Okay, so I did the Final Crisis FAQ, where I answered everyone who sent in a question about Final Crisis, but I thought it'd be nice to re-format the answers a bit and just give you a sort of "Cliffs Notes" explanation of the parts people professed difficulty understanding, in a chronological look at Final Crisis.
I'll give you both reading orders. The first is the official Grant Morrison "This is how you should read Final Crisis" reading order, using just the issues he wrote, while the rest is where the other ones "tie-in" (quotes because they really don't).
Morrison Reading Order
Final Crisis #1-3Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1-2Final Crisis: Submit #1Final Crisis #4-5Batman #682-683Final Crisis #6-7
The Entire Reading Order
Final Crisis #1Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns #1 Final Crisis: Requiem #1Final Crisis #2Final Crisis: Rogues' Revenge #1-3Final Crisis #3Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1-2Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #1-5Final Crisis: Revelations #1-5Final Crisis: Resist #1Final Crisis: Submit #1Final Crisis #4-5Final Crisis: Secret Files #1 (any time, really, but I guess around this time makes the most sense)Batman #682-683Final Crisis #6-7
As a side note, DC Universe: Last Will and Testament #1 was originally a Final Crisis tie-in but was released without the name, and I think that likely has to do with the fact that it really does not tie in to the story at all - so just pretend that it is just some unnamed OTHER crisis that the heroes are all talking about in hushed terms - DC must have those a lot, I guess, maybe, I dunno.
GENERAL ART CREDITS FOR FINAL CRISIS #1-7
I could be off on a few pages here and there, but I think this is basically all correct…
Issues #1-3 - All J.G. Jones
Issue #4 - Carlos Pacheco drew the straight superhero scenes while JG Jones got the darker stuff with Darkseid and the Flashes.
Issue #5 - Pacheco drew the opening with the Green Lanterns and the two-page spread of the heroes charging. Marco Rudy drew most of the last pages of the book, including Darkseid taking control of the three billion humans. JG Jones drew the rest.
Issue #6 - Opens with a couple of Pacheco pages, then Rudy draws most of the issue, except for a few major scenes drawn by JG Jones, namely the Supergirl/Mary Marvel fight, the Talky Tawny fight, the Flashes attack Darkseid and the Batman/Darkseid fight. Closes with a few Doug Mahnke pages.
Issue #7 - All Doug Mahnke, although with a gazillion different inkers.
COLLECTIONS OF FINAL CRISIS
DC has already collected the Last Rites issues of Batman (#682-683) in the Batman RIP trade that is out.
Soon they will be coming out with the following collections:
Final Crisis Hardcover (Final Crisis #1-7, Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1-2, Final Crisis: Submit #1)*
Final Crisis Companion (Final Crisis: Requiem #1, Final Crisis: Resist #1, Final Crisis: Secret Files #1 and the extras from the Director's Cut of Final Crisis #1)
Final Crisis: Rogues' Revenge
Green Lantern: Rage of the Red Lanterns (will include the Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns one-shot plus the respective issues of Green Lantern dealing with the Red Lanterns and their rage)
Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds
Final Crisis: Revelations
* Note that this is just based on my deductive reasoning. DC originally solicited the Final Crisis Hardcover as $25 and a hundred pages shorter, with Superman Beyond and Submit being in the Companion trade. Then they re-solicited the Companion trade withOUT Superman Beyond and Submit, and suddenly the Final Crisis trade was a hundred pages larger and $30 instead of $25.
COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS, DEATH OF THE NEW GODS, DC UNIVERSE #0 AND SEVEN SOLDIERS: MISTER MIRACLE
Countdown to Final Crisis and the Death of the New Gods were both mini-series designed to set up Final Crisis plot points. However, due to the fact that they were written well before Final Crisis was fully written, a number of inconsistencies popped up. Since Grant Morrison already had his story, he was not going to change his story to match up with inconsistencies in comics that were intended to match up with HIS story, so if there are any inconsistencies between Countdown and Final Crisis, presume that Final Crisis is the "official" position.
The basic plot points that Countdown was to get across were:
* Mary Marvel turns evil… because of Darkseid!* There is a society of Monitors who disagree about how to be Monitors. At least one of these Monitors is evil. * Earth-51: Destroyed, then turned into Kamandi-world!* There was a war of the New Gods, and they all die except Orion (well, and Metron, because he is considered to be beyond the Fourth World).
