Thursday, May 14, 2009

Review: Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape #1

Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape #1 (of 6)

Writer: Ivan Brandon
Penciller: Marco Rudy
Inker: Mick Gray
Released: May 13, 2009

"Not one thing here makes any sense." - Tom Tresser

Poor Tom Tresser. I understand how you feel. See, I just read the first issue of your new mini-series and feel exactly the same way. Not one thing here makes any sense. I'm not sure where you are, what's happening to you, or who any of the other people around you are, for that matter. Perhaps this series requires a lot more back story and continuity knowledge than just the seven issues of Final Crisis this is supposed to spin directly out of? Maybe it helps to be reading this whilst on as many drugs as you seem to be on throughout the whole issue? 

Tom Tresser is drugged up. He is drugged up and imprisoned...somewhere. He is drugged up, imprisoned, and hallucinating, possibly, everything that is happening to him. Nothing is revealed to him; questions he asks, and by proxy the reader asks, are only answered with vague bemusement. Narration is redacted. He is served a breakfast of Omelet Florentine and black coffee by identical blonde triplets in groovy stewardess uniforms. He is served a drink in a dog bowl. He blacks out repeatedly preceded by or immediately following him running down a hall. He awakens repeatedly to be faced by another complete stranger who refuses to again answer any questions. 

If not for the DC solicitation for this issue that clearly states that Mr. Tresser is being imprisoned and tortured by the Global Peace Agency, it would not be apparent, since the agency is never mentioned. In an issue so replete with hallucinatory panel compositions, black outs, and riddles, its difficult for an uninitiated reader to even think this is prison or torture at all. It just feels like a bad acid-trip being had by a man in a costume. Hell, Batman used to go through this all the time in the late 50's. Zur-en-Arrh, anyone?

Good serialized drama answers one question while asking two more. This satisfies the appetite while simultaneously tempting the palette for more. This issue answers nothing. Where exactly is Tom Tresser and his fellow prisoners? Are these other prisoners really here with him or are they hallucinations? Is any of this actually happening in reality or just in his drug-addled mind? Why was Tresser chosen? What do they ultimately want from him? Who is really holding him and are they truly perpetuating torture or are these the after-effects of the anti-life equation? Is this what Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder looks like for meta-humans? Surely, I don't want every question answered in issue #1, but when reading the solicitation blurb is necessary for all the information because none of it is in the issue itself, there is a slight disconnect and it's jarring. Perhaps this was the intention of the issue, to put the reader through the same frustration and impatient panic the protagonist is experiencing? If so, mission accomplished.

It is an intriguing read and the art by Marco Rudy and Mick Gray is creepy and medicinal, everything looking like it's been dipped in antiseptic. However, I do tend to find these drug-trip style issues to be a bit clichéd, complete with stretched out perspective, lava-lamp backgrounds, stairways leading into infinity, and blurred after-effects. It tends to leave the reader feeling like nothing can be trusted. No word of dialogue, no caption, not a single panel can be relied upon to be telling anything resembling the truth. Ultimately, this leads to emptiness.

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