Sunday Slugfest: DC Universe #0

A comic review article by: Keith Dallas, Shawn Hill, Jason Sacks, Dave Wallace, Thom Young
Jim Beard

You need to know two things about DC Universe 0 right here at the beginning: it's a teaser book and it has nothing to do with Countdown to Final Crisis. Okay, now you can sit back and enjoy it.

It's a teaser book, but one heckuva teaser book. If you accept that, you can get through it. It's a salad with all the little bits of stuff you like all mixed together to whet your appetite for the main course – which is, of course, Final Crisis. You don't need to have read or even have understood Countdown to enjoy DCU0; you can get by just fine with what's presented in this single book.

The creators involved here are at the top of their game and their smooth, polished delivery makes the teases all the more digestible. The juxtaposition of writers Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison make for an eclectic recipe, something on the order of Boy Next Door Meets Subversive Gym Teacher. It's not as jarring as you may think, though; the two actually mesh pretty well and we can easily figure out who wrote what. Geoff Johns wrote the nail-the-character-in-one-or-two-panels stuff and Morrison delivered the deep-fried crazy-ass stuff. You also have the art appetizers of Perez, Mahnke, Daniel, Reis, Benes, and a few other top-of-their-game artists. The visuals alone are worth the 50 cent cover charge.

Among all the teases of DC stories to come, there's a single panel that was my favorite of the entire issue, the one with nut-job Dr. Ivo in Auschwitz with his new android. This panel is DC for me: nobody else would have a character named "Red Volcano," and if they did, they'd never get away with it with such panache. It speaks to the richness of the DCU, a universe that encompasses new and old and isn't afraid to take a wonderfully goofy name like Red Volcano and team it with an insane genius and send them off to the scene of a historical genocide. Couple this with Dr. Poison in the next panel--a character you can easily believe that Grant Morrison dreams about at night--and you have another mystery you can't wait to explore. Point being: I need to know about the Red Volcano.

I think Batman comes off very well here, with Morrison delivering an intriguing menu of insanity over three pages of Tony Daniel art. It can't be easy, just having Batman and the Joker do nothing but talk, but to my mind it should be some sort of final exam or thesis for a comic book writer to write such a scene. Alan Moore did it well, the textbook example, and Morrison rises to the challenge and manages to make you both proud and afraid for Batman in one swipe. "If I was scared I wouldn't be Batman" is such a good line and his defiance in what the Joker sees as inevitability is heartening. A scene like this makes your mind soar, wondering what it would be like if Bruce really, really tried to have something akin to a real conversation with Joker, about the weather, sports, gas prices, whatever. And then you wonder why Joker isn't jealous of the party who's gunning for his old enemy. Again, good stuff and piques the interest for "Batman R.I.P."

Sadly, it's Wonder Woman who in my opinion comes off stale and starched in DCU0. Superman soars high in the teaser for his Legion story, but Diana, well, her few pages are past their date. I sometimes want very badly to be interested in the character, but DC just doesn't seem to be able to do anything with her to even marginally reach the orbit of Batman and Superman. Same old Greek mythology stuff, a group of "Menazons" or somesuch that are more laughable than awe-inspiring, and another go-round with the gods who want to see her fail. She's the only character in DCU 0 that didn't get my mouth watering over the prospect of her ongoing adventures. Menazons just don't equal Batman's death and Superman's flight to the future with the Legion. DC just doesn't seem interested in equality among the Big Three.

The Spectre scene was standard but good, the Green Lantern pages of spaghetti panels were tasty (Geoff, Grant's weirdness is rubbing off on you), and the Libra (re)introduction savory and engaging. I think Libra could very well become one of the coolest reimaginings of a one-shot villain we've ever seen. I think Morrison can do it. New villains that can challenge an entire kitchen full of simmering super-heroes are rare indeed and sometimes, sometimes you just get sick and tired of yet another helping of Lex Luthor. Let someone else be dastardly for a change!

