Countdown Presents The Search for Ray Palmer: WildStorm


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Countdown Presents The Search for Ray Palmer: WildStorm


  • Words: Ron Marz
  • Art: Angel Unzueta
  • Inks: Oliver Nome, Richard Friend, Saleem Crawford, and Trevor Scott
  • Colors: Allen Passalaqua
  • Story Title: Running Wild
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Sep 12, 2007

First in a series of one-shots chronicling the new “Challengers” as they traverse the Multiverse in search of Ray Palmer, this book is a god-awful waste of time.

Jason Todd, Donna Troy, and the Watch–…er…Monitor called “Bob,” are joined by Ion as they leap through the Bleed and into their first alternate Earth—that of the WildStorm Universe.  There, they team-up and fight randomly with the WS characters we know and maybe love, and then they leave.  And that’s that.

Ron Marz is a good writer.  No, really.  If this special is your first exposure to him, please forgive.  That said, this one-shot is bloody awful.  Not only does jack and occasionally s**t occur, but within all that nothing arise numerous plot holes (how hard can it be to write about nothing and have it all make sense?).  Kyle, upon meeting his first set of anybodies within the WSU, immediately comments: “Can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys, because they all shoot first and ask questions later.”  Except these are the first people he’s so far encountered, and sure, they’re shooting, but why the confusion?  Yes, the creators of the DCU and the WSU have long belabored the distinction between their two fictional milieus, but here, without actually exploring any action or event, Kyle simply arrives and understands this seemingly on-high administered epiphany.  That’s strike one.

Later, after all the small-time teams with regular on-time series that might actually sell some extra copies if given some extra DC exposure, each get a whopping one panel apiece, the Wildcats and Authority take center stage.  Of course, the DC heroes are appalled when the Midnighter kills a killer before their very eyes.  Of course, the Midnighter—being an “aggressive” WS character—decides that the squeamishness on the DC heroes’ parts mean that they should be attacked and killed, because…uh…the Authority has always attacked non-villainous costumed others with the intention of killing them, right?  Well, okay, no, so I guess that’s strike two.

Near the end, Kyle almost gets run over by the Authority’s Carrier in the Bleed (though he sees neither hide nor hair of the actual team), and later, when he sees the Authority, after seeing all sorts of other teams, makes the declaration: “Hey, home wouldn’t happen to be a ship the size of Cuba, would it?”, which marks divinely-administered epiphany number two for the good ol’ torch-bearer, and strike number three for this issue as a whole.

Add to this the usual tropes of any place-holding story (if you thought the events in Countdown were pointless, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet).  For instance: the team splits up to search an entire hemisphere of the world for a single, shrinking man, which of course for  some reason is an actual plan here.  Plus an oddly all-knowing Mr. Majestic arrives to end all the fighting, somehow knowing just where to be and when, and also convincing the Authority of his authority in the matter.  Though Majestic has "other concerns" and can't help save the freaking Multiverse .  So the “Challengers from/of the Beyond/Unknown”—a team named in a gods damned convention panel and now somehow magically known and referred to as such—move on.

The art by Angel Unzueta is wonderful in places, and then terrible in others; solidly realized for certain splashes and dramatic moments and then a complete mess during smaller, less impacting story beats.  This may have to do with an incompatibility with some of the four inkers assigned to this single regular-sized issue, but any which way the art is a mixed bag, and the story is ridiculous, trite, tired, and a complete and utter waste of even a suicidally bored man’s time.

The only interesting scene in the book is a conversation between Monarch (Captain Atom in armor) and Ion, though even this is simply a rehash: Monarch reminds Kyle of his earlier offer to help him save the Multiverse, and Kyle, for some reason reluctant to help another hero (who has never acted the villain before, and isn’t, to anyone’s knowledge, doing so now, and who was put inside the Monarch armor to protect others, not because he’s crazy or suddenly villainous), says he still needs time to think about it.  Three cheers for plot advancement.  Call me crazy, but if Captain Atom suddenly appeared and claimed he needed all the other heroes’ help to “save the Multiverse!", can anyone think of a single non-contrived situation wherein all the heroes wouldn’t race to help him out?

Countdown and now these specials are proving one truly horrific thing: DC doesn’t have an epic story to tell, at least not a story that couldn’t be told inside of a single maxi-series like the original Crisis was.  All these other mini-series, one-shots, weekly series, and tie-ins are pure filler, or rather, they’re filling DC’s pocketbooks with your money.  It’s nice to know a comic company is doing well and making bucks, and that creators are getting hired and paid well, too, but honestly, why can’t it be to produce a product that’s worthwhile?  Does the trade-off have to be all quality for a little extra quantity?  No, it doesn’t, nowhere near to this extent, and so this is an absolute abhorrent travesty, even in the face of DC’s obvious prosperity, perhaps even precisely because of it.


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