This is neither the first appearance nor a collector’s item

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Only a dozen issues to go before this series gets and official name change to Countdown to Final Crisis. The good news is the stories are picking up. The bad news is the cover is nothing but a lie. The cover claims this is the first appearance of Mr. Action, even though we have seen Mr. Action in action in previous issues of Countdown, not to mention his role in Action Comics. The cover also claims this is a collector’s item… I think not…

Even with the lie that is the cover, the issue isn’t that bad. Sure there are a few stumbles, but there are more good bits than bad.

countdown38_01.jpgOracle: This issue kicks off with chaos as planes fall from the sky, criminals attempt escapes, nukes are launching, and the identity of every superhero is hanging on the balance as Oracle and Calculator battle it out Hackers style with the Internet as their battleground.

Sure this is a cool sequence as Una and Karate Kid watch Oracle wield her kung-fu against the evil version of herself. Unfortunately, the battle ends in this issue (Oracle wins, natch), which makes me wonder what the heck DC is going to do in the Birds of Prey tie-in. In six pages, Paul Dini, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Justin Gray tell a very complete and compelling story that really doesn’t need further explanation. Unless the calculator finds another way to attack Oracle’s systems, the Birds of Prey issue is going to throw timelines way out of whack causing a lot of people to be lost when the story resurfaces.

When all the chaos settles down, Karate Kid and Una are able to discuss the reason Oracle was sought out.

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So perhaps he wasn’t faster than lighting after all. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Karate Kid die – and for more on that, might I suggest you take a gander at Major Spoilers Hero History: Karate Kid.

Mary Marvel: Monitors have been watching the events playing out across the globe, and while they know most of the incidents are related, the one they are most keen on is the situation with Mary Marvel and Zatanna. Something strange is going on beneath the waters of the cruise ship, and when Mary attempts to check it out, she is thrown back on the deck with someone else close behind.

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Slig is part of the Deep Six – a half-human half-fish team of New God terrorists who work for Darkseid. What is interesting about this character is he was previously killed by Orion in the pages of New Gods #13, so seeing him back again is a surprise – especially since someone, or something, is out to kill him again.

In order to cause a distraction, Slig uses his powers to transform the passengers on the ship to sea monsters. While Zatanna tries to counteract the spells, Mary tries to bring Slig down, and she becomes more and more irate, her dark personality slips out.

Things seem out of control when the big bad shows up. You remember the big bad don’t you? It killed Sleez and Lightray, and now it is out for Slig and the rest of the Deep Six.

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These aren’t Darkseid’s Omega Beams, although they look a lot like it, especially with the Kirby-esque art when the beam hits Slig in the chest. In the recent comic convention panel, Dan DiDio did say there is only one Apokolips in all of the 52 universes. Could this mystery man be an Anti-Darkseid? And by that I don’t mean Orion, as it would make no sense for him to kill one of his own. If we have Monitors and an Anti-Monitors, why not an Anti-Darkseid?

What is really disappointing in this sequence is the use of Zatanna. As an all powerful magician, even in this new age of magic, I would think she would be using more powerful spells than “Enoyreve evom kcab!” (That’s “Everyone move back!” for those of you who don’t know the secret of her success). Seriously, what about a spell like, “sregnessap ot ytefas!”? With all the tricks up her sleeve, Zatanna seems like a wasted character here, especially when Mary unleashes her Black Mary Marvel powers and turns all the transformed passengers back to human form in an instant – something that was taking Z much too long to accomplish.

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With Eclipso continuing to watch Mary, I wonder how long it will be before she makes her move. Is she waiting for Mary to past the point of no return, or just observing what makes someone turn evil?

Jimmy Olsen: Now that he thinks he understands his powers, Jimmy Olsen heads off to Titan Tower to try out for the team. But Robin doesn’t think that is such a good idea; he’s a much better photographer than a hero. Besides, Robin doesn’t want to get on Superman’s bad side should Jimmy come home with a shiner.

As much as I have grown to like Mr. Action these last couple of weeks, seeing Jimmy essentially be a prick as he tries to convince Robin to let him join the Titans left me feeling a bit flat, and once again yearning for the day when Jimmy Olsen dies. I just hope the Jimmy Olsen Must Die tag is not a metaphor for the symbolic killing of the red head in favor of a lame superhero.

Piper and Trickster: Once again, the bumbling team of Piper and Trickster prove why they are the best thing in Countdown. When confronted by The Next Question and Batwoman, it is Montoya who needs convincing the duo are innocent. Trickster is more than ready to plead his case.

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Did anyone else shout out, “Say hello to my little friend”?

Batwoman isn’t buying any of it, but The Next Question is convinced of their innocence.

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If you weren’t rolling on the floor laughing at this bit, then you have no sense of humor at all. Perhaps Montoya understands Piper and Trickster were merely puppets in a much bigger game. And when Montoya tells Oracle she let them go, I am beginning to see her ask the big questions, which hopefully will see her following the clues to the big event forthcoming.

Darkseid: With the death of the Deep Six, Darkseid is not too pleased with what is happening. Perhaps he now knows someone is targeting New Gods and at some point he’s going to be a target.

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The Good

  • Mary Marvel
  • Oracle v. Calculator
  • Death of more New Gods
  • Darkseid
  • Piper, Trickster, The Next Question, Batwoman


The Bad

  • Oracle v. Calculator
  • Zatanna
  • Jimmy Olsen

Your Reading List

  • JSA/JLA The Lightning Saga
  • Major Spoilers Hero History: Karate Kid
  • New Gods #2 (1971)

One of things that stands out most in this issue is the writing. I love how the trio was able to weave the end of a sentence in one scene, into the beginning of the next. Everything flowed like hot butter on Sunday Matinee popcorn. I also really liked the art in this issue, and continue to marvel at the many talents of Jimmy Palmiotti. Now if DC could have done away with the cover and replaced it with something a little less over the top, and released the tie-in issue of Birds of Prey to coincide with this one, I would have given issue #38 high marks. Instead, I’m opting to give Countdown #38 4 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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1 Comment

  1. Brent F.
    August 12, 2007 at 5:17 pm — Reply

    Perhaps it could be the Orion from the Kingdom Come Earth?

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