Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: J.H. Williams III
Publisher: DC Comics
Plot: [your reviewer laughs giddily at the insanity of applying his usual formula to a book like this]
Comments: It was worth the wait.
Thereís something deeply satisfying about reading the final issue to an ambitious series that was announced years ago and, despite occasional bumps and delays, actually went largely according to plan and achieved the things its creator promised it would do by the end. For monthly readers, this is the longed-for finale. For trade buyers, now that last trade can be compiled. Both groups can look back on these stories for years to come and not worry about the months it took this final piece to appear back in good old 2006.
Doubters of Morrison may still scoff, but they havenít read this issue, where he tries on seven different styles of storytelling, mastering each with style and wit, all of which flow from the 7 threads that unfolded in between this and the originating #0 issue, which featured a different cast altogether.
Perhaps even more impressive, on a technical level, is the work of J.H. Williams III, who mimics (without slavishly imitating) the stylistic signatures of each of the artists who illustrated those 7 solo tales, often collaging one next to another on the same page. Williams proved he could do this kind of thing on Alan Mooreís densely symbolic Promethea, especially the most ambitiously layered of those issues, such as the penultimate epic climax.
Itís nice to see him challenged enough by a writer to do it again. There are several mini-comics within this comic, and so we see Mahnkeís grizzled Frankenstein, Stewartís pulpy Guardian, the ornate and mythic pencils appropriate to the Shining Knight, the buxom beauty of the Bulleteer, Ryan Sookís sex-bomb Zatanna, the high-Kirby-tech of Mister Miracle and Irvingís grimm fairy tale approach to Klarion, without actually consulting any of the artists again. And, just for fun, Grant and Williams throw in a brand new New God, Aurakles, in old-school Kirby epic style (a frequent fallback position for Morrison when he gets nostalgic).
Itís a jam issue by one artist. Or two, since the design concepts are Morrisonís. As I only bought 4 of the 7 series (taking Grant up on his word that the stories only interlocked if you needed them to), I canít guarantee that he tied up every thread. But he did good work with the ones I do know. Zeeís redemptive character arc is in place (her identity crisis-related spate of self-doubt seemingly overcome at last), Klarion pursues his destiny as an impish free agent, and the Knight starts to figure out what it feels like for a girl.
This issue is all in the details, but thereís no point describing them. Itís Easter egg after Easter egg on page after page, and whether it all fits together with the tragic mystery that began the series or not, itís a real page turner.
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