Posted by: Graeme McMillan on August 13, 2007
Something that becomes immediately apparent as soon as you start reading COUNTDOWN #38 is the way that it’s incredibly like the comics that Dan DiDio and the current DC braintrust probably grew up reading. It’s not just the incredible number of coincidences that Brian’s already pointed out – a throwback to days when audiences were younger and less demanding – but also the dialogue. The third panel in the comic has the following exchange:
“Superman, any idea what’s going on?”
“I’m not sure, Powergirl, except for the obvious…”
“Oracle said something unleashed a global computer virus.”
It’s exactly the kind of self-identifying thing that people have made fun of the original Crisis on Infinite Earths for; all you need to complete the set is for Hawkman and Green Arrow to walk on and have a fight about Reaganism while mentioning each others’ names every second page. Similar, too, to those 1980s stories is the sense that everything is part of some larger story – although, unlike the comics that they’re clearly modeled after, there’s nothing in this issue that makes you want to run out and pick up back issues to understand what’s going on, because there’s no sense of excitement and urgency in anything that happens here – Characters appear and die, and other characters watch from behind the scenes and give melodramatic speeches to themselves, and it’s all rather dull.
It’s also rather nonsensical; the Question and Batwoman find two supervillains who everyone is looking for, and just let them go because the Question thinks they’re too dumb to kill the person they’re supposed to have killed? And none of the other characters think that that’s weird? Or, for that matter, no-one seems to want to stop the mysterious being that murdered the Deep Six in front of their eyes (And good job introducing the Six there for readers unfamiliar with Kirby’s Fourth World, guys. This series really needs, if not an editor who’s really trying to make each issue easier-to-understand for new readers, then a website that’ll explain the minor characters slightly better…)? Other than because it doesn’t suit where the plot’s supposed to go, there’s no reason for either of these things to happen and neither really makes the characters involved look intelligent or capable.
In my weaker moments, I kind of wish that I was doing some kind of 52-Pickup for Countdown. Not because I want to try and replace Douglas – my arcane knowledge is nowhere near as good as his – but because I want to see someone really dig into this book on a regular basis and talk about the strangeness of plots being developed by the Dan Jurgens back-up, or the way in which the story is propelled as much by the future solicitations and interviews as much as what’s in the comics themselves. But then I realize that something this Crap, which fascinating, probably isn’t worth the time…