Monday, May 5, 2008

Countdown to Final Crisis #1

“Loose Ends”
Writer: Paul Dini
Story Consultant: Keith Giffen
Pencils: Tom Derenick
Inks: Wayne Faucher
Cover: Andy Kubert

Previously in Countdown to Final Crisis

Jimmy Olsen, Superman’s pal and Daily Planet reporter, began developing meta-human abilities shortly after the New Gods began dying. He wanted to use his abilities as a super-hero, but later aided Forager in tracking down the killer of the New Gods. Jimmy eventually learned that Darkseid was using him as a receptacle for the New Gods’ power, so that Darkseid could later access the power and remake the universe …

Mary Batson woke up from a coma to find that she had lost the power of Shazam. She enlisted the aid of Black Adam, who gave Mary all of his power, but she lacked control. She sought the aid of Zatanna, Klarion, and others, but soon fell under the sway of Eclipso, who wanted her to use her power to aid Darkseid. Mary rebelled, and rejected Black Adam’s power, but the Olympian Gods realized that she was worthy and bestowed their power upon her. Darkseid, however, would have the last laugh, and gave Mary Eclipso’s black diamond, swaying the girl to his cause…

The Pied Piper and the Trickster were involved in the murder of Bart Allen, a.k.a. the Flash, and founds themselves on the run from the Suicide Squad. Linked together by a shock chain, the two were worn down physically and mentally by their harrowing experiences. Deadshot succeeded in killing the Trickster, and the Piper wound up on Apokolips, where DeSaad intended to use the Piper to control the Anti-Life Equation. The Pied Piper instead killed DeSaad, and seemingly destroyed Apokolips…

Holly Robinson fled Gotham City, her experience as the Catwoman a disaster. She accepted Athena’s offer to join the Athenian Women’s Shelters, and found a kindred spirit in the form of Harleen Quinzel, the former Harley Quinn. The two were eventually sent to Paradise Island, to undergo training as Amazons. What they did not realize at the time was that “Athena” was actually Granny Goodness, who was seeking new Female Furies. Holly and Harley joined forces with Queen Hippolyta and Mary Batson, and exposed Granny’s deception. They then joined with the Challengers from Beyond on Apokolips…

Karate Kid and Una (one-half of Duo Damsel) came to the twenty-first century in search of a cure to a disease which threatened the kid’s life. The answers lay with Brother Eye, who directed the duo and Buddy Blank to Blüdhaven, where they saved Firestorm from DeSaad. Brother Eye broke free from his confinement, and recognized the virus within Karate Kid as the Morticoccus virus. Brother Eye sought o replicate the power of the virus, but was thwarted. Nevertheless, Brother Eye, now massively more powerful, escaped…

Jason Todd witnessed the murder of Duela Dent at the hands of a Monitor, and realized that something was up. He soon fell in with Donna Troy, Kyle Rayner, and New Earth’s Monitor, nicknamed “Bob,” and the foursome – dubbed the Challengers from Beyond – traveled the Multiverse in search of Ray Palmer, the former Atom, who could prevent the upcoming Great Disaster. Ray was hiding out on Earth-51, which soon found itself under attack from Monarch and his army. Superman-Prime joined the battle, and Earth-51 was annihilated. The Challengers traveled to Apokolips, and recruited Mary Marvel, Holly, Harley and Firestorm to battle Brother Eye. As Apokolips exploded around them, Jimmy Olsen and the Hairies provided a last minute rescue and Solomon the Monitor teleported the heroes to a reconstituted Earth-51. The Morticoccus virus finally killed Karate Kid and emerged, and quickly decimated the planet. That Earth’s Buddy Blank hid himself and his grandson in Command D, while the heroes traveled back to New Earth for a final battle with Darkseid. Darkseid sought to claim the power of the New Gods from Jimmy Olsen, but the Atom released the power back into the universe. Orion arrived on Earth, and battled his father in Metropolis. Orion finally ripped Darkseid’s heart from his chest, putting an end to their saga…

Solomon, Monitor of Earth-8, and Darkseid have been manipulating events for months, each seeking to outwit the other…

Synopsis

Jimmy Olsen reflects on the past few months of his life, and the craziness of it all. He has taken part in a great adventure, something that could be the biggest story of his career, and he can’t even tell anyone about it. To top it off, his “girl-friend,” Forager, wants to have a discussion about their relationship…

