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Out for the Count: 47

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Avid DCU fans will no doubt be noticing by now how much Countdown seepage is leaking into the rest of the DC line. The tie-ins and links are increasing on a weekly basis and not always in the places you’d expect. This time round we’re joined by two special tour guides on our beano round the Multiverse as we question Christos Gage about a major bit of Countdown business that may have escaped your notice, and John Rogers fills us in on how the bigger picture will impact on Jaime Reyes in the pages of Blue Beetle.

If you’ve been here before then you know what’s coming. If this is your first time with us then here’s the drill…

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

Events this week…

In Countdown #47: Jimmy Olsen’s dreams are full of ominous foreshadowing while former Catwoman stand-in Holly Robinson arrives in Metropolis. Thanks to Black Adam, Mary Marvel becomes Scary Marvel and in Washington the Amazons make their presence felt. Elsewhere, and possibly elsewhen, the Monitors continue to argue about the anomalies. And finally, the Trickster and the Pied Piper have a moment of male bonding…

The Players
(this week’s principal cast)

Jimmy Olsen: No exhibitions of Silver Age powers from Jimmy this week but Superman’s Pal does dream of being trapped in the Source Wall while the recently-deceased Lightray pleads with him to open his eyes.

Holly Robinson: Selina Kyle’s replacement as Catwoman in the One Year Later interim when Selina was pregnant. No longer a costumed adventurer and on the run, accused of being a "cop-killer" according to newspapers at the station in Metropolis. Her presence here takes place after the as yet uncompleted current story arc in Catwoman.

The Monitors: Back to bickering amongst themselves about how to deal with the perceived threats to the Multiverse. The Rogue Monitor does some serious rabble-rousing that looks set to have major repercussions for Jason Todd, Dick Grayson, Donna Troy and company.

Mary Marvel and Black Adam: Adam relinquishes his powers and returns to his (in?)human state while Mary Marvel becomes his female counterpart. I would look to Peter Tomasi’s upcoming Black Adam: The Dark Age limited series for answers on how Adam regained his magical abilities. And I still think Scary Marvel is a tip top codename for this new incarnation of Mary Batson…

The Flash’s Rogues: The Trickster is back with the Rogues out of boredom, claiming it’s not as if they cause much harm. Words that I suspect will come back to haunt him. Pied Piper claims he’s hanging out with them because with Wally and Linda gone they’re the closest thing he has to family.

The Amazons: There must be a major Crisis coming as even the crossover series are crossing over. Events shown here echo those in the first two issues of Amazons Attack! and current issues of Wonder Woman.

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

Click to enlargeThe Search for Ray Palmer, the man identified as crucial for the survival of the Multiverse in Countdown #51 begins in the pages of The All-New Atom #12 .

In Birds of Prey #107 the mystery of Ice’s resurrection continues. Will she be classified as one of the Monitors’ "death-cheaters"? We shall see.

Loose ends from the pages of Countdown’s predecessor 52 continue to be tied up in Outsiders #48, as the battle of Oolong Island rumbles on.

I was right to flag up last month’s issue of the Maid of Might’s book as the beginning of a key storyline. Supergirl #18 has huge Countdown-related revelations that we’ll look at further in Continuity Corner.

Finally check out Superman #663 for what could be the final appearance of New God Lightray before his death.

Remember what I said last week about Blue Beetle and the book’s upcoming participation in the Countdown? Well BB writer John Rogers took some time to answer a few posers about how these reality-shattering events will affect Jaime Reyes and the cast of the very likeable Blue Beetle series:

BF: Last week at Broken Frontier we highlighted the standalone Superman team-up in Blue Beetle #15 as a perfect jumping-on point for readers unfamiliar with the character who still want to follow next month's Countdown tie-in. How does this version of the character differ from his predecessors?

Click to enlargeJR: Jaime Reyes isn't related to anybody, he wasn't even intentionally given the Scarab which ties him into his legacy. Rather than being part of the regular DCU team-up club, Jaime's an ordinary 16 year old kid from El Paso trying to figure out how to be a superhero. His family (who's all alive, shocker) knows his secret, as do his two best friends. He has a homicidal alien bioweapon grafted to his spine, his mentor -- Peacemaker -- may soon shoot him in the face, and he hasn't had a date since he disappeared into space. It's a fun, high-adventure teen supers book.

BF: Jaime Reyes is an atypical super-hero in that he has a very down-to-earth home life and family priorities. Given this, how is a cosmic-level event like the Countdown likely to affect his status quo?

JR: Jaime's disadvantage -- he has no idea who Eclipso is, since he's not part of the cool kids. His advantage, however is that he has no idea who Eclipso is. Assuming he and all his friends survive this encounter with His/Her Purple Badness, he's pretty likely to clear out of the destruction zone and keep his head down. He's pretty mind-blown at meeting God's Hitman (Jaime's Catholic), but his sheer ordinariness protects him from the full mental shock of the mysteries of the DCU. That said, El Paso's going to start seeming pretty small soon...