Quite a few of these plot points contradict Final Crisis in some way or another, but the BASIC ideas got across, for the most part.
In any event, when it came to the war of the New Gods, Countdown and Death of the New Gods both came up with different depictions of how it all went down, and neither of them matched what Morrison wanted to have happen.
Morrison's take on it is that the Death of the New Gods is an approximation of the "war of the heavens" that leads into Final Crisis, and therefore, any such battle would be incomprehensible to regular people, which explains why there were different takes on it. That's a clever enough solution.
Okay, so there was supposed to be a "War of the Heavens" that would end the Fourth World and begin the Fifth World. However, Darkseid is way too stubborn to let that happen, so he escapes death by traveling through time and space.
During DC Universe #0, we see him fall through time and space and end up in the past. In that same issue, the "higher beings" also return Barry Allen to the living to bring Darkseid back to where he was supposed to be, which was dead.
Darkseid fell through time and space all the way back to the Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle mini-series from a few years back. There it is established that Darkseid is staying alive by taking on a human host body. Darkseid also brought all his minions with him and they have human host bodies, too (they all still died in the war of the heavens, but as Jack Kirby established, Darkseid can recreate his minions just through his memories of them - think of them as basically extensions of Darkseid's self). In the Mister Miracle mini-series, we discover a new twist on Darkseid's classic Omega Beams, which can transport people across time and space (usually killing them in the process). Here he uses his "Omega Sanction" on Mister Miracle, which "kills" Mister Miracle, but basically it forces Mister Miracle to re-live his life over and over in some otherly dimension. Being the world's greatest escape artist, however, Mister Miracle "escapes Death."
Still, now Mister Miracle is aware that Darkseid has something planned for Earth.
FINAL CRISIS #1
Metron gives Anthro a sigil, but Anthro at first thinks he is just giving him the fire that was used to engrave the sigil. Anthro uses the fire to, in effect, become the world's first "superhero" (with fire being his "power").
Vandal Savage is a jerk in Anthro's time, too.
Mirror Master is working for Libra in this issue, but soon decides not to work for him (along with the other Rogues) in Rogues' Revenge #1-3.
In this issue, a new "League of Titans" consisting of Sparx, Empress and Mas y Menos debut and are attacked by Libra's crew, who recover Metron's chair. The four Titans COULD be dead, but it is left intentionally vague, so basically, if some future writer wants to use any of them, then they were just knocked unconscious.
The Tattooed Man works for Boss Dark Side, but that's just because we've established he's a typical super-villain goon at this point in time.
Libra is an old Justice League villain who developed a device that could steal people's powers. He turned his device on the universe and basically got absorbed into the cosmos. He drifted through the universe for years until finally recorporalizing on Apocalypse, where he was enlisted as Darkseid's agent on Earth. He's really powerful, powerful enough that he could fight the Spectre! It say a lot that his gimmick was that he strove for "balance," yet when he met Darkseid, he knew that Darkseid outweighed everything and that balance was useless in the presence of Darkseid. Darkseid must be pretty darn bad!!
The Justice League appears somewhat unfamiliar with the New Gods. This was a bit of a retcon by Morrison that turned out to be more or less completely ignored by DC in the lead-up to Final Crisis. Morrison wanted the New Gods to regain a bit of their original Kirby mystique, where it would be a really big deal if a New God showed up on Earth. Part of this involved a request on Morrison's part that DC not do anything with the New Gods for a couple of years before Final Crisis. That did not happen. In any event, that is why the League seems somewhat unfamiliar with the New Gods, although do note that the way it is written (and this is almost certainly intentional), you could read Batman and Superman as just informing the members of the collected Justice League who ARE unfamiliar with the New Gods, people like Red Arrow and Hawkgirl.
Reader Gauss wrote me to point out that Morrison made a comment about the bum with the red hair who is nearby Orion's death. He asks whether that could be a resurrected Orion. I suppose it could, but I think more likely it is just Morrison tossing in an Easter Egg for Seven Soldiers readers, as that looks like it could very easily be Aurakles, who Mister Miracle freed in Seven Soldiers #1 (and who was addle-minded enough at the time that he could easily still be walking around dressed like a red-haired bum).
