Fnlcr Cv1This much quoted interview with Grant Morrison reveals that paying attention to too much DC continuity isn’t all that profitable. We’ve been out of town, but we understand the fan reaction to FINAL CRISIS #1 has been an outcry against continuity gaffes — not all of it Morrison’s fault:

NRAMA: Within a few pages of issue #1, you’ve shown us that you’re building upon the foundation that was laid by everything from Identity Crisis through Countdown. In regards to the more recent material, such as Countdown, did you have a hand in planning that out, did you tell editorial where you needed things to be for the start of your story, or did you modify Final Crisis to pick up from where things were?

GM: Well, the way it worked out was that I started writing Final Crisis #1 in early 2006, around the same time as the 52 series was starting to come out, so Final Crisis was more a continuation of plot threads from Seven Soldiers and 52 than anything else. Final Crisis was partly-written and broken down into rough issue-by-issue plots before Countdown was even conceived, let alone written. And J.G. was already working on designs and early layouts by the time Countdown started. There wasn’t really much opportunity, or desire, to modify our content at that stage.

Although the 52 writing team was asked to contribute to Countdown, we were all seriously burned-out by the demands of the weekly schedule and I think we all wanted to concentrate on our own monthly titles for a while, so whenCountdown was originally being discussed, it was just a case of me saying ‘Here’s issue 1 of Final Crisis and a rough breakdown of the following six issues. As long as you guys leave things off where Final Crisis begins, we‘ll be fine.’ Obviously, I would have preferred it if the New Gods hadn’’t been spotlighted at all, let alone quite so intensively before I got a chance to bring them back but I don’t run DC and don’t make the decisions as to how and where the characters are deployed.

Later on, Morrison makes the same case again, in a fine example of adhering to the continuity of earlier in the interview:

To reiterate, hopefully for the last time, when we started work on Final Crisis, J.G. and I had no idea what was going to happen in Countdown or Death Of The New Gods because neither of those books existed at that point. The Countdown writers were later asked to ‘seed’ material from Final Crisis and in some cases, probably due to the pressure of filling the pages of a weekly book, that seeding amounted to entire plotlines veering off in directions I had never envisaged, anticipated or planned for in Final Crisis.

The way I see it readers can choose to spend the rest of the year fixating on the plot quirks of a series which has ended, or they can breathe a sight of relief, settle back and enjoy the shiny new DC universe status quo we’re setting up in the pages of Final Crisis and its satellite books. I’m sure both of these paths to enlightenment will find adherents of different temperaments.

Now before you write in to tell us all about how horrible it is that Orion had died of a subdural haematoma to the left frontal orb on one page and the right orb on another, we agree with Tom where continuity is concerned: we’re just not that into it.


  1. The real problem to me is that, while not Morrison’s fault, Didio and company have left hanging out there for this line of questioning. Didio and copany are the ones that sold all of their customers on the idea that Countdown led into Final Crisis. It didn’t in a lot of ways, and people are upset that they were essentially duped. Escpecially because some sutck it out on the letdown of a series just because it was supposed to matter to Final Crisis. But now they’ve found out it doesn’t. That’s a rip off.

    But it’s just more of their mistruths in their PR these days. DC Universe #0 was supposed to be new reader friendly and fix the dissparity between Countdown and FC. It wasn’t and didn’t. Though I have had very little interest in any of it, it’s not that people are upset too much with the quality I think. They’re just upset on getting sold on something that isn’t delivered.

  2. I agree with Morrison’s view that people can either harp on the continuity gaffes or just try to read FC and enjoy it.

    However, if its the money people spent on all the lead tie ins (such as COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS, that everyone now knows didn’t really Countdown to, well, anything), which is making them angry, that’s a different story and they would justifably be pissed because it was a product sold under false pretenses.

    The fact that all the myrid tie-ins are now worthless because they didn’t lead in to anything shouldn’t shock anyone though… people were calling them worthless due to poor art and story long before the continuity gaffes were discovered.

    Dan Didio’s MO has always been to outright deceive the readers. He has called it ‘Not spoiling suprises’ but there is a vast difference between keeping a plot secret for reader enjoyment and misleading, directly deceiving consumers to get their money.

    When you think about it, Didio isn’t that tight lipped about suprises either. He spoiled the ending of 52 6 months before the series ended. But deceiving readers, well, that’s something Didio excels at.

    Anyone remember the Flash? He cancelled Wally’s book, pissed off those fans in order to make room for Bart’s book (the poster book for low quality) knowing full well he was going to kill the character and cancel the book, piss off those fans only to bring back Wally.

