Once again we have a Final Crisis tie-in trade, this time with a focus on The Spectre and The Question. I was torn about this one, as I’m a fan of Renee Montoya’s Question, but have been turned off by the Spectre ever since Crispus Allen had to kill his own son as the final task in adopting this new role. That moment never sat well with me, and left me unsure how I’d feel about reading more about the character.
This comic, much like Rogues’ revenge, ties into Final Crisis tangentially. At least here we have a bunch of references to Darkseid and the coming of a new age of Gods, but that’s where the crossover pretty much ends. For the most part, this is only part of Final Crisis because it follows up on storylines that began in Countdown to Final Crisis.
The bulk of the story focuses on Renee trying to get her hands on a mystical spear that is foretold in the Book of Blood to bring about the rise of Cain, and the destruction of God.
Sound confusing? Well, that’s because it is. Kudos to Greg Rucka for writing plenty of narrative within the story that helpfully explains what the heck is going on, otherwise I’d be completely lost.
Vandal Savage is Cain, the first murderer, who has been cursed by God to be immortal for killing his own brother. Savage seeks to gain possession of spear that has played a part in numerous moments in history, and which wields enormous power.
The long and short of it is this: Savage gets the spear, and uses its power to try and convert everyone to his and Darkseid’s cause, but imbuing them with the Anti-Life equation and turning them into mindless drones. Only a handful of people retain their free will. Spectre cannot hurt Cain, and it seems all hope is lost. Of course, The Question comes up with a brilliant plan, and manages to defeat Savage. He can’t be killed, but Spectre enacts his own form of vengeance, never allowing Savage to have a moment’s peace.
Now, this is an insane oversimplification of the story. It’s simply far too dense and action-packed for me to summarize properly. That being said, it’s actually a pretty decent read. Rucka writes in such a way that I didn’t feel completely lost the entire time (as I often do when comics delve into the metaphysical or overly-religious symbolism). Moreso than the action though, I loved the way in which Allen and Montoya interacted. They haven’t been partners on the GCPD for quite some time, but the history is still there, and they have a deep respect and caring for one another.
I must say though, the comic didn’t really have me sold until the final page. The only way for The Question to use the spear to defeat Vandal Savage was to use its power to show mercy rather than enact vengeance. She did so, but we don’t learn how until the end of the story.
Crispis Allen’s son, whom Spectre had to kill after the boy shot the man who murdered his father, is brought back to life and reunited with his family. Well done, Rucka. I always hated that aspect of the story, and knowing that young Jacob comes back to life makes me more accepting of Allen as The Spectre. He seems to have fully accepted his role as the spirit of vengeance, so hopefully he’ll embrace the role with a bit more gusto than he has in the past (his son’s resurrection might help with that quite a bit, actually). Overall a decent story, and well written enough that the characters and plot kept me entertained. Like I said, there’s just way too much going on in this trade for me to accurately describe: a bunch of characters (including a few new ones), a complicated plot, and religious symbolism. If that sounds like your cup of tea, then I’d recommend checking this one out.
Just make sure you read Countdown to Final Crisis first, otherwise you’ll be just a tad lost.