Tim Callahan: Honestly, the art on the new issue of Captain Britain (which one of our colleagues gave FIVE STARS to) bothered me a whole lot more, with its Mike Collins fill-in hackery on a few pages. Final Crisis #6 did have three artists working on it, and some of the Pacheco pages looked a little rushed, but I actually didn't mind the art at all. I thought Jones's pages looked mostly great, and the Mankhe Superman pages looked chaotic and bombastic and a little sordid, and that final page gave me the chills, even though we all know that it probably doesn't mean what it seems to mean.
I don't think we need to put up and SPOILER alerts at this point, considering all the other coverage that people must have been exposed to, but, yeah, Batman's dead. Deceased. A stiff. Totally and absolutely dead.
I would like to talk about some other aspects of Final Crisis #6, but Batman's death is pretty damn important, so let's get that out of the way first. What's your take on how the Batman sequence played out?
CN: Honestly, I thought the showdown with Darkseid was great, but Batman dying didn't surprise me at all. For the supposed death of one of the biggest superheroes around, it was surprisingly underwhelming. When I saw that Newsarama had a story up about it, that's when I went "Oh yeah, Batman's dead... people probably care about that, don't they?" Otherwise, fantastic sequence. I know it's unclear if Darkseid died as well, but I think Darkseid's downfall coming in such a quiet way would work very well.
TC: I thought Batman's death was a perfectly placed big-superhero final showdown moment, but that's only because I just read the final two Morrison Batman issues. Does Batman's appearance in this issue even make sense otherwise? I mean, he's totally out of the comic -- easily disposed of in issue #2 -- and then he randomly reappears now and defeats Darkseid basically out of nowhere?
I like the bit with the gun, and we should have known that god-killing bullet would reappear to, uh, kill a god, but in the context of Final Crisis itself, does this Batman climax even work properly?
CN: How would I know? I've read those same Morrison-penned Batman issues. I think the mention of Batman killing the clone army in issue five may provide enough of a reminder that the most dangerous man in the world is in the building, but I can't say for sure. Then again, it works for me since I have read those other comics.
Speaking of other comics, did the opening of this issue bother you? It obviously references the end of Superman Beyond 3D, which comes out next week. Or the possibility of spoiling the end... kind of... of Legion of Three Worlds?
TC: It does make Superman Beyond seem kind of pointless, since he just apparently hangs out in the bleed for a while and then hitches a ride from Brainiac 5 to get home. I don't think it spoils the Legion spin-off, but who knows.
I liked the Miracle Machine bit.
If you recall, which you probably don't because you are not a Legion geek, Matter-Eater Lad once went crazy because he ate the Miracle Machine, so I can only imagine what Morrison's going to do with it in Final Crisis #7.
So, to recap: I was barely annoyed by the art, slightly annoyed by the spoiling of Superman Beyond, which ties in with my overall great annoyance at the terrible shipping pattern of this book and the spin-offs, and I was not annoyed at all by the Batman death, and I enjoyed the heck out of this issue overall. It felt vast. It had scope. It feels like a pretty big Crisis now, for all those haters in the audience who said it wasn't Crisis-y enough at first. And even though we didn't get nearly enough of the new Nix Uotan in this issue, Morrison has primed us for a big conclusion with Flashes running real fast, Superman real pissed, and the Super Young Team finding themselves useful for once.
CN: I didn't mind the spoiling at all, because the end result isn't of primary importance in a Morrison comic. The journey is almost always much more important. As well, we all expected that little adventure to end with Superman rejoining his fellow heroes, so there's no big shock there. It's really just a sign of DC's bizarre and inept scheduling.
I'm with you, I really enjoyed this issue... but that's not really a surprise since we've enjoyed every issue so far. I love the Nix Uotan two page bit--it was a very inventive layout that worked with his new abilities. There were a few small moments that I don't think worked (the Hawkman/Hawkgirl dialogue, which served what purpose?), but, overall, a standard great issue.
TC: Not really. The people who don't get it still don't get it, and the people who like it still like it. But there are, of course, people who get it and don't like it, and maybe there are people who don't get it but like it anyway. I'd say that the reactions have remained pretty consistent, which doesn't make a lot of sense, now that I think about it, since the middle issues seemed to be way more in tune with what people said they wanted from issue #1. But there's no pleasing the haters, I guess.
I'm more curious about how Final Crisis meshes with Morrison's Batman stuff. In a recent interview, Morrison mentioned that when DiDio heard about his plans for Batman in Final Crisis (which was proposed back in 2006, I think), and then he heard about "Batman R.I.P." he thought that Morrison should kind of tie them together, even though "R.I.P." was intended to be a "psychological deconstruction" and not a literal death. That makes sense, and it explains why Morrison seemed to go out of his way to show that the explosion at the end of "R.I.P." wasn't Batman's final fate, even though it kind of implied that it was with the Nightwing pose and all that.
And I also wonder why I'm not getting calls from nationally syndicated radio shows this week, now that Batman has REALLY died, instead of just sort-of-but-not-really-at-all died. Don't people care about Batman's REAL, irrevocable, complete and non-refundable (but will probably be explained away within a year) death?
