCrea is no Darick Robertson, his work here, and especially on Herogasm, is more than satisfying. Although, he’s still not the right artist for the job. This is a dark, violent arc of The Boys, and McCrea’s images are too cartoony. Ennis’ writing, however, is still top-notch. This issue was a blast. Watching Butcher systematically take down the Boys-filtered Avengers was very entertaining. The fact that this arc is so action-heavy makes it all the more upsetting that Robertson is absent.

Grade: B-

Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #5

It’s nice to have Hellboy back. The reason for the delay was Duncan Fegredo’s, and the wait paid off. I re-read the previous four installments before this one, and Fegredo’s work is simply stunning. The Wild Hunt has featured a fight in just about every issue. It makes each chapter stand on its own as an episodic action series. Fegredo draws the hell out of the battle scenes, while Mignola crafts a menacing threat for Hellboy in the background.

Grade: B+

Ultimate Comics: Avengers #1

Off the heels of the biggest event in the Ultimate Universe’s history, at the start of a brand new status quo, is this issue exposition-heavy? @*&# NO!!! In true, Millar style, he kicks this series off in summer blockbuster fashion, featuring an extended fight scene, and a last-page shock to punch you in the face! As I mentioned with The Boys, if a comic is action-heavy, you have to provide pretty pictures. Well, Carlos Pacheco, in his glorious return to Marvel interiors, is just the man to provide such pictures. He handles all of the action, including some tricky helicopter scenes, with professional ease. Looking for pure, pop bliss? You got it!

Grade: A-

The Walking Dead #64

Dale’s situation provides a wickedly funny beginning. Then we get a typical and sentimental revelation from Dale’s lover, Andrea. I say typical because we’ve seen a lot of it in The Walking Dead, but it is a natural reaction to grief, and we’ve sure seen plenty of that in this series. The rest of the issue is mostly spent planting seeds for future events that culminate in a tremendously badass moment for Rick. Another enjoyable issue, for sure, but this is mid-arc. So, it does suffer from the necessary plot-building.

Grade: B

Uncanny X-Men #514

We’re two issues away from this crossover’s conclusion, and I don’t think it’s the event anyone was really expecting. This isn’t mindless Dark Avenger-on-X-Men action. No, with Matt Fraction at the helm, we’re getting a highly developed and well thought-out story that presents realistic situations for these characters to deal with. The downside to all that is that we’ve had more set-up than payoff, but with an oversized, Mike Deodato-drawn conclusion in the near future, I’m sure we’ll get the carnage that we crave soon enough.

Grade: B

For more comic goodness, go here.

Review: Final Crisis #6 – Spoilers!

Large Cover of Final Crisis #6 of 7


I’m exhausted. My brain is mush. Yet I must press on because I love this book so much. It’s killing me.

Page 1: Why are Superman and Brainiac 5 here? Last time we saw Supes he was trapped in Limbo and Brainiac 5 was…well, the last Legion of 3 Worlds came out months ago. Who can remember? So, I guess this takes place after those two books?

Pages 2-3: Superman is “fading”. Probably because of that “time breaks down” nonsense Brainy was talking about. You’ll find a lot of techno-babble in this issue. I like Renee Montoya’s line later, “Enough of this sensory %$%@$ overload”. Anyway, Brainiac introduces the Miracle Machine. You like awesome technology right? Hmm, you can only think positive thoughts, who can do that better than the “Big Blue Boy Scout”?

Pages 4-5: Look out! Here come the baddies! Tattooed Man is an honorary JLA member? They’re really going for the old “Anyone can join the Justice League” maxim. I wonder how long any of this will last. Oh wait, it’s Morrison. All his continuity gets washed away once he’s gone.

Pages 6-7: Catfight! The Supergirl vs. Desaad Marvel fight continues! Beautiful action and good banter, let’s move on.

Pages 8-9: Hopefully Black Adam fans can calm down now. Yes he got hit hard last issue, but his power is fading and Desaad Marvel is very powerful. Oh and Mary is Desaad, it’s official.

Pages 10-11: The Tawky Tawny vs. Tigerbak fight continues! Desaad uses innocent people to attack Supergirl. That bastard! He’s so evil!

Pages 12-13: Whoa! Tawny guts Kalibak! Freddie and Mary go back to kids thanks to magic. Darkseid can’t control everything! Mary says, “I can never say it again”. Again, how long will this last?

