…only without girls flashing the camera or girl on girl snogging

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Finally we’re back on schedule with our trip down the backside backbone of the DCU. I’ve finally come to grips with what Countdown is all about. All of the rest of titles in mainstream DC are like the feature presentation on an overpriced DVD you recently went out to purchase. Countdown then represents the behind the scenes and the extras features. Sure those extras are fun to check out, and in some case they are just as well produced as the main feature. This week’s issue is certainly a lot of fun, and taken in the context of getting a glimpse at those deleted scenes we don’t get to seen in the mainstream titles, fills out those stories even more.

countdown32_01.jpgMary Marvel: In order to gain more magical powers, Mary has to give some of her power up in return. But Mary isn’t having any of it. In fact she is pretty sick and tired of everyone trying to siphon her power. In her anger she thinks it would just be easier to kill Klarion (yea!), but a mysterious voice encouraging the deed cause her pause (boo!).

Have I mentioned how much I hate Klarion? The voice in Mary’s head causes her to leave China for other lands, leaving Klarion and Fecal to defend themselves from the angry mob of Chinese mystics who have had their bazaar demolished.

The voice tells Mary the two are very much alike and leads her to the Temple of Artemis where everything is revealed.

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It is hard to believe it’s taken us five months to get to this point in the story. I’m not sure we needed all that time to be convinced Mary is unstable and hungry for more power. That being said, all of this build up could be done to lead us down a path similar to Ralph and the “Helmet of Fate” from 52. Mary could be acting strange to track Eclipso down, trick her into releasing Jean Loring so she and Ray Palmer can be reunited. If Ralph and Sue can reconnect, why not have the Hunt for Ray Palmer and The Seduction of the Innocent storylines converge into one happy reunion that saves the Multiverse? The biggest problem with that theory is, at this point, I don’t have the same emotional attachment with Mary that I had with Ralph. I would be much happier if there was a cool explanation to Mary’s craziness other than she wants power and will do anything to get it.

Piper and Trickster: Knowing that Zatanna was responsible for teleporting Piper, Trickster, and the Flash to a hotel in Happy Harbor, RI, the mummy guarding the door is probably one of her creations too. When Piper tries to use his musical skills to lull the bandaged Boris Karloff wanna-be to sleep, Wally returns to put an end to the violence before it starts.

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Trickster still believes the two of them are going to get a Zatanna Mindwipe (that ain’t a drink kids), and using the touch tone of the room phone, Piper is able to conjure a lullaby to knock Hassan out.

Way back in issue #34 I worried Piper and Trickster were being used merely to pimp the GA/BA (not a Swedish rock group from the 1970s) wedding issues. After seeing their antics in this issue, I’m hopeful they will continue their Laurel and Hardy routine throughout the rest of the series.

Meanwhile…

The Ladies of the DC Universe: It’s ladies night and the feelings right, at the Meat Cooker – or is it Meat Cocker (the art is a little odd on that panel) – where the ladies of the DCU are having a bachelorette party for Black Canary. As you might expect, there is plenty of skin and booze to go around. It is interesting that there seems to be a mix of costumed heroes and street clothed women in the joint, which makes me wonder if this is a private party. If it is a private party, then there isn’t a problem, but a public gathering where Lois Lane and Barbara Gordon show up, might cause some people to ask questions.

There are plenty of laughs in this scene, like when the two under aged heroines from the Teen Titans try to get free alcohol, only to be blocked time and time again by the likes of Wonder Woman, who scolds them, and Zatanna, who changes the booze into ginger ale. Even the witty slings between Lois and Oracle are humorous and a great nod to the Birds of Prey story where the two reached a stalemate in the battle of the will. The best part is when the party is crashed by Piper and Trickster and their mummy friend Hassan.

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Big Barda and Lady Blackhawk, who are bummed they haven’t been able to throw a punch, are more than happy to jump in to battle the seven foot undead Egyptian.

Amid the chaos and confusion, Supergirl and Wonder Girl do get their hands on Zinda’s Pomegranate Margaritas – to hilarious results.

