Monday, January 15, 2018

Final Crisis Retro Review Part I: Overview

So, a decade goes by…

DC's big crossover event for 2008 was Grant Morrison's Final Crisis. I started this blog very shortly after FC concluded, which would have been a fine time for me to write and post a breakdown. But, at the time, I focused on other subjects, and since then, I've commented on ongoing events while gradually working my way through comics history with retro reviews going from the Thirties back up to the 2000s. Now, I've worked my way up to the point where the blog started, ten years ago, and the time is right for a breakdown of Final Crisis. There's enough to say about it to fill more than one post, so I'm going to start with comments here about how the story was structured and some of the factors that I think detracted from the way FC reached the fans.

Final Crisis was not received by fans as warmly as other comparable DC events, including the previous two "Crises." Critical reviews on Amazon call it messy, scattered, and even incomprehensible. I think, for various reasons, the criticism is fair, and I'll spend some time talking about why. However, unlike a work that begins well then loses its purpose, or is mediocre in every aspect, Final Crisis – I believe – benefits enormously from re-reading and careful attention. I hope that with a thorough breakdown, it can be a much better story for people who give it more consideration.

Naturally, Final Crisis has already received a fair amount of attention, most of it during and immediately after its 2008-2009 release. I have the benefit of standing on the shoulders of those giants who've analyzed it before. I'm giving my breakdown now for a few reasons:

1) Working your way through it page-by-page with detailed annotations still loses the big picture. If the difficulty many readers have is that it's messy, annotations merely shine light upon the mess. What can help is an overview that puts the details into a meaningful structure.

2) I've enjoyed the work many times over the years, but I still didn't have a solid grasp of FC on the highest level – what it's saying about superhero stories and the people who write and enjoy them. The feeling that all the pieces fit into place didn't come for me until 2017.

3) As we'll see, the plotlines of Final Crisis weren't really complete until 2010, as some of the backstory was filled in with a Morrison mini-run in Batman #700-702, the fate of a Batman clone in Batman and Robin#8, and some mention of the Fourth World at the end of Return of Bruce Wayne. Some extremely helpful clarification was added by Multiversity in 2014. Some very fine annotations posted in 2009 weren't privy to all the information we got later.

4) Final Crisis commented on many the same things that Doomsday Clock is discussing now. It is timely to bring FC's comments into the discussion, and Johns' story may soon prompt us to do so.

An Apology

Among the various crossovers and tie-ins, ostensibly meant to give readers additional information or related reading, there are several that related to Final Crisis poorly – even very poorly. It's safe to say that there were works that strongly implied a connection to Final Crisis, perhaps even in the title, that turned out to be disconnected, or even contradictory. This surely didn't help the community of readers trying at the time to understand the story, and surely subtracted from the reception of the series itself. I will discuss these here, and the problems with them.

Countdown (to Final Crisis), The Death of the New Gods, and (Final Crisis) Last Will and Testament are three works that a reader would naturally expect to be connected, plotwise, to FC, but that failed to do so in an effective way, prompting a few disclaimers from the creators, mainly found online, that told readers to disregard their plot points as unrelated to Final Crisis and even continuity as a whole.

Countdown (#51-#1) seemed hardly to know what to do with itself, despite the fine talent of Paul Dini at the helm. It did not match FC in themes or tone. It did little to prepare readers for the important plot points of FC. Fifty-one issues were far beyond overkill for establishing those few plot points, and yet Countdown didn't perform that simple task adequately. The existence of multiple Monitors, the nature of Morticoccus, the fate of Earth-51, the temptation of Mary Marvel, and the death of Darkseid are all illustrated in Countdown, but in ways that seem mildly or substantially different from their depiction later in Final Crisis. And, really, there is no need to introduce the multiple Monitors before Final Crisis; it is not hard to understand their existence from the first page one sees them. If anything, the reader of Countdown is slightly less well prepared for Final Crisis than a reader who simply skipped it.

