Countdown continues to deliver a slightly better than average read. I’m beginning to think that Dini might be able to pull off a solid ending to this otherwise disappointing title. If nothing else, at least the pacing on this title has considerably improved. Let’s go on and do this review for Countdown to Final Crisis #11.
Writers: Paul Dini, Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti & Keith Giffen
Pencils: Mike Norton
Inks: 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 Solomon telling Darkseid “Check” after making his move on the chess board. Brother Eye is rapidly assimilating Apokolips as the OMACs are defeating Darkseid’s Parademons. We cut to Karate Kid and Una trying to figure out exactly where Brother Eye has taken them.
We slip over to the Challengers trying to regroup themselves. Red Robin tells Ray to stop his whining and do something. That Ray is supposed to be the key to this entire situation. Ray answers that he has no idea why they are on Apokolips. Donna tells Red Robin to calm down. Ray says that nothing in his travels and in his research connects Apokolips to the Great Disaster. Kyle says that they should stop bickering and try and figure out how to get home. Donna then turns around to tell Red Robin to come along with them when she notices that he has left the area.
We shift to Red Robin investigating Apokolips. Jason is sick of Ray’s whining and Kyle’s constant flexing for Donna. That Jason needs to keep moving. That he needs to clear his head and finding someone’s ass to kick is the perfect way to do that. Red Robin then comes across Brother Eye assimilating Apokolips. Jason is shocked, but figures if Brother Eye can get to Apokolips then it will know how to get back to Gotham on Jason’s Earth.
We cut to Karate Kid kicking ass on some of the Parademons. Karate Kid tells Una that they need to interrogate one of these soldiers in order to find out where they are.
We slide to Pied Piper cowering in an alley on Apokolips. Piper laments that this is the end. Piper moans that the Trickster knew that they were screwed from the start. Piper begins to remove Trickster’s severed hand from the shackle in his attempt to kill himself from the electrical shock from the shackle. Suddenly, a mysterious figure appears and tells Piper that he will have to temporarily postpone his suicide attempt. That the mysterious figure will decide when it is time for Piper to die.
We the shift to Holly, Harley and Mary brawling with Granny Goodness’ Furies. Our heroines struggle for a bit and then finally defeat the Furies. Mary then tells Holly and Harley that she hears voices. That they sound like the voices of the gods.
We cut to Jimmy Olsen and Forager teleporting to the Habitat in order to enlist help from some of Jimmy’s friends for their trip to Apokolips.
We zip back to Karate Kid and Una having learned that Brother Eye has been assimilating Apokolips at an accelerated rate of speed. That they have to get out of here before Brother Eye consumes everything. Karate Kid says that Brother Eye knows that they are on Apokolips. That they don’t want Brother Eye assimilating the virus that Karate Kid is carrying. Suddenly, Una transforms into an OMAC and responds that “Eye” do want the virus assimilated. End of story.
We then get a two page back-up story about the origin of Solomon Grundy. End of issue.
The Good: Countdown #11 was certainly a fast read. The plotting on this issue is fairly solid as Dini and company use this issue to place all of the various characters together on Apokolips just as all hell is breaking loose. Dini has set the stage with this issue for what could potentially be a rather exciting finale to this story. Dini and company dish out plenty of action and energize Countdown #11 with a frenetic vibe that conveys to the reader the sense of a rapidly destabilizing situation that is taking place on Apokolips.
Dini pulls off some more quality character work with Jason Todd. Red Robin continues to be one of the few bright spots in Countdown. Dini has managed to take a character in Jason who completely lacked a purpose and role within the DCU. Jason isn’t Robin, he isn’t Nightwing and he certainly isn’t Batman. Jason was the odd man out with the last second decision to not kill off Dick Grayson and replace him with Jason Todd as Nightwing.
Giving the Red Robin identity to Jason Todd was a wise move. And this new gimmick fits Jason perfectly. Suddenly, Jason is less bratty and more cocky and confident. As Red Robin, Jason has shed his past as Robin and has taken the next step in his evolution into being his own man. Rather than becoming Nightwing who embodies all the good of Batman without the negative aspects, Red Robin embraces the anger and pain that resides in Batman while turning his back on the optimism of Robin.
