Comic Book Review: Countdown #43

The Revolution is continuing to enjoy Countdown. Dini has done a good job constructing a complex and interesting story. Last issue was a good rebound issue and got this story back on track. It appears that Countdown #43 is going to deal with the Titans’ reaction to Bart’s death. You just have to feel for poor Robin. I’m sure that Countdown #43 will be a solid read. Let’s do this review.

Creative Team
Writers: Paul Dini, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Pencilers: Manuel Garcia and David Lopez
Inkers: Jimmy Palmiotti and Don Hillsman

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 a massive funeral for Bart Allen. All the heroes of the DCU are present. Jay Garrick gives a touching eulogy. We see that Jason Todd, Donna Troy and the Monitor are watching from a hidden location up in the arena where the funeral is being held. The Monitor wants to leave immediately to go to the Nanoverse to find Ray Palmer. Donna wants to wait until the end of the funeral.

We then get a eulogy from Cyborg. And then we get one from Wonder Girl. Cassie snaps and says that Bart’s killers will rot in hell. That they will track them down and God help them if she catches them first.

We see that the Trickster and Piper are in the crowd because Piper feels bad about Bart’s death and wants to pay his respects to Bart. However, Wonder Girl’s angry words spook the two criminals who decide it is best that they get out of the funeral as soon as possible. On their way out, Piper is suddenly shot by Multiplex. Then we see Trickster getting shot by Deadshot.

We cut to The Bleed where Monarch is showing Forerunner his massive army. Monarch tells Forerunner that she will be his general and train his army and then lead them into battle.

We shift to Holly Robinson at the Amazon’s home for women. There she meets another resident of this shelter who is none other than Harleen Quinzel. Harley Quinn mentions how her last boyfriend was a real maniac and how the Amazon’s shelter for women is such a wonderful place. And how Athena is teaching the women respect and love for themselves.

We then hop back to the funeral where Robin is giving a eulogy. Robin then plays a DVD that Bart asked him to play in the event of his death. On the giant screen, we see Bart in his Kid Flash outfit. He talks about the younger generations’ role to fill the shoes of the older heroes like Superman and Batman. Bart mentions how Kon knows what he is talking about. Bart goes on about how much he has loved life and loved being a Titan.

After the DVD is done playing Bart’s message, we see Jason and Donna holding each other. The Monitor then asks Donna and Jason if they can go to the Nanoverse now. Jason looses his temper and punches the Monitor. Donna grabs both Jason and the Monitor flies up into the air and angrily yells at them to knock it off.

Jason says they shouldn’t run away and should take the fight to the Monitors. The Monitor responds that now is not the time to fight the Monitors and that they have to find Ray Palmer first. Jason asks the Monitor how he knows that Ray Palmer isn’t already dead. The Monitor retorts that if Ray Palmer is dead then they are all dead.

We see Jimmy Olsen watching the funeral procession. Jimmy thinks how maybe it is time that he is more than just Superman’s pal. Maybe his powers are a sign for him to be a hero.

We then cut to the Monarch informing Forerunner that the Monitors have already sent someone to Earth-34 to exterminate all of the Forerunner’s people. The Monarch says that the Forerunner’s people are all dead. The Forerunner angrily announces that she will lead the Monarch’s army across the Multiverse and she won’t stop until the Monitors are all dead and she eviscerates the woman who murdered her people.

We get a History of the Multiverse back-up story. We see the events after Crisis on Infinite Earths, Identity Crisis and Infinite Crisis. End of issue.

The Good: Countdown #43 was a solid issue. This was certainly a nice touching final goodbye to Bart Allen. The writing team did a nice job with the dialogue. Each character spoke with plenty of emotion that reader got the reader involved in this issue. You could feel the rage in Cassie and the shell-shocked sadness from Robin. It is incredible how much loss the Titans have experienced ever since the beginning of Infinite Crisis. You have to wonder how much more these teens can take before they snap.

I noticed that the writing team made a point of having Jay Garrick, the original Flash, stating that Bart could have been the best Flash if given a chance. It is hard not to think that this was a shot at the fans, like me, who so vehemently opposed replacing Wally West with Bart. Having the original Flash make this statement gives it much more weight and impact with the reader. This did a nice job making even readers who opposed having Bart as the Flash stop and reassess their opinion on that issue.

I liked that the Piper and the Trickster showed up to Bart’s funeral. All of this has to be killing Piper given that he had become such a close friend of Wally West. This scene makes the reader feel sorry for the sticky situation that the Piper finds himself trapped in.

And I loved how the Trickster and Piper panic when hearing Cassie’s rage fueled eulogy where she threatens to kill the people responsible for killing Bart. This drives home the new turn that the Rogues have taken as far as how the DC heroes now view them. The Rogues are marked men and should not expect any mercy from any of the heroes from the JLA, JSA or Titans.

I definitely didn’t expect to see Deadshot and Multiplex appear on the scene and shoot both the Piper and the Trickster. This certainly got my interest and I am curious to see what the writers have in store for Piper and Trickster.

And what is going on with Jason and Donna? They sure seem to spend a lot of time hugging each other as of late. Could we see a little romance bloom between the second Robin and the first Wonder Girl? What a strange pair these two would make. I’m sure Dick and Tim would be less than thrilled with this relationship.

I definitely like how Dini is handling both Jason and Donna. Donna’s character desperately needs a purpose and direction. I’m glad that Dini is focusing on Donna and giving her a chance to develop a new role within this new DCU.

And Dini is certainly writing the best Jason Todd since he first appeared as the Red Hood. Pairing these two characters together will allow Dini to work his magic to evolve both of them and allow them to find their proper place on this New Earth.

We also get the beginning of the search for Ray Palmer. Evidently, Ray Palmer holds the key to saving the Multiverse as the Monitor makes no bones about the fact that if they can’t find Ray then everyone will die. I am curious to see why Ray is so important and just what his role is in this impending Crisis.

And are we seeing the evolution of Jimmy Olsen from spunky side-kick to full fledged super hero? Is Superman’s pal finally going to join the fight rather than just sit on the sidelines and take pictures? I am totally fascinated by this change with Jimmy Olsen’s character.

The writing team delivers a nice hook ending with the Monarch revealing that the Monitors have already dispatched a woman to kill all of the Forerunner’s people. This mysterious woman has to be one seriously powerful person in order to be capable of killing all of Forerunner’s people. I’m interested to find out the identity of this woman.

Usually I strongly dislike art by committee. However, I thought Garcia and Lopez did a solid job with the artwork to this issue. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but it was nice enough and certainly got the job done.

The Bad: There is no doubt that Countdown #43 was a slow issue. We didn’t get any real plot advancement to any of the various plots. Normally, I’d probably kill such a slow issue as a wasted issue. However, since this is a weekly title, it is understandable that the writers deliver a couple of slower issues in order to give them a chance to catch their breath. Plus, Countdown #43 was all about giving Bart Allen a proper and respectful farewell. I have no problems with DC burning a total issue on this title in order to pay tribute to Bart.

I continue to find the Holly Robinson plotline completely and totally uninteresting. I could care less about the Athena and the Amazons. And I certainly have never cared about this faux Catwoman, Holly Robinson.

And of course, you knew with Dini in charge of Countdown that it was inevitable that Harley Quinn make an appearance. And she does with this issue. However, since I am the only comic book fan in all of creation that finds her character unexciting, Harley’s insertion into Holly Robinson’s plotline does nothing to increase my curiosity in this plotline.

Overall: Countdown #43 was a poignant farewell to Bart Allen. It was nice to see the assembled heroes of the DCY paying tribute to the grandson of the greatest Flash ever. Now that the tribute to Bart Allen is done, I fully expect Dini to get this title back on track and pick up the pacing a bit.