Funnybook Babylon

August 4, 2007

Downcounting – A Guide for the Perplexed: Countdown #39, “Do Not Pass Go”

Filed under: Articles,Downcounting — Chris Eckert @ 6:43 pm

I now have no doubt in my mind that whoever is titling Countdown issues is the most brilliant creative mind involved with the series. “Do Not Pass Go” is, of course, a phrase from the Monopoly board game, used in reference to being sent to jail and missing out on all the fun. Much like being stuck in jail in Monopoly, the act of reading (and one assumes, creating) Countdown is a bitter punishment, the sort of task that needs to be done while looking out the window longingly and seeing all the other kids playing stickball and running up to the ice cream truck. 39 AND COUNTING!

I feel you, Countdown Titling Guy, I feel you…

pp. 1-4 Karate Kid and Una arrive in Gotham City, looking for Oracle, because Starman claimed that she “would be able to figure out what’s wrong with you.” …yeah, I have no idea. I thought Karate Kid was staying in the present to prevent the Great Disaster, but now he’s got something wrong with him? [Mike Carlin says he is “carrying a virus”. I guess, much like editor’s notes, stating this in the comic would get the in way of the breakneck action!]

Anyway Oracle has a lot of security that the Two Legionnaires fight with.

If what you say is true, the Penguin and Clayface could be dangerous… do you think your Wu Tang Sword could defeat them?pp. 5-6 When last we saw Piper and Trickster, they were about to get ambushed by Renee Montoya. I guess she never bothered doing that, so now Penguin is about to sell them down the river to the Suicide Squad. I have no idea why DC doesn’t want people to call them the Suicide Squad, but that’s what they are. Also Penguin is incredibly stupid for deciding to harbor two fugitives in his incredibly expensive wine cellar, then call the Suicide Squad in to “take out” the fugitives while admonishing them to “mind the bottles” — he’s sending a guy who shoots guns, a guy who throws boomerangs, a feral animal and a lady whose only superpower is to fucking explode into the wine cellar, and he acts like maybe no wine will be damaged? This is stupidity on the level of old ladies putting pies on the windowsill to cool when they know Yogi Bear is down the road. Jesus. Oh and also Jim Caliafore neglects to draw the shackles on Piper and Trickster.

pp. 7-8 The C-List Monitor Posse is still looking around for Ray Palmer. They go somewhere that looks really weird and ARE BEING WATCHED. Seriously, that’s all that happens.

pp. 9-10 Jimmy Olsen is a full-on superhero now, stopping purse snatchings! But he gets a kiss for his heroism and gets so caught up in sex fantasies that the mugger gets away. Oh, Jimmy!

See, this is the Bronze Tiger I remember… more or less.pp. 11-14 Oh no! The big supervillain fight damages the wine! About halfway through this scene Caliafore remembers that Piper and Trickster are supposed to be shackled together, possibly because the plot calls for them to get pulled apart and the electric shock kicks in. For some reason though, the shackles explosive electrical discharge doesn’t seem to faze Piper or Trickster, just Bronze Tiger (I think, they never name him) who is standing behind them. That’s a really horribly designed prison shackle! I guess it doesn’t hurt Bronze Tiger too bad, since moments later he’s able to corner the Defiant Ones in an alley. Through it all, Trickster finds time to make homophobic jokes. Gentle gaybashing and murder — that’s why he’s one of the main protagonists of Countdown!

pp. 15-16 Last issue, Holly wasn’t satisfied with the platitudes Harley offered her regarding the rejected single mother. This week, Athena offers pretty much the same platitudes — and Holly doesn’t seem satisfied with them either. TO BE CONTINUED!

pp. 17-19 Karate Kid continues to break shit trying to get to Oracle, who apparently will let you talk to her if you break enough shit. Well, presumably they’ll talk next issue.

pp. 20-21 Piper and Trickster escape from the Suicide Squad, but are confronted by Montoya and Batwoman! TO BE CONTINUED!!!

Finally, in the back pages the Monitor Exposition Festival continues. Final Crisis spoilers… some nerd kidnaps Supergirl. Thus far I have been politely ignoring it, but this week is something else. They’ve already summarized the history of the Multiverse up to about eight issues ago, and are now replaying the “WE MUST KILL ALL HOO-MANS” vs. “Let us find a peaceful solution” argument from earlier in the series. Along the way, the Monitor of Earth-Exposition tries to reconcile all the different cosmologies DC has put forth — there are 52 Universes, which are separated by vibrational frequencies AND the Source Wall AND the Bleed AND I tried to work this out with charts and stuff but decided it wasn’t worth my time or yours. This might have been borderline coherent when Morrison wrote it down on a napkin, but it certainly isn’t in this form. Oh also for some reason this issue features an off-model depiction of Forerunner, who the Monitors are talking about using as a pawn even though they used and discarded here several issues ago. Pretty shitty cliffhanger there, Monitors!

