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!

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Top 10 Artists Of The 00’s!

In such a great decade for comics, you always hear an awful lot of praise for the writers.  When you hear people talk about Watchmen, a great deal of attention is paid to Alan Moore; when you hear people talk about Wanted, lovers and haters all talk about Mark Millar.  But a comic book is primarily a visual medium, and a talented artist can make a so-so book better, a good book great… or a great book only average.  Witness the art problems that plagued, for example, Grant Morrison’s ground-breaking run on New X-Men.

But this decade had its fair number of stars, art-wise, artists whose style and intensity nearly defined the titles they worked on.  These are our picks for the Top 10 interior artists of the 2000’s.

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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!

Review: Final Crisis: Secret Files #1

Final Crisis Secret Files #1 (Cover B)


I love Final Crisis, but this issue demonstrates my biggest problem with the whole thing. Well, it’s more of a fear. What if this isn’t Morrison’s vision? I don’t want to go too much into it so I’ll just focus on this issue. Check out the solicitation. Grant Morrison didn’t write this issue. Peter J. Tomasi didn’t write this issue. Frank Quitely, other than the cover, did not draw this issue. Instead, we get a mediocre Libra tale that’s mostly been told before. It’s from Len Wein and Tony Shasteen and it should have come out after Final Crisis #2. The big kick in the pants? SPOILER Libra is just Libra END SPOILER. So, that’s a bumber. Anyway, this is important stuff people. It gives some Libra back-story. Len Wein provides a decent story and Shasteen’s art is…frankly, pretty ugly. But the last six pages are pure gold. We get some more Crime Bible from Mr. Rucka himself. This is about all that Revelations nonsense. Then we get a page from Morrison that explains in detail about the Anti-Life Equation. If I had a dollar for everyone who asked me about the Anti-Life Equation I’d be…well, not rich, but I’d have about thirteen dollars! See what I mean about the “this should have come out a long time ago” thing? We then get four pages from Morrison and JG Jones that explain all those Nix Uotan drawings. I hope we get to see more of these creations. Morrison has invented elaborate histories like he’s J. R. R. Tolkien. Again, Superman Beyond #2, Final Crisis #6 and 7 should blow some damn minds. This, not so much, but it’s still worth your time and money.

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.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #46 – DC Events: Batman R.I.P. & Final Crisis!

So, my laptop died yesterday. I only mention this because for the immediate future, there will not be scans to accompany my reviews. You see, my scanner doesn’t work with XP 64 or Vista, and seeing as how I just spent 800 bucks on a new laptop (w/Vista), it may be a few weeks ‘til I can grab an affordably price compliant scanner. Oh, I also need a new printer, but that isn’t really relevant to you guys. Anyway, on with the scan-less reviews.

Batman #679 (****)

Finally! An issue of RIP I can understand! I’m so late on this, and everyone else has said everything worth saying, I’ll keep this short. The Batman of Zur-en-arrh is OUTSTANDING FUN! Dude, he cuts out his own tooth!?! Converses with imaginary gargoyles and Bat-Mites!?! Beats the living crap out of everybody!?! And next, The Joker!?! OMG!!! I approve.

Detective Comics #847 (****)

This issue, Dini continues with the telling (or is that re-telling?) of the “Origin of Hush”. So far, I like it. I like it better than the rushed garbage that was the introductory Jeph Loeb story (even if it was 12 issues of Jim Lee). But, I don’t like how civil Selina and Zatanna were. I was definitely looking forward to that fight. How do you guys feel about the Scarecrow retcon? Is this cool? I’m on the fence. I need more input. But, so far, like the rest of his run, I’m enjoying this arc.

Robin #176 (****)

Whoa, is this better than the first issue? Hell yes! My favorite stuff, and the RIP junk is nice but I really don’t care about it so much in a book starring Robin, anyway, the best stuff about Fabian’s run so far is that, unlike Dixon, he’s got Tim acting exactly as you’d expect a teenager to act in response to the return of a presumed dead girlfriend. RIGHT!?! He finally admits that he’s pissed at her. Screw Batman RIP, this is what I want from my Robin. Robin’s inability or refusal to act like a real person was one of my biggest complaints about the Dixon stuff, and I’m glad Batman editorial or Fabian or both have decided to do something about it. Well done, sirs.

Nightwing #147 (***)

Um, how does this tie-in to Batman RIP? And where the hell has Two-Face been since One Year Later? Please, explain. Aaaaand, I still hate the way Tomasi writes Dick, er, Richard. Whatever. Maybe Tomasi can only write villains? His black Adam was crazy scary as was his Mongul, and the villains in the “Manhunter Memorial” tie-in were spot on, but his Green Lanterns SUCK, his Justice League SUCKS and his Richard Grayson SUCKS. DC, give this man a villain book!

Final Crisis: Revelations #1 (****)

This was very nice. Spectre killing bad guys? FINALLY! Anyone else grossed out by the way Spectre deals with Effigy and Dr. Light? Oh, since they’re dead, does that mean they’ll both show up in Reign in Hell? That would be cool. What else was cool, how about more infos on Libra? SWEET! Who is this guy? Seriously! The revelation is gonna be sick, I tell you. Oh, is that what the title is referring to? Mayhaps. Question was in here as well, and that stuff was nice, but I’m still not sold on her character. It’s well written, but I just don’t care about Montoya. Since this is a tie-in mini that Grant specifically asked Rucka to write for him, I’m reasonably sure that by the end, we’ll come to view this series as fundamentally essential to the Final Crisis epic. It’s definitely been the best of the tie-ins so far, although I have yet to read Legion…

Final Crisis: Director’s Cut #1 (****1/2)

Why buy this? A number of reasons, actually. 1) The black and white J.G. Jones pencils are A-M-Z-I-N-G. Just, WOW. Without the color and the word balloons, his skill really shows through. And if you had any questions about what was going on, these uncluttered pages answer them. I would definitely buy a hardcover like this. Seriously. It’s like the Ultimate DVD Special Edition. 2) Full Morrison Script. And, um, CRAP this is hard to read. I feel sorry for Jones. Seriously, this stuff is insane with the heavy. The description of the “Orrery of Worlds” is migraine-inducing. 3) By far, the best reason to buy this is the interview with Morrison and Jones in the back. The comments are revealing to say the least. Morrison and Jones explain scene and dialogue choices, metaphors, motivations, as well as hints of things to come. Usually, these Director’s Cuts are a lame attempt to grab more cash, but in this case, if you’re trying to decipher the mystery that is Final Crisis, this is a must-buy. For real though, this is by no means necessary reading. BUT, if you are already enjoying this series, this is definitely worth checking out. Or, wait for the hardcover/omnibus/abosulte edition. I’m sure it’ll be reprinted in there.

