Countdown to Final Crisis continues to chug steadily toward its conclusion. There is no doubt that this title has been a serious disappointment and a mere shell of what 52 was. However, at least Dini has delivered serviceable reads as we head to the end of this title. Will Dini be able to keep it rolling or will Countdown to Final Crisis suffer from an unsatisfactory ending? Let’s do this review for Countdown to Final Crisis #8 and find out.
Writers: Paul Dini, Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti & Keith Giffen
Pencils: Carlos Magno
Inks: Rodney Ramos
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with the Atom blaming himself for Jean descending into madness and killing Sue Dibny. Ray Palmer then snaps himself out of his thoughts reminding himself that he is the only thing standing in the way of the Morticoccus virus in Karate Kid from becoming the Great Disaster.
We cut to Darkseid saying “Checkmate” to Solomon the Monitor. Darkseid says that the chess game is over and he has won. That Solomon was a fool to put all his faith into Monarch. That Solomon was the person who breached Captain Atom’s armor and in an attempt to recreate the Monarch in hopes that he would make Solomon the Omni-Monitor.
Solomon barks that he still has one piece left on the board: Karate Kid. That the Morticoccus virus will kill all of the superhumans. Darkseid spits that he has no use for superhumans on his Fifth World. We see the Atom listening to this conversation from the chess board. Atom is stunned that Darkseid wants to re-create all of creation and that Solomon wants to unleash the Morticcocus virus.
The Atom decides that maybe he can isolate Karate Kid’s cellular structure and create a cure for the virus. That maybe he will have to kill Karate Kid if there can be no cure. Suddenly, some force pulls the Atom from the subatomic world. It is Firestorm. Firestorm tells the Atom that the cavalry has arrived. We see Jimmy Olsen, Forager and the members of the Haven on the scene with our other heroes.
The Atom says that he can’t find a cure for Karate Kid and that they might have to kill him. Red Robin is perfectly fine with killing Karate Kid to save the universe. Donna, on the other hand, is not and wants to continue to try and find a cure. Donna tells Jimmy to come with them back to Earth.
Atom interjects that Karate Kid can’t go back to Earth because he might infect the entire planet. Jimmy then says that he isn’t going back to Earth. That he is here to face Darkseid. Donna says that facing Darkseid is suicide. Jimmy answers that he has to face Darkseid. That he feels it is his destiny.
We shift to Darkseid alone at the chess board. Solomon has fled the room. Darkseid crushes a chess piece that looks like Solomon. Darkseid exclaims that he triumphs over all.
We cut back to Donna and Jimmy still arguing. Suddenly, Solomon the Monitor appears on the scene. Solomon tells Jimmy that if he faced Darkseid then Darkseid would kill Jimmy. That Jimmy is the reservoir where Darkseid stored certain energies in order to give him an insurance policy against other scheming gods’ interference. And with all the New Gods gone, and their power in one vessel, Jimmy, Darkseid could easily confiscate the power and leave the vessel lifeless.
Solomon refuses to allow Darkseid to claim these powers from Jimmy. Atom says that they can’t bring Karate Kid to Earth with them. That they should leave him on Apokolips to die. Firestorm argues that they are heroes and should continue to find a cure. Donna agrees with Firestorm.
Solomon curses the squabbling heroes. Solomon says that inaction is death. Solomon claims that the humans deserve extinction and that only time will tell if they can avoid that fate. And with that Solomon transports all of our heroes back to Earth. Solomon says that he has just played his final move in this cosmic struggle. That the game with Darkseid is not over with only chance and date remain in play.
We see our heroes appearing back on Earth. Ray panics that they have just brought the Great Disaster with them. Ray laments that he failed once again. The Atom then says that they all must decide right here and now if Karate Kid lives or dies. End of story.
We then get a two page back-up story about the origin of Bizarro. End of issue.
The Good: Countdown to Final Crisis #8 was a bit of a disappointing read. However, there were some enjoyable aspects to this issue. Dini finally reveals that Solomon was behind Captain Atom’s transformation into the Monarch. After being led to think that Monarch was a legitimate threat to the Monitors, the reader realizes that in the end Monarch was just another pawn of Solomon. I wasn’t expecting Monarch to turn out to be just a tool rather than one of the major players in this conflict.