Oh, yeah, there's also the barest taste of another return, but I'll reserve judgment on that flash flood for now. I mean, it could be oh-so right or oh-so very wrong. It could be good or it could be the worst mistake yet. A good death should sometimes be permanent – but then again, a good hero, no a great hero, is sometimes hard to keep down. I guess something called Final Crisis might need all the shining stars it can get to break up the shadows.

And there are shadows here. DCU 0 is on the gloomy side, but it's not oppressive, I think. It's like dark humor; you squint through the black night and chuckle nervously at the shambling zombies in chef's hats you see therein. I think this book shows there's light at the end of the tunnel as well as darkness. It isn't over till it's over, and all that.

Buy it. It's only 50 cents – but it looks and reads like a solid $3.99.

Huh, I'm hungry for some reason.

Shawn Hill

Plot: And there came a day rather like several other days, and on that day DC published its own version of Marvel Previews, and lo it was short but cheap.

Comments: Well, there's not that much here. It's a marketing ploy, as DC has done for Vertigo and "One Year Later" and various other impending arc-crossover-new series debuts in the past. This one at least is at a bargain price, which is its best feature.

The point I suppose is to get me interested in the next wave of Final Crisis-related impending plots for several major characters. So I'll just tell you how they did, one by one. That follows the simple setup of the comic.
  1. Superman and the Legion of Super-heroes: words can barely express how happy I am that MY Legion, the morally ambiguous adult and sometimes embittered one, has returned, and with strong ties to the Superman Family no less. I feel so lucky that an artist of Gary Frank's ability has designed their updated looks, with an emphasis on individuality rather than uniformed conformity. Perez (never really that closely associated with the Legion; he did some covers back in the day, I believe) pays close attention to the intriguing Frank redesigns, and anything that gets me Clark in any 1000-year future, but especially this one, is aimed right at my heart. Thumbs up!

  2. Batman: the sequence in this issue just drips menace, and conjures up the Bat/Joker tension that Morrison understands reasonably well. His calm Joker is better than his bipolar manic Joker because the character seems to wipe out all of Morrison's usual subtlety and restraint. He's a license to ham it up, but this sequence, with its many small panels and minimalist verbal sparring, is intense and spooky. Important reading for Bat-fans.

  3. Wonder Woman: poor Ms. Marvel, she just can't get a break. Diana steals her best penciller in ages, and Lopresti will be a fine match for Simone. The upcoming arc seems intent on tying Diana more tightly into DC/JLA lore, and is unusual in taking on the sexism angle directly (something Diana usually avoids unless Hercules is around). I'm not sure if there's much story there, but I have faith in Simone, and the book has already picked up considerably since her arrival. Thumbs wavering upward.

  4. Green Lantern: Johns' baby. Very hard to follow sequence, something icky happening to the Black Hand involving a black lantern; the rainbow of rings is just confusing. Thumbs down.

  5. The Spectre: his sequence identifies the problems with the current character head on; but will anyone fix them?

  6. Libra and the Secret Society: they're nothing next to Darkseid. As always. Jury still out.
So, basically, I read at least two of the Trinity already (and Superman when the Legion shows up), I don't care about Hal Jordan, and I'll give Final Crisis a shot mostly for J.G. Jones. Would I have done all those things before reading this issue? Yes.

Jason Sacks:

Wow, this book has a pretty cover. It's too bad that the insides don't deliver on the promise of the cover.

George Pérez delivers one of his classic covers filled with zillions of characters, and it's the perfect beginning for a book like this. The leftmost panel featuring pretty much the entire classic lineup of the Justice League of America (with an extra Green Lantern and the Spectre and without Firestorm and Elongated Man, but you get my point) is especially nice since it kind of shows how much many of the characters have changed over the last few years.

The cover made me thirsty for a great, universe-spanning action epic on the inside of this comic. Instead when I got was the comics equivalent of a TV clip show. Some of the stories highlighted were fun, others were dull or annoying or off-putting. This certainly wasn’t the package I was expecting.

