I don’t think I’ll be giving anything away, but just in case….
The main COUNTDOWN series continues to range from two to three stars on my scale. I’m a bit upset that one character I generally like seems to be dead, which I guess I didn’t really think would happen. Of course, the ways things are in the current DCU just about any character (except sadly Joker & Lex Luthor, at least the Earth-One versions) seem to be fair game. Poor Jimmy Olsen continues to have a really hard time on Apokolips; Holly & Harley are still on Themyscira, home of the Amazons, going through training which we learn will lead to being picked as the newest Female Fury for Granny Goodness (in the guise of Athena); meanwhile, we are apparently supposed to feel some sympathy for Mary Marvel, despite her being such a b**** since gaining power from Black Adam.
In related tie-in books:
In the “Search for Ray Palmer” series the ‘Challengers’ are going from one former Elseworld Earth to another. This is my favorite of the tie-in books and hint that some of the alternate DCU characters may have an impact in the upcoming FINAL CRISIS. The “Gotham by Gaslight” Earth brings us not only an alternate Batman, but also a new Blue Beetle whom I anticipate seeing again. Jason seems oddly taken by this world and I wonder if it hints at something in the future. The ‘Red Son’ Earth, with a Communist Superman was rather grim, but I think he will also be appearing in FC, if not before. The four Challengers continue to bicker, but a reason for that is revealed in one of the books.
The series centering on Lord Havok and his team is revealing more about each of the other members. Not being that familiar with their past appearances I don’t know if it changes things revealed earlier. I did find myself beginning to feel sympathy for Gorgon that I didn’t have before. It will be interesting to see how this story develops and finally moves back into the main series.
Finally, I missed the first issue of ARENA, but picked up the second and wasn’t overly impressed. Alternate versions of DCU characters are introduced, some I believe for the first time, and then killed off within a few pages or even panels. It seems a waste, especially with a very likable Blue Beetle who I think could have had potential beyond five pages. Also, as I have said in some forum posts, I’m disturbed by the portrayal of Monarch in this book. While he isn’t likable in the main series, here he seems totally psychotic and brutal to an extreme. It doesn’t seem to me that this could possibly be the person who was once Captain Atom, unless it is eventually revealed (as was the case with Hal Jordan) that there is something/body manipulating him. I may pick up one more issue of this and then drop it, as I doubt that anything of major importance will be revealed here.
I’m not really sure where SALVATION RUN falls into DCU continuity, or into the COUNTDOWN storyline. It appears that characters that are condemned to confinement on this alien planet are also appearing simultaneously in various other books. I’m not reading any SUPERMAN titles, but I doubt if Lex has been written out for the next six months. It’s likely that this will be one of those things explained in footnotes to have occurred between one issue and another of on-going titles. We all remember the original SECRET WARS, of course!
I wasn’t really sure how I felt about the first issue of SR, but found the second issue to have really turned brutal. This was even before the appearance of The Joker, who quickly shows how scary he can be even to other villains. There are now at least two second-rate villains who we won’t be seeing in the future.
After reading VILLAINS UNITED, I was actually willing to give the character Deadshot some points by the end of that series I wasn’t so sure. He was back to being a full-time jerk in COUNTDOWN as he hunted down various villains and shooting one that I liked, as I said. Still I don’t know that I’m comfortable with the Rick Flag tricking Deadshot, and a couple of other Suicide Squad members, into a Boom Tube for transport to the SR planet. I mean Flag is supposed to be one of the good guys, isn’t he?