Saturday, January 3, 2015

World's End #12

Look at all the creators! I guess we're back to ten different plot threads crammed into each issue.

Friends Update!

Last issue, Big Barda manipulated Mister Miracle into freeing Darkseid. I guess that explains why Scott Free and Fury are slightly annoyed at Big Barda over in Futures End.

I'm not sure if time in the dimension where New Genesis and Apokolips reside flows the same as in ours. Am I supposed to believe that Darkseid was so damaged by his fight with Earth-Main-Earth that he had to eat the heart of his own planet to feel better? And by eating that heart, he would become trapped in the Mobius Chamber for a few years? Or is he in the chamber to console himself after Batman pissed all over his turf? Also, Darkseid apparently made a deal with Highfather which gave the Earth-2 Universe to Darkseid to do with as he pleases if he'd just leave the other 51 Universes alone. So why the fuck is Highfather still so hot to defeat Darkseid over in the Godhead crisis? Maybe the Anti-Monitor should show up already and just wipe the Apokolips Dimension off the face of everything.

This issue begins with everybody on Apokolips kissing Darkseid's ass and polishing his throne and pretending that they weren't all happy that he'd been out of the picture.

This entire story so far has given Apokolips the reputation for being a fragile planet that can barely sustain itself without feeding on hope and the hearts and minds of millions of innocents. Is that why it's called the "God planet"?

Down in the firepits of Geneva, Power Girl and Huntress depict that scene where one friend has gone evil or rabid and the other friend is all, "I know my friend is still in there! All you need are hugs and positive affirmations!" And the other friend is all, "Hiss! Spit! I am the devil's pincushion! Blarg!" And the other friend is all, "No! No! I know you can hear me! I love you and you love me! Fight against the evil! Fight!" And the other friend is all, "Fri...fri...fri...NO! RAWR! I'M EVIL NOW!" And then the evil friend runs away because love is so strong that they must flee or else be turned back to good! I like when that scene was an entire book about a rabid dog and then it ended with the acknowledgment that the dog had always tried to be good and never wanted to kill anybody but what could he do, having been stricken by fate or destiny or possibly just a degenerative nerve disease called rabies? Trying to hug it out with that dog was a mistake! Love isn't as powerful as those musicians on that funky submarine would lead you to believe.

People are being betrayed by their friends all over the place! That's probably why this issue was called "Betrayal."

"By the way, I have Scoliosis."

Over in Chicago, Dick Grayson is acting just like Dick Grayson would act. He gave his son to Constantine so his son could get to safety while he remained in the path of a tidal wave to murder the man that shot Barbara Grayson. And after that was done, he just stands there waiting to be washed away. Earth-2 Dick Grayson has completely captured the spirit of what makes Dick Grayson such a great character! Weakness, defeatism, violence! It's all here!

More betrayal when Commander Khan discovers that Terry Sloan planted a bomb aboard their spaceship. Granted, that betrayal was entirely expected. It's why Khan searched the entire ship until he found the hidden bomb that he just knew Sloan would have planted. They then punch each other in the face a bunch of times until the scene shifts.

Earthlings begin evacuating into the Project Beyond tunnels under the United States but even those, as The Streak Starring Jay Gimmick discovers, are full of Apokoliptians.

And lastly, The Avatars of the Earth continue to battle the Four Horsewomen of Apokolips. I mean three. Although The Huntress joins up with them because nobody quakes in their boots about the mention of the Three Horsewomen of Apokolips. They just look around with an awkward smile thinking, "Are you having a laugh? Are you taking the piss?"

World's End #12 Rating: -1 Ranking. Still too much going on. They're trying to pack too much into each two or three pages allotted to each plot thread. This winds up creating a bunch of snapshots that have no emotional impact at all. And most of the plot threads simply kind of cancel each other out. Who cares about the Avatars defeating the Four Horsewomen if the Earth is destroyed by a rain of moon debris and floods anyway? Who cares if Dick Grayson survives while billions of other people die? Did this story really need to be told? Instead of giving us a rushed, half-assed version of the final days of Earth-2, wouldn't it have been better to just keep everything vague, filling in small moments with stories from those heroes who survived the war? Anyway, this was my favorite moment so far:

Really? Honestly? Only minutes left? Hallelujah!

With the third episode, the series can begin to get into the real meat of the profound themes the show is best remembered for. We've gotten to the heart of each of the characters and now we understand them just enough to follow them on their dark journeys. The third episode concentrates mainly on three of the six friends. First off, we have Chandler resurrecting an old habit, the vice of smoking which disgusts his friends. Here we find out that Chandler is not so above it all as we once thought; he is not our joke spewing friend we met two episodes ago. Here is the demon version of Chandler, Chandler That Was, the one only hinted at by his incessant need to keep his distance from the others. This is man that will do whatever he can to get whatever he wants. At one point, he spews venom into the caring faces of his friends and they all turn on each other as he happily goes about his smoking in peace. Here is a grumpy, mean-spirited, beaten down man that cares more about his cigarettes than his friends. Who is the smoking Chandler? What secrets does his impish face and sarcastic demeanor hide? We only get hints to his darkness in this episode, but it is enough to make us wonder: will he someday do violence to one of the other friends?

Second, we see Phoebe dealing with the fear of adulthood through her superstitions and conspiracy-minded beliefs. Modern day has allowed people to live a near decade in a transitory place between childhood and adulthood. This is probably the main thrust of the series which people remember fondly because they were too mired in self-denial to understand the nefarious message the show was trying to get across. This strange limbo allowed by modern day luxury is not a place of fun time jokey friendship hangouts in coffee shops. It is full of fear of the unknown, the loss of the comforting safety of home, the terrifying and dizzying struggle to maintain balance on the precipice of adulthood as one watches all of their innocent, childhood things recede into the past. This is a scary place to be. And it hits Phoebe full force when she suddenly finds her bank has made an error in her favor and deposited five hundred dollars into her account. Five hundred dollars! That's adult money! She panics because, in Phoebe's world view which makes this entire scenario more palatable to an audience expecting jokes and whimsy, Phoebe believes that the Karmic debt of this windfall will destroy her life. And no matter what she does to remove this debt and allow her to wallow in the peace of near-adult limbo, she continues to gain more and more money. Eventually she finds a thumb in a soda can which only results in a payout by the soda company in the amount of seven thousand dollars. She rids herself of this money by giving it to Chandler so that he'll quit smoking. He accepts and in this moment, we see that Chandler, more than the others, already has one foot in the adult world. Perhaps his previous demons have caused him to grow up too fast, or perhaps they have allowed him to see money as a panacea, to accept the world for what it is. He is the least ready to deny the transition.

Speaking of characters having a foot in the adult world, the literal potato sack Ross might seem to be the most adult in that he is married (currently separated from his partner) and has a degree in dinosaurs and a real job at a museum. But this adult life he entered too soon, and as the show begins, it is all falling apart around him.

The final story revolves around Monica's boyfriend who is a father figure to the entire group. We see in their admiration and love for this man a group of people completely devoid of strong fathers in their lives. The only person not completely charmed by this man is Monica. But that makes sense because once she realizes she is dating a father figure, the relationship loses its sexual allure. She must abandon this man and thus the hearts of all of her friends are broken once more by an untimely loss of dad. The episode ends with everybody losing themselves in gallons of ice cream as they deny the despair and heartbreak and the loss which life has heaped upon them year after year. They are in a dark place but they are together, and they have each other, and thus the title of the series becomes doubly important in that they are all they have to cling to in a world that offers nothing but pain and loss.

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