It took us two months, but we’re finally back with another installment of The Full Run: Final Crisis. Hope seems lost, but it looks like the tide may start to turn towards the side of good. Why? Well, awesome Rubik’s cube skills play a part. Also, as was the case throughout the 2000s, the Green Lantern Corps proves pivotal.
Final Crisis #5
(w) Grant Morrison (a) J.G. Jones & Carlos Pacheco (c) Alex Sinclair
Jason Jeffords Jr (JJR): We’re starting the New Year right with Green Lantern’s might! The last time we saw Hal and the Alpha Lanterns, they were hauling him off Earth in Final Crisis #3. Hell, in issue 3 we only saw him for one page, whereas Morrison opens Final Crisis #5 on Oa during the trial of Hal, for murdering Orion. This we know is a complete sham as Alpha Lantern Kraken is a host for Granny Goodness, trying to get Hal out of the way. Even worse, she claims Hal has been possessed. Ironic, no?
Alas, we aren’t here to give you a page-by-page rundown of what transpires, so let me talk about the utter bullshit evidence Alpha Lantern Kraken gives.
Alpha Lantern Kraken proclaims that the scar on Hal’s head is due to a death blow from Orion and that his memory loss during this moment is due to playing host to another. The second half of her argument holds some weight as he once housed Parallax. Plus the Alpha Lanterns are built to be infallible (Hal makes a great comment on this), meaning the Guardians take her at face value. This echoes how corrupt some of our “peacekeepers” are. People hold them as infallible, that they can do no wrong, whatever evidence they have are cold hard facts. Yet that isn’t always true, that and the Guardians can be seen as the punishment givers that blindly believe them because of their job/rank.
Daniel Gehen (DG): Personally, I really like how this sequence goes down. As informed readers, we know that Hal is being set up and that Granny Goodness has possessed Alpha Lantern Kraken. Morrison is aware of the reader’s knowledge, and uses that to build tension and influence our emotions in this sequence. The more crap “Granny Kraken” spews, the more frustrated we as a reader become.
Also, throughout Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern run, which was happening at the time, the Guardians were shown to be full of blinding hubris time and again. They think of themselves as infallible, and they continued to bury their heads in the sand whenever proven wrong or if someone challenged them. You could argue that doing this ultimately undermined any weight the Guardians had, but that’s an argument for another day. The point is we have an Alpha Lantern that readers know to be possessed and the Guardians known to make boneheaded decisions trying to determine Hal Jordan’s innocence. It’s a great use of both literary tools and the modern continuity of DC Comics, especially by tying things back to Hal Jordan’s own experience as a bad guy, retconned into his being possessed by Parallax.
JJR: Yeah, Hal has played host to another in the past, yet is that a reason to blindly believe that has happened again? Since those events he has done a multitude of good, does this not show some faith in his character? This moment reminds me of, L’Étranger (The Stranger by Albert Camus), wherein Meursault (the main character) attends his Mom’s funeral and doesn’t cry. Yet, later on, he kills another in self-defense, but due to his past of showing no emotion, he is found guilty. This is proven as evidence of his “lack of empathy”. If the Guardians are to punish others for past events, why not themselves? Or the dozen other Lanterns that have made mistakes.
Yet, the Guardians sent other Lanterns to talk to John Stewart, thusly they call upon them. Luckily, Earth houses multiple Lanterns that come to Hal’s aid (Guy, Kyle) that bring hard-hitting facts causing Alpha Lantern Kraken to crack.
DG: This whole situation is interesting to read in modern context. We start off with a Green Lantern – a space cop – on trial. Obviously, superhero comics work under the assumption that the system of law and order – that justice itself – works. But those of us in the real world know that is not the case. Police departments are full of both good and bad people, some that believe their duty is to serve and protect, and others that find the power of the badge easily corruptible.
However, here we have a situation where the entire police force is corrupt, and it is only those that act against it that are truly honorable. The human Green Lanterns are the ones seen by the rest of the Corps as outsiders. They’re the ones that are not fully indoctrinated into the culture and see things differently than their colleagues. I don’t think Morrison is trying to make any social commentary, but it is interesting how his use of established tropes can be read differently with the passage of time.