The biggest problem with this book for me is that at first read, as I worked through the first few pages, it felt like it was going to be a coherent story. The book delivers a traditional scene-setting prologue, full of parallel universes, a timeline of the Crises and a spooky depiction of Darkseid. The comic then seems to slip into high gear, delivering exactly the sort of story I was craving: an intense battle for the Legion of Super-Heroes, already in progress.

This battle scene highlights everything I wanted out of this comic. It's a big, bombastic fight drawn by George Pérez at his detail-obsessed best. The first of these three pages contains an astonishing twelve panels – twelve! – arranged in an interesting layout. I then turned the page to find a spectacular two-page spread. Those two pages are filled with Legionnaires fighting a pitched battle against some sort of shadow creatures. These few pages provide a stark contrast to Jim Shooter's current run on the Legion of Super-Heroes, which has been providing the less-than-exciting story of man vs. bureaucracy, but I digress.

It's so fun to see George Pérez flex his artistic muscles with an exercise like this one, and I was dying to read more primo Pérez as I fell into these pages. But then I flipped the page, and there was an ad that depressed me. Something called "Prime Evil" will apparently continue this story. Damn. Just as the book seems to have momentum, it crashes.

To continue the bummer I was feeling, next up is an odd three-page Batman/Joker story in which Bats and the Joker talk in riddles and never seem in character. I appreciate that this story is in some ways channeling the classic Killing Joke, but I couldn’t help feeling like the Batman on panel nine of page three, "What are you trying to tell me?"

After that, the book just kind of sits in a dull place. The short Wonder Woman piece is kind of uninteresting except for a few kernels of interest to real fans of the obscure (Red Volcano? What's his relation to the original Red Tornado?), and got me really wondering: what do you call male Amazons?

I couldn't really make sense of the Green Lantern story that followed. The storytelling is nice in a two-page spread that features long, narrow panels that present slivers of story. The panels give the story an interesting intensity, but I couldn't figure out why the evil Black Hand was vomiting black goop, or what in the world a line like "I am no longer everything. I am a shaft of light through a prism" is supposed to mean in this context. On the last page of the comic we learn who's uttering these words, but the words are so bizarre, so out of character and so nonsensical that they just kind pulled me out of the story and left me wondering just what was going on.

Then it's back to Pérez for a nice two-page spread of the Spectre before the avenging force of evil attacks my old high-school buddy Carr D'Angelo, I guess because Carr is a creep in this comic. (He's a nice guy in real life, I assure you.) So Carr dies brutally while the narrator babbles on about how he is somebody. And the Spectre looks different between the two-page spread and the murder page. I think the Spectre on the third page is creepier looking, sort of like a Kelley Jones style, so maybe they're trying to play up the horror of the character. What that has to do with Doctor Light and Final Crisis: Revelations is also kind of a mystery to me, but at this point I've gotten used to all the nonsensical juxtapositions and odd scenes.

Finally, the comic begins to wind up with a shot of a body falling through space, like an angel from heaven, over a large downtown of a mysterious city that has a blimp flying over it. Oh, the guy actually is from Heaven, since he mumbles, "I'm the only one who knows there was a war in Heaven. And evil one." Ooh, how emo!

Cut to a group of villains who seem like they should be in the blimp but instead are in a strip bar that I guess is in that vast city. A guy I've never heard of named Libra is speaking to the villains. Libra claims to be a prophet for a new age, the avatar of a group of new gods, and as he does so, fateful lightning strikes, and it appears that a certain red-suited speedster might be returning.

I guess it shows the quality of this comic that I started out excited by it and ended up mocking it. This comic presents DC Comics at its best and its maddening worst all at the same time. The same company that can deliver slam-bang action also seems to want to deliver a kind of meandering bleakness in its world. DC seems to be trying to convince their aging fanbase that they're still relevant by simultaneously trying to provide dark mysteries and bright action. Unfortunately, what a book like this one does is to make that fanbase vaguely dissatisfied while dissuading readers who might want to join that fanbase.

It's ironic that this book came out the same week as Free Comic Book Day, and further ironic that the book DC selected for FCBD this year is Grant Morrison's magnificent All-Star Superman. The Superman book reminds readers why they loved the character, providing a continuity-free read that is thrilling and wonderful no matter how much you know about Supes and his cast. It makes you want to read more of the series.

