Monday, June 09, 2008

Final Crisis - Morrison speaks

In a Newsarama interview posted on Monday, Grant Morrison informs readers, basically, that they were better off ignoring "Countdown" and "Death of the New Gods".

For those of you keeping score, the conclusion of "Death of the New Gods" and "Countdown" not jiving with each other at all should have given you a serious moment of pause. Throw into the mix the beginning of "Final Crisis", and you have a potentially cataclysmic problem at DC Editorial.

It should come as no small surprise that Didio's pet writing team on Countdown fell down on the job. The insult, then, being the 52 issues of a series some of us picked up, and which wound up as a colossal disappointment. This is to say nothing of the embarassing outing that was "Death of the New Gods" (in which Jim Starlin proved that he had almost no ability to channel Kirby's vision for the New Gods, and/ or was just cashing a check). And, it should be mentioned, Salvation Run will now also be largely pointless and forgotten.

The long and the short of it seems to read something like this:

Unless a DC book is written by Morrison, Johns, Rucka and possibly Gail Simone, its best to just consider it ancillary and out of continuity. And that, Leaguers, is kind of messed up. Even if its sort of the sneaking suspicion DC fans should have come to by the end of 52 and the OYL year-long implosion.

In general, I think I give DC a lot of leeway. Some of that is in reaction to the Marvel Fan game of trying to blow every minor mistake DC makes into some sort of catastrophe and point to conflated issues as evidence that DC is a fraud. Much of the time, those mistakes are either inconsequential or, occasionally, not a mistake at all.

But how DC can push a series like Final Crisis, with all the hype and supporting series attached by big name writers and make the error of not including someone like Morrison in the planning process for the "countdown" to his story is, frankly, unforgiveable from an editorial standpoint.

Its sad that DC saw the fervor caused by the discrepancies between "Final Crisis", "Countdown" and "Death of the New Gods" and had to ask Morrison to answer for DC's editorial incompetence in order to try to find a way to salvage "Final Crisis" before the fire got much bigger.

I believe in continuity, but there's a lot of work that has to go into making these events work. And something as big as "the final battle between Dakseid and Orion" seems big enough (in the DCU, anyway), that it seems imperative that a company wide decree on how this was going to work should have been issued. Let alone, asking Morrison what events were going to work or NOT work with Final Crisis, if Final Crisis was intended to be the last word in big event comics from DC for a while.

I was concerned that Morrison's comments would somehow distort my vigorous defense of Final Crisis #1from last week, but that doesn't seem to be the case. I'm not so sure I can be as kind to my "accessibility and comics" rant.

Incongruent continuity, flatly, makes comics hard to follow. It makes the stories around them tough to read, and conflicting portrayals of events are a show stopper for both long-time fans and, especially, for those new to the concepts. When you've seen the same character die 3 times in three weeks in three different ways, it leads to some serious cognitive dissonance that is going to pull you out of the story.

DC, get your mess together.

Didio not only owes his customers an apology, he owes us a solemn promise that he has seen his editorial goof for the colossal mistake that it was and that such a mistake will NOT happen again lest he will fall on his own sword. Not ask Grant Morrison to go smooth things over for him.

But, honestly, if I were Levitz, I'd be calling him on the carpet.

For the first time in a long time, I feel screwed by DC as a reader. This wasn't a case of me disagreeing with the direction of a comic. This was about a serious mistake in editorial. A clerical error that should have been spotted. And mostly it looks like Didio and whomever is closest to him is whispering to him their ideas for how they can ride on Morrison's coattails and make everyone a WINNAH!. But, by not working with the goose, their trampling all over the golden eggs on the way to the market.

For all of that, they asked readers to pu their faith in a comic that was going to supposedly effect the entire DCU (it didn't), and lead into a highly anticipated event (it didn't).

So what was "Countdown"? A cynical cash grab? A failed follow up to "52" once the success of the series became obvious? An honest attempt to build a "spine" to the DCU? An experiment that went up like the Hindenburg?

What were all those awful Countdown spin-offs?
The promise of storylines that never really happened (Why did Jimmy Olsen have to die again? And what did that have to do with the Joker?)
Countdown Arena?
the go-nowhere plot with the Monarch?
Was that really the plan with Ray Palmer from the beginning?
What was the point of Salvation Run?
Likewise, Death of the New Gods?

So, so many questions...

I'm tired of being an apologist for Didio and his cadre of incompetent creative teams. There's too much else going on at DC that works.

Robin is even okay with Dixon back
All Star Superman
Green Lantern
GL Corps
Legion (now that Shooter's taken over. Go figure.)
Blue Beetle
Justice Society America is rock solid
Justice League America is okay when they aren't desperately tying into events
Booster Gold

All really good, solid titles. Even Simone's Wonder Woman is showing promise. Heck, even Supergirl has been on a major upswing.

I'm still highly recommending Final Crisis. I don't think its that complicated (and if you have a question, feel free to ask, and maybe I can help). But I am seriously questioning how many more DC titles I would add in the future as Morrison, Johns, Rucka, etc... leave. My days of giving titles the benefit of the doubt is coming to an end. Especially for books not written and drawn by teams I already trust.


Simon MacDonald said...

I'm happy that they plan on sweeping the mess that was Countdown under the rug. I just wish someone from editorial would have some balls and come out and say it.

I agree with your list of good titles from DC. Except I'd take Checkmate off the list now that Bruce Jones has taken over with issue #26. Also, I've never read Legion as it seems to be in a constant reboot cycle and that doesn't seem to be coming to an end until after the Legion of 3 Worlds storyline.

Anonymous said...

How about a Cliffs note version of what happened in Countdown/Death of the New Gods that was such a mess?

The League said...

Is it safe to assume you mean "what went wrong" rather than "please summarize 60 issues worth of comics"? I'm not saying one won't lead to the other, but I'd like to know where I should start.

Anonymous said...

How about "What went wrong" and maybe a short summary of what happened at the end of the aforementioned series. I don't want a recap of all 52 issues of Countdown.

The League said...

That's good, because I'd as soon get punched in the eye as 52 times as try to get into the business of recaps.

The League said...

I failed to pick up on Simon's thread.

I'm willing to give Bruce Jones a chance on Checkmate, but, honestly, I never met a Jones book I was in love with. I loved Rucka's Checkmate, but I'm really afraid he's just going to drive it into the ground.

One is sort of left wondering what he has on DC that they keep giving him work.

Also, YES... Legion has been jacked around unforgivably, and without Waid directing his version of the Legion, that period between Waid and Shooter was awful.

DC couldn't afford to reboot under Shooter, and that's exactly what they should have done. He has a feel for the characters, their interactions, pacing, etc... But Waid's take had already turned people off so much that I'm not sure I ever see readers coming back.

DC probably needed to cancel the book with issue 33, and let Shooter reboot this mess after Final Crisis.

At this point, keeping up with the Legion as a publishing SNAFU is probably more interesting than the actual stories themselves.

Simon MacDonald said...

I'm no longer willing to give Bruce Jones a chance on anything. I'm not trying to start a rumour but I bet Checkmate only has another half a dozen issues before it's canceled.

A couple of years ago I got to guest on the podcast Around Comics and the question came up, what's a good jumping on point for Legion?
To which I responded wait a couple of months for them to reboot it.

The League said...

I'm inclined to agree with you on the doom of Checkmate. Its too bad. It was a great series under Rucka. Honestly, I think DC should have spent less time worrying about Salvation Run, etc... and more about hyping their new books like this that work.