Ray Palmer has moved back into the home he once shared with his wife, Jean Loring, and attempts to get his life back to normal. However, he has no idea if that’s what he wants. Donna Troy arrives on his doorstep, and instantly realizes that they share the same unfulfilled feelings…

In Gotham City, the Pied Piper celebrates being alive. He concludes that he has been given another chance, and decides that it’s once again time to work on the side of the angels. He looks up into the night sky and watches the Bat-signal…

Jason Todd averts his gaze from the Bat-signal. He’s resolved that he’s no longer a sidekick, nor does he feel like dealing with cosmic matters anymore. Get gets back to the business of protecting the streets of Gotham…

Solomon travels to the Source Wall, still intact after all it has endured. He adds a small monument to the fallen Darkseid, a reminder to those who would be foolish enough to underestimate the Monitor…

Kyle Rayner arrives at Ray’s house, as aimless as Palmer and Donna. Donna is troubled by the fact that so many died because godlike beings were playing with the cosmos. Ray is trying not to dwell on such matters. Donna asks, “Who Monitors the Monitors?” Ray rejects her idea…

Mary Marvel tracks down Black Adam in the desert, and tells him that she’s on his side. She feels a kinship with him, but he rejects her, saying that he does what he must, but she only does what she wants. She lashes out at him, but he simply ignores her. Mary shouts after him that she doesn’t need anyone at all…

Buddy Blank and his grandson are still trapped in Command D in the ruins of Blüdhaven. Brother Eye has need of Blank, and transforms him into a new version of an OMAC prototype. OMAC frees himself and Blank’s grandson, and then reverts to his human form. They head home; Blank is aware that Brother Eye is still out there…

Jimmy Olsen and Forager have joined their former allies at Palmer’s house. Ray’s getting annoyed. Donna, Kyle and Forager have decided that they need to go see the Monitors, and they need Ray to come with them. Nix Uotan, Monitor of Earth-51, accompanies Ray, Donna, Kyle and Forager to the Monitors’ satellite, where the Challengers from Beyond inform the Monitors that they intend to act as a sort of border guard for the Multiverse. The Atom tells the Monitors to watch themselves…

In Gotham City, Holly Robinson and Harleen Quinzel ponder the universe. Harley declares that since everything is so scary and uncertain, one never knows how things will shake out. She wonders aloud about how one can deal with it all. “A positive attitude and lots of denial” is her answer. Holy tells her to never change…

Notes

Page 1: Okay, deep breaths, time, once more…

Jimmy Olsen makes mention about all of the things that he’s “documented over the last twelve months.” Sorry, but there is no way that the events of Countdown took place over the course of a year. Nope, not gonna believe it. Six months? Maybe. More like three to four, if you ask me. Not that anyone did, mind you.

Page 2: Jimmy Olsen last appeared in Countdown to Final Crisis #2. Forager last appeared in Countdown to Final Crisis #3.

The final battle with Darkseid was in Countdown to Final Crisis #2. Forager’s pissed off that she missed it. She should be, too, it was pretty cool.

Page 3: Ray Palmer last appeared in Countdown to Final Crisis #2.

Good to see that Ray’s house is still around. Jean Loring was last living here, up until she went crazy, killed Sue Dibny and Jack Drake, and was then committed to Arkham Asylum. This was all in Identity Crisis #1-7.

“Of all the bizarre places I’ve visited in the last two years…” Hold on a second. It may have been two years New Earth time, but Ray had a whole new career as the Atom on Earth-51, remember? He replaced that world’s Ray Palmer, became the Atom, joined the JLA, and then retired to live with Jean in peace…That took a whole lot longer than two years, don’t you think?!?!

“The League has been supportive, giving me time to acclimate before going back.” Any chance we could see Ray Palmer reunite with his friend instead of it being off-panel? Kind of anti-climactic, in my humble opinion.

If I’m being nitpicky, it’s because the title of this issue is “Loose Ends,” and I don’t think that it does a particularly good job of tying them up, that’s all.

Page 4: Donna Troy last appeared in Countdown to Final Crisis #2.

Page 5: The Pied Piper last appeared in Countdown to Final Crisis #9. Seems that he escaped the seeming destruction of Apokolips. But why did it take so long for him to get back to Earth? Between then and now, the Challengers went to Earth-51, played a part in its destruction, came back to New Earth and fought Darkseid. Is the Piper using public transportation again?

