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Final Crisis #2 Final Crisis #2

Final Crisis #2

Scheduled to arrive in stores: June 25, 2008

Cover date: August 2008

"Ticket to Bludhaven"

Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciller: JG Jones
Inker: Alex Sinclair
Cover Art: JG Jones

Reviewed by: Barry Freiman

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Young Japanese heroes are criticized by Sunburst, an older Japanese hero, for not standing for anything. At a bar frequented by Japanese super-types, Sonny Sumo is fighting with a mechanical villain. His body is burnt from the fight and he goes into the men's room. There's a 'ping, ping, ping' noise and his skin suddenly reverts to normal. The younger heroes try to get close to Sumo. Suddenly he's approached by Shilo Norman, a.k.a. Mister Miracle. Miracle tells Sumo that the "Motherboxxx" led him to Sumo, that there was a cosmic war, and evil won. He tells Sumo that 'they' are among us now and that he was hoping Sumo would help put together a super-team.

Meanwhile, the African American man who woke up at the end of the last issue is focused on his dictionary as he goes through every word, saying them one at a time. He goes to work at Big Belly Burger. There, he is talking to himself out loud about how he was judged by the Monitors who sentenced him to exile on Earth. He feels that, if he can just find the right word, he'll be taken home. Back at his apartment, he continues speaking word after word while he draws pictures - of himself as a Monitor, of an alternate version of Superman, and other variant characters.

Dan Turpin beats up the Mad Hatter looking for the missing children again. Turpin revels in beating up the Mad Hatter. Finally, Hatter relents and tells him to find the children in Bludhaven. At the same time, on television, the news says that Reverend Good is continuing to pressure President Horne to prioritize the Bludhaven recovery. Turpin heads to Bludhaven.

Meanwhile, on Mars, the DCU heroes bury J'onn. Superman eulogizes him, and finishes by saying that "We'll all miss him. And pray for a resurrection."

On Earth, Libra tries to continue assembling his villain army. Clayface says he's next on the list of villains getting their heart's desire. Luthor is still reticent and is trying to assemble his own team to stand against Libra. He's got Sivana on his side and now he's trying to get Vandal Savage to join him. Savage says that, as an immortal, if Libra can relieve him of being bored, he'll do anything Libra wants.

The Human Flame tells Libra that he owes him for putting him back in the limelight. Libra tells Flame to come back inside so they can discuss "what you owe me."

Meanwhile, the League is back at the Hall of Justice. They are analyzing the recent deaths of Orion and J'onn. Superman says the global superhuman community is on priority alert. Batman believes the murder of J'onn was an organized-crime styled execution. He has the Flash looking for connections between the two murders.

Hal Jordan enters with Alpha Lantern Kraken. She is very critical of Jordan and the League. Batman explains to her that he believes Orion was killed by a bullet that detonated inside Orion's skull - though he doesn't know what type of bullet. The bullet apparently left no trace of its passage through Orion's body. Batman tells Kraken he sent John Stewart to investigate the crime scene.

John and Green Lantern Opto are investigating at the scene of Orion's death. John's ring has found a trace energy signature that it can't identify buried in the concrete foundation for at least 50 years. He continues to dig it up and the ring tells him "Caution: Unidentified Theo Toxic Trace Material". The ring says something about radion and emergency then it dies out, as if out of energy. Suddenly, John's attacked by another GL that he recognizes. Opto hears John's cries and heads back toward him as a GL-energy shaped half-Guardian/half-monkey clangs together cymbals.

The Alpha Lanterns show up at Hal Jordan's apartment and place him under arrest for the attempted murder of John Stewart.

Back at the Hall of Justice, neither Batman nor Superman believes Hal is guilty. Superman heads back to the Daily Planet to put in an appearance as Clark Kent. Batman stays behind. Dr. Mid-Nite and Wonder Woman are treating John Stewart's injuries with the Amazonian purple healing ray.

