Andrew Hickey writes on Final Crisis. His book on fifty years of Doctor Who, Fifty Stories for Fifty Years, is available from Amazon, Amazon UK, and, for print editions, Lulu. You’ll also probably enjoy the interview he just did with me for Mindless Ones.
“There was a cosmic war. And the powers of evil won. And I know how this sounds, but they’re here among us now. I was kinda hoping you might be able to help me put some kind of team together.”
Grant Morrison, at the time Final Crisis was being released, said (in a now-deleted blog post, so I can’t quote it directly) that Final Crisis was clearly tapping into the same zeitgeist as Doctor Who, because of the number of superficial similarities between his story and The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End. He may even have believed it. But Final Crisis rather conclusively missed the zeitgeist at least as far as its intended audience were concerned.
Both Final Crisis and The Stolen Earth were inspired by the comic-book tradition of the crossover, where you get characters from many different series, all of which ostensibly take place in the same fictional universe, to come together to face a threat too big for any one of them. In fact both were inspired specifically by one such crossover, the crossover by which all other crossovers in comics are judged, 1985’s Crisis On Infinite Earths, by Marv Wolfman, George Perez, Len Wein, Jerry Ordway and others.
That story was designed to clear up a DC multiverse which, according to geeks, had become “too complicated”, because of a plethora of different universes containing different versions of DC’s characters. The fact that this could be comprehended in seconds by any eight-year-old child reading the comics – “Oh, Old Superman and Flash With A Hat are from Earth-2, and Proper Superman and Proper Flash are from Earth-1, OK” – didn’t stop it from being an incessant source of worry for any reader who thought that Marvel’s self-consistent universe (a result of all Marvel’s main characters being the creation of three men – Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and, especially, Jack Kirby) was something that their main rivals should emulate.
And so, over the course of a year, came a comic which, however misguided its aim, was truly huge in scope. Its story involved a threat that destroyed a literally infinite number of earths, and saw the remaining five earths merged into one, and the whole of their history rewritten, so that where there had been an infinite multiverse there had now only ever been one universe. It also saw the deaths of beloved characters like Supergirl and The Flash (both of them got better).
It was a war in time, sparked initially by the actions of the oldest race of beings in the universe, the immortal godlike beings who claim the authority to police the universe, and who live at the centre of it. But it soon turned into a war between an absolute evil and a corrupted, broken, good, that ended with the whole of history being rewritte, and only a handful remembering that it had ever been different.