"If you see your brother, tell him I'm sorry." - Black Adam
A New God dies, but not before Jimmy gets more questions and more powers, it seems, while others around the DCU search for answers of their own.
To start off the issue, Jimmy has perhaps the most horrible nightmare imaginable, as a vision of Lightray guides him to, and then grafts him to, the Source Wall. Waking up in a terror, Jimmy wonders, on top of everything else, what's happening to him?
Black Adam makes a fateful decision after conversing with Mary, and with a simple "Shazam," Adam is powerless, but Mary… my, now she's a terror. Powered once again, Mary now appears to be a darker version of herself (see the cover image and the "Panel of the Week" if you don't believe me).
Holly Robinson, on the run from Gotham, arrives in Metropolis, where she beats down some local slime and finds herself near a women's shelter run by the denizens of Themiscyria.
Pied Piper and trickster watch as the other Rogues get them selves high and laid, but neither seems very interested. Rather, the two men discuss their reasons for returning to the Rogues. For Piper, he's got no other "family" to turn to, and Trickster just got bored with the FBI. Now, at least, he can be a bad guy, and if someone busts him, he can claim to be undercover. Unfortunately, neither is left with many options beyond being a Rogue.
Finally, as Amazons attack, the Monitors seemingly declare war on all the "anomalies" that have crossed the barriers of the Multiverse, focusing first on Jason Todd, Kyle Rayner, and Donna Troy.
The back-up feature continues a look at how the worlds first discovered one another, introducing the Crime Syndicate of Amerika and reviewing yet another of the annual team-ups between heroes of multiple worlds.
Holly Robinson made her first appearance as a 13-year old runaway in Frank Miller's "Batman: Year One." She was taken in by Selina Kyle, but abandoned by her when she became Catwoman. Holly escaped the streets by joining a convent, but eventually returned to a life of drugs and prostitution. Selina and Holly were reunited and Holly cleaned up her act. During Selina's pregnancy, Holly took over for her as Catwoman. As Catwoman, she was arrested for the murder of the Black Mask (Selina had done the actual killing). Now, Holly is on the run, labeled a "cop killer" in the latest issue of "Countdown." The full details are likely to be revealed in "Catwoman" #68, out in two weeks.
While the Source Wall never appeared in a Jack Kirby comic, Kirby did refer to a "a final barrier" before the Source. The wall actually first appeared in "Marvel and DC Presents Uncanny X-Men and New Teen Titans" #1 (1982) where Walt Simonson crafted the image we know today. What did appear previously was a four page segment in "New Gods" #5. The New God, Metron, visits the wall and there is a titanic figure strapped to a hunk of Kirby background. In any case, this final barrier is, as Justin said, a hell for those who would dare to reach the Source. Lex Luthor, Barry Allen, Hal Jordan, Metron, Swamp Thing and Lucifer have all passed the Source Wall. Each of them saw something that they interpreted as being the Source, as the actual shape of the Source seems unknowable. Lex Luthor and Darkseid were both imprisoned in the Source Wall and both escaped.
BE: Jimmy meet the Source Wall, Source Wall meet Jimmy. Did you recognize anyone in the Source Wall, besides your pal?
JE: Dude, this was out and out creepy. I didn't like a moment of it, and not because I just don't like Jimmy. Just thousands and thousands of souls welded to a wall - it's some perverse version of Hell. And, no, I did not recognize anyone. Some look familiar, but more of a "guy in the background of Apokalips" kind of way.
BE: This all puts me in mind of Jimmy Olsen when Jack Kirby wrote it. That was the origin of the Cadmus project and the DNAliens that appeared in "Superboy" after the "Reign of the Supermen." It's been a long time, but during Kirby's run on Jimmy's book, it was the foundation of the Fourth World. Heck, Darkseid first appeared in "Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen" #134 (November 1970). Jimmy has deep ties to the New Gods, it just hasn't been mentioned in over 30 years.
JE: Note: Justin needs to borrow the "Superman's Pal" collection he just got his friend.
BE: Even the hokey silver age stuff is worth a read. It has the feeling of innocent fun that comics lack so much these days. Now, Holly Robinson, you were Catwoman and now you are on the run from the police. Why Metropolis?
JE: Cop killer? Not good at all. Though looking at her particular destination, it looks like she might play a role in Amazons Attack.
BE: Well, in an interview here at Comic Book Resources, Paul Dini said that Holly would be a major player in this series. Could be a tie to the Amazons, could be that she's suppose to be the Catwoman of Earth-8 and it could be we get a new costumed identity for her.
JE: I dig new costumed identities. Yet another thing that the DCU is well-known for, just like the multiple heroes of a single name. I wonder, though, what she could be?
BE: There has to be at least one feline heroine name that DC isn't using. Artemis Crock is going by Tigress now, and we have a pair of Wildcats. Catgirl hasn't being used since Dark Knight Strikes Again.
JE: True, true. Or there's something entirely new we haven't thought of yet.
BE: We also close with a shot of the "Amazon's Attack" miniseries. The crossover with Wonder Woman has been a good one and it reaches into interesting areas of the DCU, with Nemesis, Sarge Steel, Everyman from "52" and Circe as well as the expected Amazonian cast. It's nice to see the amazons treated with the respect they deserve.
JE: Especially after they were lost back before the last Crisis. And, while I've never been a huge fan of Wonder Woman or the cast, damn, that's an army to be scared of. I'm also glad Nemesis has taken such a bigger role in the DCU.
BE: And he's such a likable rogue. The writing on the Wonder Woman title has been a lot of fun. This guy beats Steve Trevor any day.