DC Universe, on the other hand, just feels like an extended advertisement of the dull diversity of the DC line. Few scenes are thrilling or wonderful; the comic instead sits like the kind of boring advertisement that it is. Furthermore, as a set of disconnected scenes, the comic feels incoherent and confusing.

It's hard to feel ripped off by a comic that costs 50¢, but this comic succeeds at that task.

Dave Wallace:

Before I start this review, I'll make my personal bias completely clear: I'm not particularly knowledgeable about the DC universe, and I read very few DC titles. The only two in-continuity DC books that I'm currently buying are Batman and Green Lantern (I recently dropped Action Comics from my pull list), and the only two "Crisis" books I've ever read are Identity Crisis (which I quite enjoyed) and Infinite Crisis (which I didn't make it to the end of, as I was so put off by the choppy storytelling style and impenetrable continuity of the first five issues).

Despite this, I'm still interested in Final Crisis. It's impossible to know whether it will turn out to be a great comic, but I'm hoping so, based on my previous experience of both Grant Morrison and JG Jones' work. I've known about this #0 issue for a while, and I've been looking forward to it as a "jumping-on" point for DC's big summer crossover event. First, it was going to be Countdown to Final Crisis #0, then it was just going to be Final Crisis #0, and then it was again "repurposed" as DC Universe #0. This was presumably to set it apart from the poorly-received yearlong Countdown series, and to give it the best possible opportunity of standing alone as a recap of the current state of the DCU and as a primer for the forthcoming Final Crisis.

However, the producers of the issue seem to have adopted a bewildering strategy that, if anything, has left me less eager to read Final Crisis than I was before I started it.

Kicking off with a potted history of the DCU in just a few scant pages, I was reminded of the single-page Superman origin from Grant Morrison's All-Star Superman #1, which condensed decades of convoluted continuity into one simple, definitive backstory that gave us all of the relevant information and cut away all of the unnecessary detail that had accumulated around the character over the years. This gave me hope that DC had learned from their previous mistakes, and that they were going to set Final Crisis up as the opposite of Infinite Crisis: a streamlined and accessible story which could be enjoyed by more than just the DC faithful. Unfortunately, the book then launches into a series of three-page vignettes with no apparent connection, focusing on DC's most high-profile characters but providing little in the way of hooks or points of interest that could encourage readers to become invested in the build-up to Final Crisis.

The only sections that really interested me were the Killing Joke-inspired sequence which sees Batman confront the Joker in Arkham Asylum, and the Green Lantern pages that give us another glimpse of the rainbow spectrum of Lantern Corps. I'm certain that the reason that I enjoyed these sections more than the others is that they relate to books that I'm already reading. The Batman story is a neat reprise of elements of Morrison's "Clown at Midnight" prose story from issue #663, that carries more than a hint of Silence of the Lambs (with Batman in the Clarice role) and ties into the "Black Glove" storyline that's currently running in that book. The Green Lantern story also gives regular readers of that title a treat, giving us another brief look at the various "colour" factions that will play an important role in next year's "Blackest Night" storyline, without really giving anything away just yet.

However, without any outside knowledge of the other characters and titles which are touched upon - Wonder Woman, the Spectre, Libra and the Rogues - their stories mean very little (even the Superman/Legion pages are completely bewildering to me, and I read the most recent arc of Action Comics). And therein lies the problem. This is a one-shot issue that could have opened up a universe of characters to new readers at the same time as it recapped the status of the DCU for longtime fans who are already hyped up for Final Crisis. Instead, it fails to fulfill the first half of that function, concentrating on keeping the regular readers happy but giving little thought to the needs of newcomers. Yes, we're told where these stories continue (you can't miss those stark, white-on-black full-page ads), but without actually hooking us with the stories themselves, there's no incentive for casual readers to pick up the regular ongoing titles. If it sounds like I'm evaluating this comic as a piece of marketing rather than a comic in its own right, it's because, well, that's exactly what it is. However, it's advertising that we as readers have been asked to pay for (even if it is only 50 cents), so I don't think it's unreasonable to expect something better than this in return.

