Countdown #47

by

Bricks in the Wall

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Ok everyone, here it is, the issue that has caused more controversy than Perry White knowing the Red Hood is Jason Todd. It’s a week we see Mary get her powers back, Jimmy needs to open his eyes, and the Monitors go all Sparta.

Just when you thought you had Jimmy Olsen all figured out, he goes and pulls a Tom Cruise on you (or Eduardo Noriega if you want to go to the source). And speaking of the Source, Jimmy finds himself at the Source Wall as the issue kicks off, floating among the dead that have become another brick in the wall. One being in particular, who is a recent addition as of last issue, appears. His advice to Jimmy?

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countdown47cover.jpgJimmy wakes from his dream wondering what in the heck is happening to him. Uh Jim, it’s called a crisis. We don’t get to see too much more of Jimmy this issue, but the whole Vanilla Sky moment should be a big clue as to the goings on in this new universe. I am beginning to wonder if portions (if not all) of Countdown are taking place on alternate worlds. After all, the Source Wall, in this latest incarnation of the DC universe, is supposed to be the barrier that separates the various dimensions, and if we are still expected to believe the Kirby idea of the Source Wall containing all of those who failed to penetrate, then the shot of Jimmy becoming one with the wall might be some much needed foreshadowing for the series.

In fact, I am going to say a lot of what we are seeing actually takes place on Earth-2. Why do I say this? Take a gander at the leader on the newspapers that head writer Paul Dini and this week’s contributor Sean McKeever bring to the table.

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Daily Star, huh? It has been established for a long time that the Daily Star is Earth-2’s version of the Daily Planet. This sequence introduces newer readers to Holly Robinson – not of 21 Jump Street or Hanging with Mr. Cooper fame, but the Holly Robinson who has been a main character in the third Catwoman series, and who most recently is accused of killing a cop, causing her to flee the East End and start a new life of her own in Metropolis. I don’t know if this whole Holly sequence is to cause confusion among the masses who aren’t reading Catwoman, or if it is only thrown in to get the Daily Star paper in the headlines or what, but even as someone who is reading Catwoman, it took me a moment to realize what’s going on.

While I don’t have a problem with introducing Holly into the Countdown series, if DC and the writers continue to throw in obscure characters as part of the whole “backbone of the DC Universe” theme, I have a feeling more readers are going to abandon ship in favor of something that makes more sense.

I’m not the only one who is having misgivings about the series, nearly every review I’ve read, that isn’t being paid for by DC, is leaning toward the same conclusion – DC has caused too much confusion by making obscure references in this series requiring anyone paying the money to have to go and purchase additional titles to get the whole story.

I guess the big question I have at this point is, how many readers are going to drop this title? I’m going to stick it out, because frankly 52 didn’t do it for me until somewhere between weeks ten and thirteen. If stories don’t start solidifying inside the pages of Countdown soon, I think readers are going to give up in frustration. I know deep down inside that DC has the ability to tell really good stories that do require you to read additional titles – the original Crisis, Millennium, and so on, so to ship something this confusing looks to be a huge blemish on the DC logo.

Speaking of crossovers, we get another peek into the partying of the Rouges Gallery, who would just as soon party it up with a bunch of paid floosies than actually come up with a plan to stop the Flash – that is unless you have actually read recent issues of The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive. Piper and Trickster get a few moments alone and confide in each other that since Wally left, things just haven’t been the same, and without the sense of security/family they had being friends with Mr. West, they’d just as soon hang out with the criminal mind.

Is this DC’s way of hinting that Wally might be back? I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again; I like Wally West as the Flash, I like Bart as Impulse, I like Barry dead, and I miss Max Mercury. Don’t forget to take the poll to let everyone know which speedster you want to see return from the dead.

The Monitors also get really riled this week thanks to everybody’s favorite character Stinky. If you’ve been reading the back up story in each issue, you know the Monitors have gathered from the Multiverse, and with Stinky’s take no prisoners attitude, I wonder if he isn’t from Earth-3.

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I think we should keep a close eye on Stinky over the next couple of weeks.

