[Renegade Robins: Event] Countdown to Final Crisis (July-Sept.)

UPDATE POST FOR WEEK 9 (AUG. 30-Sept. 5)

This week, we’re looking at Countdown to Final Crisis #18-14. The search for Ray Palmer comes to a close, and Jason finally gets to meet a Bruce Wayne who avenged his death! (Will he approve of this alternate Batman?) Here is a guide to these issues:

  • From the official spin-offs, we get Countdown to Adventure #5, Countdown to Mystery #4-5, and Lord Havok #3-4,
  • For the semi-official spin-offs, we have Death of the New Gods #4 and Salvation Run #3.
  • Additionally, we have a few stories that are regarded as tie-ins: Gotham Underground #3-4, All-New Atom #19, and Justice League of America (2006) #17-19.

I love how the story just inexplicably starts getting better written for the Earth 51 Bruce stuff. You can tell this is one of the few things they actually planned at the start and were then able to execute.

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You know, I still think that the story isn’t nearly as terrible as its reputation suggests…but then again, we’re only at issue #14, so there are still 13 more issues for it to tank completely. :stuck_out_tongue:

I must say, though: I didn’t care about the Monitor in Crisis on Infinite Earths, and I don’t care about the Monitors here or elsewhere. They remind me of cosmic Marvel stories, which I find dull.

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Agreed re: the Monitors.

My impression of Countdown is that it starts out B-grade and then gets a percentage point worse every issue, briefly improves when they do the Earth 51 thing, then tanks horribly as they run out of stuff that was pre-written and still have no idea what’s happening in Final Crisis, whose job this was to set up.

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Unrelated, but @AlexanderKnox out of curiosity, have you put together any public DCU lists which let you read through the different Renegade Robin Club weeks in order? I’m looking through some old issues and skipping between Batman and Tec every issue is getting annoying.

Well, the sessions are in order in the club’s main thread:

I don’t know if you’re able to see lists that I’ve created. Try this link:

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It’s more that it’s annoying to keep going back and forth between this list and the actual issues in the app. I’ll check this list out once I’m done with this issue, though: TY.

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Refused to open in my app, alas. Thanks anyway!

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Yeah, it’s not particularly good at setting up Final Crisis, either narratively or (perhaps more important for a Grant Morrison story) thematically. That said, I just finished the final issue, and I still think it’s not the complete dumpster fire that its reputation suggests.

Yet I do think that the idea of Countdown was misguided. The lead-up to Infinite Crisis was a collection of loosely-related “Infinite Crisis Special” miniseries. In the aftermath of Infinite Crisis, we had the weekly maxiseries 52. With Countdown and its tie-ins, DC tried to do both the myriad of miniseries and the weekly maxiseries, and the result was a wonky presentation of some okay story threads. Again, not a total disaster, but just really inefficient.

In retrospect, the Challengers from Beyond and The Search for Ray Palmer should have been contained in a miniseries from start to finish. (And I think it would have been a really fun miniseries on its own.) The prequel to Jack Kirby’s OMAC and Kamandi stories should’ve been its own miniseries, too. The Mary Marvel story could’ve been covered in a Shazam comic, and the New Gods stuff (including Jimmy Olsen) could’ve been part of the Death of the New Gods series. And then the Harley & Holly arc, um, is pretty pointless, so we can drop that one completely.

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UPDATE POST FOR WEEK 10 (SEPT. 6-12)

This week, we’re looking at Countdown to Final Crisis #13-9. Here are the bonus links:

  • Spin-offs: Countdown to Adventure #6, Death of the New Gods #5-6, and Salvation Run #4.

  • Related series: All-New Atom #20 and Gotham Underground #5.

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So way back in July I binged through Countdown and forgot about this thread afterwards. I think you’re right in that these stories would have been better as mini’s or covered in other series rather than one weekly series that jumps back and forth between 4 or 5 different stories.