Pages 14-15: Tawny gets respect! It’s the moment you never knew you wanted to see! Shilo explains more about that face paint. Mr. Terrific mentions “Black Gambit”. Will those OMACs ever come? Uh, if you’re not familiar with that reference, it’s just more evidence that the tie-ins have meant nothing. Unless of course reality is just really messed up. Hey, that’s a good excuse.

Pages 16-17: Ooh! A pretty New Furies splash! But that is nothing compared to that Super Young Team dialog. “Most of our powers are cosmetic!” and “I have the greatest power of all, Mister Miracle. I am so rich I can do anything” are pure genius. But there’s also the young love! So much awesome, I would be very happy with a Morrison Super Young Team mini.

Pages 18-19: Hero against hero, the soul mate and the person that showed a villain the light. This comic has everything! I’m still curious about Tattooed Man’s new tattoo.

Page 20: The Atoms together, more great stuff. “And here, our mystics attempt to contact the Spectre in the afterworlds”, but isn’t the Spectre Vandal “Cain” Savage’s slave?And Renee Montoya is in New York or something but she’s here too and…

Page 21: This is that “sensory overload” Montoya line I was talking about. Lord Eye, this is the whole Black Gambit business? Hmm it sounds like they’re preparing another Earth in case this one dies. I hope thatdoesn’t backfire.

Pages 22-23: I love that advertisement! You know, the one for the issue I’m reading. Way to go DC! Whoa! Calculator gets lynched! The villains unite to say “Fuck you aliens!” which is totally Luthor. Libra “dies”, but even Sivana says, “And that’s a classic “We haven’t heard the last of him!” if I ever saw one”. So, Libra will be back?

Pages 24-25: Did you forget about the Flash family? Will they stop Darkseid (If he hasn’t been stopped by the end of this issue)? Will Barry outrun the Black Racer (Barry has a new mini coming up so I’d guess yes)?

Pages 26-27: Batman pops up like a daisy! Ok, let’s just consider Batman #682-683 part of this issue. That’s where he broke free and got that nifty gun. Oh, so Darkseid shot Orion. Of course! Ah, but Orion caused Darkseid’s fall. “Wounded you beyond repair”, it sounds like it, right? Batman has the time bullet with him? That’s so Batman, but he wouldn’t use a gun would he? Hey that bullet looks familiar. Remember that weird thing from the last page of Final Crisis #2? I wasn’t sure what it was, but it was the time bullet. Anyway, Batman shoots Darkseid! Yay! Batman will be ok, right? He won’t get vaporized by Omega Beams like he was in JLA: Rock of Ages will he?

Pages 28-29: NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Batman!!!! They took my buddy away, damn it! At least he got a two-page death that looks great (In a book with more artists than Batman: Black & White). I’ll talk more about this “death” later.

Pages 30-31: Is that Lois in the upper-left panel? Again, what’s up with that? The Hawkman/Hawkgirl scene may seem a bit random, but it continues the rebirth theme. I’ll talk more about that later. The GLs aren’t here yet. Metron is still around. Nix Uotan’s new look “inaugurates the Fifth World”. “These new humans face a greater menace than Darkseid if they breach the Bleed Wall.” Ah crap, that’s what this whole Black Gambit stuff is doing isn’t it? I knew it would backfire! Oh well, bring on Mandrakk (The Evil Monitor from Superman Beyond)!

Pages 32-33: Superman is blowing stuff up. Because of Batman I would guess. I wonder what he wished for. A lifetime supply of Popeyes Chicken? Or maybe it was to get back from wherever he was (The future?) and perhaps Lois’ good health as well.

Page 34: Ah, this image (From Doug Mahnke I believe. His name isn’t on the cover even though two inkers are) brings the Crisis trilogy full circle. Superman likes to hold cadavers.

And now for some more words. I want to talk about Batman’s death. I’m going to avoid the whole “This isn’t Morrison’s vision” and “Fuck Dan DiDio” stuff. I’ve covered that in my other Final Crisis reviews (You can read those, issue two, three, four, and five).

