Overview

Out for the Count: 29-28-27

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As we approach the halfway point on our Countdown to the Final Crisis many of the divergent plotlines we’ve been following all these months are finally converging and one thing is becoming more and more apparent as each week goes by. Jack Kirby’s Fourth World and his other DC creations are the major story element here. The New Gods have links to many of the other storylines including Jimmy Olsen’s ongoing troubles, Eclipso, the Amazons attack, the Great Disaster and, I suspect, many others. Note also the roles of OMAC and Kamandi of late. If I were a betting man I’d expect the Death of the New Gods to be followed by an immediate rebirth further down the line…

Time for your Spoiler Warning: Read no further if you’ve not had your DC fix this fortnight and don’t want to hear about key story elements.

Events of late…

In Countdown #29: The Challengers from Beyond encounter a group of the Justice League’s deadliest enemies on Earth-8. Jimmy Olsen bumps into some old chums in the sewers in the form of the Newsboy Legion while Piper and Trickster fail to realise how close the Salvation Run conspiracy is to them. As Mary Marvel falls further to Eclipso’s manipulation, Holly and Harley arrive on Paradise Island. Karate Kid incurs the wrath of Brother Eye as Monarch makes a pact with the Extremists. And the Jokester faces every comedian’s greatest nightmare… dying on center stage.

In Countdown #28: Jimmy Olsen is deputised by the new Forager in the hunt for the New Gods’ murderer. Pied Piper and the Trickster play hide and seek with the Suicide Squad. Karate Kid’s quest leads him to Bludhaven and an ominous bunker. The Shadowpact keep an eye on the erratic Mary Marvel and Monarch’s forces run riot on Earth-8.

In Countdown #27: Darkseid manipulates Karate Kid’s movements as Jimmy Olsen learns of the dire consequences that the Death of the New Gods could have for reality. Holly Robinson makes a grim discovery on Themyscira. Piper and Trickster investigate Salvation Run further and Jason Todd betrays the Challengers from Beyond.

The Players
(the recent principal cast)

Our principal players seem to be branching out less and less as the Coun tdown progresses. However, you can expect to see more of the Extremists in Countdown Presents: Lord Havok and the Extremists #1. The Newsboy Legion make a triumphant return this month. I don’t recall seeing these guys since the last volume of Superboy, although their spiritual successors the Newsboy Army were seen in the Manhattan Guardian miniseries that was part of the Seven Soldiers event. Monarch is continuing his mission that has been playing out in Countdown to Adventure.

The original Forager debuted in New Gods #9 (Aug 72) and died in Cosmic Odyssey. This new version would appear to be the character who has been keeping tabs on Darkseid of late. The Suicide Squad have been dividing their time between here and Checkmate #s18 and 19 of late (and there’s plenty of flashback action to be enjoyed in Suicide Squad #s1-2 as well). Two-Face appears in Countdown #27 after the events of Gotham Underground #1.

Elsewhere in the DCU
(stories from the last three weeks that may, or may not, tie into the Bigger Picture)

Teth-Adam’s story between his appearances in 52 and Countdown continues in Black Adam: The Dark Age #3.

The Sinestro Corps influence Jaime Reyes’ life when their war comes to the pages of Blue Beetle #20.

Watch out for more chronal disruption in Booster Gold #3 when BG teams up with none other than Jonah Hex!

Journey to Earth-26 and drop in on the Zoo Crew in Captain Carrot and the Final Ark #1.

Selina moves more to the dark side in Catwoman #72 which, given the current villainous Countdown house ad running in DC’s books this month may be of importance.

There’s more Suicide Squad, Salvation Run and The Fall of the Wall in Checkmate #19.

I don’t really need to add anything beyond saying The Death of the New Gods #1 debuted in the last couple of weeks.

Gotham Underground #1 marks the beginning of the resistance to the Salvation Run conspiracy.

Find out just how Oliver Queen’s death plays into the bigger Countdown picture in Green Arrow/Black Canary #1.

Don’t miss Green Lantern #24 and Green Lantern Corps #17 as the war with the Anti-Monitor’s Sinestro Corps turns even uglier.

Pick up Superman/Batman #41 for more on the New Gods and the return of a major player.

Those expendable major Countdown players from Task Force X see their miniseries continue in Suicide Squad #2.

Whay would the former Superboy of Earth-Prime ally himself with the Anti-Monitor, the monster who destroyed his planet? The answer is in Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Superman-Prime #1.

