The “Final Crisis” delays are annoying enough, but spin-off series like “Final Crisis: Revelations” don’t help to make the event seem all that special. I shouldn’t say “like ‘Final Crisis: Revelations,'” because there isn’t anything else like this. The other “Final Crisis” books have been pretty good. This one, not so much.
One of the problems with “Final Crisis: Revelations” is that it’s Greg Rucka playing around with his pet characters, off to the side of the main “Final Crisis” event, even if the characters don’t make a whole lot of sense together. I get that the series is about the reunion between Crispus Allen and Renee Montoya — two characters who have changed drastically from the good old days of Rucka’s “Detective Comics” and “Gotham Central” runs. But those two characters, so well-developed as Gotham City detectives, now inhabit the roles of the Spectre and the Question, respectively. And, as anyone who has read their recent miniseries and cameo appearances, they are much less interesting in pseudo-superhero garb then they were in civilian clothes.
Rucka has a chance to redeem the characters here, both in-story and in the eyes of readers, but after three issues of quasi-religious, mystical angst, all we’ve gotten so far is a whole lot of nothing. This new Spectre and this new Question may be full of anxiety and inner turmoil, but neither seems able to support a story, and putting them both together in the same comic hasn’t seemed to help at all. Actually, the contrast between the street-level Question and the cosmically-enhances Spectre just makes them both look ridiculous.
Issue #3 details the confrontation between the three good guys (the Spectre, the Question, and the newly-introduced Angel of Mercy) against an extra-evil Vandal Savage and the anti-life equation (which basically means a bunch of zombies with red eyes). The new Batwoman shows up too, as a red-eyed minion, in a brief scene where she’s nothing more than fodder for a magical blast o’ Spectre. Vandal Savage, on the other hand, has the mark of Cain on him, and he’s walking the Earth with his anti-life slaves, wreaking havoc like an old testament force of evil. If it’s the DC Universe in flames that you want, this series has it, but its all “Sumbit!” and “Darkseid is My Will!” and spiritual doubt and artwork that looks like it came from a “WildC.A.T.S. Strikeforce” back-up story circa 1994. Philip Tan’s work was better on the first issue of this series, so I’m guessing that his work on issue #3 is rushed, but Renee Montoya has never looked so grotesque and the backgrounds tend to be nothing more than hasty brush strokes.
Rucka might be raising some interesting spiritual questions here, as Crispus Allen says, “God has abandoned us,” and all hope seems lost, but that’s all buried in a melodramatic mess of apocalyptic proportions.
I realize that a series called “Final Crisis: Revelations” shouldn’t be subtle, but it would be nice if it were more than just gnashing teeth and zombies of Darkseid.