Review: Final Crisis: Submit – Spoilers!

Final Crisis Submit #1 (Cover A)

All the people who cried “I don’t understand Final Crisis” will be very happy this week. Not only did the main title get more straightforward, but Submit is very much like a summer blockbuster. It’s the action movie answer to the sci-fi Superman Beyond. Oh and before I forget, please read this before Final Crisis #4 (and yes it is very annoying that they came out in the same week).

I’m a big fan of this type of story. Few against many, people overcoming their fears/prejudices to deal with evil, all about the characters, it’s kind of like a George Romero zombie flick. Ooh there may even be some social commentary in here too! The stars here are Black Lightning and Tattooed Man. I know I know who cares? There’s a right way to write C-listers (52, also Morrison) and there’s a wrong way to write C-listers (current JLA, also Black Lightning. He is still on the team right?), this is definitely the former. You could read this issue without knowing (or caring about) the characters at all and you’ll still walk away with at least some respect for these guys.

Besides the awesome action and the cool characters, there are some intriguing ideas in here as well. I mean this is Morrison, so you pretty much know you’ll get more than just a blockbuster. Oh and speaking of the creative team, Matthew Clark does a great job providing the pretty pictures. I’m not very familiar with Clark’s work, but he handles both the action and the character moments extremely well. Although, there are a few times when he couldn’t quite keep up with Morrison’s script, but then who can?

One thing that was interesting was the way Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species was treated. It’s first spotted by Black Lightning as it is about to be used as fuel for a fire. “These are the treasures of our civilization” he says. Then, after he gets one of those anti-life helmets, he says “Garbage. What disagrees with Darkseid is heresy. Fire needs no teacher! Flame needs no introduction! Anti-life justifies my ignorance”. If you live in America (especially for the last eight years), this will definitely get you thinking. That’s the more obvious observation. The more subtle one is that all the heroes in here are black. I never read Milestone comics so for me this is pretty rare. Throughout this comic these black heroes are hounded (ha ha!) by men with dogs. I could go a little bit further with that but I’ve gotten political enough. Whether you think I’m reading too much into this or if I’m right, shouldn’t you at least appreciate that this comic gets me asking those questions? I believe that was intentional. Morrison wants you to think about these things. This is a thought provoking comic that also contains impressive action. How cool is that?

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-