I picked up a trade copy of Final Crisis at Ed Mckay's a while back. I had read it before and responded with a resounding "meh". I reread it a bit back and realized that it's actually pretty awesome.
It's much more than just CROSSOVER!!! It's a complex story about human existence and the end of all stories. This is not a bunch of heroes running around doing cool things, but an epic about what it means to be human and life itself.
Human nature, as believed by pretty much every non human in the DC universe(s) and the monitors is to essentially be complete assholes. We are nothing but hopeless barbarians on a primitive mudball who kill each other for no good reason. Humanity and super-humanity is about rising above that primal nature, to be a beacon of hope and fight against the darkness that inhabits our hearts. The anti-life equation of Final Crisis lists the evils of humanity : prejudice, oppression, hate, and ignorance, yet we continue to fight against what is perceived as the essence of our being. Dan Turpin sums it up in Final Crisis #1, "Fire was our first mistake. Like everythin' else the sad stinkin' human race ever thought of, we take a good idea and use it to kill ourselves."
Dan Turpin is a cynic, a pessimist cop who ends up harboring the consciousness of Darkseid. He fights against anti-life, but eventually wanes ("How can I fight if there is nothing to fight for"). He gives in and Darkseid takes over. He and the 3 billion enslaved in anti-life fight against the heroes and villains resisting. Darkseid represents the easy way out. Giving in to him represents giving in to the perils of humanity and anti-life.
The only protection against anti-life is a glyph symbolizing freedom. We have the choice to be more than just hairless apes. Our will allows us to overcome our so-called nature. Even though life is hard and the world sucks a lot of the time, we can press on towards a brighter day. People have terrible, animal flaws (as seen by many evil gods taking somewhat animal forms), but to get all Talmudic for a second, "In a world where no one behaves like a human being, you must strive to be human!"
Anti-life is easy. Living is hard.God help us if we ever give up and give in. Everything ceases to be. The Final Crisis is not just Darkseid, it's the end of all stories because of the ever-constant monitors being effected by our world. The monitors, a race of pan-dimensional beings that feed on the "bleed" between universes make contact with our "germ worlds". They take on all the aspects of humanity, betraying and conspiring, but also loving and feeling. As always the negative shows up with more gusto, and two monitors fall from grace and give in to what the perceive as their nature: universal vampires. Superman, in exchange for bleed to save his dying wife, goes to fight against him alongside Ultraman, Overman, Captain Marvel, and Allen Adam (read: Dr. Manhattan with clothes).
Superman, of course, is the one who ends up fighting Mandrakk the Dark Monitor, and in a beautifully written scene, displays his undying hope and unyielding belief in the innate good. He refuses to give up on anything. He is the best we have to offer, and no matter how much cooler Batman is, Superman is the living embodiment of human good. His story is simple: that of ultimate good versus ultimate evil. He is the only one trusted with the design for the miracle machine, and uses it for the best of the universe. He wishes for a happy ending. The Final Crisis is supposed to be the end to all stories, but as Superman engraves on what was supposed to be his tombstone: To be continued.
To be continued. Earth endures. The true triumph of humanity is our persistance, that despite every crisis, every failing, every war we still endure. Grant Morrison has it right, "This world , these amazing people, have faced alien invasions, natural disasters, quakes in time. And always we recover... we rebuild... we continue. Earth endures. It's as if we don't know what else to do."