Countdown #37: Forbidden Fruit

by

Beware the Great Disaster!

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Here we go, a week full of revelations and answers to all your questions! Wait…what? This is only week 37? Damn. That means it’s another issue full of twists and turns, as our group of heroes trip through the DC Universe on the way to The End. This week a couple of stories get a much needed kick in the pants, while others get us nowhere fast. Does that mean Countdown #37 is a bad issue? Not at all.

Karate Kid and Una: Last ish Karate Kid and Una opened up to Oracle and told her the Kid was dying. This week the prognosis isn’t good. With access to every bit of knowledge in the world (and remember DC Earth is supposed to be bigger than our earth), she hasn’t been able to find a cure. The virus attacking Karate Kid must be from the future, which doesn’t make Una too happy, and the only person who may be able to help is one Elias Orr.

Don’t worry dear reader, I haven’t heard of him either. Well, some of you may have heard of him if you’ve read the Superman: For Tomorrow (#204 – #209) and the Lex Luthor: Man of Steel mini-series. Hey, when in doubt, throw in a MacGuffin to make the story more interesting.

So what is this disease Karate Kid has, and how does it fit into the Great Disaster Una is so worried about? I saw another reviewer speculate it has something to do with Ray Palmer, but at this point I have no idea other than this makes interesting filler for now.

Challengers From Beyond: Speaking of Ray Palmer, the Challengers are trying to make heads and tails of this strange magical world they landed in way back in Countdown #39. They hope to get some answers when the group stumbles upon a group of bug looking wizards. Instead of receiving help, these guys are about to bug out (pun intended) because they too fear the coming of the Great Disaster.

Except for the impending doom and the rats jumping ship theme playing out, not much happens to the Challengers except the moment after the Sacred Wizards of the Arionite Temple leave the nanoverse.

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Arionite? Arion? Is there an Atlantis connection here? Arion did have a part in Crisis on Infinite Earths, and was retconned into Power Girl’s back story. Knowing Power Girl is missing (see Rip Hunter’s Lab), could there be more to the exchange between the Challengers and the Wizards than meets the eye?

Mary Marvel and Zatanna: Having found her mentor, Mary Marvel accompanies Zatanna to her family home to learn how to control her powers. I totally dig The Zatara family home; from the ghostly servants, to the rooms protected by magics, this would be the home to hang out if you were married to a magician and needed to draw inspiration for a comic book you were writing…ahem…

Regardless, this is the second time since the series began that the artists have drawn Mary Marvel’s eyes as wide as the possibly can be. She is totally overwhelmed by all the power at her fingertips. One would think Zatanna would know better than to show all her secrets to someone who has the potential to turn on her at a moments notice for nothing more than the pure power.

We know from Blue Beetle #16 that Eclipso is looking for a new pure host for his/her body. And we know Mary has been observed by the dark spirit, so I wonder if Mary is being lead down the same path Ralph Dibny was during 52? And considering Mary has done some not so good things lately, I wonder if her spirit is still really pure? I mean you don’t put on a black leather cheerleader outfit if you mind and spirit are as pure as snow.

Piper and Trickster: These two are still the highlights of Countdown. From one misadventure to the next, it’s a wonder the chained duo were ever considered serious villains. This week Piper and Trickster and looking for some food, and they’ve stumbled upon a treasure trove of fruits and vegetables. Good eats to be sure, but as we’ve already seen in Countdown, if you are in Gotham chances are you are going to run into someone or something that doesn’t have your best interest in mind. Especially when she thinks you are eating her relatives.

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Holy crap this is some of the funniest stuff I’ve read in a while. The pure slapstick comedy and misadventures these two are getting into reminds me of the comedies of Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, the 3 Stooges, and the Crosby/Hope road adventures. It’s the last that seems particularly important as Piper and Trickster are on the road to somewhere. For now they find themselves tied up in Ivy’s vines awaiting the end.

And before we get too far, here’s your Paul Dini/Batman/Countdown checklist for those playing at home.

Batman Rouges Gallery Countdown Checklist

  • Joker – check
  • Penguin – check
  • Riddler – check
  • Clayface – check
  • Two-face
  • Hugo Strange
  • Mr. Freeze
  • Poison Ivy – check
  • Harley Quinn – check
  • Man Bat
  • Ra’s al Ghul
  • Scarecrow
  • Killer Croc – check
  • Scarface

Holly Robinson (not that Holly Robinson): Standing up to Athena must come with privledges because the goddess of war wants Holly to join a special Self-Esteem Exercise. When Harley hears the news, she’s overjoyed.

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Still smacks of the no-good.

Jimmy Olsen: This issue finds Jimmy sitting alone at the Daily Planet contemplating his powers. When he looks down at his watch, he’s struck by a revelation. He has no idea how he knows it, but as soon as Clark steps in the room, Jimmy grabs his shirt, rips it open and exclaims he knows Clark is Superman.

As odd as the last panel of the issue looks, I really like how the artists were able to capture Clark/Superman in mid transformation. The spit curl has dropped down, the jaw becomes more defined, yet you can tell he is still Clark, and he’s totally surprised.

If you want to know the rest of that story, then you should immediately pick up Action Comics #854 that is a direct tie-in to Countdown. This is actually a tie-in I don’t mind buying because it isn’t three weeks late, or two weeks early, and if read right flows nicely from Countdown to Action Comics. Bravo, DC, Bravo.

The Good

  • Piper and Trickster continue to top the list
  • Zatanna’s home
  • Mary Marvel
  • The exodus of the nanoverse inhabitants
  • Action Comics #854

The Bad

  • Challenger’s story seems to spin its wheels
  • Holly Robinson and Harley Quinn
  • The return of the back up Origin stories

Your Reading List

  • Superman #204 – #209 (2004/2005)
  • Lex Luthor: Man of Steel
  • Action Comics #854
  • Batman an the Outsiders: Five of a Kind: Thunder and Martian Manhunter
  • Brave and the Bold #1 – #6
  • Booster Gold #1 for no other reason that it will totally kick your ass up, down, and sideways – let’s see Karate Kid do that!

This time around, I’m not on the edge of my seat waiting for the next page. But I am disappointed the issue appeared to be so short. The old movie serials had just enough story to make audiences come back week after week, and had cliffhangers that kept you wanting more. Countdown #37 felt like those old flicks. There were plenty of good stories, but there wasn’t a payoff, which is fine because there are 36 more issues to go and I don’t want anyone blowing their load before it’s time. Reading Action Comics immediately after Countdown did help assuage my hunger for more Countdown, but I still feel like I need 80 or more pages per issue to feel satisfied. This isn’t a complaint, rather a compliment to a series that continues to get better with age, earning Countdown #37 3.5 out of 5 Stars.

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Parting Shot
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