Comic: "Countdown to Final Crisis"
Published by: DC Comics
Written by: Paul Dini, Jimmy Palmiotti, Sean McKeever, others
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.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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