Posted by: Brian Hibbs on May 16, 2007
Just one real fast while it’s fresh in my mind:
COUNTDOWN #50: Forget everything I said last week, I really didn’t like this one. At all. There’s five scenes in here, and I’ll leave the bookenders for last. There’s a (very quick) Mary Marvel bit which is unobjectionable; there’s a sequence with Batman and Karate Kid that doesn’t (on the surface) appear to have anything directly to do with COUNTDOWN, and seems a bit more like an ad for the JLA/JSA crossover… unless that doesn’t resolve in any significant fashion in which case, wtf; and there’s a Rogue’s sequence which is adequate, but a bit overlong for the information it needs to unfurl.
Then there’s the Jimmy bookending stuff.
Obvious question, first: Jimmy knows Batman’s secret identity? And the entire history of his legacy? And that Jason impersonated Dick for a little while? Even if I accepted #1 & 2, how is #3 even possible? Kal that much of a blabbermouth?
But there’s a writerly sin here, too, page 4, last caption, totally highlighted as the end of narration, boom end on “he’s willing to kill”. With this in mind, why the hell is Superman sending Jimmy in alone? For that matter, why isn’t Superman apprehending him for his crimes? Hell, for THAT matter, why is Bruce sparring with Karate Kid a few pages later? His now rogue partner is involved with a meta-human death, and Bruce isn’t man-on-the-scene? Really?
(this is actually why you probably don’t WANT the Big Three in play in these things — they’re so overly competent, you have to write around them to get anything done)
But the bigger sin is in the end Jimmy scene, even more specifically on that last page. First off, the clumsy fake-cliffhanger of the last two panels (!) comes exactly out of nowhere, and has nothing to do with the rest of the scene, and since we can be relatively assured that Jimmy Olsen isn’t going to die (at least this early in the game, and, frankly, probably ever), it’s a wholly false cliffhanger. But even worse is that the whole thrust of the Joker scene concludes with information THE READER ALREADY KNOWS (well, or at least, and reader who actually knows who Duella Dent was in the first place… but they’re the only ones who might possibly care, all 52 of us) (Heh)
Actually, back to the “cliffhanger” — I just flashed that it made me think of DC CHALLENGE, a really horrible DC mini-series, where round-robin writers took turns trying to top themselves (“Bwah-ha-ha, how will [Adam or Sean, I don't recall who is next in rotation], get out of this?”)
If it had just been the middle bits, I wouldn’t have been enthusiastic, but, y’know, it was all OK, but those bookends just soured me on the whole deal. AWFUL.
Parenthetically, COUNTDOWN #51 had pretty poor first-week sales at CE; LAUNCHING at only 75% of 52 typical first-week sales. This concerns me especially, because I had thought the first issue at least would attract more eyes, and I ordered in the 133% range (the first three months are returnable, however… albeit costing us 29 cents a copy. I FOC’ed Week 47 (my first chance) right down to the minimum required for returnability (100% of 52), but I’m still going to be returning chunks. There’s a mathematical point where eating the cost of returns isn’t worth the tradeoff of not having to eat unsold product (call it like 4:1), but the problem is determining what the bottom is on this. If I look to COUNTDOWN #51 as analogous to 52 #1, in terms of ratios of preorders to rack sales, then project forward, COUNTDOWN will end up well below half of 52; the only question is will it “hit bottom”? By 52 #12, I pretty much had the right number, will history repeat itself here, or will I know by, say, #4 this time? (God, I hope so)
I felt liberated by the returnable experiment of 52 — I ordered more copies than I thought I could sell, and it paid off handsomely. Here, I feel shackled by it — in order to cover my bet, I can’t bet below a minimum that I *know* is way way too high.
Wow, I typed way more than I wanted to. More… maybe Thursday? I still have to finish this @#$% TILTING, and we’ve got a visit to a prospective school for Ben tomorrow, too, which will swallow most of the afternoon, so, unless I feel itchy, maybe I should shoot for every other day (ha, again)
What did YOU think, anyway?
PS: Bionic Woman trailer? Ugh.