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Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

Countdown 21

Countdown to Final Crisis 21

Scheduled to arrive in stores: December 5, 2007

Cover date: December 5, 2007

"Down and Out... From Beyond"

Writer: Paul Dini (head writer) and Keith Giffen (story consultant) with Sean McKeever
Penciller: Jamal Igle
Inker: Mark McKenna

Back-Up Story: "The Origin of Granny Goodness"
Write: Scott Beatty
Penciller: Jon Bogdanove
Inker: Jon Bogdanove

Reviewed by: Jason Larouche

Click to enlarge


In the Rocky Mountains, on the train, the Trickster has just been shot in the head by Deadshot. Pied Piper tries everything to resuscitate him in vain, even shocking James with his own electric buzzer. Their electronic cuff suddenly announces a fail-safe option has been triggered; the shackles are going to detonate in twenty-four hours.

Elsewhere, on Apokolips, Desaad takes Trickster's chess piece off the board, reflecting with Granny Goodness on how fragile life is and how he embraces the coming crisis. It is revealed that Granny has been masquerading as Athena, and is behind the Athenian Women's Shelter in order to acquire new recruits for her Female Furies from Earth. She exits via Boom Tube to Paradise Island.


The Athenian competitors hear the "boom" but Holly, Harley, and Tricia focus on the gauntlet set before them. Upon scaling a steep hill, Harley and Holly make it up and are prevented from helping Tricia by their Amazon drill sergeants. Ordered into the brush, Harley goes AWOL over the fence, followed by Holly only out of concern for the consequences. They encounter a cave. Curious, Harley goes in, followed by Holly, unaware that they are not alone.


On Earth-12, Donna Troy, Jason Todd, Bob, and Kyle Rayner, in a futuristic Gotham City, watch from a distance as Batman Beyond stops a mugging. Things are still tense given Todd's actions. Bob swears they're close to finding Ray Palmer, but Todd's getting impatient. The conversation is disrupted by one of Bob's fellow Monitors, who says he's acting on behalf of Solomon, the Monitor who their bretheren have rallied behind. Bob refuses to join him and his brethren, and a fight ensues, Jason going down first. With help from Rayner, they manage to escape into the nexus inside his force bubble. Bob notes that during his scuffle with his brother, he acquired the exact coordinates of Ray Palmer.


Meanwhile in Bludhaven, surrounded, Jason is too weak to remerge with Gehenna to bring back Firestorm. They finally do and manage to subdue their attackers while Una helps Karate Kid and the others to safety. However, elsewhere, Brother Eye hacks into the NORAD Storage Hangar and initiates a protocol trigger. All personnel are instantaneously transformed into OMACs and the entire facity, hidden beneath the mountains, breaks free in the form of a massive globe-like structure. Brother Eye's upgrade is complete and enroute to Bludhaven in 52 minutes.


Back-Up Story: "The Origin of Granny Goodness"
Write: Scott Beatty
Penciller: Jon Bogdanove
Inker: Jon Bogdanove

The being known as Granny Goodness began her servitude of Darkseid on Apokolips in her youth as a Shock Trooper. Goodness's ruthlessness and ferocity in battle were rewarded with a warhound whom she named Mercy, as complete a contradiction to the beast's nature as Goodness' own moniker. However, soon Goodness' own loyalties were tested in a training examination when she was required to gun down Mercy in Darkseid's name. She instead executed her examiner. However, given a second chance by Darkseid himself, Goodness carried out the execution, and Mercy even allowed it. Graduating from warhound kennels to wayward orphanages within Armagetto, Goodness wielded her ability to instill blind obedience in any sentient being. Granny's Female Furies are the finest products of her tutelage, but still answer to Darksied first and Goodness second. Goodness herself currently is among Darksied's Elite.

4Story - 4: Thankfully this issue took a break from Jimmy's adventures on Apokolips and focused on the two primary threats: Brother Eye and the Monitors. I like how Dini is evolving the Monitors' nature: rather than a nameless lot, having them evolve from a collective into a brethren gives the species dimension and ultimately a key flaw that the Challengers can exploit.

It was also good to see Batman Beyond appear as a multiverse character, especially with Paul writing it; that leaves the possibility open of a one-shot or an ongoing series, which SHOULD be done for such an original take on the Batman legend.

Having Todd be distrusted now by the entire group due to his actions in recent issues (however a brief deception) adds realism to the story.

The revelation of Granny Goodness' involvement in Harley and Holly's story was right out of left field. When you think about it it would account for much Amazonian activity as of late. And it makes perfect sense; it's the perfect cover to recruit more Furies for Apokolips, and I have no clue as to how this will affect the new and improved Harley Quinn.

Throughout the story we've seen different variations on similar motifs: corruption, absolutism, issues of trust, and subjugation. The latter case easily falls to Brother Eye, Batman's greatest sin. It embodies mankind's worst fear of technology evolving past the point of control. The cogs in the machine usurping their creators and making them serve the machine, much like in the Matrix trilogy. However, I'm starting to identify with Todd's skepticism. What role can Ray Palmer possibly play in the coming Crisis? I truly hope that Dini will untangle this complex plotline and how the second stringers fit into the final fate of the DC verse.

3Art - 3: I don't have much to say about this issue's art. It just didn't stand out for me. It was good but it wasn't great. It's like the powers that be are selecting artists based on a common style. Jamal's style seems to mirror that of Sean Chen's and Kevin Nowlan in certain areas. He's good and I'm not knocking his ability to visually tell a story. I just feel that scenes like the big reveal of Granny Goodness posing as Athena and the emergence of the Brother Eye construct could've done with more detail and different angle.

4Back-Up Story - 4: My first introduction to the New Gods was through Superman: The Animated Series, and found it rather hilarious that Granny Goodness was voiced by Ed Asner. It made this character comical and not as serious as its comic book counterpart. After looking over her history there's a bit of sympathy for the her youth. The fact that she was forced to sacrifice her prized pet for the sake of serving a despot was a grave error in judgment. But given that on Apokolips blind obedience and fascism were as much the norm as ideals of freedom of speech and basic choice are on Earth, it's not surprising the path she took. Good summation in the long run.

2Back-Up Art - 2: The art could have been better. I don't know whether they were aiming for a Kirby-esque look at Granny's younger days but they missed their mark. It seems 2D and much too cartoony in certain parts that emphasize drama and defining moments in Goodness' career. It just seemed a little rushed.

3Cover Art - 3: Though it's an awesome shot, it has little to do with the overall story. It embodies the goals of every denizen on Apokolips and in Darksied's Elite: Usurping the throne. Goodness truly looks demonic and the cape's billowing effect is well done. In this reviewer's opinion Karl should've handled the art for the backup origin.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

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