Kamandi appears to Anthro at the end of the issue as a time fluctuation (think of it as a temporal vision), courtesy of the Monitor Nix Uotan, who is banned from the society of Monitors in this issue and forced to live among the humans (or "germs" as the Monitors call them).
FINAL CRISIS: RAGE OF THE RED LANTERNS #1 and FINAL CRISIS: REQUIEM #1
Both are extremely straightforward comics.
FINAL CRISIS #2
Alpha Lantern Kraken is possessed by Granny Goodness and she assaults John Stewart. Before she attacks, she mocks the Guardians (who created the Alpha Lanterns to be infallible but that did not work, as Kraken was still possessed). This is later evidenced when Kraken and Batman are in the Hall of Justice and Batman notices an imprint on Kraken from where John tried to fight back. Batman remarks that John sure has a nice right hook. While trying to fight off the control of Granny, Kraken mentions something along the lines of "tell them our weapons don't work." While it is not made explicitly clear, I think it is likely she is referring to the Alpha Lanterns as a whole as "the weapons," as the Alpha Lanterns were created by the Guardians to be infallible weapons of justice to police other Green Lanterns.
Kamandi appears to Turpin in the issue as a time fluctuation (think of it as a temporal vision), courtesy of the Monitor Nix Uotan.
Jay and Wally meet the revived Barry Allen at a strip club that was once a community center where Jay first met Barry years earlier. This is likely a commentary by Morrison about how the DC Universe has become "grimmer and grittier" since then.
FINAL CRISIS: ROGUES' REVENGE #1-3
Pretty straightforward mini-series.
FINAL CRISIS #3
The digital hand at Boss Dark Side's hideout is a take-off on the Uni-Friend, the messenger of the Source, which manifests in the form of a hand writing out messages from the Source.
Overman's cousin (Overgirl?) shows up, having been forcefully removed from Earth-10. We do not learn what it is that killed her exactly - was she hurt BEFORE she "fell from the sky" or was the expulsion from Earth-10 that killed her? Since it was her going missing that compelled Overman to go on the mission in Superman Beyond, it's possible that the Monitor Zillo Valla schemed for her to be sent away to provide a motivation for Overman to help her. But that's just supposition.
Superman says that his heat vision is keeping Lois's heart beating, but what he means is his infra-ray vision (this is made clear in Superman Beyond). He is using his infra ray vision to massage her heart.
Oracle cuts off the internet, keeping the Anti-Life Equation from being ingrained in computer systems everywhere. Just a glimpse of the Anti-Life Equation, though, almost turns her into a thrall of Darkseid.
The "Female Furies" at the end of the issue are Wonder Woman, Batwoman, Catwoman and Giganta.
FINAL CRISIS: SUPERMAN BEYOND #1-2
In this story it is established that the multiverses each have a specific tune. That becomes important later in Final Crisis.
In the story, Zillo Valla collects a team of Superman analogues, namely Superman, Ultraman, Overman, Captain Marvel (of Earth-5) and Captain Adam (a Dr. Manhattan take-off).
During this story, it is suggested that perhaps the "Crisis" that Darkseid is causing on Earth is just one of many crises that have come about because of a larger problem with the Multiverse, that perhaps each Earth in the Multiverse is going through their own version of the Darkseid problem. It is also very possible that all the other crises are caused by Darkseid mucking around with the Multiverse.
Superman Beyond provides an origin of the Monitors. Here it is...
There was once a being, I do not know if he even has a name, let's call him the "Over-Monitor." This being discovers the multiverse and sends a probe to explore the multiverse (the Monitor). However, the multiverse is a lot more complex (and quite a bit seductive) than he expected, and the probe was split into two equal and opposite probes, one good one evil, the Monitor and the Anti-Monitor.
After the death of the first Monitor and the defeat of the Anti-Monitor in Crisis, the Over-Monitor created a society of Monitors who lived in basically the ether of the multiverse. Their existence was discovered post Infinite Crisis.
The very first one sent by the Over-Monitor was called Dax Novu. There is some debate whether Dax is intended to be first Monitor sent to create the society of Monitors or if he is the first Monitor sent by the Over-Monitor PERIOD, in which case he would be the Monitor of Crisis on Infinite Earths, the "good" side of the original probe. I do not think Morrison makes it definitive either way, but certainly it is a more interesting story if Dax Novu IS the first Monitor (the one from Crisis on Infinite Earths).
