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Back to it: Hibbs considers the countdown

Brian Hibbs

(Honestly, I wrote this yesterday, but blogger wouldn’t let me post it then…)

OK, lets see how dusty my muscles have become…

COUNTDOWN #38: I was actually starting to think that this was getting at least a little better — there was some plot movement in the last couple of weeks, and the return of Giffen to the breakdowns helped the storytelling a little. But, no, I read this issue and was left with another horrible taste in my mouth.

Part of it is just the sheer sloppy nature of the book. Maybe its that there’s too many things going on in the DCU, and the traffic managers can’t get it right; maybe its that books aren’t where they are supposed to be, and there are fill-ins all over the place, and the cover was mocked up 12 weeks ago… but I knew there was a problem when I saw that cover with “The First Appearance of Mr. Action!” on it; and the burst-logo “Collector’s Item!”

Neither is true (though the second is far less true than the first), and if you can’t get your cover right, what else can you do wrong? I don’t know… maybe they’re trying to be Ironic? Maybe even Sarcastic? But, either way, it just don’t work.

This sloppiness continues inside in a couple of places: there’s the “the rogue’s are stated again and again to be bumbling idiots, yet they keep escaping from deathtrap encounters versus people out of their weight class” or “The Calculator tries to black out cities, and drop airplanes from the sky to distract Oracle, but doesn’t think to send some simple muscle to her place… at the same time Karate Kid and No-Powers Girl effortlessly break in” (Sure, he’s from the future… but I dare you to go back in time to 1007 AD and effortlessly find… well my History-Fu is weak, come up with the appropriate comparison)

(Plus, you know, if you’re DYING, I’d be kind of interested to understand why you’re going to a computer specialist, really — wouldn’t a prominent DOCTOR, say a Midnight, or even a Fate be a much better decision? Jes’ sayin’)

But I think my favorite sloppy-ass Howler was the sequence on the boat with Zatanna where she casts a spell on the crowd of onlookers in danger. That spell? It is something very much like “teg dniheb em!”, or, really, the equivalent of “watch out!” — it’s not a spell, its a warning! (now, of course, if the art showed the crowd magically teleporting behind her, then, sure, spell… though I would think that “snailivic to ytefas!” would have been a better phrasing in any case)

That was basically the moment I looked at the comic and though, “Man, they really don’t care, do they?”

Everyone and everything in this story is dancing to dictates of the Plothammer — but the plotting doesn’t really make much sense, or come from a place that is especially interesting, and none of the individual storylines seem to have much thematic connection to the others. Plus, there’s way too many Big Coincidences — the threat to Oracle JUST HAPPENS to occur when KK shows up; A random ship in the ocean where Z and MM are JUST HAPPENS to be the one where more Kirby Kharacters die; and so on.

And all of this serves to make everything occurring seem to be weightless and unmoored to the universe around it. WHEN are events happening? I mean is “Amazons Attack” OVER at this stage? All of the characters in the first part of the book seem focused on Oracle’s issues. Clearly “The Sinestro War” isn’t happening concurrently with this — there’s Hal on Earth on page 2. In fact, why are the Monitor Corp so hung up on the Joker’s Daughter and Donna Troy when Superxxx Prime and the frickin’ ANTI-Monitor are wandering around out there?

I don’t know, I’m almost certainly over thinking this all.

Things are probably still redeemable — certainly LOST got infinitely better in its latest eight episodes or so, fixing a lot of the meandering problems it had in the 20 episodes before that, and steering straight towards a visible (if not understood) conclusion — and maybe Mike Carlin can fix this mess in the back half of the title… but I wonder if the audience is going to care… or, if they even care whether they’ll come back. Comic readers (esp mainstreamy superhero focused ones) are often very pedantic about their “collection”. It is hard, if not impossible to entice people back into a mini series they’ve already sampled and dismissed. Its not like an ongoing monthly, people will leap on and off of those at will — but minis just “feel” wrong in the collection if you don’t have them all. There’s an “I’ll wait for the trade” moment if there is one at all.

Also: for the record, my FOC (Final Order Cutoff) for COUNTDOWN #35, I adjusted my number downwards yet again, and it just hit half of _52_ — we were ordering about 75 copies of most issues of _52_, and my order for COUNTDOWN now stands at 37. I suspect this week’s “Mr. Action” cover will chase more people off, and next week will be 35 copies or below. I don’t think, at this point, it is going to stabilize until it gets to the 25-30 copy range. Which, ugh, is going to be really bad for the hassles of dealing with a weekly comic.

Either way, this individual issue of the series, as a single use of your $2.99, is pretty AWFUL.

What did YOU think?


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