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But who’s counting?: Graeme continues weekly.

Graeme McMillan

Here’s the thing, Paul Dini and the rest of the writers who put together COUNTDOWN for our entertainment each and every week: If you’re ending an issue with the death of a character, and another character asking what that death means for the universe, it’s be really, really nice for the next issue (#47, for those who’re counting) to have some attempt at follow-up on that question. The most surprising thing about this issue was that – opening dream sequence and background newspaper headline aside – there wasn’t even any mention of the death of Lightray at all in the issue, which completely undercut any potential drama or tension from last issue’s cliffhanger. Apparently, it’s so unimportant that you can afford to ignore it immediately afterwards, after all.

The second-most surprising thing about the issue is that it undercuts the drama of another comic that’s not even coming out for months, by showing us not only that Black Adam gets his powers back by the end of his upcoming miniseries, but also that (a) he doesn’t want them, (b) he gives them away to Mary Marvel, and (c) his magic word is, somehow, “Shazam” again (after it apparently being “Sorry” at some point – So not only does Adam find his new magic word, but apparently he also manages to change it back at some point). There’s something really depressing about seeing one of the smart and relatively upbeat 52 climaxes (Changing Black Adam’s magic word as an alternative to killing him, so that he can learn humility and humanity again seemed relatively upbeat to me, at least) undone within two months, and with such a bland return to the status quo. Never mind doing so three months ahead of the series that’s meant to be the one that explains why such an undoing occurs in the first place.

Otherwise, Countdown continues along its merry path the same as before: A disjointed collection of scenes that, issue on issue, fail to build any drama or character empathy. Events happen slowly – the Rogues scene this issue really should’ve appeared in the first month of the series, considering that it was the one that introduced the characters and gave their motivations – and without meaning or weight. It’s not just that this series has failed to learn from the lessons of 52, it’s that it reads much worse than 52 did, as if 52’s successes have been forgotten as well as its mistakes. Awful.

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