Countdown to Final Crisis continues to be an unimpressive read. I simply cannot delude myself into expecting a quality read on Countdown to Final Crisis #14. Maybe Dini and company can prove me wrong, but I seriously doubt it. Let’s go ahead and hit this review.
Writers: Paul Dini, Tony Bedard & Keith Giffen
Art: Pete Woods, Tom Derenick & Wayne Faucher
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Superman-Prime about to snap Forerunner’s neck. Solomon the Monitor tells Superman-Prime that the Earth that Prime has been searching for is none other than Earth-51. Solomon points to a video screen that shows Monarch’s forces destroying Earth-51. Superman-Prime is enraged and screams that they are ruining his Earth. Superman-Prime then blasts off for Earth-51.
Forerunner compliments Solomon on his quick and crafty thinking in getting rid of Superman-Prime. Forerunner then says that she has come here to kill the Monitors.
We slide over to Earth-51 and more specifically the Bat-Bunker. Batman has agreed with Jason to go ahead and enter the battlefield and to go out in a blaze of glory. Batman gives Jason a new uniform that was specifically designed for Earth-51’s Jason and his new role of having grown past his Robin stage. Unfortunately, Jason died before Batman could ever give him the new outfit.
We see our Jason putting on the outfit. Batman says that Jason’s new codename is Red Robin. Jason stands there wearing the Red Robin outfit from Kingdom Come.
We shift to the evil Donna Troy arriving back to Queen Belthera’s ship. Evil Donna tells Belthera that she failed, but that she will bring Belthera Donna Troy. Belthera tells Evil Donna to leave immediately and return with Donna. Evil Donna then says that Donna is already here. Swerve, it is Donna posing in evil Donna’s costume.
Donna proceeds to whip Belthera like a rented mule. After defeating Belthera, the insect army that Belthera commands then swear allegiance to their new Queen, Donna Troy. Kyle and Ray then arrive on the scene and are stunned at what they see.
We cut to Monarch deciding that he needs to end this conflict now. That the Monitors are proving too hard to defeat with just Monarch’s soldiers. Monarch tells his troops to pull back unless they want to be incinerated by his blast. One of Monarch’s troops suddenly notices an incoming object. Monarch dismisses it as a missile that must be aimed for their engines. The troop says that it isn’t a missile and that it is headed straight for Monarch. We then see Superman-Prime rip through the wall and tell Monarch that he is dead. End of story.
We then get a two page back-up story about the origin of Gorilla Grodd. End of issue.
The Good: I’m surprised. Countdown #14 wasn’t that bad of a read. I actually enjoyed a fair amount of this issue. The dialogue was average. It wasn’t anything great, but at least it was an improvement over the dreadful dialogue we got in the last issue of Countdown. The pacing was solid. Dini and company finally give us some progression on this big battle raging on Earth-51. Dini and company certainly serve up a huge heaping helping of action in this issue that also helps to make Countdown #14 a pretty fast read.
The scenes that I liked the most were the ones involving Batman and Jason Todd, or should I say Red Robin. I dig this Punisher-styled Batman. He has a balls-to-the-wall attitude and certainly knows how to kick ass. I loved the scene where Batman shoves a green Kryptonite pill down an evil Supergirl’s throat. The Earth-51 Batman certainly will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I like this extreme version of Batman. I will admit up front that I have always been a sucker for a more aggressive and angry Batman.
I really enjoyed the scene where Batman gives Jason Todd the new outfit that Batman had specifically made for the Earth-51 Jason Todd. Seeing Todd in the Red Robin outfit was pretty cool. I have always thought that Jason Todd’s character has tons of potential. And I enjoyed his character prior to Infinite Crisis. However, DC has terribly mishandled Jason’s character since the end of Infinite Crisis. Maybe, DC is finally figuring out what to do with Jason’s character and what his role in the DCU will be. I’m perfectly fine with Jason becoming Red Robin.
Red Robin also is one vicious bad-ass. Seeing Red Robin ripping out Superwoman’s eyes was just sick. I like how Red Robin shows no fear or hesitation when faced with opponents that possess far greater powers. Jason’s deadly demeanor is a nice way to distinguish him from the other Robins. Dick and Tim are already almost identical. We don’t need a third version that is the same.
Now, I know I have voiced displeasure over Superman-Prime’s character during Countdown. And he certainly is a one-dimensional character. However, I liked how Superman-Prime was used in this issue. Prime works best when he is employed as a weapon of mass destruction by another character rather than Prime operating on his own. Solomon’s crafty manipulation of Superman-Prime was brilliant. Not only does Solomon save his own skin, but he also introduces a new player to the battlefield who might be the only one capable of killing Monarch.
Dini and company end Countdown #14 with a pretty good hook ending. We get the twist of Donna arriving on the battle field with her new army of insect creatures who used to serve Belthera. And we get the two heavy hitters squaring off as Superman-Prime and Monarch look to throw down with each other. That is enough to get me curious about what happens in the next issue.
The Bad: There are still numerous warts on Countdown #14. The plotting continues to be rather weak. Dini and company have simply left so many of the various plotlines like the ones involving Mary Marvel, Holly Robinson, Jimmy Olsen and the Pied Piper to simply languish like a dying vine twisting in the wind.
I could still care less about Forerunner. She is such a generic and bland character. I was actually rather disappointed that Superman-Prime didn’t kill her off and mercifully end her dull plotline.
I continue to care less about Monarch. I just don’t get this character at all. I still have no idea why Captain Atom made such a dramatic heel turn. Monarch’s character has been poorly handled from the start. The writers have spent no time delving into his character and trying to flesh out his personality. Instead all we get with Monarch is an incredibly generic and one dimensional villain. I really hope that Superman-Prime kills Monarch so we can put an end to what has been such a dud of a villain.
The fight between Donna and Belthera was a total miss with me. The reason that there was no emotion or impact with this supposedly big showdown is that the writers totally failed to give the reader any character development with Belthera. Instead, Belthera comes across as a random generic villain that was hastily cobbled together for Countdown. I never got a sense of any drama or a well developed feud between Donna and Belthera. It seemed like the writers were trying to make it like this was some big long anticipated clash. It wasn’t.
Overall: Countdown #14 wasn’t a great read, but it was at least average. And an average read is a real rarity on Countdown. Maybe Dini and company will be able to craft some type of satisfactory ending to this title that helps ease the sour taste that the majority of the issues have left in the reader’s mouth. I still don’t recommend you wasting your hard earned money on this title.