Jumping on point for the new peoples

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Okay, I admit this review of Countdown is late – really late. But hey, better late than never, right? Riiighhht? Anyway, can you blame me for being busy these last couple of days? Yes, I am one of those kinds of dads.

Anyhoo, this issue of Countdown offered a smack down drag out fight that we’ve been waiting for, a summary of Kirby, and a weird continuity error or two. Let’s get this quick review underway, shall we?

The last issue featured the introduction of Forerunner; bred by the Monitors as the ultimate weapon to the ultimate problem of anomalies breaking the source wall. The only problem is, before the reboot of the Multiverse, there would have been no reason to breed such a killing machine. While we could shrug this question off and enjoy the story, I know there are some out there who are jumping up and down steamed at DC for these plot holes that are being plug with a simple write off.

Forerunner wasted no time trying to take down Jason Todd and Donna Troy, but Donna being Donna – and by that I mean you’re going to have to go over to Wikipedia or crack open that hardbound copy of the DC Encyclopedia to really understand her convoluted history – she’s not one to go down easy. Punch after punch Donna and Forerunner go at it to the point Donna even busts open her knuckles on Forerunners hard skin.

A brilliant piece of action here by Dini, Palmiotti, and Gray as the action in this issue really picks up. This is the second issue in a row Palmiotti and Gray contribute to the story, and I must admit, I’m liking what they are bringing. Comics don’t always have to be intellectual think pieces where readers are required to delve into the words that are not said to fully understand what the authors are saying. Sometimes comics just need to be fun – and have big guns.

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Fortunately, Monitor Jim shows up, telling Forerunner to back the heck down. He then goes on to essentially call her nothing but a dog raised for fighting, and nothing she can do can stop her from disobeying any order from the Monitors.

Of course this doesn’t sit well with Stinky, and when the rest of the Monitors begin to question Stinky’s motives, he turns the blame around on Monitor Jim.

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Okay, so even though I said you don’t always have to read between the lines, there do appear to be some ties to Stinky’s administration as leader of the Monitors, and a certain leader and his problems trying to convince legislatures to blame the other guy and go to war.

And with that, Monitor Jim takes Donna and Jason with him on the first steps of a grand adventure (presumably to find Ray Palmer). This leaves Forerunner alone, and like certain cultures on this Earth, she severs her connection to the Monitors by cutting her long braid. Fortunately, she’s not alone as the big reveal ending the issue features the return of Monarch.

Monarch? Holy crap, we haven’t seen him since Armageddon 2001. I’ll have more on Hank Hall for the next review, as he is featured prominently on the cover of issue #44. Even though I’ve given away the big reveal, I have to give DC credit here for not spoiling the ending of the issue on the cover.

countdown45_01cover.jpgThe cover. Well it certainly doesn’t give away any spoilers, but it is clear certain portions of the story featuring Val, Thom and Dream-Dream takes place before JLA #10 and Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #13. My guess is time is still broken. It is a great cover though. I would rather have had this cover on the JLA issue that featured the return of Val than here, but I’ll take it where I can get it.

This issue also features Jimmy Olsen returning to the scene of the crime hoping to get answers, and in the process, essentially summarizes all of Kirby’s work on the New Gods in just a few pages. In order to fully appreciate the New God summary, you should probably pick up the New Gods Omnibus Hardcover #1 currently available from your fine retailer. Jimmy still has questions, and we as readers demand answers, but we aren’t getting them this week. His appearance almost seemed like a “hey don’t forget about me” moment tossed in to fill pages.

Holly Robinson (not that Holly Robinson) makes another appearance, also at the scene of Sleez’s demise from last issue. While talking with the grizzled bum she saved, she’s approached by a shadowy figure off screen. Like Jimmy, it’s a brief moment for Holly, but unlike Jimmy, her story actually moved forward instead of repeating what has gone before.

If you did get the chance to read Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #13, you know the Rouges story was pretty much wrapped up, except for the part where Piper and Trickster are outed. Since the next flash story doesn’t appear until August, the only conclusion to the duo’s story will have to be told here. If we don’t see any more of these two in countdown, I’m going to be really dissappointed.