Again, I’m really tired so this won’t be as long as I planned (Which is good for you). Supposedly, Morrison’s original idea for this series was for the Magnificent Seven to all die and become New Gods. Do you remember those “Heroes Die, But Legends Live Forever” posters? Well that was the idea. Get the old guard out of the way (But still in the DCU) and make way for the kids. That idea was immediately shot down with the classic “Not the big three!” answer. Anyway the point is resurrection was on Morrison’s mind. Do you remember Superman’s Martian Manhunter eulogy in Final Crisis #2 and that hilarious “And pray for a resurrection” line? Well, Morrison talked about it on Newsarama (See it here) and said “This line foreshadows a major theme which will be played out as this series progresses”. He goes on to say “Now that I think about it, the whole story revolves around Superman’s (Pray for a resurrection) line”. So this may have been Morrison’s actual plan. We all know Batman will be back. Morrison certainly knows that as well. In fact, I believe his recent Batman run was all about how cool Bruce is and that no one could ever replace him. Heck, Batman could even be back in Final Crisis #7, but I doubt it. DiDio want his money. So we’ll go through all the Battle for the Cowl nonsense and filler crap. I just hope Final Crisis isn’t too compromised and that Grant (And maybe even Frank freaking Quitely) will be back on Batman soon.

Just for the hell of it, here’s what Grant Morrison thinks about this issue. Enjoy!

Final Crisis #5

I just want to apologize real quick for my lack of appearance in the last couple weeks.  I have a backlog of reviews that will be coming up in the next couple weeks, but I had to concentrate on finishing up my first semester of grad work.  Still, Internet access fixed and semester over, I will now be returning to my actual reviews


Final Crisis #5: Into Oblivion

Keeping things relatively spoiler free – I have Bruce and Billy to give you the skinny on everything what’s gone down – I have to say that this was another action packed issue of Final Crisis… but the question with Final Crisis has never been ‘does anything happen’, but ‘how does it happen?’  The first issue, while exciting, introduced a great deal in a series of relatively choppy segments with brief, sometimes ill-handled transitions, and as much as I’ve loved the series since, it’s spent the entire time playing catch-up to the 40 different plots introduced in #1.

While we’re still playing catch-up, the series has definitely leveled out, finally, into a well-written apocalyptic story with a palpable sense of dread and some pretty killer action… and a few answers to long-standing questions.  In a comics industry that has trained us to follow these events like dogs chasing cars, knowing that nothing will really change beyond a new series or two – and a few cancellations – Final Crisis has at least moments of genuine peril, wonder, and excitement.  That sounds like the beginning of a rant, and after the ‘end’ of Secret Invasion, believe you me there’s a rant brewin’ on the nature of our (still beloved) event-driven industry… but it might be a smidge inappropriate to throw in here.

Final Crisis #5 was, though, a well-written issue setting up a promising finale.  While the series has failed to live up to the highest standards of event comics, set by projects like 52, two issues remain in which Morrison still has a chance to bring the series to a resounding close.

Grade: B+

Review: Final Crisis #5 – Spoilers!

Final Crisis #5 (of 7) (Cover B)


Pages 1-3: Even Granny Goodness knows about Parallax? Hal can’t catch a break! Remember that scar on Hal’s head that you first saw in Final Crisis #1? Well that’s explained here. Granny goes after the power battery! Good God these guys have a good plan. Take out the best heroes. Check. Enslave most of the planet. Check. Take control of the most powerful weapon in the universe.

Pages 4-6: Thankfully, not check. Hal punches Granny in the face! That was a fun sentence to write. Wow! Granny hurts a Guardian. Way to give the Alpha Lanterns too much power guys. Stupid Smurfs! We also know for sure that Darkseid’s fall, actually seen in DC Universe #0 I believe, is as Guy Gardner says, “dragging all our friends into hell with him”. Remember in issue #3 when the fast food Monitor was talking about the increased gravity? Think of Darkseid’s fall like a black hole. Everything is getting pulled in. Oh and this was a nice Hal moment. “You have 24 hours to save the universe, lantern Jordan”. I’ll stay away from the Jack Bauer joke, but I like that Grant is making the Lanterns play an important role here. And why shouldn’t they? Green Lanterns rule! Sure it’s mostly about Hal, but hey he was the one wrongly accused and had something put in his brain. And Kyle fans should be happy because he’s there too and so is Guy. What about Stewart?

Page 7: Ah, government super-soldiers, you have to love them. Hey it makes sense that Checkmate would have these. I wonder what role Montoya will play.

Pages 8-9: Ok, so the Plague Goddess, Wonder Woman, and the new Furies, Catwoman, Batwoman, and Gigantrix are set up in the present. Darkseid’s servants talk about their worth, but it doesn’t matter. This is all about Darkseid.

