Comic Book Review: Countdown to Final Crisis #4

Countdown to Final Crisis appears fated to go out with a whimper. This title is going to be a bad read right down to the very end. I wasn’t that impressed with the last issue and I’m certainly not expecting much with Countdown to Final Crisis #4. Let’s go ahead and do this review.

Creative Team
Writers: Paul Dini, Sean McKeever & Keith Giffen
Pencils: Jamal Igle
Inks: Keith Champagne

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with our heroes arriving back at our world, Earth-1. Firestorm says that he has been away from home too long and takes off. Holly and Harley say that it is time for them to go on back home to Gotham. Donna asks Jason if he is going to walk away, too. Jason curtly replies “Screw you. Screw you all, in fact.” Jason says that this entire event has made him learn that this cape-and-cowl game is for suckers. With that, Jason leaves.

The Harries then say that the least Atom, Donna, Kyle and Mary Marvel can do is help Jimmy Olsen with his Darkseid problem in return for Jimmy returning them home. Mary then says that she would help, but she wants to find out what happened at Paradise Island and that her family is still missing. So, Mary takes off.

Jimmy, Forager, Atom, Donna and Kyle all decide to head over to the Hall of Justice to seek their help. We then see Holly and Harley walking to the bus station. Jason Todd in civilian clothes saunters up and throws his arms around the two ladies and asks if he can join them on the bus ride back to Gotham.

We cut to Mary Marvel back her apartment. Mary lied that she wanted to check out what happened at Paradise Island. The fact is that Mary is just sick of other people’s problems and that she has enough of her own problems to deal with. Mary walks into her living room and there is Darkseid lounging on her sofa. (Now, that is a sight that I never imagined I would see.)

Mary powers up and demands to know what Darkseid is doing. (I’m guessing that Darkseid didn’t stop by for a couple of margaritas.) Darkseid opens his hand and has a small ball of energy from Eclipso in his palm. Darkseid says that Mary left this behind after her battle with Eclipso. Mary exclaims that she got her power back from the gods. Darskeid states that the gods no longer trust Mary and that the power they gave her is diminished from her original power.

Mary says that the power from Eclipso is evil and that she is not evil. Darkseid replies if the power felt evil when she possessed it. Mary admits that she felt strong with the Eclipso power. Darkseid says that evil is an abstract. A mere perception. Darkseid tells Mary to take the ball of power and become complete and be strong once more. Darkseid says that all he wants in return is a small favor. Mary reaches out and takes the Eclipso ball of power.

We cut to Paradise Island where Hippolyta suddenly feels a tremor in the force and laments Mary’s terrible decision. We shift to the Multiversal Nexus where Solomon is standing by himself. All the other Monitors refuse to talk or interact with him. Solomon thinks that he wrested the Great Disaster from Darkseid and allowed the Morticoccus virus to thrive in Nix Uotan’s fifty-first universe instead of the original universe.

However, Solomon knows that Darkseid still bested him. That Darkseid’s ultimate goal remains fully within his grasp. Still, Solomon thinks that the end of the Fourth World will affect Darkseid. That while the battle is over, the war still wages on. That while Darkseid sets his grand endgame in motion all that Solomon has to do is remain patient.

We shift to Atom, Kyle, Donna, Jimmy Olsen and Forager arriving outside the Hall of Justice. The Atom gets a little angst ridden as he realizes that he left the JLA abruptly without saying anything to anyone. Ray doesn’t look forward to this reunion.

Suddenly, Black Mary streaks onto the scene. Black Mary demands that the heroes give her Jimmy Olsen. Donna exclaims that Mary stared down evil and won. Donna asks why Mary would do this. Mary replies that she was tempted by evil. But, that the evil temptation was all Eclipso and not the power. Mary says that the power is what she makes of it. Mary exclaims that she is not evil. That she is driven.

Black Mary proceeds to kick-ass on Donna, Kyle and Forager. The Atom disappears during the brawl. Donna finds it odd that they are having a huge fight outside of the Hall of Justice and that none of the Leaguers have come out to investigate. Donna also wonders where the Atom disappeared to. Black Mary streaks past our heroes and grabs Jimmy and blasts off into the sky and disappears.

Donna and Kyle curse that they have come so far just to lose Jimmy to Darkseid. Forager swears that they have not and that she will tracks down the location of Jimmy Olsen. End of story.

We then get a two page back-up story about the origin of Ra’s al Ghul. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: Countdown to Final Crisis #4 was yet another mediocre issue. I will say that at least we got plenty of action in the second half of this issue. The best part of this issue is that the damn Great Disaster is finally over. What a disappointing plotline. Solomon affirms that he averted the Morticcocus virus off to Earth-51 in order to protect and save the original universe from the Morticcocus virus. I’m thrilled. I hope we don’t have to touch on that Morticcocus virus plotline ever again.

