Sunday, May 5, 2019

Final Crisis: Requiem #1 (September, 2008)

Superman said the final words at the funeral of J'Onn J'Onzz, attended by Wonder Woman, Dr. Mid-Nite, Metamorpho, Zatanna, Wildcat, Grace Choi, Black Lightning, Mr. Terrific, Firestorm (Jason Rusch,) Hawkgirl (Kendra Saunders,) Starman, Booster Gold, Plastic Man, the Bulleteer, Beast Boy, Vixen, Robin (Tim Drake,) Nightwing, Green Lanterns Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Alan Scott, & Kyle Rayner, Green Arrow, Stargirl, the Arthur Joseph Curry Aquaman inexplicably in the original's costume, Starfire, Batman, Flash (Wally West,) Red Arrow, Geo-Force, Cyclone, Hawkman, Red Tornado, Steel, Huntress, Black Canary, Damage, Hourman (Rick Tyler,) Supergirl, Power Girl, Adam Strange, Ice, Gypsy and others in the background.

J'Onn J'Onzz had been lying on the floor in a villains' lair with over 300 pyro-tranq darts designed by Dr. Sivana lodged all over his body, immolating and sedating him. Perpetrators Dr. Light and Effigy lowered the so-called firewall so that they could carry him to another room under orders from the super-villain apostle Libra. Though groggy, J'Onzz began to regain consciousness en route. Libra wasted no time impaling him through the chest with his staff. The villains present in the room; Lex Luthor, Effigy, Dr. Sivana, Vandal Savage, Gorilla Grodd, Ocean Master, Dr. Light, and Talia al Ghul; were tormented by visions of a homicidal Justice League projected by J'Onzz in the throes. The Human Flame had cowered behind an armchair over the illusory sight of the Alien Atlas himself, though he was beneath notice as the Manhunter remained focused on Libra. The Martian Marvel pulled himself up from the ground by the spear and began choking Libra, but Effigy and Dr. Light blasted him with their energy powers. Burnt and exhausted, J'Onzz felt the killing cut dealt his heart by Libra from a borrowed knife from Vandal Savage. J'Onn forced a final grin.

At the moment of his death, various heroes were struck by a telepathic wave that notified them of his passing, including Superman, Batman, Dinah (but not her bedmate Ollie,) Hal, and in Detroit, Gypsy. Of all people, it was Dick Grayson who first reached the body, dangling impaled through the chest by a post driven into a large model of planet Mars. This was in New York City, after being reported by a security guard at the Rose Center for Earth and Science. It was a "Level One Omega," in super-hero parlance. The body was taken back to the headquarters of the Justice League of America, a team he was no longer a member of in a Hall of Justice that was long denied him. Hal and Ollie kept watch over him, with the former asking "Look how they slaughtered our friend. Of all of us... I can't believe he's gone." Jordan couldn't bear to close J'Onn's still eyes, but Ollie convinced him his soul was finally with his family, so Hal consented. Both were thirsty for rough justice. Later, the heroes touched by J'Onn's mind began "sleep authoring" a sort of hardbound autobiography by proxy called "Mars: A History By J'Onn J'Onzz" that recapped his 1998-2001 solo series, plus the JLA arc "Trial By Fire" and 52: WW III. Finally, Superman picked up J'Onn's pyramid ancestral home in the Gobi Desert, the Green Lanterns carted dozens of mourners, and Mars was the site of a destination funeral. The book was left on a translucent ruby coffin as the Manhunter on Mars was left lying in state. Batman, unmasked, added a Choco cookie. "Goodbye, old friend." A spectral vision of J'Onn reunited with his wife and child closed the book.

"Caretakers of Mars" was by Peter J. Tomasi, Doug Mahnke, Christian Alamy and Rodney Ramos. I didn't synopsize the story a decade ago because I knew I'd add extraneous details I easily cut today, and because I didn't want to express my anger at the book to mourning fans. Its excessively detailed yet frustratingly specific history of J'Onn J'Onzz was mostly limited to stories edited by Tomasi that I already had a difficult relationship with, coupled with a bunch of more recent material that I deeply disliked. From Hal & Ollie calling J'Onn their "favorite Martian" to the damned Choco, the whole affair felt maddeningly superficial, obvious, and corny. At least this time the significance of Gypsy in J'Onn's later life was acknowledged, and we got to see J'Onn put up some kind of fight against his murderers, instead of being put down like a whimpering dog in the core Final Crisis mini-series. The opening splash page of J'Onn in repose at the funeral was lovely, and while uneven, I enjoyed the art overall.

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