I simply cannot get enough of Red Robin. It is cool to see someone in the Bat-Family doing things his own way and not fiving a damn what the big bad bat has to say. It should be interesting to see how Red Robin interacts with the rest of the characters in the DCU once he returns to New Earth. Of course, that assumes that DC doesn’t kill him off during Countdown.
I am certainly curious about Piper’s role in the finale of Countdown. Clearly, Dini has something in store for Piper that I’m simply not seeing. I dig the appearance of a mysterious person who approaches Piper in this issue. I hope that Dini has some well designed use for Piper in this finale so that this plotline doesn’t seem like the complete and total waste of time that it has appeared to be up to this point.
The scene with Jimmy Olsen is short, but interesting in that Dini brings back the Hairies who live in the Habitat that is located near Project Cadmus’ base. The Hairies were the result of some cloning efforts by Project Cadmus. This was a pretty cool use of the deep roster of characters in the DCU.
It appears that Solomon is gaining the upper hand and that Darkseid is slated to suffer the same fate as the rest of the New Gods. I can’t say that I’m all that surprised. After all, if the New Gods are to fall in order for the Fifth World to arise, it would only make sense that Darkseid isn’t going to end up on the winning side.
It certainly seems that Apokolips has met its match in Brother Eye. Batman’s “child” simply rips through Darkseid’s force in its merciless onslaught to assimilate Apokolips. I have to admit that I’m rooting for Brother Eye in this battle. I think it would be a pretty cool moment to see Brother Eye assimilate all of Apokolips and then head back to New Earth to show its “father” what it has done.
Dini ends Countdown #11 with a solid hook ending with Una transforming into an OMAC and trying to assimilate Karate Kid’s virus. Clearly, Brother Eye with the virus added to its arsenal would be very bad news. It should be interesting to see how my boy and ass-kicker extraordinaire deals with this dicey predicament.
Mike Norton and Mark McKenna combine to deliver some average artwork. I can’t say that the artwork really had much of an impression on me either positively or negatively.
The Bad: I understand that Countdown #11 continues Dini’s efforts to assemble all of the various characters from the different plotlines all together on Apokolips in order for a hopefully rousing finale. However, it seems that this assembling of heroes on Apokolips is simply taking way too long.
The dialogue in Countdown #11 is average at best and just terribly cheesy at worst. Some of the dialogue during the battle with the Furies was particularly cringe inducing. None of the characters outside of Red Robin have much of a distinctive personality or a well crafted external voice.
The Holly Robinson plotline continues to be unimpressive. The fight scene just wasn’t believable. You would think that the big bad Furies could take down three women without any super powers at all. At no point have I found either Holly or Harley’s story intriguing. Holly insertion into Countdown seems to be nothing more than pure filler and Harley is only on this title because she is one of Dini’s pet characters.
Mary continues to be poorly used in Countdown. Evidently, her only role in this story is to hear the voices of gods. I seriously hope that Dini has something exciting in store for Mary’s character with the finale. Mary’s plotline has been bungled from the beginning. Mary Marvel is such a great character and it has been disappointing to see her wasted on this title.
I continue to strongly dislike the handling of Ray’s character in Countdown. So far all Dini has done with Ray is completely torment him by continuing to burn to the ground everything thing that Ray loves and destroy any shred of happiness that Ray managed to cobble together after Identity Crisis. Ray has served merely the role of the whipping boy that Dini and company have simply dumped on during Countdown.
And how has Ray responded to everything that has been done to him in Countdown? Has he acted like the true hero that he is? Nope. He has sat around and cried and whined throughout the entire event. Ray has alternated between being in a state of shock to being in a state of mourning. But, at all times Ray has generally been useless.
I hate to say it, but I knew deep down inside that this is what was in store for Ray during Countdown. I hoped that maybe Countdown would be used to show us the redemption of a hero. I hoped we would get to see the real Atom make a spectacular comeback and be reborn as the classic hero that he is.
However, what I knew was going to happen would be that DC would simply pile up the misery on Ray’s shoulders and then in the finale have Ray commit some “heroic” act of selflessness that involved him sacrificing his life in order to save the other heroes and the universe. So far the first part of my gut instinct has come true and I suspect the latter half will occur in this finale.
Overall: Countdown #11 was another average read. We only have ten issues left and I’m beginning to wonder if Dini is going to be able to pull off an exciting finale. Still, I have to admit that as we are drawing to a close on this title, I am starting to get more and more excited about Final Crisis.