CN : The only thing I don't like about the tying in "Batman R.I.P." with Final Crisis is that they didn't bother to tell anyone until after "R.I.P." finished. That was just total douchebag behavior on DC's part. Otherwise, I think it mostly meshes through that scene in Batman #683 that links the two. Final Crisis is just the next adventure Batman goes on after "R.I.P." Morrison uses Final Crisis as a means to really hammer home the purpose of making every Bat-story in continuity, but, other than that, one is the fake death and the other is the real death. There is a doubling there, and Darkseid is the evil god that the Black Glove hints at, the anti-dad as it were, but that's mostly thematic stuff. Plot-wise, they're just two adventures that happen in close proximity.
TC: What do you make of the "Rock of Ages" recursion in Final Crisis? It was Batman vs. Darkseid there too, right? If you remember it better than I do, you should jump in and contradict me now, or you can jump in and tell me more about the connection, because I haven't read that arc since it first came out (in my attempt to re-read all of Morrison's JLA last year, I couldn't get past Howard Porter's terrible artwork and thus I never made it through "Rock of Ages").
CN: Yeah, I looked it up since Batman saying "Gotcha" sounded familiar, but he said something different when Darkseid's Omega Effect killed him there. And I've been saying since the first issue that Final Crisis is a rewriting of "Rock of Ages," but in that good way. The Worlogog was destroyed since then! It was the key to preventing Darkseid's takeover and it's no more! Of course "Rock of Ages" would happen then! Blame Tom Peyer and his not allowing android Hourman to be too powerful and having to learn about humanity like every other android in comics, so he dismantled the Worlogog and now everyone is screwed, "Rock of Ages" style.
That, and it's Grant Morrison writing about Darkseid's invasion of Earth... why would he leave his awesome plot for some future that never happened? Some imaginary story that only a few members of the JLA remember... Why not turn it into a giant event? But, beyond Darkseid taking over, enslaving the minds of humanity, wiping out or brainwashing heroes, and killing Batman with his Omega Effect/Sanction... what are these other similarities that people keep talking about? There aren't too many ways to tell this story without those things popping up aside from the showdown with the Dark Knight. Although, as I discussed on my blog back when issue four came out, I like the difference between the two Darkseids: in "Rock of Ages," Darkseid IS, while, in Final Crisis, Darkseid SAYS. There's a difference/tension worth exploring at some point. I love that "Rock of Ages" exists as something to compare/contrast with, to see how Morrison handles similar material differently... At least we know in Final Crisis that Orion won't destroy/remake the universe sans Darkseid. No, Morrison took that possibility off the table in the first issue god bless him.
TC: Before we move on to talk about what might happen in the finale/future of the DCU, I'd just like to point out that I absolutely loved the Tawky Tawny vs. Kalibak battle and aftermath. Yes, the soldiers bowing to their new "liege" is a cliche, but it's a fun one, and the straightening out the bow tie was a brilliant little moment as he faced his seemingly-inevitable death with dignity. Great stuff.
But moving on...what do you think of the moving-the-DC-Earth-to-a-parallel-dimension plot? It makes me wonder about the synchronicity of Millar's Nu-Earth in Fantastic Four (and is it Morrison undermining/responding to Millar, or vice-versa, or neither). And I wonder what it will all mean for the expected Fifth World. Any theories on any of that?
CN: Not really, but that's more a symptom of my unwillingness to speculate on where plots are going, which we've established previously. I don't think that's where they'll go for various reasons, mostly just the doubt that they'll move the entire population of Earth to an alternate world. It could provide some interesting story ideas, but even the small glimpses of what's going post-Final Crisis indicate against that. I think it's far more likely we'll begin to see humans becoming superhumans ala the end of Flex Mentallo or Morrison's JLA run. "The age of men as gods" and all that good stuff. But even that seems unlikely... or will be done in a limited way that tries its best not to appear a rip-off of Marvel's mutants, but can't quite get the job done, because it's a rip-off of Marvel's mutants. But, really, I dunno.
TC: When Final Crisis started, or when the first rumors started circulating, or somewhere in between, there was speculation that the DC icons would die and ascend to become the "New Gods" of the Fifth World, right? Then, it appeared that DC editorial vetoed that idea, and then it became Batman alone ascending to the status of a new New God. Now Batman just seems dead. So I have no idea where anything's going at this point.
Clearly there will be some kind of showdown with Darkseid's more elemental form, via the Flashes (since killing the Turpin-body couldn't really have killed Darkseid for real, could it?), and by the end of issue #7, NOTHING WILL BE THE SAME AGAIN. Or, it probably will be exactly the same, but Batman will be sort of dead for a while. Maybe the invasion of Earth by alien forces of evil will end with a reign of darkness of some sort. Or as Darkseid's cosmic form disintegrates, it will fall from the sky, a veritable "Dark Rain."
CN: Who knows? Well, I guess Grant Morrison and a bunch of people at DC know, but we only have to wait two weeks to find out, so it's not so bad. For some reason, I have a feeling that Darkseid will seem to win only to have Mister Miracle standing behind him, having escaped once again and then... well, bye bye Darkseid or something, I dunno. I will bet on Metron's weapon playing a role. Oh, and Kamandi. Morrison promised Kamandi at the end, so I'd expect him to show up. But other than that... dunno.