The last issue of Countdown was solid, but not spectacular. The Revolution has enjoyed this series up to this point; however, it is fair to say that this title has not lived up to its potential. 52 is a tough act to follow and Dini needs to crank up the intensity on Countdown. Hopefully, Countdown #38 will be a good read. Let’s do this review.
Writers: Paul Dini, Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Artist: Jesus Saiz
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with twenty-nine metahuman incidents that are all related to each other due to some global virus. There is another metahuman incident that is unrelated involving Mary Marvel and Zatanna. We see the JLA, JSA and Freedom fighters responding to the various computer virus related incidents.
We cut to Mary Marvel and Zatanna dealing with the sudden appearance of a water metahuman named Slig. Slig boards the cruise ship and begins babbling that Death is following him and has killed all of his Deep Six. Mary Marvel locks horns with Slig and blinds him with her lightning. Zatanna tells Mary to back off so that Zatanna can find out from Slig what is going on.
We shift to Karate Kid and Triplicate Girl with Oracle. Oracle is battling wits with the Calculator who is behind the computer virus attacks. The Calculator tells Oracle to give him the information that he wants and he will call off the attacks. Oracle refuses and says she will break through Calculator’s firewall defenses. Calculator gets angry and shuts down all the power in Gotham City.
We hop over to the Trickster and the Pied Piper with Batwoman and Renee Montoya (I’m just not going to call her The Question. Sorry.) The two lipstick lesbians tell the Rogues that they are busted for the murder of the Flash. Trickster claims that they are both innocent and uses a silly little puppet show using Trickster and Flash hand puppets about how Trickster is legit and works for the FBI.
Batwoman says she doesn’t believe Trickster and that she is taking them to the police. Renee cuts off Batwoman and says that her years as a Gotham Police Detective tell her that the two Rogues are too stupid to have killed the Flash. So, our lesbianic couple let the two Rogues go free.
We cut back to Oracle managing to shut down Calculator’s network with her Mr. Mind virus. Oracle gloats that she is a genius and that Calculator is a chump. Renee Montoya then contacts Oracle and tells her that they found the Rogues, but let them go since they didn’t kill the Flash.
We shift to Mary Marvel and Zatanna dealing with Slig. A glowing figure flies out of the ocean. Slig tells the glowing figure that Slig will be his humble servant and will spit on the face of Darkseid if Slig’s life is spared. The glowing figure then fires a massive energy blast that kills Slig.
We hop over to Jimmy Olsen in his Mr. Action outfit meeting with Robin at Titans Tower. Jimmy wants to join the Titans. Robin thinks that this is all one big joke and asks where Lois Lane is with the hidden camera. Robin then realizes Jimmy is serious and thinks that this is just a case of Jimmy wanting to live up to Superman who is a father figure for him.
Jimmy retorts that this isn’t about Superman. That Jimmy has powers and wants to use them to help people. Jimmy tells Robin to attack him so that Jimmy can show off his new powers. Robin kicks Jimmy and, unfortunately, Jimmy’s powers don’t kick in. Jimmy tells Robin that he can’t hold back when he attacks Jimmy. Robin says that he isn’t going to attack Jimmy and have Superman on his case. Robin tells Jimmy that the Titans’ roster is full right now and that Jimmy is doing a great job as a photographer.
We zip back to Mary Marvel and Zatanna talking to each other. We see Eclipso watching the discussion through a jewel. Eclipso says that Mary Marvel will embrace her full power as a minion of Eclipso.
We cut to the Monitors discussing how the death of the creatures known as Deep Six raises the number of new God and Apokoliptian Refugees killed by an unknown entity to double digits. The Monitors still can’t locate their missing brother who is with Jason, Donna and Ryan Choi. The Monitors also mention that Ray Palmer is also completely invisible to them.
We shift back to Oracle still gloating and telling Karate Kid how her “Web-Fu” was stronger than the Calculator’s. Oracle then asks Karate Kid what she can do for him. Karate Kid says that he needs her help. Karate Kid says that he is dying.
We get a History of the Multiverse back-up story. The “bad” Monitor argues that there is a source wall that acts as a barrier for each Multiverse. And that as people breach a source wall to travel to another Multiverse, that the source wall begins to weaken. That once a source wall is breached, it gets easier for more people to breach it after that point. Eventually, the source wall will collapse and then the Multiverses will collide with each other.
