T-MINUS: "Countdown" #51

Sun, May 13th, 2007 at 12:00am PDT

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By Justin Eger (More) and Brian K. Eason (More)

"I'm not too tolerant of gun-weilding crazies myself." - Jason Todd / Red Hood

"Countdown" #51
Previously in the DCU…

Dude, where have you been for the last year? There was "52," and One Year Later… and, oh, hell. Look, just be glad we wrote all those articles for you.

Countdown 51
Justin Eger: Welcome back, gang. Welcome to a whole new year. Feel free to join in at your leisure.

First off, our story begins with a discussion between Darkseid and his favorite lackey, Desaad, as the two debate the point of human life and the ripples that each soul creates throughout the world it touches, no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time. Darkseid, in what I'm considering his first OYL appearance here, jumps right back on board with his plans to recreate the universe in his image.

Jump to New Earth where Duela Dent kidnaps a pop star, leading to a confrontation with Jason Todd, back in his Red Hood persona (for a history of both, see Brian's mastery below). The confrontation is interesting, to say the least, as two short-term Teen Titans collide. Unfortunately, the confrontation is as about as short-lived as either's Titans tenure, as a Monitor arrives on the scene to murder Duela for being an anomaly in the multiverse. Jason tries to intervene, only to be targeted himself. Only the interference of another Monitor saves Batman's former sidekick, and the Red Hood is left with a mystery to solve and the body of Duela to mourn.

It's just a hop, skip and a jump down the street to where Mary Marvel, awakened finally from her coma induced during "Day of Vengeance," is being released from the hospital. Mary, alone, keeps asking if anyone left her any messages, and only one has ever been left in the year that she's been in her coma. This comes from Freddie Freeman himself, who asks her not to look for him.

Oh, and, like Black Adam, Mary's magic word doesn't work anymore, either.

Another hop, and we get to see a gathering of the Flash's Rogues Gallery, specifically the arrival of early bird Trickster to Heatwave's party. After a few pranks, the two discuss the reinvention of what it means to be a Rogue, though one other old friend is listening in, as well, The Pied Piper, who seems to be bent on brining down his old friends.

And, finally, let's jump to the end of the universe, as one of the Monitors visits the Source wall, which serves as the barrier between the respective universes. It's here that the monitor has come for an answer: how to prevent the "Great Disaster." His answer: Ray Palmer.

FYI
Brian Eason: Because I can't leave well enough alone, here's what will pass for Crisis Continuity on these articles. Duela Dent is the Joker's Daughter. Frankly, that's a lousy name and long before Harley Quinn, she went by Harlequin. She also claimed to be the daughter of Catwoman, Scarecrow, Riddler, and Penguin. She finally settled on being Two-Face's daughter. Post 52, she is apparently from another earth (possibly Earth-2). Dan DiDio has said that Duela's death will have a ripple effect throughout the Countdown series.

Jason Todd was the second Robin and was beaten to death by the Joker in the 1988 storyline, "Batman: A Death in the Family." Jason's fate was determined by calls to a 1-900 number. Jason was killed by the narrowest of margins, 5,343 to 5,271, but he returned from the dead during the "Hush" storyline in the Batman titles as a result of Superboy Prime - yes, I know - punching the time stream. (JE: SUPERBOY, PUNCH! Sorry.) Jason returned as the Red Hood (the first identity used by the Joker) and later went on to impersonate Nightwing. Post "52," we see Jason has returned to the Red Hood persona.

Comments
BE: The cover: Black Adam? Interesting.

JE: Yeah, but since this was a preview image well before the end of "52," they couldn't very well have left him out, powers or no.

BE: Also, Captain Atom is in the Monarch armor.

JE: Lovin' the Monarch costume, by the way. Glad to see someone paid attention to what happened in "Battle for Bludhaven."

BE: Rayner found him in the Bleed in "Ion." Atom, still in Monarch armor, is traveling the Bleed to avoid the Monitors' gaze and to learn more about multiverse. He has not been referred to as Monarch in the comics, but Dan DiDio referred to him as Monarch in Wizard Magazine #179.

"One of the things we want to do with Captain Atom, and what comes about with Monarch, is to see what the differences between the Wildstorm and the DC Universe are. You see the difference in attitude, and how the characters act and behave. And some of those behavioral patterns that Captain Atom picked up in the Wildstorm Universe, will affect how he behaves as Monarch. "

JE: Nice. Okay, here's another cover thing: my girlfriend likes to see if she can name characters on big spreads like this (and she got most of them, which, for only liking Marvel Comics except for Teen Titans, is impressive), but who is the black haired chick behind Cyborg? We were both stumped.

BE: Sasha Bordeaux, Black Queen of Checkmate.

JE: Then that's a crappy Sasha Bordeaux.

BE: On an entirely different note, seems that Morrison's "Seven Soldiers" version of the Fourth World is fully ignored OYL.

JE: I avoided "Seven Soldiers," but my understanding was that it was always off in its own place anyway, and that, despite the use of those characters, it wouldn't really touch the "Mainstream" DCU. Of course, the random use of Bulleteer and Manhattan Guardian have nixed that to some end. Anyway, point being, this is the "Fourth World" I'm actually familiar with, so I'm not complaining.

BE: I can't see how Grant could imagine there would be no mixing as he included Shadw in the book at the time that it was playing big in the DCU. The Bride of Frankenstein is one of their agents.

JE: I'd probably read it if the trades weren't so damn goofy. Just give me seven trades with seven stories. I'll put the pieces together myself, I'm kinda smart. But nooo…

BE: Anyway, we also get a little peek of where we're going with Jason. "Little Red Robin Hood" could be the origins of Jason's Kingdomesque Red Robin look. It's a shame. I actually like the Red Hood gimmick.

JE: Since DiDio backpedaled so much on the Red Robin / Jason Todd thing, I'm just going to let that one go for now. If it happens, cool. If not, also cool. I also like the Red Hood gimmick / look (actually got a sketch of him at Pittsburgh this year from Scott McDaniel). Honestly, we might be the only people that do like it...

I will say this, though: I'm glad Jason is being used, and I'm glad that he's developing. Sure, there's still the "I must protect children" at all costs, but there's always been potential for so much more, and I'm glad to see that shaping up. It'll also be nice to see if Jason will come up to Bat-snuff and try to figure out the mystery of the Monitors.

BE: Well, he was trained by the Batman, that's a good point. With Mary Marvel and Jason Todd, we have the opportunity to see some interesting evolution with B-List characters.

JE: Just like "52." Poor Mary Marvel. Kind of depressing, that. But what about Trickster and Pied Piper: I'm really thrilled about this, because they're such flashy characters, and the Rogues have gotten about crap for use lately, so I'm happy to see these two guys be the tour guides of the "underbelly," if you will. And to have it start off so simply as a kegger among the villains is just genius.

BE: Absolutely. But I think that Trickster and Piper are still quasi good-guys. There seems to be an indication from the Piper that Trickster is going to be a problem. I take that to mean that there is more here than a meeting of the Rogues.

JE: I wonder if they're both still on the side of right, but they each think the other is the bad guy? That could be fun.

Panel of the Week

Well, at least it wasn't "Save the Cheerleader…"

 
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