Regardless, Hartley Rathaway seems to be one of the only protagonists in this series to learn something from what he went through. He’s renouncing his life as a Rogue and turning to the side of the angels…again. Yeah, he’s flip-flopping sides once more. And, even waaaay back when he first joined back with the Rogues at the start of the series he wasn’t too keen on joining up with them anyway, so it’s not like he was totally evil in the first place. Oh, well…

Page 6: Jason Todd last appeared in Countdown to Final Crisis #4.

Aaaaand….someone else who hasn’t learned a gosh-darned thing throughout this series. Good for Jason. Don’t take any of the experiences you have gone through over the course of the past few months and grow because of them. Nope, just go right back to being a leather-jacket clad Gotham vigilante. No, I didn’t want him to be “Red Robin,” but was a little bit of growth and maturity too much to ask for?

“…it’s time to carve out a life of my own.” Yeah, a little way past time. Thanks, Jason. As long as you don’t take on the mantle of Batman, I think we’re ok.

Page 7: Solomon the Monitor last appeared in Countdown to Final Crisis #4.

So, what in the world was Solomon’s plan in the first place? To merge all of the Monitors together so that they could form the “Omni-Monitor”? Or was it the “Prime Monitor”? And then what? Keep the universe separate? Or merge tem back together? Honestly, I have no freaking idea.

Page 8: See, I understand what Darkseid wanted – to recreate the universe in his own image. To rule over all. To create the Fifth World. I get that. Solomon? I don’t get it.

And what, really, did Solomon do to defeat Darkseid? Was Orion Solomon’s pawn?

And doesn’t Solomon get Previews? Does he not go online to the comic book sites? No comic conventions? Has he not heard about a little thing called Final Crisis? “The day evil won”? Is he completely ignorant? He does know that Darkseid’s coming back, right?

Page 9: Kyle Rayner last appeared in Countdown to Final Crisis #2.

Page 10: “Who Monitors the Monitors?” Remember a little mini-series from 1986 called Watchmen? And the phrase, “Who watches the watchmen?” Both phrases are derived from a quote from Juvenal, “Quis custodiet ipsos custodies.” Loosely translated, it means “who guards the guardsmen?” Basically, it’s all about who keeps tabs on those in power.

Page 11: Mary Marvel last appeared in Countdown to Final Crisis #3.

Black Adam…whoa, it’s been a while since we’ve seen Black Adam. He last appeared in Countdown #47.

Page 13: “I’m Mary Damn Marvel!” What is this, All-Star Mary Marvel? Is she taking dialogue lessons from Batman now?

Page 14: Buddy Blank that the grandson who shall remain unnamed last appeared in Countdown to Final Crisis #12.

Recognize that these are the Buddy and grandson from NEW EARTH, not Earth-51, the Earth that was decimated by the Morticoccus virus and will eventually become the Earth of the Great Disaster. I saw so many websites declare that this scene took place on Earth-51, it made my brain spin…

Page 15: Well, it’s about time…

After three years of dealing with OMACS, we finally get one that resembles Jack Kirby’s original design.

Ladies and gentleman, I give you…OMAC!!!!

(Thunderous applause.)

Page 16: “It’s okay, Tommy.”

What?

You’ve got to be kidding me!

After all this…

And now?

We finally get a name for this kid? And it’s just…Tommy?

You have got to be kidding me…

(Tongue planted firmly in cheek, here…I’ve been calling him Tommy for months now. After the Crisis on Infinite Earths erased the future in which the Great Disaster occurred, the boy who would have grown up to be Kamandi instead became a space explorer known as Tommy Tomorrow, who led a group called the Planeteers. Hence my calling him “Tommy” since he first appeared. I’ve just been waiting for Buddy Blank to call the kid something other than “grandson” or “boy.”)

Ah, nothing more poignant than a boy and his grandfather walking through a radioactive wasteland on a sunny afternoon…

Page 18: Nix Uotan last appeared in Countdown to Final Crisis #13.

Is he the “youngest of the Monitors” because his Earth has the highest number, 51? Or because his universe had been destroyed and reborn? Was he, therefore, reborn when his universe was?

He’s got to be feeling pretty low right about now. His universe has been a stomping ground twice now. First with that whole invasion by Monarch, and then with the Morticoccus virus. At least Earth didn’t get destroyed the second time around…it’s just now ruled by crazy, humanoid animals and is fairly uninhabitable for humans for a few dozen years.

Page 20: “You know we can enforce them.” So says the Green Lantern who was fairly ineffective and the first one to get knocked out during a fight throughout this whole series.

