Sunday, April 27, 2008

Countdown Rundown

Countdown, the year long weekly mini series from DC Comics, completed this week - running 51 issues total. The idea was that it would serve as a countdown to the Final Crisis mini series which begins next month. How did it do? I'll give you a breakdown of how things in it were for me (spoiler alert!!!!):

The Good:
- It started out with a murder I was interested in - that of the Joker's Daughter.
- I liked the idea of Trickster and the Pied Piper doing the "buddy film" angle. Having them manacled together led to some interesting situations.
- Mary Marvel's quest for power led her to some interesting encounters (with Madame Xanadu, the Riddler and Clayface, Zatanna, Klarion, Eclipso, etc.).
- Jimmy Olsen's tie-in with the New Gods and the eventual Death of the New Gods mini series worked out well (though Jimmy's early plot line dragged a bit less).
- the villain profile pages which ran from issue 37 down through issue 2.
- DeSaad's ambition in Bludhaven and later on with the Piper showed true evil promise, right before he bit the big one.
- Every appearance by Superman Prime jumped up the level of destruction more so than any other villain's appearances.
- the final revelations of where Ray Palmer went to after Identity Crisis made perfect sense.
- the all out war between the Monarch's forces and the Monitors on Earth-51 was played out nicely and made for a good peek in the story.

The Bad:
- Tie-ins to "the Lightning Saga" over in JLA, with Amazons Attack, with the funeral issues over in Teen Titans, with Green Arrow and Black Canary's wedding, etc. were clunky.
- The History of the Multiverse was a nice feature early on BUT it might have been smoother in a single issue.
- Karate Kid didn't live up to his potential as the greatest martial artist of the 30th Century.
- Jimmy's attempt at being a hero as "Mr. Action". No, just no.
- all of the building of Monarch's army in Countdown: Arena could have fit better in the pages of the weekly mini series rather than as four standalone issues.
- the death of the Trickster. I've always been a fan of James Jesse and can't stand the brat that took over the name over in Flash years ago.

The Ugly:
- Some of the art teams just didn't work well with this series.
- the Holly and Harley subplots dragged a lot.
- the introduction of Forerunner just to spin her off into Countdown to Adventure wasted a lot of space.
- the idea that a solo body from Triplicate Girl, Una, would be of use. Ugh.
- wasting time with the Challengers (Donna, Jason, Kyle and Ryan) exploring the microverse and then having their multiverse trek covered in seperate one-shots. I'd rather they did all of the multiverse exploration with the pages of Countdown.
- the attack of Brother Eye on Apokolips did not jive at all with the events in the Death of the New Gods. These two books should have been much more tightly coupled.
- the build up to the "Great Disaster" only to have it destroy one parallel universe over the course of two issues - yawn. The only plus: we got the world of the original OMAC and Kamandi back.

Overall, the good and the bad pretty much balanced each other out. The ugly just showed the lack of editing across the entire line of books - something DC should have done better.


Michael O. said...

Thanks for reminding me that there were actually a couple of parts I enjoyed (I knew there had to be a reason I kept reading). The Trickster and Piper stuff was fun. And yeah, the stuff when Primeboy showed up was pretty cool. But me, personally, I don't think the good balanced out the bad. I think I would have felt different, I admit, if there were more characters I cared about in this series. I found myself not really caring about most of them (and mostly because they were all being written like adolescents). The whole series regressed to a Secret Wars level. Really beneath DC, I felt. I think it was really rushed, as they just wanted to crank out another year-long after the success if 52. This is what happens when you do that. Shame. Ah, well. I'll give it up for 'em for actually having the guts to try this weekly format. It's a neat idea, when done right. This time it wasn't. Maybe the next one.

And no thanks necessary - I ALWAYS read your reviews...unless, of course, I'm avoiding spoilers. :)

Martin said...

Mike, as a lifelong DC reader (or at least since 1976 when I got out of Harveys and Gold Keys and into super-heroes), I appreciated the various characters who phased in and out of the book - for the most part. But it wasn't their best effort, sadly. I'm likely to stick around through Final Crisis - another year or so. Really depends. My number of regular monthly titles continues to dwindle each year so eventually I won't be getting anything new. Then what will I write about?

KC said...

Hey, you'll have time to write more stories for the Times! :)

I'll probably pick up Final Crisis, but none of the add on books. Unless they are simply awesome, and I'll rely on you to tip me off if they are :)

I do read your reviews too, you know.