The most enjoyable part of Countdown to Final Crisis #8 was that we finally learn what in the world Darkseid has been plotting as well as what role Jimmy plays in this upcoming crisis. I dig that even in the face of the destruction of the New Gods and the entire Fourth World that Darkseid refuses to admit defeat. Instead, Darkseid looks upon the death of the New Gods and the Fourth World as an opportunity for him to make a move for even more power. It only makes sense that Darkseid would use all his resources to place him in position to rule the Fifth World.
And I like Dini’s explanation for Jimmy’s powers and his entire role in this event. Darkseid using Jimmy as a vessel to store the powers of the dead New Gods is pretty crafty. It certainly explains why Darkseid has been so protective of Jimmy during the past issues of Countdown to Final Crisis.
For the most part, Dini does a solid job taking all of the various seemingly unrelated plotlines and tying them all together in a satisfactorily fashion. Everything seems to be clicking into place rather smoothly as Dini reveals the answers to the various questions that have been running through Countdown to Final Crisis.
Even though this title has been extremely disappointing, I will credit Dini for at least having constructed plotlines that worked well off of each other. I dig how all the different plotlines have interconnected and feel that this story had a strong enough foundation to be a good read. If only DC had not forced Dini to stretch this over 52 weeks. This would have been a pretty fun read if it had been limited to 18-20 issues.
Magno and Ramos serve up some slightly average artwork. This certainly isn’t the best work that I have seen from Magno.
The Bad: Countdown to Final Crisis #8 was a slow and plodding read. The story was painfully repetitious as we get treated to seemingly endless arguing over what to do with Karate Kid. We also got yet another re-hash of the same dialogue between Solomon and Darkseid that we have gotten in numerous earlier issues. This issue practically screamed “time waster!” to me as I read it. Clearly, Dini was stalling with this issue as he once again tries to stretch Countdown to Final Crisis over the span of 52 issues.
Once again, the dialogue was very ordinary. I continue to be unimpressed with the pedestrian effort that has been given in terms of the quality of dialogue we have gotten the past several issues. The dialogue seems flat and a bit generic. None of the characters have anything resembling a unique external voice.
There is also a complete lack of chemistry between the characters. Of course, the fact that all the characters have as much depth and personality as cardboard cut-outs doesn’t help any. Dini and company pull off zero character work with this issue. And that is a reoccurring theme with this title.
Red Robin continues to act schizophrenic. Clearly, the rotating cast of writers do not share a common vision for Red Robin’s personality. Red Robin has gone from complex, troubled and no-nonsense to a shallow homicidal jerk. In Countdown to Final Crisis #8, we get the latter version of Red Robin. I would prefer that DC focus on the former version of Red Robin and make a concerted effort to give us a consistent rendition of his character.
I continue to strongly dislike the handling of Ray Palmer. In this issue, Dini and company pile on even more guilt and misery as Ray blames himself for his failed marriage with Jean, then blames himself for Jean turning evil and then blames himself for Jean killing Sue Dibny. Great. This is just what Ray’s character needs. Dini and company have just continual dumped on Ray’s character. I’m not too sure what DC is trying to do with Ray’s character. It appears that DC is trying to turn Ray Palmer into their version of Hank Pym.
Even though we finally learn that Solomon caused the breach in Captain Atom’s armor in order to trigger him becoming Monarch, I still have to say that Monarch is an incredibly lame villain. This was possibly the worst heel turn that I have ever read. Dini and company still fail to give the reader any explanation about why Captain Atom would turn into Monarch. We know what Solomon did to Captain Atom, but what is still totally missing is Captain Atom’s motivation to become a villain.
I continue to be unimpressed with Karate Kid’s role as the lab rat of this story. It appears that Karate Kid is going to be reduced to nothing more than a plot device in which to expose New Earth to the Morticcocus virus. Karate Kid’s character deserves better than this. Of course, I was stupid to think that Karate Kid would play any role of value or depth to Countdown to Final Crisis. The fact that Giffen is part of the creative team should have clued me in at the start.
Overall: Countdown to Final Crisis #8 was an average at best read. I certainly wouldn’t recommend wasting your money on this issue. This isn’t going to be such an incredible ending that I would urge people to hop onto this title so late in the game.