There have been a lot of new clues since the last time I rapped at y’all, so I’m here to set the record straight and share some insights I’ve had during the
March on Road to Countdown to Final Crisis. What have we seen?
1. The Source exposed in Death of the New Gods #5
Well, a lot of my thinking on Morrison’s faux-manichaean outlook is confirmed in this issue, which basically consists of the world’s first Bond villain speech conducted by a MAYA 3D effect. Good Source is a fickle God and wants to reunite with Bad Source, who’s out there somewhere in the Bleed, to regain full power, unmake the New Gods, and usher in the Fifth World, because he thought the Old Gods were backstabbing douchebags (which, well, they were, but Source doesn’t seem to have a magnetic personality) and the New Gods were kind of pussies. In the comic it’s way more complicated than this, but as far as I can tell, this is the real skinny. It’s also revealed that the Source and the Bleed are two totally separate things, and that the Source Wall always was a total misnomer and actually just ‘holds back’ the Bleed. This isn’t as offensive a retcon as it seems at first because, despite how important to the mythology it’s become, the Source Wall actually isn’t a Jack Kirby invention; believe it or not, you can blame Walter Simonson in, of all things, the Teen Titans/X-Men crossover. It surprised me, too.
We also discovered, despite all logic and silhouettes inserted by artists, that Infinity-Man was not the killer of New Gods; it was, in fact, kindly old Himon! This doesn’t make any sense, and kind of stinks of an Armageddon 2001-esque retcon, but maybe Starlin’s got a fakeout planned. Meanwhile, over in Countdown, Brother Eye ate Apokolips, everyone’s getting iced and I have no idea how this fits in with what’s going on in DONG. There’s a semi-believable theory running around that Solaris from DC One Million is an older Apokolips/Brother Eye hybrid, and I kind of buy it, but it doesn’t seem consistent with established history.
2. Libra and the Human Flame
We’ve been informed by Grant Morrison that these two hepcats are going to play major roles in Final Crisis proper. They’ve each got exactly one appearance to their name, so here’s a rundown:
Libra was introduced in Justice League of America #111 (Len Wein & Dick Dillin). He had a completely awesome costume that included balancing scales as his face mask, which I’m still kind of annoyed J.G. Jones has dropped from his redesign. His basic schtick was that he built an anti-satellite on the exact opposite side of the Earth as the JLA’s satellite, where he gathered up a bunch of losers as the first Injustice Gang to take down the JLA. Dude even played chess with little DC character figures, just like the Darkseid/Solomon game currently going on in Countdown. His stated goal, at least to the villains he duped in the Injustice Gang: “Precisely what my name IMPLIES, my friend – provide a BALANCE between EVIL – US – and the forces of GOOD – specifically the JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA!”
The balancing act between good and evil is, from everything that’s been revealed, the central theme of Final Crisis, with the Source trying to integrate its good and evil halves and provide a balance to user in a new creation. At the end of JLA #111, Libra actually wins; he steals half the powers of the Justice League – half Superman’s invulnerability, Flash’s speed, Batman’s intellect – and uses them with a big machine to become a god and know universal knowledge. He is then absorbed into the universe itself, completely disassociated as a personality. How he will return remains unknown, although considering he comes back with an army of super-villains, Salvation Run seems like a pretty damn good bet.
The Human Flame was introduced in Detective Comics #274 in a Martian Manhunter backup story. This is, seriously, basically all we learn about him before he goes and fights J’onn in a fairly cliched fight:
Morrison has basically admitted he’s including this guy because he found him funny and he wanted to have the metaphor of evil coming to Earth and “snuffing out the human flame.”
3. The Return of Bat-Mite
Meanwhile, over in Morrison’s other book, Grant Morrison has brought back that mischievous lovable lil’ impish 5th-dimensional Bat-fan, Bat-Mite. Except now he has a creepy green-eyed spider on his back for some reason. It was vague whether he was real or a hallucination until this line, from Batman #674:
“These are the secrets of DEATH we teach. We came all the way from SPACE B at the FIVEFOLD EXPANSION of ZRFFF to prepare your PASSAGE.”
I don’t know how much this will tie in with Final Crisis – I expect a decent bit, considering the Fifth Dimension lies outside our time and space and could theoretically view all of hypertime at once, although Mxyzptlk recently ‘sealed it off’ in Countdown #22 (I think?) – but I think it’s important to mention that A) Zrfff is the part of the Fifth Dimension that the thunderbolts/djinns and imps such as Mxyzptlk and Bat-Mite come from, and B) “Space B” is not random Morrison gobbledegook.
52, Week Forty-Seven:
BUDDY: “Huh? Where am I now? Is this the existential isolation trauma Kory warned me about?” (It’s interesting to note Batman only has these visions after the existential isolation trauma of Dr. Simon Hurt’s isolation experiment from Batman #156 and the Thogal ordeal during 52).
ALIEN: “You have reached the outer edge of SPACE B, Buddy Baker. From here, you can access any point in space OR time in THIS, your UNIVERSE.”
ALIEN2: “This is how the sun-eater shoals TRAVEL on their intergalactic migrations.”
BUDDY: “Look, WHATEVER you guys are – I just want to get back to my WIFE and family! I need to know she got through the CRISIS and everyone’s OKAY! Look, I KNOW you’re on my side!”
ALIEN: “Out here, there are no SIDES.”
So, what is Batman being prepared for? Morrison loves the idea of the cross-time ‘initiation’ during an alien abduction: he used it in Invisibles (everyone), JLA (Rock of Ages), Seven Soldiers (I, Spyder) and I don’t really expect him to stop. What’s Batman’s initiation to? Has it already happened? Is this storyline solely within Batman, leading into Batman R.I.P., or is it related to the cosmic events of Final Crisis? I’m not sure, but there’s another book out there where it’s a little less vague:
4. Oh my Gog!
This week, Justice Society of America #13, we find out a lot more about who Gog is and what he wants, and it fits in very very smoothly with the Fourth Worldbuilding going on elsewhere in the line and as part of Final Crisis’s leadup. To wit:
HERCULES: “Thou truly believed HERCULES would FALL? Are you like the OTHER fools out there? Trying to rid the world of its ‘New’ Gods?”
GOG: “NO. They worship the Fourth World. I worship the Third. I believe that the UNIFICATION of GOOD and EVIL will lead to the future.”
Gog’s line, well, it’s pretty easy to see where that fits in. It seems that the Gog that power-staff Gog is worshipping is the last survivor of the Death of the Old Gods, and now suddenly he’s back to… help the Source with its mission? His motives aren’t completely clear. It’s worth noting that the pantheons of the Greek and Roman and Nordic Gods – the Gods of the Third World – were just big incestuous families – yeah, Hades lived in, uh, Hades, but basically there was not a clear separation of ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’ Gods. That’s unique to the Fourth World and the flaw in the Source’s creation. So, it’s implied that Gog is backing the Source, and wants to come back to run the Fifth World? I don’t know exactly, but it’s clearly connected.
I’m curious to see how DC’s “no tie-ins” policy for Final Crisis will work – will we just see related mysteries and events in other comics that aren’t required to get Final Crisis, so Final Crisis will affect other comics but not vice versa? I dunno. I hope to see everyone again the next time DC drops as many clues and bombs like this, and I’ll be reporting in the Wednesday of DC Universe: Zero and every issue of Final Crisis.