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Am I being sarcastic? You be the judge. Oh and for even more fun, follow up Wonder Girl’s comments with some Kon-El innuendo. Now the big problem with Wonder Girl is that at the party she is more than happy to try and get some free booze, but when offered a swig from Ralph’s flask in 52, she refuses. Was it because she was in public and not wanting to spoil her image, or has she grown in the last year? Seems like a contradiction in character.

Zatanna ends the brawl before it can really get started by uttering her cigam sdorw turning Hassan into a pile of dust. In all the confusion, Piper and Trickster manage to slip out and steal a Porsche from the parking lot to make their escape.

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Karate Kid and Una: Yeah, still no action from them this issue.

Jimmy Olsen: Having accepted a ride from the folks from Cadmus, Jimmy finds himself at the headquarters. There he meets Serling Roquette, head of genetics for Cadmus. While this scene is nothing more than a progression of the story as the character moves from point A to point B, there is some good dialogue where Jimmy explains why he decided to become a hero.

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Beyond all that hokum, Jimmy really believes he’s earned the right to sit with the big guns. If that is really what he believes, then his hubris is eventually going to be his downfall. I can even see Booster Gold showing up at the end of Final Crisis and saying, “Jimmy if you sacrifice yourself for the whole of the universe, you will be the greatest hero of them all!”

So here is the question for you, seeing how the New Gods are about to die, and the New Gods originally appeared in the pages of Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, could the association alone be the reason Jimmy Olsen Must Die?

Challengers from Beyond: Not much going on this issue, except for the team poiting into the Red Son universe of Earth 30, and then to Earth 3, where they come face to face with the Crime Syndicate.

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Seems the random jumping from Earth to Earth isn’t some Sliders rip-off, but rather the rest of the Monitors trying to push them off course. Sounds like a perfect way to visit all of the Elseworlds titles again, get the reprints back on the shelves, and get new readers to part with their money once more. Yes, Red Son and the Crime Syndicate stories are very well done, and if you haven’t read them you really should get your hands on them, but a guest appearance simply to sell more comics and trades seems like a cheap ploy.

The Good

  • Babs and Lois snark
  • Underage kids trying to get liquored up always leads to hijinks
  • Fecal and Klarion getting their butts kicked
  • The two page origin or Eclipso

The Bad

  • Why are Supergirl and Stargirl shown on the cover, but it is Supergirl and Wonder Girl getting their groove on in the issue?
  • Hassan we hardly knew ye
  • Popping into two parallel universes can only mean one thing – More Tie-Ins!
  • No Karate Kid and Una for the last two issues – must be really hard to find Buddy Blank
  • Eclipso’s introduction – like we really need that big build up


Your Reading List

  • Every single issue of Green Lantern/Sinestro Corps War – seriously, this arc kicks major ass
  • Tales of the Sinestro Corps Presents: Parallax #1
  • The Black Canary Wedding Planner
  • JLA Wedding Special #1
  • The Green Arrow/Black Canary Wedding Special
  • Elseworlds Superman: Red Son
  • Justice League of America #26
  • JLA: Earth 2

I think because there was so much Piper/Trickster combined with the obligatory party scene to set us up for the wedding issues, made this issue seem too short. I really wanted to see more, which means Paul Dini and Tony Bedard have done a great job in telling the reader a compelling story. The art by Al Barrionuevo is good too. It is a great mix between the cartoony style I like, and the more realistic style other fans crave, although the opening splash page with Mary Marvel smacking the crap out of Klarion does look a bit Greg Land-ish. Overall, I’m very happy with this issue, giving it another 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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2 Comments

  1. September 24, 2007 at 1:04 am — Reply

    One things about this issue confused/bugged me: why didn’t they show Big Barda’s face? It seemed pretty conspicuous that they were concealing her face and yet I (or anyone else I’ve asked) have no idea why they are doing that.

  2. Tremaine
    September 26, 2007 at 3:05 pm — Reply

    Yea, that confluzzed me too and NO STARGIRL! I hate when they do that! Misleading info!

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