Best Shots Extra: Final Crisis: Superman Beyond

Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1 (of 2) cover

Final Crisis: Superman Beyond

From: DC Comics

Writer: Grant Morrison

Art: Doug Mahnke (with Chistian Alamy, Rodney Ramos, Tom Nguyen and Walden Wong)

Color: David Baron

Letters: Steve Wands

3-D: Ray Zone

Preview: Here

Superman Beyond comes off like a hybrid of the mad invention you see in All-Star Superman and the dire nature of Final Crisis. This is Morrison at his most buoyant (and, at times, boyish, but in a good way), floating through the narrative with crazy ideas, callbacks to previously established bits, and a love for the Silver Age filtered through the modern. This is the Morrison that I’ve wanted on the main Final Crisis book.

As the story gets rolling, we revisit the moment from #3 where Superman departs Lois’s bedside in the company of the female Monitor, Zillo Valla. She’s promising Superman a swap, if he accompanies her on a mission to save Creation, then she’ll ensure the survival of Lois. It’s a proposition that Superman would likely ever turn down, so he’s swiftly off on a multiversal adventure through The Bleed with some very familiar characters (or at least iterations of very familiar characters). It’s in these opening pages that Morrison blows the doors off; he’s throwing in all kinds of ideas, smoothly incorporating long-standing concepts with his read on the nature of the multiverse, the role of the Monitors, and clever turns on certain heroes.

About midway through, Morrison falls back on an idea from his Animal Man run, but it’s something that actually makes complete sense in context and helps push the story forward. It’s about here that I realized why so many of the Final Crisis beats seem to feel like Morrison is repeating himself. I frankly believe that Final Crisis and his related work are his version of a “Greatest Hits” album. Everything involved, from the looming threat of Darkseid to the flash-forward to an Anti-Life future to the characters in Limbo to the weapons against the Gods across time, has been something that he’s done before. I think now that he’s invoking those things on a metatextual level, perhaps to make his Final Statement on the nature of the DC Universe as he sees it. The fresh bits, like the Orrery of Worlds, are like the new bonus single.

I must say a bit about Doug Mahnke. Years ago, I wasn’t a big fan of his style. Over time, I’ve really grown to like it. And he’s absolutely on fire here. Abetted by a variety of inkers, he draws huge-scale conflicts and universe-spanning vistas and makes it look easy. There are thematic concerns and notions that I won’t reveal, but those too plug back to my “Hits” theory. Honestly, Morrison wrote a ripping good time here, and Manhke and crew realize the visuals at an extremely high level.

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