Okay, so as this society of Monitors begins to grow, it slowly becomes apparent to Dax that the Monitors have an almost parasitic (one could call it vampiric) relationship with the Multiverse. They sort of feed off of the stories of the worlds they monitor. The other Monitors do not wish to believe him, so they shun him and imprison him "forever." Before they do so, he leaves behind a thought-robot designed to defeat himself if he is ever freed, because he knows that cut off from society that he is going to go mad. Dax slowly descends into madness and becomes Mandrakk, a flat out evil jerk who wants to consume the universe.
Secretly, he gains a disciple named Ogama who bans Nix Uotan to Earth to clear the way for Mandrakk to escape (which is what Zillo Valla is trying to stop by collecting all these Supermen).
Superman uses the thought-robot and defeats Mandrakk in the Nil (what they call the ether of the multiverse).
During this story, Captain Marvel of Earth-5 is sent by Superman to collect other Superman analogues to help defend the Multiverse from Mandrakk.
FINAL CRISIS: LEGION OF THREE WORLDS #1-5
This story is really its own thing, not really tied to Final Crisis.
But here's a timeline of Superman's travels during Final Crisis...
SUPERMAN'S TIMELINE DURING FINAL CRISIS
Final Crisis #1-3 - Takes part in some Justice League stuff, is here for the death of the Martian Manhunter, gives a speech at the funeral of the Martian Manhunter. The Daily Planet blows up and Lois gravely injured.
Superman Beyond #1-2 - He goes off on his multiverse mission and returns and heals Lois, returns to Earth.
Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #1-5 - He returns just in time to be taken into the future.
Final Crisis #4-most of 6 - His adventures in the Legion of Three Worlds mini-series.
Final Crisis end of #end of 6-7 - Back on Earth and directly involved in the end of Final Crisis.
FINAL CRISIS: REVELATIONS #1-5
This series really does not tie in with Final Crisis. It exists more to let Greg Rucka do some good work with some characters he enjoys, namely Renee Montoya, The Huntress and Crispus "The Spectre" Allen. Rucka also debuts a new character called The Radiant.
One debated aspect of the comic came when Cain shows up in Vandal Savage's body. It is not made explicit where Cain POSSESSES Savage or if Vandal Savage just WAS the guy who became the basis for the Biblical person known as Cain. I lean towards the former.
Since it is never made explicit WHEN The Spectre kills Dr. Light, I suppose it is possible that you could squeeze the recent Justice League of America storyline into the gap between Final Crisis #1 and Final Crisis #2. More likely than not, it just does not fit. And for the most part, it seems that Final Crisis: Revelations, as a series, takes place between Final Crisis #3 and 4.
FINAL CRISIS: RESIST #1
In this issue, Sasha Bordeaux began to be infected with the Anti-Life Equation. The cybernetic part of her body shut herself down so that she would not be enthralled to Darkseid. However, Mr. Terrific needed her to reboot to use her connections to the Checkmate computers, thus fully infecting her with the Anti Life Equation. Once again, her body shut herself down so she could not be used by Darkseid, but if when/if she woke up, she'd be fully infected with the Anti-Life Equation.
In this issue, Snapper visits the Justice League Satellite before the remnants of the League end up hiding out there themselves.
FINAL CRISIS: SUBMIT #1
This issue is quite straightforward, except the question of who gave Black Lightning the sigil/circuit. Since he is captured and enslaved before he can tell anyone, it is left a mystery. A theory I like is that the temporal vision of Kamandi gives it to him (as Kamandi had received it from Anthro at the end of Final Crisis #1), but it is never said for sure. That being said, the sigil/circuit appeared plenty of places (as established in Final Crisis #3), so it's not like there weren't opportunities to find the sigil/circuit.
FINAL CRISIS #4
While some people were able to keep themselves from listening to the Anti-Life Equation (especially as Oracle cut off access to the internet), quite a few people were "captive," like in subways, airplanes, cars, etc. and they were all turned. They, in turn, turned as many people as they could, zombie-style.
Mr. Terrific is back at the Checkmate Castle after being in Antarctica at the end of Final Crisis: Resist #1. The the likely argument is that the "time distortions" mentioned in the next issue explain how he was able to travel back to Switzerland is so little time. As for HOW he was able to get there without getting caught, the OMACs that pop up at the end of RESIST are likely how he got back to Switzerland. And since we don't see a lot of them, he likely lost most of them along the way to Darkseid's forces.
