Countdown continues to be a steady and solid read, but still hasn’t hit the same highs that 52 did. Hopefully, Dini can crank up the intensity with Countdown #37 by delivering an unexpected twist or two. Let’s go ahead and hit this review and find out.
Writers: Paul Dini & Adam Beechen
Pencilers: David Lopez & Mike Norton
Inkers: Don Hillsman, II & Rod Ramos
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Oracle running extensive tests on Karate Kid. Oracle tells Karate Kid that his virus is nothing that is known at this time. That means the virus is either from a future time period or it is alien in nature. Oracle tells Karate Kid that his only chance is to find Elias Orr who is a genius in Bio-Engineering. Oracle says that Elias may be nothing more than an urban legend. Oracle gives Karate Kid all the information she has on Orr. Karate Kid thanks Oracle for her help and leaves with Triplicate Girl.
We shift to Mary Marvel and Zatanna arriving at Zatanna’s family mansion called Shadowcrest that is located outside of Gotham. This is where Zatanna grew up. Zatanna and Mary Marvel are greeted by a massive staff of butlers and maids. Zatanna makes them vanish with a snap of the finger. Zatanna tells Mary that the “staff” is simple magic that the mansion is imbued with. Simple magic that Mary will eventually learn.
We cut to our team of Jason Todd, Donna Troy, Ryan Choi and “Bob” the Monitor. They cross paths with the Sacred Wizards of the Arionite Temple. One of the wizards informs our heroes that Ray Palmer was here and that he left them. The wizard says that the Great Disaster is nearly upon them and the wizards are preparing to leave for a plane to practice their magic in peace, if such a place exists after the Great Disaster has run its course. The wizard tells our heroes that if they find Ray Palmer to tell Ray that the wizards followed his words and did the best they could.
The wizards disappear and our heroes wonder what terrible event the Great Disaster must be that would cause such powerful wizards to flee. Suddenly, large insect creatures come out of nowhere and circle our heroes and get ready to attack them.
We hop over to the Trickster and the Pied Piper coming across a massive greenhouse in the middle of Gotham. The two Rogues start plucking all the fruit from the various plants and begin to feast like kings. Unfortunately, this is Poison Ivy’s greenhouse and she is not pleased that the two Rogues are eating her precious babies. Poison Ivy attacks the two Rogues and completely binds and traps them in ivy. Poison Ivy then tells the two Rogues that they are “dead meat.”
We cut to the Athenian Women’s Shelter where Holly Robinson is busy training her gymnastics skills. Holly tells Harley Quinn that Athena invited Holly to some self-esteem exercise. Harley Quinn jumps on Holly and hugs her and tells her that Holly is going to be great.
We zip over to Shadowcrest where Zatanna tells Mary to be careful and that she is just not ready to enter some of the rooms in this mansion. Zatanna takes Mary to the Library of the mansion. Zatanna says that this is her Batcave. This is where Zatanna studies, researches and practices her magic. The library is full of ancient books, totems and amulets. Zatanna says that the library houses enough magical energy to do just about anything a person would want to do. Mary is intoxicated with all the power in the library and how wonderful it must be to have all this power at Zatanna’s command.
We shift to the Daily Planet where Jimmy Olsen is burning the midnight oil. Jimmy thinks about his odd powers that have appeared out of nowhere. Jimmy looks at his Superman watch and suddenly he has the knowledge of Superman’s secret identity.
Clark enters the room. Jimmy tells Clark that he is Mr. Action and that he wants Clark to get him into the Justice League of America. Clark asks Jimmy what makes him think that Clark can get something like that done? Jimmy retorts that Clark is Superman and Jimmy rips open Clark’s dress shirt which reveals the big red S on Cark’s chest. End of issue.
The Good: Countdown #37 was an average read. Beechen’s dialogue was average but nothing special. The plotting and pacing continues to vary depending on the plotline. The Mary Marvel and Jimmy Olsen plotlines seem to be enjoying the best plotting and pacing up to this point.
