The fourth and last “Final Crisis Aftermath” series again builds on foundations that Grant Morrison laid in “Final Crisis” where Mark Richards, the Tattooed Man, showed his heroic side by fighting against Darkseid’s forces, and receiving an honorary membership in the Justice League for his efforts. Much like the Super Young Team, he played a role in saving the world, but now finds that the world either doesn’t know or simply doesn’t care.
The issue opens with Richards firmly proving that he’s reformed by stopping a bank robbery and earning a little bit of good will in Liberty Hill, a crime-ridden “urban nightmare.” While he enjoys this newfound respect and the thrill of being a hero, issues at home get in the way. Richards has to deal with problems like earning money and a son who isn’t inspired by his father to do good.
Writer Eric Wallace said in a recent CBR interview that “‘Ink’ is a story about one man’s ascension as a hero, what that means, and the price he has to pay for it,” and that much is apparent in this issue. However, it’s also apparent that Wallace seems intent on exploring these ideas in the most mundane, cliched way possible. There’s the police officer who won’t believe that Richards has made a change for the better, or the murder that looks like the handiwork of the Tattooed Man.
Not only that, but the characterization of the Richards family doesn’t quite match what we’ve seen before in “Final Crisis: Submit” where his wife seemed to want her husband to see the error of his ways and use his power in a positive way. Here, though, she’s one of his harshest critics. Now, it could be that she wants to keep him grounded, but that doesn’t come across as clearly as it should.
The art team of Fabrizio Fiorentino and Michael Dimotta give the book a unique, eye-catching look with Dimotta not only coloring straight from Fiorentino’s pencils (ironic for a book called “Ink,” I know), but doing so with a style that often resembles paints. While visually different than most books on the shelves, the coloring is often very muddled and muted, almost drab. It has a very washed out look that buries Fiorentino’s pencils, which require colors with a little more pop and energy to match the dynamic feel of many of the scenes. When Richards has a samurai appear through a tattoo, the coloring makes it blend in when it stand out.
What could be a promising idea, a staunch skeptic of superheroes becoming one himself in a crime-ridden city, is lost in an unoriginal plot and awful coloring. Wallace does manage to raise some interesting points on the downside of being a superhero and how becoming one doesn’t happen overnight, so hopefully things will improve as he has a chance to explore those ideas.