We are entering the home run stretch on Countdown. Dini has surprised me by managing to salvage this title over the course of the past month with some solid, though not spectacular, reads. Hopefully, this trend will continue and Dini will be able to give us an exciting ending. Let’s do this review for Countdown to Final Crisis #10.
Writers: Paul Dini, Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti & Keith Giffen
Pencils: Scott Kollins
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 Mary leading Harley and Holly to a large locked vault door. Mary says that the gods are just beyond this door. Harley blasts the door down with a large gun. Behind the door is some sort of cosmic fire filled cosmic cell holding all of the ancient Greek/Roman gods. Mary stands in front and says “Shazam.”
We cut to outside of the prison where the Challengers witness the mystic bolt of lightning associated with the Marvel family. They all run to find out if Captain Marvel is on Apokolips. We cut back to Mary in full Mary Marvel form. The only difference is she has ditched the old red duds for new white ones.
The pantheon of the ancient gods stand before our three heroines. Mary begs the gods to forgive her for her transgressions lately. They grant Mary absolution for her temporarily straying from the light. Thalia and Diana then grant Harley and Holly mystical powers in order to properly combat the ancient gods’ enemies.
We shift to Karate Kid brawling with the OMAC that assimilated Una. Karate Kid urges Una to fight the OMAC’s assimilation. Red Robin appears on the scene and tells Karate Kid that he is wasting his time. That once an OMAC assimilates someone it is over. That there is nothing left. Karate Kid disagrees and stops Red Robin from destroying the OMAC.
Red Robin calls Karate Kid a fool and says to hell with Karate Kid. That Red Robin has never been good at saving people anyway. Red Robin exits the scene. The OMAC then takes out Karate Kid and carries him off to Brother Eye who is infuriated that he cannot assimilate Karate Kid and the virus.
We hop over to Mary Marvel, Harley and Holly in hot pursuit of Granny Goodness. We see a mysterious figure appear before Granny. Granny recognizes the figure and says “You…?” The figure then fries Granny and kills her. The figure then takes off in a massive bolt of energy. Now that Granny is dead, our heroines set off to find another way to get off of Apokolips and to return home. Suddenly, the Challengers arrive on the scene and join up with Mary, Holly and Harley.
We cut to Desaad telling Pied Piper that Piper can channel the anti-life equation and bring it to live in a way no one can, not even a New God. Piper moans that he is a pathetic excuse for a human. Desaad frees Piper from his shackle. Evidently, the shackle was designed by Desaad. Desaad says that it is time for Piper to elevate himself to godhood. Desaad tells Piper to play and to see for himself. Piper begins to play his flute.
Suddenly, Apokolips begins to erupt in a massive earthquake. Desaad and Piper fall into the ground. Desaad curses that he was so close. We see the Challengers also falling into the chasms that the earthquake has opened up.
We then see that Brother Eye has assimilated all of Apokolips. Brother Eye asks if Father Bruce can hear him. That Brother Eye is no longer a child. That Brother Eye has surpassed Father Bruce. That Brother Eye has become a world unto himself. End of story.
We then get a two page back-up story about the origin of Harley Quinn. End of issue.
The Good: Countdown #10 was a solid read. This was certainly a fast issue that offers the reader plenty of action. At no point does the story drag or lose the interest of the reader. Dini employs plenty of quick scene cuts that keeps this issue flowing along at a fast pace. After months of wasting time, Dini is finally unleashing a tightly plotted and quickly delivered story that actually grabs the reader’s interest. Dini continues to merge together the last remaining separate plotlines as The Challengers finally join forces with Mary, Holly and Harley.
It was nice to see Mary finally gain her powers back and resume her role as Mary Marvel. I wasn’t all that impressed with how Mary’s character was handled in Countdown, but I’m just glad that she was returned to her former glory as Mary Marvel rather than turned into a villain or killed off.
Harley and Holly also revive power boosts from the ancient gods. This was a necessary move on Dini’s part. With the obvious impending cosmic struggle it was absolutely imperative that Holly and Harley get super powers in order to make them useful in this conflict between the gods. This should allow Holly and Harley to assume more meaningful roles in the upcoming battles.
The scene with Karate Kid and Red Robin was well played. Dini takes advantage of this scene to distinguish Red Robin from the traditional super hero like Karate Kid. Red Robin isn’t your typical super hero. Dini makes a point that Red Robin is suited for beating up bad guys and not necessarily saving innocent people. Karate Kid, on the other hand, is more of a traditional hero who will do whatever he can to save an innocent person.
I like this distinction. Red Robin definitely wants to beat the hell out of bad guys, but that doesn’t mean he wants to embark on rescue missions. This helps make Red Robin a little more unique from the rest of the traditional heroes in the DCU. I continue to enjoy how Dini has handled Red Robin’s character.
It is curious that Brother Eye is unable to assimilate Karate Kid or the virus. Clearly, Karate Kid’s important role in this storyline is not over yet. I’m curious to see what Dini has in store for Karate Kid and how the virus is going to play a role in this ending.
I was surprised to see that Desaad was the person behind everything that Pied Piper has been put through on Countdown. It was a good swerve. Of course, it would have been interesting to see Pied Piper had actually become a god in this issue.
Of course, the two big scenes came near the end of this issue. First, we see the mysterious figure who has been killing New Gods appear and kill Granny. And obviously, this mysterious person is someone who Granny clearly recognizes. I am obviously quite interested in finally learning the identity of this mysterious person mowing down the New Gods.
The second big scene was the very end of this issue where we see Brother Eye fully assimilating Apokolips. That was a fantastic hook ending. I cannot wait to see the showdown between the father and son when Brother Eye makes his way back to Earth to confront the Batman. This plotline has plenty of potential and should provide for a dramatic finish.
The Bad: Unfortunately, Countdown #10 suffers from some poorly constructed dialogue. This has been a long running issue throughout this title. The dialogue is average at best at some moments and in other moments, like the scenes with Holly and Harley, the dialogue is downright atrocious. The character work is still rather thin as none of the characters have much of a unique external voice or distinctive personalities.
The redemption of Mary Marvel rang hollow to me. The problem is that Mary’s fall from grace was poorly executed and rather shallow. The Mary Marvel plotline was not nearly as well developed or fleshed out as Ralph Dibny’s fall from grace over on 52. Therefore, Mary’s redemption in this issue was incredibly superficial and uneventful compared to Ralph’s redemption on 52.
The same problem afflicts the Pied Piper plotline. Yeah, it was a neat twist that Desaad was behind Piper’s follies and was leading Piper on a course to Apokolips in order to become the new master of Apokolips. But, unfortunately, the payoff was extremely short and rushed.
In the same scene that we learn of Desaad’s plan we also see it immediately fail. If Dini was going to take this route, then he should have had this scene between Desaad and Piper much earlier in this story. Instead, Dini does it in a very truncated and rushed manner that robs this plotline of much of its meaning or impact.
Overall: Countdown #10 was another slightly better than average read. I have to admit that the Brother Eye story has hooked my complete interest. Dini has done a much better on this title as of late. Clearly, Countdown would have made for a much more exciting read if DC hadn’t forced Dini to stretch it out over the course of 52 weeks. Still, I think that Dini is going to be able to scratch together an interesting enough ending that will get us set and ready for Final Crisis.