Friday, May 8, 2009

Review: Final Crisis Aftermath: Run #1

Final Crisis Aftermath: Run #1 (of 6)

Writer: Matthew Sturges
Artist: Freddie Williams II
Released: May 6, 2009

Mike Miller was lower than D-list. A never-was bank robber with a silly gimmick, a horribly unfortunate nom de guerre, and a terribly overinflated sense of importance, Mike Miller was destined to be nothing more than a footnote in a grand encyclopedia, not worth the breath expelled in saying his name. The Human Flame was a joke long-ago burnt away into ashes of insignificance. Now, he is a cover star. 

What brought about this shift? What caused the ignorant spotlight of fame to set its intense highbeam upon the doughy hirsute personage of one Mike Miller? Why, only the end of the Multiverse, of course.

When those responsible for bringing about the apocalypse came calling seeking followers to the cause, it was to the Human Flame they first approached, knowing that his combination of desperation and megalomania made him the perfect stooge to bait the hook with which to lure in the bigger villainous fish. Mike Miller obliged and his blind zealousness led to the murder of a beloved hero and helped open the door through which Hell walked in. Final Crisis Aftermath: Run is the greater DCU giving Mike Miller a big 'Thank You'.

Perhaps it would be unfair to lay too much blame at the feet of such an inconsequential character, but the beauty of this is the incongruity of it all, the insane realization that the most inane and insignificant people can have huge impacts on entire Universes simply by just being stupid. And that's the real heart of Miller's problem and why he is where he is. Where other low-level villains find themselves on the D-list due to overcrowding or the negligence or laziness of creators, The Human Flame finds himself consigned to the also-ran pile purely because it's where someone of such unbelievable imbecility deserves to be. That he finds himself running from every person, place, and thing in a costume because he's the scapegoat-apparent of Final Crisis is fitting for someone who thinks it's awesome to strap gas canisters to his back and shoot flames from his nipples. 

Run is shaping up to be one long chase and it is thrilling in its absurdity. Drug deal gone very bad? Check. Kyrgyztani mob? Check. Hong Kong-style gun-battle in a children's playground? Check. Flaming lamb mascot? Check. Tied-up ex-wife? Check. Appearance by a Green Lantern? But, of course! Can this continue at this ridiculous, tawdry, sickening, nasty pace for five more issues? Why not? This is under the underbelly. This is comic books, kids. 

The world is falling in on poor Mike Miller for a second time. What makes it sad and pathetic is his belief he can outrun the plummeting debris. What makes it riveting is he doesn't see that in his attempt to dig his way out he is filling in his own grave. The life of a cover model ain't ever easy.

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