    He also advertised Superman, Batman and WW in all DC books as MONTHLY when it was the biggest joke that their big 3 hadn’t shipped monthly in well, months.

    In the big picture, this is just demonstrative of the wave of incompetence up in DC editorial that’s been going on since Dan (Hey, there IS a plan) Didio embarked on his big 5 year epic story that has only served to show consumers what a mess DC has become under his tenure.

    Can’t be good for consumer confidence either.

  3. The “Read FINAL CRISIS in isolation” argument would work a lot better if DC hadn’t spent the better part of three years hammering the idea that they have a meticulously crafted masterplan which ties everything together. Not that this is Grant’s fault, or course, or even necessarily his problem. But he’s effectively been put in a position of having to justify FINAL CRISIS in a way which veers desperately close to “Plan? What plan?”

  4. In a way, I’m relieved. All that crap between SEVEN SOLDIERS/52 and FINAL CRISIS didn’t mean anything? Thank God! I have no problem ignoring continuity gaffes in exchange for a great Grant Morrison series. And frankly, I’d rather have cool Grant Morrison New Gods than no New Gods at all.

  5. It’s all very well to say “don’t care about continuity! just enjoy the story!”, but for a large number of fans, their enjoyment of the story is dependent on it working in continuity with previous stories. It’s foolish of DC to ignore this.

  6. I think there’s blame enough for everyone involved.

    I mean, according to no less an authority than MORRISON HIMSELF, the entire POINT of Final Crisis is to ESTABLISH DC’S CONTINUITY, so saying, “Stop CARING about the continuity!” as a DEFENSE for it strikes me as so disingenuous that it could almost qualify as functionally retarded.

  7. Also:

    While I don’t deny that DC Editorial fucked over Morrison, big time, a) writers do occasionally have to do things called “rewrites,” and while I’d certainly have preferred Countdown to have been rewritten, Morrison is not above being ordered to do rewrites himself, and b) Morrison’s hissy-fit comes across as especially hilarious in light of the fact that this is a guy who has spent YEARS offering PRAISE for the “organic complexity” of a “shared universe” like DC’s, which he lauded precisely BECAUSE its continuity can wind up being so impenetrably fucked-up.

    Guess what, Grant? You just got a taste of what the “organic complexity” of a “shared universe” often tastes like to the rest of us, so don’t fucking bitch when we say we’re not hungry for more.

  8. Heidi, I realize that a lot of people love to pick apart continuity minutia – I’m guilty of that myself. But sort of brushing it all off as “Orion had died of a subdural haematoma to the left frontal orb on one page and the right orb on another” is really silly and reductive.

    The problem people are having is that in the span of a few months, DC had the prophecied “final battle between Orion and Darkseid”!

    In Starlin’s version, Orion is killed by the Source, and then his body is resurrected and possessed by the Source to apparently kill Darkseid on Apokalips, all while Superman watches in horror.

    In Countdown’s version, Superman also watches as a still-living Orion kill Darkseid.

    In Morrison’s version, Orion’s wrecked body appears on Earth and Darkseid has apparently triumphed, and Superman reacts to Orion’s death with shock and confusion.

    This isn’t nitpicking minutae any more than putting out books a few weeks apart that either show Piper and Trickster literally kicking Bart Allen to death, then following it up with stories about how they’ve been wrongfully accused. These are essential plot points in explicitly connected books that no one bothered to coordinate.

    I don’t think, as some have suggested, that it’s Morrison’s burden to make sure that DC bothered to read his submitted scripts before reverse-engineering prequels, and somewhere along the chain of command someone should’ve caught these problems; it’s clear they *did* realize a few of their bigger boners, as evidenced by Countdown’s hasty re-corrupting of Mary Marvel or inexplicable second destruction of Nix Uotan’s planet to better fit Morrison’s Final Crisis dialogue. But on a lot of levels, people are justified in complaining about this. Lumping this sort of thing in with “BUT LOIS LANE’S EYE COLOR!” complaints kind of lets people off the hook for some really egregious lapses.

  9. That’s true, there’s definitely a degree of excuse-making here. A lot of people are desperately anal about very trivial continuity points, but that doesn’t mean that EVERY continuity error is trivial. And there’s a rather obvious contradiction in saying, at the same time, “Continuity isn’t important, just ingore it” and “Come spend money on my story about DCU continuity.”

  10. I think Marvel’s SECRET INVASION series is a perfect example of why DC fumbled the ball with COUNTDOWN/FINAL CRISIS.

    Marvel set up the events of SECRET INVASION in several titles, primarily in NEW AVENGERS, and although the seeds weren’t overly mind-blowing or revolutionary, they at least made some form of sense and were reasonably entertaining.

