Countdown continues to be a slightly better than average read. Last issue was at least fast paced and moved along several various plotlines. I no longer expect Countdown to live up to 52’s legacy. I’m just going to adjust my expectations and enjoy this lead in to the Final Crisis for what it is. Let’s hit this review for Countdown #35.
Writers: Paul Dini & Sean McKeever
Penciler: Manuel Garcia
Inker: Mark McKenna
Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Jason, Donna, Ryan and “Bob” the Monitor all being held captive by the evil Queen Belthera. Belthera is interested in the Atom since he is as small as an insect, yet still a man. Therefore, Belthera turns the Atom into a little insect so he better fits his diminutive size.
We cut back to Shadowcrest, where Zatanna takes off the kid gloves and kicks ass on Mary Marvel. Zatanna blasts Mary out of a window of the mansion. The Mansion’s gate then informs Mary that she is hereby banished from Shadowcrest and that the mansion shall remain hidden for her forevermore.
Shadowcrest then disappears. Mary cries out that she was sorry. That the power is too much for her and that she needs Zatanna’s help.
We zip to the Justice League of America satellite where we see a bruised and beaten Mr. Action. Jimmy had asked the JLA members to attack him in hopes of kick starting his powers. It didn’t work and Jimmy is now sporting several bumps and bruises. The JLA members say they are sorry and that they tried their best to go easy on him. Jimmy says that is why his powers didn’t surface. That they have to attack him like they really want to kill him.
Superman tells Jimmy that the JLA ran every diagnostic on Jimmy and Superman even used his x-ray vision and they don’t see anything special about Jimmy. That Jimmy is perfectly normal. Superman says he understands that Jimmy would want to feel like he has super powers. Jimmy asks the JLA to leave him alone for a moment.
We hop over to the Amazon’s Women’s Center. Holly is in gladiator garb along with several other women. They are then lead into a Coliseum style arena. Athena announces that this is the purification ritual and that they shall be freed from their pasts and eradicates their insecurities and become warriors.
And we then get a huge catfight as the females go “Gladiator” on each other. Holly and another woman wearing a strange gold helmet and face covering with a smile on it are clearly the best fighters. Holly and the other woman tear through all the women. Holly and the woman in the strange smiling gold mask are the last ones standing and then they square off against each other.
We cut over to Karate Kid kicking ass on Equus. We see Mister Orr watching the fight and being impressed with Karate Kid. Mister Orr talks to someone over the phone. The voice on the phone says that it is important that they guide Karate Kid into position exactly.
Mister Orr then appears at the fight scene and calls off Equus. Orr tells Karate Kid that he is in luck since Orr has all the answers to Karate Kid’s questions.
We hop over to the Monitors gathered together. The “evil” monitor tells them all that Kyle Rayner must be eliminated since he is an anomaly that is going to cause havoc to the Multiverse.
We slide back to Jason, Donna, Ryan and “Bob” the Monitor still being held captive by Queen Belthera. Donna breaks free of her magical binds and attacks Belthera. Suddenly, “Bob” blasts Donna in the back. “Bob” is under the magical control of Belthera. Belthera says that the Great Disaster is dawning and can destroy them all. Belthera says that with the power of “Bob” that she can now travel to all the worlds known and unknown. That Belthera will be more than a survivor; that she will become the rule of all Creation. End of story.
We then get a two page back-up story on the origin of Parallax. End of issue.
The Good: Countdown #35 was a decidedly average read. I’m surprised that Dini and company have turned out such a pedestrian issue so late into this series. I really thought that Dini would have had this title rocking and rolling by this point.
Of course, there were some enjoyable scenes in this issue. We got the continuation of the cool fight between Zatanna and Mary. I absolutely love Zee and I always dig seeing her kick some ass. Mary is really starting to completely lose it. She is completely overwhelmed by Black Adam’s dark powers. Poor Mary is completely cracking under the strain of her dark powers that are lusting for more and more power.
This continues to be the best plotline as we watch Mary’s inevitable decline as she gives herself over to Eclipso’s evil influences. Hopefully, Mary’s heroic nature shines through at the end and she is able to begin that path of redemption as a true hero. At any rate, this plotline has gotten me interested in a character that I never really cared about before.
Jimmy Olsen scene was well done. I feel bad for Jimmy. All the guy wants is to follow in the footsteps of Superman and use his newfound powers for the greater good. I’m definitely more and more curious about the origin and nature of Jimmy’s powers. The fact that all the diagnostic tests run by the JLA real Jimmy to be perfectly normal makes his sudden outburst of super powers even more mysterious.
The scene with Karate Kid was enjoyable. I love watching Val kick some ass. I’m getting more interested in this plotline with each issue. Dini teases the reader with a mysterious person talking with Orr about their plans for Karate Kid. I have no idea where Dini is going with this plotline, but I am certainly enjoying the ride.
The Bad: Countdown #35 had a lot of weaknesses. There is no doubt that this was terribly average. The dialogue in this issue was unimpressive. It came across as rather generic and stiff. None of the characters displayed much personality, either. There was a real lack of chemistry in all the different plotlines.
The pacing and plotting is really beginning to show some serious flaws. I know that this is a weekly title so it is naturally going to move at a slower pace than a monthly title. However, I never remember 52 coming to an almost complete halt with practically every plotline becoming sluggish.
Dini really needs to pick up the pace and move these plotlines along. It seems that we just keep reading the same thing over and over again with each issue without ever seeing any real progress being made. It definitely feels like Countdown’s story has always been rather thin and that Dini is just trying to stretch the plotlines out for as long as possible in order to make this storyline last for an entire 52 weeks.
I could care less about Belthera. She is such a painfully generic magic based villain. There is nothing even remotely interesting, different or compelling about her character. We have seen her type of villain a million times before. This search for Ray Palmer plotline is really growing more and more stagnant with each issue. It is too bad, because this is one of the plotlines that originally I was rather interested in.
The ending to this issue with Belthera revealing her desire to conquer the Multiverse elicited a simple yawn of disinterest from me. This plotline and this ending did nothing to get me excited for the next issue.
I still could care less about Holly’s storyline. I don’t have any interest in what Athena is up to by pitting the various women together in a gladiator style battle. I didn’t even find the fight scene to be particularly fun or enjoyable. And there is no mystery in who is the woman wearing the smiling golden mask. We all know it has to be Harley Quinn.
The artwork was boring looking. A huge reason for that is Mark KcKenna’s inking. I have never been a fan of his work.
Overall: Countdown continues to be an underachieving title. This storyline has so much potential, but has failed to deliver up to this point. Countdown #35 continues this unimpressive trend. I can’t say that I recommend spending your money on this title. On the one hand, this title is important because it is the lead in to the Final Crisis. On the other hand, there isn’t enough substance to this story for me to say it is worth spending money on it each and every week. Maybe getting Countdown in trade paperback form would be a wiser choice.