Comic Book Review: Countdown #40

The Revolution was a bit disappointed in the last issue of Countdown. It wasn’t a bad read, but it was slow and probably the weakest read up to this point. I still maintain my faith in Dini and am fairly confident that Countdown #40 will be a good read. I will admit that Countdown feels like it is spinning its wheels a bit and Dini needs to get this story back on track and moving at a proper pace. Let’s go ahead and hit the review for Countdown #40.

Creative Team
Writers: Paul Dini and Tony Bedard
Artist: Manuel Garcia

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 the new Atom, Donna, Jason and “Bob” being attacked by the natives of the Palmerverse. We cut to Lois Lane interviewing a shopkeeper who was saved by Mister Action from a group of robbers. The shopkeeper mentions how Mister Action smiled the entire time like he was having fun.

We cut to Mary Marvel on a cruise ship where Zatanna is performing. Mary thinks how she could really learn a lot from Zatanna. A drunk heckles Zatanna and suddenly a surge of anger boils out in Mary as she contemplates throwing the drunk overboard or flying him high into the air and dropping him. Mary resists her urges. Zatanna ends her show and thinks to herself how she senses such anger from Mary Marvel and how unlike Mary that is.

We zip over to Holly Robinson at the Women’s Center. Holly watches Harley Quinn tell a single mother and her young son that they can’t stay at the Athenian Women’s Center. That they have to sue the country shelter. The single mom says the country shelter is dangerous and that she would rather take her chances on the street. The woman and her young son leave.

Holly confronts Harley about rejecting the woman and boy. Holly doesn’t know why some women can join while others can’t. Harley says she doesn’t make the rules. That Athena does. Holly says that she will confront Athena over this rule.

We shift to Apokolips where Darkseid is on his balcony inspecting his new batch of Parademons. Darkseid’s concubine perceptively senses a great melancholy in Darkseid. Darkseid admits that he was lamenting that his own son will never match the discipline and obedience of a lowly Parademon.

The concubine is humbles and amazed at such tenderness from Darkseid. Darkseid comments imagine how the hordes of Apokolips would react if they knew. Darkseid then blasts the concubine into a small pile of ashes. Darkseid tells Desaad to remove the vocal cords of his next concubine. (Damn! That is how you keep your pimp hand strong!)

We cut to a spy on Apokolips realizing that Apokolips holds its secrets well and that if he is going to find the answers New Genesis demands, then he must start at the place where Lightray fell.

We zip back to the Palmerverse where our heroes are still brawling with the natives. Cooler heads finally prevail as the natives realize that our heroes are friends of Ray Palmer. The leader of the native tribe mentions how Ray seemed so changed, lost and unhappy. That the leader told Ray that only powerful Magicks could undo the doom that had befallen him. That there is a realm beyond this one where all things are possible.

We then shift to Piper and Trickster seeking sanctuary from the Penguin at the Iceberg Lounge. At first Penguin wants no part of helping the two Rogues. Penguin says that a lot of the heavy hitters in the criminal community have gone missing. And the Rogues in particular are wanted men after killing the Flash.

Trickster promises to someday make it worth Penguin’s while if he lets them stay one night. We cut to Piper and Trickster staying in the wine cellar of the Iceberg Lounge. We see a small camera hidden in the wine cellar. We see Oracle watching the monitor hooked to that camera. Oracle gives the location of the two Rogues to none other than the faux Question in Renee Montoya. Oracle tells Renee to nail the Rogues.

We get another History of the Multiverse back-up story. We learn that when the new Mulitverse was created, that a unique Monitor was created to guard each multiple Earth. We learn that each multiple Earth is rather different from each other. One Earth is set back during the Industrial Revolution. On another Earth, Communism reigns supreme.

The evil Monitor says that it is their job to eliminate all people who jump between the multiple Earths like he eliminated Duela. The good Monitor says that eliminating dimension jumpers is overkill. The evil Monitor says that the new Multiverse is in such a fluid state that there is the risk of a third Crisis.

The Good: Countdown #40 wasn’t fantastic, but it was still a solid read. We got a nice enough mix between dialogue heavy scenes and action scenes. Bedard’s dialogue was slightly above average. It was probably the weakest dialogue that we have gotten so far on this series. The pacing did pick up a little bit from the last issue. Dini’s plotting is well done as we begin to see various plotlines begin to unfold a bit more and we finally get some much needed attention to the Darkseid plotline.

I liked the scene with Jimmy Olsen. I dig Mister Action. The name has the necessary Silver Age goofiness that Jimmy requires. I like the emphasis placed on how Mister Action was smiling and having fun and that the shopkeeper had fun watching Mister Action take down the bad guys. This brings back the concept of the shiny happy and positive super hero that dominated the Silver Age and that has been rather scarce ever since the 1980’s.

