|Comic trade paperback, 165 pages|
Published 2006 (contents: 2006)
Borrowed from the library
Read June 2014
Writers: Bill Willingham, Dave Gibbons, Greg Rucka, Gail SimonePencillers: Justiniano, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Jesus Saiz, Dale Eaglesham, Phil Jimenez
Inkers: Walden Wong, Wayne Faucher, Marc Campos, Oclair Albert, Michael Bair, Jesus Saiz, Art Thibert, Drew Geraci, Andy Lanning
Colorists: Chris Chuckry, Nathan Eyring, John Kalisz, Rob Schwager, Guy Major, Jeromy Cox
Letterers: Pat Brosseau, Jared K. Fletcher, Rob Leigh
This is a weird book, and by itself, it doesn't really work. It has a followup to each of the Countdown to Infinite Crisis miniseries (Day of Vengeance, Rann-Thanagar War, The OMAC Project, and Villains United), showing what its characters were doing during Infinite Crisis itself. These could have been tacked on to the ends of each Countdown trade, or even better, included in Infinite Crisis itself as they comprise somewhat important parts of its story, showing how the Spectre is brought under control, how the space heroes fight the rift in the Polaris Galaxy, and most importantly, what the heck was going on with that worldwide prison break. By themselves, they're just kinda weird little stories that don't mean anything. Or rather, parts of stories.
In "The Ninth Age of Magic," a group of over thirty magic users draws the Seven Deadly Sins out of Gotham after the explosion of the Rock of Eternity. It's pretty perfunctory: one by one a member of Shadowpact finds and confronts a Sin. Its real interest is in the gaps it plugs, not in it as a story. "Hands of Fate" has a similar problem: adding all the heroes recruited by Wonder Girl to the already-overcrowded space hero group doesn't make these people more interesting. Alan Scott's daughter Jade, who hadn't even been in the story before, is killed off for some reason.
Thankfully, the last two stories are the best. "The Lazarus Protocol" is the least "essential" to Infinite Crisis: Sasha Bordeaux leads a group to finally defeat Brother Eye after it crashes to Earth, but reading Infinite Crisis, you would just assume it was destroyed in the crash itself. But it brings Sasha's story (begun in The OMAC Project) to a nice conclusion, as she learns how to be her own person-- and a hero-- outside the confines of Checkmate, making it the best and most pointful story in the book.
Finally, there's "A Hero Dies But One": the Secret Six try to find their place in the world and Oracle and the Martian Manhunter draw together every hero they can to combat the global prison break. It's not a hugely complicated story, but it is fun. Simone, as always, has a talent for groups and a talent for humor.