Buy Now!

Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

Countdown 13

Countdown to Final Crisis 13

Scheduled to arrive in stores: January 30, 2008

Cover date: January 30, 2008

"Abandon All Hope"

Writer: Paul Dini (head writer) and Keith Giffen (story consultant) with Tony Bedard
Penciller: Tom Derenick
Inker: Wayne Faucher
Cover: Stephane Roux with Karine Boccanfuso

Back-Up Story: "The Origin of Cyborg Superman"
Write: Scott Beatty
Penciller: Ivan Reis
Inker: Oclair Albert

Reviewed by: Jason Larouche

Click to enlarge

Earth 51 Metropolis

Superman Prime continues his assault on Monarch, believing he's responsible for ruining his "perfect" Earth (also a ruse). Deluded by his own power and arrogance, Prime underestimates the power contained within Monarch's suit, provoking the villain into giving him a taste of it... which levels a large portion of the city. At the other end of town the Challengers can only look on in shock. Kyle Rayner arrives with Earth 51's Batman and Red Robin (Jason Todd) in tow. Superman Prime survives the blast, as does Monarch, and the pair resume battle, while Donna Troy, on her end, spots a magical message written on the wall that reads "TO APOKALIPS."

The Multiversal Nexus

Solomon overpowers Forerunner's attempt to kill him, but before he can deliver the killing blow, Darkseid appears and offers him the opportunity to play a bigger role in "the game."

Back on Earth 51, the assigned Monitor sees their battle against Monarch's army lost until he notices a siren call. Elsewhere, Todd and Donna argue about the message which only she can see while Batman notices Monarch's Joker down below, accompanied by an alternate Wonder Woman. Without hesitation he engages them in battle, focusing his misplaced rage completely on the Joker while the others join in. Jason fails to stop the alternate Superman from punching a hole through Bruce's head. Green Lantern dispatches the villain at the other end of town. When the Challengers' backs are turned, Red Robin takes final retribution on the Joker. Ray and Kyle give Donna's vision the benefit of the doubt, and the 51 Monitor agrees to open a portal to Apokalips for them, but chooses to remain to complete his duty.

The battle between Superman Prime and Monarch intensifies. Monarch points out that the extra solar energy that gives Prime both his adult-like physique and enhanced abilities are beginning to ebb. Now a child throwing a tantrum, Prime digs his fingers into Monarch's uniform and rips it apart, causing a chain reaction which not only swallows the city, but then the world, and finaly the entire universe...leaving only the Monitor. To his shock, he finds a tiny sapling as the only surviving life form on Earth, and weeps.


Back-Up Story: "The Origin of Cyborg Superman"
Write: Scott Beatty
Penciller: Ivan Reis
Inker: Oclair Albert

Astronaut Hank Henshaw and his crew encountered a cosmic storm in space which pummeled their poorly-shieled craft and endowed them with different mutagenic changes. Mistaken for monsters when they crash landed on Earth, precious time was wasted battling Superman and STAR Labs' efforts to reverse these mutations were for naught. Henshaw disintegrated in Superman's arms, failing to restore his wife Terri to her physical form. However, Henshaw did not die, but rather transcended to a higher level of consciousness, able to take control of, and reconstitute himself from, metal. His first attempted return found his wife successfully returned to human. However, Terri's grip on reality was tenuous still, and seeing her husband reborn as a machine made her snap and commit suicide. Henshaw left Earth via a craft reconstituted from both Kryptonian technology and DNA obtained from Kal-El's spaceship that brought him to Earth. Over time coming to believe Superman drove him away for fear of his power, Henshaw plotted revenge with the like-minded Mongul and rebuilt himself as a cyborg version of Superman, fooling everyone into thinking he was Superman brought back to life after his fatal battle with Doomsday. The ruse exposed and Henshaw defeated, the Cyborg-Superman continued to ally himself with monsters and villains with utter contempt for the Man of Steel. His recent venture was becoming a member of the Sinestro Corps. Regardless of which form he chooses or plot he concieves, Henshaw believes that the death of Superman might also provide the dividend he has long sought all along...death.

