Countdown #49

by

“There’s something wrong with that boy.”

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I was sorely disappointed last week after reading Countdown #50 as it seemed a huge section of continuity for the last 20 years was thrown out the window to advance the story. Jimmy Olsen acted rather strange, knew the identities of superheroes, and seemed completely oblivious to his immanent death. As suspected, all is not right with Jimmy Olsen.

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While I said last week that I had read most of the relevant issues of Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, I haven’t read everything. Upon seeing a stretched out Jimmy this week (yes go ahead and make your jokes), I remembered seeing something in the reading room. A quick check next to the porcelain throne and my reading copy of Showcase Presents Legion of Super-Heroes Volume 1 (550 pages for only $10!) confirmed that we are really dealing with the Silver Age version of Jimmy Olsen.

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countdown49cover.jpgYou see, back in the day, Superman’s Pal had all sorts of adventures that turned him into everything from a giant turtle boy to porcupine boy to a wolf man, and with a serum developed by his friend Professor Potter, Jimmy was able to gain stretching abilities for a limited time (although that is not the origin of Elastic Lad). Jimmy would eventually go into the far future and have adventures with the Legion of Super-Heroes often times with very funny/embarrassing results.

Further digging into the history of Silver Age Jimmy Olsen reveals that during a run of World’s Finest, Robin (Dick Grayson) and Jimmy formed their own club to help the Superman/Batman team ups. Later, more specifically World’s Finest #144, “The 1,001 Tricks of Clayface and Brainiac”, Batman revealed his true identity to Jimmy because of the cub reporter’s loyalty to Superman.

So there you have it. Silver Age Jimmy Olsen does in fact know Dick Grayson is Robin and Bruce Wayne is Batman, but it still doesn’t explain how he knows Jason Todd is the Red Hood, since the Silver Age ended long before J.T. came along.

Now considering Duela Dent was created near the end of the Silver Age/beginning of the Bronze Age, perhaps Jimmy’s investigation into her death isn’t really about a news story for the Daily Planet, but rather how he, and other Silver Agers, can get back to their own Earth. In other words, Jimmy is self aware of his predicament and is trying to find a way out so he’s just playing stupid. Yeah I know, this probably caused a Bwahaha moment with you too. If you have been following the JSA/JLA Lighting Saga storyline (reading list people, reading list), you know there are seven Legionnaires currently on New Earth or Earth-1, which makes me wonder if Elastic Lad could be one of the seven they are looking for.

This theory also explains why Jimmy Olsen must die – he’s part of the anomalies Stinky is trying to correct. But I’ve kind of jumped ahead of myself.

We do get to see Stinky and the rest of the Monitors this week debating the merits of Stinky’s actions. As Monitors, they are tasked with keeping the Multiverse separate, and while the other Monitors debated what should happen, Stinky decided to take it upon himself to correct the errors. The whole exchange between Stinky and Jim reminds me of some 70s detective movie or show where the rouge cop deals out justice in his own way. As Stinky points out, the Monitors have seen what happens when individuals cross over from one universe to the other, and it is time to correct the problem.

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So Karate Kid, Nightwing, Supergirl, the good version of Legion of Superheroes, Red Hood, Kyle Rayner (Green Lantern or Ion), and Donna Troy are all on the hit list for execution. IF, and that is a big if, the Monitors actually do correct time/space and Nightwing is killed, it would indeed make a huge impact in the entire DCU. If you go back and read Nightwing One Year Later, that mysterious shadow could indeed be Stinky waiting to strike.

We also get another peak into the Karate Kid storyline introduced in last week’s issue. Again, I have an issue with the way the stories are playing out in Countdown and the rest of the DCU. We’ve already seen the Karate Kid and the Legion of Super-Heroes story continue over in JSA/JLA, so this scene is almost a step back in the flow of the story. If this continues I see an ongoing problem for readers who are trying to keep timelines correct. But isn’t that the point of Countdown; all of the timelines are wacky-in-the-wiki-woo and need to be corrected?

The most interesting exchange between a captive Karate Kid and Red Arrow/Speedy is Karate Kid spilling the beans on how Red isn’t even in the history books – ouch!

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Then again, I’m not sure many kids these days get the Mr. Miyagi reference, even though I made the same crack last week.

We also check in with the Rouges this week aboard a yacht heading way out to sea. Trickster and Piper’s test is to steal millions of dollars from a rich guy and have him jump off the boat and drown. Nothing too shocking there, the Flash Rouges are always doing something dastardly like that. The real surprise, or rather, lack of a real surprise is when Trickster gets Piper alone for a few moments and tells him he knows Piper really didn’t kill the guy, but instead used his magical Jethro Tull skills to make the millionaire swim five miles to shore without getting tired.

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Last week Mary Batson was told to stay outta Gotham, but when have you ever been able to tell someone to not do something and they listen? Mary walks down a wrong alley and ends up with a bunch of hoodlums chasing her into an abandoned building. At least it appears it is an abandoned building. The place is littered with dead bodies that have been ripped apart by someone, and very quickly we learn this is not some regular abandoned building, but rather the old Kahndaq Embassy.

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What-the? Black Adam back already? Is this storyline taking place on one of the alternate Earths, because DC hasn’t even started the Black Adam mini-series where he gets his powers back. While I was okay with Stupid Jimmy Olsen last week, having Black Adam make an appearance so soon after 52 is really a huge disappointment.

The Good

  • Silver Age Jimmy explained – sorta
  • Schism amongst the Monitors
  • The four page backup with Monitors from 52 worlds
  • The reveal of the three heroes the Monitors are going after

The Bad

  • Karate Kid storyline is really bogging down the JLA/JSA story
  • Black Adam is back already?


What you should probably read:

  • World’s Finest #144
  • Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #72 and #76
  • Nightwing #125 http://www.majorspoilers.com/archives/357.htm
  • 52 #50
  • World War III

If 52 was a look at the B and C-list characters of the DCU, then Countdown is starting to look like a Silver Age who’s who. While 52 worked because it got me to finally open that DC Encyclopedia sitting on the shelf, a Silver Age retrospective is much harder to get into because there is so much history one must research in order to really appreciate the series; not only the Silver Age tales of Jimmy and the rest of the crew, but also the recent history of characters so we know where the timelines split. I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again over the next couple of weeks – Countdown is not a jumping on point for new readers of the DCU. In fact, I’m getting the feeling that Countdown may not be a good idea for anyone who has only been reading comics for 10 years or less.

Still, I liked this week’s issue much better than #50. The story was more complete and certain murky storylines become clearer. When all is said and done, Countdown #50 receives a well deserved 3 Stars.

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Parting Shot

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