Turn Me on Dead Gods: Final Crisis #7
Anyone who knows me knows that my twin obsessions in this life are music and comics. And inevitably my enjoyment of one is often filtered through the other. When I sit down to read an issue or a whole storyline I often put pair it with an album or two that I think will compliment the story I’m about to read. Also, while I’m reading a comic I’ll make associations between the words and pictures with certain sounds and lyrics. That’s just me and that’s how I read and I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember. For my first couple of read-throughs of Final Crisis #7 I opted not to choose any background music because I wanted 100% of my attention to be focused on the story in front of me. However, while I was reading this issue–the end of a very large crossover story spanning the whole of the 52 worlds in the DC multiverse–one piece of music kept playing itself over and over again in my head and that piece was the string crescendo and cymbal crashes followed by silence and then the piano chord at the end the Beatles’ song “A Day in the Life.”
It could be because that sound always made me think of chaos and climax or it could be because we see Zillo Valla’s Yellow Submarine (from Superman Beyond) in the beginning. This time this ship is being piloted by Captain Marvel, who we learned in Superman Beyond #2 was sent by Superman to warn the multiverse of the coming apocalypse and to gather heroes to help stop it. We see in the ship a gathering of Supermen from the various Earths as well as Renee Montoya. When we see Captain Marvel and the ship they have stopped at an unknown Earth where Superman and Wonder Woman are both black. Not only that, but on this Earth, Superman is President of the United States (I see what y’all did there). One interesting point in this sequence is that the black Superman is called away from the White House by the “Wonder Horn” a gift to the Amazons that plays the “Music of the Spheres.” I’m going to digress here for a moment because this small bit of information becomes very important later in the story. The Music of the Spheres is a philosophical concept that originated with Pythagoras. Basically the idea is that everything in the heavens—Earth, sun, moon, stars, planets, all revolve within their own spheres and this movement, as well as the connections between the spheres, can be described as music— a blend of harmonics and geometry. This is a concept that has always fascinated me for obvious reasons. Anyway, back to the story.
We next see the JLA Watchtower, but something about it is amiss. First, it’s still floating in the red energy indicating that at the multiverse is in full-on Crisis mode, and second, the Watchtower seems to have bonded with Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. In the fortress we see Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, Supergirl, and Captain Marvel gathering together mementos to record what has been happening on Earth—the struggle against great evil and the sacrifices made by the heroes to stop it. While at the same time, robotic versions of the JLA heroes newly arrived from another alternate Earth are trying to destroy everything around them in a nihilistic suicide attempt. We see also that this act of “techocide” is thwarted by none other than Lex Luthor and Dr. Sivana. A rocket fires from the Fortress/Watchtower carrying the records of all that has happened in the hopes that somewhere and at some time it will be discovered and people will know what happened.
Next we see Superman holding the body of Batman confronting Darkseid. Darkseid is noticeably wounded from his fight with Batman. Superman also recognizes the body that Darkseid inhabits as being that of Dan Turpin. Darkseid knows that Superman destroy life and attacks Superman with his legion of followers—humans under the control of the Anti-Life Equation. It’s at this point at the two Flashes, Barry Allen and Wally West arrive with Omega Beams and The Black Racer hot on their heels. The Black Racer (Kirby’s Fourth-World version of Death) instead takes the mortally wounded Darkseid, just as he fires the bullet that killed Orion in Final Crisis #1.
The story then returns to the Watchtower/Fortress where Superman is attempting to build a version of the Miracle Machine that he saw in the last issue. We see also, that Luthor and Sivana, along with Will Magnus, Dr. Miles Caulder, and other scientists, both mad and super, are helping to build this machine. From there we see the continuing battle first around the Checkmate Castle where both OMACS and Biomacs are fighting desperately to give the people inside enough time to complete their “black gambit”—the safe transport of everyone they can to another Earth in the multiverse. Above the Earth we see Green Arrow and Black Canary floating in a gravity-less Watchtower, and on the Earth we see the appearance of the sigil of Metron that The Ray took down when he went last issue. The sigil is a letter of the alphabet of the New Gods that means “freedom from restriction” and disrupts the Anti-Life Equation. Note that the deteriorating condition of the watchtower establishes this scene as taking place chronologically before the earlier scenes in the Watchtower/Fortress with Jimmy, Lois, and the others. Back on earth we see the Super Young Team along with Sonny Sumo fighting against the remnants of Darkseid’s forces. At this point it would seem that the battle should be over. Metron’s sigil has spread over the planet and Darkseid has been destroyed. But this is not the case. Something even larger than Darkseid is looming on the horizon and the multiverse is being torn apart. Lord eye, the Checkmate computer system is in the process of shitting down its doorway to the other Earth in response to this impending destruction of the multiverse, which would kill of the people currently in transit. Hawkman and Hawkgirl destroy Lord Eye and save all of the people inside disappearing in a blinding light. The Super Young Team and the others managed to escape thanks to Mr. Miracle’s Mother Boxxx, which generated a Boom tube and transported everyone to the other Earth. This story is related by Renee Montoya to the Supermen aboard the Monitor’s ship.
