Monday, 8 December 2008

A reader writes

Got an interesting e-mail t'other day...

Hi Dominic,

I've been reading your blog for a few weeks now and really enjoy it. I'm a comic collector (living in London) who gave up the hobby about 10 years ago but have recently rediscovered it. I just thought I'd drop you a note because I read your comments a while back about Final Crisis and thought I'd ask your advice on the best way to catch up on the series until now and for understanding it. Can you recommend what comics I should look out for? 
I picked up issue 1 and 2 of the main series but it seems like there are plenty of gaps where it must be covered elsehwere in these spin offs I've seen. Is there a guide of what to read out there anywhere? I've also read Rage of The Red Lanterns (I've always primarily been a GL Corps fan - part of the reason why I gave the hobby up around the time Kyle Raynor replaced Hal) but haven't so far had much of a sense of what is going on with the main storyline in the DCU. I don't want to skip all the background and just read Final Crisis 1-4 if there's actually a lot more out there worth picking up (aside from GL stuff which I am already picking up)...

Thanks for writing Tom. Blimey, Final Crisis eh? Well, the comic blogging glitterati would have you believe that anyone who doesn't get what's happening in Grant Morrison's epic is some kind of imbecile, but I have to say that unless you've spent the last 20 or so years memorising everything that's ever happened in the DC Universe then you're going to find this mega-event somewhat confusing. But you know what? That's OK! We live in a world of interwebberey and message boardery where everything can be made clear to anyone willing to do a bit of supplemental reading.

Strangely, the spin-offs from Final Crisis won't actually fill in the gaps. Rogues Revenge, Legion of Three Worlds and the other offshoots have all been excellent, but none of them are necessary to understanding what's happening in the main title. If you're struggling with that, then I would suggest rereading each issue in tandem with The Final Crisis Annotations website OR downloading Comic Geek Speak to your Ipod (presuming you've got one) and checking out Adam Murdo's excellent walkthroughs of each issue.

On top of that, and for background, I would strongly suggest reading Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers series which isn't directly connected to the events of Final Crisis but which does set the scene for much of what's going on. If you're really keen (and have a bit of dosh to spare) then you should also go all the way back and check out Jack Kirby's Fourth World books all of which have been reprinted in beautiful omnibus form COMPLETE with old style matt paper. Seriously good looking items that form the foundation for everything Morrison's riffing on in FC.

There's more of course - you could check out the original Crisis on Infinite Earths or (and I don't recommend this) depress yourself by wading through the sludge that is Countdown to Final Crisis. In the end, it all comes down to work! Yes, if you want to understand Final Crisis then you've got to work baby! It's not easy reading, it doesn't all make immediate sense and it's dripping with sticky DC lore. This is what makes FC and indeed most of Morrison's other work so rewarding. He writes puzzles that demand a lot of the reader. If you want things easy then go grab Secret Invasion, it demands very little effort, you'll have read it in five minutes and once you've finished it you'll never have to pick it up again - which is fine. It's good in fact. I LOVE disposable comics, but I don't want to be spoon fed all the time and that's why I think Final Crisis is worth the extra effort.

As for Rage of The Red Lanterns. Well, to be honest just because they've stuck a Final Crisis logo on the cover you shouldn't be fooled into thinking it has anything to do with Final Crisis proper. In reality it's the latest chapter in Geoff Johns' superb run on Green Lantern - a bridge between The Sinestro Corps War and Blackest Night. If you want to find out about those then I would suggest reading Johns' run on the title from the beginning. You might also like to pick up the Green Lantern Corps series.

There you go. Hope I've helped. Enjoy!

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