Comic Book Review: Countdown to Final Crisis #24

Last issue of Countdown to Final Crisis was a good rebound issue and a fun read. Dini seems to now be ready to really kick this title into high gear and make Countdown an exciting read as we race toward Final Crisis. I’m sure that Dini is going to have another well paced and plotted story in store for us with Countdown to Final Crisis #24. Let’s do this review.

Creative Team
Writers: Paul Dini, Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti
Pencils: Tom Derenick
Inks: 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 learning that the Superman in black is none other than Superman-Prime. Evidently, ever since Sinestro told Prime that the Multiverse is back that he has been obsessed with finding his Earth. So, Superman-Prime has begun searching the Multiverse for his Earth. Unfortunately, none of the Earths that he has visited are perfect. None of them are like his old Earth. Currently, Superman-Prime is searching Earth-15.

Superman-Prime busts into the Fortress of Solitude and calls the Earth-15 Superman a pretender. Superman Prime then kills Zod who is the Superman of Earth-15. Prime then kills Earth-15 Superman’s pregnant wife. (Is that Lana Lang?) Prime then grabs the screaming and crying Lex Luthor who is horrified at what he has just witnessed and flies off.

We shift to Desaad as Firestorm attacking Karate Kid and Una. Karate Kid can barely put up a fight since he is dying from the virus in him. We zip to Apokolips with Darkseid telling Mary Marvel that the only thing he lacks is a sorceress. That Mary Marvel will fill that role for him. Mary says she wants no part of working with a psycho who treats human beings like his property. Mary and Darkseid start brawling with each other.

We cut to Kyle and Donna talking about how they don’t trust Jason. That Jason is a psycho, but that Bob the Monitor says Jason is very important. Kyle mentions that he doesn’t trust Bob the Monitor either. Donna then asks Kyle what is wrong. That he has never been a brooding and silent person. Kyle snaps that people change. Donna says that Kyle doesn’t have to tell her what is going one, but that she doesn’t want him shutting her out.

We zip back to Superman-Prime carrying Lex through the Earth’s atmosphere which burns Lex to a crisp and kills him. (Hmmm, seeing a theme here, huh?) Prime then spies the JLA satellite. Cyborg is a member of the JLA and it appears that Aqua Lad is now Aquaman. Whoever is Green Arrow is bald. Prime says that this version of the JLA is all wrong. Prime then blows up the satellite and kills Cyborg, Aquaman and Green Arrow. Prime brawls with Martian Manhunter and then snaps Martian Manhunter’s neck and kills him. (Ooookay. I think we all know where this issue is headed.)

We shift back to Bludhaven where the Atomic Knights appear on the scene and start brawling with Desaad. One of the Atomic Knights throws a device at Desaad which forces Desaad to separate from Firestorm. Now back in his powerless natural form, Desaad decides it is time to retreat and jumps through a teleportation portal.

We see Desaad suddenly teleporting back into Darkeid’s thrown room on Apokolips. Desaad’s sudden appearance gives Mary the necessary distraction to make her escape. Eclipso vows to bring Mary back to Darkseid.

We cut back to Superman-Prime on Earth-15. Prime destroys Atlantis. Wonder Woman then appears on the scene. Superman-Prime snaps Wonder Woman’s neck and kills her. Batman then squares off with Prime. Prime flies Batman high into Earth’s atmosphere and then rants how he could have made Earth-15 his home if the Earth-15 Superman and Lex Luthor weren’t so lame.

Batman responds that this world will always hate Prime. Prime then flies Batman through the atmosphere and turns Batman into a burnt crisp. (I gather that this is Prime’s new favorite way of dispatching of characters.) Superman-Prime rants how this world doesn’t understand him.

Superman-Prime then proceeds to rampage through out Earth-15 destroying everything in his path. We then see Earth-15 completely blow up. Nothing is left but a few asteroids. Superman-Prime flies off vowing to find the perfect Earth. To find his Earth. Even if it means him ripping apart the entire Multiverse.

We get a two page back-up story about Desaad. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: Wow, I can’t believe how much I seriously disliked Countdown to Final Crisis #24. Of course, that isn’t to say that there weren’t some positives about Countdown to Final Crisis #24. And I can certainly satisfy the Revolution’s Rule of Positivity. Countdown to Final Crisis #24 was an action packed issue. No doubt about it. Dini serves up tons of action for the reader to enjoy.

If you dig carnage then this issue is definitely for you. The reader gets to watch Superman-Prime unleash a bloodbath on the characters of Earth-15. Superman-Prime is the same engine of destruction that he was during Infinite Crisis.

Dini and company definitely deliver a fast paced issue. Dini employs short scenes with multiple cuts back and forth in order to keep the story flowing quickly. Countdown to Final Crisis #24 is probably the fastest paced issue that we have gotten to this point. And I certainly appreciate that effort since many issues of Countdown have been laboriously slow.

