Thursday, June 05, 2008

D.O.A.: The GOD of WAR! (DC)
Where: Final Crisis #1 When: July 2008
Why: Grant Morrison How: JG Jones

Strength: Empress 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Dr. Light 5 (Professor)
Speed: Más Y Menos 6 (Mach Speeds)
Stamina: Dr. Light 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Sparx 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Empress 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy: Dr. Light 6 (Mass Destruction)

Math: League of Titans (Ttl) Society (Avg)
Ranking: Dr. Light (#179)

Step aside Rock N' Roll Express! There's a new tag team in town!
Those of you with spectacular hand-eye coordination might be surprised that this quick fix isn't about the Martian Manhunter death glimpsed inside this issue. I think there's a very good chance that scene will be elaborated upon in another series, so for the time being we'll sit on that one, and do it Infinite Wars style by honing in on the less significant aspects of the issue.

I suppose casting aspertions upon the significance of a Dr. Light/Mirror Master team-up isn't entirely fair. I mean, for starters, this is a pairing being overseen by Grant Morrison; a man who's shown before he can perform creative alchemy, extracting conceptual gold from lead like, the Ultramarine Corps.

Also of note is the dastardly duo's representation of a brand new Society of Super Villains! Now under new management; the Society looks to reclaim the glory felt during Infinite Crisis, when Alexander Luthor was able to unite the DC Universe's villains with terrifying harmony!

As a rare opportunity for the Infinite Wars to commentate on new release comics, I want to take a conventional tact, poking at the prospects of the newly envisioned Libra. I want to suggest the concept is actually startingly mundane, comparing it to the recent administrative machinations of The Hood in the pages of Marvel's New Avengers. I want to say Morrison's penchant for oddities from childhood reading have done little more than splash the afforementioned scenario with the cosmic bent felt during 1995's, Underworld Unleashed.

I want to say these things, but I shant, because I feel I should know better.
Final Crisis #1 is undoubtedly all set-up. With the modern convention of a six issue mini-series, the first of seven here plays prologue to what will hopefully be a coherrent story contained within the pages of this series.

Making it especially difficult to appreciate the issue is the still fresh memory of Geoff Johns' TARDIS-like scripting on the first issue of Infinite Crisis.
That particular issue has been reviewed twice on the site [here, and here], and while there's a similar sense of checklisting through series build-up, Infinite had the benefit of major events occurring throughout the entire DC Universe.

To Infinite's four tentpole spin-offs; OMAC Project, Villains United, Rann/Thanagar War, and Day of Vengeance; Final Crisis has a catalogue of minis, and one-shots, all seemingly designed to occupy certain parties rather than draw them in to the central events. Also worth noting is the considerably tighter scope of Final Crisis, which, for the time being, seems to pertain mostly to the redefinition of the New Gods.

It's far too early to condemn the entire event, but Morrison makes little effort to layer detail into this first issue. Breezing through the various checkpoints are allusions to events to come, but whenever Dr. Light's on the scene, these days there's a 500lb pink elephant we, somehow, managed to avoid talking about in his last appearance on the Infinite Wars [Superman/Batman #43]...

It was 2004's Identity Crisis that revealed shocking revisionist history of a sexual assault on Sue Dibny, wife of Elongated Man.
The controversial series opened the floodgates to a new era of concern for superheroes firmly located in the mainstream, whilst redefining the evils a bumbling Teen Titans villain, Dr. Light, could be capable of. Though not the first case of it's kind; Identity Crisis exposed the superhero community to a scenario utterly plausible, and to this point, maybe even naively and crassly overlooked in a medium dedicated to the endless battle against crime, injustice, and evil.

I'm not about to claim issues of JLA should resemble an episode of SVU, but there's something very uncomfortable about the thought that these mature events were the catalyst for pushing Dr. Light into the contemporary villain A-list. The debate of whether or not Dr. Light has the MO of a recurring sex offender can only distract from the fact that these inescapable details have been canonized in the history of the character, and should come with a certain weight.

The oddball pairing of Light and Mirror Master appears to hold very little specific motivation. References to private exploits cast the illusion of life onto these characters, but Morrison's script regarding Light dating Giganta feels awkwardly unresponsive to significant, recent history. While it isn't the onus of the Scot to elaborate on Light's overlooked character; the scene feels as if it might have benefitted from that kind of versimilitude, in what is otherwise a footnote for Libra obtaining the chair of Metron.

As if to echo the injustice of the fiction; Dr. Light appears to have gotten off scott-free, returning to the stage of disposable villain without reprieve.
Cardboard feminist scenes in a recent issue of Justice League, [#15], feature a vengeful Cheetah unwilling to team with Light due to his indescretions. While writer, Dwayne McDuffie, touches upon the subject with absolutely no delicacy or depth, it's a trinket effort for what should otherwise be an inescapable factor of any subsequent appearance by Dr. Light.

To acknowledge the milieu of Morrison's two-page scene, it's entirely plausible that Mirror Master would be among the villains unaffected, but it seems crass and lazy that more villains haven't been unwilling. More than the theme of sexual assault itself, it seems the ability to deal with a character like this on an on-going basis seems to have let the company down.

This is an overdue issue of discussion that's intruded on a topical review.
The scene, which features the intervention of Light and Mirror Master in a junkyard, serves it's function well enough. The undescribed circumstances show members of the League of Titans scrambling to reach the chair of Metron, a fallen New God, with little success.

Light dispatches of Empress and Sparx with ease; while Mirror Master leaves the tandem speedsters, Más Y Menos, encrusted with shards of looking glass.

Without the baggage of recent mismanaged history, the tandem villains are actually quite amusing and enjoyable. Mirror Master's Scottish accent feels Claremontian in it's phonetic insincerity, but Morrison plays well in the moment of familiarity between the villains, acknowledging human relationships as well as Mirror Master's established involvement with drugs.

A super villain protest provides sufficient distraction for the major league heroes, while repercussions of other events [like Countdown #2] occupy others. Ultimately the scene is a nice detail in a tapestry of events revolving around Libra's ascension to leader of the Secret Society of Villains. Especially appreciated is the meeting of masterminds and would-be leaders in the group, where Libra pledges his faustian offer with the sacrificial evidence of Martian Manhunter's death at the request of The Human Flame.

All in all, the issue certainly points in the direction of something intriguing.
Recalling details from his work with the Seven Soldiers minis, (particularly, Mister Miracle), Morrison also lays the groundwork for the post-death story of the New Gods! A plotline that one presumes will see the ascension of characters like J'onn J'onnz, and maybe the likes of Libra himself.

Self-inked pencils by JG Jones, I feel, fail to live up to the lofty expectations of pre-game hype. The 52 cover artist's work is muddied by motley inks and an ominous colour palette presumably intentful in design, but like contemporary comaprisons with disaster-epics, like Chaos, I struggle to enjoy.

I'm positively salivating for what's to come, but come issue end, probably have little more in hand than a secondary preview guide, ala; DC Universe Zero.

The thing I'm most grateful for is probably the opportunity to get back to some meaty discussion on the Infinite Wars after several weeks of struggling for quality entries. Expect more single feature Quick Fixes to accomodate for my increasing distractions, including recent family deaths.

ARTWORK: Mike McKoneThe Fight: 4 The Issue: 4
Winner: Dr. Light/Mirror Master

Easily panicked readers should rest assured that there's very little in Final Crisis #1 to absorb beyond the page. That said, if you're looking to appreciate themes in greater depth, there's a variety of reads available to you! Better still, by using purchase links provided, you help sponsor future entries in the Infinite Wars!

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