Pages 10-13: We see the struggling heroes. A lot of JSA, Tempest, and the Bulleteer! Oh and Donna Troy is a Dark Zombie, too bad. More Super Young Team, yay! “How will you explain yourselves to this man’s fans?” Ha Ha! So the new hip definition of a Motherboxxx is “If Gods made I-Pods that were alive?” Way beyond that”.  The Swiss border just got further away? Explain it Mr. Miracle. “A fallen Devil-God is dragging us down with him into a deep, dark hole in time, with no light, no hope and no escape”. So Grant has explained it a few times now. No confusion, right?

Pages 14-17: King Kalibak and his Tiger-Clan! The animal theme continues! Why shouldn’t big events affect the animals? We also get two pages of pretty splash. Four motorcycles? Why not? As we learned from Mad Max, it’s the best vehicle for the apocalypse. Who’s in here? More JSA (Makes sense. They’ve been around the longest. They’re the cockroaches of the DCU), Black Adam, John Stewart (No not from the Daily Show, the GL. See, all the Green Lanterns are getting some love) and Frankenstein baby!

Page 18-19: The different languages theme continues! Again, I love it! Why should big events just affect Americans? Frankenstein quotes Paradise Lost? That’s cool. I know Morrison thinks of Darkseid as part Milton’s Satan. Supergirl vs. Mary S&M? Not yet, first Black Adam has to beat her ass!

Pages 20-21: “I saw a leering old man in her eyes!” Who do you think is in Mary Marvel? Is this Desaad? I wonder what her “blasphemous name of power” is. Damn, she hits Freddie and Black Adam pretty hard. Oh and Kalibak beating Tawky Tawny? I called it.

Pages 22-24: We check up on our lost Monitor. There’s a harry figure, that is pretty much revealed to be Weeja Dell, the lost Monitor’s girl. And the other mysterious figure is Metron. Think about it. Weeja shows the chair drawing. This guy is wearing blue and glued to his chair. When was the last time you saw Metron out of his chair? He also cracks the “God number” of the Rubik Cube that makes things go blue explodey.

Page 25: This is an interesting Luthor moment. Siding with aliens trying to enslave the human race? That’s what you fight against Luthor! Fight back! Libra, haven’t seen much of him lately, says something unsettling as well, “I might even let you be first in line with Supergirl”. Raping Supergirl? Is that a thought that has crossed Luthor’s mind? This is a dark crazy world.

Page 26: Jordan’s ring isn’t working right? Everything is going wrong. Darkseid’s loyal servants are dying. “All flesh will be Darkseid’s body.”Whoa!

Page 27-28: “It’s like a brain sending signals to a gigantic nervous system”, whoa again! “Dropp’d from the zenith like a falling star”, more Paradise Lost. Supergirl and Mary fight in one panel. Maybe we’ll get more next issue? The Green Lanterns are coming thank God.

Pages 29-31: Ok, did anyone else read Darkseid’s words here out loud? I hope so. This is some crazy stuff! I’m one of the guys who think Darkseid can give Luthor a run for his money in the “Best Superman Villain” category, but even I can’t think of a time when Darkseid has seemed this startling. When has he been scarier? When has he seemed this powerful? “The Fifth World of Darkseid has begun!”

Page 32: The lost Monitor is the Metron of the Fifth World. “Something new is born.” He doesn’t have a chair, but has that blue thingy around his head instead. Well, the guy is a dreamer so it makes sense that he’s more visual.

Desiato Reviews Some Final Crisis Books

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.

Review: Final Crisis #4 – Spoilers!


I love this book so much and it’s hell that I have to wait so damn long to get it. Which is what I’m going to talk about before I get to the review. I’m sure most of you know about this, but I just have to talk about J.G. Jones. I’m a fan of his work. He’s an expert at larger than life cinematic art. His work on the first three issues of Final Crisis was phenomenal. Then the delays came. It’s been about three months since the last issue. He even had Carlos Pacheco helping out, who sadly did a lot more panels in here than I thought. It’s not that I dislike Mr. Pacheco, it’s just that because I love Jones’ art and because I love this book, I’d like it if Jones could finish what he started. And then the bomb dropped. Both Pacheco and Jones are absent on Final Crisis #7. The Superman Beyond team (Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy) will provide the art instead. Though I like Mahnke, this really did make me a sad panda. Oh well, at least Mahnke is a good replacement. And hey, Superman Beyond #2 comes out right before FC #7. So the art should fit well together. Anyway, I just had to address the artistic situation. Without further ado, I now present Bruce Castle’s Final Crisis #4 Super Awesome Analysis 2000!

Pages 1-2: Anti-Life spreads! This also continues the technology theme in Final Crisis.

