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Countdown 1

Countdown to Final Crisis 1

Scheduled to arrive in stores: April 23, 2008

Cover date: April 23, 2008

"Loose Ends"

Writer: Paul Dini (head writer) and Keith Giffen (story consultant)
Penciller: Tom Derenick
Inker: Wayne Faucher

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

Jimmy Olsen laments that he can't write about his last year. Forager demands that they speak about their relationship.

Donna Troy appears at Atom's house. Atom considers stopping being a hero.

Piper appears in an alley from Apokolips somehow, and decides to be a good guy.

Jason Todd, unrepentant, mocks Batman and tortures a mob guy.

Solomon leaves a small monument to Darkseid on the Source Wall.

Kyle, now at Atom's, suggests that they monitor the Monitors.

Mary Marvel banters with Black Adam, who pities her and leaves. Mary throws a tantrum.

Buddy Blank is turned into the old-style OMAC by Brother Eye. (Not sure what Earth this is on. Neal)

Jimmy and Forager appear, along with Nix Utoan, at Atom's house. Atom objects to monitoring the Monitors, but eventually accedes. They go to the Monitors and serve notice that they will be monitoring them.

Harley and Holly talk.

1Story - 1: Pretty much as expected, par for the course. I was talking to Steve over our Radio KAL podcast, about the way folks say, "You must LOVE ripping stuff up!"

Truth is, I may be good at it, but I prefer a positive review. And who wouldn't? It means you enjoyed something.

But there's little to enjoy here (actually, nothing for me) and nothing but contradictions. As a finale, it fails utterly.

Here are the major character arcs:

Holly and Harley meet, do some stuff, and end up friends. None of the stuff has long-term ramifications.

Kyle, Donna, Atom, and Forager change in no palpable way, but somehow become Monitor Monitors.

Piper goes from a good guy who flirts with being a bad guy again to being a good guy again.

Mary Marvel changes nonsensically to an evil character arbitrarily.

Jason Todd doesn't change at all, and gets away with murder.

The Monitors have no conflict resolved or really, much conflict at all beyond slight strange bigotry.

Jimmy Olsen doesn't change at all.

I mean, really, look at these characters. Are there any arcs?

For a contrast, look at 52.

Black Adam goes from a megalomaniacal psychopath to a semi sympathetic family man, has his wife and child killed in front of him, and emerges an even MORE manipulative psychopath who causes World War 3. Picture Mary Marvel with a motivation.

Ralph Dibny climbs from the edge of despair to find a new purpose, defeats Felix Faust, dies, and returns to happiness with his wife.

Adam Strange and his company perservere and find their way home through oddness (admittedly, my least favorite arc of the book for this, perhaps this is why).

The Question slowly dies of cancer, and in the process hands his legacy down to Renee Montoya, who goes from a despondent, semi-alcoholic failure to a hero.

Batwoman goes from at odds with Renee and new to recognized and acknowledged.

Booster Gold goes from an arrogant sellout to a heroic, noble figure who saves the universe.

Even LUTHOR went from a celebrity/president to a publicly reviled psychopath, to say nothing of John Henry's arc with his daughter.

We had some kind of odd war with Monarch and Superman Prime, ancillary characters. We had a Kamandi nod when nobody knows who the hell Kamandi is save super-geeks any more. We had character debuts that were ripped away (Red Robin). We had ancillary stories pop in unannounced and take center stage (Death of the New Gods). We had storylines that were wholly irrelevant to the resolution of the main storyline (Piper, Holly and Harley, even Mary Marvel, to a large extent.)...

Top that off, you could get by with poor story choices with good writing, but the writing was cliché-laden, filled with names in dialogue, somewhat arbitrary, and odd. There were some good examples in this issue.

Ultimately, this storyline, despite my vast and varied comic book experience, is one of the single worst things I have ever read in sequential art. And it was supposed to be the flagship book for DC this last year. What does that say?

Nuts and bolts for this last issue (IE, shooting fish in a barrel):

Having read Death of the New Gods, and having seen Apokolips merged with New Genesis, how did it get destroyed in Countdown? And beyond that, why is that not in Death of the New Gods (OMAC taking it over would be a big occurrence)? Beyond that, how the hell did Piper get home?

Why can't Jimmy write about the last year? He lives in frickin' METROPOLIS. Odd stuff is par for the course.

Forager and Jimmy break up off camera, and we're supposed to care, but there was never really a story to begin with, there, so the drama is dead. Still, she's walking around half naked. Hey!

Solomon appears at the Source Wall and creates a monument to Darkseid. I can't really tell what it is (see art), but if Darkseid was killed, and if the Source is a repository of the dead New Gods (see Death of the New Gods, which you shouldn't have to do to understand this series, but nonetheless must), Darkseid would already be in the wall, right? Except he's a villain of Final Crisis, so he's not even dead a month after his "demise," so...

