I am pretty excited about this new mini-series Countdown to Adventure. This story centers on our lost heroes in space from 52. These characters had incredible chemistry with each other in 52 and I hope that this mini-series is able to re-capture that magic. I have my doubts since Beechen and Gray are heading up the writing duties. They are solid writers, but not on the same class as the writers who handled these characters in 52. Still, I’m optimistic that Countdown to Adventure #1 will be a good read. Let’s hit this review.
Writers: Adam Beechen & Justine Gray
Artists: Eddy Barrows, Fabrizio Fiorentino & Julio Ferreira
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 Adam Strange out hiking on Rann with his best friend Shasoth. Strange talks about how crazy the past year has been with being lost at space for an entire year. Strange talks about how he has nothing left on Earth and that all he has is his family here on Rann and his role as the sole hero of Rann. Strange tells his friend that he has recovered from his year at space and is ready to resume his role as protector of Rann.
We cut to Buddy’s house in San Diego. We see Kory fast asleep in bed. Buddy’s wife, Ellen, talks about how Kory has been asleep for weeks ever since she showed up at their door. Ellen mentions that they should call the Titans and let them take care of her. Buddy disagrees and is confident that Kory is just fine and only needs to recharge her powers after travelling across the universe to get to Buddy.
Buddy then leaves to go to work and takes his two kids to school. Buddy busts his son with a photograph of Kory in a skimpy outfit asleep on the bed. Buddy’s son, Cliff, says he only took the picture to prove to his friends that he has a hot alien at home. Buddy tells Cliff that taking the picture was wrong. Cliff suddenly snaps on his parents saying that he understands it was wrong. That he isn’t stupid.
We shift to Buddy at work as a stunt man on an action movie being filmed in San Diego. The star of the film is the obnoxious and egotistical Steven Hazard who won an Ultimate Fighting Championship and then parlayed that into becoming a big action movie star. Suddenly, a Zeta beam strikes out of nowhere and teleports Steven Hazard away from Earth.
We zip forward two weeks later to Rann and see Adam Strange reporting to duty. Sardath informs Adam that Rann has a new hero. It is none other than Steven Hazard. Sardath explains that Strange’s recent prolonged absence greatly eroded the morale of the people of Rann especially considering the war with Thanagar. They couldn’t count on Strange ever returning to them so they started the process for a new protector.
Since Strange was such a good protector, they searched Earth for another Earthman to replace Strange. Sardath comments that measured empirically that Steven’s physical attributes far exceed Adam’s attributes.
Suddenly, an alert sounds and there are reports of Sandswarmers outside the perimeter of Ranagar. Steven immediately charges off. Adam chases after him believing that Steven doesn’t know enough about Sandswarmers to effectively deal with one.
We see Steven brashly attacking the Sandswarmer. Adam warns Steven that Sandswarmers aren’t naturally violent. That Steven should round up the Sandswarmer and relocate it somewhere more peaceful. Instead, Steven employs a creative attack plan and destroys the Sandswarmer.
We cut to Buddy getting back home from work complaining that the production of the movie has been frozen since Steven has disappeared. Buddy is stunned to see Starfire awake and having breakfast with Ellen and the kids. Buddy and Kory are thrilled to see each other and give each other a huge hug.
Starfire then tells Buddy that her powers have disappeared. Ellen suggests that Starfire contact the Teen Titans. Starfire doesn’t want to since the Titans will just want to run tests on her and try and restore her powers. Starfire says she just wants to be normal for a while. Starfire says she will contact the Titans eventually.
Buddy offers to let Starfire stay at their house. Buddy tells Ellen that they have been talking about hiring a permanent baby-sitter to watch the kids after school. That Starfire could have that job. The kids are thrilled with the idea. Ellen is a bit unsure, but agrees to let Starfire stay.
We hop back to Rann and see Steven and Adam returning to Ranagar. Adam yells that Steven acted rashly and he doesn’t understand Rann and their customs and culture. Sardath hails Steven their new protector and informs Adam that he is now retired. Adam is stripped of his helmet and jet pack.
Steven tells Adam that Sardath’s computers have him a crash course on Rann and its culture and customs. Adam tells Steven to get away from him. Steven punches Adam and says that he will kill Adam in a fight. Adam then tells Sardath that he is making a huge mistake retiring him and replacing him with a nut like Steven. Adam then walks off dejected.
We then get a back-up story about the origin of the Forerunner. We learn that she is from a parallel Earth. On that Earth, humans killed each other off. The races from the other planets in our solar system decided to use Earth as a “War World” where planets could settle their differences. Two planets would send their armies to this war world and let them battle. The winner then got rights to claim the loser’s planet for a certain limited number of years.
What the inhabitants of the other planets in the solar system didn’t realize is that after every war, there were survivors that went undetected. These survivors went underground on Earth. The survivors of each war bred with the survivors of the other wars. The result was the creation of a new race. That is the Forerunner’s race. They were the strongest of the strong and the fastest of the fast. The breading of warriors from each war made the Forerunner’s race unparalleled fighters.
The Forerunners then inform the nine houses of the other planets in the solar system that Earth is no longer theirs to use as a war world. That it is the Forerunner’s planet. The other nine houses disagree and send their best soldiers to Earth to fight the Forerunners. The Forerunners kill all of the elite soldiers from the nine houses.
The Forerunners get control of Earth and the other houses recognize their place in the solar system. We learn that all along, the creation of the Forerunner race was watched and nurtured by the Monitors in exchange for the Forerunners agreeing to be soldiers for the Monitors.
