Comic Book Review: Countdown to Final Crisis #16

Countdown to Final Crisis came back to reality with another pathetic read in issue #17. This title continues to amaze me in how sophomoric of a read it is. You would think that DC would want to make this comic book a quality read in order to build excitement and anticipation about Final Crisis. And that is the scary part of all this. Maybe Didio actually thinks that Countdown to Final Crisis is a well written quality story. At any rate, let’s go ahead and hit this review for Countdown to Final Crisis #16.

Creative Team
Writers: Paul Dini, Tony Bedard & Keith Giffen
Art: Pete Woods, Tom Derenick & Wayne Faucher

Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Monarch’s forces raping and destroying Earth-51. Monarch mocks Solomon for his foolish attempt to steal the powers of his brothers and to become the sole monitor ruling over the Multiverse. Monarch says that he could never have succeeded without Solomon’s greedy actions. And now Monarch shall rule all.

In a fit of anguish, Solomon transports from Earth-51 and back to the Multiversal Nexus. There the other Monitors chastise Solomon for his actions and then for him turning tail and running from the fight. The Monitors then transport away to go to Earth-51 to help their brothers in the battle against Monarch.

We cut back to Earth-51 where the Monitor for this universe is upset at what has happened. We learn that it was this Monitor who chose to hide Ray Palmer on Earth-51. The Monitor decides to join his brothers in the battle against Monarch. The Earth-51 Monitor does promise to negate all of the other Monitors if their actions jeopardize what is his.

We shift to Monarch overseeing the battle on Earth-51 from the bridge of his ship. We cut to the Bat-bunker where Bruce is cursing his fellow heroes for getting soft and dropping their guard. Batman tries to position Brother Eye when suddenly Superwoman smashes Brother Eye into pieces.

We slide over to Kyle and Ray talking. Ray admits that it was the Earth-51 Ray Palmer who was supposed to stop the Great Disaster. That Ray has been carrying on his work, but must have attracted the wrong kind of attention. Suddenly, some of Monarch’s heroes from alternate Earths arrive on the scene and get ready to attack Kyle and Ray.

We cut to Donna and Jason suddenly being attacked by an evil Donna Troy in an old school Wonder Girl outfit. Donna battles evil Donna while Jason watches helplessly from a nearby rooftop. Jason is then attacked by one of Lord Havok’s men. Jason gets thrown off the roof of the building. Jason grabs onto a sign on the side of the building. Suddenly, someone takes out Lord Havok’s man. Batman is on the scene and pulls Jason to safety. Batman is then stunned to see that it Jason is alive and well.

We see Donna escape from evil Donna. Evil Donna swears to kill Donna at some point. Queen Belthera watches evil Donna and comments on how proud she is of evil Donna. We then cut to the Multiversal Nexus where Superman-Prime suddenly appears and tells Solomon that Solomon can help him find what he wants or Superman-Prime will “make life infinitely worse” for Solomon.

We hop over to Metropolis where Forager tells Jimmy that when they kissed that she sensed the spirit-energy of the Gods within Jimmy. That Jimmy is a soul-catcher.

We cut back to Earth-51 to the Bat-bunker. Batman has Jason Todd tied to a chair. Batman rants that he eliminated their enemies and his friends turned their backs on him. That the peace his “friends” enjoyed was paid for in the blood of villains. We see two glass tubes set up as memorials. One with Robin’s costume in it and another with Red Robin’s costume in it.

Batman pulls a gun out and points it at Jason’s head. Batman says that Jason Todd died in his arms years ago. Batman says that “Whoever you really are, you’ve got about ten seconds to confess.” End of story.

We then get a two page back-up story about the origin of Sinestro. End of issue.

The Good: Countdown to Final Crisis #16 was another dismal read. But, I can still satisfy the Rule of Positivity since I’m a huge Batman fan. And if you spend some time on an alternate version of Batman then I’m probably going to enjoy that plotline. I liked Earth-51’s driven and obsessed Batman. I’m glad to know that even on a perfect world that Batman is still a warped bastard.

I dig the ending that we got in this issue. It appears based on the two memorials to Robin and Red Robin that Earth-51’s Batman sustained the losses of Jason Todd and either Dick Grayson or Tim Drake. I’m curious to see how Jason gets himself out of this sticky situation.

Woods, Derenick and Faucher combine to deliver some solid artwork.

The Bad: Countdown #16 is another pedestrian read. Basically nothing happens in this issue. We get a bunch of mindless fighting and the same tired dialogue we have gotten over and over ad naseum concerning the bickering between the Monitors, about what Solomon the Monitor desires and what Monarch desires. Enough already. I got the point about 20 issues ago.

The plotting and pacing on this issue was poor. The story continues to meander about without a clear point or purpose other than to “blow shit up.” Dini and company have left several of the plotlines completely unattended and dead in the water. And the one plotline that has been getting all the attention, the Challengers plotline, has degenerated into nothing more than a mindless killfest.

The dialogue in Countdown #16 is average at best and at certain times it is downright cheesy. The dialogue for all the villains is so generic and campy. I feel like I’m watching one of those cheesy Sci-Fi channel TV shows. Seriously, one of the weakest aspects of Countdown has been the lack of a single compelling villain. All we have gotten are Dick Dasterdly styled villains who twist their moustache while cooing about how eeeeeevil they are. Boring.

Queen Belthera, Superman-Prime and Monarch are a stunningly dull trio of villains. Not a single one of them has much of a unique personality at all. I mean, honestly, Queen Belthera has to be the most generic villain you can get. She seems like she just stepped out of a Flash Gordon comic book.

And what is the point of Monarch? What a boring villain. Dini and company have done nothing at all to get me even remotely interested in Monarch. I don’t even know what the hell is motivation is to take over the Multiverse other than he is very evil. And why exactly did Captain Atom turn into one of DC’s biggest monster villains? I must have missed that explanation.

We get a tiny bit of treatment on the Jimmy Olsen plotline. We learn that Jimmy is a soul-catcher. Unfortunately, because this plotline has been so atrociously plotted and paced, this revelation falls under the classification of too little too late. I simply lost my interest in this plotline quite some time ago.

Overall: Countdown to Final Crisis #16 continues the trend of sub-par reads on this title. We only have fifteen issues until the end of this title. Since we are already so late in the game, I have pretty much abandoned any and all hope of Countdown delivering a strong and exciting finish. It appears that DC is going to go limping into the beginning of Final Crisis.