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GRANT MORRISON: With Morrison and JG Jones on for DC’s tent pole, expectations are high. That’s why Morrison’s making sure this is the quintessential Crisis.
How editorially rigid is Final Crisis? Are you still able to make it your own?
There’s been no intrusive editorial input of any kind into the story content of Final Crisis. It feels very much my own and JG’s. I agreed to incorporate a couple of suggestions for specific story beats Dan DiDio and Geoff Johns asked for and rejected some other things which didn’t seem to fit what we had planned.
As far as connections with the rest of the DC Universe, I’ve been working quite closely with Geoff to expand some of the strands of Final Crisis into stuff he’s been doing or has planned. As an example, I introduced the idea of the “Alpha Lanterns” into issue 1 of Final Crisis, then Geoff went back and worked them neatly into the fabric of the jaw-dropping work he’s doing on the Green Lantern book. Same goes for Greg Rucka and the “Crime Bible” and “Question” storylines, which feed into Final Crisis and bring to a conclusion some of the ideas we’ve been developing since 52. We’re also prepping a couple of satellite series and books that will work in their own right, while adding color, detail and background to the ongoing Final Crisis storyline. Otherwise, JG and I are doing our own thing, and there aren’t too many tie-in books this time around.
Crisis also ties up a lot of threads from my own work going back through 52 to Seven Soldiers, JLA in the ’90s, and beyond. So yes, I’d say it’s a “personal” project more than it’s a corporate trademark workout, but, you know, I’ve always felt it was possible to do both simultaneously.
Was Final Crisis always part of the DC plan? If so, how long ago did you start outlining it? What’s that preparation process like?
I first heard the name “Final Crisis” at San Francisco WonderCon, early 2006. Dan DiDio knew I wanted to delve deeper into the mythology of Jack Kirby’s New Gods as I’d adapted it for my Seven Soldiers series, so we talked about doing a big project that would put the New Gods back on the map. As I recall, Jim Lee was originally slated to draw it, but he ended up becoming too heavily involved in design and concept work for the DCU online multiplayer game. I wrote the outline and the first Final Crisis script in the summer of 2006, around the same time as the launch of 52. JG Jones was assigned to the project near 52’s conclusion, and I couldn’t have been happier. I love working with him, and he’s done some of his best-ever work for the opening issue. The first three pages of Final Crisis #1 are worth the cover price alone. And then there are 29 more! With another 180 more pages after that!
There’s a lot of rumors and speculation about Final Crisis on the Internet — do you pay attention to it? Does it force you to adapt anything you’re doing?
No. Firstly, because I don’t think enough information has been released about Final Crisis yet for any of the speculation to be relevant to the work I’ve done.
And secondly, the Internet audience makes up a very tiny percentage of the readership of a given comic book; what the online audience wants from comic books is not necessarily what the majority of our readers is looking for and, as much as I’ve always appreciated fan enthusiasm, I would never make any artistic or commercial decision based on fan opinion.
Some outspoken readers think Infinite Crisis and Countdown don’t live up to the hype — does that add pressure to you?
Some outspoken readers think the world is flat, or hollow, or made of belly button fluff. Opinions like these neither add to nor subtract from my overall pressure.
Anyone young enough or dumb enough to still get mad when pop culture products don’t live up to their hype really needs to toughen up if they intend to spend the rest of their lives in a capitalist society of spectacle.
Final Crisis hasn’t really had any hype yet, so I don’t have anything to live up to so far, fortunately. I think people will enjoy the book, hype or no hype.
How will your execution of Final Crisis be different from Infinite Crisis?
We don’t have as many panels, for a start. Different pictures, and, although I’ll be using a lot of the same words, they’ll definitely be in a different order.
I don’t know. I can’t really compete with Infinite Crisis, and I’m not trying to. In the last few years, Geoff Johns has become the best mainstream superhero writer at DC and possibly anywhere else – and there’s no way I could hope to match the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink majesty of something like Infinite, which really consolidated the entire DCU between its covers. I want to create a very different, more claustrophobic mood.
Final Crisis has its own flavor that’s as different from Infinite as that book was from Identity Crisis before it. I suppose there’s more of a slow build and a sense of looming horror and dread in Final Crisis, as befits the title. It’s a bad dream, death metal vision of the DCU that starts small and builds to the ultimate confrontation between good and evil. And it introduces a lot of new characters and concepts, so it’s different in that respect. But we have all the usual shocking hero sacrifices, rebirths and colliding worlds you could hope for in a story like this, so hopefully it will also work as a big, epic finale to the trilogy that began with Identity Crisis.
You’ve done several big event books for DC. What’s the hardest part about writing them?
Trying not to disturb continuity too much, particularly in cases where said continuity is best described as a car wreck. Back in 2006, I requested a moratorium on the New Gods so that I could build up some foreboding and create anticipation for their return in a new form … instead, the characters were passed around like hepatitis B to practically every writer at DC to toy with as they pleased, which, to be honest, makes it very difficult for me to reintroduce them with any sense of novelty, mystery or grandeur. So in cases like this, where fellow creators have overlooked my carefully established additions to DC continuity or ignored my pleas to hold certain characters in reserve, my intention is to follow the through-line I’ve established in my own work so that there’s at least some long-term consistency.
Have you learned any tricks while writing previous event books that have made doing Final Crisis easier?
Each story is its own challenge. Final Crisis isn’t like DC One Million – my previous crossover – at all. Back then, my editor made me write 64 plots – one for every book in the DC Universe at that time – even though I didn’t want to. Final Crisis is more focused, more intense and much easier to write than One Million was.
How have you evolved as a writer? How different would it have been like to write Final Crisis 10 or 20 years ago?
Final Crisis couldn’t have happened 10 or 20 years ago. It’s very much a response to post-Sept. 11 comics and, in a wider sense, to the jittery, grandiose, end-of-empire fears that haunt Western civilization right now. It’s dark, shocking and sensational in a way that I wouldn’t have felt appropriate in the past, but I’d like to think it also offers some tiny ray of light in these traumatized and paranoid times.
Do you have a competitive side? Is there a conscious push for Crisis to outsell Marvel’s Secret Invasion?
I don’t care if we outsell them, although there’s a good chance that we will. But creatively, and for sheer full-on superhero majesty, Final Crisis will leave Secret Invasion gasping in the dust. Everybody knows that!