Do not collect the secret decoder ring that explains this series


Remember a few reviews ago when I mentioned Paul Dini had it bad for anything and everything Batty? Well the love fest continues this week as more Bat-verse characters make an appearance, and we see the return of the Suicide Squad. With several tie-ins required to make sense of it all, where does that leave the reader?


Una and Karate Kid: The last issue left us hanging with the surprise introduction of Una, the remaining third of Triplicate Girl, and Karate Kid hooking up immediately following the events of The Lightning Saga in the pages of JSA/JLA. This issue finds the duo breaking into Birds of Prey headquarters, which makes Oracle none-too-pleased. Even with all the security in place, a few well placed kicks and the walls come crumbling down. It’s not that Barbara minds meeting with visitors from the 31st Century, but she’s rather busy at the moment.


There has been a lot going on in the Birds of Prey universe for some time, and Oracle’s system has been under attack several times by people trying to gain access to her system. Knowing that time is still broken, this attack could either come from the Birds of Prey “Spy Smasher” arc, or, what popped in my mind when I first saw this panel is the Calculator is behind all this. We’ve already seen Calculator attempt to breach Oracle’s systems in BoP #87 – 90, but the next time the two match wits will be in October’s Birds of Prey #111.


Hopefully the Karate Kid/Una/Oracle story will be drawn out until the release of the issue, otherwise readers are really going to be lost when the issue debuts.

Challengers From Beyond: The quartet continues their adventures in the micro-verse, shrinking down to the magical realm, where no one knows which was is up, and where Ray Palmer and Zatanna once went looking for her father.


countdown39_cover.jpgThings are pretty trippy here. If I am correct in remembering (too lazy to jump that far back in the Drawer Boxes), the last time we saw this universe was during the Seven Soldiers: Zatanna story where Doctor Thirteen bit the bullet when visiting the realm.

I know a lot of people have been reading the All New Atom issues, and the last two have tied directly to the Hunt for Ray Palmer storyline, but when exactly did the events in issue #14 take place? Without going into a whole review of The All New Atom #14, the Challengers begin their journey in Ryan Choi’s living room, and decide to begin their search for Ray Palmer by shrinking down to the alien realm on the back of the dog. There they travel to “Have In”, meet a dead Ted Kord, and kick the crap out of Jet Pack Hitler. But this seems to be in direct contradiction to the events in Countdown. In this series, the first place the team traveled to was the Palmerverse, then to this magical realm. So someone has either really fudged up somewhere, or there is a story we haven’t been told yet.

Jimmy Olsen: Mr. Action stops a petty purse snatcher with his elastic powers, and gets a smooch from the woman he helps out.


It’s just too bad he is too self-absorbed to notice his prey has slipped away.

I’ve mentioned that I really like the Mr. Action stuff as Jimmy attempts to become a superhero. In order to get more than two pages of Mr. Action action, check out Action Comics #852 and #853, which features more of costumed Jimmy (action).

Holly Robinson (not that Holly Robinson): Holly finally gets an audience with Athena, but Athena’s actions seem a little odd when compared to the goddess Athena we saw all big, mighty, and angry in Wonder Woman #11. I still believe this is nothing more than a recruitment center for the Bana.

Piper and Trickster: The fugitives are still hiding out in Penguin’s wine cellar, and as their story begins this issue, it looks like Oswald is actually being nice to them, sharing his most expensive wine. But we all know Penguin does what is best for Penguin, and as soon as he leaves, we find out who Deadshot has been working for.

The Suicide Squad is back, but why are they so interested in Piper and Trickster? Are they after them to join the squad, or is the team rounding up villains for the Salvation Row seven issue mini-series debuting in November?

Piper and Trickster aren’t easily captured, and what follows is probably one of the best sequences I’ve seen in Countdown to date.



The Iceberg Lounge is too crowded for Deadshot to take the two down, but Boomer Jr. is able to knock Trickster out with one of his boomerangs, causing Piper to carry him as they make their escape. While they may have dodged the Suicide Squad, they aren’t out of trouble. The Next Question appears, and she brought along a friend.


Yup, we are getting set up for another Countdown tie-in mini-series – The Crime Bible, which will debut in October.

Honestly though, I was much happier during 52 when I thought Batwoman had died from being stabbed in the heart. Guess you can’t take a hero down with a huge blade to the chest. Even with that nit-picking aside, a Batwoman/The Next Question team-up could make for a really good on-going series, or better yet, give the duo a backup story in Detective Comics. Hey DC, I think this could work easily – simply add another eight pages to the issue, don’t increase the cover price, and you’ll have a run-away hit.

The Good

  • Every panel of Piper and Trickster
  • Mr. Action getting some action
  • Oracle’s security reminds me a lot of Brainiac 13
  • The Next Question and Batwoman

The Bad

  • Too many tie-ins to this issue that aren’t released for at least another month
  • Time line issues with Atom tie-in

Your Reading List

  • Wonder Woman #11
  • Action Comics #852 – #853
  • The All New Atom #14
  • Seven Soldiers: Zatanna #1 – #4
  • Birds of Prey #87 – #90, #111

I know a lot of other reviewers are reviewing Countdown as a stand alone issue, and many seem to overlook the crossover/tie-in issues, and more importantly I don’t see anyone asking the important questions about the conflicting storylines that appear in Countdown and the tie-in issues. Could it be there are so many tie-in issues DC is hoping we don’t catch on, or are there actual problems that slipped through (ala Bill Willingham’s appearance of Superman in the first issue of Shadowpact)? Either way, I hope these problems are resolved so I can really enjoy this series without scratching my head and diving into my Drawer Boxes every week trying to make sense of it all. As a stand alone issue, there are some definite highs and lows, and there is still enough stand alone story telling happening that you don’t have to buy everything on the reading list. For this reason, Countdown #39 earns 3.5 out of 5 Stars.


Parting Shot


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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  1. Brent F.
    August 5, 2007 at 4:58 pm — Reply

    I hope Mr. Action is here to stay because I love how cheesy Jimmy is.

    Also, I agree with you on Batwoman. I was really excited to see the name return before her debut in 52, but they’ve utterly failed to make her the least bit interesting.

  2. August 5, 2007 at 6:58 pm — Reply

    Batwoman is one of those characters who seemed to have potential, but the execution has been less than electrifying. I wonder if they’re trying TOO hard to make her an upstanding citizen so as to avoid having anything bad happen to their media darling lesbian superhero.

  3. Brent F.
    August 5, 2007 at 11:10 pm — Reply

    That’s what I hate about her. We don’t know anything about her that really makes her distinct as a superhero. All we know is that she’s a rich lipstick lesbian who apparently just randomly decided to become Batwoman.

  4. August 6, 2007 at 7:54 am — Reply

    Also, her boots look like bats. Looks silly.

  5. Brent F.
    August 9, 2007 at 12:41 am — Reply

    That’s not silly, it’s classic. Alex Ross designed her suit and took the bat boots from Barbara Gordon’s Batgirl outfit.

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