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Final Crisis #4
Writer: Grant Morrison
Art: J.G. Jones and Carlos Pacheco & Jesus Merino
One quick note about this issue: the events of Final Crisis #4 take place immediately following the events of the Final Crisis: Submit one-shot, also written by Grant Morrison. While you can read this issue without that one, Submit does inform a few of the events that occur within this book.
Spoilers on . . .
At just past the half-way point, Final Crisis has picked up for me a bit. I’ve had some problems with the first three issues, largely stemming from the book attacking a number of ideas that haven’t been fully realizing or depicted in any kind of manner that would allow a new reader to pick up even the first issue. With issue #4, Morrison and the Gang have focused primarily on building on events that were depicted in the first three issues, and it makes for a better flow. Also, there’s a conscious effort to help out less continuity-aware readers by actually using character names in conversation, marking one of the few times that Dan Turpin’s name has even been mentioned in the book.
This issue plays out more like a post-apocalyptic action film. The opening recaps quickly the devastating effects of the Anti-Life, and breaks down how systems collapsed and the population came under the sway of Darkseid. It’s pretty effective, and moves quickly into the drama unfolding at the Hall of Justice. An organized resistance in underway with Green Lantern Alan Scott coordinating. A number of heroes have already fallen (or are listed as Off-World on the JSA-version of the Legion Mission Monitor Board), and things look mighty bleak. Morrison excels throughout at ratcheting up the tension; the threat looks nearly insurmountable.
In terms of art, well, there will probably be some controversy. It’s been well-covered via a variety of outlets that Pacheco came on to keep the trains running, and that the seventh issue will have a third artist on the chores. Do I think that the art switch harms the book? Somewhat. I believe that this is a series that will ultimately read better in trade, but that experience will now have some jarring moments based on the art switches. Both artists are good artists, but their styles don’t really match. Frankly, I like Pacheco better for this book. My knock on Jones is that his figures usually appear to be pretty static, while Pacheco does well with action and crowds.
From a plot perspective, this one actually has quite a few payoffs. We get more on the Flashes. The notion of Metron fighting this war across time appears again. Godfrey and the other followers of Darkseid discuss his plans in more detail. It’s a natural expansion of the concepts, and well-handled.
One bad note comes from the coloring, namely the fact that Mr. Miracle II appears to be depicted as white. This would be the second time in the series that a black character has been erroneously tinted (the first being Empress in the first issue); it should be an easy thing to notice and fix in production, so it’s a distraction when it appears in the final book.
At this point, Final Crisis reads decently, but with three chapters left, it’s going to need to pick up a lot to be considered one of Morrison’s best super-hero efforts.