In politics, we often see conservative political parties continue to generate policies that will only appeal to their core membership, rather than attempting to woo new sectors of the electorate. However, anyone with any sense can see that over a long period of time, the older, hardline voters will inevitably die off, and there will be no-one left to replace them. I see DC's editorial approach to its universe of comics in broadly the same term. Despite having actively tried to get into several of their books over the past few years, I can't get past the fact that the majority of them seem to be concentrating on catering for a gradually-diminishing established audience, rather than making themselves accessible and interesting enough that new readers will become interested in them.

Had this not been a 50-cent issue (that has been given away for free by many retailers), I probably would have rated it even less highly than I have done. However, I can recognise the appeal of these brief teasers for DC's more established audience, and I actually commend the thinking behind these low-priced teaser issues, in principle. Personally, though, I feel as though this specific teaser issue is a missed opportunity for DC to get a new audience on board for their big crossover. Rather than giving us any really strong pointers towards the story of Final Crisis, we're left with a few vignettes which will only really make sense to those who are already reading much of DC's output already. I'm now hoping that Final Crisis is being set up to completely clear the decks of DC continuity (à la Crisis on Infinite Earths) and allow them to make a fresh start with their characters and titles. At this point, it's the only way that I can see the company breaking free of the vicious cycle of ever-decreasing circles in which their universe-wide editorial approach seems to have become stuck.

As far as the significance of the issue's ending goes, this is one place where I'm thankful for the advanced spoilers that have been provided by the mainstream press, because I'm not sure I would have understood what was meant to be happening otherwise (although now that I know what's going on, I can at least appreciate the well-executed visual symbolism of the final page). Again, it's a plot point with significance that will only really be felt by longtime DC readers, and doesn't hold any particular resonance for anybody who isn't already invested in the decades-old continuity-fest that the DCU has become.

As such, it sums this issue up pretty well.

Thom Young:

In the "DC Nation" column at the back of DC Universe 0, DC's Senior Vice President--Executive Editor, Dan Didio, repeats a claim that he made in a previous "DC Nation" column:
This book [DC Universe 0] is the bridge from Countdown to Final Crisis and other series to Final Crisis, Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds, Final Crisis: Revelations, Batman: R.I.P., Green Lantern: Blackest Night Prelude, and more.
Based solely on that description (from Didio and DC's earlier statements, not from his most recent column), I expected to get an expository story that would focus on a pertinent plot point that would serve as the focal point for the various story arcs mentioned by Didio.

I had no idea what such an expository prelude or catalyst might entail, but I was certain Grant Morrison probably had a plan--and that Geoff Johns was brought in to help tweak Morrison's focal concept to fit the two series that he was going to be writing--Legion of Three Worlds and Blackest Night Prelude. Unfortunately, I misplaced my trust in Morrison and DC management.

Basically, DC Universe 0 is nothing more than an advertisement for six specific stories:
  • Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds (written by Geoff Johns),

  • Batman: RIP (written by Grant Morrison as an arc in the regular Batman title),

  • Wonder Woman: Whom the Gods Forsake (written by Gail Simone as an arc in the regular Wonder Woman title),

  • Green Lantern: Blackest Night Prelude (written by Geoff Johns as an arc in the regular Green Lantern title),

  • Final Crisis: Revelations (written by Greg Rucka), and

  • Final Crisis (written by Grant Morrison).
Usually, advertisers are free to the patron as the publishing company makes its money from the fee it charges to run advertisements in the publication's pages. Of course, since DC is both the publisher and the advertiser, that approach can't work. So the problem becomes how to get readers to pay for an advertiser.

The solution is to only have two-thirds be a collection of a few pages that have been taken from each of those six stories. Each group of preview pages is then followed by a full-page ad for the specific series from which the pages were taken. Of course, these preview snippets are ostensibly tied together with the other third of the book--eight additional pages created for this issue plus a connecting narrative.

