Jun
25

Final Crisis #2 – “Ticket to Bludhaven”

Posted by on Wednesday, June 25th, 2008 at 03:58:43 PM

You know the drill. Let’s roll. Massive spoilers ahead.

Note: I’m going to be largely talking about the book without Countdown; sections that relate to events in Countdown or Countdown-related series or really anything outside of the Johns/Morrison/Rucka axis will be discussed separately, since anything “learned” in Countdown is suspect.

Okay, double note: Note the text on both covers is rougher and misaligned – I assume this is the beginning of the “dissolving effect” Chip Kidd was talking about.

Triple note: Oh, hey, Douglas Wolk was timely too! His annotations are up here.

Page One:
We kick off with another letterboxed page similar to last issue, this time outside of a harajuku club in Japan. I’m afraid I can’t read any of the signs, but I imagine it’s just referenced from a real location since that appears to be a Blade advertisement on the billboard.

Flash #163
Flash #163

The kids outside the club are all wearing mishmashes of superhero iconography, per Morrison’s descriptions of the culture in the Sketchbook. The guy in center is wearing a shirt of Batman TV show sound effects, next to a guy wearing the cover to Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s The Killing Joke on his back.

Of the most note, however, is the bouncer, whose plea – “STOP! You must be SUPERCOOL to proceed! YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT!” – mirrors (literally!) the cover of Flash v1 #163, cited by Morrison as his favorite comic, where he declares to the reader “STOP! Don’t pass up this issue! MY LIFE DEPENDS ON IT!”. This is especially important given the event at the end of the issue.

Pages Two and Three:
Morrison uses Rising Sun’s exposition to basically get across the tradition of Japanese superheroics he fairly lengthily goes into in the Sketchbook.

Page Four:
This is Sonny Sumo, from Forever People #4-7. He rolled with the Forever People for a while, and had control of the Anti-Life Equation, which he never used. At the end of those issues, Darkseid’s Omega Effect transported all the Forever People through time, depositing Sonny in ancient Japan. He has apparently, in an untold story, returned to the present and is now a highly respected professional badass in Japan. As a side note, I love Morrison’s characterization of him.

Page Five:
Sumo’s more aggressive here than in the original comics, and more mercenary, suggesting some sort of transformative experience.

Page Six:
No annotations, fairly obvious, and also extremely badass. The now-deceased Megayakuza here is new.

Page Seven:
This is Shilo Norman, Mister Miracle from the Seven Soldiers series and young apprentice of Scott Free in the latter issues of Kirby’s original Mister Miracle run. He’s turned his career as an escape artist into a way to becoming a modern supercelebrity, but he keeps talking about the war in Heaven being over and Darkseid being on Earth, beliefs which have many of his friends and the media thinking he’s largely crazy. (Why people would doubt this in the DCU, I have no idea).

Page Eight:
Shilo Norman also has the last remaining Mother Box (living computers of New Genesis created by Himon, the renegade of Apokolips), which he calls Motherboxxx, a name likely inspired by the OutKast half-album Speakerboxxx. It has restorative properties, and Sonny Sumo recognizes its sound from Vykin the Black of the Forever People’s Mother Box. He knows the danger that’s coming and is apparently trying to put a posse together for reasons and/or purpose unknown, although “fighting Darkseid” is presumably part of their mandate.

UPDATE:
Tom pointed out, very correctly, in the comments that this scene – where the mother box cures Sonny Sumo’s broken skin – is reminiscent of Orion needing a mother box to look pleasant. Additionally, Shilo Norman delivers it, which brings to mind the possibility that this is Orion and Scott Free together again for the first time – Darkseid might wear bodies out as he possesses them, but then wouldn’t the good gods *support* their hosts? It’s like those emotional spectrum space animals (ie Ion, Parallax) in Green Lantern.

Page Nine:
This is Nix Uotan, exiled Monitor who we saw on the last page of Final Crisis #1, in his Earthly body, apparently going through the dictionary Black Adam-style to rediscover his “Word of Attention.” He’s apparently been implanted into the body of an existing person, considering he has an apartment, possessions, routine, job, etc.

The pictures he’s drawing on the bottom are from an alternate Earth Morrison brought up briefly in Animal Man; Overman was a Superman who got an STD and went crazy. There’s an additional Overgirl, as well as an angry Monitor, someone (either a Monitor or J’onn) screaming, and what looks like a sort of Nazified Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen (a character who is a Captain Atom analogue).

UPDATE: After inspection, this clearly isn’t the Overman from Animal Man; this is more likely the Nazi Superman (Overman is a direct transliteration of “Ubermensch”) from Earth-10, and his feminine equivalent, which matches up with the Nazi-looking Dr. Manhattan/Captain Atom (and the sinister Monitor, possibly Solomon).