Final Crisis #3

I have identified the problem I have that goes to the very core of Final Crisis. This is a book that cuts itself off at the knees. For the past two issues, it has had a wildly inconsistent tone. Whenever I read something interesting in the book,  it is invariably followed by a moment that is either blatantly self serving (Frankenstein cameo), juvenile to the point of being silly (Source Wall as a mouse cursor, Anti Life spreading via email), or needlessly esoteric as a masquerade for depth (time traveling “God bullet”). And every time something like that comes along, it immediately rips me out of the book. It’s undercutting itself. I have trouble focusing on the story and suspending disbelief when half of these ideas come off as childish fan fiction. No matter what sense of dread can be instilled by Morrison and Jones, I can’t keep that going in my head when Oracle and Mr. Terrific are trying to basically turn off the internet. It’s ludicrous. The rest of the book could be great (and at times it is), but these moments stick out so badly that they’re impossible to ignore. These are major plot points that serve as the foundation for an event that is rotting from the inside.

It’s not a two way street. The Final Crisis fans laud this series as the type of book that requires multiple readings to really get everything out of it. That doesn’t work for me, because all it does is point out the flaws of storytelling more and more each time I read it. All I can see are these paper thin scene constructions that are just thinly veiled ways for Morrison to promote his Seven Soldiers books. It just feels fake. And it really does just read like bad writing. I don’t think it’s necessarily a good thing for a writer’s agenda to be so strong in a book like this. It hurts itself. Once again, it undercuts itself. So why should I care? I’m going to keep reading this book because I’m already on the hook through issue five, and it’s certainly possible that Morrison’s going to draw it all together (we’d better see more of Frankenstein or it’s going to be pretty damned silly that he got three pages of this issue), but it’s going to take a lot of legwork for him to make me buy into this. I can’t turn off my brain and ignore the flaws if I’m supposed to read this so intently to pick up on the little details that are really nothing more than references to other characters that (at least to this point) have no basis on any part of the story. I can’t talk about what’s coming up. I can only talk about what I’ve got in front of me. And no sir, I don’t like it.

You may look at the surface and see the pretty pictures and the gee whiz cool moments (most of which involve Libra), but all it’s doing is covering up the decay.

Review: Final Crisis #3 – Spoilers!


The following will be an amalgam of reviewing and analyzing. I go both ways baby! Ugh I just threw what little credibility I had out the window. Before beginning I’d like to thank Grant Morrison for creating an event that is so astounding, astonishing, fantastic, and just about every other positive adjective you can think of. In addition to being top notch entertainment, it requires several readings and deep analyzing. This isn’t because it’s confusing or overly convoluted, but because it’s something you want to do. At least that’s how I feel about it. Thanks Grant.

In the opening three pages, Frankenstein(YAY!) busts into the Darkseid club with his crew and it’s finally spoon-fed to people that indeed Darkseid left that body he inhabited in the first issue. Also, the title of this issue and our future are spelled out to us, “KNOW EVIL”.

Something falls out of the sky and it is a German speaking female. What’s interesting is the symbol on her chest is the same one the lost Monitor was drawing last issue. Speaking of the lost Monitor, he gets fired from his job on the next page and after the Monitor leaves his boss says “madness”. I guess this is just the anti-life equation already starting to creep up. Morrison himself said that people in general are acting unusually angry. Oh and that drawing that Anthro (cave man dude) painted in the first issue is found.

We next have Jay Garrick talking about that whole race against death (Black Racer) that we saw the beginning of last issue. I thought it was a particularly touching moment to see the three generations of Flash running together. This is really the future of Flash I think. It’s been recently announced that Geoff Johns will be writing Flash Rebirth in the beginning of next year. That series will be about Barry Allen which led many people to ask “Is Wally going to die then?” But I don’t think that will happen. Flash is one of those few characters where you can have a family of them running around and it works. So that’s why that moment struck me as brilliant. Sadly, they couldn’t quite catch the time bullet in time to save Orion. What happened to the other Flashes? Stay tuned!

Oh we next see the old swamp Legion of Doom headquarters. I don’t know why Libra and the Human Flame are there, but I’m happy to see it! Libra then puts a helmet on Human Flame’s head that releases the anti-life equation! See, I think a lot of the naysayers who disliked the first two issues will enjoy this a lot more. There is much less analyzing involved and more good old-fashioned storytelling. There are lots of cool moments in here like the one where Human Flame pays his price.

Next we get a glimpse of a Clark Kent we don’t often see. He’s dealing with Lois being injured and as Billy pointed out, he’s acting pretty selfish for Superman. There’s a moment I like where Clark mentions he’s keeping Lois’ heart beating with his heat vision. It’s just one of those cool little details. A mysterious figure, which looks like one of the Monitors from the first issue, enters the room and says “I offer you one ultimate chance to save her!” Oh no it’s Mephisto! Ugh I suddenly feel so dirty. Damn Joey Q!

I like the page where we see the heroes assembling. We get to see a nice Supergirl moment where she pets Streaky the Supercat. Oh yeah the Super-Pets are back! Hey bringing stupid concepts from the silver age and making them cool is what Morrison is good at. Mister Tawky Tawny gets his jet pack. Remember, Kalibak’s new body is some sort of tiger too. Will there be a tiger fight? Green Arrow and Black Canary share a humorous moment where Ollie says “If anybody falls for this authoritarian, militaristic crap, it’ll prove I’m absolutely right about absolutely everything!”

