Countdown #51


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Countdown #51


  • Words: Paul Dini
  • Art: Jesus Saiz
  • Inks: Jimmy Palmiotti
  • Colors: Tom Chu
  • Story Title: Look to the Skies
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: May 9, 2007

The Red Hood clashes with Duela Dent and anomalies threaten the Multiverse as DC begins its next weekly series. (What are they, masochists?!)

On distant Apokolips, Darkseid and his grand inquisitor Desaad watch as the most unlikely of pieces come into play on the cosmic chess board. On Earth, Duela Dent, the so-called Joker’s Daughter, attempts a kidnapping for fun and profit, only to run afoul of the Red Hood, former (and formerly deceased) Robin, Jason Todd. Both characters represent an incongruity in the fabric of reality…one the mysterious Monitors mean to fix at any cost. Meanwhile, Mary Marvel awakens from a months-long coma only to find that her powers and her family have seemingly abandoned her. And elsewhere, the reformed villain Pied Piper spies on a gathering of the Flash’s foes.

Thus begins DC’s follow-up to their just-wrapped weekly epic, 52. I was among those who felt that 52 started strong but some of its plotlines somewhat imploded before the end. As such, I’m curious whether they can sustain another weekly. In addition, Countdown has the added challenge of a more nebulous series concept. A countdown to what exactly? What is the driving force of the story?

A few indications of this are given in this first issue (true to its name, the book will count backwards down to zero over the course of the year). Countdown #51 is an intriguing read more for what it promises than what it delivers. On the surface, Paul Dini gives us a mildly entertaining tale of two anti-heroes locked in conflict, only to be intercepted by Big Cosmic Hoodoo that neither of them expected. However, between the lines, there are numerous questions being raised that will surely keep DC readers coming back—How many of these "incongruities" are there? Is this "our" Duela or an alter-Earth duplicate? How does she know of the other Earths and who else does? What is the meaning of the enigmatic message at issue’s end? While the story itself is fairly straightforward, the potential is there for fascinating exploration in future issues.

The Jason/Duela segment seems to have the most significance for DC’s new status quo. This issue’s subplots are not off to quite as strong a start however. I find it hard to believe that the other Marvels would leave Mary behind in the manner that they seem to here. And the Piper/Trickster segment is merely setup at this point, offering little more than a super-villain kegger.

On the plus side, Jesus Saiz’s art looks as slick as ever. Saiz has an economy of line and a flair for the dramatic that sets the proper tone for each scene. His Duela is equal parts cute and dangerous and the Monitors, despite their somewhat comical facial hair, have a suitable air of menace. Inker Jimmy Palmiotti and colorist Tom Chu enhance the ominous feel of the story as well.

Countdown is off to a decent enough start but it will take a few more issues to determine what sort of read this latest weekly event will be.

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