|Comic trade paperback, 295 pages|
Published 2008 (contents: 2007)
Borrowed from the library
Read March 2015
Writers: Paul Dini, Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, Tony Bedard, Adam Beechen, Sean McKeeverPencillers: Jesus Saiz, Jim Calfiore, Carlos Magno, David Lopez, Tom Derenick, Manual Garcia, Dennis Calero
Story Consultant: Keith Giffen
Story Consultant: Keith Giffen
Inkers: Jimmy Palmiotti, Dennis Calero, Mark McKenna, Jay Leisten, Don Hillsman, Alvaro Lopez, Andre Pepoy, Jack Purcell, John Stanisci
Letterers: Travis Lanham, Pat Brosseau, Jared K. Fletcher, Rob Leigh, Phil Balsman, Ken Lopez
Colorists: Tom Chu, Rod Reis, Guy Major, Pete Pantazis
And so begins the long run to Final Crisis, with the beginning of a miniseries disowned seemingly by everyone involved. In retrospect, this had pretty much nothing at all to do with Final Crisis, or less than nothing, even. But it begins with us following a number of parallel plotlines: two of the Rogues on the run for murdering (or not murdering, it's very unclear) Bart Allen, the fourth (I think) Flash; Jason Todd and Donna Troy being recruited to scour the multiverse (recently revealed to exist, or perhaps re-exist, in 52); Holly Robinson, friend of Catwoman (and former Catwoman herself) joining the Amazons along with a reformed Harley Quinn; Jimmy Olsen investigating the deaths of the New Gods; Darkseid is playing with action figures; and Karate Kid and Una (who used to be Duo Damsel who used to be Triplicate Girl) of the Legion of Super-Heroes traveling the 21st century in search of... something.
Despite also being a weekly series of 52 issues, this is pretty different from 52 in one key way. While each issue of 52 corresponded to a week, this series has no such chronological restriction; each issue covers a short span of time, and is pretty much picked up right after in the next one. This gives Countdown to Final Crisis a certain energy that actually made it a pretty enjoyable read, as each issue is a series of crazy events that throws you right into the next issue's series of crazy events, with no time to reflect on what's going on.
Which is good, because what's going on doesn't always make a lot of sense. Countdown weaves in and out of some other comics (most notably, I think, The Lightning Saga, Amazons Attack, and the death of Bart Allen), none of which I've actually read. Sometimes you can follow it, but sometimes you can't at all-- though I gather from reading on-line that the links to The Lightning Saga with Karate Kid were incoherent even to people who'd read both. Why is Karate Kid on a quest? How did he get sick? None of these things that seem like they are important to this story are actually explained in it; I finally figured it out by reading the character description in volume two!
And then there are the incoherences within the series, like the fact that none of the writers and artists seem to be on the same page about many of the details of the Rogue plotline, where things such as their powers, appearances, and plight fluctuate between each issue collected here. And I think Jimmy Olsen does the same thing essentially three times!
But it's all so fast, the book almost gets away with it... for now. I'll admit I had fun reading this, and didn't think it was quite as bad as the world made it out to be.
Yes, that's damning with faint praise.
Next Week: More counting down in the second volume of Countdown to Final Crisis!
* The cover, and much of the Internet, claims that this book is called Countdown to Final Crisis, Volume One, but if I've learned anything from graduate school, it's how to read a title page, and this is clearly what the title page says, as cumbersome as it might be!