Page 21: “They are anomalies!” Yes, let’s get back to that whole “anomaly” concept, shall we? Waaaaaay back, right after Infinite Crisis, we, the readers, were told that certain heroes in the DCU were going to be visited by Monitors because they were, in fact, anomalies and should not have survived the Crisis. We had Donna Troy, Kyle Rayner..so far, so good…and then Nightwng and Supergirl. Whatever happened with those last two? Are they no longer anomalies? Do they now fit correctly?

Page 22: “There’s nothing for me in my world. I renounce my place in it.” Yeah, sure Ray, we’ll see how long this lasts…

So, these four are setting themselves up as the border guards of the Multiverse? As a team of Challengers? Yeah, okay, sure…

Am I skeptical? Just a little bit. The reason? Because Ray Palmer is slated to appear in James Robinson’s upcoming Justice League series. Kyle Rayner is a regular in Green Lantern Corps. Donna Troy just reunited with her old pals in The Titans. I don’t see these Challengers sticking together for any length of time.

I guess this is the thing that I am most disappointed about with Countdown. These characters, for the most part, haven’t changed. There’s been no evolution, no growth…just plot. Lots and lots of plot. Lots of characters, moving around to move the plot forward, without anyone learning anything about themselves. Compared to 52, where all of the main characters were in a completely different place compared to where they started, Countdown seems to be a bit of a let-down, character-wise, that’s all.

“Well, well. And so a new game begins.” Ah, that Solomon, always wanting to play games. He’s such a fun guy to have around…

Page 23: Holly Robinson and Harleen Quinzel last appeared in Countdown to Final Crisis #4.

See, now, with Harley Quinn, I’m not expecting growth, evolution, or learning. These things will ruin her character. It’s okay for her to “never change,” as Holly asks her to do.

I also think that it’s appropriate for this sprawling, cosmic story to end with the two most human characters in the whole series.

Countdown Crossovers

The Death of the New Gods #8: The end! Darkseid versus the Source, for the fate of the Fourth World!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Countdown to Final Crisis #2

“Darkseid Equals Death”
Writer: Paul Dini with Sean McKeever
Story Consultant: Keith Giffen
Art: Scott Kolins
Cover: Adam Kubert

Previously in Countdown to Final Crisis

Darkseid dispatched Mary Marvel to capture Jimmy Olsen, so that he might absorbs the souls of the New Gods trapped in Olsen’s body. Superman and the Challengers from Beyond intervened, but only the quick thinking of the Atom allowed Jimmy to unlock his abilities so that he might confront the lord of Apokolips…

Synopsis

Mass panic grips Metropolis, and the Justice League of America steps in to aid in the city’s evacuation…

Darkseid and Jimmy Olsen, transformed into a giant Turtle Boy, battle amidst the skyscrapers of Metropolis. Darkseid wants to claim the powers that reside within Jimmy, at which point Superman’s pal will cease to exist. Donna Troy and Kyle Rayner marvel at the battle going on beneath them…

Deep within Jimmy’s brain, the Atom stumbles upon the soul battery which Darkseid had placed within Olsen months ago…

Darkseid overwhelms Jimmy and is about to deliver the killing blow when the Atom materializes and destroys the soul battery. The souls of the New Gods are released in a blinding flash of light, denying Darkseid his victory. A Boom Tube opens up in the sky, and Orion emerges, scarred from his battle with the Infinity Man. Orion declares that Darkseid is about to meet his end…

Cosmic power crackles and erupts as Darkseid and Orion meet in battle. Orion tells Earth’s heroes to let them be, that the fight is between the two remaining New Gods. Orion seeks to fulfill the prophecy, which dictates that the battle between the father and son of Apokolips will decide the fate of the Fourth World…

Superman and the JLA can only watch as the fate of Earth is out of their hands…

Darkseid prepares to claim victory over his son, but Orion cannot be stopped. He lashes out at his father, even as Metropolis suffers because of it. Suddenly, Orion plunges his hand into Darkseid’s chest and rips out the tyrant’s heart, killing him. Cleansing rains fall over Metropolis…

Superman, the Flash, Kyle and Donna watch Orion stagger away, the last of his kind…

Notes

Page 2: Darkseid and Jimmy Olsen last appeared in Countdown to Final Crisis #3.

Whoa, Darkseid got big. Really big.

By the way, which of the New Gods had the ability to turn into a three-hundred foot tall humanoid turtle? Tortoisicus? Turtlon?

Page 3: “I don’t know how control of the power inside you has been pried from my grasp…” In Countdown to Final Crisis #3, the Atom, while inside Jimmy’s head, destroyed this gizmo that allowed Darkseid to control Jimmy’s ability to access his powers.