The same, and worse, is true of Jim Starlin's Death of the New Gods. DOTNG, a nice work in and of itself, with Starlin disposing of Kirby's Fourth World creations in a whodunit that establishes the Anti-Life Equation as a sentient and corporeal being. New Gods are killed, one after another, with Superman along as a combination soldier, detective, and witness as the ALE succeeds in killing every last New God using the Infinity Man as its tool. It's a good story, well told, but this plot is strikingly contradictory with that of Final Crisis, which begins with its own, utterly different whodunit, with Orion as the fallen victim. Orion dies in both stories, but at the hands of different killers and means. In FC, Orion is shot in the head with a time-travelling bullet by Darkseid, and his dying words are spoken to Dan Turpin in Metropolis before the Green Lanterns and Justice League take up the case. This is quite different from DOTNG, in which Orion's death takes place far from Earth and is known to Superman, who has no knowledge of any of this when FC begins. It's essentially impossible to digest DOTNG as having occurred before the events of Final Crisis.

The same can be said of Last Will and Testament, a work published midway through FC and originally intended to tie into it, but reference to FC was removed from its title before publication because it, too, contradicts FC on basic facts. In LWAT, Brad Meltzer shows how different superheroes react to the knowledge that the world is going to end the next day in a fight that they will lose. However, nothing like this situation occurs in FC, which, like other Morrison works that decade, shows a sneak attack as the killer blow, reflecting the real world events of the September 11 attacks. Therefore, LWAT can't even take place in DC continuity at all, and it becomes an unintended Elseworlds story, as does DOTNG.

Finally, the planned release schedule turned out not to be realistic, which led to artist J. G. Jones beginning the series, illustrating it wonderfully, but then handing off some of the duties as he fell behind. The fill-in artists performed admirably, with Superman Beyond's penciller Doug Mahnke doing memorable work on FC #7, but the shift from Jones to Carlos Pacheco and Mahnke was still a case of the original vision suffering due to an unintended failure on the organizational side.

One glitch may be bad luck, but four are a pattern, and this was only a partial list (note that Aquaman returned from the dead in FC, but all later stories ignored that). It is difficult to take this set of facts and not conclude that the writers of other stories were simply not informed of Morrison's plans by Morrison and whatever editors hold responsibility. And this certainly led to confusion on the part of readers as well as a bit of a grudge that they'd spent their comic-buying money on sixty or more prologue issues without receiving what they expected.

Flagship Crossovers

There was also confusion engendered by stories involving DC's two flagship characters, Superman and Batman that tied directly in with Final Crisis. In this case, a lack of communication cannot be blamed, because Morrison himself wrote two out of the three stories that I'll mention here. In these cases, nothing is strictly contradictory from one story to the next, but the plots become more convoluted than seem strictly necessary.

In the case of Superman, the confusion is this: After Lois Lane is incapacitated by a bomb in Final Crisis #2, he is called away on a mission that sidelines him from the main action. Two missions, in fact. In Legion of Three Worlds, Superman is summoned into the future to help the LSH fight an attack that threatens their survival. In Superman Beyond, Superman is summoned into alternate dimensions to protect higher-level worlds, and all worlds, against the first attack by Mandrakk. Both of these stories, which are both quite good, have a curiously common context and seem to serve the same role, which may confuse readers as to which occurred first (if "first" even has an easy interpretation in stories with time and interdimensional travel). In both, Superman's summoners both promise him that he can be returned to the "exact instant" from which he was taken. In fact, this seems not to be the case. The timeline, from Superman's point of view, must go like this:

1) Lois Lane is injured by a bomb.
2) Superman is taken on an adventure involving the Monitors.
3) Superman is flying in the sky over Metropolis.
4) The LSH brings Superman to the future.
5) Superman and the LSH defeat the threat.
6) Brainiac 5 shows Superman the God Weapon that can do anything.
7) Superman returns to Earth and witnesses that Darkseid has conquered it.

This can all be sorted out from the stories, but not until Final Crisis #6 at the earliest. Perhaps there's no proper cause for complaint; a mystery is what readers often expect and appreciate. However, this feels more like an over-busy nesting of storylines with confusion that has no payoff except understanding the basic facts. It feels as though the premise of Superman being called away was perhaps intended for one of the two side-stories, but then was used for both of them.

