Comic Book Review: Countdown to Final Crisis #23

The Revolution was completely unimpressed with the last issue of Countdown to Final Crisis. It appears that Dan Didio is going to use the Multiverse as a toy created to be blown up. And it seems that Final Crisis will be just another excuse for a bloodbath that will eclipse what we got in Infinite Crisis. Whenever the master plan to a storyline is “let’s blow shit up” I can’t say I’m all that impressed with the creativity or originality. Let’s hope for the best that Countdown #23 is a better read than what we have gotten lately. Let’s hit this review.

Creative Team
Writers: Paul Dini & Keith Giffen
Pencils: Tom Derenick
Inks: Wayne Faucher

Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Superman-Prime talking about the “Gods” who flew to the end of this particular universe to find out what was past the Source Wall. In that endeavor, the gods got stuck in the Source Wall. Superman-Prime re-iterates his desire to find his Earth in this new Multiverse. Superman-Prime rants on about how the Earths he has seen have all been bad copies of his Earth.

Superman-Prime flies into his own version of the Fortress of Solitude. There we see that Superman-Prime has Mr. Mxyzptlk captured. Superman-Prime tells Mr. Mxyzptlk that he should help Superman-Prime get rid of all these “dumb” Earths. Mr. Mxyzptlk retorts that he can’t do anything since Superman-Prime had Annataz steal his magic powers from him.

Superman-Prime walks over to Annataz who is cowering in the corner. Superman-Prime caught her on Earth-3. There she was using her magic to torture kids. Superman-Prime tells Annataz that he is going to kill her last because she is so pretty.

Mr. Mxyzptlk then asks to know who Superman-Prime is. Superman-Prime then re-tells his origin for the millionth time. He says that he is grown up now and is Superman. Mr. Mxyzptlk retorts that Superman-Prime has not gotten older. That his muscles are swollen with power. That his cells are storing energy from the recent “encounter: that brought him here. That is what has allowed Superman-Prime to easily fly through the Multiverse. That soon Superman-Prime’s muscles will shrink back to normal once he has used up all that extra power.

Superman-Prime then uses his heat vision to burn his “S” logo onto Mr. Mxyzptlk’s face and yells that he is Superman and that Mr. Mxyzptlk is dead. Superman proceeds to beat the hell out of Mr. Mxyzptlk.

Mr. Mxyzptlk laughs at Superman-Prime and says that he is the Trickster God and that he will never help Superman-Prime. Superman-Prime breaks off a crystal and tells Annataz to cut out Mr. Mxyzptlk’s heart while Superman-Prime holds him down. (Ah, yes. There is that shiny, happy and more positive DCU that Didio talked about.)

We cut to Eclipso and Mary Marvel. Mary is mad that Eclipso tried to sell her out to Darkseid. That she doesn’t want to get mixed up with that kind of evil. Eclipso responds that Mary could accomplish much as court mystic once she gains Darkseid’s trust. Maybe even be his successor.

Eclipso tells Mary to trust her. That Eclipso won’t let her down. Suddenly, the asteroid that Eclipso and Mary were on explodes. It was vaporized by Lord Havok’s ship. We see Lord Havok’s fleet quickly destroying a fleet of Dominator warships. We learn that Monarch has displaced Forerunner and that Lord Havok is now Monarch’s second in command.

We shift back to Mr. Mxyzptlk lying on the ground with a crystal shard through his chest. Suddenly, Mr. Mxyzptlk springs back to life. Annataz then tells Superman-Prime that he will never be able to find his perfect universe. Annataz calls Superman-Prime a fraud. Superman-Prime realizes that the two magic based characters will never help him.

Superman flies outside of the Fortress of Solitude. Annataz quickly gives Mr. Mxyzptlk his magic powers back. Mr. Mxyzptlk tells Annataz to come with him. That Superman-Prime is sure to kill her. Annataz says that she will stay. That this is karma’s way of getting back at her for all the cruel things she did on Earth-3.

Mr. Mxyzptlk teleports away. Superman-Prime then uses his heat vision to destroy the Fortress of Solitude and kills Annataz. We see Mr., Mxyzptlk watching the destruction. Mr. Mxyzptlk said if he wasn’t so weakened from his ordeal that he would go over there and turn Superman-Prime inside out. But, at this point, all Mr. Mxyzptlk do is make a quick exit. End of issue.

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

The Good: Errr, this will be a challenge to satisfy The Revolution’s Rule of Positivity with Countdown #23. Um, well I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Mr. Mxyzptlk. He is such a classic Silver Age character. It is always cool to see him in action.

We did learn more about how Superman-Prime has become so powerful and physically grown so much since he escaped from the Green Lanterns. I was wondering what was going on with his sudden increase in muscle mass as well as his seriously amped up powers.

Derenick and Faucher combine to provide some average, but serviceable artwork.

The Bad: I found Countdown to Final Crisis #23 to be a terrible read. I’m stunned at what a sudden turn for the worse this title has taken. And that is particularly alarming since, theoretically, this title should get better and better as it races to its conclusion and the beginning of the Final Crisis event.

