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Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

Countdown 19

Countdown to Final Crisis 19

Scheduled to arrive in stores: December 19, 2007

Cover date: December 19, 2007

"Season's Beatings"

Writer: Paul Dini (head writer) and Keith Giffen (story consultant) with Tony Bedard
Penciller: Jesus Saiz
Inker: Rodney Ramos

Back-Up Story: "The Origin of the Scarecrow"
Write: Scott Beatty
Penciller: Kelley Jones
Inker: Hi-Fi

Reviewed by: Barry Freiman

Click to enlarge

The Pied Piper continues dragging the deceased Trickster through the desert. Piper is hearing the dead Trickster's voice in his head. Piper slows down the countdown on their arm-bombs. Piper finds a tiny oasis of drinkable water (which is incidentally in the shape of Snoopy's head - check it out though my friend Anthony thinks it doesn't).

Meanwhile, on Earth 51, the Challengers continue searching for Ray Palmer on a world where Liberty Belle is President of the United States, Superman's secret identity is known to the world, and Lois Lane Kent may be appointed the President's next Press Secretary. Bob expresses concern that the other Monitors haven't attacked them yet and wonders if he's missing something.

On Themyscira, one of "Athena's" amazon guards reports to "Athena" (really Granny Goodness of Apokolips) that Holly and Harley are missing. No one ever told Granny not to kill the messenger because that's exactly what she has her Female Furies do.

Meanwhile, Holly and Harley find Hippolyta in a hole (a cave really, but it was more fun to use another "H" word). Hippolyta recruits Holly and Harley to spy on the faux-Athena from the inside.

Back in the desert, Piper finds a burro to haul Trickster around. A vulture circles overhead.

Hippolyta kills a strange Paradise Island beast. She suggests that Harley and Holly return to fake-Athena with the killed beast as she's noticed that the fake amazons look favorably on blood sports.

Harley and Holly return to Athena with the meat of the beast and a story about how they thought it'd keep morale up to have some fresh meat for dinner. Athena appears to take the bait and invites Harley and Holly into her elite guard.

Back in the desert, Piper contemplates using a pocket knife to cut through Trickster's arm.

On Apokolips, cub reporter Jimmy Olsen in turtle-armored form is still being strangled by Forager. Jimmy stretches a la Elastic Lad. His eyes start to flash and emit a "ping" - like a Mother Box. Forager snaps out of her waking trance (which she's put herself in to handle the torture).

Suddenly Forager and Jimmy are confronted by Desaad's sister Bernadeth. Jimmy fights Bernadeth and stabs her with his porcupine needle powers. Bernadeth gets off on the pain and asks for more. When Jimmy passes, she readies an attack on him but her hand is blasted by an omega beam. Jimmy's eyes simulate the Mother Box again and create a boom tube which brings them to Centennial Park in Metropolis. As soon as they leave, a shadowy hand cackles electricity as a voice claims to be the harbinger of the demise of the Fourth World. Bernadeth appears to recognize the assailant just as she's apparently killed.

In Metropolis, Forager tells Jimmy she saw the Source in his eyes. Jimmy says he thought she saw a Mother Box and Forager tells him he has much to learn. Jimmy contemplates whether he's being turned into a New God but Forager believes he's being turned into something else entirely. Forager and Jimmy kiss.

To be continued...

Back-Up Story: "The Origin of the Scarecrow"
Write: Scott Beatty
Penciller: Kelley Jones
Inker: Hi-Fi

Jonathan Crane taught at a university until he was fired for performing dangerous experiments in class. Crane distilled fear into a spray gas and used it to literally scare the Board of Regents who fired him to death. Crane became the Scarecrow and faced off many times against the Batman.

3Story - 3: I took a little break from these reviews a few months back. I was busy with another writing project at the time. Beside, I wasn't enjoying "Countdown" almost since the beginning and my reviews reflected that -- over and over again. I felt I had nothing new to say about "Countdown"; in my opinion, the story wasn't living up to its potential or hype. It felt to me that DC was making all the same mistakes they made with "52" all over again -- like storylines that percolated for too long, for instance.

Then, a few weeks back, Superboy-Prime destroyed Earth-15 and tortured Mr. Mxyzptlk and the story started to resonate for me again. As it happened, I was finishing my writing project around this time too. So I'm back. To paraphrase Rhoda Morgenstern, "Countdown", this is your last chance.

As with "52", the dramatic tension is building as "Countdown" counts down. The one thing I am hoping will happen - which didn't in "52" (and don't get me wrong: I really liked "52" for the most part) - is that storylines will converge. At a minimum I'm expecting Holly and Harley to cross paths with Jimmy Olsen given they're all interacting with Fourth World creations.

Speaking of Jimmy, I gotta say that Jimmy Olsen loves some strange chicks - and that's coming from someone who swings like Piper (no I'm not into chaining myself to the deceased). A few years ago, Jimmy was in love with the pseudo-love-child of Lex Luthor and Brainiac which was powering and instructing the Y2K technology in Metropolis. Now he's in love with a bug. And don't even get me started on Lucy Lane.

I'll say this for the Jimmy Olsen storyline - given it was probably my least favorite story arc when "Countdown" began, it's impressive that I still care where his story's headed. Maybe Jimmy's the portal into the Fifth World. Maybe Jimmy just wants him some New God lovin'. Maybe it's Christmas.

The only story that really needs to move forward A.S.A.P. is the Piper and Trickster arc, which is very quickly turning into "Weekend at Bernie's 3: Bernie in Spandex".

4Art - 4: The art's actually pretty good this time out. It won't blow you out of the water or anything like that. But the characters look like the characters they're supposed to be. And there are some really great, memorable panels like Granny Goodness and the three Female Furies and the long-shot of Piper's camp-fire with the coyote baying at the moon in the foreground.

3Back-Up Story - 3: Yup, that's the Scarecrow's origin.

4Back-Up Art - 4: Very goth. Almost E.C. in execution. Eerily beautiful. I love the splash-shot of Scarecrow with the tiny skull - it's a nice homage to the fear transmitter he was forced to use in lieu of drugs for the Saturday morning Super Friends crowd.

3Cover Art - 3: Hey 19 and poor Piper with no Cuervo Gold or fine Columbian. I'm guessing the vultures aren't going to help any. I haven't seen such a pretty decaying corpse since Isis.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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