Something similar occurred with the Batman title, then penned by Morrison. Final Crisis was published concurrently with Morrison's masterpiece, close to my heart, Batman R.I.P. The publication times interlocked, with RIP beginning before FC began and ending before FC ended, with about four months during which both stories were in monthly publication. However, the story timelines were related in a completely different way, with Batman, R.I.P.'s main plot (flash-forwards withstanding) ending completely before the main action of Final Crisis' Darkseid plot began. Readers eventually found out, in 2010, that about four days of story time took place between the end of Doctor Hurt's attack in Batman and the death of Orion early in Final Crisis. Until then, it had been a mystery how Batman made his way between the plots of RIP and FC and from his zapping in FC to the start of Return of Bruce Wayne. Readers picked up each of the following issues with some significant uncertainty regarding how "Batman" had arrived into the situation:
Batman #676: An unidentified Batman and Robin declare that they will never die.
Final Crisis #1: Batman surprisingly alive after RIP.
Final Crisis #7: Bruce Wayne in a cave, writing on the wall.
Batman #682: Narrating flashbacks from his entire career.
Return of Bruce Wayne #1: Again at the cave.
Blackest Night#5: The clone body fried by Darkseid.
Batman and Robin#6-7: Again the clone body.
Batman and Robin#15: In silhouette, tells Doctor Hurt, "Turn around, Doctor. It's all over."

Eight times in two and a half years we saw a version of Batman enter the story without readers knowing who that Batman was. We also saw Batman depart from the stories of RIP and Final Crisis without understanding what the helicopter crash or eyebeam zap really meant. Twice, he apparently departed from the DCU, though the RIP helicopter crash ultimately proved to be of minor consequence and its drama at odds with the mundane escape-from-crash that got Bruce Wayne home by the end of the night. (In addition, two RIP crossovers strictly contradicted this by showing Batman's superhero allies unaware of his fate after RIP.) That's not to say that all of those scenes amount to mistakes: These were, in many cases, deliberate mysteries intended to heighten intrigue and keep readers guessing; however – and here's the rub – only in many cases. In other cases, there are scenes that seem straightforward with undramatized mysteries behind them; in other cases, there are scenes that seem mysterious with a perfectly mundane reality when all the facts were known. Simply put, there was sometimes annoying confusion rather than entertaining mystery. Cumulatively, these disconnects detracted from the overall experience, and Final Crisis was one of the works to lose a bit of cachet.

I have posted the aforementioned comments here because I feel it's an important critique of FC in the larger sense, and once one allows for the many, highly flawed connections FC and other stories, it further emphasizes how good FC itself was as a standalone work. Having dispensed with my critical comments regarding the crossovers, I will close this post with a quick summary of how my next two posts will review the series itself.

What Final Crisis is…

Final Crisis is a seven issue miniseries, but also had many crossovers. I won't review all of that here. For my purposes, Final Crisis is the seven-issue miniseries plus the two issues of Superman Beyond, which chronologically fit into the middle of FC. That said, I find many of the crossovers, particularly Final Crisis: Revelations, to be very good. Material found in some other places, including Batman #701-702, Multiversity, and online interviews illuminate the discussion, but I'll only discuss those insofar as they cast light on FC.

It is very helpful to note the general structure of FC and I will offer this here, then elaborate on it in the next two posts.

Final Crisis has two central plots that are not connected to one another in a straightforward cause-and-effect way.

1) The Darkseid Plot: Darkseid and his underlings hide on Earth, kill the last New God, Orion, and carry out surprise attacks against the superheroes. When they have accomplished their preliminary goals, sidelining most of Earth's defenses, they seize control of the world, holding it for several weeks until Earth's major superheroes liberate it and undo the damage.

The Darkseid plot is enclosed by a somewhat larger context of the entire timeline of the interaction between Kirby's Fourth World characters and the superheroes of the DCU; this is seen in flashback

The great majority of Final Crisis #1-7 and a few of the crossovers are devoted to the Darkseid plot. In many respects, I think the reader response was almost as though Final Crisis simply was the Darkseid plot, or that it should have been no more than that.

2) The Monitor Plot: As introduced by Marv Wolfman as part of Crisis on Infinite Earths, godlike beings of ancient origins called Monitors observe and direct events in the DC Universe, though Wolfman only posited two characters called the Monitor and Morrison gives us 52 Monitors, each responsible for one of the 52 dimensions of the Multiverse. In recent times, at least two Monitors named Mandrakk and Ogama conspire to destroy and feed upon the worlds of the Multiverse. They fail in two attempts to kill Superman, and are fated never to defeat him, with the good Monitor Nix Uotan returning from exile to aid Superman, other Supermen of the Multiverse, and the Green Lantern Corps to defeat Mandrakk and his ally Ultraman.

