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The ’90s Revisited: The Final Night #3

final_night0003Keeping Hope Alive / Week Three: Shallow Graves

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

Well…that’s grim. And a bit disappointing.

This is the third issue of four under the Final Night title, though there are numerous tie-in issues. And yet, this issue–The Final Night #3–is continued in something else: a special, Parallax: Emerald Night #1 that was apparently on sale simultaneously with this issue.

As things worsen for Earth–the sun-eater’s drawing heat and energy from the sun but not its actual mass–Luthor (with a tip from Ted Knight) realizes that means the sun will soon go nova–incinerating all life in the system, and certainly on Earth. Amidst this, we see Warrior (Guy Gardner) and new hero Ferro getting help for a badly-injured Wildcat, and the Phantom Stranger gives Dusk a tour of humanity, showing sides other than the mob that had attacked and blamed the crisis on her. Etrigan–The Demon–proposes a bargain with humanity, that he and his kind will save the Earth, if a unanimous decision is made to embrace hell; while the Spectre protects Gaia, and Zatanna and Fire save Ray. Not stopping there, the two then enlist Firestorm to bring momentary light to the village, while Jade and Obsidian reunite with Sentinel and Superman visits his parents. Back at Warrior’s, Guy laments what things are and used to be, and then glimpses something Green.

And that “cliffhanger” leads us into the Parallax issue.

Story-wise, this issue seemed a bit more packed, and while I’ve figured stuff with The Ray would play out in his own series (thinking his series was still going on at this time), it seems that it’s been something to play out in this core series instead. I appreciate touches like the Phantom Stranger showing up and helping Dusk to see other sides of humanity–not just the bad–even though it’s a rather cliché thing. It also reminds me that the character exists and was used like this in events of this sort. Similarly, we see the Spectre acting on a global scale while remaining apart from things going on…a difficult character to handle by its nature in the face of something like this.

The art team does a good job, and everything is gotten across pretty well…I have no real complaints visually.

This third issue pushes things into dark territory, as things are looking impossible for the Earth and its heroes. The sun is being consumed, and where the Earth faced being frozen, now it faces incineration…neither condition supports life beyond a few more hours. Even Superman is at a loss–deriving his power from the sun, he’s virtually “normal” at this point, denied the sun’s energy himself. I’m convinced that Dusk does play a role in the end of this story…there’s been enough done with the character (superficial as that’s been) that it would seem a waste to not have something planned.

I’m less than thrilled at the realization that there’s the direct continuation into a side issue: while I know full well there are numerous tie-ins, numerous details going on outside this core story that are relevant to the story–thus far the core mini has technically only continued directly into itself. My satisfaction at scoring all 4 issues for $1 is diminished now, realizing that I missed the fifth issue that would make more sense to have now.

Of course, I have read that issue (though I don’t recall much detail consciously) but it would be much more satisfying to read it now and not have to go on memories from several years in the past.

For 25 cents, this was a good issue, reading in context of the mini-series as a whole, and I’ll be diving into the fourth issue shortly.

The ’90s Revisited: The Final Night #2

final_night0002Darker Grows the Night/ Week Two: Chaos

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

We open on a page of exposition via a news story to bring us up to speed on the current situation, leading into the new stuff for the issue. Lex Luthor turns himself in by way of offering his genius to help overcome the current crisis. Around the world, heroes do what they can for the general populace, assisting where their powers and abilities allow them, overcoming challenges to conventional services–such as fire trucks being unable to get to fires due to gridlock. Implementing a design from Luthor and modified by Brainiac 5, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner gets a probe into what remains of the sun, gaining valuable data. Meanwhile, the Ray and Dusk come face to face with ground-level reactions to the crisis, and we see new figures emerge.

While my initial reaction to Immonen‘s art with the previous issue was less than stellar, moving into a second issue of the art, building from that first, I found it more appealing here, perhaps for a bit of “normalization” of a growing context and expectation of it. The visuals continue to be solid, and I really was not taken out of the story by any weird/odd art…and I’ve noticed as well that despite being a “core event mini-series,” this has been seriously lacking in full/double-page shots despite the enormity of stuff going on…and that is a great thing, to me! We get a full-page image at the beginning, emphasizing the major moment of Luthor and Superman (which also serves as a credits page), and then we get a full page at the end for the “cliffhanger.” Even something as huge as Kyle Rayner descending into the Sun/being in outer space does not get itself a solo full-page. Which basically means there’s more room for story, for moments, to get development, without stuff being padded out.

The same applies to the story itself–there’s simply more content TO the issue for not falling back on several pages of little to no words and just massive imagery. We get bits with the various heroes, their interactions with each other and the world, as well as what I take to be “hints” of stuff sure to be expanded on in relevant tie-in issues. I don’t think I was ever consciously aware (and even if I was, I would not have been able to tell you so prior to this reading) that Kesel had headed up a DC event like this. I like that despite the larger role of “the trinity” we also have involvement from other heroes, and that this isn’t “just” a Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman thing with near-useless cameos of other characters.

As with the first issue, this is very much part of something larger–firstly in itself as only the second issue of a four-issue series, as well as serving as a generalized narrative impacting the bulk of the DC Universe of its time of publication. So this definitely does not stand alone (where one could sample the first issue and go from there, this isn’t even that) so there’s really no context-less point to get this issue by itself. If you’re interested in the entire mini or event, and it’s one you’re missing, it’s certainly worthwhile, but I suspect as a lone single issue one would be far more satisfied simply reading some other title’s tie-in issue to the event.

For my part, having acquired the entire mini in the same week for 25 cents an issue, I’m thoroughly enjoying the chance to read this, and find myself eager to acquire the tie-ins and get to read those as well.

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