"Time distortions" is also the explanation for how Renee Montoya is able to get from Gotham City to Switzerland from Final Crisis: Revelations #5 to Final Crisis #4.
By the way, there were not just "time distortions," but there were also "space distortions" (thing got closer/further away), which would also tend to explain how people traversed great distances in short periods of time.
In the Justice League trophy room, there is a bottle with miniature versions of the Justice League. I have no idea what that is there for - perhaps just an in-joke by Carlos Pacheco?
Barry Allen cures Iris Allen of the Anti-Life Equation through some combination of the Speed Force and love.
FINAL CRISIS #5
A lot of the heroes in the double-page spread are riding vehicles made up of the Metal Men.
In this issue, we get the first hint that Desaad has possessed Mary Marvel.
Iman's dialogue is basically "What hit me? Ah, $*! My armor's useless. Weighs a ton... what would Superman do...?"
The person with the ape hands in this issue is never explicitly named, although the best theory I've heard is the typewriting monkey from Grant Morrison's Animal Man run. Note that the monkey is even referred to in Superman Beyond. And like the typewriting monkey, the character in Final Crisis #5 knows a whole lot about the power of stories. Heck, this very well could be the origin of the monkey (a being experimented on in Command-D)! But really, that's just a theory. It is mostly a mystery who the ape hands man is.
Nix Uotan finds the "magic word," which is "Weeja Dell", the name of the Monitor that he was in love with (we met her in Final Crisis #1 and Superman Beyond #2).
FINAL CRISIS: SECRET FILES #1
As you would hope, this Secret Files is pretty straightforward.
Batman is tortured by Simyan and Mokkari, as they are using the telepathic creature known as The Lump to attempt to mass-produce Batman's powerful mind into an army of Batman clones to serve as soldiers for Darkseid.
The story mixes real memories of Batman with false memories, which allows Morrison to play fast and loose with various aspects of Batman's career. Since that "not all of the memories are real" disclaimer is added, the question of Kathy (Batwoman) Kane's existence is an interesting one. Kathy Kane was "erased" by Crisis on Infinite Earths. The current Batwoman, Kate Kane, alludes to having an older relative named Katherine Kane, so Kathy Kane MAY have already been back in continuity. So the question is, when Batman recalls Kathy Kane in Batman #682, is that Morrison bringing Kathy Kane's career of Batwoman back into continuity? I don't think it is a question we can answer for sure (although, really, with the return of the Multiverse, does it really matter?).
This issue places Final Crisis #1 as directly following the events of R.I.P. in Batman #676-681.
FINAL CRISIS #6
We have our tie-in with Legion of Three Worlds here. We are spoiled that Brainiac 5 and Superman do not die in Legion of Three Worlds. We also learn that the time distortions have ruined the Legion's promise that they could return Superman back to the time he left. Instead, issues #4, 5 and most of #6 go by before Superman returns to Final Crisis.
Black Adam makes a comment about his powers fading due to "his gods" being "far, far from here." This is most likely a reference to the fracturing of the multiverse (his gods might actually be far, far from there, thereby cutting off the access to his powers).
This is also where we get confirmation that Desaad IS, in fact, possessing Mary Marvel. It appears as though Morrison's intent was that Mary Marvel's heel turn was all due to being possessed by Desaad, but that does not appear to be how DC has decided to play it, at least not based on recent issues of Justice Society of America.
Iman’s dialogue translates to “Something approaches. Like the sound of horses.” This is the arrival of the Tiger Men, who Morrison shows here how the Tiger Men were sent on the way to their noble attitude in the Kamandi stories of the future.
Shiloh Norman is mis-colored in this issue. He appears almost Caucasian. That is a mistake and it will be fixed in the Final Crisis hardcover.
The two Atoms, Ray Palmer and Ryan Choi, are attempting to bridge a highway from the universe of New Earth/Earth-0 (Morrison seems to refer to the "main" DC Earth as Earth-0, while after Infinite Crisis, it seemed to be called New Earth - I'm fine with either term) to another universe (so as to escape the possible destruction of this Earth).
Lord Eye is based on the brain of Maxwell Lord, founder of this current version of Checkmate.
