Countdown Part 1
July 6, 2009
Countdown is akin to the words of Shakespeare... specifically, this line: "Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
(Linkara is seated on his futon, covered in all of the issues of "Countdown to Final Crisis")
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the... (voice trails off as he looks at all the comics on his person) Geez, look at all of this! Fifty-one issues?! Clearly, I can't recap every one of them! We'd be here for a year! Hell, I can't even do two at a time! Well, in that case, we'd better get started. I'm going to go through 25 issues, summarized as best as I can, but I can sum it up in three words: (leans forward angrily) THESE COMICS SUCK!!!
(The theme song rolls, followed by the title card for this episode, set to "Countdown To Insanity" by H-Blockx; cut to a montage of shots of covers of the series)
Linkara (v/o): There's also no point in going over the covers. Some of them suck, some of them are okay, some of them are generic, and some of them evoke very disturbing mental imagery. So this whole thing starts with Darkseid looking over a huge collection of action figures and statues of DC heroes.
Linkara: You just know that every day, after tending to the slave pits of Apocalypse, he goes back into his room to play with them.
Linkara (v/o): The centerpiece that drives the rest of the plot is the murder of former Teen Titan, Duela Dent, AKA Harley Quinn. People grew worried about all of this as soon as we saw her, since, well, the Titans have been going through a pretty rough couple of years. Since they've had so many members, lots of them have gotten killed off in recent times. So adding another one to the body count to start off their big weekly event just comes off like DC's giving the middle finger to its fans.
Linkara: A feeling that will be repeated throughout the rest of the series.
Linkara (v/o): Witnessing the murder is Jason Todd. By the way, get a look at this: Duela is being pursued by a Monitor, who is using an energy weapon, mind you, but then, in this panel, Jason Todd hears regular gunshots. That makes sense, right? He leaps in and tackles the Monitor, proclaiming...
Todd: I'm not too tolerant of gun-wielding crazies myself.
Linkara: Which is why you were using guns when you first came back to life! Wait, what?
Linkara: That was a bit delayed, wasn't it?
(YOU MADE A GOOD POINT.)
Linkara (v/o): Apparently, the murderous Monitor is out to kill off anyone who doesn't belong in this Earth, since apparently, it's bad for people to cross over into other universes. Why? Never explained! However, this other Monitor is pissed off that this other Monitor is... Oh, hell, I'll just tell you their names. (the names pop up as Linkara says them) The Monitor who's killing people is named Solomon, and the other who we'll be following is named Bob.
Linkara: Yeah, we could've gone for something cool like Lonon or something badass like Galator, but hey, Bob works, too.
Linkara (v/o): So Bob goes to visit the Source Wall, a dividing barrier on the edge of the known universe that I guess is sentient because it can answer questions. Bob asks why there's a rising tension in the multiverse, and it explains that a "Great Disaster" is coming and that the way to prevent it is with Ray Palmer.
Linkara: And before you ask, no, what exactly he's supposed to do is never really explained, nor does it actually pay off. So, what could have been dramatic and cool ends up being... (raises index finger in the air)
Linkara (v/o): Jason Todd and Donna Troy meet up in Washington, D.C., during the events of "Amazons Attack". Yes, remember when Donna vanished in the middle of all that? This is what she was doing instead. I really can't decide which of the two is the worst place to be. They compare notes about the death of Duela and how a Monitor was responsible. Donna counters that the Monitor was originally a force for good, and him acting evil doesn't make any sense.
Linkara: Damn it, stop pointing out the plot holes! That's my job!
Linkara (v/o): The Monitors observe this and send an agent of theirs off to kill them, Forerunner. Forerunner was supposed to be the breakout new character of "Countdown", but instead, she just had some dull warrior culture shtick that had completely contradictory lessons if you actually tried to read them. Bottom line: much like everything else here, Forerunner was pointless. But the best part of all this is that Donna grabs a random machine gun and just opens fire on her! Donna Troy is Rambo!
(Audio from First Blood is heard over a panel of Donna)
Rambo (v/o): Back there I could fly a gunship, I could drive a tank, I was in charge of million-dollar equipment. Back here I can't even hold a job PARKING CARS!
Linkara (v/o): To make a long and boring-ass story short, Bob the Monitor shows up and recruits the two heroes to go help him find Ray Palmer. Along the way, they also briefly pick up Ryan Choi, Ray Palmer's successor as the Atom. But then they lose him and pick up Kyle Rayner. Why?
