The latest installment in the FINAL CRISIS miniseries has Batman facing off against Darkseid, Supergirl battling evil Mary Marvel, the three Flashes united at last and the heroes making a last stand against the forces of the Anti-Life Equation, a mathematical formula that destroys free will.
This is a jumbled, confusing issue with a lot of things going on with precious little explanation of what those things are. Some subplots get just two panels to explain them while others are ignored completely. The story's clarity is further muddled by the squad of different artists who were apparently rushed to complete this issue when the regular artist fell behind. Shilo Norman, a black character, inexplicably turns white (take that Obama!) One panel shows Hourman fighting with his wife on the gates of Bludhaven. A few panels later, he is laid up in a hospital. A few more panels later, he is back on the bridge, looking completely healthy. These kind of things just make the whole miniseries look poorly-planned out.
And yet, this issue is never boring. In fact, it has the breakneck excitement of a fast-moving action flick. At the same time, it is far from a shallow showcase of non-stop action. The various characters involved all get a key dramatic moment that can be hilarious, touching, inspiring and even poignant. Charming surprises-- like Tawky Tawny saving the day or Luthor and Sivana joining forces-- brighten up the book and if the clipped dialogue is totally unrealistic, it also captures the mood of danger and impending doom.
Even the emergency-artist squad do a fairly good job within their designated areas. The scenes of Superman flying to the rescue, the battle between the super-girls and the tiger-men and the confrontation between Batman and Darkseid, all have powerful, lavish images that capture the imagination.
It is hard to say if the gems within this issue are enough to make up for the massive faults in the story. Considering that this is the second-to-the-last chapter, it may very well be a sign that the conclusion will be an even bigger mess. That is too bad. Had the editorial side exerted a stronger hand in directing the movement of the story, perhaps this miniseries would truly have become the classic it was suppose to be instead of just another money-making comic-book 'event.'