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  • Friday, 30 Jan 2009

Final Crisis # 6 (DC)(US$3.99) Writer: Grant Morrison Artists: J.G. Jones and Carlos Pacheco

Writer: Grant Morrison

In case you have not noticed, the similarities between the Dark Knight and Captain America are astonishing – from being “ex-drug addicts” (Venom v Streets of Poison) to having their sidekicks resurrected (Jason Todd and Bucky Barnes). Hence, when Marvel decided to do the unthinkable by killing Steve Rogers two years ago, one wonders if DC had the guts to do the same with Bruce Wayne.

Well, wonder no more as the recent events in Batman RIP and Final Crisis # 6 attempts (and I do stress on this word) to test this similar “theory.”

While Batman RIP (Batman # 676-681), which was also scripted by Morrison, toyed with the idea of a fate worse than death for the Dark Knight – the idea of having a bunch of actors deliver the death blow on Batman (where the Joker and Ras Al Gul have failed) just doesn’t make sense.

Anyway, by “killing” Batman, Final Crisis # 6 represents Morrison/DC’s boldest statement of intent to this series tag-line: “Heroes die. Legends live forever.”

With the earlier issues setting the foundation for an Apokolips-on-Earth scenario, this issue marks the turning of the tide for the good guys ... and some bad guys, too.

There are positive developments on all fronts as the Flash(es) assume the (usual) prominent roles, while Superman has his first encounter with the Miracle Machine and Dr Sivana and Luthor “defect” against Darkseid’s minions. Of course, and (drum roll, please), the Dark Knight addresses the root of the crisis!

Armed with a gun loaded with the same bullet used to kill Orion (Darkseid’s son), Batman confronts Darkseid in a tense stand-off scene. Without hesitation, Batman pulls the trigger, while Darkseid unleashes his “Omega sanction” simultaneously. While the Dark Knight showed no sympathy, one wonders why Darkseid opted for the lesser of his Omega beams? References to Wikipedia revealed that Darkseid’s most potent Omega beam is the “Omega effect” – an energy beam that he has used against the Man of Steel and Doomsday. Instead, the “Omega sanction” is a beam that doesn’t kill and merely traps the victim in a series of alternate realities – with each worse than the previous one.

If the Omega sanction is Morrison’s answer to a fate worse the death, then a few more questions need to be answered. Like the Dark Knight’s choice for a final word (“Gotcha”) and the corpse in a Bat-suit that the Man of Steel is carrying in the last page. Bottom line is Batman’s death (if he’s dead) deserves some befitting coverage, hype and mourning (remember what they did when Doomsday snuffed Superman’s Kryptonian-made batteries?). Arguably, killing off Bruce Wayne makes no cow-sense – especially when there’s a successful movie franchise and loads of merchandise to milk. With the grand finale an issue away, one wonders whether Morrison still has a trump card to play – what more with how this issue ended.

Punisher # 1 (Marvel)(US$3.99) Writer: Rick Remender Artist: Jerome Opena After a handful of Punisher-revamps spanning the last decade, we are back at square one. As usual they all share one thing in common – a brilliant start (before eventually fizzling out) – making you wonder as to why you should even jump on this bandwagon again. From War Journal to War Zone, Marvel Knights to MAX – Frank Castle is definitely the poster boy for gated community residents and after seeing him “punish” a million baddies, one can’t help but think if Rick Remender has hit the bottom of the same barrel that Garth Ennis had used for his Punisher, Preacher and Hitman stints?

Writer: Rick Remender

With mobs and ganglords from around the world punished (some of them more than once), this latest revamp has Castle setting his sights on Norman Osborn – America’s most popular hero for killing the Skrull Queen and head of HAMMER (the reformed SHIELD). In Wanted fashion, Castle assumes a sniper’s role and almost succeeds in snuffing out Osborn, if not for the (un)timely intervention of the Sentry! While Castle’s resume includes going up against a horde of Doombots and (fictionally) killing the Marvel Universe, nothing in his punishing-days would have prepared him against a near omnipotent being!

Unlike any other Punisher tale that I’ve read, this one has Castle running helter skelter as the Sentry attempts to apprehend him. Taking a cue from the Matrix, Castle is saved by a mysterious caller’s directions/instructions. As to how this poor David v Goliath tale will help elevate Castle’s status in the Dark Reign scenario, remains (very much) to be seen. Nobody “punishes” us like Ennis!

Amazing Spider-Man # 583 (Marvel)(US$3.99) Writers: Mark Waid and Zeb Wells Artists: Barry Kitson, Mark Farmer and Todd Nauck

Writers: Mark Waid and Zeb Wells

This issue is what happens when fantasy and politics collide – notwithstanding, a perfect opportunity for US President Barack Obama to make his comic book debut! While the global economic downturn has given this hobby little stimulus, the fact that this issue’s popularity is supported by four print runs certainly provided a timely boost.

Cashing in on Obama’s inauguration, this chance encounter has Spidey saving a historic day in American and world politics. While this back-up tale occupies half-a-dozen pages, it’s the main story about Peter Parker going on a date that caught my attention. Since Brand New Day commenced, this one’s the breather-issue and a good time for readers to consolidate before the next big event!

> Comics courtesy of Earth638 (Lot 2.13J, 2nd Floor, Atria Shopping Centre, Jalan SS 22/23, Damansara Jaya, Petaling Jaya, Selangor). Hotline: 03-7729 6380 or e-mail (earth638@streamyx.com).

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