- Booster Gold #16, by Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund (DC)
- Fables #80, by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Peter Gross & Andrew Pepoy (DC/Vertigo)
- Final Crisis #6 of 7, by Grant Morrison, J.G. Jones, Carlos Pacheco, Doug Mahnke, Marco Rudy, Christian Alamy & Jesus Marino (DC)
- Adam: Legend of the Blue Marvel #3 of 5, by Kevin Grevioux, Mat Broome, Sean Parsons, Roberto Castro & Álvaro Lopez (Marvel)
- Annihilation Conquest vol 2 TPB, by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Sean Chen, Scott Hanna, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Kyle Holz, Tom Raney, & Wellington Alves (Marvel)
- Daredevil: Born Again premiere HC, by Frank Miller & David Mazzucchelli (Marvel)
- B.P.R.D.: The Black Goddess #1 of 5, by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi & Guy Davis (Dark Horse)
- Invincible #58, by Robert Kirkman & Ryan Ottley (Image)
- The Perhapanauts #5, by Todd Dezago, Craig Rousseau & Jason Copland (Image)
Another month, another issue of DC’s disastrous event series, Final Crisis. This issue could be titled, “This issue, something happens!” Some of the Apokaliptians are defeated, even though the fight took three issues (!) to conclude. Luthor and Sivana outmaneuver Libra, whose role in the series has been so utterly trivial it’s hard to understand why he’s there at all. And Batman faces down Darkseid, and both sides lose. Superman shows up (from a trip whose second issue hasn’t been published yet) to try to pick up the pieces.
It’s dreadfully written, from start to finish, with Morrison piling pointless detail on top of recycled plot device. Who cares that the Legion’s Miracle Machine is Guardian technology harnessed by the Controllers? Captain Marvel Jr. uses the world’s most obvious solution to deal with Bad Mary Marvel, and her claim that she can never change back again feels right out of Miracleman. Then there’s the decidedly unheroic plan to lead the remnants of the human race to life on a parallel world. Okay, the notion that the Question would become part of the global peace agency that creates OMAC is cute, but – so?
This issue of Final Crisis feels like a series of in-jokes, and not particularly funny ones, at that. It’s not clever, it’s not fun, it’s not heroic. Who’s reading this crap?
Oh wait, I am. But only for one more issue. Thank goodness.
On the (much) brighter side…
Every so often I try to come up with what I think are the ten best comics stories of all time. The list usually changes each time, and I don’t typically even get to ten, but there are two books that are on every list: One is Cerebus: Jaka’s Story, and the other is Daredevil: Born Again. Marvel’s reprinted the latter this month in a nifty hardcover collection, which I happily picked up.
The remarkable thing about Born Again when it was published is that Daredevil’s status quo is completely changed by the story: At the beginning he’s a respected lawyer, and by the end of the first chapter all of that is gone, and he never gets it back. Not surprisingly, he eventually returned to his old status quo, but at the time it was a radical change that seemed irreversible.
Fundamentally, Born Again tears down Daredevil’s life from the very beginning, as his nemesis, the Kingpin of Crime, learns his secret identity. Rather than just killing him, the Kingpin ruins him first, and then kills him. Or tries to. As anyone who has lost everything would be, Daredevil becomes desperate, has nowhere to turn, and confronts his torturer. But, having escaped death, Daredevil has nowhere farther down to go, and he’s forced to understand who he is at his very core, and to rely on that essential self to pull himself up. Miller chronicles Daredevil’s arc carefully, but every little bit counts.
Daredevil is sometimes pushed aside in his own story: The Kingpin has his own arc and gets considerable page time as he’s flying high after doing away with the hero, until he realizes that not everything has gone according to plan. Between these two is Daily Bugle reporter Ben Urich, a friend of Daredevil’s who is also targeted by the Kingpin due to his investigative skills, and who has to face his own demons as a result. The book is full of interesting supporting characters, and even the Bugle editor, J. Jonah Jameson, gets a chance to shine; Jameson may have a blind spot where Spider-Man is concerned, but we see here that he truly is a good man when it counts.
Born Again is a deeply human story, with just a few whiffs of super-powers. Heroes and villains circling each other in a game more complex and deadly than a mere fight. And David Mazzucchelli is an essential component of the story, his artwork impressing with his control of light and shadow from the very first page, moving to a highly stylized approach when things are at their darkest, before returning to a more traditional style in the climax.
It really is one of the best comics ever. Don’t miss it.