JE: Totally. A friend of mine was buying Wonder Woman, and had never seen Nemesis, so he was stunned when I cheered during my reading of the book. And, honestly, the only Steve Trevor I ever liked was his interpretation in the DCU Animated Universe.
BE: Seconded. Looks like the monitors are having a convention. One the screen we have: Jason Todd, Kyle Rayner (and Jennie-Lynn Hayden), Donna Troy, Breach, Power Girl and someone on a slab. Is that Duela?
JE: Yessir. Acid-flower on the lapel gives it away every time.
BE: Oh, to have the eyesight of the young!
JE: Cry me a river, man. I need new glasses as it is. Still, this is a bit odd to me, because she was already buried last issue.
BE: I'm a bit skeptical of this bearded monitor. He was very forthright about "doing the right thing" but now he has a really malicious look, like he is taking pleasure out of it.
JE: Well, if I remember correctly, he was also the one who felt really great about offing poor Duela in the first place, back in issue #51. So, yeah, I think he's loving it, and he's loving the fact that 1) he can persuade others to his cause (like most maniacs) and 2) he can screw the other team of "good" Monitors, all the while reveling in his own madness and power.
Dude, you realize, this means war. Not good.
BE: The Monitors at war. Could it be that instead of averting the "Final Crisis" that they will be the cause?
JE: My point exactly.
BE: Back to Trickster and Piper. I call hijinks on the whole thing. James Jesse is bored at the FBI? I might buy that, but to rejoin the Rogues? I'm more likely to believe that the Piper is lonely, but I still think they are both undercover.
JE: Me too. They seem to be trying to feel the other person out…
BE: "So to speak."
JE: Ha! …just giving up enough to be believed without dropping the ball in case the other is actually a bad guy again.
BE: Exactly my thoughts. I really like the dialog between the Piper and Trickster. This is where Paul Dini shines, with the natural nature of the conversation.
JE: Yeah. It doesn't feel forced. All the interactions so far have been similar, not just with Jesse and Piper, but with everyone. It's got a good feel and I'm glad Dini was given this opportunity, though lets also give props to Sean McKeever, who likely held a lot of weight with this issue, as well.
BE: I, frankly, am reminded of Dini's work on "Batman: The Animated Series," which had a nice mix of film noir and comic book feel to the dialog. Great patter.
JE: No arguments here.
BE: While we still don't know what Billy changed Black Adam's magic word to (we'll have to wait for the "Black Adam: The Dark Age" miniseries for that), he seems to be able to use "Shazam" to grant Mary his power.
JE: Yeah, that threw me for a loop. I wonder if, during the mini-series, the tale will be about redeeming himself enough to earn the power, rather than just his quest to reclaim it. After all, he gives it up pretty willingly.
BE: I hate to second guess, but that's what we're here for. I think that we'll find that the quest for his power will teach him that in the end, it's all just vanity. And I think that giving Mary his powers (and whatever corruption he feels comes with them) will lead Mary to a better place once she's been through the ringer.
JE: Yeah, we're definitely on the same page today. She's going to be put through hell here very shortly, and, perhaps in a twist on Adam's own recent past, be the person who helps stop a war, rather than causing one, a way of saying "It's not the power, necessarily, but the person who wields it.."
BE: Which, while not a C.C. Beck Storyline, might help Mary to be more than Billy's sister. And, yes, Mary in a black leather miniskirt for the win.
JE: And an Ed Benes cover for bonus points? Hoo-ah!
BE: I'm a big fan and the cover is excellent. In our backup feature we get to see the Crime Syndicate, who were always one of my favorites. Jurgens's artwork pays homage to Mike Sekowsky's artwork from their 1964 first appearance, rather than the updated look by Frank Quitely. Refresh my memory at the end of "52," was it the Quitely version of the syndicate that we saw?
JE: Yeah, though they still looked a bit altered. Power Ring and Jonny Quick looked a bit off back in "52," though that could have just been artistic license.
BE: Yes, I just looked it up and they seem a bit edgier, with a lot of influence from by Sekowsky and Quitely. I'll be happy to see these guys again. The Crime Syndicate is a favorite of mine.
JE: Very much so. The recent incarnations have been handled well, mostly by Grant Morrison, but anyone, really, who's picked them up has done well with them. They deserve their own book, though I worry it could easily devolve into some very sketchy territory.
BE: I think a miniseries is the best we could hope for. Even Kobra and Joker couldn't maintain their own book for long.
JE: Also, let's note that The Atom, Ray Palmer, played a crucial role in that previous Crisis on Multiple Earths. He's also likely to be a key player this time around (duh), but I wonder if it will be in the same manner.
BE: Or if he'll be the Atom when the series ends. Of course, we could have two Atoms, one of the joys of DC's legacy heroes is that we can have more than one character with the same name.
JE: And with multiple Earths, there's even more possibility. Just hit me: Current Atom Ryan Choi might also be a target for elimination by the Monitors.
JE: Yeah, thank you! Not that I don't love all these characters so far, because I do, but I'm a very street-level guy, in both my writing and reading. I don't relate well, even on an imaginary level, to god-like beings. Give me Jason any day. Even back from issue #51, he's shown one thing: he's not afraid to take on a guy that can fry him with a glance, just like Bruce and Dick.
That makes for an awesome character.
BE: And as a sucker for a good anti-hero, I completely agree. On the cover of next issue (see attached), Jason is fighting what appears to be "Forerunner," the fourth member of the Challengers of Beyond who will be appearing in "Countdown to Adventure," the other members being Adam Strange, Animal Man and Starfire.
JE: Doesn't look good for Jason, but I'm intrigued as to how she fits into the mess with the Monitors. Bounty hunter? Good thing we only have a few days to wait.
Panel of the Week
Never figured Adam for the Dirty Old man type.