By The Mighty Monarch 3 Comments
As DC's titles are all coming to a close to prepare for the relaunch, I've been observing people's thoughts on the ends of various series, and coming up with my own. I thought I'd sort of make a blog about how each final issue impacted me. (Aside from the ones I didn't read.) Some spoilers follow, I'm trying to avoid major ones, but each of these is meant mostly for people who read the issues.
PRIOR TO AUGUST
-Green Lantern: Green Lantern is a pretty perfect not-quite-final final issue. As my good friend Slikcuts said about Batman: The Return, it is the turn in a Mobius Strip. Green Lantern is still going the same way, building upon everything Johns has been doing since 2005's GL: Rebirth. But the status quo has been significantly altered, giving readers a good point to jump on the bandwagon. I feel certain that the new series will recap the past 6 years, hopefully without too much overt exposition, but this volume of Green Lantern went out with a serious bang, and the perfect kind of bang that represents a transition between 2 series that are mostly the same. Similar to the end of the Justice League animated series before it became Justice League Unlimited. It was an epic climax with shocking twists that invited new readers to jump in when #1 comes without doing any disservice to those who've been loyal the whole run.
EDIT: After rereading this blog post, I have to take back part of what I said. This wasn't the turn itself on the Mobius Strip, it was the last part right BEFORE. And the new #1 will be the first part AFTER the turn. The turn in the Mobius Strip is in fact War of the Green Lanterns: Aftermath.
-Doom Patrol: This was a casualty of Flashpoint, but I count it here since it would've apparently ended soon anyways. Doom Patrol was unfortunately rushed into a slapdash ending to a story that it spent it's entire run building up to, but Giffen managed to do a great job with it. Using Ambush Bug to lampshade his situation was a brilliant move that didn't leave me feeling too cheated out of a final battle, and there still was a satisfying fight between the Doom Patrol and their current mortal enemies the Front Men. Giffen pulled out all the stops he could even left us with a little treat in the end as a nice challenge for the next writer to take up the Doom Patrol mantle.
-Outsiders: A series that started off so well, and then rode a rocket downhill at mach 4. Luckily we had Philip Tan back on art for the finale, and a pretty poignant retrospect of the Outsiders history. Cameos were made by almost EVERY OUTSIDER THERE EVER WAS. Some of it felt a bit forced, but overall it worked pretty well. Some of the story elements that had been utterly ruined were patched up a bit, and some new stuff was set off for the Outsider's future. It's unfortunate that readers were forced to endure some pretty terrible dreg to get to the end, but anyone who read this series from beginning to end should be satisfied with the finale.
-Batman Beyond: This is one of those series that isn't 'really' ending. Even more so than Green Lantern, Batman Beyond gives a sense that the only effect of the relaunch is a renumbering. As a 'final issue' it's pretty lackluster. Expanding on the history of a major villain who didn't really need too much expansion, and really only telling us 'her backstory is sad,' without much of a real reason for presenting it to us. It does touch upon a minor twist from the end of the miniseries, so in a way both recent Batman Beyonds end with the cameo of the same new character, which is sort of neat, but it's very obvious that this isn't really a 'final' issue at all. Just a pointless little hiccup in the numbering.
-Secret Six: What a wild 3 year ride this series has been. Gail Simone seems to have been caught in a bit of a corner, bigger than some others, but still. This arc probably could've been better with another issue or few. But Simone goes big as big can get here, getting to the root of what has made her series great, her characters. All of them are forced to confront everything that's happened to them from the moment this series began, and they realize what truly defines them. Simone has taken a couple of mostly minor faces in the DCU and completely turned them around into a group of likable terrible people. Even though this finale is probably sooner than Simone might've wanted, in some ways it feels like the one that was planned from the start. And its even got a fantastic twist at the end that turns things completely around. All in all a fantastic bittersweet ending to this excellent series.
-Batgirl: Everything in the second year of Batgirl was leading up to this. A defining story in Stephanie Brown's superhero career. Nearly half the issue was hallucinations, but they were BRILLIANT. And unique, and I like the way they stuck the Black Mercy in every dream. After the big climax, the heartwarming reunions, and the emotional revelations; having the dreams set after all this gives them a perfect 'last issue montage' feel. Even Damian gives her a salute from out the window. And as the dust settles we get one of the greatest 'the fight is never over' moments. All in all this was a PERFECT final issue to this series. It tugged at my heartstrings mightily, and anyone who's been following this series will feel very satisfied. The only problem is that it still hasn't given any indication of how or why the transition between Batgirl's is occurring. If anything it just makes it seem like Stephanie Brown is going to continue being Batgirl. Still, the impact overshadows this minor gnawing flaw.
-Batman and Robin: I said pretty much all that can be said in my review, but to summarize; When Morrison was writing B&R, the series was moving in one solid direction broken up into arcs, after Morrison the series was made up of random disconnected arcs by different creative teams. Thus having an ending with a huge bang wasn't exactly something feasible, nor would it be 'right' for this series at this point. Thus having an ending that is a perfect representation of Dada in themes and tone, begging you not to take it seriously is in fact the PERFECT ending for what the series is now, and is one of my favorite issues of any comic despite some minor hiccups. And DC needs to make a Nightrunner ongoing by David Hine.