Batman shoots Darkseid with a gun containing a Radion bullet. It was established during Jack Kirby's original Fourth World stories that Radion can kill the New Gods. This is the bullet Darkseid used to kill Orion. Batman shoots Darkseid in the shoulder.
The great thing about the Omega Sanction is that there is no precise explanation for what it does and does not do, so anything pretty much goes for it, particularly when you add in the fact that Darkseid was shot by Batman before the beams hit Batman (in fact, you could read the panel as suggesting that Darkseid was shot AS he let loose the Omega Sanction) - who knows what kind of odd effect that would have on the effects of the beam? I imagine we'll get more specific answers when Morrison returns to Batman in June.
That said, in extremely general terms, the Omega Sanction transports people across time and space, usually resulting in their deaths.
Here, the odd effect is that we have a corpse of Batman while Batman is actually somewhere in time and space, managing to survive what would have killed almost any other human alive.
Towards the end of the issue, we begin to see the effects of the power-stealing virus on a number of the superheroes who managed to stick around this far.
FINAL CRISIS #7
THE CHRONOLOGY OF FINAL CRISIS #7
A word about how this story is told. If you've ever watched The Godfather Part II or Memento (to choose two particularly notable films that I figure most of you have seen), you are likely familiar with the concept of telling a story non-sequentially. Directors figure that if you show an audience a scene set in the past after you show a scene set in the present, the viewers will figure out in their mind where to place the scenes, chronologically. Therefore, if you were to determine what order to view The Godfather Part II in to get the chronological order, you would get a very silly looking thing like:
Minutes 10-20 then Minutes 40-55 then Minutes 76-80, etc.
Not to mention the fact that the movie ends with a scene set at the beginning of the first Godfather!
So as long as you acknowledge that any time you put a non-sequential work in chronological order, it WILL look silly, I will provide the chronological order of the pages in Final Crisis #7 for those of you who cannot figure it out:
Roughly the same time - Pages 14, 15 and the bottom panel of 16 and Page 18, bottom four panels of 19, middle panel of 20, middle panel of 21.
Pages 5-7, top of 16, top of 19, Page 13, Top and Bottom Panels of page 20, Bottom Panel of Page 21.
Around that same time Pages 1-4, All But the Last Panel of Page 17
Pages 22-35, with likely the Top Panel of Page 21 and the Last Panel of Page 17 taking place around the time of Page 30.
Pages 36 and 37 are of indeterminate time. Likely Pre-Historic Past, but who knows?
While that's the chronological order of the comic, I am going to address the various plot threads in the order they actually appear in the comic...
Captain Marvel is using the Ultima Thule, the multiverse-traversing vehicle of Superman Beyond, to travel the multiverse picking up versions of Superman. He was put on this mission by Superman in Superman Beyond #2. He hooked up with The Question on Earth-51, which is where she and the folks of Checkmate ended up.
Darkseid shoots the Radion bullet that kills Orion through time, all the while knowing that this bullet will later be used by Batman to kill him. Effectively, he is committing suicide. An interesting question is could Darkseid choose NOT to do this? It really comes down to what school of time travel theory you belong to. Some would say he could choose not to fire it, some would say he would not be able to avoid it, since it has been established AS happening.
The Flashes arrive, and they basically finish the job Batman started with the Radion bullet. Here we get why Barry Allen "had" to be the one that the powers that be released from Death's grasp. Only he and Wally could outrun the Black Racer long enough to take it to Darkseid and finish off what was intended to happen to Darkseid a long time ago. So the Black Racer hits Darkseid and drives him out of corporeal form.
As the "second" of Darkseid's death takes place, we are formally introduced to the fact that Aquaman is back. Morrison here is just looking to return a back-to-basics Aquaman to the DC Universe because he figures someone is going to do it ANYways, so he might as well help out future writers and say, "There, there you have a back-to-basics Aquaman. Do with him as you will." The whole "Arthur of Atlantis is prophesized to return to his people in the time of their greatest need" is not an actual established Aquaman plot point, but rather a play on the King Arthur story.
Iman is saying “He’s going to start time, is all I’ve heard. To live in the world with a man like this.”
We see our first real connection to Final Crisis: Resist, as the OMACs make an appearance. They are in Switzerland, so I think that lends credence to the notion that they took Mr. Terrific back to Switzerland from Antarctica. And the fact that there are not that many of them in Final Crisis #7 suggests that the journey was a hazardous one (lots of Justifiers out there, after all), so they dwindled in numbers, which is why they were not a bigger factor in Final Crisis #4-6.
