CATCHING UP WITH COUNTDOWN
I posted on DC's weekly series 52 many times over the past year or so - the series ended in May. On the heels of the last issue of 52 (the very next week, in fact) came a second weekly series, Countdown. While the first series focused on a missing year of time in the DCU, the new series dealt with the here and now of the DCU and promised to weave its story among current events in a wide variety of books. The whole project is overseen by a head writer (Paul Dini, who was behind many of my favorite episode of the Batman: The Animated Series as well as many other things) with a rotating cast of writers undertaking the nuts and bolts of particular issues. The art is by a variety of artists, which is necessary with a weekly book, and the covers are being done by a series of artists - a month's worth at a time. And the series is counting down in numbering as well; it started with #51 and will reach #0. So why am I just writing about this series now when it started in May? I didn't buy it.
I've talked about how I wanted to get out of buying single issues again and that was the big factor in leaving Countdown on the shelves. I might have had a bit of weekly comic fatigue too but I don't know. That could just be an excuse. In any event, now that I am back to buying some single issues and not worrying about how I will keep them, I am catching up with Countdown. #38 just came out this week and I am buying back issues 2 at a time. At that rate, I will completely catch up with the series in 10 weeks and there will still before over half of the series that I will buy as it happens. Not bad. Oh, and the news has come out recently that Countdown in counting down to something called Final Crisis, which will be written by Grant Morrison and drawn by J.G. Jones, and that is something I won't be able to resist either.
#51 has a great wraparound cover by Andy Kubert and Tim Townsend that feature a wide variety of DC characters. Paul Dini kicks off the series by writing the first issue and the art team of Jesus Saiz and Jimmy Palmiotti works very well. The issue opens with Desaad and Darkseid talking about the approaching time when Darkseid will reshape reality; I haven't seen Darkseid scheming in quite a while so that's a good hook for me. The scene then shifts to Duela Dent, the Joker's Daughter, kidnapping a pop star being thwarted by the Red Hood (or is it Red Robin now?). Dent remarks that she isn't from this Earth and wonders where the formerly dead Jason Todd (who was the second Robin) fits into the picture. Next, we find Mary Marvel cut off from the rest of the Marvel family as well as from her powers and Trickster and Pied Piper trying to get in the good graces of the rest of the Rogues (as they had been too friendly with Flash for the rest of the Rogues' liking). Jason Todd catches up the with Duela Dent, only to see her murdered by a Monitor and he only has his life spared by the appearance of another Monitor. These Monitors seem charged with keeping the 52 Earths of the DCU separate from each other. The Monitor who saved Jason goes to the Source Wall and receives a few cryptic answers - a "Great Disaster" approaches and the possible solution to that disaster is Ray Palmer (The Atom), who disppeared after the events of Identity Crisis). Yes, it can all sound confusing but it hits on corners of the DCU that I like and the story is a great setup. I was hooked.
#50 opens with Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen tracking down Jason Todd with the help of Superman. Why? He wants to ask him about the death of Duela Dent. Mary Marvel visits Madame Xanadu and gets some cryptic advice. We see a bit more of the battle between Batman and Karate Kid that took place in "The Lightning Saga" (the JLA-JSA crossover). We get more of the rogue Rogues trying to come back to the fold and Jimmy Olsen talks to the Joker, learning the Dent was not his daughter. A solid issue that continues the mysteries and gives us some good characterization. Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray had the main writing duties on the issue and J. Calafiore and Mark McKenna are the art team. Oh, and the Andy Kubert cover of the Joker is a great one.
Another Kubert cover graces #49, featuring a scene that suggests events that are referred to within...more of a metaphorical image, I guess. Tony Bedard takes over writing duties and the art is handled by Carlos Magno and Jay Leisten, names I've never heard but they do a nice job. Jimmy Olsen displays some unexpected abilities in Arkham Asylum and avoids being eaten by Killer Croc. The Monitors argue amongst themselves and we learn that Jason Todd, Kyle Rayner (a Green Lantern), and Donna Troy (originally known as Wonder Girl) are "cosmic mistakes." Karate Kid and Red Arrow trade insults. Trickster and Pied Piper do a dirty deed to get back into the Rogues with doublecrosses aplenty. And Mary Marvel comes face to face with Black Adam. Dan Jurgens also starts a backup feature on the "History of the Multiverse." Again, a good solid DCU comic.
Finally, I read #48. It picks up with Mary Marvel (momentarily, at least) avoiding being killed by Black Adam. Jimmy Olsen heads out to cover trouble and demonstrates another unexpected ability. Jason Todd catches up with Donna Troy and talks to her about living on borrowed time. Karate Kid has a conversation with addled Legion of Super-heroes teammate Star Boy (now a member of the JSA). The New God known as Lightray falls from the sky and Superman is unable to discover why...and then discovers that Lightray is dead. Writer Adam Beechen keeps up the quality and the art team of David Lopez and Don Hillsman (with Alvaro Lopez) is another solid one, as is the Andy Kubert cover. Mysteries abound and I plan to keep reading...look for a post on #47 and #46 later in the week!