Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Four-color Fiend: Catching up on Countdown #15 & 14




Only a baker’s dozen issues to go until FINAL CRISIS and things are beginning to pick up. This is just a quick run down on the main COUNTDOWN series and some tie-in books.

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Superman Prime (SP), who we knew previously as Superboy-Prime, has totally lost it. He has captured the former ‘lead’ Monitor and is trying to make him find the ‘perfect’ Earth that SP remembers. Forerunner shows up, momentarily distracting him and the Monitor tricks SP into believing that Earth 51 was his world. SP flies off to confront Monarch, leaving a vengeful Forerunner with the one being she holds responsible for the destruction of her people.

Things are going badly for just about everyone on E-51, where Monarch’s forces have killed almost all super-powered resistance. Surviving Monitors are trying to put up a fight, but aren’t really trained for these kinds of thing so are not doing too well. While Green Lantern Kyle is protecting Ray Palmer, the original Atom tells Kyle what he discovered on this Earth and what he has been doing the past years. Apparently, Earth –51’s Ray Palmer carried a natural immunity to all diseases, so our Ray has isolated that ability and was trying to spread this throughout the multiverse. It’s obvious that Ray and his discovery will probably figure prominently in the up-coming Final Crisis.

Meanwhile, Donna Troy impersonates the evil Wonder Girl and is able to defeat the Insect Queen, thereby gaining the loyalty of her insectoid troops who she leads into battle. Jason Todd joins forces with the murderous E-51 Batman, donning the costume created for his namesake, becoming Red Robin (hey, I don’t make this stuff up, okay?).

Back on Earth-One the depowered Mary Batson, is taken to Queen Hippolyta, the mother of Wonder Woman. Hippolyta is in hiding and with the assistance of Holly & Harley is trying to overthrow the disguised Granny Goodness. I’m going to guess that MB is going to play a role in the next series as well, but hoping she isn’t the little b**** she has been here. I would have to go back and check, but I think she actually killed some folks along the way and should have to pay penance for that.

Overall the series is picking up again and lots of things are happening. I think the mistake was in trying to keep the storyline going for too long and in too many titles. The ARENA series, in particular was a waste and the events there could have been shoehorned into the main series. Paul Dini and the rest of the writers have their work cut out for them, but still have over a dozen issues to bring things to the point at which FC will kick off. Working with such a huge cast they generally do a good job keeping characters mostly consistent, even if they are not exactly the characters we like.

COUNTDOWN: New Gods 80-page Special #1 – Like the Jimmy Olsen special, this reprints books from the Jack Kirby era when The King was introducing his Fourth World concepts. Here we get the first issues of the FOREVER PEOPLE & MISTER MIRACLE, plus NEW GODS #7. These show Superman’s discovery of Supertown (which he visited in the Jimmy Olsen tales); we learn of Mother Box; are introduced to Scott Free as he takes up the mantle of the World’s Greatest Escape Artist; and learn the details of The Pact that ties so much of the books together. All this stuff has been reprinted before and you can reread the entire Kirby epic in the Fourth World Omnibus books DC is now publishing. It’s still nice to sit down and remember how wonderful it all was as we all discovered this for the first time.

COUNTDOWN PRESENTS: Lord Havok & the Extremists #4 – We witness some horrendous attacks and Doctor Diehard decides it may be time to take action against Havok. It is also revealed that President AmeriCommando has made a deal with Monarch, and we all know that that won’t work out in the end. Writer Frank Tieri continues to make this all very interesting, even though this tale takes place early in the Countdown continuity, so we already know some of what is going to happen before it ends. I think things are really going to hit the fan next issue as Havok looses control over his followers.

More comics stuff in a couple of days.
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