The “bad” Monitor says that Donna Troy, Kyle Rayner and Jason Todd are all anomalies that must be eliminated. The “good” Monitor disagrees with those harsh methods. The Monitors take a vote and all the Monitors side with the “bad” Monitor’s harsh course of action.
The “good” Monitor says that he won’t go along with them and teleports away from the Nexus. The “bad” Monitor tells the rest of the Monitors that the “good” Monitor must bow be treated as an enemy. End of issue.
The Good: Countdown #38 was a solid read. This issue was nicely paced and plotted. Dini picks up the pacing compared to the past couple of issues that moved a bit too slowly for me. Countdown #38 picked up the intensity by focusing more on the grand cosmic storyline involving Darksied and the New Gods.
Dini also begins to link several of the separate plotlines together in this issue. And that is important. Countdown has had too disjointed of a feel to it up to this point. I know that DC is trying to duplicate 52 with the different and unrelated storylines running at the same time. But, it worked better with 52 since the storylines were much smaller in scale. However, Countdown’s entire purpose is the lead up to the Final Crisis. That means, at some point, these various unrelated plotlines have to begin to weave together to some degree.
I thought the scene with Jimmy and Robin was hilarious. Robin’s reaction to Jimmy’s costume, codename and desire to join the Titans was funny. I dig that Dini used Robin to emphasize Jimmy’s longstanding role as a sidekick to Superman. There is no doubt that Jimmy worships Superman and views him as a father figure. And it is this relationship that fuels Jimmy’s desire to become a super hero. However, Jimmy isn’t doing this only because of his hero worshiping of Superman. Jimmy is honestly a good guy who wants to use his powers for the greater good.
This scene did a great job showing the growing pains that Jimmy’s character is going through as he transforms from long-time sidekick into a fully fledged super hero. I dig that DC is making an effort to evolve Jimmy’s character and I am interested to learn more about Jimmy’s random powers and why he can’t call upon them on demand.
The scene with the Trickster and the Piper was fantastic. I love these two characters. They have incredible chemistry with each other. This plotline is probably Countdown’s best effort to duplicate the success of 52. The impressive part of 52 was how it took several minor characters and fleshed them out into intriguing and interesting characters.
I have never really cared much for either Trickster or the Piper before Countdown. However, I have quickly become huge fans of these two characters. I am curious to see what else Dini has in store for these two Rogues.
The Mary Marvel scene was pretty good. We got more mysterious deaths of some Apokoliptian characters. And we got a peak at the mysterious glowing figure who is killing these people from Apokolypse and New Genesis. This is probably my favorite plotline. After all, I’m a sucker for any story involving Darkseid and the New Gods. I’m glad that Dini is starting to pick up the pace of this plotline. This is definitely one plotline that deserves plenty of attention.
Dini also teased us with the appearance of Eclipso. It is obvious that Mary Marvel is going to end up under Eclipso’s evil influence. The real question is whether Mary Marvel can eventually find her way back to the light and shake off the corrupting influences of both Eclispo and the cursed powers of Black Adam. Mary is going to have to realize that super powers are not what define her as a person or as a hero.
The scenes involving Oracle and the Calculator were cool. I dig their battle to see whose Web-Fu is stronger. And we find out that Karate Kid is dying and evidently believes that Oracle is the person who can help him find a cure. It has been great having the Pre-Crisis Karate Kid running around kicking ass, so I definitely hope that Dini doesn’t kill him off.
Saiz provides plenty of nice artwork. Countdown continues to be an improvement over 52 at least in terms of quality of artwork each and every week.
The Bad: Renee Montoya as the Question and Batwoman both still suck.
The ending to Countdown #38 was average. It is certainly no surprise to anyone that Darkseid has plans for domination of the Multiverse. I think that was fairly obvious from the very start of Countdown. Hopefully, Dini will stop having Darkseid babble incessantly while staring at his chess board and actually progress this storyline a bit more.
I found the back-up story rather repetitious and boring. It seems that the past several back-up stories have simply re-hashed the same dialogue over and over. I’m glad that we have finally concluded this back-up story.
Overall: Countdown #38 was a solid read and certainly picked up the pace of the central plotline involving Apokolypse and New Genesis. Countdown still hasn’t matched the excellent story of 52. However, Countdown is getting better and better with each issue. I have faith that Dini’s story will keep getting stronger and stronger with each issue.