The story then shifts back to the place and time immediately after Darkseid’s demise. Wonder Woman, still infected with the virus form of Anti-Life arrives with her Female Furies to attack Superman. Luthor also arrives with Sivana and numerous villains still under the control of the Anti-Life Equation delivered through the Justifier helmets they all wear, but Luthor now controls the helmets. It’s here that Luthor and Superman agree to team up in order to end the war as well as the destruction of the multiverse. In this section we see scenes from the past as well as the future juxtaposed together. This gives us the sense of a story being told as well as time fracturing in the midst of this crisis. To avoid further loss of life, Superman and the other heroes are shrinking down the remaining population of earth and storing them until the crisis is over. Wonder Woman also relates to the children present how Frankenstein, a living creature composed of dead flesh was immune to the Anti-Life virus she carried and was able to save her. When she recovered, she bound Darkseid’s body with her lasso and freed the remaining people from the control of Anti-Life.
Although the body Darkseid inhabited was destroyed, his spirit was still alive and on Earth. Superman at last completes the Miracle Machine save for its power source. Superman hears the Music of the Spheres and understands what it is; that “the worlds of the multiverse vibrate together and make this sound…like an orchestra.” Superman sings this music and the spirit of Darkseid is at last destroyed, cast into a black hole. In the absolute silence that follows Superman’s defeat of Darkseid, he hears a faint sound coming from Metron’s chair and discovers the God-Fire, Element X; a source of energy powerful enough to activate the Miracle Machine.
Just before Superman can power up the machine, Mandrakk the Dark Monitor (the twisted and corrupted form of the original Monitor seen in Crisis on Infinite Earths) appears with the vampire Ultraman. We see that Mandrakk has drained both The Spectre and The Radiant, agents of God, not the New Gods, but God God. Meanwhile, the Green Lanterns who had previously been unable to get to Earth are able to follow Mandrakk’s machines through the barrier. Superman takes the Element X and uses it, along with the solar power stored in his body to activate the Miracle Machine. Just then, Captain Marvel arrives along with every version of Superman in the multiverse to combat Mandrakk and his forces. Nix Uotan, the fallen Monitor who was resurrected as the Judge of All Evil joins the battle along with the Animal-Heroes from earth 35 as well as the Pax Dei—The Angelic army of God. Uotan also summons the Forever People as embodied in the Super Young Team, thus showing the limitlessness of his power. Mandrakk and the vampire Ultraman are no match for the mighty forces set against them. The Green Lanterns combine their power and drive a stake through Mandrakk, killing him and at last ending the crisis.
Next we see time has passed and the world is slowly putting itself back together and the people are dismantling the remnants of Darkseid’s invasion. We next see Nix Uotan on the Monitor home world addressing the other Monitors. He tells them of what happened and he tells them that they can no longer interfere with the multiverse. We see also that, through Darkseid’s fall, the Gods of New Genesis are reborn. Uotan will also rebuild Earth 51, his earth that was destroyed back in the Countdown storyline. Nix Uotan then says goodbye to his love, Weeja Dell before fading away. Uotan then wakes up on Earth, but an earth that now knows it’s not alone, that it’s part of a vast multiverse.
In an epilogue we see an old man, an old man who was once Anthro, the boy visited by Metron and given power back in the beginning of issue #1. He has spent his life keeping the flame given by Metron and learning the secret of the powers. As he dies, a bearded Bruce Wayne puts his utility belt on him and begins drawing a bat symbol on the cave wall.
Well, I’m not sure if the above can really count as a summary, since summaries are usually shorter than their subjects. But like every issue before, so much happened in Final Crisis #7. This was the culmination of work that began around 2006, and possibly even before. Essentially, I see Final Crisis as Morrison’s current exploration of themes he has been working on and expanding upon since his Zenith stories from the late 1980’s. From Zenith to Animal Man to Doom Patrol/Flex Mentallo to JLA to The Invisibles/The Filth, to New X-Men, to Seven Soldiers and now to Final Crisis. Morrison has always had a deep fascination with fictional worlds, the rules that govern them, and their influence on the real world in which they inhabit. Along the way he uses ancient philosophical concepts, esoteric mysticism, modern theories of psychology and perception, and large doses of popular culture as a way to examine and grasp these worlds and by extension maybe understand our own world a little better.
Final Crisis challenges our perceptions and challenges the way we take in information. The fracturing of the multiverse as it was presented in the story is reflected in the way the story is told, from the jagged and layered panels to the fractured and disjointed time and ordering of events, especially in issue #7. As I said before, this serves to bring the reader closer to the events happening in the story. Our unease and confusion is mirrored in the unease and confusion of the characters. The art, with its reliance on close-up shots also serves to give the story an immediacy that can sometimes be lost in large-scale events.
In the end though, I can’t say whether or not Final Crisis is better than Crisis on Infinite Earths, however I do feel that it’s a worthy successor to that storyline and I do think it’s probably a little better than Infinite Crisis. However one thing that all three share is that and their ends, we are left with the feeling of great change and hope for the future. We see that the Earth has gone through a great hardship, but its people endure. In the real world, we see many possibilities for new stories with new characters as well as new aspects of familiar characters. It’s all up to whoever comes next.
By David Faust