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for Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Countdown 38

Continuing our look at COUNTDOWN #41-33:

Jimmy Olsen.

Superman's pal is another of my favorite DCU characters. So were Ralph and Sue Dibny. I'm afraid.

Since Duela Dent's killing, Jimmy has been exhibiting super-powers based on the transformations he used to go through regularly during the Silver Age of Comics. The powers only work when he or someone nearby is in mortal danger. He makes a costume and calls himself Mr. Action. That he wears the costume under his clothes on one of the hottest days of summer is typical Jimmy. The charm of young Olsen is that he can be played straight and for the hands of good writers.

Jimmy tries to join first the Teen Titans and then the Justice League, the latter after he proves to Superman that he knows Supes is Clark Kent. Neither effort succeeds because the heroes refuse to actually put Jimmy in jeopardy. Nor do standard medical tests show anything out of the ordinary with him.

John Henry Irons - Steel - probes a little deeper with a bio-feedback machine that turns Jimmy's brain waves into a 3-D image. What appears before them is the Source Wall of the New Gods and the recreated Multi-verse. Irons isn't sure if Jimmy is still human, and there's a hint that Olsen might possess the Anti-Life Equation. Jimmy is then approached by men from Cadmus Lab who, like men from the government, are there to help him.

I'm intrigued by this storyline, but I'm not getting the sense that the DC editors/writers are nearly as fond of Jimmy Olsen as I am. So, yes, I'm afraid.

Countdown 36

Mary Marvel.

DC's treatment of Mary Marvel probably stops short of actual child abuse, but what she's gone through lately could qualify her for one of those Lifetime TV movies about women in peril. She was abandoned by her family, nearly died, recovered alone in a hospital somewhere, and was kicked to the curb by brother Billy and cousin Freddy. She drifted into bad company (Black Adam) and acquired a dark and stronger version of her former power. She's been acting increasingly out of control, striking out against those who seek to help her and desperately searching for even greater power. She's a mini-skirted train wreck.

Were this not DC, I might hope for a life-affirming resolution to this nonsense. Instead, odds are Mary's Countdown woes will continue in an even darker spin-off series. In the meantime, maybe I can get Child Services to remove Mary and the entire Shazam Family from DC custody.

It's not a safe environment for them.

Countdown 33

Donna Troy and Jason Todd.

How can DC improve on a storyline starring one character who's been screwed up beyond recognition by its ever-shifting continuity craziness (Donna) and another character I actively loathe (Jason)? Just add yet another character I don't give a rat's ass about, the persistent Kyle Rayner, who seems to be a Green Lantern this week. In these issues, they are searching subatomic universes looking for Ray Palmer, accompanied by all-new Atom Ryan Choi (who I like) and Bob the Monitor (who has his uses).

This storyline got expanded play in a few issues of THE ALL-NEW ATOM and, while those issues are the weakest of that otherwise fine series, they were War and Peace next to what passes for writing in Countdown's Donna Troy/Jason Todd sequences. The new Atom was forcibly extricated from "The Search For Ray Palmer" in issue #33. He must have a better agent than the others.

The adventures of Donna and Jason continue in - better take a real deep breath - Countdown Presents The Search For Ray Palmer: Wildstorm #1. They meet a cape-load of Wildstorm heroes while accomplishing nothing, save for getting another $2.99 from readers who, against all reason, still give a crap about them by this time. Their next stop will be another one-shot set in another one of the 52 universes that make up the Multi-verse. This quest is beginning to read like the Travel Channel on crack.

The astute among you have, by now, realized that I don't care much for Countdown. The less astute among you will get one more chance to suss it out when my look at issues #41-33 concludes in the next exciting installment of this column.

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back soon with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 10/02/2007 | 10/03/2007 | 10/04/2007 >>

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Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.

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