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Cover date: October 2008
"DC Universe: Last Will and Testament" - "Conversions"
Writer: Brad Meltzer
Penciller: Adam Kubert
Inker: Joe Kubert and John Dell
Reviewed by: Neal Bailey
Black Lightning persuades him not to murder Deathstroke, as outside the world has not seen light for two days.
Diana and Donna Troy bury coins to come back and retrieve, per Greek tradition.
Black Lightning continues trying to persuade Geo-Force not to kill Deathstroke.
Starfire waits at Dick Grayson's family gravesite for Nightwing. Instead, Nightwing, along with Batman and Robin, spend a night together on duty.
Grace Choi meets with a former Challenger and speaks of religion and God.
Captain Cold foils a robbery.
Geo-Force meets with the former Challenger, Rocky, and asks him what he should do. Rocky urges him not to become a criminal.
Geo-Force faces Deathstroke, who hits him with a serum that removes his powers. He falls from a great height.
Pa and Clark talk about the impending end.
Geo-Force falls into a dumpster, and reveals that he's facing Slade where they slit Slade's son's throat. Deathstroke scoffs, noting that it's been tried before, and puts two swords through Geo-Force's legs and pins him to a bin. He indicates he won't be killing Geo-Force, because he's an investment, just like his sister was, as an infiltrator.
Geo-Force slits his own throat, and then, as Deathstroke moves to save him, stabs him in the chest.
Both survive, but Geo-Force is reassured in that he beat Deathstroke in combat.
Wally and Hal prepare for another day in the life.
Story - 2: In terms of characterizing Geo-Force and making him someone I could get into from a complete nobody, this is a big win. In terms of pretty much everything else, resolution, build-up, padding, and general motivation, the story fails.
I hate to say that, because generally I very much dig Meltzer's work, but it was off here. It might be because it's a yarn spinning out of Final Crisis and the events don't match up to the actualities. It's more likely because half of the story is rather random stuff that's put in because it's cute but holds no relevance to what's going on.
This book was billed as "What would happen if everyone had to say goodbye?" In reality it's a story about random DC characters and odd little things they do to cope with fear, coupled badly with a Geo-Force story, and it's mainly a Geo-Force story. Okay. I get that people won't buy a Geo-Force story on its own. So either don't tell the story because it won't sell, or tell it because it's a good story, but you have to choose one.
It didn't feel like the end of the world to me. Two days with no lights on? Uh, okay. Why? And in the DCU, you're telling me two days with no sun is enough to make people murderers? I don't buy it. That's what I'm talking about in terms of premise not matching up. This is commonplace in the DCU. Remember when Zod turned the sun red?
The cute factor side stuff hurt this story a lot, not because it was side stuff and cute, but because it wasn't really that extraordinarily compelling, beyond Diana burying coins. Captain Cold stopping a robbery. Batman and Robin leaping off a building. Pa and Clark talking, ending with Pa positively encouraging Clark. Wally and Hal taking joy in what they do. Choi and religion. They're joyous and morbid cathartic moments, but they've been done. There should be a special reason they have a momentous meaning to redo them, and two days without sun isn't enough for me. Beyond that, they expose a continuity flaw. Clark is supposed to be with Lois (as we find out this week in Superman Beyond, and as we knew before from Final Crisis #2, I believe it was), or she's dead. What's he doing talking to Pa? Some sort of pseudo-science crap about a therma-vision murmur stopper or something as I recall.
The major fun of this issue is that Geo-Force, a character I (and thusly a typical reader, I would imagine, given my immersion into the comic world) know little to nothing about goes against Slade, a character I know a good deal about mostly thanks to Brad Meltzer. Two of his pet characters.
I got hollered at, I can't remember who said it, but someone got indignant, "YOU HAVEN'T DEFINED PET CHARACTERS! What do you even MEAN?" And then they screamed at me for hyperbole. God knows why, I'm as subtle as a church mouse in a void.
But all sarcasm aside, just as hyperbole is a tool I use to keep you interested, so too are pet characters to writers, generally. You associate, for instance, Kevin Smith with Onamatopoeia, or Rucka with Ruin and Montoya, or Busiek with the CSA. Sometimes it's a good thing, sometimes it's a bad thing (just like hyperbole). Pet characters are creator favorites that a given artist keeps using over other characters. This book is a prime example. The ENTIRE DCU is ending, and Meltzer focuses on GEO-FORCE. And Deathstroke. To allay this, he shows a page or two with other characters in an attempt to distract you from the fact that this is a pet character book. That didn't work for me. It might have for you.
The major fun, thereby, is to the extent of which the two characters are characterized in this book, which is decently. And there's even an indication of a change. Slade might die. Geo-Force might die.
Geo-Force SLITS HIS THROAT through to the back of his spine, and survives. Huh? Slade is run through, and survives.
So in other words, all of this build-up, all of this emotion, just to put both characters exactly where they were when all of this started, save the revelation that Slade is using Geo-Force as a guinea pig in some contest I still don't understand because I haven't read the issues referenced here.
All in all, a vanity project, honestly. And while it hit some really great notes, it wasn't enough to distract from the obvious, from internal continuity errors (Geo-Force is shown to be invincible with the flames thing, and yet needles puncture his skin) to no major conflict resolution.
Art - 5: Fine art, from top to bottom. It felt very much like Identity Crisis did, oddly, which is this great, gritty, almost sad tone where spandex still seems to make sense somehow. I had a great time looking at this book, even if the story left me scratching my head.
Cover Art (Heroes) - 4: I'm a bit upset that what's shown on this cover isn't really what happens. It's kind of the beginnings of what happens, the side of what happens. It's still spectacularly drawn, but context does count.
Cover Art (Geo-Force) - 5: Essentially the same cover, but with an awesome rendition of the main character of this story in actuality. VERY well done.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2008.