Linkara: Well, according to the editor who regularly gave out interviews about "Countdown", they wanted to introduce a love triangle between Donna, Kyle, and Jason. (nods, then erupts into anger) F–
(Cut to a black screen with the message on it reading: "Inaudible Profanity. Please stand by." Pleasant music plays during this. Cut back to Linkara at the end of his tirade and shaking his magic gun around)
Linkara: –AND ROLL OVER THEIR FETID CARCASSES FOR THAT IDIOTIC IDEA!!! (pauses, then abruptly calms down) So, back to our story.
Linkara (v/o): This is where the storyline really starts to get frustrating, because it's a neverending barrage of going into different parallel universes and getting this screen...
(A shot of Toad from Super Mario Bros. is shown, saying, "Thank you, Monitor! But Ray Palmer is in another castle!" The game over music from the game plays all the while)
Linkara (v/o): Subsequently, the group gets joined by a good-guy version of the Joker named the Jokester. This guy is Duela Dent's father, not that that makes any bit of difference, since he dies a few issues later.
Linkara: This series excels at only one thing: killing! It's all it knows how to do, really. That, and suck.
Linkara (v/o): On yet another Earth where they fail to find Ray Palmer, they find a fairly nice universe, where their counterparts actually turned out pretty well. It's not a perfect Earth, but it's not horrible. By the way, this also segues into another "Countdown" miniseries called "The Search For Ray Palmer", wherein these dorks [Superwoman, Batwoman and a female version of Green Lantern] go from universe to universe and, of course, fail to find Ray Palmer. Yes, apparently this plotline was one they decided to resolve in the actual story. How nice of them to publish a completely pointless miniseries. So, on yet another Earth, Solomon finally catches up with them and tries to kill them. But then Monarch shows up with Forerunner. Oh, did I forget to mention that? Yeah, Monarch's been going around recruiting people to fight the Monitors? Yeah, it's just padding until his final scenes later in the series. And Forerunner? Oh, she goes off into her own pointless miniseries.
Linkara: Yeah, expect to hear the words (makes "air quotes") "pointless miniseries" a lot in this.
Linkara (v/o): So, Jokester dies, and Jason Todd, sick of all the bullcrap, finally decides to just start killing things. He knifes a monster here or there, then grabs onto Bob's gun and shoots Donna.
Linkara: Yes, I can see just how intolerant he is of gun-wielding crazies.
Linkara (v/o): Meanwhile, Mary Marvel is dispatched from the hospital due to events in other comics, but finds that she can't use her magic word to become her superhero identity. She visits a couple of characters to try to find guidance, but finds nothing but a warning not to travel to Gotham. And since Mary is an idiot in this series, she goes to Gotham and is confronted by antihero Black Adam. Black Adam's had a rough year. He recovered the country he ruled thousands of years ago, killed its oppressive government, formed a family, and then they all got killed! When Mary explains her plight to him, Black Adam gives his powers over to her. And this gives her a darker, more eeeeevil attitude.
Linkara: I would just like to note that Black Adam gains his powers from the Egyptian pantheon, (holds up index finger) further proving my theory that Ancient Egypt is inherently evil.
Linkara (v/o): I just can't believe how stupid that is! I can forgive a story where, in a moment of weakness, Mary decided that she wanted the power of a superhero, but what they're basically saying here is that evil isn't caused by people making choices; it's because the power itself makes them evil. It says that Black Adam isn't morally ambiguous because he murders to accomplish his goals of freedom for his people, but he's downright evil because of his eeeeeevil powers! They're in fact ruining two characters at the same time with this nonsense! So anyway, Mary travels through Gotham and stumbles upon a ceremony where a demon is accidentally summoned. This demon is, as he describes himself...
Demon: Pharyngula, the harvester of stillborn souls.
Linkara (v/o): And then he tells her...
Pharyngula: I'm going to devour your flesh and suck the digested waste from your intestines.
Linkara (v/o): Yes, that's right, it's a dead baby monster that eats poop.
Linkara: Let's add this to the reason why kids don't read comics anymore: THE KIDS ARE ACTING MORE MATURE THAN THE WRITERS!!!
Linkara (v/o): To try to understand her new powers, Mary visits a few new magicians of the DC Universe, though spends a couple of issues with Zatanna. Zatanna, afraid of how ruthless she's getting in combat, tries to mentor the girl. However, it becomes quite evident is Mary is craving the power that magic seems to provide her.
(The next panel shows her holding a staff and smiling creepily, with her eyes rolled up)
Linakra (v/o): This leads to... um... this panel...
Linkara: Do I even want to know what she's gonna do with that staff?
