You would think a mud bath would be good for you

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It was one of those weeks, where I was flooded with too many things on my plate (meetings, preparing for classes, meetings, writing for various blogs, meetings), and I didn’t even have time to sit down and read the latest issue of Countdown until Sunday evening. Mary Marvel continues to kick it in Gotham, the hunt for Ray Palmer kicks off, and what do you do when you find yourself at 30,000 feet without a parachute?

countdown48_03.jpgI really liked this issue. Even though I have bemoaned the need to purchase all sorts of tie in issues, this issue actually stands alone with minimal diving into the tie-in bin. Since I’m pressed for time this week, here’s a brief summary of who does what to whom, and some of the highlights.

Jimmy Olsen:
Jimmy spends this issue day dreaming of becoming a superhero. Lois catches him making drawings of a superhero costume and laughs him off when Jimmy explains he is thinking of contributing a new strip to the Planet. Oh Jimmy…

Holly Robinson (not that Holly Robinson): Holly obviously knows who Harleen Quinzel is when she isn’t hanging out at one of the most rockin’ toga parties in history, but Harley claims she’s turned the other cheek (careful, those togas are mighty short!). The big question Holly and the readers have, is what does Athena want in exchange for giving all these women food and shelter? I still have to wonder where Holly’s story fits in with Amazon’s Attack. Because they haven’t been arrested, Amazon’s Attack may not have happened in this part of the story. As someone pointed out last week, for Jason Todd and Donna Troy, AA has certainly happened, but I don’t think it is so here.

Donna Troy and Jason Todd: Donna, Jason, and Monitor Jim, who we now know is the protector of New Earth, arrive in Ivy Town to convince Ryan Choi to take them to the Palmerverse.

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Even though I love Gail Simone’s work, I just never got into this incarnation of the Atom. I did read the first trade paperback, which is about all you need to understand what is going on in the exchange in Ivy Town. Ryan, ever eager to find his missing friend, agrees and the trio becomes a quartet as the Hunt for Ray Palmer kicks off.

Note: And just so you know, the hunt will spill into several tie-in issues being released as the team travels through various incarnations of the Multiverse in the months ahead.

Mary Marvel: Mary is still hanging out in Gotham and when she sees the Riddler hanging around the scene of a bank robbery, she instantly assumes Edward is behind it all.

Is it any wonder the reformed Riddler shows up in a Dini penned issue? I give tons of kudos to Dini for putting Nigma in this new role of detective, as his writing of the character reveals the Riddler really deserves the title Second Best Detective in Gotham. The Riddler is able to convince Mary he isn’t the one behind the crime, and the two follow a trail of mud to a dead end. Mud? More like Clay.

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I know a lot of people write off many of the Batman’s Rogues Gallery as holdovers from the Silver Age, but under Dini’s watchful eye, he’s making these characters much more interesting, and best of all fun and dangerous at the same time.

The fight between Mary Marvel and Clayface isn’t a long one, as Mary loses control of her powers and ends up flinging Clayface into space.

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Even more interesting than Nigma playing the part of Remington Steele is the anger and rage in Mary Marvel. Instead of being all good and innocent, it appears as though the power of Black Adam is indeed messing with her mind and corrupting her at some level.

Karate Kid: It is “his” city after all so it’s no surprise Batman is watching the action from above. Karate Kid arrives to tell Batman he and the rest of the Legion are about to return to the 31st century. Batman is his typical self here, with his Bat Dickness level turned up to 5.

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The Karate Kid story is another of those arcs that is really confusing. After we established all of Karate Kid’s appearances prior to this issue took place before the events of the Lightning Saga, his appearance here is a real head scratcher. At the end of the Lightning Saga, everyone but Karate Kid vanished as soon as Wally returned, and then all but Starboy and Karate Kid departed back to their own time. When then does Karate Kid have time to go to Gotham, find Batman, and tell them they are leaving? Makes no sense at all.

If we weren’t expected to read all the tie-in issues to make sense of the goings on in Countdown, I could excuse a continuity blunder here and there, but making a mistake when tie-ins are vital to the story is only going to continue to confuse the readers.

Piper and Trickster: Last we saw these two rogues they were taken down by Deadshot and Multiplex. After a very nasty dream full of guilt over the death of Bart Allen, Trickster wakes up to discover he and Piper have been chained together with electric handcuffs. The more they pull away from each other, the stronger the electric shock.

It isn’t clear who is paying to have these two brought in for Bart’s death, but it is clear Deadshot has under estimated where Trickster hides all his gadgets.

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The resulting explosion from the hidden bomb gives them time to escape. Of course it would probably be a good idea if you looked before you leaped.

