Comic Book Review: Countdown to Final Crisis #9

The Revolution has found Countdown to Final Crisis to be a serviceable read the past month. If nothing else, I think that Dini will give us a good enough ending that will successfully get the reader excited about the upcoming Final Crisis. Let’s go ahead and hit this review for Countdown to Final Crisis #9.

Creative Team
Writers: Paul Dini, Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti & Keith Giffen
Pencils: Tom Derenick
Inks: Wayne Faucher

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

Synopsis: We begin with Piper and Desaad crawling out of the rubble. Desaad grabs Piper and orders him to play his flute. The OMAC carrying Karate Kid arrives on the scene. Desaad says that he must have the anti-life equation. That Piper is key to Desaad’s survival. That Desaad recognized that Piper was a rare human vessel for the anti-life. Desaad reveals that he moved Piper from one torment to another on a path that wore him down mentally and physically.

The OMAC then blasts Desaad. The OMAC then grabs Piper and brings him with him. We cut to Darkseid telling Solomon the Monitor that Darkseid’s vision extends beyond the known realities and that all things must end, but they will end on Darkseid’s terms.

We cut to Red Robin following the OMAC carrying Piper and Karate Kid. Red Robin thinks that he is a survivor and that he is getting off this planet and evidently is doing it alone. That Donna had a choice and she didn’t pick the survivor.

We shift to the Challengers heading after Red Robin. Kyle isn’t happy about looking for Jason. Donna counters that Jason may be a jerk but that he is one of them and that they can’t abandon Jason. Plus, if Red Robin stumbles on something useful, they might as well all benefit. We then see Desaad still alive. (Damn, this guy is tougher to kill than a cockroach!) Desaad then follows the Challengers.

We cut to the central nervous system of Brother Eye with the OMAC bringing Karate Kid and Piper to Brother Eye. Brother Eye scans Karate Kid and notes that Karate Kid is a carrier of the Morticoccus virus. Brother Eye then prepares Karate Kid for dissection.

We then see Red Robin in the same room trying to free Firestorm from a sphere that he is trapped in. The OMAC senses Red Robin’s presence. OMAC and Red Robin begin to brawl. During the fight, the sphere containing Firestorm is broken and Firestorm steps out. The Challengers then arrive on the scene and join the battle against the OMAC.

We see Brother Eye slicing open Karate Kid’s chest. Atom springs to action and destroys the dissection machine that is slicing Karate Kid. Atom then realizes that Karate Kid is a carrier of the Morticoccus virus. Brother Eye then exclaims that its probe yielded the perfect weapon for his war on humanity since the Morticoccus virus is now his.

The Atom then realizes that since they are in Brother Eye’s core that means that Brother Eye is vulnerable and can’t order his OMACS to kill the heroes. Therefore, Brother Eye uses its Boom Tube technology and transports all of our heroes outside of the core where they are surrounded by a massive army of OMACs.

The only people left in Brother Eye’s core are Piper and Desaad. Desaad attacks Piper and orders him to play his flute and to unleash the anti-life equation. Piper begins to play his flute. Desaad grabs his head and screams that this isn’t possible. That Desaad broke Piper’s spirit and crushed Piper’s soul. Desaad’s head then explodes from Piper’s music. Piper spits that that was for what Desaad did to Trickster.

Piper then turns to face Brother Eye’s main eye. Piper begins playing his flute. Piper realizes that this is his swan song. Piper’s music then blows up Brother Eye/Apokolips. We see the main eye of Brother Eye fleeing the exploding planet.

We cut back to the Challengers. The OMAC turns back into Una. The planet is exploding and collapsing all around our heroes. Kyle is still knocked out from the earlier fight. Donna turns at looks off panel as she tries to wake up Kyle. Donna says that they need his power ring to shield them because they now have company. End of story.

We then get a two page back-up story about the origin of Black Manta. End of issue.