    DC, however, created the 52-week COUNTDOWN series specifically to lead up to FINAL CRISIS. And when the title changed to COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS, it was a natural assumption that hey, the events depicted would flow right in to FINAL CRISIS. The only problem was, they didn’t, unless you consider squeezing a Ford F-150 truck into a parking space for a compact car a good fit.

    To readers encouraged to buy COUNTDOWN, THE DEATH OF THE NEW GODS, and FINAL CRISIS, it feels like editors aren’t coordinating with one another and no one is at the helm of a ship heading straight for an iceberg. But hey, it’s easy to shrug off the concept of continuity, as DC appears to have done, when you appear more concerned with selling product than crafting a consistent story that your readers will respect and reward with continued loyalty.

  11. But they haven’t shrugged off the concept of continuity, that’s the thing. They’re stressing continuity – and then botching it spectacularly. Worst of both worlds.

  12. I love Morrison, and have faith that Final Crisis will be a spectacular story, but as a retailer I’m horribly saddened by the facts.

    Regular readers who invested money in Countdown and it’s spin offs, are pissed that they wasted the money, and new readers are just confused. We had to cut our Final Crisis numbers on the FOC by nearly 80% – which means we’re selling it at 7Soldiers numbers, not major line wide crossover numbers. And that’s where we get upset…

    Someone must have known how badly the 2 projects lined up, and someone must have realized that it needed to be fixed. But it seems everyone just did what they wanted and hoped for the best.

    The continuity isn’t such a big deal, so much as the lack luster presentation of it all. In Final Crisis characters wax poetically about stuff seen adnauseum, like it’s amazingly new – which just makes the book seem silly.

    Again… I like it, kinda, as a retailer I kinda felt forced to follow countdown closely so Final Crisis rubbed me the wrong way at first… but if I link it to 7 Soldiers and move away from it’s premise as being a line wide comic – I feel much better about it. But it’s going to be a really hard sell… and events like these, I think should sell themselves. Deep thinking pieces can take all the time they want to develop a story, HUGE LINE WIDE CROSSOVERS, need to hook people on the first few pages, or it sinks. And I really do feel if you compare this to any other Grant Morrison first issue, it doesn’t hold up, it’s way more set-up than story and doesn’t grab you by the balls… and I personally feel the first issue of everything he’s done grabs by the balls.

    And it doesn’t matter who’s fault it is… it makes all of DC look unprepared.

    (I should note that it’s looking bad across the board anyhow – as even Secret Invasion is selling a fraction of what we thought it would).

  13. Even though I don’t care at all about DC continuity, I have some sympathy for the fan confusion/consternation here because I was confused, too. I wasn’t consternated, but mostly because I’m not 100 percent certain that’s a word, except maybe on The Beverly Hillbillies.

  14. I think Kirk hit the nail on the head…

    “I mean, according to no less an authority than MORRISON HIMSELF, the entire POINT of Final Crisis is to ESTABLISH DC’S CONTINUITY, so saying, “Stop CARING about the continuity!” as a DEFENSE for it strikes me as so disingenuous that it could almost qualify as functionally retarded.”

    The hypocracy and unprofessionalism going on at DC (mostly via edit) is a Crisis in and of itself.

    The fact that DC editorial can’t seem to get it together — and they’ve had 5 long years to do so — just defines why DC Comics as a publisher is in the state it’s in.

    In conclusion, people can rant and rave about the various editors not properly coordinating the product but there is only one individual to look at for this mess — Dan Didio. He’s been stating how there’s been a big plan all along, this is his gigantic 5 year extravaganza, he is the EIC and he is the one who has been directing and coordinating DC’s entire line as part of the Editor In Chief’s primary job description.

    Really, I want to have nice things to say about the man and I’m sure he’s a great guy personally but the work just sucks. Well, if for nothing else, Dan Didio didn’t lie about one thing…

    “The great disaster is upon us.”

    And that disaster has become DC Comics itself.

    Which comic? I don’t know, take your pick.

  15. I thought the entire point of “Final Crisis” was to resolve all the continuity stuff, in the same way the original Crisis did decades ago. Saying to “ignore continuity” on a series that exists solely due to continuity seems a little strange. Admittedly, i don’t read any mega-crossovers anymore except in TPB, so I’m only going by my impressions.

  16. I think making this about continuity gaffes only misses the point.

    The larger point is that DC Comics has been selling the idea that Countdown was supposed to be setting up Final Crisis and was, also, to be the spine of the DC Universe.

