Saturday, April 05, 2008

Four Color Fiend: I didn't COUNT(DOWN) on this!

One of the reviewers on line gave away the ending to COUNTDOWN #5, which ticked me a bit. Still the two issues had other things going for them, so with the usual…


By the end of COUNTDOWN #5, all the super-heroes on Earth have been killed and the Morticoccus virus has transformed almost all-surviving human and mammal life. Humans have become murderous and animalistic, even to the point of taking on non-human characteristics. Mammals, at least ones we see, have become more intelligent, able to walk erect and use weapons. When they are not attacking each other, they seem set on killing all those who have not been affected by the plague. Governments of many countries, at least those still run by individuals unchanged by the plague, use the virus and resulting chaos as an excuse (as if they needed one) to go to war with those they blame. It’s unclear who first goes with the nuclear option, but once one does the others follow suit. Those people, who haven’t already been killed or changed by the plague, are now caught in the destruction caused by these weapons. So ends another Earth among the 52.

The final days of this world are told via the journal of Buddy Blank, who with former Legion of Super-heroes member Una, escapes Project Cadmus to seek his surviving family. It is through his eyes we witness the changes and deaths of so many, including that of Una. If her death by transformed rats is not THE most disturbing thing I’ve seen recently in comics I don’t know what else comes close. What we don’t see in graphic detail, which includes her being dragged down by dozens of these creatures as they tear her flesh, we are told by Buddy. I’m not even going to repeat it as it is just too creepy and caused me to put down the book for a time. Heroic it may have been, but I don’t know that I needed to be given the details.

As things begin going down hill fast, Buddy & Una find his daughter and grandson, but it is already to late for the mother as she has turned bestial. In her final moments, fighting both the rat creatures and the transformed woman, Una throws Buddy her Legion flight ring (conveniently forgotten for the most part). He uses this to escape with his grandson to one of the remaining abandoned Project Cadmus sites, Command D. Ahem…we see this coming at this point, of course. Buddy witnesses the final nuclear destruction, and the brief appearance of the ‘Challengers’, Jimmy Olsen and others before they Boom off world. With communication shut down it remains for Buddy to live out his remaining years with his grandson, “the last boy on Earth.” Yeah! That’s what the reviewer gave away, but it was obvious from several pages prior what was going to happen.

The next issue (#4) is a bit lighter, (if only because we don’t see a woman being eaten alive by rats) with the ‘Challengers’, Ray Palmer, Holly & Harley, Jimmy and the rest appearing on yet another Earth. Again, this may or may not be the world from which most of these folks came from but it hasn’t gone to Hell yet so they decide to take their chances. We have Jason Todd once again revealing how much of a jerk he can be and showing that DC can have a character yelling, “Screw you!” at another character, if only to demonstrate how adult we all are. Sometimes I almost miss the Code, I don’t know about you?

Mary Batson/Marvel has several panels of being a decent person again, before giving into the temptation that Darkseid presents to her. Thus demonstrating that she deserves whatever final fate is in store for her, and that any last moment ‘heroic’ sacrifice she might display in the last three issues will only be bad writing which makes the bad writing in this issue not look so bad in comparison. If you know what I mean?

The rest of the issue has Ray Palmer disappearing again; Jason going off with Holly & Harley to Gotham, after admitting to petty theft and a pointless fight between the remaining good guys and a transformed again ‘dark’ Mary Marvel. Naturally, everybody has to stand about bickering to give DMM time to swoop in and carry off Jimmy Olsen. The issue ends with Forager (an insectoid-female who has the hots for Jimmy in a creepy way we shouldn’t think about) vowing to track down Darkseid and DMM to rescue the Olsenbug. Do we really need another three issues? Apparently so.

I’m sure I’ve missed something, but with Monarch MIA along with Superman-Prime, Darkseid and the Monitor, now known as Solomon, seem to be directing the action. It remains to be seen what will happen, but I expect things to go back and forth at least a couple more times.
The Lord Havok and Countdown to Adventure spin-offs have both wrapped up.
In his title it is revealed LordHavok 'stole' some of Monarch's power and is now looking to move on to other worlds, now that he knows other Earths exist. Can't tell if he'll be back in the next event or be held until another writer needs a convenient villain. By the way, his backstory does make him, if not sympathetic, less one-dimensional than he as seemed prior to this series.
In CtA, Adam Strange is back on Rann and the 'official' protector once more. Buddy Baker (Animal Man) is reunited with his family and Starfire has gone off to be with the Titans once more. The title ends with Lady Styx vowing to spread her 'faith' to more worlds, so I don't think this has been put to rest at all, unfortunately.
Finally, I'm sure you'll be thrilled to know that Forerunner, the multiple murderer and rapist, gets her own world where all living creatues share her DNA. She, unlike all those she killed, gets to live happily ever after. Thanks, DC!
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