I think I’ll coin a new term for this issue – this was a “The Good of the Many Outweighs the Good of the One” comic. In that it was good, but had deficiencies that I think ran directly to the interest of giving the overall story a clear ending, thereby sacrificing some of its own quality in favor of making the whole work read better (of course, that desire was then dashed a bit by DC’s plans for the trade collection). Then again, that’s a common problem for final issues, so comparably, this held up on its own remarkably well (and really did give the whole endeavor a clear and satisfying conclusion).
First off, it was awesome having a single artist (and a good one, to boot!) artist working on this issue. Doug Mahnke did very well with the time he had, art-wise. It was odd, however, to have Marco Ruby do the cover instead of Mahnke (I presume Mahnke was on a tight deadline, but man, he couldn’t have drawn a more rushed-looking cover than what Rudy came up with. He appears to have drawn the cover in about five minutes. Holy bejeezuz, that was an ugly cover!). Thank goodness for JG Jones’ awesome Superman cover!
There are two notable drawbacks of the issue.
One, Mandrakk really should have appeared more in Final Crisis if DC is going to sell Final Crisis #1-7 as a Hardcover. As I’ve said in the past, I was not too irked by the idea of Superman Beyond basically being Final Crisis #4 and 8 (of a 9-issue series). But that was when I was hoping DC would have the Hardcover be Final Crisis #1-7 plus Superman Beyond #1-2. With the knowledge that the hardcover will NOT have Sueprman Beyond, that is pretty lame. It’s not a HUGE deal, and you can still follow the series without Superman Beyond, but Superman Beyond sure as hell helps.
Two, due to the fact that this is the issue where the story is wrapped up, there are some awkward moments where Morrison simply does that – wrap the story up. Some “and then this happened and then this happened” storytelling in a few of the spots. That, I am sure, will work well for the trade collection (hence the “for the good of the many” part) but it hurts this single issue. In addition, some stuff seems rushed for space (Hawkman and Hawkgirl’s death, for instance).
Okay, so once you get that all out of the way (Mandrakk should be in the series more – actually, the Superman Beyond stuff was explained pretty well EXCEPT for Mandrakk, there were some awkward moments of exposition and some scenes seemed rushed for lack of space), this was still a very good comic book.
Doug Mahnke handled the artwork with a sense of might and importance, and he has a number of big time great moments (Captain Marvel arriving with the alternate universe characters plus the sea of Supermen showing up) that he illustrates magnificently. However, there were also plenty of other moments where the rush on his artwork (and the multitude of inkers) was evident.
There are a number of great character moments in the book, which is great to see in a company-wide crossover, plus little moments like Dinah and Ollie celebrating The Ray presenting the Sigil on Earth. Barry and Wally bringing the Black Racer to Darkseid. The Japanese heroes had their moment. We got great scenes with the remaining heroes feeling that they are done for.
Perhaps the best moment of the issue was the revelation of who this was a “Final Crisis” FOR. That was beautifully handled.
And, of course, I was quite pleased to be right that Morrison explained that Batman was not really dead. In fact, he handled that about as perfectly as you could possibly handle it – show him as not dead while at the same time NOT exactly showing what his deal is. Perfect.
There were so many great moments, I’m sure I’m missing some (like the Green Lanterns staking Mandrakk or the purposely hokey “Let the Sun shine in”….ooooh…how about the WiR joke! That was classic).
So yeah, good issue, all in all, and an even better story in total.