However, that only takes up a couple of pages in a packed book. The story focuses on the big fights as the survivors make their last stand against Darkseid, and while the Bludhaven fight goes in their favour thanks to the Marvel family, Mr Terrific is nonetheless forced to sound the retreat, and plans are put into place to relocate the population to another of the 52 Earths in the multiverse. However, there are dire warnings from Metron if humanity attempts to break through the barrier between worlds.
If I come out of this issue with one concern, its that issue 7 is going to have to cover a lot of ground for one issue. There’s the Dark Monitor who’s been hinted at, but not yet seen, humanity has to be saved from anti-life, and the fate (and new status quo) of the New Gods has to be setup. I hope its not going to be too rushed. Unlike Secret Invasion which I felt was over-stretched at 8 issues, I’m wondering if Final Crisis couldn’t have been longer. Of course, we’ll find out whenever issue 7 hits the stands. Some of these big things (such as the Dark Monitor) may be red herrings, or simply thrown in as teasers for future series.
But the bit everyone’s going to be talking about, is Batman’s last stand. Forget RIP, or him being MIA after the helicopter explosion, here Batman comes face-to-face with the living embodiment of evil, and shoots him dead. Batman still having the bullet that killed Orion is a nice touch, and there’s a nice moment in Batman’s acknowledgement that he’s finally up against a threat that he’ll happily put aside his vow against guns for. The whole scene plays out as Batman getting one over on Darkseid, right down to his final “Gotcha” right before Darkseid’s Omega Sanction hits him.
And while RIP gave us the powerful image of Nightwing standing with Bruce’s tattered cowl, here we get a truely iconic image of Superman standing holding Bruce’s charred remains. Of course, its a clear homage to the image in CoIE of Superman holding Supergirl’s body, and I think its as powerful because, like that original image, there’s such a strong relationship between these characters.
In fact, the whole buildup to that moment was incredibly powerful. While he’s been separated from events for most of the series (and its more than a little annoying that delays have meant that Superman Beyond #2 is now arriving in stores after this issue rather than before), Superman’s return to the scene is an incredible two pages, from the moment where he’s sighted by Wonder Woman, to him laying waste to Darkseid’s armies as he flies to find Bruce.
And a lot of the kudos for these moments surely has to go to Doug Mahnke. While I admit I wasn’t too sure about his art in Superman Beyond, its excellent here. And the fact he produced something of this quality despite being a last-minute replacement is a great achievement.