Countdown to Final Crisis: Fourteen

countdown 14I’m not entirely shut off to the idea of Countdown somehow coming around and redeeming itself. Sure, it’s highly improbable, but the possibility exists, and I certainly wouldn’t mind having this all turn into a quality series with a big dramatic finish to lead us into DC’s big Final Crisis event. It’s not likely, but it sure would be nice.

This issue, therefore, let me say, isn’t bad. It’s actually kind of good. There’s one glaring mistake in the coloring department, but, other than that, it’s an exciting, tense issue. So let’s talk about what made it so, and let’s see if we can’t get a consensus from the peanut gallery (that includes you – – thanks for reading!).

The issue begins at the Multiversal Nexus, where we last saw Superman-Prime beating up Solomon the Monitor, before Forerunner showed up. This issue, Solomon tells Superman-Prime that his perfect Earth is, in actuality, Earth-51, where Monarch has just started his war against the Monitors. Superman-Prime flips out, yells, “They’re ruining it!” and flies off in a huff. Forerunner tells Solomon that she’s there to kill him. She should really start talking in the Monitor’s language and use stupid words like “negate” instead of “kill.” Oh well. Hit the jump.

Down on Earth-51, Donna Troy (the one from our Earth) switches outfits with the Donna Troy she beat up last week, and heads back to that Donna’s ruler (Queen Belthara, the insect thing that looks stupid and was originally encountered in the Nano-Verse but is now full-sized and hanging out on Earth-51). Donna snaps her neck (or gently sets her onto the ground while holding her by the neck – – there’s no crack sound effect), and the remaining insect army pledges their allegiance to her.

Elsewhere on Earth-51, Batman equips Jason Todd with a new costume, so we finally see Jason decked out as Red Robin. They head to the battlefield and kick some ass. They’re pretty ruthless, too. Batman shoves some Kryptonite into some bitch’s mouth, and Jason rips some Superwoman’s eyeballs out. Pity we don’t know who any of these characters are that are getting killed with such willy-nilly-ness. Then, there’s a big coloring mistake as they talk to Earth-51’s Monitor. Notice how, in the fourth panel, Batman says something about how the Monitor doesn’t know him very well, since he obviously has a contingency plan for battling the incoming enemy threat. Then, in the very next panel, Batman says, “The Monitor might be right.” So either Batman’s turned into Gollum, or that second Batman should be colored like Red Robin. Good ol’ Countdown. Just when I was starting to like you.

Anyway, then Donna shows up with the insect army to fight Monarch’s army and save the day. Monarch, from his flag ship, tells a lackey that he’s gonna go down and blow everybody up (why didn’t he do that in the first place?). Lackey says, “Oh, but snaps, there’s something coming in fast, targeting you!” and Monarch’s all, “What the heck is you talkin’ ’bout, my brother?” Then Superman-Prime crashes in and is all, “Somebody’s got some ‘splainin’ to do!”

Yeah, I think they’re gonna fight.

While I liked this issue, there’s a big problem with it. Everything on Earth-51 is drawn by Pete Woods, the guy who drew Amazons Attack. It’s really good stuff. Everything with Superman-Prime, though, is drawn by Tom Derenick, some guy I’ve never heard of until his work on Countdown (he did issues 24 and 23, both involving 40 year-old Supervirgin-Prime), and that stuff is very poor, in my opinion. I don’t know, maybe some people like giant splash pages of an up-close old guy screaming with his mouth open wide enough to fit your whole head in there. Not me, though!

So, even though the story is getting more clean, we’re still stuck with the characteristically inconsistent art that has plagued this stupid series from the start.

Oh, and one more thing before we go. Remember how Countdown used to focus a little on every single story each issue, so we never really got into any substance? I guess they realized that was a stupid story-telling practice, but they overcompensated. We haven’t seen Piper or Trickster’s corpse in five weeks. We haven’t seen more than a page for any other story, really, in about four or five weeks. Whatever happened with Karate Kid or Jimmy Olsen or Mary Marvel or Holly Robinson? Don’t get me wrong; I don’t give a fuck. It’d just be nice to know that the people in charge know what they’re doing. Fat chance at that!