Okay, enough with the serious, introspective stuff. How about the goofiness that is undermining Darkseid’s machinations via unparallelled mastery of a Rubik’s Cube? That’s the kind of comicbook science I can get behind!
JJR: Yay! Comicbook science, the best kind of science! First off, I absolutely suck at Rubik’s Cubes. I’ve tried for years, alas no luck on even getting one side done.
DG: Same here.
JJR: Nonetheless, we aren’t here to talk about my inability to solve a cube that my younger relatives can, but to talk about Nix Uotan reawakening. Once the crippled Metron finishes the Cube a loud PING and bright light occur, bringing about the Fifth World, making Uotan the first Monitor for said world. Plus, to note, a Rubik’s Cube is featured in Multiversity. Yet, it’s been a while since I’ve read that.
To me, it seems that the cube is a Mother Box (that’s why it PINGed) in disguise that had to be completed to unleash itself and give Uotan’s powers. It all screams Silver Age plot to me. Particularly, The Flash #115. The comic itself is amazingly fun, but the reason I bring it up is Gorilla Grodd does something outrageous that always stood out. While imprisoned in Gorilla City, Grodd makes a pill that will kill him, but at the moment of death, his mind will transfer to another body. The method of doing this? By his “calculations” he made the crazy science breaking pill with dirt. Fuck, I love comic science.
This Rubik’s Cube and god number feel like an idea from the Silver Age. Yes, the god number is real, but the way Morrison fits this idea into Final Crisis is interesting and fun. We know he calls back to older comics and this plot feels like something from the Silver Age.
DG: While the comicbook science is a lot of fun, the major reason that the tide begins to turn here is the pride that the Gods of Apokolips have. Granny Goodness showing her hand allows the Green Lantern Corps to mobilize on Earth. And on the ground, an eclectic group of heroes and antiheroes taking the indoctrinated, dog-riding likes of Wonder Woman, Batwoman, and Giganta. I can’t really tell who is doing which art, but J.G. Jones and Carlos Pacheco do a great job throughout. This sequence in particular looks great.
JJR: Big agree on the art part!
DG: Can we take a moment to talk about Mister Miracle? So this isn’t the classic, Scott Free version of the character, but the Shilo Norman version that showed up in Morrison’s Seven Soldiers of Victory. He does show up with a very brief exposition dump about Mother Boxes (living iPods manufactured by gods), but more importantly he gives our heroes a defense against Anti-Life in the pattern which he and his allies have painted on their faces. It’s a little silly, but I appreciated the idea of a low-tech solution being used to combat a problem caused by prolific technology.
JJR: I didn’t read Seven Soldiers of Victory until years after reading Final Crisis, so I had absolutely no idea who this Mister Miracle was. Alas, that’s neither here, nor there. I agree, the low-tech solution is great. Plus, Morrison has always had a thing for hidden words and the inner meanings of signs, so this idea feels up his alley.
One thing I want to add before we wrap up is the way Supergirl’s heat vision is drawn. There have been a few times I’ve seen heat vision drawn connected to the eyeballs which look weird. Here, the teams draw the heat vision with a bit of distance from the eyes, a little which (personally) is the best way.
DG: I think I don’t read enough Superman, or at least stories where heat vision is used because I never even considered that. Now that I think about it, I think my favorite version of the heat vision power is in Action Comics #775 (the fan-favorite “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way?”) where Supes uses it to “lobotomize” Manchester Black. It’s concentrated and powerful, but it doesn’t shoot out like a laser. His eyes just light up red, and that’s it. Simple, but effective.
While Morrison’s Seven Soldiers of Victory does influence this issue, we also start to see the seeds planted for another project that would be years in the making – The Multiversity. All of the stuff from Nix Uotan – including that Rubiks Cube sequence – will play a larger role in that. That’s a topic when we get to the post-mortem, which I can’t wait to dive into.
But damn, that’s Final Crisis #5. This issue has a little bit of everything from the series. There’s the despair of the world taken over by Darkseid. There’s the corruption of established institutions. There’s rebellion by those looking to build a better future for the world… seems pretty topical for a book that was written over 10 years ago. Next, we’ll be taking a diversion into the streets of Gotham for the “Last Rites” issues of Batman, which were omitted from the original trade release of this series. And that was troublesome, as they’re pretty essential.
Previously on “The Full Run: Final Crisis”