The Good: Countdown to Final Crisis#9 was a good read. I actually found this issue to be one of Dini’s stronger issues. Dini cranks out a fast, action packed and exciting read. Countdown to Final Crisis #9 is a quick paced issue as Dini grabs a hold of the reader and takes them on a wild ride up until the end. This issue had a nice flow and didn’t drag at all. Countdown to Final Crisis #9 was full of unexpected twists and turns as Dini really cranked up the intensity with this issue.

Countdown to Final Crisis #9 was a solidly plotted issue as Dini continues to wrap up the various loose ends and to dovetail all the various separate plotlines neatly into each other. Dini has managed to merge all of our heroes together with the notable exception of Jimmy Olsen. I particularly enjoyed how Dini revealed how Desaad was behind the trials of the tribulations of Trickster and Piper with the goal of breaking Piper’s mind and soul. This was a nice explanation for all the seemingly impossible and bizarre events that Trickster and Piper continually found themselves in issue after issue.

I love how Dini handles Piper in this issue. I really enjoyed seeing Piper gain redemption in the end of Countdown to Final Crisis #9. Piper is a good person and unfortunately made some bad choices in getting back involved with the Rogues and being present when Bart was killed. Dini manages to show the truly heroic heart that beats inside of Piper’s chest as he takes the worst that Desaad could throw at him and manages to overcome it all. I loved seeing Piper blast Desaad’s head into a blood pulp. This showed the grit and strong internal drive that Piper possesses.

I thought Dini gave Piper a wonderfully heroic death. This is a great example of a well executed death. Of course, this is assuming that Piper is actually dead. And we don’t know that for sure. Piper has been through so much torment and has been placed in such a dire situation facing long odds. Piper acts like a true hero as he realizes that he alone has the ability to destroy Brother Eye. Unlike Trickster’s lame death, Dini hits a home run with Piper’s powerful and emotional death scene.

I am curious what Brother Eye is going to do next. We see that Brother Eye’s main eye survives the destruction of Brother Eye/Apokolips’ core. Brother Eye is still alive and should still have the Morticoccus virus in his arsenal. It is possible that Brother Eye may not longer have the ability and resources to use that weapon.

I thought Dini did a great job handling Darkseid’s reaction to his own impending doom. I dig that Darkseid accepts the end but resolutely states that it will all end on his own terms. Old stone face may be fated to die with the rest of the New Gods, but he clearly isn’t going out like a bitch.

I continue to enjoy Dini’s handling of Red Robin’s character. Yeah, Jason is a jerk, but that is a critical part of his personality. I like heroes who want to do the right thing and fight crime, but don’t act like saints. And Dini does a smart job showing how the supposedly “good” heroes like Donna are just as flawed. We see Donna smirking to Kyle and being manipulative in desiring to find Jason just in case he is able to discover something that they could all benefit from. This shows that no matter how “good” a hero may appear to be that none of them are perfect.

Dini ends Countdown to Final Crisis #9 with a great hook ending as we see our heroes trapped on an exploding planet and suddenly about to be attacked by some unknown assailants. I’m curious to see who the people that Donna sees off-panel are. And it should be fun to see how our heroes are able to get off this dying planet.

Derenick and Faucher combine to serve up some solid artwork. They create a clean looking issue that gets the job done.

The Bad: The dialogue on Countdown to Final Crisis #9 was average at best. This continues to be one of the weakest aspects of Countdown. None of the characters display much of a unique personality.

I strongly dislike the handling of Karate Kid in this issue. If his entire role in Countdown was nothing more than to play the role of a lab rat then I will be extremely disappointing. Of course, with Giffen on the creative team I can’t say that I am surprised with Karate Kid’s apparent purpose.

Overall: Countdown to Final Crisis #9 was a good read. This issue packs plenty of action and is a pretty wild ride from start to finish. Dini has the reader guessing the entire time as we don’t know what in the world is going to happen next. It is way too late in the game for me to recommend anyone to bother picking up the final issues of Countdown. However, for those of us who have been suffering through the long haul on this title, this issue was an enjoyable treat.