Derenick and Faucher combine for some slightly above average artwork.

The Bad: There have been some boring and slow issues of Countdown. And there have been issues of Countdown that simply were poorly constructed with weak dialogue. And there have been issues that I was basically neutral about. However, this is the first issue that I actually hated on a visceral level.

Gray and Palmiotti tossed up some simply ordinary dialogue. It seems that the only issues of Countdown that suffer from average to poor dialogue are the ones handled by Gray and Palmiotti. The last issue that they did gave us some truly terrible dialogue including the line with Donna calling Jason Todd “re-todd.” While we don’t get anything of that pathetic nature, we still get some unimpressive dialogue.

The dialogue in the scenes with Desaad as Firestorm and Darkseid battling Mary is just standard comic book issue stuff. I know that Desaad and Darkseid are one-dimensional and are truly “evil” villains, but they come off a bit campier than they should. And Superman-Prime’s dialogue is especially disappointing.

After the Superman-Prime one shot that we got a couple of weeks ago, it seemed that DC was trying to evolve his character past just the winey little brat that he was during Infinite Crisis and into something even more dangerous and threatening: a truly evil Superman. Instead, what we get in Countdown to Final Crisis #24 was a Superman-Prime that was even more juvenile and bratty than he was during Infinite Crisis.

Now, I enjoyed the bratty and angry Superboy-Prime during Infinite Crisis. It just worked for me. Here you had a massively powered teen-ager who spent years in isolation watching the world that he sacrificed his own for get progressively worse and worse. It made sense that this youthful Superboy would react in such a violent and immature manner.

However, once DC starts calling him Superman it places his character in a whole different light. Being Superman and still acting like a juvenile Superboy just doesn’t work at all. I don’t mind Superman-Prime being a violent killer, but the way he goes about it needs to change. His little Emo rants don’t work so well when the reader is supposed to view him as a man.

While reading Countdown to Infinite Crisis #24, I had déjà-vu. I had visions of slaughtered Titans dancing in my mind. What we got in this issue is exactly what Johns gave us during Infinite Crisis. Instead of Titans being slaughtered by the handful, it was members of the Earth-15 JLA.

I didn’t dig it when Johns decided to see how large of a body count he could log over on Infinite Crisis and I certainly don’t like it on Countdown. It seems that Dan “death count” Didio is obsessed with making sure every big event or large story arc is accompanied by a large body count. That is so weak. I have never been impressed with writers employing a high body count in order to artificially create a “big” story or event.

A huge body count is something that weak writers rely on as a crutch since they have the inability to create excitement and tension within the reader and deliver a story with real impact based just on strong writing. And a large body count is something that talented writers use when they get lazy and don’t feel like putting forth the effort of making a story with a real impact on the reader via quality writing.

It takes work and effort to employ character development, well crafted dialogue and intricate plotlines in order to create a story that has a huge impact on the reader. It is tempting to half-ass the story and just rely on the convenient literary tool of a high body count in order to artificially create the feeling tension and excitement in the reader.

I mean, c’mon, if characters are getting killed off left and right then the story absolutely has to be “”big” and “important” right? Never mind that nothing of real substance has yet to actually happen on Countdown. We have dead bodies piling up everywhere. That alone tells you that Countdown is huge and important. Yeah! So stop wondering when we are going to actually get any plot development on this title, all right and just keep counting the dead bodies.

Another serious drawback of DC’s heavy reliance on large body counts ever since Identity Crisis for every single “big” story that they have unveiled is that it rapidly losses its effectiveness. When a reader is constantly bombarded with characters getting mowed down left and right with every single new title or big event then it is only natural for the reader to get completely desensitized to the death of a character. Once the reader is desensitized to seeing characters getting killed then the use of death as a literary tool is completely robbed of any and all of its power.

When judiciously employed, the death of a character can be a profoundly powerful tool. It can take a well crafted story and make it a classic. However, to have a death that really has an effect on the reader it is imperative that the writer make it a character that the reader actually cares about and has emotion invested in that character. Just killing off cannon fodder does nothing to elicit much from the reader.

Also, it gets old when characters are introduced solely to be killed off. It prevents the reader from ever investing any emotion into any new character that DC trots out since the reader knows that more than likely the character is pure cannon fodder. And there is no reason for me to care about a character that is created just to be killed off at some point in the near future.

All of the deaths that DC keeps flooding the reader have no impact on me at all. The death of a character has no meaning any more. It happens so often in DC’s comic books that these body counts seem predictable and a bit boring.

I completely despise the idea of the Multiverse as being nothing more than cannon fodder for the rest of Countdown and the upcoming Final Crisis. I would truly hate it if DC brought back the Multiverse just to destroy it a second time. That would be a spectacular waste of potential.

The Multiverse is a phenomenal literary device that enables DC a virtually limitless source for stories about numerous different takes and interpretations of the characters that populate New Earth. The Multiverse allows writers to re-imagine the DCU over and over and to get away with doing some things with certain characters that DC might not allow with the regular New Earth characters.

