Comic Book Review: Countdown #45

The Revolution always enjoys reading the newest issue of Countdown. Dini is doing a great job quarterbacking this weekly title. There is no doubt in my mind that I’m going to enjoy Countdown #45. Let’s go ahead and do this review.

Creative Team
Writers: Paul Dini, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Penciler: J. Calafiore
Inker: Mark McKenna

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 Donna Troy brawling with the Forerunner. The Forerunner is tough enough that Donna’s fist bleeds after punching the Forerunner.

We then cut to Jimmy Olsen in Suicide Slum investigating the building where Sleez was killed last issue. Jimmy recaps who the New Gods are and the two planets of Apokolipse and New Genesis. Jimmy then recaps the events of the past couple of issues involving Lightray and Sleez.

Jimmy wonders about his temporary super-powers that he has exhibited whenever he or someone else was in great danger. Jimmy wonders if he can make it happen again and then control the powers and make them last longer. Jimmy comments that there is only one way to find out.

We shift back to DC where Donna is still brawling with the Forerunner. We then hop back to Suicide Slum and see Holly Robinson. A fellow bum offers Holly to help her out with where all the soup kitchens are located. Holly says that she doesn’t need help and that she is not a charity case. A shadowy figure appears and agrees that Holly doesn’t need charity; she needs a place to call home.

We then cut back to Donna still fighting with the Forerunner. The good Monitor appears and tells Forerunner to desist immediately. The Monitor mentions that the Forerunner and her race were bred as attack dogs for the Monitors and are unable to harm a Monitor. The Monitor then tells Jason and Donna to come with him.

We then shift to the Monitor’s base. The other Monitors are angry with the evil Monitor who killed Duela. The Monitors complain that the evil one broke protocol by creating a new race of beings in the Forerunners just to clean up the mess he made by killing Duela.

The Monitors say that the evil Monitor and his rebellious brothers are setting into motion the very thing they are trying to stop. That across the Multiverse, more anomalies are breaking the source wall between the worlds.

The evil Monitor snaps that the other Monitors should stop complaining and focus their anger toward the Monitor who just saved Donna Troy and Jason Todd from certain death. And that such an action is a violation of the Monitor’s protocol.

We zip to the Justice League of America satellite. Doctor Mid-Nite tells Karate Kid to calm down and that until the Legionnaires can remember why they traveled through time and what their mission is then the JLA and JSA will have to keep Karate Kid and Dream Girl quarantined to the JLA satellite.

We cut back to Washington, DC where the Monitor tells Forerunner that she is nothing but a wild animal bred to kill. The Monitor then transports himself along with Jason and Donna away from DC.

Forerunner bemoans the fact that the Monitors do not trust her or her people. She now has the shame of failing to kill her targets and that dishonor deserves exile or death. Forerunner then severs her physical link to the Monitors and comments that if the Monitors should find her worthy of her trust then they will find her here on this Earth.

We then see Captain Atom in his Monarch armor watching Forerunner. Monarch comments that Forerunner is too valuable to be discarded. End of story.

We get a History of the Multiverse back-up story. We learn about the Earth-One and Earth-Two heroes traveling through time to fight various villains like the Lord of Time or Mordru. We learn about Earth-Prime, an Earth that lacked any super-heroes. Then we see the emergence of Earth-Prime’s Superman and a stealthy presence orbiting Earth that would herald the ultimate catastrophe. A Crisis of infinite proportions. End of issue.

The Good: Countdown #45 was not a spectacular issue and is probably the weakest of all the issues up to this point. However, Countdown #45 was still a solid read. Dini is making sure that he doesn’t rush any of the various plotlines. Dini is purposely moving at a measured pace in order to build up plenty of tension and excitement in the reader. Dini also is allowing the various plotlines to unfold naturally and to grow from a solid foundation.

The writing team turns out some good dialogue. The effort is being made to make sure the various characters are well developed and have their own personalities. And we also get tons of quality action with the monster brawl between Donna and Forerunner. Since not much really happens plot-wise in Countdown #45, the intense fighting between Donna and Forerunner was critical in retaining the reader’s interest and attention.

I was intrigued by how Jimmy plans to test his powers. Just what does that crazy redhead have in mind? I love this plotline and am interested to learn more about Jimmy’s connection with the Source Wall as well as how and why he has been displaying various super powers.

The writing team begins to crank up the heat and intensity with the Monitor plotline. We are seeing plenty of tension between the various Monitors as battle lines are beginning to be drawn between the “good” Monitor and the “evil” Monitor. It appears that the Monitors are doomed to bring this prophecy to life.

I liked the little teaser we got in the Holly Robinson scene with the appearance of a mysterious figure offering Holly a home. I will admit that I could care less about Holly’s character. However, I am curious to see how Holly fits into the events of Countdown.

I like Forerunner. I find her to be an appropriately tragic and, at the same time, fearsome villain. It was pretty shocking how unbelievably cruel the “good” Monitor was to Forerunner. He was just vicious with the way he reduced her to nothing more than a feral animal. I have a feeling that the exploitation of Forerunner by the Monitors will come back to bite them at some later point.

The writing team also kicked up the Jason Todd and Donna Troy plotline a couple of notches with the active intervention of the “good” Monitor. It appears that the “good” Monitor is going to force a confrontation with his brothers who desire to eliminate all anomalies. Hopefully, the “good” Monitor will be able to provide some more information on what is going on in connection to characters like Jason and Donna.

The writing team served up a fantastic ending with the appearance of Captain Atom in his Monarch armor. This cool and unexpected appearance is what saved this issue from a rating of only 5 Night Girls. I am psyched that DC is finally dealing with Captain Atom who has been missing ever since the end of Battle for Bludhaven. I am very interested to see what DC has in store for Captain Atom.

The back up story continued DC’s effort to educate newer fans about the long and glorious history of the DCU. Even though I know all of these events, it is cool to have them refreshed in my mind and to see how DC is connecting them all together.

Calafiore provided for some solid artwork. I’m not crazy about his art, but it is better than average and certainly gets the job done.

The Bad: Part of the Jimmy Olsen scene was a necessary evil in order to fill in new readers about who and what the New Gods are as well as the two warring planets of Apokolypse and New Genesis. Having said that, it did make for one boring scene to readers who already know these characters.

And to make matters even worse, the writing team goes ahead and uses the rest of Jimmy’s scene to recap the first six issues of Countdown. C’mon, it is way to early in this title to be recapping what just happened last couple of weeks. Plus, this is a weekly title; it isn’t like I went a month since reading the last issue and may need my memory refreshed. This move really made Jimmy’s scene a time waster and a real bore to read.

I found the JLA satellite scene to be largely a waste of space. Absolutely nothing of any importance whatsoever happened in this scene. This was a pure time waster and totally useless.
The Monitor scene was also largely just a regurgitation of the same debate that we have already been given over and over in the first six issues of this title.

Of course, a weekly comic book is a real huge task to pull off and a real grind on the writing team. So, I’ll allow them a holiday issue or two where they basically get to trot out a filler issue just so they can catch their collective breath.

Overall: Countdown #45 was a solid read that was saved by such an unexpected surprise appearance by Captain Atom at the end. Other than that, the writing team just re-hashed what we have already read over the first six issues of this title. There is no doubt that Countdown #45 was just a filler issue designed to give the writing team a break. I expect that DC gets this story back on track with the next issue.

1 thought on “Comic Book Review: Countdown #45

  1. You wouldn’t know this, given your known dislike of Kyle Rayner, but Captain Atom/Monarch also showed up hiding out IN BETWEEN UNIVERSES (technically, the “bleed” of Wildstorm Comics) during the ION series, rambling about how it was the only place he could avoid the Monitors.

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