Overview

Out for the Count: 41-40-39

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We finally have confirmation of exactly what it is we’re counting down to: Final Crisis. Not much of a shock for anyone but at least we know for certain now! Here’s your Spoiler Warning: Read no further if you don’t want to hear about key story elements surrounding Countdown #s 41-39.

Events of late…

In Countdown #41: The Trickster and the Pied Piper’s problems go into freefall as their escape from the Suicide Squad goes horribly wrong. Jimmy Olsen takes on a new super-hero identity while Eclipso waits in the wings to corrupt Mary Marvel. The search for the Silver Age Atom makes its first pit stop in the Palmerverse and Holly and Harley realize the consequences of being associated with the Amazons. Elsewhere the identity of the third Legionnaire on Earth is finally revealed…

In Countdown #40: Jimmy Olsen takes up a retro codename while Mary Marvel enjoys a cruise ship cabaret courtesy of Zatanna. Someone’s spying on Darkseid as it becomes apparent that the New Gods’ problems are escalating. And Pied Piper and the Trickster make a dangerous alliance with the Penguin. We just know that one’s going to end in tears…

In Countdown #39: The Suicide Squad gatecrash the Penguin’s party as they attempt to recapture Piper and the Trickster. Holly meets her benefactor while Jimmy Olsen gets the team spirit. And Karate Kid and Una encounter Oracle, who isn’t up for house guests as she’s suffering from a nasty virus…

The Players
(these issues’ principal casts)

Trickster and Pied Piper remain on the run from the Suicide Squad but for more on the Squad’s activities check them taking out the rest of the Flash’s Rogues in All-Flash #1 and see at least one Rogue inducted into the Squad in Checkmate #16. Captain Boomerang Jr.’s return to the Squad follows on from the events of Outsiders: Five of a Kind: Nightwing and Captain Boomerang Jr. #1. Prior to his appearances in World War III, the Bronze Tiger and Plastique were seen in Suicide Squad action in Checkmate #s 6-7 and Deadshot is back with the Squad after his Secret Six team were entangled in the events of Birds of Prey #s 104-107.

Jimmy Olsen’s story moves from Action Comics #852 and continues in #853 while Donna Troy, Jason Todd and Bob the Monitor eventually wind their way back into the pages of The All-New Atom #14. The Legion sequence in Countdown #41 where Karate Kid learns he has another mission to fulfil in our time comes from Justice League of America #10 and reveals more, hitherto unknown, details.

Eclipso’s Countdown appearance follows the events of Blue Beetle #16. Zatanna was last seen teaming up with Batman in Detective Comics #s 833-834. For more on the events surrounding Holly and Harley grab yourselves copies of Amazons Attack! #4, Catwoman #69 and Wonder Woman #11. Detective Comics #837 this October will answer the question of how Harley Quinn became a resident of the Women’s Help Center. And from the pages of 52 we have the return of Batwoman and the new Question…

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

Follow Jimmy Olsen’s quest to be a super-hero in Action Comics #s 852-853 and check out his New Earth origin in Superman #665.

Wally West is back and he has to deal with Bart’s death in All Flash #1. Plus an appearance by the Suicide Squad and a whole host of clues at the issue’s conclusion about what the future may bring…

The All-New Atom #14 brings us the next installment in The Search for Ray Palmer.

Amazons Attack! #4 continues its criss-crossing with the events of Countdown before moving into Teen Titans #49, Supergirl #20 and Wonder Woman #11. Holly Robinson says an emotional goodbye to her partner Karon in the pages of Catwoman #69 which also ties into Amazons Attack!

Batman #666’s look at a future where Batman’s son Damian has taken his father’s mantle may not seem an obvious choice as Countdown-related. However, given who Damian’s grandfather is, don’t be too quick to discount it. Anything linked to Ra’s al Ghul may be of significance (remember the early Countdown house ad where Ra’s al Ghul’s return was foreshadowed). Also this takes place in a future where Bruce Wayne is dead but the Batman lives. Think about that tagline for Final Crisis in that light…

The build-up to Ollie and Dinah’s wedding, (and let’s not forget that broken green arrow in the latest Countdown house ad!), carries on in Black Canary #s 2-3.

In The Brave and the Bold #5 Batman teams with the super-group with the most perplexing continuity questions in comics at the moment: the Legion of Super-Heroes.

More brief Suicide Squad developments in Checkmate #16 (Ice’s appearance here is preceded by Birds of Prey #108).

The war with the Anti-Monitor’s Sinestro Corps proceeds apace in Green Lantern Corps #14.

There’s a Countdown house ad doing the rounds promoting the new Outsiders line-up. Outsiders: Five of a Kind: Nightwing and Captain Boomerang Jr. #1 begins the story that sees the old order changeth and leads into Countdown #39.

Finally there’s a significant appearance by Darkseid and cronies in Superman/Batman #38. With The Death of the New Gods coming, expect anything to do with Apokolips or New Genesis to be flagged up as of Countdown importance.