The Good

  • DC didn’t ruin the story by giving away the ending on the cover
  • Donna Troy bringing the beat-down
  • Monitor Jim saving the day
  • Stinky trying to divert blame

The Bad

  • The New Gods get a 2 page summary
  • Is the old bum in Suicide Slum just a bum or someone else?

Your Reading List

  • Armageddon 2001
  • Zero Hour
  • JLA #10
  • Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #13
  • Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus Vol. 1

Overall I liked everything about this issue. The writing, as I already mentioned worked really well, even if there are some continuity issues with other titles. Palmiotti and Gray are off the next issue, but Adam Beechen steps in, so I’m sure the quality will remain quite high. The art also worked for me on all the levels from the pencils, to the inks, and the colors. Countdown #45 filled in some holes and moved the story along nicely. Even though it took two months to get this far, I think the story is starting to take off, and I expect the next month will be very telling in the success or failure of this series. Because I enjoyed the issue, I’m going to give Countdown #45 4 out of 5 Stars, even if the Karate Kid story continues long after the JLA/JSA team up is over.

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Parting Shot

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The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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10 Comments

  1. Brent F.
    June 28, 2007 at 7:10 pm — Reply

    I’m enjoying the ambiguity of Captain Atom’s new role. He’s wearing the armor of an evil villain, but so far he’s expressed honorable intentions in a menacing way.

  2. Maximus Rift
    June 28, 2007 at 7:13 pm — Reply

    Isn’t Captain Atom in the Monarch suit now?

  3. Brent F.
    June 28, 2007 at 8:31 pm — Reply

    Yeah, he was put inside the suit during the Bludhaven disaster.

  4. June 28, 2007 at 9:51 pm — Reply

    Ah, but is this Captain Atom or Hank Hall – just because we’ve seen it, doesn’t mean there isn’t some time travel/Tom Welling punch/Multiverse stuff going on ;)

  5. June 28, 2007 at 10:46 pm — Reply

    Hey, Val’s staying in the 21st century… That’s good enough for me.

  6. June 29, 2007 at 1:34 am — Reply

    This whole ‘Anomalies’ conceit is lifted from the plot of an unpopular Superman story, ‘Time and Time Again’. In that case, the ‘anomaly’ was Booster Gold for being int he wrong Time Period, and the one sent to either return or Kill Him was ‘The Linear Man’.

  7. June 29, 2007 at 8:42 am — Reply

    This whole ‘Anomalies’ conceit is lifted from the plot of an unpopular Superman story, ‘Time and Time Again’. In that case, the ‘anomaly’ was Booster Gold for being int he wrong Time Period, and the one sent to either return or Kill Him was ‘The Linear Man’.

    Ummm… Time and Time Again sold out in the stores and is being referenced over a decade later. I remember being irked that I couldn’t get a copy, and still haven’t found the issues in back-issue bins. How do you figure that it was unpopular?

  8. June 29, 2007 at 9:41 am — Reply

    I’ve only ever seen bad reviews for it, and I wasn’t surprised – it had terrible writing and rather bland illustration.

  9. June 29, 2007 at 11:10 am — Reply

    I’ve only ever seen bad reviews for it, and I wasn’t surprised – it had terrible writing and rather bland illustration.

    Maybe it’s just favorably comparable the the flood of crap on the stands at the time, but Time and Time Again was interesting, and one of the few things that Dan Jurgens had a hand in that I can still look at the art.

    And if you’ve only seen reviews, how do you KNOW it had terrible writing and bland illustration? :)

  10. June 29, 2007 at 12:32 pm — Reply

    I have a copy. It just didn’t sit too well with me – the only person I could honestly find myself rooting for was the Original Linear Man. Everyone else seemed to have geneic personalities or get in the way. Well…excepting the Legion.

    Other low points included the appearance of the irritating Metal Men, Merlin having stolen Mickey Mouse’s hat from ‘The Sorceror’s Apprentice’, and the Legionairre’s ship looking a leetle too much like the Enterprise…

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