Yet more chronal confusion rears its head in Teen Titans #52 as the Titans of Tomorrow continue their attack.

In Wonder Girl #2 the ramifications of both Amazons Attack! and The Death of the New Gods are felt.

Wonder Woman #13 is yet another postscript to the Amazon War. Yes, really. Another one.

And while there’s no direct tie as yet, I think we should keep an eye on the search for the third Kryptonian in Superman #668-669 and the final issue of Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #57 leads into the Countdown-hyped Batman and the Outsiders.

Continuity Corner
(interesting tidbits from the last three week’s issues!)

The Death of the New Gods – The Female Furies are back on Earth and they don’t seem that happy about the issue of dead Gods… (Wonder Girl #2)

Willie Walker (host of the Black Racer), Doctor Bedlam (possibly), Magnar and Big Barda all fall to the mysterious God-killer. With various Forever People sighted at the scenes of some of the crimes it would appear the, perhaps too-obvious, perpetrator is the Infinity Man. (The Death of the New Gods #1)

After his recent experiences on Apokolips and beyond, Highfather appears to Superman with the shocking revelation that his life is over. (Superman/Batman #41)

Just a thought on the Countdown House Ad front but, given Granny Goodness and Desaad’s army building schemes, could there be some significance in their placement next to other characters? Granny Goodness is by Eclipso and Mary Marvel. Darkseid met Eclipso in Countdown to Mystery #1 and revealed a link to the character. Is Mary being corrupted in order to become a part of Granny and Darkseid’s plans? And is Desaad somehow linked to Salvation Run and a potential villain army?

The Coming Crisis – Is Darkseid actually behind everything? Is he the big villain of the Final Crisis rather than the too-blatant Anti-Monitor? Forager mentions that someone is stealing the souls of the dead New Gods and with the power this brings them could destroy all reality and bring about the Fifth World. He’s clearly manipulating Karate Kid and company with his chessboard. Early on in the series he talked about the coming change to reality. Is Darkseid the one behind the deaths of the New Gods and the Great Disaster? Is everything in motion so he can ultimately reshape reality to his own will? Can we trace all of the Countdown plotlines back to the master of Apokolips? (Countdown #27)

The Source Wall – Superman breaches the Source Wall and finds himself outside the continuity of the DCU. Is this rather Morrisonian interlude of any greater significance? Is the Source being used as a metaphor for the creators of the DCU? And if so is there any link to the Architects from the Dr. 13 strip in Tales of the Unexpected? Dr. 13’s team have made a couple of recent cameos in Booster Gold after all. (Superman/Batman #41)

The Search for Ray Palmer – Try as I might I couldn’t spot an Atom tattoo on any of the denizens of Earth-8. Not sure if that has any significance beyond my poor eyesight though. (Countdown #29-27)

A Crisis in Time? – There’s a new Supernova aided by another Time Sphere-dwelling inhabitant on an opposite mission to Booster and Rip Hunter: they’re seeking to damage the timeline by killing off members of the JLA. To stop a convoluted plot to ensure Lex Luthor kills Superman, Booster Gold finds himself in the Old West where he teams up with Jonah Hex and stops Supernova killing off the Kent family line. Those inspired by the characters of this issue may want to pick up John Ostrander’s marvellous Western miniseries The Kents (1997-98) or you can always hunt for Justice League of America #s 159-160 (1978) and #198 (1982) to see Jonah and other historical/western heroes teaming with the JLA.

Disappointingly, Jonah’s appearance this month proved to have nothing to do with his being transported through time to a post-apocalyptic future in the unfairly-maligned 18-issue Hex book that debuted in 1985. Shame. (Booster Gold #3)

As the Titans of Tomorrow battle their teenage counterparts it becomes apparent the timestream is altering due to their presence in the modern-day DCU. Apparently Kid Devil is feted to kill Blue Beetle at some point in the future. (Teen Titans #52)

The Anomalies – Another anomaly bites the dust with the death of the Jokester. (Countdown #29) Does the revelation of Peacemaker’s identity make him an anomaly as well? He would certainly qualify as a "death-cheater". (Blue Beetle #20)

The Great Disaster – We meet Buddy (potential Omac) Blank’s grandson who looks very much like a certain Last Boy on Earth as they, Karate Kid and Una head to Command D (from Battle for Bludhaven #6) for the origins of the Great Disaster. Kamandi’s coming back I think… (Countdown #29-28)

