Friday, February 27, 2015

Genesis #4

Last God Standing

Ron Wagner Penciller
Joe Rubinstein Inker
John Byrne Writer
Clem Robins Letters
Noelle Giddings Colors
Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt Assistant Editor
Paul Kupperberg Editor

Our cover by Alan Davis and Mark Farmer is your standard, heroic pose of all the major players. It's not too bad, but it doesn't feel particularly special. I am glad we can see Impulse rather well, however,  hanging out down by the barcode in the left corner.

Our story begins with showing us what happened on Earth after the Source Wall shattered. We're treated to some rather disturbing images of people hanging from trees, crosses burning, children lying dead in the streets, men raping a woman and mushroom clouds popping up along the horizon. We then cut back to "beyond time, beyond space, to a place without measure, a dimension without name or number," where all our heroes are standing on Darkseid's enormous ship, gazing in horror at the destruction of the Source Wall. They're hit by a big shockwave, and everybody has a hard time not flying off the ship. Luckily, the old god Arzaz saves Impulse (and Max Mercury is able to hang on to him as well).

This calamity was apparently so great, it caused Bart's hair to momentarily turn black. But don't worry, it was back to its usual brown by the next page. Anyway, everybody freaks out when they see a weakened Spectre expelled from the Source, but Arzaz manages to calm everyone down. Steel decides to tell everybody what happened when 16 of them entered the Source. They quickly encountered a foreign energy preventing them from going deeper inside. They see the form of a man in the midst of this energy, which Flash assumed belonged to Darkseid. The 16 heroes did their best to fight forward through the Godwave, but suddenly everything went black. And page 11 of this comic is hauntingly, completely black.

Anyway, Steel finishes his story by saying the next thing they all remember is being thrown out of the Source. Everyone's worried about what Darkseid could be doing inside the heart of the Source, but Arzaz soon discovers that Darkseid is still on his ship, talking to Arzaz's dark, nameless double. Darkseid is furious that someone has snatched away his victory, but he and Nameless One begin plotting their next move.

The heroes then begin to prepare to take down Darkseid, and Metron suddenly arrives to explain that he has learned who really is at the heart of the Source — Ares, god of war. Darkseid learns this truth around the same time, and he declares Ares will be vulnerable for a moment before he completely harnesses the power of the Godwave. Arzaz begins psychically communicating with his opposite, and they come up with a plan. Superman then asks Kindred Marx to teleport the group of heroes into Darkseid's citadel, which he does, but leaves behind the rest of the Ravers for some reason. An editor's note tells us to check out Superboy and the Ravers #14, which we will do after we finish this issue.

So all the heroes appear before Darkseid and begin yelling at him, and just when we thought things were strange enough, it gets even stranger. Ares decides to take the offensive for some reason, and makes himself large enough to crush Darkseid's enormous ship in his hand. But once he does so, Darkseid activates some type of energy field that freezes Ares in place. Darkseid explains that he is now working with the heroes to stop Ares, and Arzaz and his opposite are leading the charge. But Ares has already grown too powerful, so those two old gods need the mental fortitude provided by every living creature in the universe.

For some reason, Superman thinks this is impossible, but Darkseid encourages him to have hope. So the telepaths of the group, namely Martian Manhunter and Saturn Girl, begin reaching out and connecting to other telepaths who connect to others until every living creature in the universe is united in one thought — to save the Source. Metron then uses the combined world of New Genesis and Apokolips as a lens to focus this power, and the two worlds become separated once more and Ares is apparently defeated.

In the epilogue, Metron explains to everyone that Arzaz and the Nameless One sacrificed themselves to buy their victory. But everyone is quite confused as to what actually happened, feeling like the whole experience was just a dream soon to be forgotten. Metron then offers these helpful words: "There has been a genesis. All is changed, yet all remains the same. In the span of an instant, the cosmos has been remade. The plans of gods and mortals have been undone ... yet remain unaltered." Get it? Anyway, we see that the Source Wall is back up, but the thousands of giant golden statues have been replaced with just four — Arzaz, the Nameless One, Ares, and for some reason, Darkseid. Impulse wonders how they're going to get home, and Takion apparently takes everyone back, while Donna Troy wonders why she feels so different. Metron stays behind and wonders how many alterations to reality will manifest themselves.

OK ... So that happened. I guess. Conveniently, no one will remember this event; and even more conveniently, John Byrne created the excuse he needed to further convolute Donna Troy's backstory. This event started with a simple and interesting premise: all the superheroes losing their powers. But that quickly became a nonissue. And the story devolved into a poor attempt to approach the grandiose by making everything unexplainable and unknowable. Byrne's storytelling was also rather sloppy. If I hadn't read Wonder Woman #126, I wouldn't have had any inclination that Ares was even involved in this story. I guess everyone is right to just ignore this event and pretend it never happened.

But we're not done with Genesis just yet. Next time, we'll cover Superboy and the Ravers #14.

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