The last issue of Countdown to Final Crisis was mind bogglingly bad. Just about everything about it was truly horrid. Honestly, I don’t see how Countdown to Final Crisis can get any worse than it currently is. There is no way that Dini and Giffen can deliver pathetically lame reads with the final five issues of this title, right? We shall see. Let’s go ahead and hit this review for Countdown to Final Crisis #5.
Writers: Paul Dini, Adam Beechen & Keith Giffen
Pencils: Jim Starlin
Inks: Rodney Ramos
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: Lucky us, this issue is also narrated in the form of journal entries by the Cadmus lab tech from last issue. We learn that the lab tech from last issue is actually Buddy Blank. I totally missed that fact from the last issue. They didn’t tell us that in the last issue did they?
We see Buddy and Una making their way through the ruins of the city. The world is in chaos. We learn that other metahumans have succumbed to the Morticcocus virus and have started attacking other metahumans. The world is overrun with humans who have turned into bizarre half human half animal creatures due to the effects of the Morticcocus virus. We also see animals with human features. Una kicks butt on all the creatures.
Una and Buddy make their way to Buddy’s daughter’s apartment building. It is full of dead bodies. The door to his daughter’s apartment is broken down and the apartment is a mess. Buddy finds his grandson hiding in a kitchen cabinet. Suddenly, the family dog, now possessing human hands enters the room wielding a kitchen knife. (I swear to God that I am not making this up. This dog slices and dices! He can cut through a can and still slice a tomato with ease!) The blade wielding puppy attacks Buddy. Una quickly lays a beating on the Ginsu loving puppy.
Suddenly, a bunch of sentient rats standing on their hind legs come running into the room and begin chomping on Una. Una runs to the roof of the apartment building. Buddy and his grandson follow. On the roof, we see Buddy’s daughter who is now part rat and part woman. She sends more rats to continue eating Una. Una sacrifices herself and kills Buddy’s daughter. Una throws her Legion flight ring to Buddy. Una is then killed by the swarm of rats. Buddy then uses the flight ring to fly off with his grandson.
Buddy takes his grandson to the old Command D base where he used to work on Brother Eye before the JLA had the program pulled. The Command D base is fortified and safe from the chaos going around in the world. From Command D, Buddy is able to use Brother Eye, which is still in orbit around Earth, to watch the Earth die.
Nuclear war breaks out between all the various countries as they each blame their long time enemies for the chaos and destruction caused by the Morticcocus virus. All life on Earth is destroyed. The Atom, Donna Troy, Kyle, Red Robin, Jimmy Olsen, Harley, Holly, Mary Marvel, Forager, Firestorm and the Hairies all use Jimmy’s boom tube technology to teleport away from this Earth.
We end with Buddy checking the armory at Command D and vowing to protect his grandson. The only people left on Earth are Buddy and his grandson, the last boy on Earth. End of story.
We then get a two page back-up story about the origin of Mr. Freeze. End of issue.
The Good: You know, I was all ready to just rip into this issue. But, the fact is that Countdown to Final Crisis #5 wasn’t that bad of a read. Did this issue have its fair share of warts? Absolutely. However, I have to give Dini credit for doing a nice job of bringing Jack Kirby’s Kamandi back into the DCU.
Obviously, if you are a fan of Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth then you will certainly get a blast out of this issue. For those unfamiliar with Kamandi, he was the creation of Jack Kirby. And it appears that DC is all about updating and refreshing just about everything that Jack Kirby did for DC including OMAC, Kamandi and the New Gods.
The original Kamandi referenced “The Great Disaster” but never went into any details about it. So, Dini and company used this opportunity in Countdown to Final Crisis #5 to fill in the blanks from Jack Kirby’s story and fully describe what The Great Disaster” is. In this new version of Kamandi, “The Great Disaster” is the Morticcocus virus.
