Comic: "Countdown to Final Crisis"
Published by: DC Comics
Written by: Paul Dini, Jimmy Palmiotti, Sean McKeever, others
Artist: Various

Reviewer: Protoclown
Posted: 5/7/2008

Plot: A bunch of second-rate characters nobody cares about go on pointless adventures that aren't interesting, mean nothing, and completely fail to spark any interest in the event they are "counting down" to.

Review: "Wretched pile of shit" is about the only way I can think of to describe this series which served as a weekly follow-up to the interesting if not always successful 52 experiment. It was supposed to set things up for this year's big "Final Crisis" event, but in the end it feels like nothing of consequence has happened, because the one major death that occurred after months of wasting the reader's time by spinning the story's wheels on nothing seems like an obvious red herring for anyone who's seen any of the promo ads for Final Crisis.

Why in the hell Paul Dini (who worked on Batman: The Animated Series and is best known for creating Harley Quinn) chose to center this series on such a boring cast is a mystery to me, but if the idea of following the non-adventures of characters such as Jimmy Olsen, Donna Troy, Ray Palmer, Jason Todd, Mary Marvel, Holly Robinson, and the Piper appeals to you, then let me introduce you to little-known characters named Batman, Superman, and yes, even Aquaman, who you may in fact find slightly more compelling.

Even when Dini does bring more interesting characters into the mix, like his very own Harley Quinn, he decides to make them as boring as possible--in Harley's case, she has stopped being a supervillain and is back to being mere Harleen Quinzel.

So much of the series just doesn't make sense, and characters act in ridiculous ways just because the script called for events A, B, and C to happen, in that order, and since by the time everything is said and done in the final issue it feels like nothing of any real consequence has happened, you have to wonder why such great pains were taken to shoehorn events that don't fit and character behavior that makes no sense into the story.

For example, Jason Todd--why was he even in this series? This is a character who was so reviled that fans back in the 80s called a pay 1-900 number to vote him killed off, and they bring him back and have him act so inconsistently every time a different writer handles him, I don't know if he's psychotic, indifferent, or just an asshole, but I don't really care either. DC obviously had no big plans for this character, so why bother including him in events like this if he's still not going to do anything?

And then there's Mary Marvel, who turns evil because she's given some of Black Adam's power, which corrupts her the more she uses it. Okay, I'm fine with that so far, but she eventually realizes what's happening and gives up the power to return back to her innocent old self. So why then when Darkseid shows her a shiny bauble and says "Here, have some power" does she say "okay!" and immediately turn evil again for no reason? It's about as hamfisted and stupid as Darth Vader's "fall" to the dark side.

On top of all this, the art ranges from mediocre to terrible, with only a few issues featuring anyone worthwhile on pencils. And the dialog is laughably bad, particularly in scenes where Darkseid and one of the Monitors are playing chess with symbolic character pieces, which inevitably leads to a long post-session soliloquy by one or both of them about how the other is playing right into their hands.

Fortunately I have faith that the Crisis itself will be worth following, as it's written by the utterly batshit crazy Grant Morrison. It would be unfair to judge that work based on this, but the idea that this series is supposed to generate any interest or excitement in the event it's supposed to lead into is like having a five-year-old with a kazoo open for the Rolling Stones.

Overall rating: Whole
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

The Moxie Nerve Food Tonic
May 7th, 2008, 12:35 PM
Proto: I am convinced that Mary Marvels entire arc was based on the fact that when Kieth Giffen created an alternate reality evil Mary Marvel in black leather for a humor book he wrote the year prior to "Countdown", it was kind of hot.

May 7th, 2008, 04:24 PM
I hope Final Crisis is the final crisis, seriously.
Last of the Time Lords
May 8th, 2008, 12:09 AM
Looking forward to Final Crisis, but I admit that Countdown has been a big waste of a year.

One of the things I liked about Infinite Crisis and 52 was that they actually let the minor characters get the spotlight for once. 52 is the only time in history I have ever actually been interested in reading about guys like Black Adam and Booster Gold.

But now they are really scraping the bottom of the superhero barrel. Donna, Holly, Jimmy and Mary are truly boring no matter what you do with them, and a lackluster story like this isn't likely to improve matters.

As for Jason Todd, all I can say is that I'm working on a machine that will transport me into a comic book just so I can kill him again myself. I say we strap him and Bucky Barnes to a torpedo and fire it into the sun.

I don't generally mind when much beloved characters who have been killed return, because while it can make for a lousy story it also appeases the many fans who miss them. Next time Jean Grey lurches back to the land of the living (maybe that really is her on that Skrull ship) I'll roll my eyes but accept it because she is an important character.

But seriously, do you think there were legions of fans clamoring for Jason Todd's triumphant return to the world of douchebaggery? What were they thinking?
May 8th, 2008, 01:12 AM
It's been a long time since I read any kind of comics, but I thing that the rare #1 issue of Lobo the Duck I found at a cheap store was more valuable than this.
Forum Virgin
May 8th, 2008, 10:23 PM
I object to the bucky statement, Ed Brubacker did a great job of bringing back Bucky and giving him a great story line.
Crazed Techno-Biologist
May 8th, 2008, 11:44 PM
Behold, the continuing decline of American comic industry. this is why foreigners manage to pack so much of their garbage into the states [yes, theres alot of good stuff in there too, but some of it is just pure garbage and you know it as well as anyone else]

also why i try to stick to webcomics and cartoons.
By Hawkings Chair!
May 9th, 2008, 11:14 AM
DC has sucked ass for years.
The only interesting stories are either on the Vertigo label or are part of the 'Elseworlds' line.
For example, Preacher. Absolute joy to read from first cover to last.
Superman: Birthrite or Red Son. The 2 best Superman stories I have EVER read.

Booster Gold? Black Adam? Jimmy Olsen? waste of ink.
Harley Quinn? Good in the animated series, other than that she is only any good when having Rule #34 applied :D
A Total Fairy
May 11th, 2008, 06:24 PM
but the idea that this series is supposed to generate any interest or excitement in the event it's supposed to lead into is like having a five-year-old with a kazoo open for the Rolling Stones.

But wouldn't hearing the kazoo playing make you want to see The Rolling Stones even more?

Maybe 'tis a clever ruse to generate anxiousness among the comic book nerds for the Final Crisis by it's sheer uneventfulness.
May 12th, 2008, 02:42 AM
I must say, reading youse guys review of comics, you guys seem to hate 95% of the comics you read.
May 12th, 2008, 07:17 AM
that's relatively close to the amount stated in sturgeon's law, though

or were you not aware that 90% of everything is crud
The Moxie Nerve Food Tonic
May 12th, 2008, 03:36 PM
I love Sturgeons law. He was one smart fella.

Even the one time he did something bad, it was great. Did you know he wrote 'Killdozer'? A story about a posessed bulldozer? And that there was a made for TV movie based on it? And that Marvel did a one shot comic adaptation of the movie?

Pure stupid gold.