I continue to enjoy the chemistry between Trickster and Pied Piper. These guys are a hilarious bad luck team that just can’t seem to get a break. I’m glad that Dini tried to make sure that we always get at least one scene with these two loveable losers in each and every issue of Countdown.
We discover that Karate Kid suffering from an unknown virus that is either alien in nature or from the future. Honestly, I’m not too sure where Dini is going with this plotline or what importance this plotline will play in the grand scheme of the Countdown event. If I wasn’t a huge Karate Kid fan then I’d probably begin to lose interest in this plotline.
The scene with Jason, Donna, Ryan and “Bob” does a good job showing the reader how huge the Great Disaster is going to be. If a group of wizards as powerful as those from the Arionite Temple are choosing to flee then you know that our heroes are in for a massive struggle.
The Zatanna and Mary Marvel scenes were the best part of Countdown #37. I totally dig what Dini is doing with Zatanna. Dini has done a great job with Zatanna’s character over in Detective Comics as well as here on Countdown. Dini is firmly establishing Zatanna’s roots in Gotham City as well as her family’s long and storied history. I also like that Dini gives Zatanna her own “Batcave” with her impressive library sanctaury within Shadowcrest.
Dini is also doing an excellent job booster Zatanna’s position and role within the new DCU. Zatanna is finally coming across as the Dr. Strange of the DCY rather than some chick in fishnets who talks backwards. Zatanna is getting a serious boost in terms of her power levels and her status in this new DCU. I love Zatanna, and honestly who wouldn’t dig a raven haired beauty in fishnets and thigh high boots, and I’m glad to see Dini making Zatanna a much more important character within the DCU. I’m glad to see Dini taking the time to really evolve Zatanna’s personality into something more impressive as one of the major players in the world of magic.
Mary Marvel continues to display her hunger for power. Mary seems totally mesmerized by all the magical power that Zatanna has stored in her library. Mary can only comment on how “wonderful” it must feel to have all this power. Poor Mary is begin corrupted by the power of Black Adam and is become obsessed with having more and more power. I am completely enthralled with this plotline and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
The scene with Jimmy Olsen and Clark was great. That was one excellent ending. That is how you hook the reader into coming back for more. It is about time that “Superman’s pal” knew Superman’s secret identity. I really like this move and think that it will only serve to further flesh out Jimmy’s character and make him an even more important and central supporting character within the Superman mythos.
The Bad: The scene with Jason, Donna, Ryan and “Bob” continues to meander about aimlessly like it has over the past several issues. Even the “cliffhanger” ending of them about to get attacked feels like a total repeat of what we have already gotten with this plotline in the past issues.
Outside the funny banter between these two hard luck characters, I found the Rogue scene to be rather boring. I could care less about Poison Ivy and I don’t see what important role she is going to play in this storyline. It seems like this plotline is beginning to lose some of its purpose and direction.
Once again, I found the Holly Robinson scene to be completely boring. This scene was also rather pointless. It didn’t advance this plotline at all and seemed to be nothing more than a time waster.
And this leads me to the bigger issue that impacts each of these three plotlines. The real problem is that the pacing and plotting on these plotlines is getting worse and worse with each issue. I know that Countdown is a weekly title and, therefore, it will move slower than a monthly title. However, these plotlines seem to be moving far too slowly even for a weekly title. It seems like search for Ray Palmer and the Holly Robinson plotlines are trapped in stasis. They have lacked any real progression for several issues. They read like Dini is just trying to kill time and stretch out these plotlines for as long as possible in order to fill up all 52 issues of Countdown.
The random two page back-up story about the origin of Poison Ivy did nothing for me. I’d much rather get two more pages of actual storyline on the various plotlines in Countdown.
The art by committee on Countdown #37 was not terrible, but it certainly wasn’t anything great.
Overall: Countdown #37 was nothing more than an average read. This may have been the weakest issue we have gotten so far. And it is disappointing that this title hasn’t heated up any more than it has this far into the story. Maybe it is because Booster Gold #1 came out this week and reminded me just how incredible 52 was that has impacted my view on Countdown. At any rate, I still think Countdown has potential and I’m holding out hope that Dini is going to tap into that potential.