-Birds of Prey: [COMING SOON]
-Booster Gold: Mostly it's just a conclusion to Booster Gold's tie-in to Flashpoint, which was fairly interesting, and pretty unique in this series, but not a big climactic ending. All it really did in the end was come full circle to Time Masters: Vanishing Point. Sort of. There's no greater sense of resolution, but Vanishing Point was like that too. A weird string of barely connected adventures while searching for Batman, but the same as the usual Booster Gold faire. And Booster tries for about the 10 freaking time to break the rules of time travel, this time for a girl he only just met. Whatever. Sure it was kind of unique since Hunter and Skeets were gone, but Booster's done this before. His series has ALWAYS been about being in the 'real' earth with time screwed up. Flashpoint is fairly unique for an event, but for Booster Gold this is 'the usual.' And the end ties it back into Vanishing Point, whose uselessness I had forgotten about until this reminded me. The Giffen/DeMattihis run had a WAY better conclusion to the series. I kind of wish this was just it's own miniseries so that he main series would've had a more satisfying finale. But my biggest pet peeve is that THERE'S STILL NO RESOLUTION TO BLACK BEETLE! He's been the biggest recurring baddie for this entire series. Is his storyline just being completely dropped? Black Beetle was AWESOME! And we still have no idea who he is! He's an awesome mystery! But sadly I don't know that we'll ever see him again in the new DCU. One of the more lackluster final issue when it's judged as a final issue. Perfectly decent on its own.
-Detective Comics: Scott Snyder brings everything he's been building in Detective Comics to a close, and everything is tie together in a neat bow. There's a superb degree of symbolism and metaphors representing the full circle of Dick Grayson's journey in this run. As well as Babs and Commissioner Gordon. But some of the ways things tie together kind of feel forced. And the ambiguous ending is something very overused, and this issue clearly represents why it doesn't always work. If the end is suggesting that James succeeded, then the city of Gotham is SERIOUSLY BEYOND SCREWED. This is one of those situations where ambiguity is not allowed, because the negative outcome is RIDICULOUSLY bad. Except, actually is it? He made the anti-anti-psychotics and possibly put them in the medicine for the babies? But he didn't taint all of it forever, and it's not like the pills permanently change people, right? I don't think they ever said it would. But even if they did it shouldn't, because pils don't worj that way. That's why you have to KEEP TAKING THEM. And sure it was an amazing run, possibly one of the best in the series, but it doesn't exactly scream 'FINAL ISSUE OF DETECTIVE COMICS.' It's a fine ending to Snyder's run, but not a great ending to the whole series.
-Red Robin: This week was a pretty good week for endings. I read this right before Batgirl and both were immensely satisfying as endings, yet left too open ended to fit the relaunch. Both ended leaving me feeling warm and fuzzy, yet sad that these character's likely won't be the same as I've come to know and love come September; without any explanation in the series' themselves. Red Robin took the series back to it's roots. I'm not too familiar with Tim Pre-Red Robin, but this issue took him full circle back to being a darker Robin than his predecessors (when they were Robin.) It sounds bad but it worked. The Tim i saw here was very much the same Tim Ra's Al Ghul took an interest in. Tim is right on the line, but he's not ready to cross them. Yet if he looks inside himself, he sees a self that is willing to cross those lines, and he's not afraid. I'm not saying I see Tim going all Punisher one day, But I can see him choosing to 'make an exception' where Bruce wouldn't, sending him on a downward spiral, slowly decreasing the limits of what is an appropriate 'exception.' In the end, Tim continued to show us why he isn't quite like any other member of the Bat Family, and how he's also like all of them. A great bitterweet ending.
-T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents: Like Batman Beyond, this is much less of a final issue than most, because it's picking up right where it left off no changes. It just seems that the renumbering is mandatory, which is weird and obnoxious for titles like these 2. The art for the main story when downhill the past few issues, and this one went even worse, and the overall story wasn't advanced all that much. It was the conclusion to the second arc, with some cool stuff, but not really a 'final' issue. But it isn't really that anyways so whatever.
-Batman: It tries to do what Detective Comics didn't and end such a long running prominent series with a retrospective look upon itself. It just doesn't work right. And trips up on itself by focusing the wrong direction. Sure it's a giant retrospective look at the long history of..... ROBIN. Was this comic called Robin? Or even Batman and Robin? NO. It's BATMAN. And it just kind of tells us everything we already know. It feels like it's trying to appeal to new readers. But this is exactly the last issue BEFORE the ones meant to appeal to new readers. It should be a treat for long time fans. Something more like #700 would've been FAR more appropriate for the 'final issue.' This was just a mediocre look at the wrong character. There was a fun twist at the end, but overall it was mediocre. It tried to jump through all the right hoops, but tripped over itself far too many times to come out looking respectable. I felt like it was talking down to me the whole time. Giving me the barest of information summarizing the careers of the 5 Robins. I gave my non-comic reading parents more info on the Robins witout them getting bored when they asked about them.