Batman tells Kraken they need to talk about Hal Jordan. Orion's body is enveloped by energy and Kraken explains that a god's body is mostly energy. Suddenly, Kraken cries out "Help me! She's eating my mind alive ... Tell them our weapons don't work." Batman calls a black alert and for the Hall to be sealed. Batman realizes Kraken - or whoever has possessed her - attacked John Stewart. Kraken attacks Batman and takes him into the boom tube to be a "new plaything for Granny".

In Bludhaven, Reverend Good leads Turpin into "Command D". He talks to Turpin of being reborn. Turpin says this is about the missing children. Reverend Good tells Turpin that he already met the six missing children. Turpin doesn't remember. They enter a prison where there are people caged like animals and being enslaved -- including a long-haired blonde boy who looks like Kamandi. Then they enter a factory - the Evil Factory -- where Kraken and others are performing devious experiments. Behind them, Batman is ensnared in some type of contraption. Batman screams to Turpin that "[t]hey're coming to get us all" and begs him to warn the JLA.

Back at the Daily Planet, Clark Kent talks to Perry about the obituary he wrote for J'onn J'onzz. Lois has a disc with everything she has on the missing kids story. She gives it to Jimmy to take downstairs. Clark realizes he just saw Jimmy elsewhere. As the elevator doors close, Jimmy's body morphs - he's Clayface in disguise. Suddenly, there's an explosion. The top floors of the Daily Planet are consumed in a fireball. Clark's suit is burnt away and Superman sees the lifeless hand of Lois Lane amidst the rubble.

In Central City, Wally West and Jay Garrick arrive at the theater where Libra was holding the villain meeting (also the site where Barry Allen first ventured to Earth-2 to meet the Golden Age Flash and usher in the age of the Multiverse). Wally says a tracking station recorded a seismic pulse there at the moment they think J'onn's heart exploded. Wally finds Martian blood traces and some type of "Crime Bible". There's also something that looks like Metron's Mobius Chair.

Wally explains to Jay that Batman's theory is that a bullet was fired backward through time, passing through Orion and killing him, and continuing into the past where it buried itself into the concrete foundation. They believe the Mobius Chair may be some type of higher-dimensional gun. It energizes and lights up. Wally and Jay feel strange but familiar vibrations. Out comes Barry Allen, the Silver Age Flash. He screams "Run!" as he's racing a cosmic bullet with the Black Racer in pursuit.

To be continued...

5Story - 5: Wow. Until I actually wrote up the story synopsis, I didn't have a clear sense of exactly how much is going on in this issue all intricately tied together. Japan may not seem like the place to open for some readers but, combined with the art, it really sets a tone for the hyper-reality of New Earth.

Some Martian Manhunter fans may feel J'onn's death and funeral should have gotten more coverage. But I believe Morrison is aptly displaying that a Crisis is truly brewing. If the Martian's death is being dealt with in a cursory manner, it's because there's so much more Crisis happening all around the heroes.

J'onn's death is a big deal to the League. It wouldn't be as big a deal to the rest of the world because J'onn wasn't a very public hero. He never quite let go of his alienation from the people of Earth. He always tried to fit in but the emphasis has always been on the "try" and not on actually succeeding in finding a place for himself - that is, anywhere but with the Justice League. That immediately makes this death different from Supergirl's demise in "Crisis on Infinite Earths" and Impulse's death in "Infinite Crisis".

The last line of Superman's eulogy perhaps tips us off to what Morrison is really getting at. The death of a superhero isn't like death in our world. J'onn's casket is surrounded by the resurrected - Superman, Hal Jordan (Green Lantern), Oliver Queen (Green Arrow), Hawkman, and Ice among others. Death has become superhero shorthand for defeat but it is no longer necessarily an ending. Perfect foreshadowing for the world's worst secret which reveals itself on the final page of the issue.