"I'm Mary Damn Marvel." Oh yeah? I'm Neal Unimpressed with your "Characterization" Bailey, doll.

I can't even begin to understand what was happening in that Buddy Blank scene. It's like, "Oh, we have a few pages here. Let's totally retcon the OMAC project or make another Kamandi homage." (I can't tell, because it doesn't say which Earth it was on. I'm assuming 51?) Regardless, it's fanservice to a concept I'm sure won't be making any big returns soon. Kinda why they did THE OMAC PROJECT, a fine re-imagining that brought OMAC into a contemporary and relevant light. I'm sick of seeing DC take great concepts and tear them down arbitrarily. I can't state it empirically until I read it, but I'm pretty sure handing Power Girl to the guys who did Countdown is gonna be another example of a gal going from Cheesecake to flesehed out back to Cheesecake. Stuff like that.

Monitoring the Monitors took the cake, though, not only for the complete ridiculousness of the concept, but the way it was executed and the revealing things said.

First off, Ray Palmer, the Atom. They ask him to go and "monitor the Monitors." He says no. Why? Quote: "Count me out. I HAVE A LIFE!"

Ray Palmer. Whose life was shattered. Ray Palmer, who had his world taken away. Ray Palmer, sitting alone in an apartment sulking. You can tell they know this character, huh? Or maybe it's just trying to create tension where there is none. Yeah, I'm gonna go with that.

But then, he decides he might monitor the Monitors anyway. He says, "I've got to think about this." Donna Troy responds, "No. You don't." Then, without the conflict resolved, it cuts to the next scene, where they're already aboard the Monitors sphere. This speaks to the whole series to me. Resolution and motion without connection, a characters forced into odd choices that make no sense, and the overall theme of the series, to enjoy it:

"I've got to think about this."

"No. You don't."

That's the only way.

It's like in Thumb Wars. "I escaped somehow."

So... the Monitors, as I understand it, have the job of watching over the multiverse and voting together as to what to do to deal with anomolies? Or maybe their duty is to "serve" as they seem to imply. I'm unsure. I shouldn't be after 1,122 pages, but I am. But anyway, the point being, they monitor themselves through democracy, right? So why do they need monitors? But assuming they do need someone to watch them, why people who cannot defeat them in battle? They showed a SINGLE monitor thrashing these guys who are their self-elected check and balance, the "Challengers."

"You will abide by our decisions or you will accept our punishments!" say the Monitor Monitors. Snickers in the background are somehow unrecorded in onomatopoeia.

It's like the scene in Superman: The Movie:

Otis to the warden: "He is serving notice!" Dude, you're in front of the warden. The point of that scene is to show how ridiculous Lex's megalomania is. It works for the Challengers here, as well, and makes them look clinically retarded.

Beyond that, if the job of the monitors is to MONITOR, and you watch them, then their job is utterly pointless, correct? Not as if they have a huge role in the DCU anyway, right now.

"You gotta wonder how we'll ever make it through!" "A positive attitude and lots of denial!" In a scene that's hard to get through because it's just two characters talking without any tension or point.

The Monitors find the Challengers appearing affronting because of their "EONS OF SELFLESS DUTY!"

THEY WERE INTRODUCED A YEAR AGO IN REAL LIFE. In comic time, it's much less. They were just created in the DCU with New Earth, for crying out loud! And they even make reference to that!

Enough. I am just... I am utterly disgusted by the execution, beginning, middle, and catastrophic end. I am so glad that this is over. Maybe we can get back to some good comics now?

1Art - 1: It's near impossible to get a one in the art without gross continuity mistakes and/or something completely unsuited to the story at hand. Here, the major problem is continuity goofs, rough, sloppy work, and exploitive crap.

Donna's boobs and body shots are prominent and distracting, as are Forager's. Beyond that, there are Liefeld panels, most notably at the bottom of the first page she's on. That's just awful, as is the odd back wrapping around the breasts two panels up. On the left, what purpose does showing Donna's entire body give that panel?

How big is Darkseid's monument? The scale is hard to discern. Who is that weird guy on the Source Wall? Is that supposed to be Darkseid? What's with the moon page, and why is the top half of the world unformed?

All in all, pretty dismally rushed.

1Cover Art - 1: A bunch of people posing with no background, rough-hewn and uninspiring in their attitude and poise. They're all in much the same position, and you wonder what the heck they're doing, or why this group of all characters in this issue was chosen. And Donna Troy, per her appearance for most of the series, just looks flat-eyed, vacant, and thrown in for sex appeal.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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