So far, Countdown hasn’t been able to match the intensity of 52. Having said that, I still think that Countdown has plenty of potential to be a fun read. Unfortunately, Dini has had a hard time delivering a consistently good read on this title each and every week. Hopefully, Countdown #39 will pick up the intensity a bit. Let’s go ahead and hit this review.
Writers: Paul Dini and Sean McKeever
Penciler: Jim Calafiore
Inker: Jay Leisten
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 Triplicate Girl and Karate Kid attempting to break into Oracle’s secret base. Evidently, the two Legionnaires are seeking Oracle’s help to tell them what is wrong with Karate Kid. Starman told Karate Kid that Oracle would be able to help him. Karate Kid shows off his skills as he slips and smashes his way through Oracle’s defenses. A screen appears in front of Karate Kid with Oracle’s “face” on it and tells Karate Kid that he isn’t welcome here.
We then cut to Piper and Trickster in the wine cellar of the Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge. Penguin serves up the two Rogues some wonderful food. Penguin leaves and Trickster tells Piper that he knew that Penguin would treat them right.
We see Penguin outside of the wine cellar telling the members of the Suicide Squad that they can go in and collect the two Rogues.
We shift to Donna Troy, Jason Todd, “Bob” and the new Atom arriving at some bizarre world where there is no up or down. “Bob” says that they are being watched and that everyone should be on guard.
We hop over to Jimmy Olsen as Mr. Action taking down a mugger. The girl that Mr. Action saved gives him a huge kiss. The girl walks off and Jimmy thinks about how great it is to be a super hero. Jimmy then thinks about which super group he should join. He decides that the Teen Titans would be the best fit. During all this thinking, the mugger gets up and quietly sneaks off.
We cut to the Rogues running through the Iceberg Lounge and being chased by the Suicide Squad. The two Rogues bust out of the Iceberg Lounge and down an alley way with the Suicide Squad hot on their heels.
We zip over to Holly Robinson meeting with Athena. Athena explains how her centers cannot help women who already have children. That even Athena’s resources have a limit. Athena says that since she can tell Holly still remains dubious that Athena wants Holly to attend a self-esteem workshop that Athena is organizing. That way Holly can see for herself the merits of Athena’s philosophy. Holly agrees to attend.
We slide back to Karate Kid telling Oracle that he isn’t going anywhere. Karate Kid finishes busting through Oracles defenses. Triplicate Girl and Karate Kid enter Oracle’s inner sanctum where Barbara Gordon tells the Legionnaires that she is currently keeping the secret identities and home addresses of every super hero in the world from being stolen and is a bit busy at the moment.
We shift back to our two Rogues hiding in an alley. Piper uses his pipe to make them invisible to the Suicide Squad. Suddenly, Renee Montoya, the faux Question, appears in the alley. The two Rogues get up to run away from Renee when they notice that there escape path is blocked by Batwoman. End of story.
We get another History of the Multiverse back-up story. The Monitors talk about how the 52 universes are kept apart and stationary by a source wall which surrounds each of them. The space between the source walls is filled with anti-life that acts as a cushioning and repelling force keeping the universes separate from one another.
The Bleed occasionally appears within the anti-life and is a type of abscess that allows for quick and easy transport between universes. The Monitors have yet to understand how The Bleed works. The Monitors meet in the Nexus which is a unique adjunct to the time stream that exists everywhere at once and like the hub of a wheel the Monitors can see everything that transpires except the Bleed.
The evil Monitor says that they can unleash the Forerunner and maybe the Shadow Demons to deal with world jumpers. The good Monitor says that he will never support the use of those abominations. End of issue.
The Good: Countdown #39 was a pretty good read. Dini and McKeever supply us with a better paced and plotted issue in Countdown #39 than what we have gotten in the past couple issues. Dini is starting to develop the various plotlines a bit more and reveal several new wrinkles in each of the plotlines. After a couple of issue with little plot advancement, it is nice to see Dini beginning to progress the plotlines a bit faster.
Now, being the huge Pre-Crisis Legion fan that I am, obviously the Karate Kid plotline quickly assumed the position of my favorite plotline in Countdown. I’m curious to learn what exactly is wrong with Karate Kid and why that crazy nut Starman thinks that Oracle is just the person to help Karate Kid.