You've probably already read the news reports regarding the identity of the narrator. This not-so-closely-guarded secret has been revealed all over the Internet and in the news media (and probably by one or more of my fellow reviewers presented above). Hell, you've probably already read DC Universe 0 yourself (in which case my review isn't going to get you to save your hard-earned 50 cents), so I'm not spoiling things at all when I tell you that the narrator for these six advertisements is none other than . . . a bolt of lightning!

Yes, according to the reports I've read, the narrator appears on the last page. However, all I see on that last page is a lightning bolt flashing across a full moon above a strip club. There is, of course, the logo in the caption box on that page--a lightning bolt preceding the narrative, "And now I remember."

At the beginning of this advertiser, the first-person narrative captions are in black boxes. However, as the narrative progresses through the advertisements for the six upcoming stories, the caption boxes gradually change from black to red--with the final caption box on the last page being completely red and containing that lightning bolt logo.

Okay . . . yeah . . . the news reports are most likely true (though it could be a ploy to throw us off). The narrator is probably Barry Allen--just as we've been told (especially since Grant Morrison has apparently been quoted as saying that Barry Allen is being resurrected). However, the only evidence in this advertiser that Barry Allen might be the narrator is that the final caption box has that lightning bolt logo in it (and the fact that we're earlier told that Superman used to tell the narrator to call him Clark).

Observant readers will notice that four of the six stories that are previewed are written by the two "co-writers" of this advertiser (Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison). One of the three pages about the Spectre is from Final Crisis: Revelations by Greg Rucka and Philip Tan, so that page would have been written by Rucka. Additionally, the three preview pages for Wonder Woman: Whom the Gods Forsake are taken from one of the issues by Gail Simone and Aaron Lopresti, so those pages would have been written by Simone.

Thus, I think Rucka and Simone should have also been listed as co-writers of DC Universe 0.

Okay, so enough about the preview pages that precede the full-page ads. Let's look at the new content for DC Universe 0. After all, those eight pages comprise one-third of the editorial content (plus a few narrative captions that have been added to the preview pages).

One of those eight is the final page that shows a lightning bolt flashing above a strip club. Another two of those eight are a double-page spread of the Spectre arm wrestling with the Anti-Monitor, which George Perez drew as a lead in to the one-page excerpt from Final Crisis: Revelations.

There also appears to be a one-page lead in to the preview for Morrison's Final Crisis--though it might actually be an excerpted page showing the obscure character the Human Flame falling between rectangles through which a city can be seen. It's difficult to tell for certain, but it's probably a new page of content rather than an excerpt—and the figure falling between rectangles may be Barry Allen materializing out of a higher plane of existence rather than the Human Flame burning out.

Okay, so that takes care of half of the new pages--leaving just the first four pages of this advertiser as the remainder of the new material. Those first four are also the pages that contain most of the first-person narrative. Here's what those four pages show us along with what the narrator (probably Barry Allen) says:

Page One: Full-page illustration of a solar system in which the planets are far too close together to be accurate.
This is everything.

This is me.
I assume that the improbable drawing of a solar system is meant to signify space in general and probably the concept of the universe in particular. If that's the case, then the narrator seems to be telling us that he is "one with the universe" and is diffused throughout space (at least at this point in his narrative). Interestingly, that's essentially the same fate that Libra (who appears in Morrison's Final Crisis) experienced at the end of Justice League of America (first series) #111 back in 1974--which may indicate that Barry Allen's return is tied to Libra's.

Page Two: Two panels--the top panel shows the seven founding members of the Justice League of America (or it may be Wally West as The Flash instead of Barry Allen), and the bottom panel shows seven later editions to the ranks of the Justice League.
These are my protectors.

The Justice League.

The champions of a new heroic age.
Hmmm. If the narrator is one with the universe, then he appears to be claiming that the various members of the Justice League of America are the protectors of the universe since they are his protectors. That's highly improbable, but I'll grant some artistic license here.

Page Three: Three panels--the top shows Earth and the Moon floating in space, the second shows multiple Earths and Moons floating in space, and the third shows multiple Earths and Moons exploding in space.