Next we get a whole page filled with superheroes. I haven’t mentioned Jones’ art yet but he’s doing a hell of a job. He really seems to show his stuff when he’s drawing lots of details and characters. Seventhsoldier mentioned that the art seemed a bit off or that there is a bad colorist. The colorist is Alex Sinclair who does fantastic work with Jim Lee and though this isn’t his best work, it still seems pretty good to me. Anyway, I loved looking at this page and seeing who was in it. I like to see if I can name them all and fortunately I knew most of them. What was intriguing was that both Nightwing and Robin were present. If you’ve been following Batman RIP and Final Crisis, you might remember that Morrison has been fairly secretive about Batman in Final Crisis. He’s never been referred to as Bruce (except in that crappy Requiem issue) nor has Nightwing or Robin appeared until now. So if I were to speculate about RIP, I guess Bruce is still Batman, or Jason Todd is Batman, or Jason Todd is Nightwing (He has been before in those horrendous Nightwing issues) and Dick Grayson is Batman. What do you all think?

Of course the action sequence with Mister Miracle (Seven Soldiers style), Sonny Sumo and the Super Young Team versus those anti-life goons (notice the helmets, oh and do they look a little BSG to you?) was awesome!

We get some more action involving Wonder Woman, the Atomic Knights (nod to Seventhsoldier for knowing who the hell these guys were), and one hell of a crazy Mary Marvel! She is given that Morrison twisted evil look. There was a bit of humorous dialogue in here where Mary Marvel says “In the end I just couldn’t stand being wholesome and plain and boring one second longer”. It’s funny because it’s true.

Of course the bomb drops in this issue. The anti-life equation is spread to everyone through email. Yes, this truly is the computer age. I love that the world ends because of spam! What’s better than some humor with your evil?

Oh and were you wondering where Barry and Flash went? They went to the future of course. Oh there is some more humor when Barry asks “Why did I have to come back?” which is something I’m sure more than one comic fan is asking right now. And of course this leads to the awesome reveal of the tainted superheroes. It looks like Wonder Woman, Batwoman, Catwoman, and I wasn’t sure who the other one was but Wikipedia says Elasti-Girl.

This turned out to be much more analyzing than I thought but hey we give our thoughts freedom here. Hopefully all my blabbing wasn’t totally boring. Please let me know what you guys think of what I talked about and of course if I got something wrong or missed something. I still love this comic so much. I’ll admit that Secret Invasion is definitely more accessible, but please people at least buy the trade. You won’t regret it.

Review: Final Crisis #3

Final Crisis #3: Know Evil

I want to start off by saying that this is just a review, not an analysis like last time.  That’ll get done, but only after some time to absorb everything has passed.  For now, I’m sticking with a simple review.

The book opens with Frankenstein and SHADE (the Super-Human Advanced Defense Executive – and yes, in DC, the UN meta-human spy organization does not actually work for and exclusively in America – barging into the Dark Side Club, only to find the now extremely dead former body of Dark Side…and a still-living Renee Montoya, who knows more than she lets on.  The book moves swiftly from there on through the variety of plots we had going already, adding one or two to the mix.

As the series continues, the flaws of the first issue come more and more to be strengths of the series as a whole.  Specifically, the enormous number of subplots, enough that we only get a few pages of each in every issue.  With only a single issue to go on, that meant that almost nothing happened – but with three issues combine, we have instead a variety of plots slowly tying together, each one with depth.

Ignoring the meta-commentary going on within the issue, this seems to be the most action-packed issue of the series so far, from Shilo and Sonny Sumo battling the Justifiers to the brawl between Wonder Woman and a Mary Marvel that’s been mutated by Dark Side’s Evil Factory.  However, it hasn’t let go of the emotion – the speedsters were touching, Superman was a wreck, and Libra finally snapped on the Human Flame, showing his true colors.  While content of the issue varies greatly, the tone remains consistent.

The art was good, but it seemed, at times, to be a step down from Jones’s usual work, possibly because of the colorist.  However, the art didn’t detract from the issue, and there was a lot of nuance to it, and a great lot of attention to detail that made certain possible slip-ups in the coloring again seem odd and occasionally unsettling.

The issue is sure to have some fanboys foaming at the mouth with evil-Mary (completely ignoring the fact that she’s under the influence of anti-life), or the usual complaints about the Super Young Team being racist (again ignoring the fact that they actually do step up here and get things right), but overall, it’s a fun, interesting issue suffering a few art flaws, and it truly does live up to its name as “The Day Evil Won” – re: that awesome last page.

Grade: A-

Spoiler Review: Final Crisis #3

OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG—wait! Are you super-COOL enough to proceed?

The Digital Hand of Doom spells out the end for us!

Nazi-Supergirl joins the Crisis!

The Wayward Watcher scares the shit out of people!

Flash identity confirmed!

The Human Flame questions the nature of his relationship with Libra!

Libra clarifies!

…and then, FINALLY, lays it all out, everything you need to know has been revealed!

Clark Kent is being very, very selfish!

Mysterious stranger chick person tells him to “stop being so ####ing emo!”

Hal Jordan has lost the will to live? Complain? Defend himself? NOOOOO!

Green Arrow is absolutely right about EVERYTHING!

Poor Alan Scott couldn’t be more irrelevant!

Super Young Team needs their own spin-off, STAT!

Mary Marvel murders faceless red shirts!

Wonder Woman contracts The Clap!

According to Grant Morrison, evil is e-mail spam!

Barry and Wally race into the future only to find that—EVIL HAS WON!

I’ll have more to say about this issue later, I’m sure. Let me read it a few more times, then I’ll probably end up commenting about it in someone else’s review, Desiato or Castle’s reviews should follow shortly.

But seriously, how does this series NOT utterly annihilate Secret Invasion?

