The Final Night #3 (1996)

The Final Night #3 (November, 1996)
“Keeping Hope Alive”
Writer – Karl Kesel
Penciller – Stuart Immonen
Inker – Jose Marzan, Jr.
Colorist – Patricia Mulvihill
Letterer – Gaspar
Assistant Editor – Ali Morales
Editor – Dan Thorsland
Cover Price: $1.95

Now… look at that cover.  I thought it was Superman, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and Green Lantern flying away from an exploding planet or something.

Upon closer inspection… those black bits are actually… body bags (!) being carried off by emergency responders.  Ay yai yai… that got pretty dark.

Anyhoo, today we discussing the penultimate part of The Final Ni— whattayamean, this isn’t the second-to-last chapter?  Hmm…

We open with Guy Gardner and the new Ferro carrying an injured Wildcat into Warrior’s Bar, which has been modified into an ad-hoc shelter, command center, and hospital.  It looks like we might’ve missed some stuff in the tie-ins… but that’s okay, we’ll make it work.  Before the doctor can take a look at Wildcat, the power generators blink out.

Luckily, Legionnaire Spark is there… and she is able to jump-start Warrior’s power generator.  While she pumps the power, she turns to Ferro and gives him an attaboy for helping rescue Dusk from the rioters.  She tosses him her Legion Flight Ring just in case he might be able to use it.  I was doing a bit of reading yesterday, and found out that Ferro Lad’s death (back in the late 60’s) was tied in with the Sun-Eater story running through Legion of Super-Heroes stories in Adventure Comics!  So, his appearance here has some nods to Legion history… which is really cool to me!

Anyhoo, their chat is interrupted by a special report from… Etrigan, live from Hell?  He claims (in almost perfect rhyme… c’mon “harm” and “warm”? I expect more from ya Etrigan!) that he and his brethren can save the Earth… for a price.  The Daily Planet responds in the way only they can… and we get another throwback to DC history, which tickles me.  At the same time, Lex Luthor is having a press conference about putting together biospheres capable of housing humanity, wildlife, and plant life… and is coming across like a real bad-ass.  Totally brash and confident… and you can tell that he loves that he’s got this room full of folks in the palm of his hand.

When a question is posed regarding the temperature level of the Earth’s core, we shift to a meeting between Gaea and… the Spectre.  We learn that the Spectre is keeping the Earth warm… until he can be sure of what God’s will is.  He’s not going to allow the Earth to perish unless he’s sure that’s what the big guy wants.

We shift, briefly, to Opal City… where Ted Knight is observing the Sun-Eater in his telescope.  He stops for a moment to make an important call to S.T.A.R. Labs… it might be that his eyes are failing him, but he’s almost sure the diameter of the Sun… is shrinking!

S.T.A.R. Labs corroborates Ted’s tired eyes… and proceeds to tell the heroes (and Luthor) what’s about to go down.  Ya see, the Sun ain’t gonna go down without a fight… and what it’s trying to do is heal itself.  This means it will eventually (though, within 24 hours) go hyper-nova… and turn the solar system to shiny flecks of dust.  Luthor, ever the bad-ass smirks and comments that “at least they don’t have to worry about freezing to death”.  Superman asks what “we” can do… and in light of Superman’s lack of solar exposure, Luthor actually puts his hand on his shoulder and asks… “‘We,’ Kemo Sabe?”  Wow!

Meanwhile, Dusk is in her ship preparing to get outta dodge… likely to the next solar system that will be imperiled by the Sun-Eater.  Meet the new Pariah, same as the old Pariah.  She seems oddly contented that the Earthlings are about to go out in a blaze of gory glory… because of the riot, ya see.  Before she can jam, she is joined by the Phantom Stranger… who gives her the ol’ It’s a Wonderful Life treatment so she can see the brighter side of humanity… hope, love, resilience… all that stuff.

