I missed reviewing last week’s issue of “Countdown,” so I’m going to take a quick look at last week’s and this week’s.
Only one of these characters appears in this issue.
In last week’s Countdown #45, we catch up with Donna Troy, who’s trying to fight off the alien Forerunner in Washington, D.C. Basically, Forerunner is tougher’n spit. Donna’s got powers like Wonder Woman and fairly recently spent some time as one of the Titans of myth, but she has serious trouble with Forerunner. But in the end, she and Jason Todd are saved by one of the transdimensional Monitors. Forerunner, distressed that the Monitors consider her nothing more than an untrustworthy weapon, resolves to sever her links to them and stay on Earth.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Olsen is still trying to discover why he’s starting to manifest superpowers, and Holly Robinson, who took over for Selina Kyle for a while as Catwoman, meets up with someone who offers her charity and shelter. And a few timelost members of the Legion of Super-Heroes sit around the Justice League’s satellite HQ and verbally spar with the JSA’s Dr. Mid-Nite.
Much of this issue is fairly pointless, but the big fight between Donna and Forerunner is a nice fat dose of happy, so I’ll give it a thumbs-up.
Beware! The Return of… a villain no one ever liked.
And in this week’s Countdown #44 (remember, they’re numbering this entire series in reverse), Forerunner meets up with Monarch, who is probably DC’s biggest archvillain failure. Way back when, in a mini-series called “Armageddon 2001,” Monarch was going to be the ultimate Big Bad — a planetary conqueror from the future who was secretly a superhero gone bad. But which hero was he? There was a big build-up, but people figured out pretty early that he was going to be Captain Atom. DC didn’t want their big suprise spoiled so easily, so they rewrote the end to make him… Hawk. As in the old ’60s duo Hawk and Dove. This was almost impossibly lame. Anyway, DC has spent years trying to somehow make this make sense, including everything from declaring that Hawk was possessed by an evil sorcerer to creating a new Monarch who really was Captain Atom — they’re apparently going with the Captain Atom angle for Countdown. It doesn’t keep him from being lame, but he somehow talks Forerunner into joining forces with him, at least temporarily.
Elsewhere, Holly Robinson finds herself taken in by either the goddess Athena or a bunch of Amazons. The story isn’t real clear on that point. Jimmy Olsen tries to purposely put himself in danger to see if he activates any more powers, and this time, he temporarily acquires the ability to shoot sharp spines out of his body. So far, all of his powers match up with powers he had during the old Silver Age series “Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen,” which is one of the world’s primary sources for pure Whacko-Weirdonium.
The Piper and the Trickster are on the run from everyone after being involved in the murder of Bart Allen in the final issue of “The Flash,” and Mary Marvel finally meets up with Captain Marvel, who now has shaggy gray hair, a white costume, and is the Official Guardian of All Magic. Cap says that Mary’s changed — she’s wearing a black costume and really savagely beat the snot out of the baby-suit demon from a couple issues back. Mary gets mad and takes off.
Okay, I know DC is trying to raise warning flags about that possibility that Mary has become corrupted by Black Adam’s powers, but could I just say that Captain Marvel really comes off as an utter cobag here? First of all, Mary is his sister, and he let her sit in a coma for months, took away her powers, and refused to have anything to do with her. Then he whines about her fashion choices and complains that, when she met the horrific demon from hell wearing dead babies strapped all over him and threatening to kill her and other people, she shouldn’t have beaten it up quite so badly. Cap, dude, just because you’re the Official Guardian of All Magic, that does not give you permission to be a jerk to your sister.
Verdict: Gaaah, I dunno. I didn’t find myself completely hating it, but it sure seemed sloppy. I think we’ll call this one a thumbs-down.
Wow, I actually said those were going to be short reviews? I need to work on my “not rattling on for hours” skills…