If there is one thing I can always depend on in the world of comic books it is that Countdown to Final Crisis will always be a pathetic read. I’m sure that Countdown to Final Crisis will eschew such passé elements of storytelling like character development, dialogue, chemistry, plot progression and proper pacing in favor of “blowing shit up.” Let’s go ahead and take another sip from this fetid fountain that is Countdown to Final Crisis #15.
Writers: Paul Dini, Tony Bedard & Keith Giffen
Art: Pete Woods, Tom Derenick & Wayne Faucher
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Mary Marvel talking with Queen Hippolyta about the fake Athena and fake Amazons who have taken over Paradise Island. Hippolyta tasks Mary for her help bringing down the fake Athena.
We cut back to Earth-51 where Kyle and Ray are brawling with Power Ring, an evil Supergirl and an evil Booster Gold. Kyle and Ray emerge victorious.
We shift to Monarch being informed that every government on Earth-51 has fallen. That the world is his. Monarch replies that it isn’t over until they have defeated the Monitors.
We slide to the Multiversal Nexus where Superman-Prime is laying a beat down on Solomon because Solomon won’t tell Prime where Prime’s perfect Earth is located. Suddenly, Forerunner busts into the scene and is shocked that all the Monitors are gone and that Superman-Prime is on the scene.
We cut back to Gotham City on Earth-51. Batman says that Alfred and all the Robins are dead. That it is better that way. That Batman was able to discard his Bruce Wayne identity and no longer had to keep up appearances. That he is the Batman. End of story. That Batman kept the peace after all the other heroes retired.
Batman says that Jason’s DNA is a perfect match. Batman asks if Jason is a clone. Jason explains that he is from an alternate Earth. Batman replies that on Earth-51 that Joker also killed Jason Todd. That Batman responds by shooting the Joker in the head and killing him. The other heroes thought Batman had gone too far. Batman says that it wasn’t revenge. That it was war. Batman shows off his display of all the villains that he has killed. Jason looks stunned. Batman asks what did the Batman of Jason’s Earth do after Jason was killed.
Batman says that his war on the criminals was systematic and planned. That the Bat-Bunker is sealed and fortified against magic, teleporters, x-ray vision and Green Lantern rings. Batman says that they will wait out the first wave of Monarch’s attack here. Then they will pull off a covert counter-strike once Monarch feels he has won.
Jason doesn’t want to sit and wait while his friends are fighting and may be dying. Batman laughs that Jason is an unarmed tough-guy who would stand no chance against a transdimensional army of supermen. Batman tells Jason to go if he wants to. That Jason is dead anyway. Jason responds that they are both dead. That anyone could see that Batman has been dead inside for years. (Ooooh, that is gonna earn Jason a Batman sized beat down.)
We cut back to Donna brawling with the evil version of her. The evil Donna claims that good Donna lacks any identity. That she doesn’t know who she is. Is she Wonder Girl…? Troia…? Darkstar…? That Queen Belthera showed evil Donna what she could become. That she knows who she is. Evil Donna asks good Donna if good Donna knows who she is. Donna then drops evil Donna with one punch and responds “I’m Donna Troy, bitch. Donna. Troy.” (Seriously? Are we sure that a thirteen year old isn’t ghost writing this comic book?)
We shift back to Ray and Kyle noting that the Monitors don’t fight as a unit and are getting beaten. The Monitors have no discipline while Monarch’s forces are very disciplined. Ray tells Kyle that the Earth-51 Ray never became the Atom. That he was just the team scientist for the JLA. That the Earth-51 Ray had a unique genetic anomaly that made him super-immune. Our Ray doesn’t have that trait.
That the JLA then dealt with an ultimate bioweapon that was a host-organism carrying a doomsday germ called Morticoccus. That the JLA secured the host. That the Morticoccus virus had a DNA structure that mirrored Ray’s immunity trait. A little later, the Earth-51 JLA made contact with the JSA from an alternate Earth. Earth-51 Ray then figured that if the Morticoccus virus existed on Earth-51 then it might exist on all the rest of the alternate Earths. Ray decided to create a cure using his immunity gene and then dispense it to the rest of the alternate Earths.
Our Ray then continued Earth-51 Ray’s work. However, Ray got too cute. His inoculation that he created left a mark on the skin like his Atom symbol. That Ray inadvertently left a trail that Bob could follow. That Ray is why all his friends have been killed. (Great. Just pile more misery and guilt on top of Ray.)
We hop over to Bludhaven where Brother Eye continues to grow in power. Brother Eye has immobilized the Atomic Knights. Brother Eye has also captured Firestorm and is using him as a power source. Una, Karate Kid, Buddy and Buddy’s grandson are all still alive inside of Brother Eye. Karate Kid mentions that if Brother Eye has upgraded itself with some of the stolen New Gods technology that Desaad had in Bludhaven then it means that Brother Eye may have a Boom Tube generator. And if that is the case then not even Earth will be big enough for Brother Eye. End of story.
We then get a two page back-up story about the origin of Doomsday. End of issue.
The Good: To absolutely no surprise, Countdown to Final Crisis #15 was another lame read. However, I can satisfy The Revolution’s Rule of Positivity. I really enjoyed the scene with Batman and Jason. I love Earth-51’s version of Batman. For me, this is exactly how Batman should be written. Bruce Wayne is merely a secret identity that, once all Batman’s loved ones have been killed, the Batman can easily shed and assume his true identity all of the time. This re-enforces the fact that Batman’s mask is Bruce’s own face.