The Monitor plot is found in just a few sections of Final Crisis, predominantly in issues #1, #5, and #7, in addition to almost the entirety of the two issues of Superman Beyond. There are also a few scenes that tie the Darkseid and Monitor plots together, and many scenes that narrate events in the Darkseid plot but intertwine thematically with the Monitor plot.

The Monitor plot is not simply a superhero-supervillain story, but is an allegory that comments upon the relationship between comic book writers and comic book superheroes.

Interestingly, while a large proportion of reader commentary online had a critical or mixed reaction to Final Crisis, most readers seemed very supportive of Superman Beyond, and I wonder how the response would have been if Final Crisis #7 had simply ended with the defeat of Darkseid and then the material that ended Final Crisis #7 with the culmination of the Monitor plot had appeared under the banner of "Superman Beyond #3". I suspect that this minor alteration of the structure would have led to a warmer response by fans, who would have found the second encounter with Mandrakk to fit more easily within the framework of Superman Beyond.


23 comments:

  1. Excellent job breaking down the disconnect between FC and all the lead-in books. I have always been fascinated about what went wrong there.
    I have always been a big fan of Final Crisis, and I think the book still holds up. Looking forward to the next part of your review!

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  2. Could it be said that the events of Death of the New Gods could be considered canon, but that the time-traveling bullet which killed Orion therefore created a new timeline? Or does it STILL not square up?

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    1. I think in one of the FC issues, Morrison tried suggesting that Darkseid's fall through the multiverse resulted in a fractured timeline of conflicting versions of the same events... or something lol :)

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  3. I don't see any indication that there was a new timeline. The fracturing of time is indicated in many other ways, such as Supergirl and Wonder Woman feeling like the battle with Darkseid's forces was still going on after it was over. Spacetime also altered space, as when Barbara Gordon notes that the Swiss border suddenly got closer.

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  4. Let me retract or amend that last comment of mine. In FC #6, Darkseid tells Batman that Orion's death was "splintered like light through a prism into an infinite number of deaths." I do think that squares away the DOTNG inconsistencies and may have been written specifically to address those. However, I think it likely only applied to New Gods related events, and in general, FC was not a reboot of anything before FC although Superman ends up cleaning up the damage done by Darkseid's rule.

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  5. I think it was effective rendition of space time distortion, even if you had to read it all (FC an Superman) to the end ,to get it.
    And in that nature, the Fall of Darkseid in 7 Soldiers to the Shot to Orion
    was Morrison Metaphysicaly crashing through the entire DCU and bringing the reader
    With him .
    That is Fantastic. Reader as Participant

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    1. BJ, quite right, and the few frames showing Darkseid in DCU #0 were part of the crash. I've read Seven Soldiers' Mister Miracle several times, but never in close proximity to a reading of FC; I'll have to correct that sometime.

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  6. Rikdad -

    Very glad you're tackling "Final Crisis," and that you're doing this so thoroughly. Like certain films by great directors, "Final Crisis" delivers some of the highest-level storytelling and images imaginable, even in an overall package that simply is too dense to have the mass appeal it could have.

    Thank you, too, for examining the glitches related to some of the tie-ins. As much as I've loved DC over the past 47 years, I consider "Countdown to Final Crisis" to be an absolute low point. DC would have been better off publishing 51 weeks of fan fiction. Especially coming right after the genius of the weekly "52," the low quality and disjointedness of "Countdown" was simply insulting to readers. It felt like the victim of either contradictory editorial directives or of writers making it up as they went along.

    I agree with you the Mandrakk plot should have been resolved as "Superman Beyond #3." Its presence in "Final Crisis #7" proved too challenging; to this day, I pick up that book every year or two and tell myself, "THIS TIME, I'll understand all of it."

    Looking forward to your next installments.

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    1. If you look at Countdown to FC, the various Batman RIP and Battle for the Cowl tie-ins, and The Road Home series, it's really hard to imagine I'd ever again buy a tie-in or related series to a Grant Morrison arc. I don't know if it's something to do with Morrison (constantly changing and refining ideas), DC editorial (unable to understand what he's going for), or some admixture, but DC has almost never executed on surrounding his big stories with useful material.

