Saturday, March 22, 2008

Four Color Fiend: Have we lost Count(down)?


Things appear to be getting worse rather than better in the DCU, at least in the main COUNTDOWN book. I’m guessing we’ll see a few things get even worse in the final five issues leading up to FINAL CRISIS this summer.

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The group we’ve been calling the “Challengers” have arrived on Earth from Apokolyps. They split up, but soon discover that either they are on the wrong Earth or that memory of their existence has been removed. I’m going to assume that this may be an alternate world, as J’onn J’onzz (Martian Manhunter) appears in his previous non-Skrull look, and minus the leather outfit he now wears. Of course, I have noticed other inconsistencies in COUNTDOWN (even between issues) so I don’t really know if the editorial staff lets the artists in on everything. Needless to say, when part of the group shows up at JLA headquarters (which resembles the Hall of Justice from SUPER-FRIENDS, so I know I’m out of touch) looking for aid they are not greeted warmly by the heroes present. SUPERMAN, of all people, seems the biggest butthead by not really giving the visitors much of a chance to explain before attacking them.

Seeking a cure for the possibly fatal wounds of Karate Kid, and for the deadly virus he also carries the entire group (now including Jimmy Olsen, Harley & Holly, Forager and others) decide to contact the Project Cadmus scientists. They arrive there only to be greeted just as warmly as by the Justice League, but are able to explain the situation to Dubbilex. Unfortunately, by this point Karate Kid has died from his wounds, leaving the former Triplicate Girl (now called Una) devastated. When an autopsy is attempted, the virus he contains (called Morticoccus) escapes the enclosure and begins effecting both humans and animals alike. Having been in the body of a 31st century individual the virus has mutated to become immune to anything available in 21st century medicine. Hoping to find a cure somewhere off-planet Green Lantern takes off, but unknowingly carries the virus with him to infect alien worlds.

Most of the action sequences in issues #7 & 6, involve battles between the Challengers and the ‘heroes’ of this world, plus attempts to contain the virus that takes monstrous form when initially released from KK’s body. We get a lot of discussion of the disease and learn a bit more about some of the characters, much of that from via the journal of this world’s Buddy Blank, who appears to be a minor Cadmus functionary and not the former OMAC. He and the grieving Una escape from the Project to seek Buddy’s family, in the hope they have so far survived the plague.
Lots of things are coming together and I expect that we’ll soon witness the introduction of Libra, who is the announced main villain in the upcoming FINAL CRISIS. What, if anything, he has to do with the plague, Darkseid’s plans and the Monitor/Monarch confrontations remain to be seen. In fact, none of those main nasties from this series show up at all in these two issues. There is a lot to be wrapped up in the next five weeks. Then again this Libra may not appear at all, until the first issue of FC, or he has already shown up in a DCU book I'm not reading. It all makes my head hurt, much like time travel!

More comics stuff over the next week as I go over my latest haul. :-)
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