Again, not a lot happened this week. But next week promises to show Jimmy Olsen trying out for the Teen Titans, which will surely advance a lot of these plots. As for the rest of the DCU:

The fact that the “Heaven” in this issue didn’t look like this was the first tip-off to hardcore DC fans that it was a fraud.All-New Atom #14 features the further adventures of the CLMP in a way that doesn’t really line up with what happens in Countdown at all. In this issue I guess they shrink down and explore the annoying town run by the wacky aliens with the funny talk that Simone loves so much. They live on a dog’s ass, ha ha! Then they go into a fake heaven which doesn’t make any sense and get to quip with Ted Kord (or a fake Ted Kord who knows he’s fake but speaks for the real Ted?) before kicking some Zombie Jetpack Hitler butt and quoting internet catchphrases and telling people to “put some stank on it” like their dialogue is being written by an awkward middle aged hairstylist. Also Jason Todd is more of an evil psycho here than in Countdown, and the Atom throws down with him over the use of knives, even though he uses knives a lot in Countdown. Who knows. Marginally more entertaining/in-depth than the storyline in Countdown, at least.

Action Comics #853 continues the Jimmy Olsen “spin-off”, which is basically just him guest-starring in a Busiek-penned Superman story about the Kryptonite Man. This is a fill-in because of how magnificently late the Johns/Donner/Kubert issues of Action are, and it kind of shows. At least Busiek is addressing the fact that Jimmy Olsen magically knows people’s secret identities now, since the Countdown writers appear to have forgotten about that and his New God issues.

Supergirl #20 is an Amazons Attack tie-in by Countdowner Tony Bedard, where we discover that Supergirl feels bad about downing the plane, and how this war with the Amazons is a lot like Black Hawk Down. The art by Renato Guedes is a huge improvement over the “Like Bratz, only Sluttier” design mandate that has ruled Supergirl for most of this run, and while i kid the story is not terrible. Next issue – Karate Kid! Even the “next issue” box admits that this is a ridiculous turn of events.

Outsiders: Five of a Kind #1 – Nightwing & Captain Boomerang Jr. is lucky it’s not an official Countdown tie-in, as then its title would end up getting abbreviate CTFCPOFOAKNACBJ which is actually longer as an abbreviation than most fully written titles. Plus if you say it letter by letter it ends with “see BJ” which will confuse and enrage what I imagine is actually the rather large Nightwing/yaoi crossover fanbase when they realize it’s just a long fight scene about daddy issues. I told you there was a crossover market!Anyway, this is an ostensible tie-in to the ongoing Countdown story as it show when (not really how, but when) CBJr. hooks up with Amanda Waller’s Task Force X/Suicide Squad, which we’re not really supposed to be calling that because I think they’re waiting for some big moment to reveal it. Oops. Anyway this is a five-issue mini-series that tells the story of who Batman chooses to be part of his NEW OUTSIDERS, who will eventually tie into Countdown. Looking at the promotional art they’ve already sent out, sometimes no one wins, and sometimes both characters win, so I really don’t know the purpose of these one-shots.

And lest I seem like a complete DC Hater, I want to mention a comic that is mercifully free of Countdown’s taint — Metal Men #1 (of 8). Te new Metal Men mini-series is “based on concepts by Grant Morrison”, and while previously that has been a hallmark for mediocre-to-excruciating series, this book is a lot of fun, and actually has the spirit of fun and weirdness that Morrison’s better works possess. It’s written and drawn by Duncan Rouleau, and while it veers off into science jibber-jabber once or twice, the breezy, self-aware writing and art gives me the impression our eyes are supposed to be glazing over for a panel or two. Free of any tie-in baggage but still unobtrusively embedded into the DCU, it’s the best debut this month. Check it totally out! And check out this website next week instead of actually buying Countdown.

2 Comments »

  1. Personally I’m enjoying the few things I’ve seen of All-New Atom.

    And this Countdown issue wasn’t nearly as mediocre, but that’s not exactly high praise.

    Comment by Lewis — August 5, 2007 @ 2:05 am

  2. Your experience may vary, but to me reading Gail Simone — especially Gail Simone of the last two years or so — is an excruciating voyage into internet slang, bad pop culture references, relentless quips, made-up slang, and smug fanservice. All-New Atom certainly has some level of fandom, I’m just not part of it. On the bright side, she’s not writing Countdown, which is something I imagine will one day be put on comic book writers’ CVs: “I had no role in the planning or execution of DC’s Countdown to Final Crisis”.

    Comment by Chris Eckert — August 5, 2007 @ 1:46 pm

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