Dec
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Downcounting: A Guide for the Perplexed: OMNIBUS EDITION! (Part 1)

Posted by on Saturday, December 8th, 2007 at 07:36:06 PM

Hola, amigos. How’s your narrative spine? I know it’s been a long time since I rapped at ya, but it’s hit the busy season at my job, plus as you’ve all probably noticed, it’s been an eventful six weeks! Halloween, Thanksgiving, Veteran’s Day, inclement weather, Pakistani martial law, writers’ strikes, Wu-Tang beefin’, Chavez referendin’: you turn away for one second and a million things happen! It can be quite overwhelming; luckily we’ve got Countdown around to slow everything down, like a lazy bank holiday afternoon down the Phosphate shop. I’ve got six whole weeks of Countdown to blow through here (132 pages, $17.70 USD), so I’m going to break this down by character arc so you can see just how much happened in these six issues:

S*P in happier times1. 32 pages worth of”¦. SUPER___ PRIME! That’s right, the Countdown Crew weren’t content to spoil the fate of only one primary character out of the more successful Sinestro Corps War crossover! At the halfway point, Super__ Prime comes on the scene, apparently “swollen with power” and drawn looking like a 30s-ish man instead of a kid, which is either a clever ass-covering or the rare instance of something not being an art error in Countdown. Ol’ Super___ Prime is killing off entire planets to show what a threat/idiot he is! Over the course of two issues, Prime systematically murders everyone on Earth-15, The Earth Where Some People Take Over Costumes from Other People. I admit, it seemed like a horrible waste of an Earth when it first showed up, so if Prime had to blow up a planet, I guess this one was probably the best choice. Apparently he plans to destroy every single Earth in the Multiverse except his own, so that his planet is the best, or something.

He was also apparently the guy who ripped Mr. Mxyzptlk out of the 5th Dimension weeks and weeks ago, because even though he is cartoonishly omnipotent, he still wants to “team up” with Mxy, a motive that exists primarily as an excuse for an extended sequence where a beloved lighthearted figure from the funnybooks of yesteryear is brutally tortured. Super___ Prime eventually has a tantrum and shatters the Source Wall (or one Source Wall, I guess there are a bunch of them) leaving a bloodied Mxyzptlik (complete with Superman-logo-facial-scarring) to go running back to the 5th Dimension, terrified and swearing never again to come back to “our” reality. Whew, good thing we won’t have anything fun or silly getting in the way of our CRISIS.

The next biggest plotline is really a concatenation of a bunch of plotlines we’re calling

This car received more character development by being repainted than Fish Man got in Countdown.2. 27 pages of Multiversal Clusterfuck! When we last saw the C-List Monitor Posse, they were mourning the loss of the amazing new character The Jokester. They tried to escape from Lord Havok & the Extremists, Gun Toting Monitor and Monarch’s Army, but a vicious fight to the death continued to rage for no apparent reason, until Jason Todd successfully killed some fish guy, who I guess was part of one of these teams! This shocked everyone out of their battle, because they couldn’t believe Fish Guy died! (Fish Guy was later identified as a member of the Extremists named Barracuda by DC editors online. RIP BARRACUDA!) Now, on one hand, this is the first proper characterization of Jason Todd in all of Countdown, since his entire concept post-resurrection has been that he believes that “heroes” should be willing to kill evil people when necessary. On the other hand, the entire stated reason for his character participating in this story is that he is opposed to murder. So I guess it’s a wash?

After this shocking murder, Jason decides he’s sick of the CLMP and shockingly offers to join Monarch’s Army! Monarch questions his loyalty, leading Jason to shockingly GUN DOWN DONNA TROY!

DIE, DIE FOR DARKSEID!  AND PRINGLES!This would have been a jaw-dropping cliffhanger to Countdown #27, but as it turns out, the cover to the issue revealed the shooting that appears on the final page of the issue. To add insult to cliffhanger-ruining injury, the following issue features a hilariously convoluted explanation that the entire scene was a cunning ruse, wherein Jason Todd, apparently having gotten everyone’s attention with a murder, flashes some subtle body language to Bob the Monitor (master of monitoring gestures) which leads Bob to uncloak his gun (which is an awesome ass-covering for him never having a gun prior to the panel where Jason steals it) and then setting it to “stun”, so that Jason didn’t really kill Donna. This whole plotline further drives a wedge between Kyle and Jason, since they both want to sleep with Donna but now Kyle is worried that Jason also wants to kill her. I assume this is because of the DCU’s long-established axiom (demonstrated by Wonder Woman, Superboy Prime and countless other characters) that taking a life is like eating Pringles: once you pop, you CANNOT STOP! The excitement of these guys searching for Ray Palmer (they’re still doing that, right?) continues in a series of one-shots!

Nearly half of this plotline’s story took place in the title-changing Countdown to Final Crisis #26, which tells the story of the epic third long-ass speech where the Monitors discuss declaring war on people. Gun Toting Monitor (who is given the name Solomon in issue 21, recapped soon!) gives a big speech that kind-of-sort-of recaps all the other plotlines, and explains that skipping across universes is breaking down The Source Walls that I guess this will lead to a “Crisis Wave” which looks like the thing that the Anti-Monitor used to wipe out the multiverse back in Crisis on Infinite Earths. This would have been nice to know earlier, so that the Monitors’ staunch isolationist policy would have made sense for the first half of the story, but they still haven’t explained what Monarch’s deal is, so they’re ahead of the curve here. The writers also include a hilarious ass-covering about how once all the Monitors looked exactly alike (in the issues where the artist did not realize they were supposed to look different and drew dozens of identical Monitors), but the “instability” of the Multiverse is causing them to diverge in appearance. No word yet on how they’re going to fix the art error of having the Monitors (one for each of the 52 Multiverses) number somewhere around 80 in the establishing splash panel in #26, but I have faith they will shoehorn it into the book somewhere.

Thanks to whoever it was who actually counted them up!

The Monitors declare that they are dedicated TO WAR, “UNITED AS ONE!” and then proceed not to do anything for the next several issues. Issue 26 does end, however, with GTM/Solomon being interrupted by Lady Monitor He is in Cahoots With while sending a “communication”, presumably to Darkseid, as the next scene is Darkseid standing by a viewscreen with the Monitor’s satellite on it, and a GTM-looking Monitor pops up in Death of the New Gods #1 in a shot of all of Darkseid’s cronies. So maybe Darkseid really is behind everything!

I don't know what this means and I don't care to know.

Those are the two major storylines, and what did they establish? That Super__ Prime is a Countdown character now and will probably do something important but not yet, and that all of the Cosmic Multiversal Characters are doing the same things for the same vague reasons that they were four or five months ago. I hope you aren’t suffering whiplash from this compressed storytelling!

Back soon with the other storylines!

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