Group Analysis: Final Crisis #2

So, we talked about doing a group analysis on Final Crisis #2.  We kind of started on Brucecastle’s review, but I thought I’d bump the idea up here for any interested party who missed our slow discussion over there.  Also, my first entry is going to be big.  Very, very big.  Don’t worry about reading the whole thing in one sitting – or at all – but I have a lot of free time, a love of comics, and a 1 month old Bachelor’s Degree of Arts in English Creative Writing, so I may as well use ’em.  

Here’s the schtick – Final Crisis is a dense book.  It’s a fun one, but a dense one, and it’s always great to see how people interpret a particularly dense book.  Anyone is welcome to contribute – in fact, the more people who do, the better!  Contribute random facts or interpretation, or just drop in to say what you think of the issue!  And don’t feel bad if all you want to do is link to useful sources.  I’ll be doing it myself, and some of my talking points will be borrowed from these sources.  As a warning, though, anything is fair game, and There Will Be Spoilers (starring Daniel Day Lewis).

Final Crisis: A Ticket to Bludhaven.

PAGE 1: Nothing major, obviously.  Some nice touches, and it’s definitely scene-setting.  It’s also a favorite of Morrison’s – superheroes as pop culture.  In Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer, we saw Morrison setting up the Convention Scene of the DCU – where hopefuls and has-beens congregate to try and get their name out, for that miniscule chance that maybe, just maybe, the JLA will take them into their pantheon (this will be important) – and that there is an entire underground metahuman scene, and like any scene, it has it’s wannabes.

This was done in one fairly obvious way, and one slightly less obvious way.  The first was with Eternal Superteens, the fetish porn site for the guys who want something…special.  At Eternal Superteen, you can see girls pouring acid on each other, you can see bullets bounce off their flawless skin, and you can see eternal beauty – all for just a small monthly fee.  For legit superhumans who are maybe a little down on their luck, Eternal Superteen represents one of the sadder realities of life – sometimes, you just can’t dig yourself out of a hole.

The second way superhuman sub-culture is represented in Bulleteer is at the hospital, in the discussion the doctor’s have with Alix about how hospitals dislike superhumans because idiots who want to emulate them will expose themselves to dangerous chemicals, deadly animals, the harshest corners of the world, all in an attempt to get powers and join the gods in the clouds.

Here in Final Crisis, we see another instance of all this – superheroes as fashion, as we get people wearing a Killing Joke jacket, cos-play, and teenie-bop super-herodom at its finest in the streets of Tokyo.

Finally, as a minor note, and given the return of Barry Allen on the last page, it’s interesting to note that this is an homage to an old Flash cover that I’m sure Morrison loves, as it has strong thematic ties to his 7S: Zatanna mini-series:


The history of Japanese heroes.  This establishes Big Science Action as THE Japanese superteam, while setting up the Super Young Team as posers and wannabes.  Like the wannabes in Bulleteer, these kids are obsessed with being special. They’re fanboys with powers, and since being a superhero is cool, they jump on the bandwagon.  They don’t ‘deserve’ anything, but they certainly think they do.

The transformation of man into merchandising!  Spirit into toy!

That’s all Morrison talking.  But what are we to make of the SYT?  Love ’em?  Hate ’em?  Normally, Morrison is pretty clear on how he wants us to feel.  Love ’em in Invisibles, hate ’em in Seaguy, pity ’em in 7S.  Here, we just don’t know.  They’re just kids.  But they want to prove themselves…maybe.  More can definitely be said on the Super Young Team, but I’m unsure what exactly that is.


Our first glance of Sonny Sumo since, I think, the 60s.  Important note about Sonny Sumo: he has a piece of the Anti-Life Equation in him, which gives him powers and resistance to the Equation.  He had the ability to temporarily heal himself, but it was extremely temporary – the wounds would return minutes later, unless he was healed by a Motherbox.  In the 60s, he was healed by one, and that scene will be mirrored moments later.

Another important note?  In Final Crisis #1, Empress led the attack on Dr. Light and Mirror Master, only to be shot down. Empress is a master of voodoo and can control people’s actions by speaking due to a shard of Anti-Life in her.  The way the gods are acting in this series so far is very much like the Loa of voodoo in some ways, so wouldn’t a person who is resistant to Anti-Life, familiar with possession, the workings of gods, and spirit travel, be a nifty person to have around?  Is she gone for good, or will she return with a vengeance?


Sonny Sumo is a bad-ass.  He didn’t used to be, I think – I only  know from second-hand info and rare scans, but I think he used to be Mr. Honorable.  Now, he’s killing people.  Not only that, but he’s doing so almost ironically.  What’s up?

Well, Morrison hates the grim ‘n’ gritty stories.  A lot of his recent work has been a denunciation of this idea, and his grimmest, grittiest story, Arkham Asylum, is something he’s almost ashamed to have written.  It’s undeniable, though, that in the past few years, comics have gotten darker, especially at the traditionally light-hearted DC.  He’s frequently said “It’s always darkest before dawn”, and he said he’s trying to lighten the DCU up.  Also, the Dark Gods have been working in our time for God knows how long, and we’ve seen the corruptive influence they can have.

What if one major upcoming theme will be the spreading corruption, the spiritual corrosion, of Dark Side. Evil in the DCU, which we’ll see in just a few more pages, is taking the easy way out.  It’s ugly, but it’s easy and it’s immediately effective.  Here, we see the once-honorable warrior tear out someone’s heart in a bar-room brawl.  Will he be ‘redeemed’ in his struggle against Dark Side?  Will the whole DCU?  Is this Morrison’s way of making these characters likable again?


I was kinda hoping you might be able to help me put some kind of team together…

Shilo arrives.  Shilo probably would’ve fit right in here before 7 Soldiers happened.  A poser.  He had powers, but he used them for entertainment, to make money, rather than to save lives.  He could have been so much more than he was, but instead he’s the madcap celebrity superhuman, who keeps talking about a war in heaven, about angels and demons walking secretly among us, hidden from even the greatest protectors on Earth.  Still, Shilo obviously knows what’s going down, and he came to Sonny Sumo, a former companion of the New Gods, now acting a little bit like Orion (the rage, the scarring), who has a piece of Anti-Life in him, to form a team.  This will obviously be important, but while it opens up some great discussion topics – what is the plan, how important is having Anti-Life, who has it, how did they get it, how connected is Shilo with the Life Equation (the opposite number of Anti-Life) and what does that mean? – that’s all I’ll say on that for now.