Dini ends Countdown to Final Crisis #4 with a solid hook ending as we see Black Mary zooming off with Jimmy Olsen. The part of this ending that interested me the most where in the world did the Atom sneak off to? I’m sure he did not turn tail and run. I’m guessing that he shrunk down and hid on either Jimmy or Black Mary.

I enjoyed the art in this issue. Jamal Igle and Keith Champagne combine to serve up some solid artwork.

The Bad: Countdown continues to be a slow and lumbering story. Countdown to Final Crisis lacked the sense of urgency and excitement that you would expect on a story with just three issues left to go. I was quite surprised that Countdown to Final Crisis #4 was such a boring read.

The reader continues to get bombarded with some poorly written dialogue. This has been a continual problem on this title. The dialogue is dull and generic. It appears that practically no effort at all was placed in crafting this dialogue. And, as always, there is practically no character work at all in this issue. None of the characters possess much of a personality.

Not much happened that really captured my interest. All we saw was Mary turning bad once again and capturing Jimmy for Darkseid. That’s it. And even that wasn’t done in a particularly appealing fashion.

The biggest reason that this issue failed to hook my interest was the handling of Mary Marvel’s character. Seriously, what the hell is going on with Mary Marvel? Is she good? Is she bad? Is she good, again? Is she bad, again? This is some flat out atrocious handling of her character. I wasn’t all that impressed with her use in Countdown prior to this issue, but at least they had Mary reach down deep inside, shake free of the evil that tried to posses her and prove that she is a true hero.

Now, Mary flips back to the side of evil once again. And the logic is just terrible. Oh, the power isn’t evil. Eclipso was the source of the evil. The power is just whatever you make of it. And Mary chooses this awesome power because she is “driven,” not because she is “evil.” The fact is that Mary is once again a villain and is doing the bidding of the biggest bad guy in the DCU.

This Black Mary plotline is just so unbelievable and silly. To have Mary just flip right back around to evil and turn on her fellow heroes simply makes no sense. This is such terrible handling of her character. It appears that Mary’s turn back to evil was just done as a plot necessity in order to get Jimmy into the hands of Darkseid.

Mary’s use during the course of Countdown to Final Crisis has been perplexing. Part of what made 52 so enjoyable was that it served as a platform for some minor characters to get plenty of panel time in order for their characters to be grown and developed. I just don’t see how Mary’s involvement in Countdown has helped advance, grow or flesh out her character at all. Mary seems like nothing more than a convenient plot device to get Jimmy into Darkseid’s hands at the last moment. Seriously, couldn’t old stone face just get the job done himself?

Mary isn’t the only character that I question the use and purpose of on this title. Why were Holly, Harley and Jason even on this title? These three characters played real no important role on this title and didn’t really serve much of a purpose at all. The Holly and Harley plotline was always the weakest plotline of all of them. It never felt like anything more than an advertisement for the lame Amazons Attack mini-series.

Jason didn’t really do anything other than sit around and throw out snarky comments and agitate the other heroes. That was about the sum total of his contribution to Countdown. Holly, Harley and Jason are all characters who could have greatly benefitted from Countdown much like Steel, Natasha, Montoya, etc. benefited from 52. Unfortunately, Jason, Holly and Harley exit Countdown to Final Crisis in a most anti-climactic fashion after having undergone very little in the way of character growth and development.

Overall: Countdown to Final Crisis #4 was another disappointing reads. It appears that we are headed for an unimpressive and anti-climactic ending to Countdown to Final Crisis. I cannot believe that we are getting such dull reads this close to the ending of this year long event. Thank the comic book gods that I only have to review three more issues of this title.

7 Comments

  1. Marvelous DiDio April 4, 2008 at 1:56 am

    Morrison has stated there will be a Mary Marvel vs. Supergirl fight in Final Crisis in an interview on Newsarama. I couldn’t care less if it’s the best fight in comic history given the way the character’s been trashed in this series.

  2. “Ohmygosh. Is this nightmare ever going to end?”

    Preach it, Mary!

    I’m not even buying this title, just reading spoilers and looking at whatever ends up on Scans_daily, and its stupidity still offends me.

  3. I could not agree more about Mary Marvel.If DC does not know how to use a character then don’t use them. Have them appear in time for copyright renewal ,but then disappear.Why does every hero have to confront the evil within? The best thing about the Marvels is that they come from a light happy place.Wouldsn’t Supergirl have been better in thsi spot? She at least has a history of corruption by Darkseid. This also applies to the New Gods. Great ideas from jack Kirby ,but never really executed all that well. the Fourth World pretty much is a stand-in for Asgard in the DC universe. This series would have been better if well known characters were featured,unlike 52. 52 looks more special with very issue of this dog.How instead of 52 issues, we had 12 ,one a month,double size.Too late now.There was not enough plot for 75% of the characters.The chessboard we keep seeing is the perfect analogy. This series only serves to get certain characters to certain places to set up what comes after. What a waste.