The foundation stone of a monumental cosmic mega-structure made of parallel universes and parallel worlds, all vibrating at different frequencies.

A multiverse.

And when the multiverse is on the verge of destruction, when the skies drip red as the barriers between parallel universes bleed . . .

. . . when Earth's greatest heroes rise up together, willing to sacrifice everything they have in defense of all they hold dear . . .
Wait a minute! Earth is the foundation stone of the multiverse? How does that work, exactly?

Within DC cosmology, humanity has gone from Ptolemy's geocentric model of the universe to Copernicus's heliocentric model to Geoff Johns's Infinite Crisis model in which the Polaris Galaxy is the center of the universe. Fortunately, though, our little planet is "the foundation stone" of the multiverse.

Destroy the Earth (or Earths) and the multiverse topples over like a building being demolished (as it explodes in the third panel).

Page Four: Three panels--the top shows a scene from Crisis on Infinite Earths in which various heroes from various Earths are attacking the Anti-Monitor, the second shows a scene from Infinite Crisis in which Superboy Prime is shoving his right fist at us while his mouth is open and his eyes flash red, and the third shows a pair of red eyes in a rocklike gray head (probably the Fifth World version of Darkseid, but who knows).
. . . that war is called a crisis.

The first crisis brought death to nearly all of creation.

One lone universe was spared.

A second crisis witnessed the violent resurrection of 52 new parallel universes [uhm, I thought it was 51 new universes plus the one that was spared from the previous crisis, but I digress].

And so begins the final chapter in the saga of multiple Earths.

The Final Crisis.
And that's it! I've covered all eight of the new pages that comprise this collection of preview pages and full-page ads for six upcoming series.

So . . . is it worth 50 cents (or 45 cents with my 10% discount at the store)?

Hell, yeah! It's worth twice that!

After all, a third of the book is "All-New," but a third of DC's usual cover price is about one dollar (or 90 cents with my 10% discount). Thus, we're actually getting a great deal--eight new pages (plus a connecting narrative thread) for half the price we should be expected to pay!

No, I'm being facetious, of course. DC Universe 0 is a ripoff. Even at a cover price of 50 cents and with "eight pages of new material," this is nothing more than a string of advertisements that Geoff Johns tried to tie together with a banal narrative supposedly delivered by Barry Allen.

What really gets my goat, though, is something else that Didio wrote in that "DC Nation" page at the end of this advertiser. He has the audacity to claim that DC Universe 0 "has all the ingredients for a great comics event"--not that Final Crisis or any of the other five series have the ingredients for a great comics event, but specifically that DC Universe 0 has them.

Didio informs us that those ingredients are great characters, an amazing writer (in this case, two, according to Didio), an incredible artist (in this case, eight, according to Didio), and a big story.

Okay, I'll grant him that DC Universe 0 has some great characters in it--after all, fourteen members of the Justice League are posed like statues on the second page.

I'll even grant him that one great writer is listed as a co-writer of this advertiser (Morrison), though I really don't believe he wrote anything in this pamphlet other than the pages that were excerpted from his two series.

I'll even grant him that there are some great illustrations in this book--and further grant his right for claiming "eight incredible artists"--even though two-thirds of those illustrations are on the excerpted pages from the six series.

However, a great (or "big") story? Not by a long shot.

There's no "story" here. It's a collection of preview pages strung together by a few narrative captions--which were almost certainly entirely written by Johns.

Hyperbolic marketing ploys like DC Universe 0 are pushing me away from mainstream superhero comics with each passing month. I'll read Morrison's two series, and I'll probably read Legion of Three Worlds (because I'm a fan of the Legion of Super-Heroes). However, calling this advertiser "a great comics event," and claiming that it has a "big story" (or any story at all) is an insult to the intelligence of the people to whom DC is trying to market these six series.

After hearing from several readers who told me that the "preview pages" in DC Universe 0 are not excerpted from their respective series, I wrote an addendum to my review that I have posted on the message boards. Interested parties may find it by copying and pasting the following URL:

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