Sunday, December 20, 2009

Moments of the Year: Final Crisis #7

I'm in LaGuardia Airport, early afternoon, awaiting my flight to California. It is January 28, 2009, and it has snowed the night before and into the morning. I've trudged through the dirty slush of Queens with a suitcase and two carry-on bags. It has been one very trying first month to the year. It is a Wednesday and even with the weather laying an inconvenient path and the luggage weighing the journey down, I made certain to find my way into a comic shoppe this morning. Now, through with the rigors of baggage check and security, nestled into a seat in the waiting area next to my boarding gate, I have time to myself amongst the density of a crowded international airport. I reach into my bag for the brown paper bag which contains this weeks haul of multi-colored pulp. The first one out, without hesitation, is Final Crisis #7. After all these months, I can't believe my good fortune to be here at this place, at this time, to read such a book. I can't think of any better place to be in that moment.

Final Crisis by writer Grant Morrison (and a plethora of artists) is not an event comic, not anymore, at least. Perhaps upon initial release, amongst the summer hype and subsequent internet maelstrom, it was an event comic, such as had been seen before, and such as we see every year now. Upon completion, standing apart from the machines of publishing and buzz, the book reveals itself for what it truly is, what Morrison intended it to be all along: an epic poem.

"The music of the spheres. The sound of the tides of the infinite, breaking on our mortal strand. And bearing a vessel. Surging on a foam of gravitons, like some new argo. Its cargo not Gods. Not monsters. But Heroes."
"And then it seemed as if the sun had risen in the West. As if the dawn was made of lightning. And the approaching thunder became the roar of a gunshot yet to be."
"In a halo of blazing light that seems to complete everything, old man passes like a dream. Like smoke. But the fire burns forever."

More so than just the language, the details of the piece are nuanced like finely balanced stanzas adhering to some form of meter that is only discernible upon multiple readings. The last issue of the Daily Planet is written by Lois Lane with photos taken by Jimmy Olsen. Artifacts of their story, of the story you are reading, are loaded into a capsule, shot off into a rocket, representing the hope of a civilization crumbling before it makes its last stand. Men dressed as Gods destroy Gods, and Gods dressed as Man destroy Man. In a decimated world where technology has been corrupted, stories once again are passed on through the oral tradition. Superman, an alien from another planet, who possesses superhuman strength, ultimately saves humanity with music. The simple etchings on a cave wall; the notes of a song, "...so sad, so hopeful, so brave...", beckoning out, summoning help; the words of a story told of heroes and villains, of good versus evil, are passed on to be told again and again. The final message of this final crisis is that when all else has failed, it will be our Art that will save us.

Sitting in an airport, on a plane, in a subway, in a taxi, on a train; patience straining against missed connections, long delays, lost luggage; sitting amongst travelers from all the world over, of all races and faiths, the messages of this book rang loudly that interminable snowy January day. We create and destroy, make into existence and snuff out of existence, everything around us, everyday, through the simple power of thought. We command the power to make better, to make right. We possess the power to save ourselves. "Earth Endures". Indeed.
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Final Crisis #7 written by Grant Morrison, with art by Doug Mahnke, Christian Alamy, and Tom Nguyen, released January 28, 2009 by DC Comics. 

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