We pop over to that unnamed Spanish-speaking land that the Ray burnt himself out trying to keep heated and lit.  He’s passed out in bed, and the town is soon visited by Zatanna and Fire.  Fire turns on the green flame, and plants one on Ray Sleeping Beauty style.  He wakes up, but can’t do much to keep the town warm.  Zatanna then calls in Firestorm, who was trying to save the planet, but… c’mon Ronnie… there are a few dozen chilly folks in this little town who could really use your help.  And so, he turns on the heat… which might keep this town warm for another couple hours.  I get what they’re trying to do here… but, really… this is quite an irresponsible use of all of their time and energy.  Firestorm’s a powerful dude, who could really be of assistance on the “front lines”.

tahw a etsaw fo s’mrotserif srewop !

Back to It’s a Wonderful Dusk, where we watch Dusk and the Phantom Stranger… watch Sentinel (Alan Scott) reunite with his children, Jade and Obsidian… we also see the other heroes trying to keep the world shuffling along.  Dusk can see that even in the face of The Final Night, the heroes (and Earthlings) remain resilient… and hopeful for the future… that there will be a future!

After all of this, the Stranger drops Dusk in an alley… right by a torch-wielding gaggle of folks.  They see her, and rush over.  She braces for a beating… but that’s not what they’re there for.  The recognize her as Dusk, and ask if they can help her get to Warrior’s. Aww.

Superman heads back to Smallville to check with his folks.  Pa is more annoyed that the crops are going to be ruined than anything else.  This really speaks a lot about him.  Either he’s so sure his son will fix this mess that he’s not worried about… ya know, the end of the world… or, he’s trying to put up a brave front.  I’m leaning more toward the former.  I mean, by this point Superman’s beaten everything… even death!  What’s a little Sun-Eater to a guy like that?  Superman breaks the news that this might actually be… it.

We wrap up this chapter back at Warrior’s… where Guy is trying to get drunk.  Unfortunately for him, his Vuldarian whoziwhatsits won’t let him even get a bit of a buzz.  He walks past his trophy cases… and toasts to his old Green Lantern costume.  He’s suddenly bathed in a green glow… and we are out!

Another really good issue!  We’re still handling the “ground level” consequences of the Sun going out… which, I’m pleased about.  I’d much prefer this to spending four issues in nebulous outer space.

If we’re looking for a theme… I’m going with “hope”.  Let’s break that down… starting with that little Spanish town.  Boy oh boy, like I said during the synopsis… I get what they’re doing here.  We’re getting quiet little scenes to help keep certain heroes busy, and show that this crisis is not just affecting Metropolis or Gotham City.  With that said… I still don’t like it.  It just seems so irresponsible… and ignorant and dismissive of the skatey-eight thousand other tiny towns dotting the globe.  I mentioned yesterday that it was silly for The Ray to comment that the people in this town “didn’t do anything wrong”… which, again… I get it… but it is dismissive of every other tiny town (and big city, for that matter).

I think heat and light powered characters need to be working with S.T.A.R. Labs during this crisis.  I mean, in the first issue, they combined their powers to create a decoy Sun for cryin’ out loud!  Why couldn’t they do something like that again?  That might just buy the Earth a few more hours.  Nah, instead they’ll put on a little light show for a few dozen people.

Okay… with that out of the way, more hope!  Let’s talk the Kents.  To Pa, this is just another day in the DC Universe.  Can’t hold that against him… I mean, there’s always something threatening the Earth… so, why would this be any worse?  I appreciate that he has so much faith in his son (and his amazing friends) that he’s more annoyed that his crops are dying… than even processing that the world might be ending.

Dusk’s magical mystery tour was… ehh.  It’s another one of those things where… we get what they’re doing… but, at this point, what does it matter?  Is Dusk going to “solve” the Sun-Eater?  Not likely.  If she wants to jam… let her go.  Does it matter to the Phantom Stranger that she thinks humanity is comprised of a bunch of jerks?  It shouldn’t!  She wants off-planet?  Can we get a Daily Planet headline for her?

I gotta say, in reading this series I’m getting a whole new appreciation for Lex Luthor.  He’s coming across as stone-cold, charismatic, and just flat-out awesome here.  He’s got contingencies for just about every situation… and can speak with such a presence that he inspires (cautious) hope.  Like I said yesterday, it looks like his road to the White House has already started!

Overall, still really digging this story… though I gotta say, tomorrow we will… not be discussing The Final Night #4.  Swerve!

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