Also, Batman’s response to his Jason’s death at the hands of the Joker is by far the most realistic response. It makes perfect sense for Batman to approach fighting crime like waging a war. And to go about it in a clinical, rational and planned method. For Batman to react to Jason’s death in any other fashion simply makes zero sense. It is sheer folly for these heroes to continually lock up villains when the villains invariably escape and then kill and injure more innocent people. When dealing with super-criminals, Earth-51 Batman’s approach is really the only one that makes any sense at all.
Woods, Derenick and Faucher combine to deliver more solid artwork in this issue.
The Bad: Countdown to Final Crisis continues to come across like it was written by a group of thirteen year olds who have been sniffing glue. The dialogue is downright atrocious. Honestly, the line from Donna Troy was straight from a low budge Sci Fi Channel original movie. I absolutely cringed as I read that drivel.
The character work on Countdown to Final Crisis #15 was incredibly thin. All of the characters continue to come across as flat as a pancake and with as much substance as a rice cake. Combine the lack of any dialogue that might be confused with what a professional comic book writer might create and the complete paucity of character work and you get a title that lacks any chemistry at all between the various character.
Each character comes across like a robot that is simply going through the motions. At no point during Countdown have the readers sprung to life and given the reader the feeling that they are controlling the flow and direction of the story and not the writer.
The brawl scenes in this issue were rather mindless and uninteresting. It is pretty sad when you can’t even pull of a good fight scene. Part of the problem is that the writers have used violence for the simple sake of violence. Now any fighting just gets filtered out by the reader like white noise.
The Mary Marvel scene was a total joke. This has to be one of the most forced shoehorning of one plotline into another. There is no reason at all why Hippolyta would want or even ask Mary for help. Let’s see, Mary is now a normal female with no super human abilities. Not only that, but Mary has no military background. She has no hand-to-hand combat training.
What use would a person like Mary be to a bunch of Amazons? Seriously, Mary would be nothing but a liability if the joined the Amazons in any type of conflict. It simply lacks any sense why in the world Hippolyta would even ask for Mary’s help and why Mary would even want to get involved with the nonsense going on in Paradise Island.
I continue to care less about Superman-Prime. It is odd, because I really liked the use of Superboy-Prime over on Infinite Crisis and later in the beginning of the Sinestro War. However, ever since he has turned into Superman-Prime I find him to be more and more of an annoying one trick pony. No writer has taken the effort to give Superman-Prime any depth at all.
And the introduction of Forerunner into Superman-Prime’s plotline does nothing for me either. Forerunner is an incredibly boring character. Seriously, if there is a character that should get slaughtered off in Countdown then I nominate Forerunner. Unfortunately, Dan “death count” Didio only slaughters off characters I like rather than lame ones like Forerunner.
We finally get more back-story on what Earth-51’s Ray was doing and why Ray is so important to this story. Ray’s big role in this story is that he has been spreading an inoculation against the Morticoccus virus. The Morticoccus virus is from Kamandi #9 and #10. That must have been around 1972. I wonder how many of The Revolution’s followers were even alive when that issue was published?
This revelation ties several of the plotlines neatly together. Buddy Blank’s grandson is a nod to Kamandi. Karate Kid is probably dying from the Morticoccus virus. Brother Eye is probably going to use the Morticoccus virus to kill everyone off. The Morticoccus virus is probably the Great Disaster that the Monitors keep babbling about. Ray is the key to inoculating the various worlds from the threat of the Morticoccus virus. If Ray is eliminated then the Morticoccus virus can be used to destroy the Multiverse.
I guess many people will find this revelation highly entertaining. I’m not one of them. I can’t say that this big revelation does much to get me excited at all. And it appears that DC is relying on readers who are over 40 who are going to pick up on all the obscure Kamandi references. I don’t know if that is such a wise approach.
The ending with Brother Eye possibly assuming control over a Boom Tube generator doesn’t do much for me. Maybe the writers can craft this into something that it is interesting, but at this point I can’t say that I’m hooked.
One of the biggest reasons for the various revelations in Countdown to Final Crisis #15 failed to hook me is the terrible plotting and pacing of this title. The various plotlines have wandered around with little focus or purpose. And when the plotlines are combined they are done so in a clunky and forced fashion. The pacing has been mind numbingly slow. At some point, the reader simply stops caring because the writer has wasted so much time getting to the pay-off moment.
And some plotlines have been completely ignored. What happened to the Piper and Trickster plotline? What the hell was even the purpose of that plotline? Jimmy Olsen’s plotline has gotten almost no treatment as of late. The Amazon plotline has been stuck in neutral for quite some time. I just don’t understand how the same company that gave us such a wonderfully plotted and paced title in 52 has managed to follow it up with an absolute horrendously plotted and paced title in Countdown.
Overall: Countdown to Final Crisis #15 is a fine example of too little, too late. The writers are now quickly running out of time as we only have fourteen issues left on this title. So now plotlines that have laid dormant are suddenly smashed into other plotlines as the writers scramble to give us some plot development in order to create a dramatic finale for the much hyped Final Crisis.
Since Morrison has made it clear that his Final Crisis won’t be dependent on Countdown to Final Crisis, I see no reason to recommend that anyone waste their time and money getting Countdown to Final Crisis. Go buy an issue of Captain America instead.