Continuity Corner
(interesting tidbits from these issues!)

The Mystery of the Legion – Luornu Durgo, Triplicate Girl, is revealed as the third Legionnaire to be staying on New Earth after the recent JLA/JSA team-up. A Legion member with the power to split into three, she first appeared in Action Comics #276 in 1961. Two of Luornu’s bodies have now been killed and she is calling herself Una. Back in the Five-Year Gap storyline in Legion of Super-Heroes in the early 1990s it was revealed she had suffered the same fate, though this was eventually undone. (Countdown #41)

Some interesting developments in The Brave and the Bold #5 as well. Batman teams with the "Threeboot" version of the Legion and finds himself in a fight with none other than Karate Kid, reminding us of his recent defeat to the pre-COIE version of the character. Coincidence? I think not, especially as KK talks about doing better the next time they meet (even if it will be a different version of Val Armorr!) Those wanting a B&B Batman/Legion team-up with a more retro feel can always check out The Brave and the Bold #179 (Oct 81) (The Brave and the Bold #5)

Jimmy Olsen’s transformations – Jimmy gains the ability to breathe fire, turns into a werewolf and takes on turtle powers. These sequences echo stories in Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #s 33, 44 and 53 (all reprinted in The Amazing Transformations of Jimmy Olsen trade paperback). We also learn that his knowledge of Jason Todd’s identity is a side-effect of these newfound powers (he’s aware of other heroes’ identities but seems to be in denial about knowing that Superman is Clark Kent!). (Action Comics #s 852-853)

The Death of the New Gods – Darkseid inexplicably stumbles and humiliates himself in front of some of his lackeys. Could this loss of majesty be a sign of things to come as The Death of the New Gods gets closer? (Superman/Batman #38)

Disruption in the Speed Force – Could this event be Barry Allen being pulled out of time by the Legion? Is the Marv Wolfman "out" for Barry Allen’s death (he returns to the present but one day has to resume his final race against the Anti-Monitor’s anti-matter cannon and die) about to be put into play? (All-Flash #1)

Who is Athena? – Anyone else notice the prominent position of the shield behind Athena when she’s talking to Holly in Countdown #39? It appears to depict Medusa the Gorgon, from Greek mythology. Is Athena all she says she is? (Countdown #39)

Who is Dexter Myles? – If you noticed the Hollywood star on the pavement with the name "Dexter Myles" on it and wondered about the significance, then wonder no more. Dexter is the former actor who is now curator of the Flash Museum. (All-Flash #1)

The Sinestro Corps – Who is the new GL Sodam Yat? Well, he’s a Lantern with a potentially huge destiny according to the prophecies first mentioned in the Abin Sur story in 1986’s Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #2. And it’s not a destiny that was exactly beneficial to our favorite ring-slingers. (Green Lantern Corps #14)

The Suicide Squad – The Penguin should be very familiar with this team. He was a reluctant member of the Squad way back in 1987 in Suicide Squad #s 5-7. Plastique has also served with the Squad before, betraying them to the Jihad before being unceremoniously expelled from their ranks via Dr. Moon’s brainwashing in Suicide Squad #s 1-3. For a cheap way to catch up with the Squad’s history pick up Showcase Presents: The Suicide Squad later this year and don’t forget Suicide Squad: Raise the Flag, an all-new Squad mini beginning in September.

History of the Multiverse – Some of the major, more character-oriented, events of 52 are very succinctly recapped along with its aftermath and the Monitors’ mission. Noteable points here include the return of the Anti-Monitor’s Shadow Demons from Crisis On Infinite Earths and I wonder if there’s any extra significance to Forerunner’s real name being a palindrome? The Bleed is identified as an anomaly over which the Monitors have no  control, appearing randomly within the Anti-Life energy between Source Walls.

Earthwatch

Many more identified Earths for you. The last page of The History of the Multiverse feature in Countdown #41 shows the Tangent characters' Earth as being one of the 52 and this is confirmed in #40 with the female Monitor revealed as native to their plane. It would also appear that the Earth of Gotham By Gaslight is one of the 52 as well.

Upcoming solicitations for DC books also give us Earth-8, which is identified as the Earth of Lord Havok and the Extremists, old foes of the JLI. Earth-8 was also the Earth (pre-Infinite Crisis) that Kyle Rayner, Jason Rusch and Breach should have come from. As I suggested some weeks ago, it looks like a version of Captain Carrot’s Earth-C will also turn up in October’s DC books, along with an Earth where the JLA have sorcerous counterparts appearing in Countdown to Adventure. If this latter is based on a previous Elseworlds Earth there are a number of possibilities. How about the Earth from Ed Hannigan’s League of Justice two-parter in 1996? Or the Earth of the three-part miniseries Conjurors from 1999?

Next time we’ll catch up to date with events throughout the DCU. Until then don’t forget that Heroes Die. Legends Live Forever…

 

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