Waiting for the Trade
by Bill Miller
by Karl Kessel and Ron Marz
collects Final Night 1-4 and Parallax Emerald Night 1
Why I Bought This: As someone who doesn’t read a lot of DC this was an event I was always curious about and at a recent comic show I attended the trade was being sold for $5. At that price why not?
The Plot: A creature called the Sun Eater shows up attempts to eat the Earth’s sun causing Earth’s heroes and a few villains to unite in an attempt to save the planet.
Chapter 0 - A mysterious alien girl arrives on Tamaria to warn them of the Sun Eater. The Tamarians are a warlike race and don’t trust her until its too late. Their sun and world dies but alien chick escapes and heads to the next planet in the Sun Eater’s path: Earth.
Chapter 1 - Alien chick crashes in Metropolis where she is greeted by Superman and the Legion of Super Heroes. Saturn Girl uses telepathy to teach alien chick English and she warns them of the Sun Eater. Earth’s heroes gather at Star Labs where scientists verify the threat will arrive at the Sun in six hours. Big Barda suggests using a boom tube to teleport the creature to the edge of the universe as plan A. Superman gather heroes with heat-based powers together for Plan B. Batman is put in charge of the more urban heroes in using them to keep order from the mass panic that will occur if the other teams fail. Mr. Miracle’s team which includes Captain Atom and Dr. Polaris along with some heroes I don’t recognize confront the Sun Eater (it looks a living dark cloud/black hole) first and attempt to create a vortex to pull it into a boom tube however the boom tube has no effect because the Sun Eater exists on multiple dimensions. Next up Superman’s team (with Firestorm, Ray, Fire and a few others) combine their powers to create a second sun that is held in check by Green Lantern’s (Kyle Raner) power ring in order to decoy Sun Eater away from the true sun. However it catches their mini-sun and eats it completely nearly killing all of the heroes in the process. The Sun Eater envelops the Sun causing the sky to turn black.
Chapter 2 – It’s been 27 hours since the sun went dark. Lex Luthor arrives in Metropolis to try and save the day with science. Meanwhile various heroes deal with fires burning out of control or criminals trying to take advantage of the situation. Superman’s powers are fading without sunlight. Luthor sends GL into the sun to get readings on what exactly the Sun Eater is doing, after which he abruptly disappears. The alien who warned everyone, now named Dusk, is attacked by an irate mob and decides humanity doesn’t deserved to be saved. She is then saved from the mob by new hero Ferro.
Chapter 3 – Demons from Hell offer to save the Earth if every inhabitant on the planet sells their souls but humanity turns them down. Gaea and Spectre are doing their best to keep the planet warm from the inside. The STAR Labs team realizes the Sun is about to go “hyper nova” in an effort to ward off the Sun Eater. Phantom Stranger shows Dusk the good side of humanity. Some of the heat-based heroes aid a village in
while other heroes like Superman and Alan Scott go home to visit loved ones.
Guy Gardner (currently in his Warrior cyborg identity) is getting drunk when he
is confronted by a green flash.
Chapter 4 – Cyborg (the Superman foe, not the Teen Titan) is at the edge of the universe running from Parallax (Hal
). Jordan Jordan kills him in vengeance for .
Current GL Kyle Raner arrives and asks Coast City to save the Earth from the
Sun Eater. Jordan
looks in at the situation and realizes it may be beyond even his power. He then
visits Gardener (hence the green flash from last issue) and Jon Stewart to make
amends as well as his civilian supporting cast. He then finds Kyle and agrees
to help. Jordan
Chapter 5 – With two hours before the Sun goes nova, Luthor has a plan to place a field of gizmos around the Sun that will use the energy of the nova to generate a force field that will contain the explosion and hopefully kills the Sun Eater. Luthor assigns the task of erecting the force field generators to Green Lantern but then GL gets teleported away in a green flash. With GL gone someone will have to manually pilot a ship to place the devices and that person will likely not come back. Superman volunteers with the hope that the nova will jumpstart his powers rather than killing him. However before Supes can leave Ferro steals the ship reasoning the world can’t lose Superman. Parallax shows up and offers to help. He notes he could jumpstart the Sun but the resulting melting of all the ice and snow will cause floods that kill lots of people. Of course he can bend time to avoid those affects too. This causes Batman to be a douche and accuse Hal of playing God again. So Parallax instead agrees to just take care of the Sun Eater and restore the planet’s natural equilibrium but not to save any lives already lost. Meanwhile Ferro fails to deploy the force fields properly and is killed in a nova blast; or at least he should be when Parallax freezes time and sends him back to Earth. Hal then absorbs the Sun Eater into himself and changes the nova energy into green light described as life force energy that heals the planet at the cost of his own life. Afterwards Superman and Batman debate whether Hal was really a hero.
Critical Thoughts: This is a quick read, so even when parts of the story don’t work it never fully spoils your enjoyment because you’re not investing a lot of time into it. I like Hal Jordan a bit more than most of DC’s A-list and this is a good story of him trying to redeem himself from the events that preceded Zero Hour—probably the only other major DC crossover I’ve read and one I always felt Hal was kind of justified in to begin with, so in that sense I liked this story overall.
I like the idea of Lex Luthor being Earth’s best hope for salvation before
shows up. It’s an interesting dynamic that you don’t get in Marvel: with Reed
around the heroes will never have to turn to Dr. Doom for science help, but as
near as I can tell as a casual fan of DC there is no heroic mind on a par with
Luthor’s. I would have liked to see a little more of Luthor’s plan in action
steps in to save the day but with the nature of the Sun Eater (despite its
sentience it is more or less presented as a natural phenomenon throughout the
story) that’s only a minor criticism. Jordan
The impersonal nature of the villain also makes this a bizarre event story. On the one hand you don’t have the sort of big epic cosmic evil plan you expect in this kind of story, on the other hand the stakes are certainly high enough and the challenge facing the heroes unique enough to qualify as a major threat. Still without true villainy this becomes more a tale of how the heroes (and Luthor) react to a natural disaster than the kind back and forth rising action you expect in an event story. The human touches with Superman and the Green Lanterns play out well in this environment; while the urban riots, African subplot and Dusk learning about humanity don’t ever achieve what the author wants them to evoke.
I will say I don’t know who the hell Ferro is, or even if he has super powers, but he seems way out of the place in this story. I assume he was some new character they were pushing for a solo book at the time because his debut gets the Chapter 2 cliffhanger spot (prompting an anti-climatic ‘who the hell is this and why should I care?’ moment) and then of all the heroes on Earth he’s the one who thinks Superman is too valuable to lose and is left to deploy (and screw up) Luthor’s plan. If this story was supposed to be his big push it fails, because after reading it I could care less if I ever saw him in a comic book again.
Grade: C+. The Sun Eater is an interesting concept in terms of a global threat for the heroes to face but the action itself lacks dramatic tension. Still the character work on Jordan and Luthor is interesting enough to earn this a slightly positive grade.