Kyle Rayner and Donna Troy last appeared in Countdown to Final Crisis #3. It’s interesting to note that Donna Troy is the only original “Challenger from Beyond” still active. Bob the Monitor, Jason Todd and the Atom (Ryan Choi) have all left the extremely loose-knit group.

That being said…Donna’s dialogue is way off. She’s really not the type of person to spout, “He’s freaking Darkseid!”

Pages 4 & 5: Poor bridge. What did that bridge ever do to deserve getting used as a weapon against Darkseid, hmmm?

The Atom last appeared in Countdown to Final Crisis #3.

Page 6: Been waiting months – almost twelve, to be exact – for someone to say this…

Say it with me…

“…JIMMY OLSEN MUST DIE.”

There. It’s done.

Oooh, Darkseid’s giving an up-the-kilt-shot to everyone in Metropolis. That’s a sight that will stick with you for a while.

Page 7: Getting excited here. You know why? You wanna know why?

Page 8: KIRBY DOTS!!!!

Hunh?

Notice all of those black dots on the page? Surrounding Orion and Darkseid?

Kirby Dots. Named after Jack Kirby, creator of the New Gods. They make me happy.

What can I say? I’m a simple enough guy.

Ah, Orion of the New Gods. He’s had better days. He was presumed dead after the events of The Death of the New Gods #6, but his body was never found. He survived his battle with the Infinity Man.

Page 9: More Kirby Dots.

Page 10: Also worth mentioning is that fact that Scott Kolins does an excellent job on this issue. He captures the cosmic essence of the characters quite well, and really seems to be channeling Jack Kirby.

Page 11: The prophecy of the New Gods…

“The father of Apokolips shall meet his banished son in the red light of the fire-pits and there they shall decide this war!”

This prophecy has loomed large over the New Gods for decades, with both Orion and Darkseid realizing that their fates are intertwined. When Kirby first began his Fourth World series of books at DC, they really had very little connection to the rest of DC continuity, and existed almost on its own. Supposedly, Kirby wanted to bring the saga of the Fourth World to a conclusion, but left DC before he could. Thirty-eight years later, Countdown to Final Crisis closes a major chapter in the lives of these characters.

Page 12: More Kirby Dots. A hell of a lot of Kirby Dots, actually.

Page 17: Ewwwww, gross.

“I am nothing like you!” Ah….I would beg to differ a bit on that, Orion. I mean, you did just rip out your father’s heart, didn’t you?

Note that, much like the Infinity Man killed the other New Gods with a blast to their chests, Orion kills Darkseid in a similar manner.

Page 18: It’s never a good sign when your “hero” looks like a lunatic and has blood smeared all across his mouth. The dark, lightning-filled skies are never a good omen either.

Page 19: Aaaaaaand….Kirby Dots!

Page 20: “There came a time when the New Gods died…” Evoking the beginning of the Fourth World saga, “There came a time when the old gods died…”

Pages 21-22: Yes, at long last, “The Origin of Darkseid.” Ryan Sook, the man responsible for all of those in-house Countdown ads from months ago, does a lovely job on the art here, giving the life and times of Darkseid a sense of grandeur. As per usual with Beatty’s two-pagers, it is less of an “origin” and more of an “overview,” but it’s especially fitting for this issue, given Darkseid’s death.

What? You mean he’s not totally dead? He’ll be back? Really? But I thought…

Oh, well. See you soon, Darkseid…

Countdown Crossovers


Salvation Run #6: Luthor versus the Joker…to the death! And what will the villains do when the forces of Apokolips comes for them?





Gotham Underground #7: All out war in Gotham leads to strange alliances! Penguin and the Whale! Nightwing and the Riddler! And can Batman get along with the Vigilante?







Tangent: Superman’s Reign #2: Wally West and John Stewart learn more about Earth-9 and its ruler, Superman! Meanwhile, Manhunter and the Spectre struggle to save the life of the Atom!