It just doesn’t come across as particularly coordinated well, especially when you try to read the miniseries along side of it and figure out how they fit in. On its own, I didn’t hate this series, I enjoyed it (although the Superboy Prime story line was just awful in my opinion - but most Superboy Prime stories are to me).

But I think the inevitable comparisons to 52 - especially coming right after 52, makes it hard to recommend Countdown. If I want to go back and binge read a series,

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I guess I was bored… So I binged Countdown (to Final Crisis), reading for the first time since buying each issue tied to this series because of the amazing 52 series. Agree or don’t, this is IMO easily the worst series I have ever struggled through. Why would I say that? Let me break it down:

Overall story- what was it? Karate Kid got super sick and creates the Great Disaster on Earth 51? Jimmy Olsen destined to battle Darkseid? Death of the New Gods? Counting down to the Final Crisis? Everything lead to Apokalips, but after a smallish battle nothing much was resolved and the heroes still have about 10 issues to “wrap up” storylines. Nix Uotan got some focus which isn’t related to or touched on in Final Crisis. Some exploration of the 52 Earths? The book was an excuse to put a bunch of bland characters in group shots where most of them have zero to contribute? Not sure it succeeded in any way except for providing the Great Disaster and bringing together characters for no reason. But more on that when I rant about Karate Kid.

The writing: Dini should have had a better POV on the characters. They all kind of had the same voice and little motivation to get from point A to Point B. The editor staff got shaken up when the great mind behind 52 went to work at Marvel. Carlin was a terrible choice for editor for this series. Instead of being accessible, he was snarky and sarcastic about the series; he did little at the time to win fans or make people want to investigate this book. Only when Giffen came on board was there the roughest concept of order. Too late, unfortunately. The terrible choices of lead characters doomed this series from the start. There was some good, considering. Dan Jurgen’s history of the multiverse lesson was good fun. Scott Beatty killed it with his origin stories. Beautiful work and amazing artists!

Lead Characters- In order of when they leave the series:

Lightray (and Sleeze)- New God Lightray got murdered, setting off Jimmy’s story and one consistent effect of this time in the DCU. Strong start.

Duela Dent- Not much to think about here. Her Death starts Bob’s and Solomon’s course and introduced the idea that there were homeless heroes who needed to be placed in the DCU?

Jokester- Would have liked to have someone with a sense of humor stick around with Donna’s group. Interesting character written off too soon.

Trickster- A likable character was revealed as a horrible homophobe. He was inconveniently bound to other likable character Piper, limiting their usefulness when it was convenient writing. Then he was killed in a shocking way that (like many deaths in the series) is stretched beyond enjoyable into gross. You are literally sick of him by the time the shackles were loosed.

Bob the Monitor- First of all, Dini was really killing it with the names in this series: Athena,
Una, Bob. Didn’t this writer make magic with BTAS? Who let Red Hood name Bob? Jason couldn’t even come up with an original name for himself. So Bob was likable for half the series and super helpful. Until he wasn’t. I’m not sure what to even say here. He flipped suddenly when they finally found Ray, and the biggest crime here was that there were many books comic buyers purchased that ultimately were very useless as the “Challengers” (again, why Challengers? Why not Explorers or Bleeders? Something more accurate for what they were?) sought out Ray Palmer. These included pointless visits to to Gotham by Gaslight, Wildstorm, Crime Society, Red Rain, Red Sun, and the Earth where genders are flip flopped. Add the dumb Extremists miniseries to the list of offenses.

Granny Goodness / Athena- Was Granny really searching for new furies? By collecting homeless single women and putting them through counseling before putting them through a series of weird tests before bringing them to Paradise Island? This was contrived and poor concepting. And it was Granny… why was she Athena (not the goddess) and not something more compelling? And then she was no longer housed in one of many shelters-- she moved to Paradise island. Why? Even the Amazon Attacks series didn’t really make sense of why Granny didn’t just assemble amazons for her new furies. And why was she shopping? Only Bernadeth had died… Whatever. It all leads to Granny’s failure, the Greek gods freed, and Darkseid murdering Granny. And what ultimately happened to those left behind?