Linkara (v/o): Zatanna expels her without even going to check on her afterwards or detecting anything wrong with her behavior. We also learn that the supervillain Eclipso is subtly goading her on. This would have made a perfectly reasonable explanation for her turn to evil, but as we'll soon see, that excuse is thrown out by her later actions. Eclipos then takes her on as her apprentice directly. When Mary turns some guards into stone, Eclipso asks her how it felt.
Mary: Pretty good, actually.
Eclipso: I'm glad to hear that. It means you're on the right path.
(Cut to a clip of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi)
Emperor Palpatine: (to Luke Skywalker) Use your aggressive feelings, boy. Let the hate flow through you.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Over to Trickster and Pied Piper, who join up with the other members of Flash's rogues gallery. Pied Piper wants to bring them down from the inside, but sadly, his efforts are thwarted when he participates in the murder of Bart Allen, then the Flash. Not only does that aforementioned murder take place in a book outside of "Countdown", but that's ANOTHER Teen Titan who got slaughtered!
Linkara: (miserably) Thanks again for killing off another member of my favorite team, DC. It really makes me want to keep reading your books.
Linkara (v/o): They even have an entire issue devoted to his funeral! That's right, an entire issue devoted to the funeral of a character who died in another book! That is how creatively bankrupt this series is! Anyway, Piper and Trickster get taken in by some of the Suicide Squad, a group of criminals recruited by the government for special assignments. In this case, it's been decided that the American government is sick of all the supervillains plaguing the world, and they're just going to send them off to another planet to fend for themselves. This leads to another crappy miniseries called "Salvation Run". Anyway, the point of all this is that Piper and Trickster get tethered together with hi-tech handcuffs. And of course, no one apparently told the artists what the handcuffs were supposed to look like, so, from issue to issue, the cuffs shapeshift. Even better, when they fall out of a plane in one issue, it's evening, and the jet looks really hi-tech. In the beginning of the next issue, it's a clear, blue sky afternoon, and the jet is suddenly a standard passenger jet.
Linkara: Maybe that's why all of this sucks: no one was paying attention to what they were doing!
Linakra (v/o): Thus begins our running plot, where the two attempt to evade capture. Everywhere they go, the Suicide Squad is on their heels. Eventually, through one stupid encounter after another, they find themselves at the wedding of Black Canary and Green Arrow. Trickster makes some rather interesting remarks about the Pied Piper's sexual preferences.
Trickster: I realize you people can't miss a wedding or a party, but this is insanely stupid.
Linkara: Say, did you know that the Trickster is homophobic?
Linkara (v/o): Well, now that we've established that, I'm sure they'll actually do something with it. I mean, how many scenes can they possibly have about him being homophobic–
(Editor's note: "5,260 Scenes")
Linkara (v/o): OH, GO TO HELL!! In the meantime, Jimmy Olsen's investigating Duela Dent's murder. However, he suddenly realizes that he's gaining knowledge that he never had before, like the secret identities of certain superheroes, including Superman. In fact, to end one issues, he dramatically rips off Clark's shirt to reveal the Superman costume!
Linkara: (excitedly) Wow! What a cool moment that alters the relationship between these characters who have been friends for decades! What happens next?!
(Editor's note: "Continued in the Superman books.")
Linkara: (aggravated) ERGH! It's like "Countdown" is playing "keep away" with us! (leaning offscreen and pretending to talk to a dog) Say, you want this cool story idea? Huh, huh? You want this cool story idea? WELL, SCREW YOU, YOU CAN'T HAVE IT!!
Linkara (v/o): In addition, any time his life is threatened, he suddenly develops superpowers that enable him to escape destruction. His investigation into Duela Dent's death gets sidetracked, however, when a new murder mystery pops up: someone or something is killing off the New Gods! And you'd think, you'd really think that a mystery like that, killing off Jack freakin' Kirby's creations would at least be something told in the narrative of "Countdown" itself.
(Cut to a closeup of a separate comic series called "The Death of the New Gods")
Linkara (v/o): Well, you'd be wrong, since the identity of the killer is in fact revealed in a miniseries called "Death of the New Gods"!
Linkara: Why even HAVE this series if nothing's gonna actually HAPPEN IN IT?!?!
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, with his newfound powers, Jimmy Olsen decides to become the superhero "Mr. Action"! It's as utterly stupid as it sounds. Forager, a character related to the New Gods, decides to head to Earth to investigate why the New Gods are being murdered. Jimmy Olsen spends another ten or twelve issues trying to investigate his powers, but it ends up wasting our time since we get the same answer each time: no one knows what's up with his powers. How sad is it that I can completely summarize that plotline into a paragraph that lasts thirty seconds, at best? Forager arrives on Earth and picks up Jimmy Olsen before he can get his pants on, purportedly to talk.