Pages 3-4: We get to see what happened to Tattooed Man after Final Crisis: Submit. We’re also introduced to Ray and he talks about how he positively uses mirrors. The negative usage of mirrors was seen in Final Crisis #1.

Pages 5-7: Besides the beautiful 2 page spread, we also get to see how DC’s lesser known heroes are dealing with the crisis. We even get to see the kid heroes! This is so cool! Too often we just see how the big guys deal with things. Why do we have to focus on the C-listers? Because all the major players have been taken out of the game which totally makes sense!

Pages 8-9: More things are explained. Glorious Godfrey talking about how “My night-missionaries spread the gospel of Anti-Life to every living soul!” Is this Morrison commenting on religion? That’s a safe bet especially after Final Crisis: Submit. Oh, and Kalibak has a Green Lantern arm in his mouth and it appears to belong to the GL (Opto) who turned against John Stewart (Final Crisis #2-Smilin’ Bruce). Wow! First they make the guy betray his bud and then they bite his arm off? How evil!

Pages 10-11: “How can I fight if there’s nothing to fight for?” I haven’t mentioned it yet, but Turpin’s narrative is so creepy in this issue. It’s a brilliantly used element that gives such a sense of dread. It’s also Turpin’s descent into Darkseid which is quite intriguing. “Well, I’ll be a mindless slave of the corporate machine…” Not only is it nice to have some humor in here, but you’ll also notice how well Green Arrow is written in this issue. I know it’s not hard, but this puts Winick to shame.

Pages 12-13: We get to see the heroes keeping track of each other. If someone is unavailable, there will be an X over their face and their status, M.I.A., injured, offworld, etc. The most interesting one of course is the “corrupted” under Uncle Sam.

Pages 14-15: Again we see the extent of the crisis. Warmaker One and the Great Ten, this really is Morrison’s greatest hits. Black Adam (who doesn’t like him?), while sitting on his “throne of skulls” says “We’re at our weakest. Outnumbered, doomed. Hmh! Sounds like my kind of battle.” Final Crisis is epic!

Page 16: Tattooed Man gets some much needed markings on his skin. This is the “circuit” from Final Crisis: Submit (I feel so bad for the people that read FC before Submit. Boo DC!). TM’s markings and color look very similar to Metron’s don’t you think?

Pages 17-19: The new Furies (Ha! Gigantrix)! Barry and Wally hug (awww). The speedsters take down Gigantrix like Luke against an AT-AT!

Pages 20-24: How can you not love this? “Black Canary: Don’t do this. I can’t lose you. Green Arrow: I worked out the angles. They won’t get me–I’ll use the Anti-Anti-Life arrow. Pretty bird. Black Canary: Ollie. My beautiful Robin Hood.” I love Green Arrow! I love Black Canary! I love heroic sacrifice!

Pages 25-26: “I tried to show them what humanity’s made of. But wrestling with Darkseid, well… It’s like trying to beat the ocean unconscious.” Again with that Turpin narrative, it’s so dark! We won’t survive! “To die on the job is to die for Darkseid! Increase production! Work! Consume! Die! Judge others! Condemn the different! Exploit the weak. Anti-Life makes it right.” Surely there’s no message in that right?

Page 27: Barry saves Iris! Another emotional moment! “The speedsters are the keys to this crisis as they have been to all others!” Libra (Hey! He’s not in this issue is he? I wonder why?) said that in Rogue’s Revenge #2 and it looks like he might be right.

Pages 28-29: “Incoming from nowhere!” Who is it? It’s Mister Miracle (Shilo Norman), Sonny Sumo and the Super Young Team! Did you notice those markings on their faces? It’s the same design that Anthro had in Final Crisis #1. I believe this is protection from Anti-Life and maybe more. After all, that’s the same scene when Kamandi talked about “a weapon against the Gods”. Oh no! Shilo gets shot! Is S.H.A.D.E. corrupt too?!

Page 30: “Thumbs up for the triumph of the human spirit! Or thumbs down to summon a day of holocaust that will never end!” What does Turpin choose? THUMBS DOWN!!! Nooo!!!

So there you go. If you had half as much fun reading it as I had writing it we’ll be all good. Final Crisis #4 was definitely more straightforward than the previous issues. “This issue is filled with tons of exposition, so much in fact that anyone still complaining that they don’t understand what’s going on with FC is either illiterate or mentally deficient. No jokes. If you’re dying to know shit, this is the issue for you.” I guess I agree with Billy (I suddenly feel so dirty). I’ll be happy if this is the issue that helps people love Final Crisis, but I do miss the fun of piecing things together. There’s still a little of that, but not nearly as much. Anyway, I believe I’ve written enough (See! This is what happens when Final Crisis is delayed!). As always, please comment! Am I awesome? Am I stupid? Am I insane?! Did I miss something? Please let me know. Thanks for reading!