Page Ten:
Turpin again, who we last saw on his knees in Final Crisis #1. He’s currently beating the shit out of the Mad Hatter in his apartment, while the Hatter confesses to providing the Dark Side Club with mind control hats. Turpin’s beating the living shit out of him, blacking out every few panels, demanding to know where the kids were taken (even though he found them last issue).

Page Eleven:
Reverend G. Godfrey Good (Glorious Godfrey) is prostelyzing on television and asking for government aid to Bludhaven for reasons unknown, since the Evil Gods have their HQ there. By the end , he’s beaten the living shit out of the Mad Hatter with a toilet seat, discovers the children are being sent to Bludhaven, and takes a ticket out.

Page Twelve:
Martian Manhunter’s funeral; basically every superhero around is in attendance.

Page Thirteen:
Back to Libra and his Secret Society, as Luthor continues to threaten to walk out. There are a few extra villains at the table, including the Rogues, Clayface and Deathstroke.

Page Fourteen:
Luthor leaves and tries to start a counterforce. Libra and Human Flame discuss their future. The “Boss” Libra is referring to is undoubtedly Darkseid. Note the “For Sale” sign as Human Flame and Libra walk into the strip club, hinting at the true nature of Human Flame’s likely Faustian bargain.

Page Fifteen:
Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the Flash (Wally West) conduct Orion’s autopsy. The incident Batman mentions where J’onn impersonated Blockbuster was on the prison planet of the Salvation Run miniseries – he was discovered and taken captive by the prisoners, then left behind. Kraken is from Apokolips, although her history has her defecting from their ranks and being targeted by the Female Furies; her role as an Alpha Lantern was embraced and explained in Green Lantern #26-28. The “Source” Kraken refers to is the divine energy that all things come from that is worshipped by all the New Gods, and is said to be the place where their life energy goes upon death.

Page Sixteen:
Kraken’s oddly brusque behavior (even for an emotionless Alpha Lantern) is explained later.

COUNTDOWN NOTE: The dead New Gods in Countdown did or didn’t have wounds depending on who was drawing; the implication here seems to be that deicide doesn’t leave a trace.

Page Seventeen:
The bullet Stewart finds in the ground is the murder weapon used to kill Orion. The small organism inside, I assume, is the “theotoxin” in a radion shell – perhaps this is the Morticoccus, which devastated Earth-51 in Countdown?

Page Eighteen:
Stewart’s impaled by an unseen assailant, which appears to be a disembodied half-torso (there’s clearly no head on the neck). It’s unclear to me if the construct in the second panel is created by Opto or the attacking Lantern.

UPDATE: I’m blind/retarded and that’s actually the back of a hood, not a disembodied torso. Thanks, Doug Wolk and Brad Bice.

Page Nineteen:
Kraken and the rest of the Alpha Lanterns exercise their role as internal affairs and arrest Hal Jordan, who was (according to him) sleeping at the time of the incident.

Page Twenty:
Batman and Superman are referring to Jordan’s previous nervous breakdown and possession by the cosmic fear parasite Parallax in Green Lantern v3 #48-50. The Purple Healing Ray referred to is a, uh, well, healing laser that Paradise Island/Themyscira has (or had).

Page Twenty-One:
The first panel, I imagine, is Kraken speaking through the entity that’s controlling her – either that, or Kraken herself is evil, and was momentarily possessed by another entity sending a message. The latter seems unlikely, since it’s the kind of thing the ring selection process usually notices – then again, it did give a ring to Sinestro. Her hand is cracked, showing she was John Stewart’s disguised assailant earlier in the issue.

The message she’s giving, about how “our weapons don’t work”, which neatly echoes the Kamandi/Anthro conversation at the end of #1 where Anthro was told Metron “gave him a weapon against the Gods.” This may echo DC One Million‘s theme that the seeds of victory in the future/present can be sown in the past.

Page Twenty-Two:
If there’s an entity controlling her, this issue certainly implies that it’s Granny Goodness. This introduces a nicely paranoid twist to the proceedings, that the Evil Gods could actually be anyone. Batman being used as a “plaything” lines up with his possible future in Rock of Ages, where he was tortured by Desaad (speaking of whom, where the hell is he?) for years until he overtook him and took his place.

Page Twenty-Three:
Bludhaven, Nightwing’s old hometown, was blown up by a Chemo bomb in Infinite Crisis in an attack by the Secret Society. It is now a government-cordoned area that Turpin’s sneaking into, patrolled by not just the American military (the helicopter) but also the self-appointed protectors, the Atomic Knights, who were recently reintroduced in the Crisis Aftermath: The Battle for Bludhaven miniseries (which was released after the first issue of Final Crisis was supposedly written, so it may be considered apocryphal). Reverend Godfrey Good finds Turpin and leads him to…

Page Twenty-Four:
The Command D bunker, future home of Kamandi according to Kirby’s original series and lone surviving area of the Great Disaster. At this point, Good explains Turpin’s erratic behavior and apparent amnesia – he’s sharing his body with Darkseid, which explains his cracking facade. I don’t recall offhand when Kalibak was killed. As you can see, Kamandi is reaching out to Turpin in the fourth panel; why Kamandi is there at that age, and apparently immune to whatever’s affecting the other Anti-Life slaves, is unclear.

