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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Crisis Time! - Final Crisis: Superman Beyond

Well, it’s another day and another post about "Final Crisis." This post is a bit different since it’s not part of the main series… more on that towards the end of this event. Final Crisis: Superman Beyond was one of the tie-ins released during the event. In a move that still perplexes me, it was printed in 3D. You had to have 3D glasses on in order to get the full effect. Since it was written by Morrison, it was included in the trade paperback. Luckily, the trade didn’t do the 3D thing and left it as regular print. 

Of course, Morrison penned the two-issue tie-in. Both issues were penciled by Doug Mahnke. The coloring was handled by David Baron in both issues. The inking was handled by a lot of folk this time around. Just know this carries into the main series as well. The covers were okay. They’re just images of Superman looking cool and that’s pretty much it. With all of that out of the way, let’s see what happens when Superman goes universe-hopping. If you thought the New Gods invading Earth was weird, you’d be wrong.

Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1
Writer: Grant Morrison
Pencils: Doug Mahnke
Inks: Christian Alamy, Rodney Ramos, Tom Nguyen, Walden Wong and Doug Mahnke
Colors: David Baron
Letters: Steve Wands

"Superman Beyond"
After we get a weird scene of a weird-looking Superman fighting someone weird, we flashback to Clark at the hospital. As he cares for Lois, the Monitor known as Zillo Valla comes in and tells him that she has a way to save Lois. She’s used a device to freeze time in order to get Superman to come with her. Realizing she’s telling the truth, Clark changes into uniform and goes with her. She tells him the only thing that will save Lois is Ultrastruum aka “Bleed,” a substance that can basically do anything. They board her ship, the Ultima Thule, where we run into a few other analogues of Superman from other universes: Captain Marvel from Earth-5, Overman (a German Superman) from Earth-10, and Captain Allen Adam from Earth-4. Another analogue is on the trip as well: Ultraman (an evil version) from the anti-matter universe.
So, Superman becomes the Doctor for a page. Also, this is how the pages look with 3D. Not too appealing, isn't it?

As they traverse the multiverse like they’re in a Doctor Who intro, they are chased by a ship called the Destroyer. They do what they can to stop it and make it crash on Earth-51, the ravaged Earth. After all of the fun ends, the super men talk amongst themselves as Overman tends to Zillo Valla for some reason. It turns out that she promised them all some sort of ultimate treasure. Also, Ultraman looks freakin’ demented in every panel he’s in. It looks like he needs a doctor from the heart attack he’s having and it’s pretty hilarious. Anyway, the ship finds its destination: Limbo, a place outside the Multiverse. The super men find forgotten heroes and Merryman, the King of Limbo. He tells them that there is no way out, that nothing literally happens in Limbo, and that those who are stuck there lose their memories.
Ultraman! Calm down! Don't blow a vein!

Superman knows there has to be a way out, so he and Captain Marvel head to the Library of Limbo. There, they find a book with an infinite number of pages. Since it’s so powerful, they want to use it to fix the ship. As they try to move the book, the book speaks and talks about the Monitors. Since this part is actually pretty confusing, here’s an excerpt from the DC Wiki on this issue:

“In the beginning, there was one Monitor. This Monitor discovered an infinitesimal coalescence called the Multiverse. Investigating the Multiverse, the Monitor discovered that finite beings create meaning, conflicts and events - stories. Unprepared for this new concept, the Monitor's probe split in two. One half became the Orrery of Worlds, while the other became a colossal representation of the greatest hero - a massive golden Superman.”

“The Monitor created a progeny around himself, the Monitors of the 52 Universes of the Multiverse. They made their home in a vast city around the golden statue, which began to rust. The legend grew among the Monitors that the statue was a doomsday weapon intended to protect them from their ultimate enemy. It becomes attached to the story of Dax Novu the Radiant, first son of the original Monitor, who first explored the Multiverse, brought knowledge of the Bleed and eventually gave his life to contain the entity called Mandrakk, who is prophecied to someday rise against all of creation.”
Limbo looks even weirder with Ace the Bathound there.

After this overload of information, the book stuns Superman and turns Captain Marvel back into Billy Batson. He finds out that Billy has forgotten how to turn back into Captain Marvel. He takes Billy back to the ship where he finds Captain Adam babbling incoherently. They also find Overman passed out with Zillo Valla over him. It turns out the ship is running on her blood, so she needed blood to replenish herself. In other words, she’s a vampire… somehow, that isn’t the weirdest thing here. She also tells them that Mandrakk has awakened. The issue ends with Ultraman with the book and the Destroyer setting foot in Limbo.

Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #2
Writer: Grant Morrison
Pencils: Doug Mahnke
Inks: Christian Alamy with Tom Nguyen, Drew Geraci and Derek Fridolfs
Colors: David Baron
Letters: Ken Lopez

"To Be Continued"
The issue starts out with Ultraman talking about the infinite book says that evil will win and Mandrakk is the dark master he’s searching for. Superman simply takes this as a challenge… Oh Yeah. In the ship, Overman is about to attack Zillo Valla, but Billy stops him. Billy realizes that she is one of the good guys. It’s here where we also find out that Overman is searching the Multiverse for his cousin Overgirl, the same blond woman who crashed on Superman’s Earth in #3. Zillo praises Billy for his wisdom and tells him how to transform back into Captain Marvel again. We also get Merryman and the denizens of Limbo taking arms to fight against the forces of the Destroyer.

As a battle rages on, Superman and Ultraman argue amongst with each other since they can’t fight. If those two touch, they’ll create an explosion. Captain Marvel comes back and separates the two. He tells them that all the super men have a part to play. Soon, Captain Adam snaps out of his funk and gains the ability to split himself into many versions of himself. He realizes that the giant Superman statue is a thought robot and by having Superman and Ultraman touch and explode, he can transmit the energy from their explosion to activate the robot. I think I simplified that well enough.
Superman: So, were you born like that or are you about to keel over?
Ultraman: I'LL TEAR YOU APART FROM LIMB TO LIMB!!!!!
Superman: Oh. I feel sorry for your parents then.

The explosion happens and we find Superman in control of the robot in the Monitors’ city. We run into all of the Monitors including Weeja Dell, Nix Uotan’s lover. It’s realized to the Monitors that Uotan was a scapegoat. We then see Ogama, that sneaky Monitor from the first issue, feeding on the Multiverse. Yeah, it’s gotten really weird but Mandrakk finally awakens and he is one ugly “brother from another mother.” He holds the collected Bleed that Lois needs to live. Superman and Mandrakk fight one another. Zillo Valla speaks up and Mandrakk kills her. It’s revealed here that Mandrakk was once Dax Novu. The two fight some more and Superman blasts the evil Monitor off a cliff and into the Overvoid.
So, Superman in a cosmic robot fights what's essentially an extra-dimensional vampire in a city filled with extra-dimensional vampires... is this symbolic of something? If so, here you go.

Superman repairs the Orrey and is transported back to the Ultima Thule where he and the other super men (except Ultraman and Captain Adam) take down the Destroyer. Elsewhere, Ultraman wakes up to find Ogama over him. Ogama makes Ultraman a vampire and we see that Mandrakk is still around. He says he’ll return to face Superman when all hope is lost… yay? Anyway, Superman makes it back to the hospital and gives Lois the cure. The issue ends with Lois cured and all being well… For Now!

…………………………………………….

Well, this was something. Was it good, bad, or something in between?  I liked it for the most part. It’s essentially a Superman story where he goes to unknown lands in order to save the woman he loves. It just happens to tie into an event with gods, vampires, the Multiverse, “The Ultimate Evil,” and multiple Supermen. It’s a story that’s one-part awesome mixed with one-part “frickin’ weird, man!” Sometimes, that can be cool because I like stuff outside the box. Other times, it can be pretty annoying. Luckily, this is more of the former than the latter.

I can say that I enjoyed Superman in this. He’s being written by Grant Morrison who is someone who usually gets Superman right. I also enjoyed seeing the other analogues of Superman. Captain Marvel, Overman, and Ultraman were cool for the most part. I especially liked the fact that Ultraman just looked so demented in every panel he’s in. It’s really funny. Captain Adam was weird but in a good way. For those who don’t know, his look was based off of Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen… who was actually based off of Captain Atom. That’s as far as I’ll go with that.

Then, we get to the Monitors. I have to say that I’m not a big fan of theirs. I’ll say that they were okay in small doses during the main series. Here, we get it throughout the tie-in and it’s okay for the most part. There were things I thought were interesting about the Monitors. There were also some things that made me scratch my head in confusion. If Morrison was trying to give some sort of symbolism, I didn’t get it. I also wasn’t that big a fan of Mandrakk. For being “the ultimate evil,” he was pretty low-key and not really great. There’s also the fact that this tie-in is actually essential to the event itself but that's something I’ll talk about this more when we get to the end of the event.

I really enjoyed the artwork in both issues. Mahnke really brought his A-game to the art here. Everything looked detailed and pretty dynamic. He made all of the realistic stuff mesh with the weird things pretty well. While there were many inkers in the books, it wasn’t too jarring. There were a couple of pages in the second issue that looked weird. I don’t know how this looked in 3D since I don’t have the separate issues, so I can’t comment on that aspect. Other than that and a couple of wonky images, I liked the art here.

Overall, this was fine. It wasn’t really good, but it wasn’t horrible either. Next time, I’ll be checking back up with the dark Earth with Final Crisis: Submit and Final Crisis #4. Peace and God Bless.


NEXT TIME: BLACK LIGHTNING, MORE FLASH ACTION, AND THE WORLD IN RUINS!

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