…who built the machine made of parallel universes.

Nix Uoton, trying to find the magic word, Welcome to Tranquility/Black Adam style.  The Orrery of Worlds here is referred to as a machine MADE OF parallel universes.  This could be imprecise grammar, but if it isn’t, that implies that the machine isn’t FOR parallel universes, it isn’t a way of VIEWING or THINKING ABOUT parallel universes, but it’s a machine MADE OF them.  That means, it may have some other purpose.  What do you all think?


Who knew the sound of breath whistling through smashed cartilage could be such a turn-on?

This is, I will say it right now, the most important two-pages in the issue, in my opinion. Then again, I suspect that everyone will have a ‘most important page’ or ‘most important scene’, the thing that they got the most out of that or read the most into or just thought was absolutely too important to skip over.  This is mine.

Why?  Because I believe that Final Crisis is a story about gods in every sense of the word, and this is the first time we truly see just how gods operate.  This is some stuff by a user on named pinderpanda, a Brit who seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge all things Kirby, and since his explanation of this scene is so good, I think I’ll just copy it verbatim.  Apologies for the language in this segment.


Because obviously a scene of a once-decent cop brutally beating a pedophile while threatening to smash his brains open with a toilet seat doesn’t belong in a superhero summer event. The superheroes haven’t realised it yet – they’re on Mars, almost anticiapating J’onn’s ressurection because they know how the DCU’s rules work – but they don’t live in the DCU anymore. Evil has won the day. They’re living in Sin City. 

In the first issue Turpin was capable of horrible things, like mocking Vic’s death, but of then immediately recognising that he’d done wrong. This Turpin keeps on with the horrible, because he belives his actions are justified, which is a huge bit of the Kirby Mythology. Look at the posters around Granny’s school in the flashbacks to Scott’s youth or to Godfrey’s first sermon in Forever People. Darkseid doesn’t work so much by inculcating evil in others, so much as by allowing them to justify thier evil to themselves and take it further. 

“You’re not a beast — if you kill for Darkseid”
“You’re not a liar — if you lie for Darkseid”

You’re not a thug, if you beat someone to death trying to find missing children.

But of course, there are no missing children. And if this were a film then Godfrey’s simple and creepy, “But you already met the children, back in New York” would be the equivalent to “You’re eating worms” in The Lost Boys. It’s possible there’s a metafictional joke going on here, in that Turpin’s first scene strongly appears to break the continuity of the previous issue, until we get that little bit more information.

Too much going on to dwell on that though, as watching Turpin’s progress lets us know how the Fallen Gods work. They’re in everyone (evil was in Turpin when he made his cruel joke) but sometimes they’re really in someone (Turpin’s now being so fully riden by the God of Evil that Godfrey can talk to him as if he was that God). 

I love the lack of any glamour attached to evil in this series. It’s just brutal and ugly and nasty. The various series that’ve lifted Darkseid out of the Fourth World context and used him as an all-purpose Generic Evil Space Tyrant have generally tried to make him cool and majestic and awesome and stuff. But that’s not really very much what evil’s like. Darth Vader’s cloak swishing about and the Imperial March booming away are one thing, but evil looks a lot more like the decaying body of the three year old on the news yesterday who was locked in a room full of flies and dog shit and starved to death while her mother went to the pub. 

The best line in Millar’s Wanted, which seems more relevant to Final Crisis by the page, is “People love facists, man. You ever met a woman who fantasised about being tied up and raped by a liberal?”

Kirby’s mythos has always offered us facism without the erotic fantasy. There’s a pretty obvious biographical reason for that. 

His Fourth World asks a very strange question. One that could only have arisen via the culture-fuck of one of the War generation trying to tell his most personal story while simultaneously trying to get down with the kids of the Woodstock generation; what if fascism wasn’t a political ideology but was a cosmological principle? All those hideous ideas, which compelled artists to become soldiers in order to slap them down, what if they weren’t just Something That Happened In Our History but were hardwired into the very mathematics of the universe? 

If the logic of facism, of anti-life, were something as fundamental as that, could we still fight it? Should we still fight it?

(One of the reasons The Fourth World never feels concluded is because nobody’s ever understood that and finished the saga with the “HELL YES!” it demands)

So here’s how evil is in Final Crisis then. All shit and tears and smashed cartilage. It’s getting Turpin hard, but hopefully we’re all feeling a little ill. People might fantasise about being raped by some idealised facist, but nobody fantasises about being raped by Josef Fritzl. The Dark Side is less sexy than the one they’ve been selling. 

So there we have it.  Anti-Life is fascism meeting universal mathematics.  A hard-wired law of physics in the DCU that could steal free will.  It’s owned by the God of Evil.  And he’s here.  This is why this scene is so important.  Because we see what the rules are, how they work.  Darkseid isn’t forcing ANYONE to do anything evil – he just helps them justify it.  Remember when I said that evil here was ugly and easy?  This is the scene that demonstrates that beautifully.


And pray for a resurrection.

The funeral on Mars.  The prayer for resurrection could be very important here, as there have been rumors that Earth is the cradle of the Fifth Age, and the JLA have always been god analogues.

That was how Morrison treated them in his famous JLA run – as a pantheon.  Specifically, there, as the Greek pantheon, but nonetheless, the JLA were treated as gods in JLA, and here, we see them acting like gods. They know how things work – if they want someone to come back, they will.  Almost everyone there has died at least once, I bet, and every single one of them has friends who’ve died and returned.  At the birth of the Fifth World, we see the people of Earth beginning to act like gods.


Hurt Superman, perhaps I’ll take you more seriously.