    OK, so it screwed up continuity a bit already, but for it to not even be able to stay on the same page with the event it was setting up? That’s just pitiful. And Didio ALWAYS indicated that the series was meant to be pertinent to Final Crisis, especially after throwing Final Crisis into the title. DC basically mislead their consumers on Countdown and the frustration bubbled over on to Final Crisis.

    I’d like to know where Eddie Berganza was when the tie-ins leading up to the event he’s running were screwing things up. For all the talk about DC editors being territorial of stuff, you’d think he’d have been defending his turf by making sure Carlin’s CtFC crew wrapped things up in a way that didn’t contradict their opening.

  17. Blame Didio and not the editors. He’s ditacted how the thing was going to go and I’m sure all the editors have had issues with some moves…but at the end of the day, it is Didio’s universe…

    The only way to send a message is to stop buying it.

  18. To me the whole problem with DC cross-overs right now is that they make continuity ESSENTIAL to understand what’s happening. DC Universe #0 would make no sense to a new reader, for example. It just does not stand alone.

    So if you’re going to make your crossover heavily dependent on continuity, wouldn’t it make sense to ensure that your continuity was, I don’t know, consistent?

    I’d argue that both Marvel’s Civil War series and their new Secret Invasion can be read and understood without knowing what else is going on in all the other Marvel books. That certainly wasn’t the case in Countdown or DC Universe 0. The jury’s still out on Final Crisis.

  19. I will be in a better position to comment on continuity once these books have arrived at my local public library later in the year hopefully — because there is no way that I am spending one fake copper penny on this stuff! :)

  20. “To me the whole problem with DC cross-overs right now is that they make continuity ESSENTIAL to understand what’s happening. DC Universe #0 would make no sense to a new reader, for example. It just does not stand alone.”

    Amen to that, I haven’t read DC books in ages but thought I might give this one a try. I shouldn’t have bothered, the thing was completely impenetrable.

  21. “We had to cut our Final Crisis numbers on the FOC by nearly 80% – which means we’re selling it at 7Soldiers numbers, not major line wide crossover numbers.”

    Hold on… what? That’s a bit drastic only one issue in, surely?

  22. I’m newer to DC, coming on with Identity Crisis, and I’ve been reading the books that have been getting good remarks from on-line critics. Therefore, I skipped Countdown and all of the tie-ins after hearing how terrible they were. I actually bought the first 6 issues of Countdown before dropping it. I read Johns’ books and Morrison’s books for DC continuity and for good stories.

    And comparisons to Secret Invasion aren’t too valid. All of the books leading up to the event were written by the same guy who’s writing the main story. A better comparison would be Civil War where there were the same type of continuity issues from one book to the next.

  23. I’ll go right ahead and cop to having been a SUCKER, ie. someone who was excited enough about Final Crisis that I bought *all* the (supposed) lead-ins to maximize my enjoyment of the main event. Now I find that not only were those books not essential to understanding Final Crisis, but in fact actually damaged my enjoyment of the first issue by setting up numerous narrative inconsistencies that I couldn’t help but focus on given the expectations that had been established, ie. that the lead-ins would actually, you know, “lead in” to FC.

    All of which is to say, I’m feeling pretty generally ripped-off. However, it’s been a good learning experience. I was planning to buy, once again *all* the tie-ins, direct and otherwise, to FC. That is SO not happening anymore. I’ll still be reading FC and Morrison’s Superman Beyond, and *maybe* the two main side series, but I won’t be buying a single issue of any of the other tie-ins. I know from personal conversations and many, many posts online that I’m not alone in this.

  24. KIRK

    D00d, take a nap or something. Yer awful cranky-like.

    CHRIS ECKERT said: “show Piper and Trickster literally kicking Bart Allen to death, then following it up with stories about how they’ve been wrongfully accused.”

    DiDio admitted this was an editorial screwup when they allowed the art to go through without correcting it.

    BRIAN DAVISON said: “…squeezing a Ford F-150 truck into a parking space for a compact car…”

    Hey, my truck will fit in that spot. I just can’t open the door.

  25. As said by a previous poster, I’d like to know where Eddie Berganza was when the tie-ins leading up to the event he’s running were screwing things up.

  26. Lesson learned folks, continuity chasing is for suckers. But when you are driving the sales of your entire company on it and other gimmicks (sales are down, kill more characters!) and just leading people from one event to another with no real pay-off in sight, eventually it’s going to bite you in the ass.

    These are just comics and none of it really matters. The only truly meaningful stories are the good ones, the right writer with the right characters at the right time, and comic companies can’t tell you when that’s going to happen.

  27. So it means that Countdown, besides being mediocre, was ALSO unnecessary? I pity the people that spent money on it…

    And I’m VERY curious to see the numbers the series will do on TPB. Who is going to buy it now? This has “lame duck” written all over it!

