The Final Night #1 (November, 1996)
Writer – Karl Kesel
Penciller – Stuart Immonen
Inker – Jose Marzan, Jr.
Colorist – Lee Loughridge
Letterer – Gaspar
Assistant Editor – Ali Morales
Editor – Dan Thorsland
Cover Price: $1.95
Been a little while since we covered an “event” book here at the ol’ blog. Let’s take a look at a book that… I could’ve sworn I already read… multiple times, even!
Flipping through… yeah, I never read this. Let’s give it a go!
We open… it’s (the final) day and the Sun shines over Metropolis. For a brief moment, something crosses in front of the Sun… something one might mistake for a solar eclipse, “mistake” being the key word. Ya see, this is actually a disc-shaped spacecraft… carrying a passenger with brings with her some dire news. She is immediately met by Superman and some time-lost Legionnaires.
Exiting her ship, the woman points to the Sun and begins shouting in some sort of alien language. While Superman (and the also-present Metropolis Special Crimes Unit) haven’t the foggiest idea what she’s going on about… luckily, the Legionnaire’s flight rings have universal translators in ’em. They deduce that she is speaking of something called “The Darkest Night”… and where/when they come from, that’s just a “kid’s story”.
Superman makes it clear that he’d appreciate a translation (heck, so would I!)… and so, Saturn Girl utilizes her telepathy. We learn that this strange visitor calls herself Dusk… and the news she brings with her relates to a being known as the Sun-Eater… which, one might imagine, might be on its way to, ya know… eat the Sun.
She continues… revealing that the Sun-Eater’s arrival is only hours away, and there’s no way of stopping it. This is a really neat transition… we think she’s just talking to Superman and the Legion, however, we’ve advanced in time a bit, and she’s actually explaining this to the Who’s Who of the DC Universe (Update: 1996)!
Superman introduces Kitty Faulkner from S.T.A.R. Labs, but she has little to offer in the way of new information… though she does corroborate Dusk’s story, giving the Sun-Eater’s ETA as less than six hours.
Dusk is adamant that the Sun-Eater is unstoppable… but, Big Barda ain’t havin’ it. She figures Mister Miracle can just create a Boom Tube and send the thing packing… which sounds pretty reasonable for the DC Universe. So reasonable in fact, that Superman gives the idea the “thumbs up”…
… with the caveat that they will also need a backup plan, just in case. He pulls together a team of heroes that can generate heat and light, so they can try and pose as a decoy for the Sun-Eater. Wonder Woman suggests getting the Spectre involved… which causes Guy Gardner to scoff (I knew I liked Guy!). After all, the Spectre never gets involved… until it’s almost too late. Superman tells him to shaddup, and head to the roof to meet with Batman… who is organizing the “ground team” to deal with any potential riots and panic the Sun-Eater’s arrival might cause.
We first follow the “Boom Tube” team led by Mister Miracle. He is flanked by Captain Atom, Takion, Dr. Polaris, Cosmic Boy, and Maxima. Upon arrival at the “intersection point”, the group finds themselves in the presence of… the Sun-Eater! Mother Box is ready…
Elsewhere, we meet up with the Phantom Stranger who is visiting with the Spectre in an apartment of a fella who has just threw himself out his window. Okay… Stranger asks Spectre to act… but, get this… he refuses. He says that he’s an agent of God… and if the big guy has decided that this the way it’s supposed to end, far be it from him to impose his will over God. Okay…
Back in space, the Boom Tube crew reappears… elsewhere… maybe elsewhen. Ya see, Takion saw that the Boom Tube wasn’t going to work… and in fact, was about to reach critical mass, and so, he shifted them “between seconds”.
Good thing Superman thought of a Plan B! Speaking of which… Superman and the heat ‘n light patrol pour all of their energy into creating a second Sun as a decoy for the still-rapidly approaching Sun-Eater.
Whattayaknow… it works! The Sun-Eater latches right onto the appetizer-sized Sunlet… and devours it. This leaves the heat ‘n light gang exhausted… and really, really cold.
Unfortunately, however… it doesn’t stop the Sun-Eater from approaching its “main course”. The chapter ends with the Sun-Eater… Sun-Eating.
Well, that was a jam-packed opening chapter!
Like I mentioned in the preamble, I was sure that reading this would just be a refresher… I was positive I’d read this before. After making my way through, I’m now almost positive that this is the first time I’ve read it! It’s always so weird when you have like “working knowledge” of stories you’ve never read.
I was pleased to see the story is wasting very little time in establishing the threat of the Sun-Eater. I feel like, if this was released today… it would be twelve parts rather than four… and the Sun-Eater wouldn’t show up until part eight. The first seven issues would be… I dunno, the heroes fighting with each other for some reason or another… and the Joker would be on at least three covers regardless of whether or not he appears in the book.
Anyhoo, what I’m trying (rather poorly) to say… I was happy to see the Sun-Eater… Sun-Eating here. This allows the rest of the story to focus on this temporary “new-normal” and the heroes rebounding… perhaps with a little help from an old friend.
Speaking of old friends… it’s always nice to see these cross-sections of the DC Universe… so many fun characters, and a really neat swath of 1996 DC. It was great that the characters broke into teams that made sense… even if their endeavors were ultimately futile.
I like the idea of using the Sun-Eater as a threat to begin with. Not having a deep knowledge of Legion of Super-Heroes lore, I do know that the Sun-Eater was a threat for them during the Jim Shooter run in the 60’s… and the Legion had to enlist the aid of some baddies to take it down (they would ultimately become the Fatal Five). I also think it’s cool that the time-lost Legionnaires refer to the Darkest Night as a sort of fairy tale from their era.
If I were to pick a nit… Stuart Immonen’s art here really suffers on this awful glossy, shiny paper. It just looks so muddy… and it really doesn’t do his (early, looser) style any favors at all. I’ve mentioned that it looks like you can dip your finger into books of this era, and literally swirl the inks and colors… and I stand by that. This would have looked so much nicer on standard stock.
Overall… we’re off to a great start, and I’m looking forward to giving it a proper read-through in its entirety. This story has been collected in trade-paperback, and is available digitally.
(Not the) Letters Page: