Comic Book Review: Countdown #50

The Revolution thoroughly enjoyed Countdown #51. Dini set the stage for what should be a wildly entertaining story. I like the characters that DC has chosen for this title. I also dig that we will be delving deeply into this new Multiverse. I’m confident that Countdown #50 will be another quality read. Let’s do this review for Countdown #50.

Creative Team
Writers: Paul Dini, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Penciler: J. Califiore
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 Superman giving Jimmy Olsen the location of Red Hood. Superman tells Jimmy to be careful and that Jason Todd is unpredictable. Jimmy enters the warehouse location that Superman gave him and sees Red Hood kicking ass on a bunch of hi-tech ninjas. Jimmy thinks how he has met tons of super-heroes and Batman is certainly very scary, but Jason Todd is worse. That Red Hood is a lot like Batman only he is willing to do what Batman never would. Jason is willing to kill.

Jason finishes beating up the ninjas and tells Olsen to come out of hiding. Olsen asks Jason for information about Duela’s death. Jason tells Jimmy how Duela was killed. Jimmy comments that twin aliens sound rather strange. Jason tells Jimmy that if Jimmy wants answers for questions beyond reason then there is a guy in Arkham who wrote the book on crazy.

We cut to Mary Marvel paying a visit to Madame Xanadu. Mary wants to know where Freddy Freeman is currently located. Madame Xanadu says that Freddy remains hidden from her vision and she cannot find him. Madame Xanadu then comments that Mary’s future is full of dark clouds obscuring many paths and that Mary will be tested.

Madame Xanadu says that there is power in Mary’s destiny, but she can’t tell if it is the power of Shazam or not. Madame Xanadu warns Mary to be careful what she wishes for. That if Mary regains her power or another variation of it then she must stay out of Gotham City. That Gotham isn’t safe for magic.

Mary comments that she feels even more lost now. Madame Xanadu tells Mary to get herself a guide.

We shift to Batman fighting with Karate Kid down in the Batcave. This is the same scene from Justice League of America #8. Black Lighting takes down Karate Kid from behind. Batman tells Black Lighting that he wants to know why Karate Kid claimed to be Trident and why he is here. Batman tells Black Lightning to watch Karate Kid and that Batman will be right back and then they will take Karate Kid to the Hall of Justice.

We cut to Keystone City where Flash’s rogues are huddled up in a flophouse. Mirror Master appears and tells them that they are all invited to a meeting that Captain Cold and Inertia are setting up. Mirror Master doesn’t like that traitors like Trickster and Pied Piper have been included in the meeting.

Mirror Master gets in a small scuffle with Trickster and Pied Piper until Heat Wave breaks up the fight. Mirror Master says that the meeting will be tomorrow at midnight and that they are going to need a display of loyalty from both Piper and Trickster before they get any info on their plan. And if they don’t show up to the meeting that the Rogues will hunt them down and kill them.

We zip to Jimmy Olsen arriving at Arkham Asylum. Olsen meets with the Joker. Jimmy asks Joker if he knew that Duela was dead. Jimmy asks Joker if he knows anything about who would kill Duela. Joker tells Jimmy that he is missing the big picture. That there is a universal conspiracy going on around them. That something is not quite right with the world. Joker then laughs and says he never had a daughter. That doppelgangers have gone wild. Joker then laughs like Jimmy is playing a joke on him about Joker even having a daughter.

Jimmy walks down the hall to leave when Killer Croc escapes from his cell. We see Jimmy calling Lois Lane on his cell phone with Killer Croc creeping up behind Jimmy. End of issue.

The Good: Countdown #50 was a solid, but not spectacular issue. The writing team uses this issue to set the stage and lay a proper foundation for the major plotlines involving the Monitors, the Rogues and Mary Marvel. The writing team also uses Countdown #50 to introduce another of one of the main characters of this title: Jimmy Olsen.

The writing team is doing a good job with the plotting. They are spending the necessary time to make sure that all intricate parts are in place for each plotline. It is of no surprise that Countdown #50 was a bit of an uneventful and slow issue. Unfortunately, writers always need some time in order to construct the necessary back story.

The dialogue was slightly better than average. I certainly noticed a difference between the last issue where Dini wrote it by himself and Countdown #50 where Palmiotti and Gray help Dini with the writing chores. The dialogue wasn’t as good as last issue, but it was still decent.

I am continuing to be pleased with the way that the writing team is handling Jason Todd. Dini is most definitely going to rehabilitate this character from the messy state that Judd Winick and Bruce Jones left this character. I’m glad that the terrible version of Jason Todd from Nightwing is long gone. I’ll pretend that the evil Nightwing version of Jason Todd never existed.

I find Jason’s character extremely intriguing. I love how the creative team is re-constructing Jason from the beginning. I dig how Jimmy Olsen offers some insightful commentary on Jason. How Jason is much more like the Batman than any of the other Robins. That the only difference is Jason has no qualms with killing. And there is no doubt that Jason’s willingness to kill makes him much more dangerous than Batman. I thought this was a cool and effective way to elevate Jason up close to Batman’s level.

Jimmy makes a point of saying how scary Batman is, but that Jason is just like Batman but without any type of self-control. This immediately impresses upon the reader that Jason is a serious bad-ass who can certainly hold his own against the very best. It is important that DC spend time building up Jason’s character into a serious threat capable of rivaling the Batman.

I dig that Jason is basically the exact same person as Bruce Wayne. They act the same. They talk the same with a short and terse style of dialogue. They have the same mannerisms. The only difference is Jason kills. I’m glad that DC is impressing upon that difference because Batman could have very easily gone down the same road as Jason.

The Mary Marvel scene was pretty interesting. Madame Xanadu was a nice literary tool to give the reader plenty of obvious hints for what is in store for Mary. I dig that Mary is going to be undergoing her own personal “Trials” like Freddy Freeman is over on his maxi-series. We all know that Mary is going to be tempted by the dark powers of Eclipso. It should be fascinating to see how Mary deals with being offered powers but at a serious price.

I’m glad that DC is taking the opportunity to provide some quality character growth for yet another member of the Marvel Family. They are all great characters and the Marvel Family definitely deserves some attention.

The meeting of the Rogues was pretty cool. I love the Rogues and I am really psyched that these villains will be playing a major role in Countdown. I’m curious to learn just what Piper and Trickster are going to have to do in order to prove their loyalty to the Rogues and earn their trust. I dig that the Rogues stick together and have that “honor among thieves” mentality.

I have always liked Jimmy Olsen. I’m glad that he is one of the main characters of Countdown. Jimmy is a fun character and more importantly is the only main character who is just a regular human. Jimmy should add an interesting perspective to this huge cosmic conflict. It will be neat to see this story through the eyes of a regular Joe like Jimmy rather than the usual viewpoint of a super hero that we get with most major events.

I found J. Califiore and Mark McKenna’s artwork to be very ordinary. The artwork was a bit rushed and hurried looking at certain points.

The Bad: Countdown #50 was certainly a bit disappointing. It was definitely a let down after such a hot first issue. Countdown #50 was very slow and didn’t progress a single plotline. We burned several pages of this issue giving us the exact same scene between Batman, Black Lightning and Karate Kid that we got over on Justice League of America #8.

The scenes with Jimmy Olsen talking with Jason and then with the Joker were just re-hashes of what happened last issue with Duela. It didn’t help matters that the Joker scene was too much of a lame Silence of the Lambs rip-off. I know that the writers were paying an “homage” to Silence of the Lambs, but it has been done a million times over and it is certainly getting tired.

Countdown #50 just re-treads material that we have already seen. I know that the writers need to set the stage and move all the various players into place. And I know that we have to expect some set-up with a story this big. But, Countdown #50 spent more time re-hashing what we already knew rather than laying a foundation for future plotlines.

Overall: Countdown #50 was an average read. It certainly wasn’t as good as Countdown #51. However, we are still very early in this series and I’m confident that Dini and the boys will get this story back on track and deliver plenty of entertaining issues. Countdown should still be a fun series.

5 thoughts on “Comic Book Review: Countdown #50

  1. While redundant, seeing the JSA & JLA issues cross over into countdown really makes me look forward to upcoming issues of all 3 titles. I wonder if this is all part of the countdown crisis or one of the many subplots that will spin out of it.

    I hope it is all connected. Take a clue from Marvel. Civil war was nothing new or special. I thought New Frontier’s registration act was a better story but they made it better because it touched every issue in the Marvel Universe some way. They also sold a lot more issues that way. Believe me, my bank account is still recovering and the whole thing isn’t over yet.

  2. I liked this one mostly for the spotlight on Jimmy, and the expansion on the Batman/Karate Kid fight. Little crossover scenes like that, as well as the even pace of the series, should help new readers ease their way into the DCU.

    I’ve given my younger brother the first two issues, and am eager to see what he thinks of them. I don’t think there’s any danger of him getting lost in a quagmire that I can’t explain, although the ‘Crisis’ business might take a little wiki research, as I’m never good at explaining semi-complicated stuff like that.

    Jimmy’s another person who knows who Jason Todd is, not to mention Dick Grayson’s secret identity? Can’t wait for the backstory on this one.

    This one was a little light in the huge occurences factor, but was a good issue, nonetheless, with a decent cliffhanger for next week’s issue.

    Here’s a sucker bet: twenty bucks says Killer Croc finally waxes that redhead’s ass. Lol.

  3. so if jimmmy knows who Jason Todd is, and who Dick Grayson is, and he never made the connection that the two of them both lived with Bruce Wayne and were both Robins to Batman, who is on a third Robin, while Bruce is on a thrid kid, then he’s really dumb enough that he deserves to get eaten. Darwin in action

  4. Backstory revealed

    “Occasionally, Jimmy Olsen and Superman undertake adventures with Batman and Robin, with Jimmy aiding Superman much as Robin aids Batman. In May 1964 Jimmy Olsen and Robin establish a secret headquarters together in an abandoned observatory which they dub the Eyrie (WF No. 141: “The Olsen-Robin Team versus ‘The Superman-Batman Team!'”). The Eyrie is intended to serve as their base of operations on those occasions when they undertake joint adventures as the so-called “Robin and Olsen team” (WF No. 147, Feb 1965: “The Doomed Boy Heroes!” pts. I-II—”The New Terrific Team!”; “The Doom of Jimmy Olsen and Robin!”). In September 1964, as his way of rewarding Jimmy for being “such a loyal friend” to Superman, Batman entrusts Jimmy with the secret of his dual identity, pulling back his batlike cowl to reveal the face of millionaire socialite Bruce Wayne (WF No. 144: “The 1,001 Tricks of Clayface and Brainiac!” pts. I-II—no title; “The Helpless Partners!”).”


  5. Ok, I’ll take that explation, and add that I would totally buy a monthly with Jimmy and Robin, if only for the certain homo-erotic subtext.

    Here’s my new gripe then. Superman finds Red hood, a know criminal, and instead of catching him he lets Jason kill a bunch of people that could have easily been saved, just so Jimmy could get his scoop. On one hand, thats some bad superheroing. On the other, letting three or four people get violently killed to help out a pal is the mark of a good friend.

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