23 March 2016

Faster than a DC Bullet: Project Crisis!, Part XLVIII: Final Crisis Aftermath: Run!

Comic trade paperback, 144 pages
Published 2010 (contents: 2009)

Borrowed from the library
Read July 2015
Final Crisis Aftermath: Run!

Writer: Matthew Sturges
Artist: Freddie Williams II
Colorists: The Hories
Letterer: Travis Lanham

A few months after the end of Final Crisis, the Human Flame-- for whom Libra murdered the Martian Manhunter, thus convincing Earth's criminal fraternity to join his side-- wakes up in the hospital. He decides, small-time idiot that he is, to go on the run. And soon, everyone's after him: the Justice League, bounty hunters, criminals angry that Libra's plan didn't work out. And he picks up more enemies as he goes, including mobsters and the Endangered Army of General Immortus.

The Human Flame is purposefully portrayed as a pathetic villain here: not a has-been, but a never-was. He's not smart, he's not funny, he's not lovable. He's just a scumbag who thought he got lucky, but it blew up in his face, as almost everything does. Run! keeps him continuously on the move, escalating his situation, with more and more people pursuing him as he gains more and more power. I can't say I finished Final Crisis wondering what would happen to the Human Flame next, but this is a pretty diverting way to find out. The book is amusing, but not a laugh riot. I enjoyed the art of Freddie Williams II; it's somewhat grotesque, but also somewhat cartoonish, which is perfect for the subject matter. There's some gruesome violence here, but by and large it doesn't convince you of its reality, which is what I think this book really calls for.

Its essential problem is twofold: on the whole the book is pretty substanceless. You don't really learn anything about the Human Flame by chapter 6 that you didn't already know in chapter 1. Run! isn't really a book with anything to say. This might be okay, except that the book is six issues long. You could have substanceless three-issue runaround, or a substantial six-issue one, but as it is, it feels like a decent idea has been spread too thinly. Hopefully future Final Crisis Aftermath stories (they're all six issues long) have more to say than this one.

I did, however, really enjoy the Human Flame's short-lived ally, the Condiment King. A villain whose entire modus operandi is based around condiment puns ("mayo I intercede," "I'm soy glad to meet you," "you mustard up the courage"), this guy deserves all the exposure he can get. And surely he ought to ally himself with the greatest of supervillain teams, the Wurstwaffe.

Next Week: The aftermath of the Final Crisis continues as we catch up with the Super Young Team in Dance.

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