-Green Lantern Corps: There were some neat stories about very influential members of the corps, but it mostly felt like it was rehashing old stories. For Boodika we got reminded of her history and who she is by having it narrated straight to us. Kyle gets harassed for being an Earthman. Yawn. The best story involved Salaak, Voz, and Ry'Jll. It dug down and really showed that just because the Lanterns were brainwashed, doesn't mean there can't be severe emotional toll on them as a whole. I honestly think that this War has done one of the best jobs with the whole 'brainwashed/controlled' plot to still be respectable. Just because they were forced to fight, doesn't mean it can't cause deep emotional scars, and this is well shown. And actually it does a good job in the end at strengthening the ideals of the Corps. They don't have to like the Guardians the be Green Lanterns. They don't fight for the Guardians, they fight for the Corps. And this issue hammered that point home well. As an issue it's not exactly fantastic, but as a final issue, it's actually pretty great.
-Justice League of America: This one does some weird things. It has the characters retrospect on adventures that happened between the last arc and now. I'll admit, they all seem like super epic adventures worthy of JLA, but it makes everything feel wrong somehow. Like Robinson took his ideas for future arcs, and then just stuck them in here. There's a weirdness with time, and having tales told about these huge scale stories as standard conversation just feel off. But the whole team gives insight to the contributions of the others, and introspects into their own lives. And this JLA disassembles amicably. It works well as a final issue, but like Corps didn't wow me as an issue. Plus it's in JLA we get Dick talking about returning to the role of Nightwing? This is really not the place to have such major developments. And something doesn't quite ring right about his logic.
-Titans: From the change until now, Titans has been running one long-term big game story. And it all comes to a big close. The characters have come a long way, and the fact that this is basically a new series but with the same name and numbering is actually kind of worked into the story in this final issue. It manages to properly conclude the big major story of the second version of the title, while being a proper conclusion to both versions as a whole.
-Zatanna: A completely standard one-shot story issue. No kind of 'final issue' vibe whatsoever. It just makes me sad to see it go, but doesn't do anything to signify the end. It's just an issue. One of the worst 'Final Issues' if it's judged strictly as a final issue.
-Action Comics: I can say that the Reign of Doomsdays arc feels VERY rushed. I think Paul Cornell had a lot planned out, probably to be longer more like The Black Ring, but the relaunch forced him to cram all his plot elements in here, making this finale very rushed and confusing. However, he does an excellent job at getting to the core of who Superman is, and what he stands for. He manages to give this series of over 900 issue a very subtly satisfying finale. It also forms an interesting parallel to the Detective Comics Finale. Both ended the long recent run of one creator, but AC focused on wrapping up the elements of Superman and giving the series a send off, while DC focused more on wrapping up the story of the run. DC was a better issue, AC was a better 'final issue.'
-Batman: The Dark Knight: Well. I thought the story really started going downhill in #3 and #4, but this issue gave it a satisfying conclusion. A pretty good end to the story arc, and created a thread to link to the new series. It's painfully apparent David Finch JUST DOESN'T GIVE A FRICK about the relaunch. He's just writing his story, and when #1 rolls around again it's going to be the same story. Good issue. Good end to arc. Bad end to series. But DF didn't want to give us an end. In fact I'm almost proud of this, almost 'take that!' to DC. But it probably isn't. THey're just letting him keep going because that's what he was going to do, and they renewed his series.
-Gotham City Sirens: Definitely one of the best 'final issues.' it drew back across the entire series, taking the beginning and viewing it in a new light. It got down into the core of the series itself and gave us a nice retrospect into the very depths of the soul of this series.
-Green Arrow : A good end to the arc, but a decent end to the series. Somewhere right smack dab in the middle of Dramatic Send-Off and Nothing's Changing. Green Arrow is an honorary U.S. Marshal? Weird, but so much of the last few pages was a good end to this GA series. Not the greatest, but pretty damn fine considering this was just a filler arc to kill 3 issues.
-Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors : A completely standard one-shot story issue. No kind of 'final issue' vibe whatsoever. It just makes me sad to see it go, but doesn't do anything to signify the end. It's just an issue. One of the worst 'Final Issues' if it's judged strictly as a final issue. Although I do absolutely LOVE the final scene. Guy Gardner incarnate.
-Teen Titans : Pretty epic finale really. Lot's of great cameos, some fantastically heartwarming post-battle moments and reunions. It just DOESNT. EXPLAIN. A GODDMAN. THING. But I'm cutting it come slack because A: It was coooooool. B: Series is ending and it's continuity is getting totally screwed over so what the hell just do it. C: LOOK AT THAT SHIT THE NEW TEEN TITNAS IS! LOOK AT SUPERBOY'S TAPED ON CAPE. WHAT THE HELL LOBDELL? Final posters are pretty awesome. One of the very best 'Final Issues.'
-Xombi: DON'T LEAVE MEEEEEEEE! Also, AMAZING. Amazing issue. Amazing end to the story arc. Amazing final issue. Of everything on this list, Xombi #6 achieved Perfection in the require criteria. Congrats John Rozum, you've just won a Milestone Award for Best Final Issue. (Obvious, yet strangely deep on multiple levels, pun. Still though. Best.)