Black Canary and Green Arrow are floating in space with their life support on critical terms. They are saved before they die, though. And they do get to see The Ray burn the sigil/circuit on to Earth.
Ray's sigil/circuit freed all the people on Earth within the sigil/circuit, which was a significant amount of people, although we have no way of knowing HOW many.
While Checkmate and Lord Eye are using the "interdimensional highway" that the Atoms have rigged up, the highway begins to fall apart due to the instability and fracturing of the Multiverse. Lord Eye malfunctions and decides to close the tunnel with everyone in it. To avoid this, Hawkman figures he has to destroy Lord Eye. Hawkgirl does not let him do it alone. They destroy Lord Eye, but are killed in the resulting explosion. Mister Miracle's motherboxx then manages to teleport the rest of the folks to Earth-51.
A note on Hawkman and Hawkgirl's deaths. They died definitely. This was clearly done with the intent of Morrison of them simply being reincarnated by whatever other DC writer who wanted to use the characters, and here Morrison's point is to basically give the future writer a blank slate to do whatever he/she wanted to do with Hawkman, as we have established that the Hawks reincarnate. Morrison alludes to his last issue, where Hawkman is almost welcoming of death. So they die in Final Crisis #7. This is made evident by the two feathers later in the issue symbolizing their deaths.
HOWEVER, DC has decided to retcon their deaths, so they did not actually die. But if you were to ask me, "Did Wolverine kill Magneto in New X-Men #150?," I would say, "Yes." Marvel, however, then retconned Magneto's death as not being Magneto but an imposter Magneto. Which is fair enough, they can do whatever they want. As can DC, who has determined that the Hawks are alive (badly injured, but alive). Fair enough. But that is a retcon of Final Crisis #7. In Final Crisis #7, they are dead (and annoyingly, their deaths are designed to specifically NOT be permanent, but even THAT had to be retconned, apparently).
There is great debate over how Wonder Woman ended up being free from Darkseid's control, and to what extent Frankenstein was involved, especially as Morrison makes a point of establishing that Frankenstein was immune to the morticoccus virus.
It is unclear if he DID save her. But if he DID, it would have something to do with the fact that he was immune to the effects of the morticoccus virus. Honestly, it could be just as simple as "Frankenstein defeated her by, allowing the good guys to cure her with an antidote to the morticoccus virus off-panel." I mean, the morticoccus virus was artificially made, and the "good guys" did have some of the greatest mad scientists in the universe on their side, so it's not unreasonable to think that they could come up with a cure for the morticoccus virus, ESPECIALLY since all the villains had been inoculated against it. In addition, as we saw at the end of Final Crisis #6, heroes were beginning to lose their powers, so Frankenstein's immunity could be as simple as Morrison's way of saying "This is why he was able to fight her without losing his powers."
Another theory is that Wonder Woman was within the range of the sigil that the Ray placed on Earth, so THAT freed her.
But really, the "true" answer is that Morrison leaves how Wonder Woman was freed up to the reader's imagination.
When freed, Wonder Woman binds Darkseid's "body," which is now non-corporeal, and releases his grasp on anyone who was not already freed by The Ray.
While Superman is trying to build the Miracle Machine to fix Earth, he proceeds to use a shrinking ray and then cryogenics to store the population of Earth while he is working, as he does not know how long he needs to work on the Miracle Machine. This leads to a great meta-commentary line where Lois mentions that when Superman is finished, he will take her "back from the fridge." This is a clear reference to the "Women in Refrigerators" critique, which talks about a specific plot device that afflicts female characters in superhero comics (generally speaking, it is when a female character is killed/raped/mutilated/etc. simply to affect change in the life of a male character, with the charge being that it is unfair to treat female characters as though they are props in the lives of male characters).
Superman is confronted by the last non-corporeal vestiges of Darkseid, who is now sort of clinging to the Multiverse itself. As established in Superman Beyond, the multiverse exists on different levels of tonal vibrations, so Superman extinguishes Darkseid once and for all (until someone brings him back, of course) by singing a particular note to create a vibration that cancels Darkseid out.