COUNTDOWN NOTE:
At the end of Countdown, Bludhaven – where Desaad had been shown performing experiments (albeit in his Fourth World form) – was largely empty except for Buddy and Tommy Blank. In Countdown, on Earth-51, Buddy and Tommy stayed in the Command D bunker to weather the morticoccus virus (which created animal-human hybrids), presumably leading to the future of Jack Kirby’s original Kamandi (who would be Tommy, escaping to the outside world after Buddy’s death). On New Earth, however, they were locked in the bunker by Brother Eye, until Eye returned, transformed Buddy Blank into the original Kirby OMAC, and he escaped with his son Tommy (who, according to original Crisis lore, was Tommy Tomorrow, 1950s space hero and apparently alternate future version of Kamandi). How any of this lines up with Kamandi’s appearance here, or how the Fifth World Evil Gods have been using it as a base, I have no idea. Also, Monarch’s rebirth was heavily tied with Bludhaven and the destruction of Earth-51 – perhaps his story isn’t over? All the rest of that material seems to have been reverse-engineered from these scripts, so we may yet see Monarch/Captain Atom again before this is over. (If nothing else, Johns promised an examination of his motivations on the latest Booster Gold time board).

Page Twenty-Five:
The return of the Evil Factory, from Kirby’s run on Jimmy Olsen. They seem to be experimenting on the animal-human hybrids that would later make up the inhabitants of Kamandi’s world. Batman’s in some kind of fucked-up evil Kirby/Giger-combination iron maiden, with a helmet of syringes. Ow.

Page Twenty-Six:
The standard Daily Planet staff, except for Jimmy Olsen, who is, as you can tell, actually the shapeshifting Batman villain Clayface. Why he was able to change in an elevator and not get noticed by Clark (I don’t think the Daily Planet has lead-lined elevators, and the door was open), I have no idea.

Page Twenty-Seven:
Daily Planet is bombed, and Lois is apparently seriously hurt, if not killed (although that would be a Hell of a bomb to drop outside of the Superman titles).

Page Twenty-Eight:
The two current Flashes, Wally West of the Justice League and Jay Garrick of the Justice Society, go to the strip club where Libra was holding court (and where Barry Allen ‘returned’ on the last page of DC Universe #0). The Crime Bible referenced here is from 52 and the eponymous Question-starring miniseries, and Wally remarks on how Metron’s chair is just a cheap human imitation.

His bullet-backwards-through-time theory is interesting, as a sort of reversal of Aurakles’s spear which went forward through time in Seven Soldiers (which ended up being a metaphor for his dick/seed/progeny, actually). Jay, I’m sure, here represents the opinion of everybody who hates time travel stories.

Page Twenty-Nine:
Metron’s chair is revealed to be still very functional, perhaps implying that its power is not in its construction but rather the symbols on it – which corresponds to the power Metron’s sigils had when Anthro used them at the end of last issue. And, of course, it all leads to this issue’s money shot…

Page Thirty:
Barry Allen returns after his death/dissolution into the universe in 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, chasing what appears to be the same bullet that killed Orion (remember, it travels backwards through time) as well as being chased by the Black Racer, a sort of Grim Reaper for New Gods. (The Black Racer appears over Orion’s body when he’s killed, so he seems to eventually meet his target). His new look, as an aside, is completely awesome.

We also get a closer look at the bullet, which does appear to be a small organism (what Stewart’s ring called a “theotoxin”) inside what I assume is a radion shell. Its point of origin and manufacture are unknown, and likely going to figure into the upcoming 31st-century Legion of Three Worlds tie-in miniseries.

UPDATE: New thought: The Flash and Black Racer together could be “the red and the black” from DC Universe #0.

Thoughts:

  • Is this just Morrison’s take on Sonny Sumo, or did something happen to turn him from Mr. Honor-In-Battle to mercenary prizefighter?
  • What’s going on with Kraken? She was introduced mid-last year, likely in another instance of Johns actually competently setting up for Morrison’s series.
  • What’s up with Kraken’s disguise when attacking John Stewart?
  • Did they actually kill Lois outside the Superman books? I mean, it is a Crisis, but still! This entire subplot almost seems to be Morrison trying on a Brad Meltzer hat, and I’m really curious to see where he goes with this.
  • How does the multiverse figure into the story? It seems like a fairly minor part so far, and perhaps it stays that way, but the book is called a Crisis and it seems logical some degree of upheaval to that structure will take place.

And lastly,

  • What did people think of the comic? I found it more accessible and straightforward than last issue, not to mention more eventful, and I’m curious to know if people disappointed by #1 enjoyed this more, as it reads much more like a standard Morrison DCU story (in my opinion).
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