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Countdown to Final Crisis #3

“Owned”
Writer: Paul Dini with Sean McKeever
Story Consultant: Keith Giffen
Art: Freddie Williams III
Cover: Adam Kubert

Previously in Countdown to Final Crisis

The Challengers from Beyond and their allies finally returned to their own Earth, but still had to deal with the problem of Jimmy Olsen possessing the powers of the New Gods. Kyle Rayner, Donna Troy, Ray Palmer, Jimmy and Forager seek out the help of the Justice League of America, but Mary Marvel, now under the sway of Darkseid, confronts them…

Synopsis

Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice…Kyle Rayner, Donna Troy and Forager attempt to enlist the aid of the JLA is rescuing Jimmy Olsen, whom Mary Marvel kidnapped. However, only Red Arrow is present, and he’s having trouble keeping up with what the others are telling him…

Mary Marvel has brought Jimmy to Darkseid , who waits outside of Metropolis. Darkseid is ready to reclaim the power he has been storing inside of Jimmy, and promises that the process will be very painful. Superman arrives in the nick of time, and confronts Darkseid, knocking the lord of Apokolips to the ground. Superman declares that it is long past time for him to put Darkseid down…

While Superman battles Darkseid, Jimmy and Forager attempt to escape. However, a power-mad Mary stops them. Only the intervention of Kyle, Donna, Black Canary and Vixen prevents Mary from ruthlessly killing Forager…

Superman has Darkseid on the ropes, but the New Gods grows tired of the battle and unleashes his Omega Effect. The beams strike Jimmy, which unlock the fail safe Darkseid placed within him when he made Jimmy into the cosmic vessel. Jimmy’s skin irradiates Kryptonite, felling Superman…

Deep within Jimmy, the Atom is astonished when he realizes that Jimmy’s body is emitting Kryptonite radiation. He comes across an electronic implant that he assumes is responsible for Jimmy’s transformation, and attempts to sabotage it…

Darkseid watches as Mary Marvel dispatches her foes with ease, and ponders that he just might let her live when the Fifth World dawns…

The Atom tears a panel off the implant and begins just simply breaking things, in the vain hope that it will be of some assistance. Apokoliptian antibodies swarm and overwhelm the Atom…

Jimmy regains control of his abilities, and transforms into a giant Turtle Boy. He reaches down for Darkseid, prepared to confront the lord of Apokolips once and for all…

Notes

Page 1: Kyle Rayner, Donna Troy and Forager last appeared in Countdown to Final Crisis #4.

It’s been a while since Red Arrow graced us with his presence. He last appeared in Countdown #49.

No offense to Roy Harper and all…but when there’s a crisis with cosmic impolications coming around the bend, and you arrive at the Hall of Justice in search of the JLA, you don’t want to find Red Arrow. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, sure. But Red Arrow? Sheesh.

Page 2: Jimmy Olsen, Mary Marvel and Darkseid last appeared in Countdown to Final Crisis #4.

Pages 4-5: Sorry about the lack of introspective notes this time around. But this issue is mainly a whole hell of a lot of fighting. Like right now, with Superman kicking the crap out of Darkseid.

Page 9: Hey there, Superman’s bleeding! I thought that he couldn’t bleed anymore!

“You dare?!?” Darkseid is all about daring. He’s always like, “Darkseid dares all,” without realizing that other people dare stuff too.

Page 11: Hey, Black Canary and Vixen, thanks for showing up! Once again, not the duo I want alongside me if I’m going up against DARKSEID, but what can ya do?

Page 12: So, here’s a thought…If Darkseid really wants to get rid of Superman, why doesn’t he just zap the Man of Steel with his Omega Beams? Why does he, instead, zap Jimmy, turn him into Kryptonite, and merely incapacitate Superman? Is Darkseid suffering from “megalomaniac-itis”?

Page 14: This all begs the question…when did Darkseid transform Jimmy Olsen into this cosmic vessel? Presumably this occurred before Jimmy’s trip to Arkham Asylum in Countdown #50, when his stretching abilities activated.

“Now, say goodbye to your super friend, Olsen…” Was Darkseid watching Scarface while waiting for Mary to bring back Jimmy?

Page 15: The Atom last appeared in Countdown to Final Crisis #4.

So, Ray wasn’t being cowardly by avoiding the fight with Mary after all. He was being all Atom-like, stowing away inside Jimmy to help as only he can.

“Must mean Superman’s out there.” Or Supergirl. Or Krypto. Or that Chris Kent kid. Or that Third Kryptonian. Or someone from the Phantom Zone….

Page 16: Jeez, Darkseid’s bleeding too. Bunch of sissy bleeders we got this week…

Page 17: Finally, at long last, one of life’s great questions is answered! What is the sound that a Kyle Rayner makes when used as a club to beat Donna Troy into unconsciousness? “WHAP WHAP WHAP WHAP WHAP”

Thanks for the info, folks…

Page 18: “Gardner’s Law” refers to Guy Gardner, one of the great thinkers of the DC Universe.