The silence after the great song (so loud that it almost broke Superman's vocal cords) allows Superman to discover the hum of Element X. There is some debate about the connection between Element X (which is an established DC supernatural element) and the Worlogog, the powerful map of space/time from Morrison's JLA run. I see it like this - the Element X Superman finds is not the Worlogog. Howver, the Worlogog might very well have been made out of Element X. We just don't know.
Mandrakk shows up, and we see basically the only direct connection to Final Crisis: Revelations, as we see the Spectre and The Radiant (from Revelations) drained by Mandrakk. Likely, things were just now getting serious enough for the gods like Spectre to get involved. To wit, when it was just Darkseid as the bad guy, they were content freeing Barry Allen from death's grasp to take care of Darkseid for them. But when Mandrakk showed up, they really were in trouble, as Mandrakk eats universes, for crying out loud! So The Spectre and the Radiant get involved and they get defeated.
The Green Lanterns, who have been stuck in a holding pattern since they arrive outside of Earth at the end of Final Crisis #5, finally find a way into Earth by the pathway created by Mandrakk's destroyers.
Nix Uotan shows up and he brings Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew back to their normal selves. They did not end up actually doing anything, but Nix was basically bringing out anything he could to intimidate Mandrakk. This is equalled later on the same page when Zauriel and the Pax Dei show up. Again, Mandrakk is a much bigger deal than Darkseid, so Mandrakk is a big enough deal for the heavens to get involved. But really, they are there more as "Look at everyone I have with me, Mandrakk, you are done."
We learn here that Nix is Mandrakk (Dax Navu)'s son.
Let's take a quick tangent to look at the Who's Who of Monitors in Final Crisis:
WHO'S WHO OF MONITORS
Over-Monitor - The dude who got everything going.
Monitor/Anti-Monitor - Two halves of a probe the Over-Monitor sent into the Multiverse to study it. One became good, the other became evil. The Anti-Monitor is still running around somewhere.
Dax Novu/Mandrakk - The founder of the society of Monitors who was shunned when he figured out that the Monitors were actually cosmic vampires feeding off of stories, eventually was corrupted into Mandrakk while in exile. He likely is the Monitor mentioned above.
Nix Uotan - Soon of Dax, the good Monitor who was banished to Earth by the evil Monitor Ogama. He later becomes the only Monitor left on Earth (who is still a Monitor). He is the direct connection to the Over-Monitor.
Weeja Dell - Nix's love, and the way he was able to access his powers on Earth.
Zillo Valla - Lover of Mandrakk (mother of Nix?).
Rox Ogama - The evil Monitor who organized Nix's banishment and who later serves Mandrakk.
There's some other ones, but their names are unimportant (incompetent leader #1, ineffectual leader #2, etc.).
Back to the issue...Nix calls forth the Forever People of the Fifth World, who are the Super Young Team.
Superman, the Green Lanterns and some others drag Earth-0/New Earth back from the abyss and then they repopulate the planet (the Miracle Machine has fixed all the damage done by Darkseid).
Superman's wish for a "happy ending" has internal limitations placed on it by Superman himself, mostly he does not mess with things he does not think are his call to change, stuff like Martian Manhunter's death and Batman's "death."
Earth-51 is now the place for all the Kirby characters.
The Monitors now fade away, to be reborn as human beings, with only Nix remaining (as a human) as the connection to the Over-Monitor. The Anti-Monitor is not connected to these Monitors, so he is still out there. The question remains of whether Superman's wish for a happy ending included the Monitors. I don't think it did, but I can easily see how it could have, especially since Superman would certainly think they'd be happier as humans than as cosmic vampires, right? The only downside would be that Weeja and Nix would be apart, but really, if they're both humans, who is to say that they do not reconnect AS humans?
One of the big changes in the status quo is that everyone in the world is aware that there is a multiverse now. It is common knowledge. It will be quite interesting to see if "serious" DC comic books will try to downplay this revelation as much as they can.
We end the series with Anthro, when and what Earth, I do not know.
Batman takes over from Anthro, and again, where, when and what Earth is unknown until Morrison returns to Batman in June (and even then, it is unknown if he will get right on Bruce's adventures or if Morrison will be concentrating on whoever the "new" Batman is).
Batman is so bad ass that he can project the shadow of a cowl without wearing one.
Okay, that about does it! I hope you folks found this a bit more straightforward.