Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Final Crisis: Secret Files

Len Wein is my newest (Facebook) friend, and just in time for my spirited defense of his most recent comic, the Final Crisis: Secret Files that came out last week.

I've heard from an unimpeachable source, that this book's been getting dissed on line. Inconceivable!

First off, it's the only remotely comprehensible Final Crisis book so far. Grant Morrison didn't write it, and Len Wein did. Len Wein, unlike Morrison, is able to write a story that makes you say, "Wow, what happened in that story was crazy!", rather than, "Wow, I have no idea what happened in that story and whoever wrote it was crazy!"

Second, it's got the villain talking out loud to himself and intropositioning himself through his origin story. How refreshingly old-school and in keeping with the comic book medium!

Speaking of which.... third, the origin itself was almost aggressively old-school. The villain playing with Heroclix figures. Libra's pseudo-prophetic name, Justin Ballantine. The childhood traumas brought on by ... lack of balance. And, c'mon.... how can you not love that the Golden Age Starman is as essential part of the story? Nothing, but nothing says old-fashioned goodness and DRAMA than the Golden Age Starman. Not only does his inclusion gives us that background that makes the original Libra story (more) believable and grounded in the DCU as we know it, but the story lets us know that Ted Knight had all the info on his Starman tech just filed casually in an unlocked cabinet in his office. Of course he did; he's Starman. It wouldn't even occur to him that some lesser being would be able to understand his work.

Now, it's possible that Len just writes this way naturally, as a good Bronze-Ager. But I much prefer to perceive it as an act of literary defiance against the Morrison Generation. I imagine him pounding this stuff out on a typewriter, snickering, "THIS is how an origin goes, you disaffected little postmodernist punks! Everything you think is 'cool' is underacinatably rooted in everything you think is 'uncool'. And there's nothing you can do about it; NOTHING, I say! BWAHAHAHAHA!!!!"

Fourth (and this is really, I suppose, just an extention of the last point), there's the dialog. If I want weepy drama, self-recrimination, and moral quavering, well, my television gets both "the N" and Lifetime, thank you very much. I read comics because I need THIS:
"Should I commit some elaborate crime to bring myself to the heroes' attention?"

"We begin our planetary reign of terror immediately."

"Ahhh.... You're all awake. Excellent."

"Worlds uncounted are now mine to toy with as I will!"

and, of course, this timeless classic reprised from the original Libra story:

"I am truth! I am knowledge! I ... am ... losssssssstttttttt...."

Fifth: Darkseid's makeover-vision. It's the first time Darkseid's ever impressed me or even seemed useful or threatening. Darkseid totally deserves a show on HGTV or Bravo: "Omega Eye for the Earth Guy". Glorious Godfrey could be the Culture Guy, Granny Goodness would handle the grooming tips, and Desaad could renovate your bachelor pad into a swinging torture chamber for the new millenium.

And all this is just Len's story. This book goes for the extra points, including a one-page explanation of the anti-life equation that makes more sense than all of Final Crisis put together, and the sketchbook that includes that welcome news that DC finally understands that Aquaman is a western.


Doctor Polaris said...

I concur with all your sentiments. Mr. Wein has managed to present us with a *pure* super-villain voice. Such voices have been few and far between in recent years (though a suitable voice can be found in the pages of last week's Trinity).

Anonymous said...

I agree with you on the story, it was indeed refreshingly old school. The art was a bit rubbish though, no?


Scipio said...

You know, Doc, I'd love to hear, on your own blog, who you think the Top Ten Writers Who Deserve to Write Your Dialog would be...

Anonymous said...

...the sketchbook that includes that welcome news that DC finally understands that Aquaman is a western.

Yes. Apparently, Morrison wrote that bit. At least, Morrison seems to get Aquaman when he gets a chance to write him.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you, compared to the rest of FC this actually made sense as a story - although taking half the power in the universe only to find yourself washed up on the shores of Apokolips is a bit of a disappointment, don't you think?

But my question - and this goes back to Morrison, not Wein - is what in the world does Darkseid need Libra for? With the Anti-Life Equation at his disposal, Darkseid's got it made. Admittedly killing the Martian Manhunter was a naughty thing to do, but *nothing* that Libra has done seems to be of any use to Darkseid whatsoever. Will it all make sense by FC #7? Ha-ha, I'm just kidding!

I knew Len Wein back in our home town. He was a cool guy, AND he had a signed and personalized original sketch of the Silver Surfer by Jack Kirby. He loved comics; I was glad when he broke into the business.

SallyP said...

Spectrum Bear, I think that it is possible that Libra is simply another toy for Darkseid to play with. He DOES seem to get a kick out of his Heroclix, bless his black heart.

And yes, there is ALWAYS a place for bombastic dialogue. Libra is a jackass, but he's an interesting jackass, and the book had both Ted Knight AND our old pal Mike getting lobotomized.

I'm just glad that I'm not the only one who liked this.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed it as well. The story was very Ditko-esque, actually -- the character had a clear choice to be good or evil, he chose evil, and it followed to it's ending. One of the best Crisis tie ins so far.

It does underscore how missed Dick Dillon is, though.

rap said...

Len is a trip, isn't he?