I saw the destruction of Earth-16 as a complete waste. It is just like how I viewed killing off the Jokester so quickly after giving him his own one-shot was a total waste of potential. We only have 52 Earths. It is disappointing to see DC already start reducing that number.

The scene with Darkseid and Mary was uninteresting. This plotline is floundering in neutral. I have lost any interest I once had in this plotline. Dini needs to go ahead and have Black Mary flip over to being evil or not. This constant waffling is getting old.

The scene with Desaad as Firestorm was disappointing. Dini only had Desaad in control of Firestorm for maybe half an issue. It was so fast that it felt incredibly rushed and completely random. I have no idea what was the purpose of having Desaad take over Firestorm’s body. Maybe Dini has something greater in store for us that will build off this scene, but right now it seems like a pointless and time wasting plotline.

Overall: Countdown to Final Crisis #24 was a huge disappointment. This issue seriously dampened my enthusiasm for this title and the impending Final Crisis. At this point, I am approaching this big event with a sense of dread. I have tried to stay positive about Countdown ever since the beginning of this story. However, DC is making it hard for me to continue to stay excited about what is happening on Countdown.

Having said that, if you are a reader who loves a good bloodbath then you will certainly enjoy this issue. And if you were one of the fans who loved seeing Superboy-Prime rampage his way through Infinite Crisis killing characters left and right then you will also dig Countdown to Infinite Crisis #24.

5 Comments

  1. *Imagines the DC discussion room*

    DiDio: Okay guys, I think the problem is we need more death. And by more death, I mean a lot more.

    Johns: Don’t worry, we’ve got a war going on in Green Lantern.

    DiDio: Superb! How about in Countdown? What’s going on there, I don’t even know?

    Dini: Well, we’ve got….(goes on and on)

    DiDio: Blah, blah. Let’s use the multiverse like it was meant to be used. And by that I mean let’s blow some shit up, you know, kill a few billion/trillion people.

    Dini:…

    DiDio: Like that Emoboy..err Superman Prime fellow. Let’s have him destroy some Earths, all the while making fun of our customers.

    Johns: But, he’s still in Sines….

    DiDio: Maybe we could have him use his heat vision on a pregnant woman. That would be super!

    Johns: ….

    DiDio: Don’t worry Geoff, I’ll use the Titans for the rest of my deaths

    McKeever: ???

    DiDio: Judd’s on it!

  2. Did I miss where Prime picked up the black costume? Wasn’t the last time we saw him when he was about to fight the new Ion? One of the annoying things for me about Countdown is how it was supposed to be the “backbone” of the DCU but it isn’t even trying to align itself with the company’s most successful event going on right now. Any juice the Sinestro Corps War may have feels a little dampened, at least when you know how Kyle and Prime are going to come out on the other side.

    Love the blog by the way. Just found it by way of Comic Book Resources. As a big Legion fan myself, any blog with a Legion header that is named after Cosmic Boy is cool by me.

  3. To be fair, we all know that Kyle is going to survive the Sinestro war. He went from being ION, to Paralax, to normal GL. You cant kill him after all that. That would be to much of a roller coaster for a single character in a single story arc. Prime on the other hand. He was a bit of a question mark. Going up against some one with all of his powers, who also happens to have more green juice then anyone with his new ION powers, and had been shown actually killing people.

  4. Not only IS the multiverse being used as cannon fodder, but it absolutely should. There’s a reason that DC got rid of the multiverse once already… and they’ll get rid of this one just the same.

    DC had it right… you want characters to do things out of the ordinary? You want characters to be different for a storyline? They got it right using Elseworlds for that.

    Bringing back the multiverse and keeping it, would simply create one “main” universe with “the” characters… and then 51 more earths with characters that nobody gives a rats ass about. Is anybody going to care one bit that the JLA of Earth 15 is gone? Absolutely not, because it’s not “THE” JLA. Is anybody going to care if the Batman of Earth (you name it other than “new earth”) gets killed, maimed, or anything else? Not one bit.

    As for the death that’s going on… these earths and characters were created TO die. They’re fulfilling their purpose. And I’d certainly disagree that creating a big body count is a weak way of telling a story. You might now like it, but it’s no less valid a method. Especially when talking about something that affects the entire Earth and Universe.

  5. I was really down on “Countdown” until issue #25 where the creative team seemed to decide to make things happen in each issue. This issue we get to see the follow-on to Geoff Johns’ excellent Superman-Prime one-shot. Johns set Prime up as the ultimate fanboy with power and we see more of that here. I’m not a huge fan of the multiverse and couldn’t care less about what happens to the Earth-15 characters. You are correct that this is a bit of a rehash of what Johns’ did during “Infinite Crisis” but I enjoyed it anyway. This beat two ex-Rogues chain cuffed together making bad gay jokes.

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