By Koppy McFad
May 17, 2008 - 01:33
This is both a sketchbook and a scorecard. containing character sketches and advance information on the key players in the upcoming FINAL CRISIS miniseries. We get to see the new designs for characters like Darkseid and the new batch of Japanese heroes that Morrison has created as well as explanations for these designs, what influenced them and even some of the background on these characters that led to their new designs.
It is very informative and is even quite fascinating as it sheds light on the thought processes of the creative team behind the CRISIS. The new costume of Darkseid isn't just something whipped up to make him look different. It sends a message about who the character is and how he has changed. Anyone who reads this would have to be impressed at how creative Morrison and Jones are, to come up with designs that involve squealing Japanese schoolgirls, inverted sun-symbols and cynical art school students and then transform them into figures that are both highly original but still distinctly linked to the world of superheroes.
There is surprisingly little in this issue on Superman and the rest of the DC mainstays-- despite their prominent place on the cover of this sketchbook. Some people may feel cheated by this.
There is something deeply conflicting about this 'sketchbook' however. It comes out BEFORE the FINAL CRISIS miniseries so it functions as a form of advance promotion for the big 'event." But it also introduces us to these new designs and new characters even before we get to meet them in the story itself. We do not get to feel the excitement of actually discovering these new characters, of being stunned by the new design for Darkseid, et al. It also spoils the surprise for us since we now know that CHARACTER X will be appearing in this miniseries after all, despite what we saw happen to him three or four months ago.
This "spoiler" aspect will inevitably detract, in a certain way from the fun of the actual comic itself. This sketchbook (and others like it) should be treated as 'extra features' that are normally included in DVDs, released AFTER the movie has hit the theaters. Of course, if they released these sketches in the FINAL CRISIS trade paperback, then DC Comics would probably forefeit the earnings it makes by selling a sketchbook even before the actual miniseries comes out.
In a sense, this makes it hard to actually 'rate' a sketchbook like this. Let us just say that this sketchbook will be very interesting to fans who are more concerned about what the big name creators are doing and thinking but may be a huge spoiler for those who want to be surprised by the miniseries.