Libra is back, as a prophet of…something.  Personally, I believe he’s a profit of Dark Side.  Why?  Well, look at how he operates.  He makes things easy.  He gives it to you.  All he wants is for you to promise something, to help him out, and he’ll make all your dreams come true.  Hell, some of them are fighting for the chance to sell themselves or give themselves over to Libra, caring only that they get what they want, not how they get it.

Think about that in terms of the recent DCU, with things like Identity Crisis.  Dark Side has been operating in secret on earth for AT LEAST a year – probably 2-3 years.  One of the main points of Infinite Crisis was the examination of just HOW… corrupted, I suppose, Earth’s heroes had been.  Think about it in that light. Think about everything that happened in that light – Dibny’s rape, Max’s betrayal, Batman’s paranoia, WW’s killing, etc….  It’s not all bad, but it’s definitely doing things easier than they used to.  It’s lazy.  Libra’s making the supervillains lazy, getting them used to life with Anti-Life.  Just surrender your will to Darkseid, because that’s so much easier than making these choices on your own…

Another excerpt from gaiaonline…

Entropy’s kind of involved. Or at least an entropy of semantic ontology is involved in submission to anti-life. The sheer entropic complexity of the world is so overwhelming that people are driven into the certainty of absolutist systems of total control. Can’t work out what is and what isn’t? Then accept one propostion and anhilate your will; DARKSEID IS

That’s why appeal to transcendent concepts which lie outside strict systems of meaning can pwn anti-life (‘Love’ if Morrison’s writing, ‘Hope’ if Gaiman is).

Also, love the scene with the supervillains leaving the strip club and…walking to their cards.  Remember what I said about DC and Morrison loving the juxtaposition of mundane and mythical?  These are enormously larger-than-life figures, and here we see them leaving a clandestine meeting, full costume, to walk to their cars.


This is another fairly important page.  There’s a lot to be said about their varied reactions to Manhunter’s death – Wonder Woman is almost panicked, realizing that they just lost a crucial player as something huge is going down, Superman just wants to go home, and Batman is all work, grim and angry.

That’s not why it’s important, though.  Remember above, when I discussed the heroes becoming gods, the Dawn of the Fifth World?  Well, look at the interaction between Batman and Kraken.  Above, they were deific in attitude, knowing that they don’t really die.  Perhaps they’re playing by rules that no longer truly apply as the Dark Side wins, but they had the mindset.  But think about this.

Kraken claims that no one bar, no one on earth could have the tech necessary to investigate the murder of a god.  Especially no mere mortal.  Batman isn’t a mere mortal any more, though, as he immediately shoots back that he knows exactly what killed Orion.  An Alpha Lantern thought it would be impossible, but Batman proves that his tech is that of the gods.

Also, a few minor notes.  The Kirby Crackle around Kraken when Wonder Woman tries to touch her is a nice effect to let us know on the down-low that Kraken has something to do with the Kirbyverse, and two huge nitpicks on my side are addressed in various ways in these two pages.

1) I can’t imagine the Lanterns are very happy about Hal, John, Kyle, and Guy being so involved in organizations like the JLA.  It’s the equivalent of a member of a the FBI being involved in a heavily-armed local militia that shuns the authority of everyone but themselves.  

2) I can’t imagine Earth is very happy that they have this intergalactic peace force out there that was elected by no one, is watched over by no one, and is accountable to no one.  This can NOT sit well with us.


A few ideas here.

1) Theotoxin – brilliant.  I’m so glad that term was invented, because I’m going to steal the hell out of it. Radion is a substance that the New Gods and their opposites have always been weak to, and it looks like Morticoccus, a virus important to the forging of the Kirby-based Kamandi mythology, is inside the bullet.

2) The nice hint dropped right there as to who is messing with him, as his ring is shut down just as he learns what caused this.

3) John Stewart is a bad-ass.


The framing of Hal Jordan.  Plenty to be said about it, I’m sure, but by someone far more familiar with the Green Lantern mythology than myself.


Did you think the gods would tread lightly when they came among you?

Batman confronts Kraken.  The ring-imprint on her hand gives the game, as Batman quickly figures out that it was she who attacked John, and he calls a ‘black alert’, which I’m sure something could be said about – Blackest Night reference in a corrupt Alpha Lantern, maybe?  Normally, you’d think ‘red alert’, but whatever.

Also note – even though Batman MAY be becoming a New God, just like everyone else in some way, his power is obviously not physical, or at least not yet.  He is prone to wild leaps of speculation that prove shockingly accurate, making him an amazing detective and investigator, but he can’t take on an Alpha Lantern in combat – he’s put down in seconds and taken.  Here we learn that Granny Goodness may be possessing Kraken, and it’s our first hint that the Evil Gods have moved on to bigger things.  Before, they were normal people, corrupted.  Now, they’ve moved onto the ranks of superhumans.  What comes next?

In reference to the quote above: of COURSE the League thought the gods would tread lightly.  They’ve ALWAYS treaded lightly before.  Darkseid would show up, there would be a fist fight, he would leave.  No lasting harm – it’s not the way things work in the DC Universe.  Or at least, it wasn’t.  Things, they are a-changin’.


Rejoice!  The Evil Factory is open for business!

Another few important pages, though not as crucial.  Kamandi has been captured, somehow, and is being held with the corrupted children.  Kamandi, however, has not been corrupted – not yet, at least.  How will this come up?

Note that the Evil Factory seems to be making man/animal hybrids – furries.  The Evil Factory makes furries. Just sayin’.  However, the furries are important because in Kamandi’s future, it is only man/animal hybrids that survived, Morticoccus mutants.  Dark Side and his Evil Gods seemed to be manufacturing the Great Disaster.  Why?

Warn the Justice League!  Warn everyone!

Another portion I’m going to steal from gaiaonline poster pinderpanda, because he says what I want to much better.

This doesn’t just mean, “Get a big team of like, loads and loads of superheroes together!”
This means that everyone is fighting this war. On every level. You and your mum and your dad and your gran and a bucket of vindaloo.

