Book of Doom: Death of the New Gods #1

Death of the New Gods 1Wow, it’s hard to believe it’s Saturday already. What’s that you say? It’s Tuesday? I’m three days late posting this week’s (or last week’s, rather) Book of Doom? Nonsense. And besides, at least I’m not weeks behind like Doom DeLuise was with his Countdown reviews.

My self-imposed, Harry Potter-inspired exile from comics continues this week, aside from the weekly Book of Doom of course. And boy, Death of the New Gods #1 did not make me regret that decision one tiny bit.

As one might have guessed from the title, this issue featured the deaths of several New Gods. Like that one guy. And that other guy. And that guy who I think was a robot so I’m not sure it really counts. And sadly, Big Barda.

Of course, I’m really only saddened by the death of Barda because she had recently joined the Birds of
Prey, of which she can obviously no longer be a part. If it wasn’t for that small matter, I wouldn’t care at all that Barda had died.. In fact, I don’t think there’s a single New God that I would be terribly disappointed to see dead. Darkseid would come back, Mr. Miracle hasn’t been relevant in ages, and Orion’s a dick. No big loss in any case, if you ask me.

Come to think of it, I’m not sure why I ever thought I’d be interested in a book called Death of the New Gods. I don’t really care about the New Gods, so why would I care about them dying? Man, this was a bad choice for the Book of Doom. Maybe Jim Doom or Doom DeLuise enjoyed it

Doom DeLuise: “I’m drunk. This was FUCKING terrible.”

Jim Doom: “I really wanted to like this book. I was thinking, “Okay, Countdown sucks, but now they’re getting to the meat of whatever the point is. This will be a series I can follow.” And Jim Starlin is pretty awesome, or at least has been pretty awesome.

And while I didn’t completely hate it, I didn’t really like it either. The disconnected overlapping multiple-perspective narration without any emotional weight reminded me of JLA Dwayne McDuffie trying to do an impression of JLA Brad Meltzer.

Maybe the problem is that Jack Kirby just gave Starlin a crappy starting point, and that no one could really make this good. And maybe Dan Didio and whoever else decided to do another Crisis, Two Years Later, gave him another bad starting point, because I know that all this talk of “Something big is coming!” sure doesn’t get me all excited and geek-tingly like it did in the months leading up to Infinite Crisis.

I spoke with Doom DeLuise about this issue earlier in the week, and I thought that Mr. Miracle was going to die, and that would be Countdown’s equivalent of the Death of The Blue Beetle. I think Ted and Scott are similarly likeable, if not similar characters. Well, I had the couple right, but the partner wrong.

It’s unfortunate that the issue seemed so weighed down by its subject matter and its apparently forced direction, because Barda’s death just didn’t carry the weight it should have (no giant-woman pun intended).

Maybe this is all leading somewhere good. The problem is, I just don’t care. Whoever designed this latest crisis may have done a great job of figuring out where it’s all going, but they apparently forgot that we need to have some incentive along the way in order to offer our readership trust that it’s going to be worth following.

Countdown has already demonstrated that’s not the case. Reading a great storyline shouldn’t be like training for a marathon. Both should have a satisfying payoff, but the buildup for a great story should be addictive, not feel like a sacrifice or necessary hard work.

I find myself dropping more and more DC titles as the months go on, because I don’t need to put down multiples of $2.99 plus tax to suffer through mundane or intellectually insulting build-up. This issue is receiving a lot of my company-wide frustrations, but it’s just another great symptom of what is wrong with the Countdown to Final Crisis.

Just go back and re-read Countdown to Infinite Crisis. That one issue did more to set the stage and build anticipation for Infinite Crisis than these months and months of backbone series and tie-ins have.

And one more thing – I’m getting a little sick of halftone patterns being used as a storytelling device denoting “Flashback.” Daredevil used it in an acceptable fashion, because it was flashing back to an earlier period in DD’s history, when the story would have looked like that in comic form. But when you’re flashing back to pre-history, in the battle of the old gods, not only is a halftone pattern inappropriate, but these flashbacks are colored just like the rest of the book with a halftone pattern lazily layered on top of it.

At least there was a decent amount of story for $3.50.”

Doom DeLuise, now 70% less drunk: “Here’s the difference between an interesting, compelling mystery and a bland, silly one: In a good mystery, even though you’re not sure who’s responsible for the things transpiring, there still exists an order to everything. Whoever is trying to figure out the mystery in the narrative generally stumbles upon various clues and suspects, etc. You have no idea why the events in a good mystery are happening the way they are, but you can tell that there’s a good reason, and, as it goes along, you start to see what that good reason is, and, thusly, who might be behind it.

In this mystery, however, as we’ve seen it develop in the pages of Countdown and now this debut issue, it just seems like a bunch of New Gods are dying at random at the hands of a mystery person or persons, with no clues to give us even the smallest hint as to who that person/persons is/are or why that person/persons is/are doing it. That’s okay at the beginning of a mystery, but not when you have one of your characters (Darkseid) walking around acting like he’s got it all figured out. If there have been any clues, I’m sure the only way I’d be able to have picked up on them would be if I were an expert on the New Gods. I’m not.

You know how most mysteries start off by having a character show up murdered, and then everybody tries to figure out who’s responsible? Well, so far we’ve got a body count in the double digits, and the only clue we’ve been given is that Darkseid has more of it figured out than that other guy. That’s no fun. Let us play along!

Maybe it would make sense if I knew who all of the dead characters are and what their powers are. Does it matter that Lightray was the first to die? Does it matter that Barda had to be killed now? I don’t know. These aren’t very compelling questions, because I don’t think the answers would satisfy a damn thing.”