Linkara: (feeling hesitant) Yeah, that's it, just... talk. With his pants off. While kidnapping him from his room. And crashing through the window. (becomes nervous) Just... talk...
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, she says she wants him because he's had more contact with the New Gods than any other human.
Linkara: (incredulously) So? What does that have to do with anything? What, is there a contest or something? "Meet this many New Gods and you're invited along on a murder investigation"?!
Linkara (v/o): After Jimmy accepts her offer, she then lets her hands glow and apparently blows up the room.
Linkara: Yay! They're dead! Two less characters I have to talk about!
Linkara (v/o): But wait! Don't have enough plot yet? Holly Robinson, a supporting character from "Catwoman", arrives in Metropolis...
(Editor's note: "Brunette")
Linkara (v/o): ...due to events in "Catwoman". Again, no editorial boxes to tell us that. She's given refuge...
(Editor's note: "Boom! Now she's Blonde!")
Linkara (v/o): ...in the Athenian Women's Shelter by supposedly Athena herself.
Linkara: Of course, anyone who has watched my "Amazons Attack" review, though, know that it's actually Granny Goodness in disguise! (a dramatic sting is heard) AND SHE'S TRYING TO... (another dramatic sting) Um, it's really not clear.
Linkara (v/o): The implication is that Granny Goodness, one of Darkseid's generals, is trying to create a new batch of Female Furies, using women from Earth. And when you consider that the New Gods all have supernatural abilities and these women do not, that pretty much shows how stupid that idea is. However...
(Editor's note: "Bang! Now she's a redhead!")
Linkara (v/o): ...Holly does meet up with Harley Quinn. Eventually, the two of them realize that all is not as it appears, as they're forced into gladiatorial combat and brought out to what is supposedly Themyscira. But of course, we have to spend at least fifteen issues just kind of talking about it first. When on the island, they're put through some grueling exercises to test them or some bullcrap like that.
Holly: My God. It's like a prison!
Linkara: (clutching the side of his head) Yes, a prison. A prison for my soul!
Linkara (v/o): Oh, and while all of that is going on, during the first few issues, we see these random scenes featuring Karate Kid fighting Batman, talking to Starman, talking to Red Arrow, and eventually being told that he can't leave the present. Confused yet? Well, you should be! You see, all of this is a reference to a JLA/JSA crossover that was going on at the same time. Oh, but DC doesn't bother to tell us that. Instead, we're just supposed to assume we know who the hell this is and what's going on. After eleven issues into the series, this plot finally gets going! Apparently, Karate Kid is infected with some kind of disease and he can't go back to the future.
Linkara: Wow, did I just mix two '80s movies together?
Linkara (v/o): Triplicate Girl goes back to help him. Why? Because the plot said so! So begins them traveling around, trying to find a cure for his disease.
Linkara: Wait a second, I just realized something.
Linkara (v/o): These two are running around looking for a cure. Bob's group is running around looking for Ray Palmer. Jimmy Olsen and Forager are running around looking for the New God killer. Trickster and Piper are running around looking for a way out of their handcuffs.
Linkara: They should have just called this series "Running Around Looking For Crap"!
Linkara (v/o): Eventually, the two meet up with a guy named Buddy Blank and his grandson, hoping that their supercomputer Brother Eye can help cure Karate Kid of his illness. Brother Eye is apparently also in on this Great Disaster thing, even though it never actually comes to pass in the main DC Earth, but I'm getting ahead of myself. And yeah, for those who are about to leave comments, I could get into the backstory for Buddy Blank and Brother Eye, but when it comes to "Countdown", I DON'T GIVE A RAT'S ASS! A pointless fight scene erupts with Brother Eye before it's unceremoniously ended a few issues later. The team travels to the ruins of Bludhaven, a city in the DC Universe that– OH, WHO THE HELL CARES AT THIS POINT?! And meanwhile, Darkseid continues to play with his action figures. Collect the whole set!
Linkara: So, did you get all that? And that's not even touching on all the absolutely stupid moments of this series! We'd be here ALL DAY if I tried to give every detail like I do in my regular reviews! This series sucks! It's slow, it's stupid, and it's not over yet! All right, so then– (suddenly, the lights go out, plunging the room into darkness) Who turned out the lights?! Oh, sweet! I don't have to keep reviewing!
(Smiling, Linkara leaves the room, as someone else who looks like Linkara, albeit with robotic hands, comes in, looking puzzled. Dramatic music plays)
Second Linkara: (robotic voice) That was not the reaction I had intended.
(TO BE CONTINUED)
I would SO watch a movie where the Karate Kid Used the Delorean. Extra points if Transformers and the Ghostbusters were involved.