There's no detail left unchecked by Morrison. The villains logically meet at a time when the superheroes are busy mourning off-planet (though it defies logic that none of them would remain behind to protect Earth). Libra sits in a Mobius Chair to make clear he's working for the benefit of the New Gods - or is it to infer that he's actually Metron in disguise engaged in some game to ensure cosmic balance? Any way you look at it, by the time Libra takes Human Flame back into the theater to discuss what he owes him, it's clear the Human Flame's just as much a pawn of ultimate evil as the heroes.

The scenes in the Hall of Justice perfectly encapsulate the heroes' personalities. Batman plays emotionless detective. Superman is both committed and yet always aware of other responsibilities (in this case, Clark Kent). When Wonder Woman calls Kraken "sister", I can almost hear the character's voice from the animated "Justice League" show. Green Lantern is the perfect soldier - both leader and servant at the same time.

There's a great little moment when Batman explains that he's asked the Flash to investigate links between J'onn's and Orion's deaths. At first I read this and thought that was crazy, that Wally's no detective. But it actually captures exactly how far Wally's come since the first Crisis when he was still Kid Flash.

It was a no-brainer that Kraken was going to turn on the heroes but to find out that she appears to be possessed by Granny Goodness was a shock. That she could capture Batman even more shocking. But to reveal that Turpin apparently has Darkseid's essence rattling around in his brain? Completely unexpected and yet totally logical.

And then there's Lois Lane, Superman's ultimate damsel in distress doing what she does so well. Whether or not the villains know Clark Kent is Superman, putting Lois and the rest of the Daily Planet in jeopardy is an ingenious way to keep Superman from interfering with Batman's capture. And it gives Lex the nudge to join Libra's team.

Finally - Barry Allen. That he's returned may be no surprise but it's played out elegantly. His return ties into the story as opposed to being an arbitrary return from the dead at a coincidentally appropriate time. And the place of his return is perfection. Barry's life has always been about running in circles up until his death in which he ran himself into the very lightning bolt that resulted in his becoming the Flash in the first place. The Multiverse was born when Barry visited the Central City Community Center in "Flash (1st vol.)" #123 ("The Flash of Two Worlds"). Now he's back at the same place in another Crisis portending dire consequences and/or a rebirth for the Multiverse.

5Art - 5: It's a good time to be JG Jones. Coming off 52 beautiful "52" covers, his creator-owned property (along with Mark Millar), "Wanted", was released last Friday as a feature length motion picture. And then there's "Final Crisis". The interior art in this issue is stunning. The level of detail rivals that of George Perez in the original "Crisis". The first three pages alone are worth the price of admission. The layout on pages 2 and 3 perfectly captures the sense of over-bloated consumerism in a world of super-heroes. And if JG's never been to Japan, he's sure doing a good imitation. It's been over 20 years since I've been to Tokyo but I always described it as New York intensified, kind of like the city scenes in the live-action "Josie and the Pussycats" movie. The style of the buildings, the neon-lit skies of areas like the Ginza and Shinjuku, and the emphasis of the young on fashion fabulousness all recreate Japan on paper for this gaiku-jin.

The spread on Mars for J'onn's funeral is almost perfect. Absolute perfection would have come if the super-heroine Gypsy (from the Detroit Justice League) were front and center as she always looked on J'onn as a mentor. But Vixen - also a Detroit JLA'er and current Leaguer - is a main mourner so that compensates a bit. Also where's Miss Martian? Though there's been no official link made between her and J'onn, it would have been nice to see her reaction to the death of a fellow Martian.

One question: Who's the guy standing immediately to the right of Firestorm? He looks a bit like the Silver Age J'onn. Has the prayed for resurrection already taken place?

3Cover Art (Flash) - 3: This is kind of a dull cover. Nothing about this cover says "Crisis" to me. Well except for the Flash. I wish the cover captured more of the excitement inside.

Also, if that's Barry Allen, where's his costume-emitting ring?

4Cover Art (Batman Captured) - 4: A little better than the main cover. It's Batman in a trap. Will he find a way out of this impossible imprisonment? Or is the Caped Crusader destined to become a slave of the Fifth World? Tune in tomorrow, er, next month, same Bat time, same Bat channel.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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