Countdown Breakdown: An Illustrated Guide to DC’s ‘Final Crisis – Part 2
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Yesterday, we gave you the first half of our "Countdown Breakdown" courtesy of comic book historian Alan Kistler. Today, Alan gives us the second half of his guide to everything a reader should know to get the most out of DC’s latest mega-event, Final Crisis. Oh, and Alan provided all of the artwork seen here, too. Quite the jack-of-all-trades, eh? – RM]
So, where were we?
Ready? Here we go…
By the time Apokolips was destroyed, just about all of the New Gods had caught a mild case of death thanks to a mysterious killer who turned out to be the Infinity Man, a New God warrior who usually only showed up when the Forever People (basically, New God hippies) summoned him.
Infinity Man had been ordered to kill the New Gods by "The Source," the sentient energy that binds the cosmos together and manifests itself as a talking, glowing ball. The New Gods had been born when the Third World of gods had erupted and given birth to New Genesis and Apokolips (known collectively as the Fourth World). Now that a Fifth World was coming, the New Gods had to make way for new cosmic beings that were to come.
This reminded some fans of a couple of Grant Morrison JLA issues where the New God called Metron had said that Earth would be the cradle of the Fifth World and that the JLA were fore-runners for the next phase of New Gods.
Metron, along with Scott Free (the first super-hero to be called "Mr. Miracle"), got ticked at the Source for killing everyone. Then Metron and Scott were promptly killed, proving that you can never trust glowing balls who talk down to you. The Source then merged what was left of New Genesis and Apokolips into the Fifth World.
Meanwhile, Darkseid figured out a way to merge himself with the energies of the Anti-Life Equation. With the rest of the New Gods now dead, all that was left of the race was Darkseid and Metron’s flying "Moebius Chair" (it’s a recliner and a sweet ride).
… Which brings me to Jimmy Olsen.
ME: So here’s the scoop, Jimmy. Darkseid had secretly been collecting the celestial energies released by the death of each New God and had stored them all in a "soul-catcher" he’d hidden in your body. The idea was that he would wait until it was full, take it from your body and then use it to become near-omnipotent.
JIMMY: But that doesn’t make sense. Why not just put the soul-catcher directly into his own body to begin with?
ME: Hey, Jimmy, it’s science. Don’t question science.
Eventually, Ray Palmer saved the day by smashing the soul-catcher, sending its energies into the wind. Darkseid was looking for a cosmic butterfly net to catch it all again when suddenly his dead son Orion showed up (brought back to life by The Source). Orion smacked Darkseid around and then RIPPED HIS HEART OUT Temple of Doom-style!
After that, Orion went off to go collapse and die, since he was barely alive as it was.
DARKSEID: Now wait one moment, mortal! New Genesis and Apokolips were merged years ago and no one cared. Why repeat the idea? And death by having my heart ripped out? Isn’t that exactly how Thanos over at Marvel died not too long ago?
ME: Pally, what do you want from me? At least we’re not talking about John Byrne’s Genesis crossover. Besides, you’ve beaten certain death before. Now relax, resurrect and let me continue.
Okay, so what’s left?
So… The New Gods are all apparently dead (at least physically). Kyle Rayner, Donna Troy and Ray Palmer decide to police the Monitors. Jason Todd whines for a year. Holly Madison and Harley Quinn hang out with some Amazons and become friends. The U.S. government tries deporting super-villains to another planet and screws it up. Batman and Superman realize there are three versions of the Legion of Super-Heroes. The Kirby version of OMAC and a version of Kamandi appear on the recreated Earth-51 (which is now in ruins again and inhabited by animal people). Jimmy Olsen got an alien bug-girl for a girlfriend. Hmmm, what else?
Oh, and the Kingdom Come version of Superman is hanging out with the JSA.
And Libra is back.
"Waitaminute, who’s Libra?" you’re probably asking.
Oh, just a one-story villain who attempted to get god-like powers while fighting the JLA back in the ’70s only to blow up instead, his atoms scattered across the universe. Seems he’s back now after essentially bonding with reality itself and man, does he mean trouble. If only there was some opposite number to oppose him. Perhaps a hero who died in a similar fashion, becoming one with the universe even as he saved it? Who could fit that bill, though?
Anyway, if you’re curious about other Morrison stories that may lead into Final Crisis, check out his Seven Soldiers of Victory trade collection and his JLA trades (specifically, "The Rock of Ages" and "World War III").
Well, that’s it for now, folks. with this information, you have everything there is to know about Countdown and how it leads into Final Crisis, so all that’s left is to pick up the issues yourself and start reading!
Alan Kistler has been recognized by Warner Bros. Pictures and mainstream media outlets as a comic book historian, and can be seen in the "Special Features" sections of the Adventures of Aquaman and Justice League: New Frontier DVDs. His personal website can be found at: www.KistlerUniverse.com.
All sketches courtesy of Alan Kistler, who is also an artist, apparently.
Missed the first part? Click here for the first half of our Countdown Breakdown.