I've always subscribed to the theory that comic book storytelling is better when you're not told that something is heroic or something is scary, you see what's on the page and come to those conclusions on your own.
Well, in Final Crisis #3, Grant Morrison doesn't let his pages tell the tale. What's worse is, he doesn't let his writing tell the tale either. Looking back on this third of seven issues, if I didn't read all the hype describing what would be in this issue, I wouldn't really know what was going on.
Here's a brief recap for you: Issue #1 was largely criticized for a slow, confusing story mixed with elements that conflict with DC continuity. Issue #2 was an enormous improvement that improved the pace and even cleared up a little bit of the story. So, as you read these next few graphs, keep in mind I haven't lost hope that Morrison's tale is going somewhere special.
That said, this was billed by Morrison himself as the issue that would crank up the story and lay all the cards on the table. What was got was an ill-executed piece of garbage.
Maybe that's a little harsh. It's not all bad, just ill-executed. The main problem lies in the climax of the book -- a climax that solicitations and hype had already given away -- when the anti-life equation is unleashed on the world via the Internet, we never get to actually see the effect it has on people. Instead, we jump forward in time and see the Flashes finally get out of the timestream, only to find that they are in this post-anti-life world.
Seeing the anti-life equation in action was to be the only truly interesting part of this issue. After all, we've been told plenty of times to just wait until "evil" makes their move. Just wait, it's awesome. Well, evil made its move and it was all completely off-panel, unless Morrison revisits that time in issue #4, which I doubt due to this "natural" one-month break. So we didn't get to read about the effects, we didn't get to see the effects, and if it wasn't for the pre-release hype that ruined the surprise in the first place, we wouldn't have even knew what was going on.
But that wasn't the only big problem, only the biggest. For one, Morrison wastes three pages showing heroes gathering after Wonder Woman and Alan Scott enacted a "draft for superheroes." Whatever happened to the heroes just getting together in one page in a big 'ole room and starting the story already? We needed all the theatrics?
Another three pages is spent showing Shilo Norman and Sunny Sumo getting saved by the Super Young Team, with the only point to these pages being that the duo and the Super Young Team joined forces. First off, I don't give a damn about these kids. Second, Morrison could have saved all this time simply by making Sumo and the team a package deal from the start. Who cares that they didn't know each other to start the story since we didn't know them either?
Mary Marvel's long-anticipated arrival was an equally baffling development. Why Morrison needed her of all characters is beyond me, since all she essentially is in this instance is a female fury. So why didn't he just use a female fury? Instead, he just says that it's Mary, but she decided evil is more fun than good. I would say this is a worse explanation than the one we got in "Countdown," but since she was only in "Countdown" since Morrison said "I want to make her bad," it was Morrison's fault anyway.
That said, Mary's fight with Wonder Woman was the lone intriguing part of the story.
Oh, and would someone please tell me what was up with the junk with Superman? I know we'll all find out together in "Superman: Beyond #1," but come on -- "I won't ever leave your side Lois unless... is that some random sorceress that knows my secret identity? OK, I guess I can trust her and leave you, Lois!"
And, if it weren't for Robin #176, I would still have a bad taste in my mouth from Morrison. Thankfully, Fabian Nicieza wrote the best tie-in to Morrison's "Batman R.I.P." story we've seen yet.
Most of what I would say about the issue would be a spoiler -- no pun intended since Spoiler is a major player in the issue -- but all you really need to know is between this issue and the last issue we've seen Tim show an edgier and darker side than we ever have before. He's really showing that he's Batman's disciple, and with these issues, it sure does seem he is destined for the Cape-and-Cowl. In fact, right now these past two "Robin" issues seem like required accompaniment to Morrison's main "Batman" books.
The only other book of note this week was Cable #6, a double-sided issue that wasn't exactly what I thought it was going to be, but was still pretty good. Basically, the whole thing is narrated in one way or another by Scott Summers, and we again see that he is willing to step over a certain line that he never did up until six months ago. While not much new is revealed here in terms of story, making is a skipable issue, it was still interesting to read the inner-workings of Cyclops' thoughts, especially since the whole premise of this series -- giving Cable a messiah baby to take care of in the future -- was such a leap of faith on his part.