Countdown: Forty-Two

countdown 42I thought I was done with this damn series. The other night, though, I got drunk and realized that I missed blogging about how much Countdown sucks after tying one on, so I asked Jesus Christ Venereal Disease to let me take the reins once again. In a simple twist of fate, it turns out that he’s cutting back on comics anyway, so, things worked out in my favor, after all. Well, kind of. On the plus side, I get to blog about Countdown again. On the negative side, I get to blog about Countdown again. So, love me or hate me, I’m back in the game, and I’m not going to stop until this countdown has reached number damn zero. So, let’s begin again, shall we?

The cover depicts Black Mary and the Riddler drowning in a pool of clay, produced by, you guessed it, Clayface. In the issue, we get exactly two pages of Clayface, though, so it doesn’t really have any sort of impact on the series. Mary and the Riddler meet up in Gotham, where recently reformed Nigma is trying to solve the same case of theft that Mary is, so they team up, find Clayface, dispatch of him, and that’s that. Riddler suggests she seek out a mentor to help her with her newfound magic powers. This is just another boring, uninspired, throw-away subplot to show us that Mary has new powers, yet again, and that she doesn’t really know how to control them entirely, just yet. More of the same. In some cases, more of the same would be nice, but, since this “same” is so incredibly useless, well, more of it seems unnecessary.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, Pied Piper and the Trickster are being transported via aeroplane to some destination, unknown. They bust free at the end and face a long free-fall ahead of them. That’s all. Yep. Next week, we’re going to have the comic book adaptation of the Satanic Verses, apparently. These two knuckleheads are going nowhere. It would be nice to at least know why they’re being kidnapped, or by whom, etc. Instead, we’re given nothing. It’s probably bigger than, “Oh, they killed Flash, so let’s round ’em up.” Maybe it is that simple, who knows? Neither option would surprise me.

Over in Metropolis, Holly Robinson, former Catwoman from OYL, is hanging out in the Athena Women’s Center with Harley Quinn, in one of the boringest tit-fests I’ve ever read. That only lasts for two pages, thankfully. Speaking of subplots that only last a page, Batman and Karate Kid say good-bye, and Lois makes fun of Jimmy’s drawrings of himself as a superhero. I don’t know if these can even be called subplots, because there isn’t really an actual main plotline, is there? At least 52 had the Booster/Rip Hunter “time is broken” plotline that they hitched everything else to. What’s this series have?

Ray Palmer, apparently. One of the Monitors, who saw the Source Wall in issue 51, goes with Jason Todd and Donna Troy and Ryan Choi, the all-new Atom, to some sub-atomic realm to find good old Ray. It sort of resembles a main plot, since it seems to be the only storyline with any possible long-term ramifications, but, yet again, it’s only given a couple of pages to develop. And, it didn’t even get brought up until last week, when they were already deep into the conversation about hunting Palmer down. Kind of lame.

After ten issues or so, I think that the main problem is that they’re still spreading the story way too thin each week. Remember how 52 set the stage early on, hopping from one story to another a good five times an issue? Well, remember how they eventually settled down and slowed the pace down so that we would get an entire issue devoted to Black Adam or Steel, with maybe a small aside focusing on a plot-point from one of the other ongoing stories? That was cool. If you place this side-by-side with 52, it’s failing to measure up. This week would’ve been the release of 52 Week 10, which, let’s face it, was already starting to be awesome. That issue closed, if you recall, with the revelation that Doc Magnus found an already-hatched cocoon in Doc Sivana’s empty laboratory, with the line, “Now, what do you suppose hatched out of here?” ending the week. Already, they had established the groundwork for the series’ biggest villain, Mr. Mind.

We don’t get that here. Not yet, at least. They haven’t given us a single character or storyline so far to actually get behind, to latch onto, to care about or to root for. We’ve been given nothing.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we start seeing a sharp decline in sales for this clunker. It’s just plain awful storytelling, as of this point. If they fix everything, hell, I’ll be the first to flip-flop and start pouring on heaps of praise.

Here’s hoping.