Ha! The Atom made a funny! “Too little”! Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Page 20: Boo-ya! It’s Turtle-Boy time now!

Jimmy first turned into Turtle Boy in Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #53, in a story titled “The Giant Turtle Man.”

Pages 21-22: “The Origin of Amazo” did a good job of encapsulating Amazon’s long and storied history, from his creation up until his most recent defeat at the hands of the newly reformed JLA. It’s also a good prologue to an upcoming tale in Justice League of America, dealing with the “Amazo program” within the Red Tornado’s body.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Countdown to Final Crisis #4

“The Beginning of the End”
Writer: Paul Dini with Sean McKeever
Story Consultant: Keith Giffen
Pencils: Jamal Igle
Inks: Keith Champagne
Cover: Adam Kubert

Previously in Countdown to Final Crisis

The Great Disaster destroyed a world, and our heroes can only stand by hopelessly and watch…

Synopsis

The Challengers from Beyond and their allies return to New Earth, and begin debating their next course of action. Firestorm tells the group that he needs to return home, while Holly Robinson and Harleen Quinzel decide to head back to Gotham City. Red Robin declares that he has dealt with enough cosmic crises, and wants to get away from his traveling companions. The remaining heroes realize that they need to do something to help Jimmy Olsen with the powers he received from the New Gods, and elect to enlist the help of the Justice League of America…

En route to the Hall of Justice, Mary Marvel tells the others that she needs to go check on the rest of her family. Having ditched his Red Robin costume, Jason Todd joins Holly and Harley on their journey back to Gotham…

Mary Marvel returns to her apartment, having lied to the others about why she left them. Rather than worrying about her family, she has just gotten tired of dealing with everyone else’s problems. She walks into her living room, only to find Darkseid waiting for her. He offers her Eclipso’s black diamond, but she rejects it, telling him that the gods restored her power. Darkseid taunts Mary, telling her that the gods no longer trust her. He says that the diamond will restore her strength and power. She accepts it, on the condition that she do him a favor…

On Paradise Island, Hippolyta laments Mary’s return to the darkness…

In the Monitors’ satellite in the Multiversal Nexus, Solomon stands alone. He has been shunned by his fellow Monitors for his recent actions, especially sending the Morticoccus virus to the rejuvenated Earth-51, only to allow it to be destroyed once again. While Darkseid may have bested him in battle, the war still rages on; Solomon only needs to be patient…

Jimmy, Donna Troy, the Atom, Kyle Rayner and Forager arrive at the Hall of Justice. The Atom is hesitant about seeing his old teammates once more, considering how abruptly he left them. Kyle convinces him that time is of the essence. They are about to enter the Hall when Mary Marvel attacks them. Sent by Darkseid to retrieve Jimmy, Donna, Kyle and Forager do their best to hold Mary off, but she is too powerful. Despite the heroes’ best effort, Mary flies off with Jimmy, and Forager swears that she will track him to the end of creation…

Notes

Page 1: The Challengers from Beyond, the Atom, Jimmy Olsen, Mary Marvel, Holly Robinson, Harleen Quinzel, Forager, Firestorm and the Hairies last appeared in Countdown to Final Crisis #5. Gee, that was easy, getting them all done in one fell swoop like that…

Good to see Jamal Igle’s pencils again. Now only if he could actually work on a monthly book, it would be great.

Oh, by the way…What happened to the Atomic Knights? Are they still stuck on Apokolips?

Page 2: Firestorm has been away for a while. What started as a simple “let me go check in on Blüdhaven” turned into getting trapped by DeSaad, sent to Apokolips, and journeying to an alternate Earth that was destroyed by an alien virus. Long day.

Also…the writers of this series really dropped the ball with Firestorm in one crucial way…he barely ever chatted with his girlfriend Gehenna. You know, the “other person” in the Firestorm matrix? The fact that he is two people in one is one of the things that has always set Firestorm apart from other heroes, and should be used whenever possible.

Holly and Harley were “Gotham bound” in Countdown to Final Crisis #7. Unfortunately, it was on Earth-51, so they really were far from home.

Page 3: Ah, yes, there’s the pleasant Jason Todd we all know and love.

Jason has been dealing with “this cosmic anomaly garbage” ever since Countdown #51.

Page 4: “Ohmygosh. Is this nightmare ever going to end?” Not to be negative about this series, but I agree with Mary on this…

Page 5: Oh thank god! Jason got rid of the “Red Robin” costume. Nothing against the costume, but for Jason to be calling himself a “Robin” of any kind just annoys me. And I personally believe that the “Red Robin” look belongs on Earth-22, the Kingdom Come universe.