4Story - 4: First of all, let me say that I'm a huge fan of Mark Waid and Alex Ross' Kingdom Come. I bought the Absolute version, the TPB, and recently the original issues. I found his concept of Dick Grayson returning to the role of Robin - or rather Red Robin - very plausible and the design an answer to the question of what if he'd remained with Bruce instead of branch out on his own as Nightwing. The suit looks like the perfect blend of both Batman and Robin elements, especially the cowl. I'm glad that Dini and company decided to put Jason Todd into the suit, and that makes sense. He's a man with the talents of the Boy Wonder but without an identity of his own. The return to the fold works, albeit that of a different Todd on that world.

Earth 51 also depicts the Dark Knight himself, as mentioned earlier, as a route that Bruce might have taken following Jason's death if he'd been weaker in spirit. His end on this world is no less tragic, and I apologize if I didn't get the name of that alternate Superman right. Is it Ultraman? Please let me know.

As for Donna, her return to her original threads parallels Jason's in that they're really another Wonder Girl's attire. Dini continues to have these two taking one step towards each other and two steps back, a different take on how Bruce and Diana almost hooked up a few years back, which JLU on the Cartoon Network had fun with.

Speaking of alternate Supes, it seems as though Prime finally met his end via Monarch's rope-a-dope strategy. For all his bravado, Prime proved himself just as Monarch surmised: a spoiled little brat pretending to be a man.

One of the strengths in this issue is the tragic elements, in particular the assigned Monitor's melancholy and acceptance of his failure. This was his universe and he lost control. Dini painted a very human streak of humility and remorse in at least one of the antagonists. It's almost as though he's trying to redeem himself in the eyes of fans that hated "Bob" turning out to be a heel. The sign of things to come with the trip to Apokalips and Darkseid's invitation just heats things up all the more.

The only hole is the question of where Donna stashed her regular outfit. Good work guys and I can't wait for #12.

4Art - 4: The layouts were improved in this issue. Derenik's pencils on the Prime-Monarch battle were just amazing. There's not much I can say on this issue's work, only at times Prime's features seemed too exaggerated, cartoony when he went insane on Monarch. I also feel that Red Robin would've looked better if you could see his eyes rather than the pupiless eye look. After seeing Ross' work and superhero movies, characters look more intimidating if you can see the intensity in their eyes. Though graphically effective and a staple in superhero comics, there are times when you can let go of the stereotype and live dangerously. The Monitor's final moments were beautifully depicted. Good job.

5Back-Up Story - 5: I was suprised to see Cyborg-Superman pop up in the villains gallery. I can't help but feel that DC is using this book as a marketing strategy for their main players in the rogues galleries in their inventory, much like 52 was for the heroes (except for Superman which was strange). After watching Superman: Doomsday, and missing the Cyborg Superman plotpoint, it was a good walk down memory lane. It was also a summed up version of the special books released during the Sinestro Corps miniseries profiling the members. I wasn't aware of the Fantastic Four-like origins of Henshaw until the novelization of the Death of Superman came to the shelves, and I'm glad they haven't wrapped his origin too much around that established formula. The Cyborg Superman's one of the best rogues in Clark's life because it's like seeing a darker reflection of the Man of Steel. He's the Bizarro that should have been. Nice job, Scott.

5Back-Up Art - 5: Ivan's style seems to mirror Dan Jurgens and Jerry Ordway's a little, which is good considering this character was originally pencilled and inked by both during the Reign of Superman story. He was able to capture the tragic elements of Henshaw's life. However, I notice he held back on showing Kryptonian tech, probably because the prevailing style of K-tech in that story was still Byrne-influenced and felt changing it to suit the present crystal-like version wouldn't fly (no pun intended) with the fans. All in all, well done.

3Cover Art - 3: Though Prime and Monarch beating each other's brains in was prevalent in the story, it was only one part of the issue. It's eerie sometimes looking at Superman Prime because at first you think it's Clark at first glance until you read his dialogue, which lacks the maturity and wisdom he's known for. This eerieness is captured by Roux perfectly. A noble face masking insanity, much like Monarch's. Good job!

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2008

February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008

Back to the Mild Mannered Reviews contents page.

Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2008.