      SB3 is a stunningly good idea I hadn't thought of until reading this article. FC7 certainly could have been fleshed out a bit on the Darkseid plot and perhaps ended with Superman about to recreate the universe. I'm not sure the showdown with Mandrakk (in 3D!) would have needed more space, necessarily, but I have no doubt Morrison could have thought up a few new ideas to get a solid comic's worth of ideas into the story.

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    2. MWTE, thanks, and I hope I give FC precisely what it deserves. I have anticipated this post many times, on many occasions, and hope that I have picked the right time to do so, as long in the rear view mirror as the story now is.

      I'll add that though the Mandrakk return is something that COULD have been in a Superman Beyond #3, in my next post I'll say why I think it wasn't.

      I have always had the sense that I basically got FC but that the Monitor plot I only got in a vague sense. After staring at the parts until risking apophenia like Batman trying to figure out the Joker's red-and-black, I see some patterns now that are very important and very undeniable when pointed out, and – I hope – add a lot to readers' appreciation of FC. And then I'll have to answer why it took 9 years to get here.

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    3. Bob, agreed on the other Morrison crossovers not working; I have spent too much time pondering how the Outsiders crossover for RIP was flatly contradictory with the post-RIP events as we eventually saw them. I did enjoy, however, FC: Revelations and FC: Legion of Three Worlds very much, and scrutinized some parts of them for this review, although I should sit down and really enjoy Revelations again soon.

      I'll say in my Monitor plot post why the format Morrison used – Mandrakk appearing right after Darkseid's departure – occurred for a very good reason, or at least a very good reason exists; I can't verify that it was conscious on Morrison's part, but if it was, I will seemingly be the first person in 9 years to call it out.

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  7. First of all let me say that I'm loving your revisit of Final Crisis. You've really done a great job of gathering all the different theories that have been over the years and still been able to add something new.

    I have to say that in regards to Batman's timeline I honestly don't recall the chronology to be that difficult to work out at the time.

    Sure, we didn't know that the Batman and Robin seen at the beginning of Batman #676 was Dick and Damian and not Bruce and Damian, but that it was someone else didn't really come into play until after R.I.P. so it wasn't a big deal.

    Other than the fact that R.I.P. ran at the same time as Final Crisis it seemed straight forward. One story had to take place before the other, just as it always is with extended storylines. By the time R.I.P. ended it might have been a bit confusing as he seemingly died in that storyline, but the next two issues (while not as detailed as Batman #701-702) did show us how the two stories fit together.

    Batman issue 681-682 which came out the same month as Final Crisis #6 showed us not only that he had survived the helicopter crash but that he then went on to investigating Orion's death (in flashbacks) and then we saw what happened to him during the time between we saw him in Final Crisis #2 and #6.

    His story would then pick up in Return of Bruce Wayne #1 after the zap.

    His return in Batman & Robin #15 came out the same moth as Return of Bruce Wayne #6 so the only thing that issue did was show us that he was in fact back.

    I will give you that the fact that the clone body was destroyed in Blackest Night #5 didn't fit well with its next appearance in Batman and Robin #6-7, but Morrison's own stories did a pretty good job of laying out the timeline. As with other Final Crisis tie-ins the stories that he didn't write had more trouble fitting in, and I agree that some were contradictory.

    Also, the way it is written you make it sound like the idea of the 52 Monitors come from Morrison. That might be (I don't know for sure) but they first appeared in a story written by Tony Bedard in DCU: Brave New World in 2006.

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  8. Tenzel, thanks! And by and large, fair points. But, to break it down a little more:

    The Batman and Robin in the flash forward at the start/end of RIP were intentionally ambiguous, no doubt. An intended mystery.

    But the Batman in FC #1 was definitely a source of confusion. Batman #682-683 didn't resolve that in the slightest because #682 had the same cover date as FC #7! The mystery was when FC #1 (specifically, its preview) showed Batman when RIP wasn't half done and people were still caught up in the mystery of what RIP would DO to Batman. Would he die? Quit? Come out smelling like a rose? Nobody knew, and that was part of the mystery of RIP, and FC #1 (same cover date as the third issue of RIP) seemed to spoil it when the mystery was just getting good. Sure, we all knew that Bruce Wayne wasn't being killed off for good, but there was a lot of question about what the next year would bring and FC #1 either spoiled it, or tricked us (was that Dick Grayson as Batman?). Now that itself became an ambiguity, but it didn't seem intended.