And just who is trying to hack into Oracle’s system? That was a great plot twist that gave this issue an exciting ending. I’m interested to learn more about this turn of events. Dini does a good job hooking the reader’s attention and pulling us into this new plotline.
I absolutely love Piper and Trickster. These two Rogues are totally stealing the show on Countdown. Just like Renee and The Questions had incredible chemistry over on 52, Piper and Trickster by far and away have the best chemistry of any of the characters on Countdown. These two Rogues are hilarious and their dialogue is wonderfully done and gets the reader chuckling. It is hard for the reader not to fall in love with these two lovable losers and to root for them as they continually leap from the frying pan into the fire.
The Trickster/Piper plotline has had been the fastest moving plotline with the most twists and turns. While Dini has seemed to stall out and lose his focus on some of the other plotlines, Dini has remained razor sharp when it comes to our two Rogues. Countdown would be a much more intense and enjoyable read if Dini can somehow elevate all the other plotlines up to the same level as the Trickster/Piper plotline.
The Jimmy Olsen scene was pretty cool. I dig the nice Silver Age flavor that Dini has given this plotline. Mr. Action is a wonderfully campy Silver Age hero down to his goofy looking costume and codename. It was great watching Jimmy react to getting kissed by the pretty girl that he saved from the mugger. Jimmy has his head in the clouds and can’t get over the high of being a super hero. I dig that Jimmy stands there daydreaming about which super team he should join and fails to even notice the mugger getting up and making a quick getaway.
There is no doubt that Jimmy is mesmerized by the rock star aspect of being a super hero. This can only mean that the harsh realities of being a super hero that Jimmy hasn’t yet experienced are sure to hit him slam in the face soon. It should be interesting to see how Jimmy reacts when that happens.
Jimmy and Mary Marvel’s plotlines are the two sides of the same coin. Mary is giving into the harsh brutal realities of being a super hero in the modern era. That violence and killing is sometimes necessary and unavoidable. Mary is the ultimate version of a modern age super hero who gladly gives into anger and kills criminals. Jimmy, on the other hand, is focusing solely on the bright positive aspects of being a super hero and ignoring the dirtier, darker and violent side of being a super hero in the modern era. Jimmy is the ultimate Silver Age hero that simply may not have a place anymore in the modern DCU.
It definitely should be interesting to see how both Mary and Jimmy grow and mature over the course of 52. I certainly think that both characters have some very tough times in front of them.
I liked the back-up story as we finally learn exactly how this new Multiverse is shaped and governed. It is about time that DC gives the reader a clearer picture of how this new Multiverse is designed and operates.
Calafiore and Liesten provide plenty of solid artwork. If there is one area that Countdown has exceeded 52 it would be in the art department.
The Bad: The Jason Todd and Donna Troy plotline continues to move at a snail’s pace. Initially, I was quite interested in the search for the true Atom, Ray Palmer. However, this quest has lacked focus, direction and intensity. As a result, my interest in this quest is slowly waning with each issue.
I continue to find the Holly Robinson plotline completely boring and uninteresting. There is nothing about the Amazons and what they are plotting that even remotely intrigues me. I have no idea where Dini is going with this plotline nor do I particularly care.
Then ending of Countdown failed miserably to grab my attention. The appearance of the faux Question was enough to kill my interest, but Dini had to go an increase the level of suck-itude by adding the incredibly lame Batwoman to the mix. Other than being lipstick lesbians, I’m not too sure what else these shallow characters have to offer.
Maybe their appearance in Countdown will lead to one of both of them getting killed off. It didn’t happen in 52, though we got tantalizingly close to getting Batwoman killed off, so maybe we’ll get lucky and they will get killed off in Countdown. I still wonder how great characters like Ralph Dibny, Vic Sage and Ted Kord get killed off while pathetic characters like Renee and Batwoman don’t.
Overall: Countdown #39 was a good read. Dini picked up the pace in several of the plotlines and we got some neat little plot developments in this issue. I have a feeling that as we progress, Dini will only get better and better with each of these plotlines. I no longer expect Countdown to be as good as 52. But, that doesn’t mean that it can’t still be an entertaining read.