We then see Monarch showing Viza Aziv, the female Forerunner from Countdown, what has happened to her Earth and her people. We see that all the Forerunners have been killed. That a dark angel took control of the Forerunners’ minds and made them see each other as enemies and the Forerunners killed each other in a massive fight. Then the Monitors unleashed their Shadow Demons to kill off the remaining Forerunners.
Monarch tells Viza that the Monitors bread the Forerunners like cattle with the express purpose of creating the ultimate living weapon. But, the breeding program that the Monitors used to created the Forerunners created something that they lost control of that terrified the Monitors. Monarch says that that something is Viza.
The Good: The main story of this issue by Adam Beechen was a great read. It was fantastic seeing our beloved lost in space heroes once again. This was one of my favorite plotlines from 52 and I thought that the writers generated incredible chemistry between Adam Strange, Animal Man and Starfire. I’m glad we are getting a chance to see what these characters have been up to since the end of 52.
Beechen delivers some nicely crafted dialogue. Beechen has a good feel for each of the characters and the three heroes display their own unique personalities. Buddy and Kory immediately pick up where they left off with their good chemistry. Beechen manages to emphasis to the reader the incredibly strong bond that exists between Kory and Buddy. That this kind of bond is the type that can only be forged when experiencing a traumatic and death defying experience with another person. It is like watching two soldiers who served a tour of duty together.
And it is painfully clear that Ellen just doesn’t get it. And Ellen is simply not thrilled with Starfire staying at their house. This is evident in her continually brining up that someone should call the Titans so they can deal with her. Ellen isn’t going to understand that bond that has formed between Buddy and Starfire.
And, of course, there is the natural jealousy that Ellen is feeling due to her husband’s strong bond with an incredibly hot alien chick. Kory can easily make an woman fell insecure and inferior. This plotline should certainly involve plenty of awkward situations as well as some tension between Buddy and Ellen.
I thought the move to retire Adam Strange and to replace him with jerk-off Steven Hazard was a brilliant plot twist. Steven is a dependable villain. Steven Hazard is your typical asshole blowhard that is easy to hate. It was smart of Beechen uses this tried and true template for a villain in Steven Hazard. Beechen only has eight issues for this mini-series to establish a conflict and then lead to the climax and then give us some sort of resolution.
When dealing with just eight issues, the writer can either use an existing villain for the mini-series in order to avoid wasting time setting up and establishing the villain. Or, the writer can do what Beechen does and use a formulaic villain that is quick and easy to establish. Plus, this type of villain is the kind of character that is easy to hate and makes the reader immediately root against this villain from the very start.
I feel terrible for Adam Strange. The poor guy went from a nobody on Earth to a hero on Rann. Adam finally found his place in life and truly relished his role as protector of Rann. And it wasn’t just an ego thing. Sure, Adam loved finally being a hero and someone respected and special rather than just a nobody. But, what really appealed to Adam was the chance to do something good. Adam took his role as protector of Rann seriously. Adam is a true hero who would gladly sacrifice himself to save Rann.
I’m definitely interested to see what happens next with Adam. This is going to be a tough adjustment for him. And there is no doubt that Sardath is going to rue his decision to appoint Steven Hazard as the protector of Rann.
Eddy Barrows serves up some great looking artwork. I always enjoyed Barrows’ artwork on the new Atom as well as over on 52.
Fabrizio Fiorentino delivers some solid artwork in the Forerunner story. It isn’t anything incredible, but it is certainly better than average.
The Bad: Justin Gray’s Forerunner back-up story was an average read. It was certainly nice to finally learn more about the Forerunner race. We finally know how their origin as well as their connection with the Monitors. We also learn that the Forerunner from Countdown is named Viza. And we learn that the entire race of Forerunners has been wiped out by the Monitors and that the Monitors are afraid of Viza since she is a loose cannon.
Having said that, I still found this Forerunner back-up story to be a bit boring. The dialogue was rather generic. Viza still hasn’t displayed much of a personality and I’m having a hard time getting interested in her character.
Also, I’m shocked that DC would place this Forerunner back-up story in a title outside of Countdown. This back-up story provided the reader with answers to many questions concerning Viza, the Forerunners and their connection with the Monitors. This was some rather valuable information that should have been delivered over on the main title Countdown. It is unfortunate that DC forces readers of Countdown to get Countdown to Adventure #1 just to learn the answers to all the questions concerning the Forerunners and the Monitors.
This continues the much larger problem with the entire Countdown storyline. DC seems completely unfocused with this Countdown storyline. DC is taking a shotgun approach and is carrying out the Countdown storyline so many different titles which makes it almost impossible for the reader to properly follow the story without going broke buying every single title that DC publishes. It is a cheap move by DC to artificially boost sales on all their titles across the board. The reader feels forced to buy issues that they normally would pass on out of fear that they will miss something critical to the Countdown storyline.
Countdown continues to be the absolute opposite of 52. The 52 storyline was tight and extremely focused. Plus, with the exception of the World War III issues, DC didn’t force the reader to buy a bunch of tie in issue in order to enjoy 52’s storyline. Part of the magic of 52 was that DC made it easy for the reader to follow the events of 52.
Countdown feels scatter brained and all over the place. DC is taking so many unrelated plotlines and mashing them together and then weaving them through so many different titles that the reader feels overwhelmed trying to follow Countdown.
Overall: Countdown to Adventure #1 was a fun read. The main story by Beechen was definitely more enjoyable and immediately hooked me. Beechen manages to build off the magic of 52 with this characters and I am confident that we are in store for a great story. I’d certainly recommend getting Countdown to Adventure if you were a fan of the lost in space plotline in 52.