Final Crisis – Revelations #1
Final Crisis – Revelations #1
Written by Greg Rucka
Pencils by Philip Tan
What is the deal with people using the word Revelations in titles? Are they trying to be high brow? Are they trying to invoke Biblical themes of judgement and destruction? Are they trying to show they know what they’re talking about? Because it’s not working, people! It’s Revelation. Not Revelations. There was one vision given to John written down in the New Testament. Not plural. You use Revelations and I’m going to write you off as a try hard. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.
Anyway, let’s talk about the Spectre.
The Spectre is a comic book character created in 1940. Police officer, Jim Corrigan, is murdered. His ghost is bonded with The Spirit of God’s Vengeance and becomes The Spectre. He goes around finding people who are guilty and condemning them with an ironic punishment. For instance, a man who kills his parents with rat poison would be eaten alive from the inside by rats, etc. These days The Spectre is hosted by deceased police officer, Crispen Allen.
In Final Crisis, the superhero J’onn J’onzz: The Martian Manhunter, was brutallymurdered by a group of super villains. Final Crisis – Revelations follows up the consequences of this murder. Doctor Light and Effigy, who were accomplices to the murder, are the first to be literally snuffed out by The Spectre. But when The Spectre goes after the one who committed the deed, the mysterious Libra, he finds himself impotent to stop him. The Spectre then encounters Renee Montoya, aka The Question, who has recently become the leader of a faction of the Religion of Crime.
The DC Universe is a fantastic place. Aliens, magicians and technological geniuses work together for good or ill. Wonder Woman receives her powers from the Greek Gods. Blue Devil became a demon after a Faustian pact with an evil being. Deadman continues to exist because of Rama Kushna, the face of the universe. Captain Marvel takes on his super heroic form when calling out SHAZAM (an acronym for six figures of myth), a word given to him by an ancient wizard. Raven is the daughter of a demon from another dimension. So how does God fit into all of this?
The answer is not well. The Christian God is the one and only God, the almighty. It is not possible to integrate God into such a world as the DCU without weakening his power or making him irrelevant. God either can’t act or won’t act. He is either powerless before those other powers or he’s indifferent and distant. This is not the God of the Bible. This is the problem that is faced by anyone who tries to write for The Spectre. Woflman and Perez held off The Spectre until the last minute in Crisis on Infinite Earths because The Spectre was too powerful. Even then they had him hold back.
In Final Crisis – Revelations, not only is The Spectre powerless to stop Libra, Libra is able to overpower him. This lessens the omnipotence of God. He is not all powerful. The nature of God is compromised.
When Crispin cries out to God because of this injustice, we are presented with a God who is distant. He doesn’t explain himself. His actions appear arbitrary. God moves in mysterious ways, but these ways do not appear to be just. This is not the God who revealed himself through his Word and sent his son Jesus to deal with the problem of sin.
The Lord does say “Vengeance is Mine” (Deuteronomy 32:35). He is a God of justice and he will punish those who reject him. The problem with The Spectre however is that it ignores the cross. Everyone is deserving of punishment. It’s not jsut murderers who are guilty. If The Spectre was doing his job properly, everyone would be subject to his ironic punishments. But because of his love and mercy, God sent Jesus to die on the cross and pay that punishment for us. All who accept the gift of Jesus are now free from the consequences of sin. However, God is a patient God. He is holding off judgement, holding off his vengeance, so that people will turn to him (2 Peter 3:9). The Spectre isn’t necessary, as the day will come when everyone will come under judgement and face the prospect of God’s vengeance.
The need for a human host for The Spectre is a boon for writers, but a loss for the doctrine of God. Crispen Allen presents a human element to The Spectre. We can relate to his doubts about the job before him. Our difficulty to understand is his difficulty. A Spectre without a human host is like trying to relate to a cyclone – a force of nature which we cannot relate to or understand. The downside is that God cannot act without man. A human is needed to bring control and justice to God’s Vengeance. This is such a human centric view that ignores God’s virtues. God is just. God is loving. God know what is best for his creationl. God doesn’t need us in order to be more human, we need God in order to be more like him.
I’m interested to see where Rucka takes this series. It’s about time someone dealt with Doctor Light. And I’m really keen to see where Rucka takes the storyline with the Religion of Crime.