My Review of Countdown to Final Crisis

18 Jun

I have been a fan of DC Comics now for twenty-five years.  In that time, I have seen some great “event” comics, like Crisis on Infinite Earths and Blackest Night.  I have seen some decent ones too, like Armaggedon 2001 and Underworld Unleashed.  And then there were the terrible ones, like Genesis and Final Crisis.  Now, Final Crisis is one of those books people either seem to love or hate and since day one, I have always fallen in the latter category.  Because of this, a year and a half ago, I decided to buy The Death of the New Gods.  It was a book many talked down but this usually revolved around the differences between it and Final Crisis. When I finished The Death of the New Gods, I was shocked.  I loved it!  It was a satisfying conclusion to Kirby’s masterpiece for me.  And if it was better than people said, what of that other event that was supposed to feed into Final Crisis but didn’t mesh right?  What of Countdown to Final Crisis? 

This had plagued me since it came out.  When it came out, I had not read 52 and the thought of a weekly comic did not appeal to me because I could only get to a comic shop about once a month.  Eventually, I bought and fell in love with 52 through trades.  I thought of buying Countdown the same way, but the fourth trade has stayed consistently expensive on Amazon.  But then came Hero’s Con, in Charlotte and I had the chance to buy all 51 issues, Countdown to Adventure, the Lord Havok and the Extremists tie-in, and three of the Search for Ray Palmer tie-ins all for the low price of $17.  For those who don’t read comics, that is cheap, believe me.  At original cover price costs, the main series alone would have been around $150.  So it was a steal and I had to know if Countdown was better than everyone said, like The Death of the New Gods was. 

The short answer is YES, Countdown is much better than its reputation would lead you to believe.  Is it a great story, like 52 was?  Definitely not.  But it is a decent story.  After reading it for a week, I can honestly say, the entirety of the event rates around a 6 on a 10 point scale. 

There are definite problems that have been mentioned by others.  If you did not read all of the tie-ins (or at least all of the ones I read), I could see where the story would be very haphazard.  Events start to happen in Countdown but then pick up in Death of the New Gods, only to reflow back into Countdown later.  And in reading Lord Havok based on its Countdown week number on the bottom of the comic was a waste of time, as most of its story occurred during a time around issue 26 of the main series. 

Another major problem (depending on your point of view) was the resolution of some of the stories.  For example, Mary Marvel ends up bad at the end of the series, having exorcised her demons midway through.  I can deal with this though because sometimes the allure of power is too great.  Likewise, some complain of the death of Una and having read her death this morning before work, I could agree it definitely was not great.  Having risked her all for thirty plus issues, she gets eaten by evolved rats and ignored by her fellow heroes.  Even the man she died saving just sort of watched her be devoured.  But in story, there were a couple of reasons for these events.  She left her fellow heroes to try and help the other man find his family.  Meanwhile, he gave up on her, in an attempt to keep his grandson safe.  So I can accept it, even though it wasn’t a great conclusion to her story arc.  And the less said about how Pied Piper exists solely for comments about him being homosexual (both pro and con comments), the better.

Meanwhile, there was much that was entertaining.  The search for Ray Palmer did allow a window into several worlds on the new multiverse created during 52.  The stakes were high throughout the story and it was interesting seeing the birth of Kamandi, a classic Kirby concept.  The idea of a group to “monitor the Monitors” had a great deal of potential.  Bart’s funeral was one of the better funerals in comics.  The ongoing chess game between Darkseid and Solomon was an interesting visual and storytelling motif.  And though it was a tie-in, Countdown to Adventure’s main storyline was great.  Parts of its Forerunner story was ok. 

After a week of reading little other than it, I can honestly say I am glad to have finished it.  I cannot say that Countdown was a great story.   It really had little lasting impact, as most of the story was retconned by Final Crisis or as I like to call it “the real Great Disaster.”  Some of the characters were not handled with the respect they probably deserved.  But it is a fun story for the most part with several interesting parts.  If you can find it cheap, I recommend you give it a shot.  If nothing else, seeing Darkseid killed by his son Orion is much more satisfying to me than seeing Superman whistle a song to save the world.  Several years later and I am still trying to make peace with that one. 

 

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