May have been in a darker place when I wrote this. Obv I haven't been able to stick to the comix downsizing that was promised. I've quit Ultimate Spidey and X-Factor for cost reasons, and becasue I get better Bendis and David elsewhere (you should really check out Scarlet and Fallen Angel). Buffy Season 8 ended pretty well, with a welcome confession of sins from Whedon in the final issue, so I'll be picking up the new season when it comes out. Plus I keep buying trades -- this comix disease just cannot be rid of!
That's just the background to me having a second run at Final Crisis. I'm abt half-way thru now. It's telling, perhaps, that I quit last time just before reaching the centre-piece of the story, the two issue Superman Beyond arc. If I had read it then, I may have been much more enthusiastic about the whole book. The writing here is really quite dense -- symbols and patterns weaved with dazzling skill. I just want to unravel some of them, for reference more than anything.
Monitor is absolute and perfect, a white conscious void. (God?) Flaw encased in concept containing contradictions / events / stories. It's harmful: stories destroy / limit / define. Mysteries infect Monitor. History begins.
Contact makes probe split in two. One half a Silent Sentinel, a doomsday weapon to be used at the end of the world / final crisis. (Christ?) Other half Dax Novu. Seeks knowledge, infected with the bleed / life (body?). Died to chain beast / himself. Becomes Madrakk, eater of life. Will be unleashed at the end of the world / final crisis, when Monitor civilization declines and falls. (Lucifer? Anti-Christ?)
Mammon / Madrakk the evil god of greed / property / material wealth. Coming out of the bleed / void into the multiverse. (Body taking over the mind? Addiction to story?)
Superman and Ultraman not dualities but symmetries. Beyond conflict. Hate crime fused with selfless act. An act of enormous power. Transcendent.
The Silent Sentinel awakes (awesome letterbox effect on this page!) in the city of Monitors (readers?) between dimensions / panels. Realm of form and meaning to realm of primal forms. Weeja Dell meets him and leads him to final battle. Lover of Nix Voltan who would have fought against the Vampire Gods, but was killed / exiled unjustly.
Madrakk holds elixir of life, only vampires can consume it. Madrakk believed into existence, but Superman a better story. Madrakk is Dax Novu corrupted. Superman knows his origin, and kills him. Even the idea of him lost and forgotten.
"To be continued" a warning: stories never end. Carved on tombstone: life after death after life.
Part 1: Ogama cast down where he can do no harm. Feeds Ultraman the blood of Madrakk. Will return when Superman is weak.
Part 2: Superman wakes his sleeping beauty with a kiss. Feeds Lois the bleed and revives her. Remembers and saves while Madrakk forgets and kills.
Character's dreams, character's lives, our dreams and our lives, all resonate with story.
Enough fragmentary notes. These two issues tell a kind of meta-story behind ALL stories: tragedies, comedies, the quest... The presence of Captain Atom -- Watchmen's Dr. Manhattan -- might signal the kind of ambitions Grant Morrison has here. It's an staggering piece of myth-building, an intelligent exploration of our collective unconscious, and a supreme achievement in comics, really.
Blasts Secret Invasion out of the water, that's for sure.
ETA: Finished the book last night. It was huge, constantly surprising and very very awesome. There's just one more detail to add to the ramble above. The final crisis is only that of the Monitor race. They have decided to stop interfering with the earth and surrender to the bleed / life. Also significant that the humans and super-humans win using Metron's gift of knowledge. Has Morrison been reading Feuerbach, one wonders? We don't need the gods anymore. They have become human beings.
The one line that effectively summarizes all of the above: "This is the story of all our stories."