    The clone was an interesting mystery in its own right, potentially, and had people wondering about what exactly the Omega Sanction was. I think when it's all said and done, the explanation had a small contradiction, or awkward timeline, because Simyan and Mokkari passed out (died?) when Darkseid reincarnated in FC. They were still on the ground when Batman shot Darkseid. They are still visible in one panel after the Flashes race by Darkseid. But B&R showed Darkseid ordering Simyan and Mokkari to give him the clone. I suppose they could have gotten up, done all the clone stuff, and then gone back to laying on the ground, but that's an awkward explanation. I think it's a glitch.

    Good point on the Monitors! I wonder if GM requested that scene. I didn't remember that, but I really fondly enjoyed that one-shot issue. It was a very exciting way to launch a bunch of new storylines.

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  9. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on the confusion part. To me the fact that R.I.P. and Final Crisis ran at the same time only meant one had to come before the other, and which one wasn't really that important and it was resolved in Batman #682-683 one month after the conclusion of R.I.P.

    You're wrong about the cover dates though. Batman #682 and #683 both had a coverdate of January 2009 just as Final Crisis #6. In fact Batman #683 and Final Crisis #6 both had an on sale date of November 26th 2008 according to Previews. However, DC Comics lists Final Crisis #6 as having an on sale date of January 14th 2009 so it was likely a few weeks late (can't remember that well myself)

    This means you got the info that Batman survived the helicopter fall and went into Final Crisis before his "death" in that series.

    Granted up until then you didn't know whether Final Crisis or R.I.P. came first but it was revealed in the issues just after R.I.P.

    I guess that having worked on sorting out DC chronology for over 30 years stuff like this doesn't really bother me unless something is shown that makes the order impossible. By not connecting R.I.P. and Final Crisis until after R.I.P. had ended one could easily have assumed that Final Crisis came before. But when it was revealed it was supposed to be on the same day that Batman would be "killed" in Final Crisis so nothing would be ruined.

    As for the Monitors I too wonder if it was something Morrison had requested as Final Crisis had been in the planning stages for a long time.

    I agree about the glitch in B&R though. That scene is hard to reconcile. Had it not been for the fact that Batman was not trapped in the machine in the flashback it could have been explained as having taken place somewhere in between pages of Final Crisis #5, before Darkseid seemingly killed Simyan and Mokkari.

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  10. Just wanted to add a bit of clarification to my comment that:

    "By not connecting R.I.P. and Final Crisis until after R.I.P. had ended one could easily have assumed that Final Crisis came before."

    By this I don't mean that Final Crisis came before but simply that at the time of reading the books, if that was how you ordered it in your head no mysteries from R.I.P. would be ruined as you'd simply assume that naturally Batman and everyone else defeated Darkseid in Final Crisis as is the custom. And then he'd face a crisis of his own in R.I.P. By the time you learned it was the other way around you would be up to Final Crisis #6 and R.I.P. would be done and Batman would be dying in FC so the order would just be turned around. R.I.P. would not be ruined as the revelation that he survived happened at the same time as he "died". Hope this makes sense.

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  11. Hi Tenzel,

    In mid-2008, it was clear that Final Crisis came after RIP: This was made clear online, even if the books don't exactly make it clear.

    Therefore, any use of Batman in FC #1 was a spoiler, on some level, of RIP. I'm not theorizing this after the fact: These discussions took place online and I remember them. Morrison's comment then – and the source seems no longer to be online - about the Batman in FC #1 was "yes. it's Bruce Wayne, but not necessarily as you know him."

    So this definitely spoiled the ending of RIP on some level. Now, the "not necessarily" part was a bit empty: It was Bruce Wayne almost exactly as we knew him except slightly more tired, maybe, and ambiguously believing that Dr. Hurt had cursed him such that the next time he wore the cape and cowl (i.e., in FC #1 & 2) would be the last. (And apparently the curse was expunged by Batman going to the end of time in ROBW.)

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  12. Ok. I'm going to have to take your word on that. I don't remember this being an issue at the time.

