Genesis #4 (October, 1997)
“Last God Standing”
Writer – John Byrne
Penciller – Ron Wagner
Inker – Joe Rubenstein
Letterer – Clem Robins
Colorist – Noelle Giddings
Assistant Editor – Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt
Editor – Paul Kupperberg
Cover Price: $1.95
Hey, we made it! That makes two of the worst regarded DC Crossover events discussed/reviewed/whatever I do here’d in a single month!
I thought for sure I’d be ending this preamble with “Millennium, you’re off the hook.” But, after (re)visiting both… I’m not entirely sure…
In the wake of the Source’s destruction, Earth becomes a haven of madness and chaos. Cities are in flame, bombs are exploding, acts of violence and depravity occur worldwide. At what remains of the Wall, the heroes have all but given up hope. Of note, it’s the normally optimistic Captain Marvel who is the first to to state that they “lost”. Shockwaves follow, knocking the heroes around. Superman holds Takion’s lifeless body, the Spectre is forcefully ejected from the Wall… so it’s looking pretty grim. The Old God Arzaz, however, still contends they have more time to act.
He speaks of being in the actual heart of the Source, and we enter into a flashback so he can explain. The crew, along with the Wizard Shazam and armed with Mother Boxes worked their way deep into the Source Wall… where they confront, well… it’s not entirely clear. It’s a giant talking mass of shadow, I suppose. Either way, the heroes Mother Boxes go on the fritz due to the God-Wave compression… and everything goes black. Next they know, they’re outta the Wall, and Takion is dead.
It is assumed that Darkseid was that being in the heart of the Source, however, Arzaz claims he can still feel Darkseid’s presence on the “outside”… so that had to have been something/someone else. Speaking of Mr. Seid, he is standing at yet another (or perhaps that same) console, surrounded by followers and the Dark Old God. He’s displeased at Desaad’s report that things ain’t going all that hot, and takes out his frustration on poor ol’ Kalibak. He always seems to get the worst of Darkseid’s tantrums. The Old God ensures claims to have survived the first four destructions, and is prepared to enter the Fifth World alongside the big D.
Back with the heroes, Metron appears to inform them that there is yet another contender in this power play… the God of War himself, Ares! He claims that it will be he, not Darkseid who will rule the Fifth World… should it come to that.
This, as you might imagine, greatly displeases Darkseid. Elsewhere, Arzaz calls to the Dark Old God… as one is the Yin to the other’s Yang… together they might be able to stop Ares. Somehow, moments later Darkseid is confronting the heroes, while the giant Ares stands frozen before them. Okay.
Turns out the Old Gods are momentarily holding Ares at bay. Rather than duke it out, Arzaz suggest they reach out with their hearts and use the power of prayer. They peer down at the heroes, who have joined hands in prayer… from there all thinking minds in the universe are linked.
The prayers continue and intensify until… the merged New Genesis/Apokolips planet… splits!
Somehow this fixes the Source Wall situation? I guess? Okay… um, anyhoo… we head to an epilogue which illustrates that Takion is again among the living, hope and faith have been restored, and the heroes’ powers have returned.
We close out the event with Metron visiting the new-look Source Wall. It holds four new prisoners… Ares, Arzaz, that other Old God, and… Darkseid.
I really don’t wanna be “that guy”, but… what just happened? Seriously, this has got to be one of the most difficult to follow stories I have ever read. I usually self-depreciatingly attribute things to my being “too dense” to comprehend what I’ve just read… but today we’re going to forgo that… this was just a mess!
I think it was yesterday that I suggested this might read better had it been given an over-sized first issue (or God forbid, an additional issue)… in completing this story, I totally stand by that suggestion. This ending felt rushed… pulled out of nowhere… and just comes across as unpolished and unfinished.
It’s as though Byrne got to about the halfway point of the story he wanted to tell this issue, and realized he’d already written 18 out of his 22 allotted pages. So, the heroes pray… New Genesis and Apokolips split… and somehow that repairs the Source Wall. Feels like we’re missing a chapter, doesn’t it? Then… then, Takion flies back in like “Hey guys, I’m not dead… pretty cool, right?” I took last issue to task for cramming too many happenings into a single chapter without giving the characters a single moment to process the situation and reflect on its consequences. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that the event ends the same way. It’s “everything’s okay… now go home” and that’s it. Again, as loathe as I’m to say this needed more pages (because I sure as heck wouldn’t want to read them), it really did… either that, or just some better pacing.
Overall… I think this event goes down as something of an earnest failure. There is a kernel of a clever concept here… not one I dig or agree with, but one I can admit is mildly clever. That being said, the overall story is just so convoluted, and really… at the end of the day, it isn’t nearly interesting enough to make parsing the ridiculously dense information worth a reader’s while. I’d say give this one a pass.
(Not the) Letters Page: