Sunday, February 01, 2009

Comics: DC’s Finals Days

Ever stand outside an art cinema where some foreign film is being played? And there are people coming out who are excited about what they just saw, really charged up by the raw artistic brilliance. And there are people with these stunned looks on their faces, like they have been intellectually mugged and are not quite sure what they should do about it?

That seems to be the reaction to DC’s big event, Final Crisis, which finally wrapped up last week, but apparently has some straggling pieces coming along later. You either got it and enjoyed it, or you feel like you’ve been hit with a two-by-four.

Put me in the two-by-four group. Stuff HAPPENS and things RESOLVE but I’m quite sure about all the hows and whys. Given that much of this particular issue is told second-hand after the event by various narrators, all with the same voice, contributes. As does the fact that it deals with the multiple earths of the DC universe as well as time travel, two concepts to make even the hardiest brains ache. And that the ultimate bad guy is not the ultimate bad guy as promised early in the book, but ANOTHER ultimate bad guy that was over in another book.

And the resolutions, for a universe-shaking epic, are also strange. So is Batman dead here, or dead in his own series, which was titled “Batman RIP”, or is he still alive as some eternal entity and if so, on which earth? And are the Hawks (Hawkman and Hawkgirl) dead? Why not the Atoms (original Palmer and new guy Choi), who seemed to be in a much more dire situation? Is the Barry Allen Flash back, and if so, what about the Wally West Flash, one of the few real superhero replacement successes? At least they brought back Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew into the continuity. And what about the (New) New Gods? Does that have meaning for anyone who didn’t follow the Kirby DC comics in the early 70s?

I think that may be ultimately the problem – so much of this pulls from that part of a golden age – new gods and Kamandi and Anthro and all that, which requires previous knowledge, but then that knowledge is not particularly clove to tightly, with the result that it is impenetrable to the newcomer and confusing the old guy.

And if there’s a metastatement about comics, I’m a bit lost, and I really like this kind of stuff. Are the Monitors (watching from above the worlds) comic fans? Comic creators? Fallen angels? Is Life diagram against Anti-Life equation about creativity against conformity? Imagination against science? Realism against wonder? Art against words?

I dunno. It used to be that after the movie, you could hang out at the local coffee shop and listen to the one guy who gets it try to explain it to his friends, or watch the stresses of couples where she is explaining the symbolism of the white daffodils while he is just shaking his head. And you’re seeing it instead in the blogosphere. Oh joy.

Here’s where I, monitor of my own universe, pass judgment – DC needs to take a break from this sort of crisis for a good year or more. Figure out how their universe/multiverse/omniverse really works. Decide if their stories are on New Earth or Earth-0 or Earth-1 or whatever. Who their characters are. Their original Crisis on Infinite Earths closed the door on the Silver Age, but I don’t know what this does, for the continuity or the characters or the company itself. And once they have figured all that out, move forward from there.

More later,