Speaking of Earth-3, one of the best recent stories of the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League just happened to be told in the pages of the JLA: Classified series featuring the Bwahahaha team crossing over to Earth-3 and meeting evil versions of themselves. Why do I bring this up? Because it featured Slutty Mary Marvel.

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Why is this important? Mary and Black Adam finally reach a common ground. All Mary wants is her old life back, and while Black Adam can’t do that, he can give her something else. And all he has to do is say the magic word.

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Teth-Adam has given all his powers to Mary, returning him to his ancient Egyptian look. So does this mean Mary is going to turn evil? Will she be as bad-assed as Black Adam was/is? There has been a lot of great discussion these last couple days as to the merits of having Mary go “dark”. On the one hand, I really really really despised the saccharine Mary Marvel that was all goody-goody and innocent, and would never harm a fly. On the other, while I did like Slutty Mary Marvel from Earth-3, I thought it was just too much and over the top to like for longer than a couple of issues. However, if the Seduction of the Innocent storyline allows Mary to become a regular person, who will occasionally get drunk, pick up a guy and have some fun, possibly even use her powers for her own means, and make honest to goodness mistakes, all while doing heroic deeds, I think the Marvel family would become that much more interesting. I think that Mary would be that much more identifiable with reader. Mary Marvel’s journey in discovering her place in the modern DCU could be an even better story than Freddie Freeman’s Trials of Shazam or having Billy turn into the new Wizard Shazam.

And speaking of the word -

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WTF? I mean seriously, WTF!? “Sorry?” “SORRY”!? The majority of the fanboy nation figured Billy changed the new word to Sorry the panel after Billy said he changed it in 52. And if the word had been changed, how was Black Adam able to say Shazam and give Mary all his powers? Should he have said “Sorry”? Or was Adam able to change the word back after he figured out the new word? And if he has given all his power to Mary, how is it he is going to get his powers back in the mini-series? Damnit my head hurts. I expected more from the writers on this one.

One of the things that made Black Adam such an interesting character in 52 was his move from evil to good, and finally breaking and returning to the thing he has known for centuries. After he had his powers stripped in 52, I (and many readers around the world) expected to have a much longer break from all things Black Adam. Instead, we are forced to deal with a fully powered anti-hero a short three weeks later.

I’m not opposed to Mary getting a black latex cheerleader outfit. I’m not bothered that the cover once again gave away the entire story, even though we’ve known for months what was going to happen. I’m not bothered by Mary being tempted by Eclipso in the weeks to come. What I am most upset about is how Black Adam is portrayed and dealt with a mere month after the supposed climax of 52. What I am upset about is Sorry being the new phrase.

Some people will say “sorry” would have been the hardest word for Black Adam to say after all the atrocities he committed. I think a better word or phrase would have been “forgiveness”.

The Good

  • Stinky is one bad muther-f- Shut Your Mouth – I’m just talkin’ ’bout Stinky
  • The Daily Star
  • Nice Abre los ojos reference – maybe Jimmy is already dead.
  • Black cheerleader Mary Marvel

The Bad

  • Holly Robinson
  • Black Adam
  • Rogues story going nowhere fast
  • No Karate Kid ramblings from the jail cell this week
  • Sorry

What you should probably read

  • New Gods #5
  • Marvel and DC Present #1
  • Catwoman (3rd Series) #53 – 67
  • JLA: Classified #8

There are two things that cause this issue to fail this week; the first is the most obvious Sorry/Black Adam/Dark Mary turn in the story, the second is Holly Robinson making an appearance. Unless she is going to be another character we follow around for the next 11 months, there is no need to bring her up in the story. It’s kind of like Karate Kid – his story is essentially done, and unless he and the rest of the “Legion of Super-Heroes we like better than the current incarnation” stick around, filling pages with what is essentially fluff material is an insult to readers who are spending their hard earned money on Countdown. Right now there are two – maybe three – stories worth following for the duration of Countdown; Silver Age Jimmy Olsen dying, and Mary Marvel, with the third being the Rouges story, although that one is hanging by a thread.

After five weeks of Countdown, countless hours searching the back issues and online forums getting back story information on the characters, good to very good art, and watching others abandon the title, I can only give this issue 2 out of 5 Stars.

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Parting Shot

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