The Broken Green Arrow – The Oliver Queen who tried to kill Black Canary is revealed to have been Everyman. It was all part of a masterplan by Granny Goodness to use Dinah’s grief at Ollie’s betrayal or death to persuade her to join "Athena"’s Amazonian army. Whether this was, in any way, linked to the army of super-villains gatecrashing the wedding is unclear. Ollie is a captive of Granny Goodness’s new Amazons. He refers to Dinah as his wife, which would imply that any switch occurred after the villains’ attack. Those interested in the Bigger Picture, and how much forward planning has been going on, should note that this is another instance of different Countdown plot threads coming together with the Death of the New Gods storyline dovetailing with the big Wedding storyline. Upcoming DC solicitations imply we may not have seen the end of the significance of the Broken Green Arrow yet… (Green Arrow/Black Canary #1)

War with the Sinestro Corps – As the Anti-Monitor descends on Earth the Statue of Liberty is destroyed, mirroring the early Countdown house ads and surely an omen that the Great Disaster is coming. (Green Lantern #24)

Sodam Yat’s new destiny is revealed as he becomes Kyle Rayner’s successor as Ion (Green Lantern Corps #17)

Sinestro seeks to gain control of New Earth as the keystone Earth that will let him control all of the 52. Superman-Prime is biding his time, waiting for his chance to get revenge on the Anti-Monitor. (Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Superman-Prime #1)

The Sinestro Corps attempt to recruit Blue Beetle’s mentor Peacemaker to their ranks. Confusingly this Peacemaker now appears to be the original, despite his very definite death in Eclipso #13. (Blue Beetle #20)

Superman’s Continuity Conflicts – Not really one of the recent confusing teasers about the Man of Steel’s continuity but it is interesting to note the "secret identity" of the Third Kryptonian. Kristine Wells was the name of the pre-COIE Superwoman from DC Comics Presents Annuals #2 and #4 from 1983/1985. (Superman #668-669)

Salvation Run – Amanda Waller’s part is further underlined as we see more villains sent through a dimension bridge (Boom Tube technology?) to exile. (Checkmate #19)

The Suicide Squad are in Gotham on the trail of more villains to capture for the prison planet. The Batman Family are investigating events when the Squad take down Penguin, Hugo Strange, Scarecrow, Two-Face and the Mad Hatter. There’s also a lot of high-tech (Apokoliptian?) weaponry surfacing on the streets of Gotham. (Gotham Underground #1)

Monarch’s Machinations – The former Captain Atom’s recruitment drive proceeds as he seeks to form an alliance with the Extremists. (Countdown #29-28)

Earthwatch

Earth-8 – First appearing in Justice League Europe #15 (Jun 90), Lord Havok and the Extremists were a group of supervillains who had died destroying their own world in a nuclear conflagration. Their theme park robot duplicates escaped the devastation though, and travelled to Earth to encounter various lineups of the Justice League. In current continuity their planet Angor is now Earth-8. (Countdown #29)

Earth-26 – Wonderful to see these characters back again. It only underlines what a shame it was that DC failed to get that Showcase edition of their adventures out to coincide with Captain Carrot’s return. In my day Earth-26 was known as Earth-C. Debuting in an insert in New Teen Titans #16 (Feb 82), the "funny animal" super-heroes of Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew had a 20-issue run between March 1982 and November 1983. Around the time of the original Crisis On Infinite Earths in 1986 they participated in the 3-issue Oz-Wonderland War. Most recently they were seen in a backup in Teen Titans #s 30-31 a couple of years back. Earth-26 is also shown as home to Fox and the  Crow who first debuted in a Forties cartoon and made the transition to their own DC Comics series Fox and the Crow from the 1940s on to the 1960s. And yes, feel free to snigger at my anal-retentiveness…(Captain Carrot and the Final Ark #1)

Superman’s foster son Christopher has a watch depicting Pig-Iron of the Zoo Crew. This reiterates that, on New Earth, Captain Carrot’s adventures are depicted in comic book form which was established in Teen Titans #s 30-31 (hearkening back to a tradition established in the seminal The Flash of Two Worlds storyline). (Superman #668)

Earth C-Minus – Home to the JLA-inspired Justa Lotta Animals from Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew # 14. This Earth is briefly mentioned but whether it can really be part of the 52 remains to be seen. I get the feeling all many not be as it seems on "Earth-26". (Captain Carrot and the Final Ark #1)

One thing’s for sure as we reach the halfway point… the doubters were wrong and there is a definite Bigger Picture emerging. The future looks very Kirbycentric to me…

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