13 April 2016

Faster than a DC Bullet: Project Crisis!, Part LI: Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape

Comic trade paperback, n.pag.
Published 2010 (contents: 2009)

Borrowed from the library
Read August 2015
Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape

Writer: Ivan Brandon
Pencillers: Marco Rudy, Cliff Richards, Neil Edwards
Inkers: Mick Gray, Jack Purcell, JP Mayer, Prentis Rollins
Colorists: The Hories
Letterer: Sal Cipriano

I don't know why all the Final Crisis Aftermath books have verbs for subtitles, but I kind of like it. It would have been even better if they'd all used exclamation marks like Run!, though. Isn't Escape! a much better title than Escape?

In my review of Ink, I said it was my favorite FCA tale, but this one has supplanted it. This is the first of them that doesn't feel like the writer is trying to make something out of Grant Morrison's leftovers, that feels like its writer actually has his own story to tell. Ivan Brandon and Marco Rudy pick up some time after the end of Final Crisis, with its hints about Brother Eye and a Global Peace Agency. In Escape, Tom Tresser-- apparently a master of disguise called "Nemesis," but a new character to me-- wakes up in the Electric City, a sort of prison, a weird surreal prison whose wardens insist it's not a prison, and where his fellow inmates who know him refuse to talk to him. Many of the other prisoners seem to be characters who also worked for the government: Amanda Waller, Rick Flag, Blackhawk (I'm not sure which one-- Janos Prohaska?), Atomic Knight, Cameron Chase, the Spy Smasher.

The writing and the art are both deliberately disorienting, with Brandon providing little in the way of answers and Rudy embedding panels within panels to put the reader off from following the story. The characters don't know who to trust, they don't know who put them where they are or why, and imprisonment might not even be the purpose of their jailers. I was often confused by this story, but always intrigued, as the answers always felt just outside of my grasp. It reminded me-- quite deliberately, I suspect-- of The Prisoner, and that's almost always a good thing. The wheel with the options of DEATH, FREE, PEACE, VIOLENCE, ESCAPE, PANIC, RESET was a great surreal touch, and the seeming time travel elements were perfect icing on the cake of confusion.

I expected the end to be one of those endings that explains nothing, but to my surprise just enough explanations were provided to make me feel like there was a logic to this, and to intrigue me to read on. There was a purpose to everything that happened, one that stems from the events of Final Crisis and has repercussions for the future. I do want to know how the Buddy Blank and Brother Eye we see here relate to the ones from Countdown to Final Crisis and Final Crisis itself, though; that wasn't terribly clear.

Overall, I really enjoyed this. It was bold, it was different, and despite its obvious debts to both The Prisoner and Jack Kirby, I didn't feel like I'd ever encountered anything quite like it. I look forward to seeing what happens to Tom next, and unlike with most of these Final Crisis Aftermath tales, I actually can; Ivan Brandon apparently wrote a followup miniseries called Nemesis: The Impostors. Sadly, it's uncollected, so I'll have to find the floppies somewhere.

Next Week: That's it for Final Crisis and its tie-ins, so I jump backwards slightly to continue my superhero prose fiction reading project with the novelization of Countdown!

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