The pacing on Countdown has come to a screeching halt. Absolutely nothing happens in this issue. Countdown #23 is a total waste of paper. This issue comes off as nothing more than pure filler designed to kill time. It is becoming painfully obvious that Dini simply did not have enough material to warrant a weekly year long title.

All we get is Superman-Prime re-telling his origin for what has to be the hundredth time since Infinite Crisis. I cannot imagine that there are any readers left out there who don’t know Superman-Prime’s origin by heart at this point. This re-telling of Superman-Prime’s origin was a painfully obvious tactic to waste time.

We also get treated to the same boring and tired rant about the Multiverse and how lame the other Earths are and how he wants to find his perfect Earth. I get it already. Can we move on at this point? I don’t think we need to re-hash this same tired rant with each and every issue that Superman-Prime appears in. It is already becoming repetitive and unimaginative. The move of giving more of the same boring rant from the last issue of Countdown contributed to Countdown #23 seeming like another stalling tactic.

Other than the re-telling of Superman-Prime’s origin and his same old ranting, the only other thing this issue gave us was the brutal torturing of Mr. Mxyzptlk. Yay. I found the torture scenes to be simply pointless. The reader has already had it pounded through our skulls with the subtly of a sledgehammer that Superman-Prime is a violent bad man. At this point, I’m numb to anything that Superman-Prime does that is supposed to “shock” me.

All the scenes between Superman-Prime and Mr. Mxyzptlk seemed pointless. We saw Mr. Mxyzptlk getting captured by someone way back in Countdown #31. Then we got nothing else about this plotline. We learn in this issue that it was Superman-Prime who kidnapped Mr. Mxyzptlk. But, who cares, because in the first issue we learn that Superman-Prime has Mr. Mxyzptlk captive we see Mr. Mxyzptlk refusing to help Superman-Prime and then we see Mr. Mxyzptlk make a grand escape.

It seemed like a rather unnecessary plotline. And it ended just as quickly as it began. It basically boiled down as an excuse to have a torture scene. After all, this is Didio’s new brighter and more positive DCU. The scenes of Superman-Prime torturing Mr. Mxyzptlk were boring and predictable. This entire plotline didn’t do anything to advance the story of Countdown or to make it any more interesting. I guess this was the best way Dini thought he could introduce Mr. Mxyzptlk into the story and align him on the side of our heroes against Superman-Prime.

Oh yeah, Superman-Prime killing Annataz was predictable and boring. I’m sure Annataz will just be another kill in what is sure to be a long list of kills that Superman-Prime is going to rack up in this bloodbath.

Superman-Prime’s dialogue is getting more and more over the top and is making him more of a laughable character than a monster villain. I’m already beginning to have a hard time taking Superman-Prime seriously with some of the horribly cheesy dialogue that he cranks out.

The Marvel scene was dull and repetitious. How much longer do we need to see Mary talking with Eclipso and waffling over accepting her dark powers or not? This scene simply read as a pure time waster. Just another effort to stretch out a plotline that clearly was not designed to run for 52 weeks.

And the logic that Mary uses to explain why she wouldn’t want to get involved with Darkseid was laughable. Let’s see Darskeid is too evil to join up with. But, having Eclipso as a mentor is okay. Yeah, that makes sense. I understand that Darkseid is the ultimate bad guy, but Eclipso is a pretty major villain and, last time I checked, brutally murdered Sue Dibny. So, sorry, I don’t buy that Black Mary would be okay with having the psychotic Eclipso as a mentor but would balk at working with Darkseid.

And when did Lord Havok displace Forerunner as Monarch’s second in command? And where is Forerunner? This is another major criticism that I have with Countdown. It seems like so much of Countdown’s story takes place on a myriad of other titles and mini-series. It is unreasonable to ask a reader to collect every DC title under the sun just to follow the Countdown story.

Overall: Countdown #23 was a very disappointing read. It seems that this title is suffering from a precipitous drop in terms of quality writing. I’m getting less and less interested in the upcoming Final Crisis now that it appears that it is going to be nothing more than a kill-fest where the writers can use the Multiverse to “blow shit up.” At this point I have practically no expectations of getting a wonderfully constructed story out of the end of Countdown or the impending Final Crisis.

2 thoughts on “Comic Book Review: Countdown to Final Crisis #23

  1. Paul Dini takes a strong hand in writing an issue, and all of a sudden a version of Zatanna shows up. Oh Paul, you’re so transparent.

    Countdown is a complete waste of time (I keep up with spoilers), but I admit to being slightly interested in Final Crisis, since it’s being done by Morrison and J.G. Jones. Any time the companies let Morrison near the fine china it’s at least worth watching what he does.

  2. “This issue comes off as nothing more than pure filler designed to kill time”

    And characters.

    “(Ah, yes. There is that shiny, happy and more positive DCU that Didio talked about.)”

    Superman prime sure seems happy while he’s doing iy.

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