Final Crisis: Requiem #1
“Final Crisis: Requiem – Caretakers of Mars”
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Pencils: Doug Mahnke
Inks: Christian Alamy & Rodney Ramos
Colors: Nei Ruffino
Letters: John J. Hill
Cover artists: Mahnke & Alamy (regular cover) and J.G. Jones (sliver cover)
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99 US/CAN
I’m holding a requiem of my own, as I — as are many others who bought this comic, I suspect — mourn the loss of the four bucks I spent on this one-shot. I’m a longtime fan of super-hero comics, especially DC’s, and I enjoy a well-crafted super-hero universe event story. I don’t even mind crossover tangents and tie-ins, as long as they’re crafted well. Final Crisis: Requiem isn’t, and while there are many flaws to be found in this book, the biggest problem with this comic is clear: there’s no story. This is about characters reacting to a story, or at least to a plot development in a story. The art has its strengths, but it’s not consistently strong throughout the entire issue. Requiem doesn’t fill me with confidence about forthcoming Final Crisis spinoff titles at all.
As Libra’s new Secret Society of super-villains work together to end the life of J’Onn J’Onnz, the Manhunter from Mars reaches out with his dying breath and imparts his final thoughts and wishes to five fellow heroes with whom he shared special bonds and friendships. J’Onn may be dead, but those heroes, without even knowing it, set out to ensure that he and the dead civilization of Mars are never forgotten.
The hyper-detailed and harsh look of Mahnke’s artwork is a good match for this sometimes brutal and always surreal script. He conveys the horror of the hero’s murder quite well. The villains look thoroughly evil, and the violence actually looks like violence, not super-hero action. Mind you, Mahnke’s skill at depicting the uglier side of Tomasi’s “story” works against him when the focus is on evoking grief, tenderness and nostalgia in the heroes. Furthermore, the panels in which J’Onn’s history is shown are terribly crowded. It’s sometimes difficult to discern what we’re meant to see.
Tomasi details the Martian Manhunter’s history so meticulously that I’m lead to believe that the real purpose here isn’t to pay tribute to the character, but rather to set up a new direction for the character. This feels more like a primer in all things Martian, not a eulogy. That sense, along with the casual way in which the character was dispatched in Final Crisis, reinforces my belief that J’Onn isn’t dead. Death is so impermanent in the genre to begin with, and this doesn’t lead me to believe that’s going to change anytime soon.
One of the most frustrating aspects of this one-shot is the fact that a pivotal character isn’t even identified. I read Justice League of America in the 1980s, so I know who she is. Newer readers, hell, even not-so new readers, will likely not recognize Gypsy, an obscure JLA member who most recently appeared in Birds of Prey. It’s a shame Tomasi doesn’t use her super-hero name at all in this script. Her inclusion is clearly meant to incorporate the Detroit era of the Justice League, but it’s done without really talking about that time in J’Onn’s “life.” Yet another problem that plagues this issue is poor placement of word balloons; there’s no obvious flow to them as the various heroes document their friend’s history. If the pointlessness of this comic book weren’t frustrating enough, this non-story isn’t even executed well. 4/10