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.
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.
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.
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.