And, just like in the original Kamandi that had a bunch of bizarre hybrid human/animal creatures ruling the Earth, we get the same treatment with all the human/animal hybrids running around in this issue. Command D the base that Buddy and his grandson take refuge in is a nod to the base in the original Kamandi series also named Command D that gave Kamandi his name in Kamandi #1.
I have to say that this was a pleasant re-introduction of Kamandi into the modern DCU. This new take on Kamandi is surprisingly respectful to the source material. That is a real rarity for DC when it comes to retcons and new versions of older characters. Dini honestly took exactly what Jack Kirby gave us with the original Kamandi and simply filled in the blanks while adding some soft subtle additions of the modern DCU like Brother Eye.
The reader also comes to realize that the Atom and the Challengers obviously got teleported to a parallel Earth instead of their home, Earth-1. This explains why none of the heroes on this Earth remembered the Atom or any of the other Challengers. Also, the fact that Brother Eye is still orbiting this Earth is further proof that this is a parallel Earth since we all know that Earth-1’s Brother Eye left Earth and then got blown up after assimilating Apokolips.
So, the reader got to witness the birth of Kamandi’s Earth in the Multiverse. I adore the Multiverse and this issue is a good example of why. We now have the great Jack Kirby’s Kamandi back in existence on another Earth which can now serve as a nice literary tool for future stories.
Starlin and Ramos combine to crank out some better than average artwork. This issue isn’t anything incredible looking, but it certainly gets the job done.
The Bad: I hate the passive journal entry style of framing this issue. It robs the story of any and all energy and action that it might otherwise possess. This format of telling the story places it in the past tense and removes the reader from experiencing the story as if it is happening in real time. The lack of dialogue makes the issue a bit of a dull read.
Now, while I can appreciate the way that Dini brings Kamandi back into the DCU, I cannot believe that this is supposed to be the big payoff to this title. There is no way I have been slogging through all of Countdown just to see the return of Kamandi. Are you kidding me? We go through all this drama just for the return of Kamandi to the DCU?
That is simply not a satisfying or dramatic enough story to qualify as a big payoff near the end of this title. We have only four more issues left, so I’m not too sure how Dini is going to be able to deliver much of an exciting ending that will act as a quality payoff for having suffered through 52 weeks of Countdown.
I also have a problem with the pacing of Countdown to Final Crisis #5. This issue was horribly rushed. Dini and company cram the destruction of the Earth in just one issue. That is way to rushed. The combination of the passive manner in which the story is told and the fact that we absolutely blitz through the destruction of the Earth and light speed really robs this issue of much of its power and impact.
The reader gets absolutely no sense of the magnitude of what just happened. There is practically no impact on the reader at all once we arrive at the end and all of humankind has been wiped out of existence. Instead, the reader views the ending of the Earth as just a blur that is viewed in a very cursory and detached manner with little emotional investment in the occurrence or the people involved.
I completely hated the use of Una’s character during Countdown. Her death was not only painfully predictable it was also lame. Una’s character served absolutely no purpose at all on Countdown. This was a total waste of her character. Seriously, all Una did during Countdown was worry over Karate Kid and then get eaten by rats. Great. What a wonderful use of her character.
Dini and Giffen really screwed the pooch with the use of the two Legionnaires in Countdown. There was really no point in having them in this title. I would have much rather that Dini and Giffen just leave the Legionnaires out of this crappy story all together.
Oh yeah, once again, I feel compelled to as just what was that mission that Brainiac 5 had Una and Karate Kid stay behind for after the completion of the Lighting Saga story arc?
DC keeps kicking the Atom in the nuts as Ray is forced to watch yet another world die because of his inability to stop the Morticcocus virus. Yay.
Overall: Countdown to Final Crisis #5 will certainly appeal to Jack Kirby fans who always liked Kamandi. Outside of that, I’m not too sure how many modern day fans will really care at all about the re-introduction of Kamandi to the DCU. All in all, Countdown just continues to fall short of delivering truly satisfying issues.