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The Good

  • Everything…no really EVERYTHING
  • Mary Marvel is being corrupted
  • The Riddler
  • Clayface
  • Batman being himself
  • Every single bit of dialogue at Ryan Choi’s house

The Bad

  • Ok, so maybe Jimmy’s appearance this week is a tad weak
  • Karate Kid appearance is simply confusing too


Your Reading List

  • All New Atom: My Life in Miniature TP
  • Detective Comics #822: E. Nigma, Consulting Detective

You know what would make Countdown even better? That checklist I’ve been complaining about for the last several weeks. Like the reading list I’m providing here, having a checklist in the back of the issue of all the other current titles that tie directly into this one is becoming more vital. I didn’t get the last couple issues of The Atom, so I don’t know if there is any additional information about the trek into the Palmerverse and beyond, but it would be good to know ahead of time. If you are paying attention to the DC Solicitation information the company is sending Major Spoilers regularly, they you can kind of piece together what you should put on your pull list and what you should leave off. Other than that, I loved this issue. The pacing, dialogue, and even the art made for a really fun read, earning Countdown #42 a well deserved 4.5 out of 5 Stars.

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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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11 Comments

  1. July 16, 2007 at 6:38 pm — Reply

    Regarding Karate Kid: ALL of his appearances have been head-scratchers for me, as there was NOTHING that indicated he spent any time in the JLA brig between the fight with Batman and the rest of the Lightning Saga…

    I’d call that a Bat-Dickness level of 6, possibly 7, actually, making Bruce seem incredibly petty and defensive.

    Mary’s arc seems a bit… telegraphed, I guess is the best way to put it.

    And you haven’t missed anything much with Ryan, as his stories are full of wonderful character bits and moments, but just sort of happen (much like Invincible, another fave-rave, it’s not about the destination, but the fun of the journey with that book.)

  2. July 17, 2007 at 12:37 am — Reply

    Has Mary considered a Date with the Sentry? They sound liek they’d be perfect for one another!

  3. July 17, 2007 at 8:44 am — Reply

    Is cowering in a filthy dark room followed by a manic Mach 10 world-saving session considered a date? Or does he have to buy her dinner, too?

  4. July 17, 2007 at 10:26 am — Reply

    I was more thinking thety could just throw the Restaurant into the Sun together.

    Better yet, have someone start a Support Group for Heroes Who Throw Stuff Into Outer Space. You’d have the above-mentioned, the Illuminati, Green lantern, Martian Manhunter, Superman…

  5. July 17, 2007 at 10:33 am — Reply

    Also, Note to Mary: When a former Villain of BATMAN gives you advice on anger management, I wouldn’t say shrugging it away would be a good idea…

  6. Mark I.
    July 17, 2007 at 11:06 am — Reply

    Assuming the Riddler has to eventually turn back to crime (or maybe he doesn’t?) it’d be nice for him to at least get a miniseries where’s he’s the protagonist…written by Dini, of course. This time out, he seemed like a skewed “discretion is the better part of valor” version of the Spirit. Probably just the costume talking, but I really felt Riddler was the most interesting part of this issue. You can tell Dini is taking it up a notch when he wants to make the Riddler interesting. He has–the Riddler is historically difficult to take seriously.

    Good read.

    The guy who paid to have Trickster and Piper brought down for Bart? Hmmm… I think it’s going to be someone acting way out of character, like Tim Drake. Nah…

  7. Adam
    July 17, 2007 at 1:38 pm — Reply

    I think “Holly Robinson (not that Holly Robinson)” should be your next dictionary entry, cause I think I know what you’re talking about, but I’m not quite sure.

    And a Riddler mini would be great!

  8. July 17, 2007 at 5:03 pm — Reply

    I think “Holly Robinson (not that Holly Robinson)” should be your next dictionary entry, cause I think I know what you’re talking about, but I’m not quite sure.

    Major Spoilers Dictionary

    Holly Robinson (not that Holly Robinson): Emblemizes feigned confusion in telling the difference between Holly Robinson, the comic character who filled in as Catwoman during Selina Kyle’s pregnancy (see Fig. 1) and Holly Robinson, a television actress perhaps best known for her role on “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper.” (Fig. 2) The Major Spoilers writing staff is a big fan of sitcoms, not that there’s anything WRONG with that…

    Fig. 1: Holly Robinson (Not THAT Holly Robinson)

    Fig. 2: Holly Robinson (Indeed, THAT Holly Robinson)

  9. July 17, 2007 at 5:16 pm — Reply

    This entry has been officially added in the Major Spoilers Dictionary – LINK AT THE RIGHT!

  10. Brother129
    July 20, 2007 at 9:04 am — Reply

    Thank you for the Holly Robinson explanation…I thought I was the only dummy who had no idea who the heck she was. This books seriously needs an index.

  11. pedantic peasant
    July 21, 2007 at 7:31 pm — Reply

    I know you’ll probably be posting Countdown 41 any day now, but that pretty much settles the KK timing issue. I suspect the events in Countdown are strangely elastic (and certainly have some holes in them) But in 41 the rest of the Legion go home …

    Regarding the Bat Dickness Level, I’d say level 9 with amnesia — after all, while Val broke the helmet part of Batman’s cowl, didn’t Batman “win,” with Val complaining he had “cheated” as he passed out?

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