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Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

Countdown 8

Countdown to Final Crisis 8

Scheduled to arrive in stores: March 5, 2008

Cover date: March 5, 2008

"Homeward Bound"

Writer: Paul Dini (head writer) and Keith Giffen (story consultant) with Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti
Penciller: Carlos Magno
Inker: Rodney Ramos
Cover by Scott Kolins

Back-Up Story: "This Am Unsecret Origin of Bizarro"
Write: Scott Beatty
Penciller: Doug Mahnke
Inker: Hi-Fi

Reviewed by: Barry Freiman

Click to enlarge

The chess game between Darkseid and the Monitor continues. It turns out Monitor's "King" was Monarch, that Monitor ruptured Captain Atom's skin back in Bludhaven forcing him into the Monarch armor. And the Monitor intends to use Karate Kid's illness to trigger the Great Disaster. The Atom sneaks onto the cosmic chess board and overhears Darkseid talking about the creation of a Fifth World.

Atom enlarges in Firestorm's hand - they're among the heroes currently on Apokolips: Mary Marvel, Harley, Holly, Red Robin, Donna, Jimmy, Forager, Una, an ill Karate Kid, and others. Atom suggests killing Karate Kid may be the only way to save mankind. The heroes bicker about what to do next and whether it makes sense to return to Earth. Jimmy Olsen says he wants to stay on Apokolips and confront Darkseid to find out why all these strange things have been happening to him.

Back at the chess game, Solomon the Monitor disappears. Darkseid refers to Solomon following yet another "Master".

Solomon shows up among the heroes. He tells Jimmy that he's the one place in the Multiverse that Darkseid knew he could store certain energies and that Darkseid could then take them back when he was ready to reclaim them. Why Jimmy? Because he's Superman's pal - should anyone put Jimmy's life in jeopardy and try to reclaim the powers other than Darkseid, what better bodyguard than Superman? According to Solomon, Darkseid can reclaim the power whenever he chooses but it will leave the vessel in which the power was stored lifeless.

The heroes continue to debate what to do about Karate Kid. Solomon is disgusted and teleports them all to Earth (which Earth remains to be seen). The heroes continue bickering. Donna thinks Jimmy needs protection and testing and Jimmy says he's had enough of that. Una begs for help for Karate Kid but the Atom insists they have to decide here and now whether Karate Kid lives or dies.

To be continued...

Back-Up Story: "This Am Unsecret Origin of Bizarro"
Write: Scott Beatty
Penciller: Doug Mahnke
Inker: Hi-Fi

Bizarro am not born three times. Him no have powers and abilities nothing like Superman.

2Story - 2: This was kind of a whiny issue. The heroes spent a great portion of the issue whining about what to do about Karate Kid as they are literally moved around - from Apokolips to Earth (some Earth anyway) - like the chess pieces they are. Except the issue ends with Atom asking the same question that's been pondered all issue long. Nothing's been accomplished here. The issue ends with the same cliffhanging question it opens with.

I do believe the chess game is more than a metaphor between villains. The cosmic chess board is not without DCU precedent. It shows up in the very first issue of "Justice League of America" - the first first issue, as in 1960. The chess board shows up again in "Justice League America" #61 (1992). I certainly hope the chess board is manipulating emotions and actions of the "Countdown" protagonists - at least that could make some of "Countdown" make sense in hindsight.

5Art - 5: Artistically speaking, this issue's on fire. The art is about the best I've seen in "Countdown" to date. Magno's penciled a couple of other "Countdown" issues (including #s 49, 44, 42, 33, and 22) but the art in this issue is positively heroic. Every character - alien, human, male, female, young, old - has their own distinct look. I'm especially impressed with the artist's renditions of Ray Palmer who has a George Perez-drawn quality to him.

3Back-Up Story - 3: There's nothing wrong with this origin - I mean, like a good Bizarro origin, it's told in reverse in Bizarro-speak. What I don't like is the substance - here was an opportunity to retcon the Emperor Joker Bizarro out of continuity once and for all and replace him with the classic clone-gone-wrong Bizarro once and for all. Emperor Joker Bizarro comes from the same world of 'we need a Bizarro so poof, here he is, storytelling be darned' that is at the core of everything wrong with the Superman world's ongoing lack of a definitive history and continuity.

4Back-Up Art - 4: Me hate Bizarro Jimmy most of all. Him no eat cheese. Me no want Bizarro with rock-skin least of all. This am Bizarro with Joker looks - him handsome and lovely. Bad bye.

5Cover Art - 5: This is one of my favorite "Countdown" covers to date. I like how the action is split above and below the 'War in Pieces!' caption. And the Atom's in trouble no matter what he's running from. The last issue I reviewed was issue #12 and it had a similar cover to this one -- with Darkseid omega-beam-ing the chess pieces. This cover gets everything right that the cover to issue #12 got wrong.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2008

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