  4. Countdown is not a story, it is a plot device. A bad plot device that is just standing in the way for better stories.

    Mary Marvel getting Black Adam’s powers again? Is this serious? It is bad enough that she even accepted his powers in the first place, turning evil, then she is good again (which I would have been fine with, even though it wasn’t very well handled) and now she accepts Adam’s powers again, this time from one of DCU’s greatest evils (who have actually entered her home without her permission, by the way). Mary Marvel must be out of her mind, or really, really drunk. Yup, she has really been handled well xP .

    I am so glad Countdown is not sold here so people won’t have to suffer of it.

  5. Rokk: Lol. I live in Sweden. Good luck finding ANY Marvel/DC comics here though (except translated Spider-Man, X-Men and Wolverine) xP

    Still, I subscribe to Legion of Super-Heroes (it’s not translated to Swedish though, but I’m cool with that…) and I order trades (also in English) over Internet whenever I can. You gotta do the best of what you got, and besides, I learn English faster than probably most people at my school 😉

  6. Thanks for the review! I stopped reading Countdown after … well after waaay too many issues bought.

    As an intense fan of Supergirl and all her incarnations, including Mary Marvel, who I think of as like the first version and had been the “Earth-S” version kinda thing, I kept buying it because it needed to be part of my collection.

    Same with Holly who is a Catwoman, and I’m an intense … ok … otaku fan as well.

    I stopped buying Catty’s title because I didn’t like what they did with her … write off the baby and make her a villain again. So I stopped my collection even if it meant I no longer would have a complete one.

    I decided I was doing that with Countdown To Dynamic Crap. I was soo unhappy with Mary’s character. I can deal with Kara being darker and stuff because she’s always had an angry side to her– she’s had a darker side as incarnated as Linda/Mae … I like that she kicks ass … but with Mary … she wasn’t dark she was just handled horribly.

    Despite what DuhDio said, she killed … even indirectly she still was an accessory to murder if u wanna get technical, and she was just just used as unnecessary fan service … “I’m Panties Shot Marvel!”

    That with the constant homophobic trash with Pied Piper, the lack of development, and the realization I could be buying four GOOD titles instead, I quit buying it.

    I can’t believe that it’s still sooo bad! They took any character development with Mary … from a wide-eyed innocent girl to an evil woman who comes to find herself and Good Triumphs Again female … she just listens to Darkseid and BELIEVES what he has to say and becomes a villain again. WOW. That’s sooo lame.

    The only redeaming thing would be is if she had a plan to use the power to turn around and kick Darkseid’s ass and prove everyone wrong — that she actually had a power called the WISDOM of Solomon.

    The fight with Supergirl is just like … “Let’s take these two connected characters … who have worked together lifetimes ago while their male versions fought each other silly, and give a big post-modern iconic hero fight with even more panties flying.”

    Of course, if they actually had Kara taking Mary aside after and help her get back on track just as she had to … had to work with the darkness within her … and the whole Darkseid “seduction” then it might be something worthwhile.

    But that seems like giving them too much credit.

    As for the new Gotham trio … are they going to go back into obscurity, or are Harley and Holly actually getting their own title like I’ve read elsewhere?

    Do you think we’ll ever be able to find out that this series was all on Earth-F … for “F..ked Up”. Where all stories that make little sense can go.

    I mean then they could always have a loophole. “Why did you have Lois at the computer in the Planet when she was on the phone with Clark in Russia in the panel before?” “Oh, that was on Earth-F”.

    “Why did Ethan Van Sciver’s Superman look like he had tumors on his legs on that cover? And why was that 4 Horsemen mini so bad?” “Earth-F”

    Anyway, to all those who took the bullets and reviewed every issue of this series, I commend you. I’m sorry you bought it and gave them any money, but I honestly say thanks that I then didn’t have to give DC any of mine!

  7. Thank you, Rokk. The Legion is just one of my favorite DC concepts that happen to be very well handled for the moment (which makes me so upset when others of my favorite characters, Mary Marvel for instance, are treated like dirt). I like the Legion because they aren’t so distant in personalities and age (I’m fourteen, if you have to know) and that they live in a hi-tech/sci-fi future I would certainly not mind living in. Long live the Legion!

    PS: You can hardly imagine how difficult it is to get my parents to help me with the subscription form on the Internet. It is a nightmare xP

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