I’ve always had this feeling that the world is going to end. Maybe it’s from reading too many books like The Road or watching too many movies like A Boy and His Dog, or maybe it’s from 9/11 or the crazy stuff that’s happened since (like this financial crisis), but the feeling that anarchy is just around the corner has always been with me. The big thing about apocalyptic stories is that they usually take place after the apocalypse, but in Final Crisis the story is about how the end of the world happens and specifically in issue four how one individual is forced to lose his mind.
It’s not without its problems though. The structure is partly purposeful and partly meaningful but also just a pain in the ass to read. It jumps from scene to scene, which purposefully leaves you exasperated but also has this terrible fanboy appeal. There are so many crossovers and tie-ins that only the truly hardcore DC fan could possibly hope to follow it all. This is the appeal of super crossover events because they are almost like fan fiction, meshing all the heroes together into one big slugfest. Most crossover events don't have Grant Morrison though. The series overall has a feeling of a blockbuster that you kind of let wash over you. But sometimes blockbusters, while still keeping that washed over feeling, have flashes of brilliance and that’s what Morrison brings to the table.
One of the threads of Final Crisis has been of a detective searching for missing super kids. In this issue we finally find out that his role is to be the new body for Darkseid. For this to happen though, he has to go through a sort of 1984-like breaking of his spirit. In a particularly scary moment he thinks, “But wrestling with Darkseid, well…it’s like trying to beat the ocean unconscious.” The heroes are all isolated in different watchtowers because they’ve been taken off guard by Apokolips’ armies. There are glimmers of hope like the original Green Lantern’s speech or just the Flash being pretty awesome in general, but the issue’s real theme is death and to a lesser extent, suicide.
The anti-life equation has been pretty central to the plot and one of its scarier applications is that it can change the will of people to fight for Darkseid. Seeing heroes die is one thing but to see them turn evil and essentially crazy is a frightening thought. This isn’t anything new, but Morrison is able to take the tired super hero plot of a hero being mind controlled and turn it on its head. It’s mostly due to the personal apocalyptic nature of a random human’s turn into Darkseid.
What’s so scary is that the anti-life equation is presented as some sort of choice and the issue ends with, “The choice is simple. Because, here, at the end, there’s no choice at all. Only Apokolips and Darkseid. Forever. Give up.” Put in the context of an actual apocalypse happening on Earth, it makes you think of a possible situation where there is nothing to do but give up. Yeah, this is just a super hero comic, but it sure as hell scared the bejesus out of me yesterday.