Page 6: So, way back in Countdown #51, Mary Batson left the hospital after being in a coma for months. She then went to Gotham City, received Black Adam’s powers, and went on a reign of terror that took her to Apokolips, Paradise Island, and an alternate Earth. She hasn’t worked in months.

How does she still have an apartment?!?! Much less a six-pack of soda?!?

Page 7: Darkseid last appeared in Countdown to Final Crisis #8.

Ah, yes, Darkseid sitting on the couch. This has been a running joke of Keith Giffen’s ever since the first Ambush Bug mini-series. In Ambush Bug #1, the Bug returns to his office to find Darkseid waiting for him. In issue #2, Darkseid was working at a local McDonalds. In issue #3, Darkseid killed Jonni DC, the DC Comics mascot. Each issue promised that next issue’s tale would be called, “When Titans Clash!” presumably a battle between Ambush Bug and Darkseid. Yeah. Right. Later, in Justice League International #21, the JLI is transported to Apokolips. Oberon, Mr. Miracle’s sidekick, gets lost and winds up in Darkseid’s quarters, where the dark lord of Apokolips is sitting in an easy chair, reading Mein Kamph. It really is a funny scene.

As a side note, I highly recommend the works of Keith Giffen. All of them. I’m especially fond of Justice League International, and Ambush Bug is a hoot too. I’d say that they are a diversion from all the sturm und drang of modern books, but that would make me sound old.

Page 8: “Darkseid dares all.” It’s about time that Darkseid did some daring. He hasn’t dared in a while, if you ask me.

Mary’s final battle with Eclipso was in Countdown to Final Crisis #17.

And…that little ball does not even remotely look like Eclipso’s black diamond. Sorry, Jamal Igle.

Page 9: The gods restored Mary’s power in Countdown to Final Crisis #10.

Page 10: Oh, boy, Mary’s gone all evil again…

Page 11: Hippolyta and Paradise Island were last seen in Countdown To Final Crisis #12.

Page 12: Solomon last appeared in Countdown to Final Crisis #8.

Okay, here’s the way I understand all of this. Earth-51 was destroyed by Monarch and Superman-Prime in Countdown to Final Crisis #13. In the aftermath, Nix Uotan, that universe’s Monitor, noted that life had come into being despite the destruction. The Challengers from Beyond and their allies were on Apokolips while Earth-51 reconstituted itself, which the universes seem capable of doing. As revealed by the Guardians of the Universe, New Earth is the cornerstone, and, if it is destroyed, then the Multiverse falls.

So, Earth-51 recreates itself, only without the Challengers and their traveling companions. Solomon sends them there so that the Morticoccus can decimate that world. However, because the whole universe wasn’t destroyed, it’s not going to just regenerate anytime soon.

The end of the Fourth World has been occurring for a while now, most notably in The Death of the New Gods mini-series.

Page 13: Meanwhile, back at the Hall of Justice…

Sorry, but I had to.

“I just left. Vanished.” This was back in Identity Crisis #7.

Page 14: Ah, yes, the return of Black Mary Marvel, looking all slutty and trampy again. Good to have you back, Mary!

Page 15: “I’m not evil, Donna. I’m driven!” What is she, a stock-broker from the 1980s?

Page 17: Donna Troy seems to like getting into fights with super-powered women in the middle of Washington, DC. The last time was with Forager, way back in Countdown #45. Ah, the good old days…

Page 19: So, I was thinking along the same lines as Donna…where the hell is the League?

And where’s the Atom? Has he gone all wimpy again on us? Jeez, Ray, grow a freaking backbone already.

Pages 21-22: “The Origin of Ra’s al Ghul” has some lovely Cliff Chiang artwork, but this story suffers from the same drawback that most, if not all, of Scott Beatty’s origin stories do – they are not strictly “origin” stories. Mark Waid’s tales in 52 stuck pretty much to the hero’s beginnings, which works quite well in a two-page format. Beatty has attempted to encapsulate a villain’s entire history within a two-page story, and the result is that it feels very cramped and rushed. I understand wanting to mention where the character is now in current continuity, but I feel that it misses a few crucial notes in the telling. For example, Ra’s al Ghul has a very specific motivation – he wants to eliminate most of mankind to save the world. But it’s barely mentioned here; instead, Beatty tries to explain Ra’s’ recent resurrection. Just my opinion, for what it’s worth.