It is nice to see Jimmy’s character finally evolving and growing after basically being stuck in stasis for such a long time. The real question is how long with Jimmy’s run as a hero last? Will he revert back to his normal self eventually or has Jimmy been targeted for death? You know Didio can resist killing off characters in any major event.

I love the addition of Zatanna to the Mary Marvel plotline. Dini clearly likes Zatanna’s character as she makes an appearance in any title that he works on. We get to see Mary slowly becoming more aggressive and fueled by anger with each and every issue. This scene shows us a Mary Marvel more like Black Adam than we have seen up to this point. Zatanna is a logical choice to help Mary deal with her new magical based powers. I’m definitely interested to see what Dini has in store for Zatanna and Mary.

The Darkseid scene rocked. I just love the old stone face. He is such a great villain. We haven’t seen Darkseid since the debut issue of Countdown, and I was beginning to wonder when Dini would get around to dealing with this plotline.

Bedard gives us an appropriately complex and ruthless Darkseid as he confides in his concubine and then fries her ass and then orders that his next concubine have her vocal chords removed. That is how Darkseid rolls and that is why I love his character so much. I’m excited that this plotline finally got some panel time and I can’t wait to learn more about Darkseid’s plans.

We also see a spy for New Genesis investigating the death of Lightray. Just who is this spy? The death of Lightray was rather intriguing and it is about time that Dini spend some time on this plotline.

The scene with the Rogues getting sanctuary with Penguin was well done and really highlights how the perception of the Rogues has drastically changed. Before Bart’s death, the Penguin would have regarded the Rogues as small time criminals. Now, the Rogues are so wanted that not even the Penguin wants anything to do with them. We also learn that criminals are disappearing all over the DCU. I’m interested to find out who is behind all the disappearances and why.

This scene at the Iceberg Lounge sets up a great hook ending. Oracle has the wine cellar monitored and calls for Renee Montoya to catch the two unsuspecting Rogues. It should be fun watching how our two Rouges are able to escape this next sticky situation.

The back-up story gave the reader some more information about the New Earth and the new Multiverse. We finally learn how the 52 monitors were created and much the different multiple Earths vary from each other. That when each multiple Earth was born, a unique Monitor was created with it to protect that specific multiple Earth. Not only does this back-up story further educate the reader on this new Multiverse, it also very blatantly sets the course for the third Crisis.

Garcia and McKenna provide the reader with some nice artwork. It isn’t anything amazing, but it certainly is enough to get the job done.

The Bad: The Quest for Ray Palmer plotline was originally my favorite one, but it has quickly lost its momentum and now feels like is stuck in neutral. This plotline has been a rather dull read over the past several issues. It is time for Dini to pick up the pace on this plotline.

The Holly Robinson plotline continues to completely bore me. The scene with Holly in Countdown #40 did nothing to change my opinion about this plotline. I could care less why the single mom with her son was turned away from the Women’s Center. Was it because she had mated with a man? Was it because she had a son for a child? Who knows and who cares. I have no idea where Dini is going with this plotline or why I should care in the least bit about it.

As much as I enjoyed the hook ending with our two Rogues ending up in more hot water, I have to say that the addition of Renee Montoya does nothing to increase my interest in Countdown. Of course, maybe Renee will meet an untimely demise in Countdown. I hoped it would happen in 52 and it didn’t. Maybe we’ll get lucky and she’ll bite this big one in Countdown.

Overall: Countdown #40 was a solid better than average read. I will admit that this title still hasn’t reached the white hot success of 52. I feel like Countdown has all the makings of what could be one phenomenal read, but for some reason it just isn’t hitting on all cylinders. Hopefully, Dini can capture that magic and elevate Countdown so it can hit its full potential.

1 thought on “Comic Book Review: Countdown #40

  1. There are a couple of reason why countdown isn’t as much fun as 52. first, I think that 52 was done in real time, so it had a faster more frantic feel to it. Countdown is much slower. Also, sense it’s done in tandem with the other books, opposed to apart, it really can’t move too fast. It has to deal with the Amazon issues as long as it goes on, it can’t really keep going and give away the ending while the crossover is still going on, while as 52 didn’t have to worry about it.

    I also thing 52 was a fresh idea, not just in being a weekly, but in the whole idea of a skipped year and a real time story. It was somewhat groundbreaking on DC’s part and readers responded to it.

    Lastly, I think we are all getting a little tired. We had countdown to Infinite crises, infinite crises itself, 52, and now countdown and something else coming. It was exciting when it all began, but now it’s a little much. I wouldn’t mind exploring the new DCU for a few years before they have another big event that changes everything. I think people are just a little worn out. It’s like that girl everyone has in college who has a emergency every week. You try to be there for her, eventually you get end of dumping her. You get sick of dealing with all the crises. It’s true in relationships and it’s true in comic books.

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