What was supposed to be the backbone of the DC Universe has failed miserably. But nevertheless we are only a few issues away from DC’s Final Crisis. What will we see? Will Batman die? Will we be left with multiple dimensions, or just one? Will Mary Marvel finally grow up?

These are questions that we’ll soon see answered. But has it all come too late for Countdown to be counted as any sort of a success?

I sat down with Countdown #4 with all the hopes that had been built over the past few weeks of decent story. I celebrated too soon. I assumed that the level of quality would continue, but issue #4 has once again returned to the lackluster and mediocre Countdown that we’ve all come to remember.

With the single digits of the countdown to Final Crisis came, finally, decent storytelling. The storyline was brought to a single cohesive track, and all the past disparate storylines all began to make sense. Morticoccus was revealed, and somehow was the ‘Great Disaster.’ Granny Goodness was finally unmasked and, then, dealt with.

But apparently Paul Dini, along with Sean McKeever and Keith Griffin, decided that it was time again to bring us back to insufferable storytelling and a plot development that sewage sludge would be proud of.

I’m just realizing that this is that review that so many of you have been looking for. The one where I actually dislike a book I’ve just read.

It started out so good. Mary Marvel’s chest emblazoned across the front of the book. But almost immediately – and I’m talking within at least 2 pages – it … apparently sticking together to help solve a massive worldwide problem is of no concern to most. Firestorm, Harley and Holly, and Jason Todd all decide it’s time to split.

Of course, Jason Todd – who has swapped between insufferable and somewhat heroic the entire storyline – is apparently, at heart, 12 years old. Donna’s no better; baiting someone she knows isn’t necessarily in the right frame of mind.

Then Mary Marvel disappears as well, only to encounter Darkseid who gives her back the evil power and…

I don’t even know why it happened. What reason, other than the fact she was apparently pregnant for 3 panels before she finds Darkseid in her living room, does she have for crumbling for the power? A member of one of the most powerful families in the DCU, and she apparently has no self control whatsoever.

The art in this issue was similarly poor. Mary Marvel could not have been drawn any worse if someone had been paid money, and the fact that Holly Robinson seems to be petting Harley’s chest in one of the panels just shows a lack of thought given to the art.

The issue ends on what can only be called an anti-climax, and if not for my innate need to know what happens next I could consider not even picking up #3.

All in all, this issue was not a good issue. Pick it up only in the hope that issue 3 will be better, and that what happened here might shed some light on the endgame. 2 out of 5 for me! If you’re not stressed, don’t bother.

The Author

Joshua Hill

Joshua Hill

I'm an aspiring author who just happens to also work on the web, reporting on the environmental research and science at Planetsave.com that makes sense of the climate change hype, reviewing fantasy books at FantasyBookReview, because I love fantasy books and want to tell you all about it. I also blog over at Life As A Human and at Extralife.

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  1. DrStrangeCubicle
    April 7, 2008 at 1:56 pm — Reply

    Morrison was talking up a Mary Marvel fight with Supergirl in Final Crisis, so my guess is there’s no reason or logic behind Mary’s return to evil other than the overarching plot of FC demanded it (why they redeemed her, only to ruin one of the few genuinely nice moments of the series is beyond me).

    Of course, Mary’s hardly the only character that’s been treated horribly by Countdown (as opposed to 52, which built up Booster, our space heroes like Animal Man and Starfire, and Renee Montoya). Jason Todd comes across as nothing more than an annoying prick, Ray Palmer a coward, Karate Kid exists just to kill off a universe, Una’s killed by rats (deadlier than the Amazonian bee weapon from Amazons Attack!, apparently), etc.

  2. Mark I.
    April 7, 2008 at 2:00 pm — Reply

    Jason Todd is really being douchified in this book. If they’re setting him up for a “surprise” turnaround with an heroic sacrifice in Final Crisis…well I call bulls**t.

  3. April 7, 2008 at 2:28 pm — Reply

    What confuses me the most is that Todd shouldn’t be this much of a moron, sure… but, even more than that, he’s the one toted as being the next Batman…

  4. April 7, 2008 at 2:52 pm — Reply

    Now, c’mon. Jason Todd’s always been a tool. That’s why people voted to kill him off in the first place.

  5. April 7, 2008 at 2:55 pm — Reply

    Hang on. Mary Marvel is pregnant?! When did that happen?

  6. Salieri
    April 7, 2008 at 3:54 pm — Reply

    Ugh…Paul Dini is the new Chuck Austen, ruining everything he touches and Mary-Sue-Shoving his wife (Bruce already has a girlfriend, he doesn’t need Zatanna) into the narrative. The man should just be given some title which he can’t damage the DCU with – a new “Batman Adventures” series, or a Harley Quinn spin-off. Contrary to his other work, he does a mean Harley Quinn.

    Also: Curses! I was so looking forward to a Red Robin mini. Am I right in surmising that Countdown is one big exercise in demonstrating how much more superior 52 was, and how much better 52’s writers were?

  7. Rowan
    April 7, 2008 at 5:06 pm — Reply

    wait is she really pregnant ? do I have to re-read this one cause PREGNANT ? say what ? with what darkseids baby?

  8. DrStrangeCubicle
    April 7, 2008 at 5:28 pm — Reply

    Unless I really missed something, I think he just meant she was drawn badly and *looked* pregnant.

    Although at this point, she might be carrying the virus-ridden demonspawn of Darkseid and Granny Goodness.

  9. eric
    April 7, 2008 at 10:46 pm — Reply

    Well, I love DC, but they have tarnished their reputation with 52 and Countdown to me. I wont be picking up any other weekly for a long long long long long long long time from them. I will wait til it comes out in a trade paper back. I hope they read this because I want them to know this. Thank god Final Crisis is only seven issues. The main reason I am looking forward to the Legion series is George Perez and origianal Legionaires. DC listen now. No more damn weeklies. It is not going well. Also I will never in my life buy anything that Paul Dini has written or is writting. This crap of countdown has turned me off to him completly.

  10. April 8, 2008 at 1:44 pm — Reply

    Note – “…she was apparently pregnant for 3 panels…” pregnant for 3 panels… DrStrangeCubicle was right, I was referring to the horrible way she was drawn… ack! :D

  11. Hank
    April 10, 2008 at 11:46 am — Reply

    Saleri, if there’s one thing about Bruce Wayne, it’s that he’s a billionaire “playboy,” so why wouldn’t he flirt with Z? And that’s all Dini’s shown Bruce as doing, flirting. Z’s hinting she might like a more serious relationship, but so far Bruce hasn’t even acknowledged an interest beyond “just friends”

  12. Salieri
    April 11, 2008 at 7:27 am — Reply

    Hank: Maybe because she wiped his memory some time ago, a move which could have resulted in brain damage as it had with Doctor Light? I mean, he found out about it, but still. It’d be like one of Peter Parker’s friends flirting with Mephisto.

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