BF: What can you tell us about how Eclipso's return in Blue Beetle #16 fits into the bigger Countdown picture?

JR: Eclipso ... needs something. She's figured out what's been her downfall all these years -- her original flaw, as it were -- and has decided to take matters into her own hands. You find out why she's back and what she's hunting for as she cuts an oily path through the universe-wrecking Countdown.

Continuity Corner
(interesting tidbits from this week’s issues!)

The Source Wall – We know that this separates the boundaries of universes within the Multiverse. Jimmy Olsen may be a far more important player than we suspected in the fate of reality. What does he see that makes him scream? I’m going to stick my neck out and say the word "Megaverse"…

Holly in the Big City – Lots of tiny, but fun, continuity points here. The Daily Star newspaper seen at the station was the paper the Golden Age Superman worked for as Clark Kent. The Athenian Women’s Refuge that Holly walks past is one of a number set up in the pages of Wonder Woman. Finally, Holly’s cellphone takes a call from her lover Karon but other numbers in it appear to be the civilian identities of Batman, Nightwing and the original Catwoman. It’s also worth a mention that Holly was a piece on Darkseid’s chessboard in Countdown #51.

Black Adam’s Magic Word – This one seems too obvious to be true but remember at the end of World War III when Adam was left cut off from his power when his magic word was changed? His parting shot to Scary Mary Marvel this issue is "If you see your brother tell him I’m ‘sorry’." Could "Sorry" have been the word that triggered his powers again?

The Anomalies – The Monitors’ screens have all the old favourites displayed on them including Kyle Rayner, Jason Todd, Power Girl, Jade (who shouldn’t have died in the Infinite Crisis), Donna Troy and Duela Dent, the Joker’s Daughter. Also there for the first time is Breach. During the Infinite Crisis, this character was identified as being the Captain Atom of the pre-Crisis On Infinite Earths Earth-8. The eleven-issue Breach series a couple of years back was supposed to play a big part in the lead-in to the Infinite Crisis but, probably due to poor sales, that kind of fizzled out. This may well be a character to watch out for in the months to come.

Click to enlarge    Click to enlarge    Click to enlarge

One character finally crossed off the list of anomalous beings this week, though, is Supergirl. This issue could be a biggie in the greater scheme of things. A Monitor wearing the armor of the Anti-Monitor (and with his red eyes), and employing the Anti-Monitor’s servant Dark Angel, tests Kara to ascertain whether she is the one, true Supergirl who belongs in this universe and she passes. This looks very like the Monitor who had his back to us in the concluding shot of Brave New World #1. (Supergirl #18 )

History of the Multiverse – Lots more early JLA/JSA team-ups from the 1960s are recounted here. All this material is cheaply available in DC’s Crisis On Multiple Earths trade paperbacks if you want to check out the tales referenced here.

Earthwatch

Click to enlargeLet’s journey over to Earth-50 as we begin to wind up this week’s column. Last week I promised a Monitor spot from a few months back that not everyone may have noticed. Well, for you Countdown Completists out there check out Stormwatch: PHD #5. In that issue it’s revealed that three supposedly long-dead members of Stormwatch were saved by a shadowy figure that looks suspiciously like one of the Countdown prime movers. We asked Christos Gage about these events and he replied with these cryptic and intriguing answers:

BF: Stormwatch:PHD #5 has a major appearance by one of the Monitors that may have slipped under many readers' radars. Is this an indication that the Countdown will have wide-ranging ramifications for the Wildstorm stable of characters?

CG: I'm afraid I can't comment on that, or even confirm or deny the presence of a Monitor. I don't want those guys after me!

BF: The Monitor who killed The Joker's Daughter identified the"death-cheaters" as one of the anomalies that needed to be purged. Are there implications for the Monitor of Earth-50 given the characters he effectively resurrects in Stormwatch: PHD #5 and when can we expect to learn just why he chose to save those particular individuals?

Click to enlargeCG: The members of StormWatch who were saved were rescued for a particular purpose...and we will find out what that is at some point. As for their rescuer... wait and see.

BF: Will the Bleed and its greater significance to the Multiverse be examined more fully in the pages of Stormwatch:PHD in the months to come?

CG: No, but I expect it will be explored somewhere!

Fans of John Ostrander’s Suicide Squad are well-advised to give the highly-recommended Stormwatch: PHD a look-see. I was reminded very much of the "bruised personalities" of the Squad when reading this Wildstorm title. With The Bleed, the space between parallel universes in the Wildstorm books, being the place where Captain Atom/Monarch was hiding out from the Monitors in Ion #10 I’d expect a lot more in the way of Wildstorm-related Multiversal happenings in the months to come.

That’s a wrap for another week. And if you have anything to add to our weekly Multiversal meanderings feel free to respond on the Lowdown forum. See you next week and in the meantime let’s get that letter-writing campaign for a Scary Marvel ongoing series into gear.

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