Review: Final Crisis #4 & Final Crisis: Submit

Final Crisis: Submit

Post-apocalyptic fiction. The Last Stand. Do you like stories were one or two heroes struggle silently against an overpowering force to defend a single small town, small family, even a single person? If you do, you’ll love Submit, a Morrison-penned tie-in to Final Crisis in which Black Lightning teams up with the Tattooed Man to try and haul Tattooed Man’s family to safety before the Justifier shock-troops of Darkseid track them down and infect them with Anti-Life.

There’s some good action, and this is an excellent example of how to make a reader care about B-D list characters in a single issue. The trials of Black Lightning and Tattooed Man as they try and protect this single family from the hordes of Justifiers is touching, and the end has made me hope to see more from both characters in the near future.

There is some blatantly obvious religious commentary in the issue – I’d say, if you’re of the hardcore religious right and are particularly sensitive, you may not enjoy the issue (though I don’t know how many of the hardcore religious right are reading Final Crisis in the first place), but it is nonetheless a solid action comic, a single bad day, a demonstration of how harrowing it might be to live in a world ruled by Darkseid…and the decisions and sacrifices that go part and parcel in with being a hero.

Grade: B+

Final Crisis #4

Final Crisis has had an excessively long wait thanks to the apparently epic slowness of artist JG Jones, and while the decision to use Jones will doubtless read well in trade, it’s undeniably frustrating fight now. That said, there are a panels right now that definitely showcase Jones’ particular talents, towards the end of the book in particular, and I don’t know another mainstream comic artist so capable of imbuing such a sense of menace or dread into super-heroic art.

Morrison knows how to use his art team quite well, and this issue is definitely a turning point in Final Crisis. Darkseid has won, and everyone knows it. True to the spirit of super-hero comics, the heroes won’t give up, but as every page passes, the dread increases both for us and for them.

As a mainstream event, it’s doubtless too dark, too ‘unheroic’ for the Big Event genre, not to mention the fact that it follows mostly B-D list characters (and I love them for it), showing that the end of the world effects everyone equally..and everyone fights this equally as well. Turpin’s running narration of the issue is a chilling example of the cold, hard fact that sometimes it takes more than fighting the good fight to win – and that theme, that sense of alienation, runs throughout the entire issue, making this one of the strongest issues of the series thus far.

Final Crisis is a dark epic of cruelty, of tyranny, as universal mathematics. This issue demonstrates that to chilling effect, making all of the tried-and-true formulas of super-hero comics strip us slowly of the very hope they once inspired.

Grade: A-

Spoiler Review: Final Crisis #4

Darkseid IS here and he’s taken over the world. How did he do it? He hijacked our technology and used it against us, of course. Oh, and apparently Oracle DID kill the internet… so, yes, I owe an apology to all those that cried “lame” last issue. Sorry.

Gosh, Final Crisis just feels so EPIC. I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: when reading FC, you really do get the sense that the heroes can and will lose. I know, I know… they won’t, but damn it, Morrison makes me believe they could!

Quick aside: Maybe it’s cheesy, but I love when they do this. It’s so 80’s! Loves it!

This issue is filled with tons of exposition, so much in fact that anyone still complaining that they don’t understand what’s going on with FC is either illiterate or mentally deficient. No jokes. If you’re dying to know shit, this is the issue for you. Moving on…

As in this week’s Secret Invasion, my favorite moment involved a man and his bow. I don’t think Ollie’s been written this well since the Silver Age. But alas, unlike Clint, Ollie falls to Earth’s invaders.

Beside the aside: This page was magnificently played. Please have all this attention mean that Black Canary will finally be getting the respect she deserves? Please?

The series of scenes between the battles featuring Alan Scott were also some of the best in the book. You can really feel the sense of dread and hopelessness in the general’s voice.

• Dear God…
• My green flame is waning…
• …the end of everything…

But, within all this hopelessness and despair there must be SOMETHING for us to cling to, yes?

• Barry reunites with Iris.
Miracleman arrives to save the world…

…and gets one in the chest. SNAP.

…and Darkseid “incarnates”. DOUBLE SNAP.