Finishing Tangent Comics Volume Three, it's hard to believe DC Comics and Dan Jurgens hadn't planned all this from the start.
In much the same way that the 2005 Majestic series encompassed the plot of the later Countdown to Final Crisis, the Tangent comics series (published in 1998) ends on a perfect cliffhanger for Final Crisis and the new sequel miniseries Tangent: Superman's Reign more than ten years later. Reading it in 1998, the finale must have been maddeningly frustrating; reading it in 2009, it's amazing how well the saga fits together.
Tangent Volume Three offers an "everyday man" perspective on the Tangent Universe. The superheroics and political intrigue of the first volume are still here, as are the supernatural elements from the second volume, but there seemed a greater emphasis on how the events--namely a world-wide power outage caused by Tangent's Ultra-Humanite--affected the world's population.
The first story introduces this world's Superman, a regular police officer until an accident triggers limitless powers; we see the people's fear of superheroes in both The Joker's Wild and Powergirl; and the fan-favorite Tangent Green Lantern offers three potential explanations of how a normal person came to hold the lantern.
This "street level" view of the Tangent universe coincides well with the introduction of DC Comic's heaviest hitters to Tangent--in name, at least. The last chapter of volume two introduced the Batman, and volume three brings Superman and Wonder Woman together with Green Lantern to form--you guessed it--the Justice League. As with volume two's Secret Six, there's great joy in seeing the Tangent heroes come together; one of the most enjoyable things about Tangent is how all the stories are interconnected, and there's a nice payoff when the characters finally meet.
It's the end of this Tangent volume that takes some figuring. As with the final chapter of Tangent 1997 (found second-to-last in volume two), events here are unresolved--the Ultra-Humanite, without much explanation, runs rampant over the Earth and the Secret Six seem unable to stop him, while the Nightwing organization hunts the rest of the world's heroes. Any conclusion is essentially found in the details--in a lawless world, the Tangent Justice League rises; and, in the prior Powergirl chapter, the conflict between President Schwartz and Nightwing begun in volume one's Metal Men comes to a head. Were there not the new Tangent: Superman's Reign, this is what we'd be left with; fortunately, the conclusion's not just left to our imaginations.
[Contains full covers, minor sketchbook and interview section.]
We'll finish our current romp through the Tangent universe next with Tangent: Superman's Reign volume one.