Countdown to Final Crisis: Twenty-Three (OWL)

countdown 23I’d like to say that I didn’t write the blog for last week’s issue of Countdown to Final Crisis because there was a lot to digest, and I didn’t quite know of a good place to jump in for discussion, seeings as how it’s the first issue since…the first issue of this series that Paul Dini, head writer of Countdown, has written all on his own. Sadly, but predictably, that’s simply not the case. I really do have to wonder why Mr. Dini chose this issue as the only other issue he’s written so far to…write. Other than the, as you can see, awesome cover by the fantastic JG Jones, this issue is nothing more than what we’ve come to expect from CTFC: A big ol’ piece of shit. It’s almost as if he was told by the higher ups that he had to put a little work in and write an entire issue by himself, at which point, he closed his eyes and drew a number from a hat; because, in all seriousness, there’s nothing in this issue to distinguish it or make it any more important than all the other crap we’ve gone through so far. Ah, well. A digression.

There are two stories in this issue, so let’s get the smaller, more insignificant one out of the way first before we discuss the Cover Story. Somewhere out in space, Mary Marvel and Eclipso talk about how Mary Marvel beat up Darkseid or whatever last week (actually two weeks ago for you reading), until they’re interrupted by a Dominion fleet, who are then interrupted by Lord Havok’s fleet, which tears them apart ship by ship. Lord Havok, of course, is working for Monarch, and he’s flying across the universe (but, dear God, which one?) with his armada in a show of strength, ala President Theodore Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet” back in the early 1900s.

That’s not the real story here, though. The real story is that whining little Superman-Prime and his battle of “wits” with Mr. Mxyzptlk. I put that in quotes, because it’s hard to have a battle of wits when one half of the battle is Superman-Prime, dullard extraordinaire. It shows that Superman-Prime is hanging out at the Source Wall, weakening it by the day. Is that how he goes from one universe to the next? He just flies through the Source Wall? No, that would be too easy an answer. Mxyzptlk explains that it’s because Superman-Prime’s muscles are swollen with power, whatever that means. He also uses that explanation to explain how Superman-Prime, a nineteen year-old, appears to be a mid-40’s dumbass with a bad haircut.

Anyway, Superman-Prime’s been torturing him so that Mxyzptlk will give him magic powers, but then realizes that won’t work, so he stops torturing him, gets angry, and leaves. He turns back to where he left and blows up some Zatanna clone from a different universe (who had been aiding him with the torturing), just before she frees the stupid little imp, who returns to the Fifth Dimension before Superman-Prime’s blast hits.

This issue made me realize, though, why I’ve hated the way Superman-Prime’s character has been treated in recent times. It’s not his dialogue, though that can be lacking at points, no. It’s his inner monologue. Why would they let this kid have a narration? He’s a buffoon. Maybe his only saving grace through Infinite Crisis was that we didn’t fully know what was circling through his head all the time, so he seemed much more monstrous. Have you ever read a comic where the main villain is given the narrative duties? I’d have to think about that for awhile, but, either way, I’m sure that if I have, that comic probably sucked. Go read this week’s (yes, THIS week’s) issue of Green Lantern Corps if you want to see Superman-Prime in his properly evil state.

However you slice this issue, though, the fact of the matter is that nothing really significant went down, nothing was particularly memorable, and there was nothing noteworthy enough that transpired for Paul Dini to have been the one to write it. This could’ve been turned out by any number of the various hacks who have been filling in every other week. How dumbfounding.