    I tried going back to your first entries on the blog to see if you discussed this but couldn't find anything. Of course, you did the first of these after the end of R.I.P.

    Could be I just never really expected R.I.P. to actually be the death of Batman but a more symbolic death instead. I honestly don't recall.

    Anyway, I still don't see having his survival spoiled by having him appear in Final Crisis #1 really caused a big mystery. It is not like we haven't seen him survive certain death before.

    I guess my main objection was with this comment:

    "Readers eventually found out, in 2010, that about four days of story time took place between the end of Doctor Hurt's attack in Batman and the death of Orion early in Final Crisis. Until then, it had been a mystery how Batman made his way between the plots of RIP and FC and from his zapping in FC to the start of Return of Bruce Wayne."

    It is true they didn't find out how he got out of the water and back to the cave until 2010, but Last Rites did show that he had returned to the Batcave and bridged the gap between R.I.P. and Final Crisis. Not as detailed as Batman #701-702 but we got a bridge. Had this been shown in Final Crisis #1 instead of just after R.I.P. we'd surely been a lot more upset with FC ruining R.I.P.

    Also the part about us not knowing how he ended up at the the beginning of Return of Bruce Wayne, well, you are right that we didn't know the whole story, but FC #7 put him at the exact point where he started off in Return of Bruce Wayne.

    Despite my small objections I still have to say that yours are the best researched articles on these books I've come across so far and I am eagerly looking forward to every new post of yours, no matter which books you are looking into.

    Keep up the good work and please don't take my complaints as anything other than a difference of opinion.

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    1. Tenzel,

      re: the 2008-2009 timeline and posts, I (and of course, many others!) posted a great deal to the DC Message Boards about RIP and Final Crisis in 2008 and into 2009. About that time, it became clear that the boards were unstable in more ways than one. Long threads of great interest were deleted unpredictably and posters were banned without any feedback besides the banning. Ultimately, all of that content is gone. I started this blog in part to get my posts somewhere safe. But I didn't post anything about FC here until 2018, whereas I posted RIP overviews in 2009 (and since). Of course, as Morrison's Batman saga went on, RIP never really stopped being news for a while.

      There were certainly few readers who thought that Bruce Wayne would cease to appear in DC comics, but there were many who at least considered that he would die and come back (which, in fact, has happened in at least three other stories I can recall, including JLA: Obsidian Age). Putting him in Final Crisis definitively gave us information to the contrary; the FC #1 preview created a mystery, but it was apparently and unintended mystery, addressed in Internet posts instead of the story which is the bones of why I cite this as unintended confusion in the place of smooth storytelling.

      Truth be told, the solicit of Batman #681 said that it had an ending no one would see coming, and 9.5 years later, I still can't identify what that refers to: Is it the origin of the phrase "Zur En Arrh"? Is it the hint that Dr. Hurt may have ordered the Wayne murders? Is it the helicopter crash? Is it the slow, shadowy reveal of Doctor Hurt as the Devil? Or was it a solicit written without a specific meaning in mind? I still don't know. Out of all of that, I find most interesting the hint (one of several, eventually) that Doctor Hurt ordered the Wayne murders, but that ambiguous "reveal" is now out of continuity anyway.

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  13. I like your analysis, but my biggest complaint is, that evil hadn't won.
    It's like saying the Falcons won Super Bowl LI.

    Ich would have really liked if FC ended with evil winning. Then the vilains would have taken over most of the titles for a while.
    Then they would be defeated.

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  14. The way FC ended, it was just the same old trope, just with some added metatextuality & philosopy.

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  15. In other words: I enjoyed what you did here more than what Morrison did.

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  16. Kinofreak,
    Thanks! I think what Morrison is saying, and I agree, is that these characters are popular because they always win. In our lives, good doesn't always win, but in their world it does and they got where they are in our minds and culture/mythology because of that. Trying to change that about them is futile. Will we ever see a movie series where Darth Vader becomes an ordinary dad living in the suburbs? No. Popular fictional characters exist to play a role, not to switch to another role (not permanently, anyway).

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  17. I know what you mean. But Ich would like to see an (DC) event ending with the heroes on the run, that would be surprising.

    By the way, will you take a look AT DARK NIGHTS METAL?

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