One of the most fun things about the series so far is how it’s eliminating the distinction between a ‘cosmic’ book and a ‘street level’ book. The distinction’s entirely false anyway – Daredevil’s struggles are all concerned with huge abstract concepts just as much a Doctor Strange’s adventures are. The only difference is that in Doctor Strange’s adventures the huge abstract concepts get externalised into big nasty Demon Princes and stuff, and in Daredevil’s adventures then the huge abstract concepts stay internalised as Guilt and Anger and Shame and so forth.

This can be a huge problem for storytelling at the Huge Summer Event level because you’ve got characters who normally fight their Big Eternal Struggles inside thier heads side-by-side with characters who normally fight thier Big Eternal Struggles against the Demon Prince of Guilt, the Elder God of Anger and the Spooky Ghost of Shame. You get Spider-Man trying to fight Thanos.

But what we’ve got here is something that’s been set up so cleverly that the conflict happening on every level is explictly the same one. This is nothing new to comics, try and argue whether Sandman, Hellblazer or Lucifer are ‘street level’ or ‘cosmic level’ books and watch the grown-ups laugh at you. But it’s very unusual for a big crossover thingy to mange to set up a story in which the actions of the Question and the actions of the Spectre carry equal importance.

If you’ve got conciousness, you’re a cosmic entity.


EVERYONE notices Clayface blowing the Planet to bits, seriously injuring Lois Lane.  Slightly more subtle? Posing as Olsen, he also steals all the information on the missing children story…


Again, on the JLA becoming gods – Batman makes an insane theory out of the blue: a bullet shot backwards in time.  More than that though, think about Wally’s line “So he asks me to read through the ENTIRE Internet, looking for any ‘unusual’ activity around the time J’onn was murdered.”  Wally read the ENTIRE Internet.  All of it.  AND HE GOT THE LOCATION.  That’s, strangely, pretty damn epic – Wally is becoming deified, too. And he must have read A LOT of porn.

Those vibrations!  Wally, don’t you recognize those vibrations?

I was hoping someone with a better handle on the Flash mythos could do something with that line.  Is it to do with the vibrations that took Flashes from dimension to dimension in the original Crises?

Also, that last page was insane.  Barry Allen chasing the bullet that will kill Orion in the past, Black Racer hot on his heels?  Epic.  Not to mention, that’s one nice Black Racer redesign.

So that’s it.  My initial run-through on Final Crisis #2.  It got a little scant towards the end, both due to me being tired and me using up many of my best points early in the run-through.  Anything else, I’ll save for a more protracted discussion.

I hope you’ve all enjoyed this novella, and I can’t wait to see what some of you think about the issue as a whole.  I’ll likely be editing this a little for clarity over the next few days, but the gist should remain the same.

Also, for those who want probably a better rundown, or at least a more concise one…

Review: Final Crisis #2 – Spoilers!


Whew. Let me start by saying that this is probably the hardest comic to read and especially to write a review for. But I love it for that! It’s one of the most intelligent comics I’ve ever read. I have to give major props for any book that makes me want to read it 3 or 4 times the first day I get it.

The book opens with a splash page of a bunch of kids in front of a club. The bouncer says “Stop! You must be supercool to proceed! Your life depends on it!” I think in addition to a comment on youth culture, this is a humorous way of Grant telling us that we need to be on our A-game to read this book. Also, one of the kids is wearing a Killing Joke shirt with a Robin bag. That’s hilarious! I want to say that I love J.G. Jones’ art and he is doing a fantastic job on this book. I love his detail.

Inside there is an old Japanese hero of sorts complaining about the youth. The kids don’t like this guy. They want to be superheroes themselves and one even expresses her want of being a gimmick, “the transformation of man into merchandising”. That’s hilarious. One of the kid’s idols enters the scene. He rips out a man’s heart and puts it into a glass. The kids love this guy and want his autograph. I believe this is Morrison commenting on today’s youth. Of course there is plot to this too. Mr. Miracle recruits him for his team. So the New Genesis guys are fighting back, cool.

We next get a look at Uotan, that monitor who was banished last issue. He’s working in a fast food place and is going through words in the dictionary looking for “the magic word that’ll take me home”. He is also drawing pictures of what kind of look like Superman, when he thought he was Darkseid’s son, to me.

We next see Turpin, who is beating the hell out of the Mad Hatter. This is because he feels he is responsible for controlling the children. This is weird because when we last saw Turpin, he pretty much was given an explanation to why the children were the way they were, and the Darkseid figure told the children to “show him what you’ve learned about anti-life”. Turpin buys a ticket to Bludhaven for some reason. The title of this issue is Ticket to Bludhaven.

We then see Martian Manhunter’s funeral on Mars. It looks like the whole league is there. Superman is giving the eulogy. He says “We’ll miss him. And pray for a resurrection”. I actually laughed out loud when I read that. Is Grant commenting on the silliness of comic characters coming back from the dead? Seems like it.

We take a look at an abandoned strip bar where Libra and all the baddies are at. He asks if everyone is satisfied with Martian Manhunter’s death. Luthor isn’t and would have preferred if something happened to Superman. Clayface makes a silly comment, but I’m sure in Morrison’s hands it will end up being foreshadowing. Luthor feels that he has to form an alliance against Libra, that this is all too good to be true. Smart man. He asks if Vandal Savage is in and he declines. He feels that if Libra can offer him an end to boredom that he’ll take it. I feel that this is Morrison commenting on the situation of a wise and ancient man making a stupid decision when he should have all the right answers. The much younger Luthor seems to be the smarter one. When no one but the Human Flame and Libra are around, Libra says that he answers to a higher power. Also, he feels Luthor will turn when he sees what happens next. Also, the Human Flame seems to owe Libra something big for killing Martian Manhunter.

The JLA are still investigating Orion’s body. Batman feels that he was shot with a bullet. An Alpha Lantern comes in and disagrees. It seems like she is taking over the situation against the league’s wishes.

John Stewart is analyzing the crime scene.  A GL (sorry don’t know his name) enters the scene. John says he has found a bullet that seems to have been buried for fifty years. John’s ring starts to go haywire and his lantern buddy construct spikes him against the wall. He even makes a hilarious construct of a guardian with cymbals. John Stewart then says “My God. It’s you!” Oh, and his lantern buddy heard something right before he went nuts.