    Hopefully this has killed future DC megacrossovers for a long, long time. Now we only have to hope Marvel does a similar faux pas…

    Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

  28. I really can’t blame Morrison. I don’t blame the writers of Countdown either. Those poor souls were writing a weekly book that was editorially dictated to connect the dots. Plus I guess they also did about the same thing in Death of the New Gods? Three stories covering the same event? It’s pretty sad that such a huge event that Kirby himself never got around to.

    Ha. Gotta give Morrison credit for his on the fly comment explaining it. That the event was so cosmic and transcended reality that it happened in three different ways. Gotta admit, it’s not a bad cover your ass statement.

    I gave up on Countdown early on. I just never picked up Death of the New Gods. The whole New God thing was interesting, but I simply didn’t trust DC to give us an epic story with these amazing characters. I still have yet to pick up the Kirby stuff anyway.

    Meanwhile, I loved Morrison’s JLA. (Rock of Ages was amazing!) I liked Seven Soldiers. DC 0 was interesting. Final Crisis sounds good. I’m interested to see where this goes. His comments about the New Gods being immortal in all of us is pretty neat. As always…

    Darkseid is.

  29. Two of my own observations on Final Crisis:

    – When I went to my local comic shop yesterday, they still had two 3-inch thick stacks of FC #1, two weeks after its release. Early issues of Secret Invasion are sold out and they only have the 2nd and 3rd printings, and were down to just a handful of the newest issue.

    – I read FC #1 last night and found it more or less inpenetrable. There was just enough interesting stuff going on to get me to at least bite on #2, but it doesn’t have me fired up to read the next issue like SI does. I’ll admit, though, that the DC Nation page on the back mentioning the NINE FC tie-ins almost makes me not want to bother.

  30. “Darkseid is”??………. maybe on New earth.

    But on ‘our’ earth….. “Didiot is”.

    I wonder how much “lipstick” Didio will bring to his next interview to apply to this “continuity pig”.

  31. The concept of having a team of writers produce a weekly comic like 52 or Countdown is ludicrous if you don’t have a tight rein over the content; it’s like conducting a baton race but not having the runners trained in how to pass the baton. DC’s 52 and Countdown both failed to deliver precisely because of that lack of guidance, or editorial control.

    While the conception of the maxi-series was OK in my book, the overall implementation was horrible. The plot went AWOL and continuity lapses became eyesores that began to chip away at the readers’ enjoyment of the series. The same thing happened at Marvel, so it’s not about one being better than the other. Editors and the E-I-C need to stop hyping the content and start honing the content into something that consistently delivers, and word of mouth alone will drive the sales into the stratosphere (or, bring it down). Let the work speak for itself!!

    Years ago, the Superman team sat down and mapped out events for the future, and crossovers actually flowed and stayed true to the continuity, and really built the character. Same with Batman. I’m sure a return to this style of writing could be done to make the DCU (or Marvel Universe) a cohesive stage for great stories that intertwine characters from various books, but it needs solid management, and that’s where it is important to have competent and supportive editors.

  32. “Paul O’Brien Says:

    06/10/08 at 6:01 pm
    “We had to cut our Final Crisis numbers on the FOC by nearly 80% – which means we’re selling it at 7Soldiers numbers, not major line wide crossover numbers.”

    Hold on… what? That’s a bit drastic only one issue in, surely?”

    No sadly… it’s not… we were ordering upwards of 450 – 500 copies of Final Crisis, expecting it to have the weight of a big event book. In the first week it only sold 50 copies, and the FOC for issue two was the following week, so we had to make the cut. We give a lot of shelf space to the big event books, and when one does that badly in the first week, we have to radically adjust our plans for the summer, asap.

    Would we have cut the orders as drastically is this had been promoted as a 7Soldiers styled event, probably not… because stories like that will appeal to those customers who come in after wednesday looking for something good to read. Event books like this, all hinder on the opening performance. Civil War #1 sold to super numbers, every issue after that sold under it. Same for Infinite Crisis. The view in the store is that people don’t want to try it out right, and it’s only going to get worse as the ship moves on. Let’s face it, big EPIC line wide cross-overs are like blockbuster movies, they appeal to certain audiences for certain reasons… and Final Crisis might win an Oscar at the end, but it didn’t manage to get anyone into the box office to try it out (sorry for the bad movie analogies)

    And honeslty… Morrison, Didio, Editors, DC, WB… everyone is to blame. This was meant to be a huge event, and though I’m sure it will do really well in trade, it’s a cold fish for whatever reason someone wants to blame for it.