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The ’90s Revisited: The Final Night #4


final_night0004The Final Knight / Week Four: Emerald Dawn

Writer: Karl Kesel
Penciller: Stuart Immonen
Inker: Jose Marzan Jr.
Colorist: Trish Mulvihill
Letterer: Gaspar
Asst. Editor: Ali Morales
Editor: Dan Thorsland
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: November 1996
Cover Price: $1.95

After reading the previous issue, I lamented having forgotten the Parallax issue that went along with this series. I did cover that issue a couple years ago, though.

This issue sees a final gambit play out, as Kyle Rayner returns to Earth, believing he’s failed to convince Parallax to help. Luthor and the Genius Crew have had the Flash construct half a million force-field devices, that will be piloted into orbit around the sun, where they will be activated as it goes nova, containing the bulk of the blast and destroying the suneater. Having already survived one trip to the sun, it falls to Kyle to be the pilot…but he mysteriously disappears. Superman steps in, admitting he’d already intended to sneak onboard and replace anyone else sent…though he requests a few moments and we see him begin to pen a note to Lois. The ship takes off unexpectedly to everyone’s surprise…including Superman’s, as Ferro opts to sacrifice himself, figuring he has the best chance of survival outside of Superman, and that the world needs Superman more than it needs Ferro. Parallax shows up with an offer to help, that’s grudgingly accepted–Batman not trusting him after Zero Hour. Moving into space, the plan fails…and as all seems lost, Parallax has paused time to contemplate the ways he could resolve this. He’d given his word that he would “only” fix things as they were without trying to remake reality, the world, or so on…and as he expends his energy to defeat the suneater, reciting the Green Lantern Oath one final time. Earth is saved, the final price is the life of Hal Jordan.

The emphasis on the Green Lantern oath in this issue makes it stand out to me…and unless I’m completely missing something, it strikes me as rather odd here, worded as “In brightest day, in darkest night” but I’ve thought it was “In brightest day, in blackest night.” Given historical context, at the point this issue was published, it’d been over 2–almost 3–years since the demise of the Green Lantern Corps, the passing of the Ring to Kyle, and so on…and I don’t believe Kyle particularly used the “classic” oath at charging his ring, so it strikes me as a bit of potential oversight that the wording so familiar now may have been mis-phrased back then. (Given the “events” Blackest Night and Brightest Day a few years back prior to the New 52).

And unfortunately, as with many things, this ending doesn’t live up to expectation, and seems to me rather anti-climatic. Of course, I’m certain part of that is that this conclusion is some 19 years old at this point and barely warrants a footnote in the current world of comics (let alone DC itself). This event came roughly 2 1/2 years after Zero Hour, and maybe 3 years before Day of Judgment (the latter now going on 17 years old itself) so a lot of the impact is lost on me, knowing what’s happened since, in broad strokes, and that there’s really nothing I’m aware of currently from DC Comics that can be traced back to this story.

Parallax showing up is basically out of nowhere as far as the core story goes–the earliest hint I noticed was the very end of the previous issue, and then I read this (not having the Parallax issue on-hand) so we go from the heroes’ various plans to suddenly having Parallax present to fix things…a bit of a deus ex machina and apparent attempt to “redeem” Hal Jordan in the process.

I’m certainly affected by the difference in twenty years, and being inundated with constant event-streams from Marvel and/or DC these days. I’m “used to” an event series being at least 6 (of not 7-9) issues, spanning half a year. This event mini was but FOUR issues: only 2/3 the length of a contemporary “standard” series. Additionally, while I’ve enjoyed this mini as its own contained thing…it’s not exactly the be-all/end-all to truly convey an event. This was a weekly series of 4 issues; with the issues presumably serving to “launch” plot points to be expanded on by various tie-in titles’ issues, and then for everything to come back to wrap up in this concluding issue.

But to have something so globally-catastrophic just “end” in this issue with no “to be continued in…” nor any noticeable “checklist” or other “house ad” to say where to follow up certain plot points, this is tangibly “the end.” Except that I do recall that while not a focus of this mini (it was explored in his own books) Superman’s lost powers didn’t come back, and when powers did reappear they were electric in nature; and this was the official “death” of Hal Jordan, lasting not quite 8 years, though the character was still used in various ways thanks to time-travel and supernatural elements.

For my $1, The Final Night proved a good read, and whether I’d read it before and forgotten or this was truly my first time all the way through…that’s one more DC Event Mini-series off my “bucket list” of yet-to-be-read stories.

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