The Alpha Lanterns and the GL we just saw show up in Hal Jordan’s bedroom and arrest him for murdering Orion and the attempted murder of John Stewart. Well, last issue when John Stewart got the deicide call, Hal didn’t respond, but seeing as how the guy that just threw spikes into John Stewart is also arresting Hal, it seems he is innocent.

The Alpha Lantern and Batman are alone back at the place they are keeping Orion. She messes up Batman and it seems that this is Granny Goodness.

We next see Turpin in I guess Bludhaven, and he sees the strangest thing. He sees two knights riding dogs. Did anyone understand this? Did parademons ride dogs on Apokolips? Is that what this is supposed to be? I guess so. Turpin runs into reverend Good. This is the guy you’ve been seeing on T.V. talking about cleaning up Bludhaven. So I guess Bludhaven is new Apokolips. The reverend starts talking to Turpin like he is Darkseid and makes comments about “your son, Kalibak the Cruel”. Turpin’s ear is also bleeding. The lantern guy that turned earlier said he heard something right before he went nuts so perhaps how the New Gods, or at least the Apokolips people, enter your body is through the ears? Turpin sees that Batman is being held in this place and something is being done to Batman.

We next check out the Daily Planet. Lois, Mr. White, Clark, and Jimmy Olsen are all present. Lois give Jimmy something on the missing children case. Clark says “I thought I just saw Jimmy down there on the-“. We then see it isn’t Jimmy Olsen in the elevator but Clayface, see it was foreshadowing. The entire floor of the Daily Planet blows up. We see Superman looking at a hand with a wedding ring under the rubble screaming “Lois!”

Lastly, we see Wally West and Jay Garrick checking out the old strip bar that Libra and the baddies were at earlier. They know that this is where Martian Manhunter died. Wally talks about a concept of a time bullet that Batman came up with, the concept that is, not the bullet. About a bullet being fired backwards through time and that is why when John Stewart found the bullet earlier he said it had been buried for fifty years. The chair that looks like Metron’s that Dr. Light and Mirror Master got Libra last issue is still there and it begins to light up. The issue ends with a splash page of Barry Allen running from two objects. One is some kind of tube thingy. The second is the more sinister looking Black Racer character that we saw last issue in two panels hovering behind Turpin.

Man that was a lot to cover. Sorry for the long review, but hopefully it helped some of you notice or figure out some things. I’ve read this issue and the last one three times so I think I noticed a lot. I’m sure there is a lot I missed or misunderstood. Hopefully Morrison will give another commentary like he did on the last one. Please let me know if I helped you guys understand anything. Or if I missed something. Or if you think I misunderstood something. Man I love this comic so much. I can’t wait till it’s all over and a hardcover of this stuff comes out. I’m going to buy it on the first day and will probably need to read it four times. I love your genious Morrison!

Spoiler Review: Final Crisis #2

The scans I’m about to present to you are filled with spoilers. Be forewarned. Also, a word from our sponsor:

Sumo guys rips out MegaYakuza’s heart!!! (Yeah, I have no idea who these guys are either or why it’s relevant. Whatever. Read on, shall we?)

…and then drops it into a glass of water. Well, not exactly in the glass.

Why is this relevant? Because the Sumo guy is actually a New God. Here’s Mr. Miracle recruiting his big ass for a team he’s “putting together.”

Next, what the hell is up with Turpin? And why is he taking it out on Mad Hatter? Even Batman doesn’t go THIS crazy.

Oh, he gets off on it. It appears that Turpin may not be all that he… appears.

Okay, so Luthor is like, “Killing the Martian is like whatever and all, but if you want my vote you’ll have to do better.” Libra replies, “Superman?”

Confused, that’s okay. Here’s the writer, Grant Morrison, telling us not to worry. It’ll all shake out in the grand scheme.

Alpha Lantern Kraken lays down the law. I’m not a huge Green Lantern history buff, so maybe someone out there can tell me if this issue if jurisdiction has ever been brought up before. Either way, I like it. It seems like a fairly obvious idea and one that should have come up before.

Next, John Stewart re-investigates the scene of the crime and discovers the missing bullet. He’s promptly jumped by parties unknown… and then Morrison quickly jumps us to the arrest of SPOILER for the murder of Orion and the attempted murder of John Stewart. Whoa. Better get a good lawyer, dude. I wonder if Matt Murdock makes inter-dimensional house calls. That guy never loses a case.

OH NO! Batman is betrayed and captured by SPOILER!!! Not really betrayed, I guess. Only a friend can betray you, right? Hehe. Ah, Vs. System, we always laugh.

Wait, that’s not Jimmy Olsen!


Um, would you believe “Time Bullets?” Yeah, Jay, it gives me a headache too.

And the worst kept secret in comics, the return of SPOILER JUST TO BE SAFE.

So, what did I think? I like the time bullet thing (once I got my head around it). I like the final page splash, especially the two objects/people/things chasing SPOILER. I liked the part where Turpin beat the shit out of Mad Hatter. I liked the Seventh Soldier Mr. Miracle. I liked the way Libra hurts the Man of Steel. I like that Turpin is probably a SPOILER, and not just any SPOILER, but SPOILER himself… I’m basically on board with every scene in the book judged individually on their own merits…

…what I didn’t like is how fast paced the story is! I had to catch my breath between panels! SLOW DOWN, GRANT!!! This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. There’s just so much fricking information in this issue. It’s packed too tight. I know I complain about Secret Invasion and its slow pacing, but this is the other extreme. I need time, as a reader, to digest what is going on. I had to read the book twice, cover to cover, before I could even review/scan it intelligently. And yet, I still feel like I failed. Ugh, I like it so far, I may even love it. But please, for the sake of the rest of us who are not as insane-o smarty pants as you, Mr. Morrison, please… slow down. Thanks.

Posted (deep breath), time for another read through. 😉