Desaad- He was working the strings for Trickster and Piper. Could have made that make more sense. What was the point except for making piper miserable. Maybe that was the point… Then Piper is able to blow up Desaad’s head with his flute. Um no further questions. A flute trumped the powers of a New God. Granny definitely had the more complicated plan…

Monarch- He blew up a world I think. But that wasn’t his worst action. That was the extremely crappy Arena book in which Monarch collects three versions of popular characters (and Nightshade) to compete for spots in Monarchs’ army. Don’t worry that Monarch also has the other superheroes like Forerunner (what happened to her, BTW?) and the Crime Syndicate. He gathered this whole army and you got to see 3-4 of them in one panel of Countdown and then NEVER AGAIN. Garbage story that just killed off characters, made no sense, and was ultimately pointless. As pointless as Monarch…

Eclipso- Eclipso was in this book for way too long. She was Mary Marvel’s moral compass. So Mary didn’t hear about Identity Crisis? She pairs up with someone worse than Black Adam and is fine with that? Innocent Mary Marvel? Come on.

Superman Prime- Superman Prime was in this book being his terrible self. He looked like an adult and wore the Black post-doomsday costume. Why? He blew up a whole planet because his main character trait is being a whiny baby. No development of this character. Why was so much effort put to inviting this idiot to the party?

Karate Kid- After being part of a cool JLA/JSA crossover, he was revealed to be lost in time for some reason and could not return to the 30th century (never really resolved in Countdown, but It could be eventually assumed he will be part of the '70s Kamandi story that was maybe retconned- disappointing). Val was basically dying the entire series after catching the worst virus ever (to which nobody else was exposed until KK finally dies (again, it took several issues too long) on Earth 51. After that, everyone (except a few) caught the disease and became super violent animal hybrids or something. Not sure how these hybrids would continue into the world of Kamandi but that was supposed to be the Kamandi tale… Guess KK is not destined to be a guest star in that story.

Una- With 25 or so LSH heroes to choose from to keep Karate Kid company, Dini picked Luorno Durgo. Who suddenly had a crush on KK. Even though she had one of the most stable marriages in the LSH (to Bouncing Boy). As did KK (to Sensor Girl). Consider that Luorno’s original power was the ability to split into three identical versions of herself. When one of those selves died she became Duo Damsel. But then another self died, leaving her with NO POWERS. But she gets a brand new bathing suit costume and dares to call herself UNA? UNA? Literally one? So what is her story arc? Literally crying over KK as he gets sicker and sicker. She also uses rat attraction deodorant as she somehow took the full assault of a horde of rats while Buddy Blank and his grandson suffer nothing. More on them later. She was killed by an attack by Buddy’s daughter (who had been on the roof for months(?) or the rats (which are what we see in her final scene).

Darkseid- He used Jimmy Olsen as a storage unit for fantastic powers. Let’s list them: bursts of speed, uncontrollable stretching, porcupine needles, giant turtle boy powers. Yup got all the good ones accounted for. And his destiny was to fight Jimmy Olsen, or at least until Orion steps in. I cannot express how disappointing it was that several of the biggest New Gods died in this book (vs Death of the New Gods or Final Crisis or the other places that specifically promised bodies).

Piper- I read the Flash: The Fastest Man Alive book and I think Trickster and Hartley were confused about whether their actions were complicit in Flash’s murder. It looked like they were definitely involved. Confusing. Then Piper went all the way to fighting some of DC’s best baddies. Then Piper and Trickster went through pain and grief and then Piper went alone to to crazytown and was ultimately dropped in an alley in Gotham? What was the point of all that? Had he learned anything? Would he go on to blow more heads up? Or be a good guy again? No idea. Terrible character arc with two formerly favorite characters.

Jason Todd- Zero character arc. He didn’t want to travel with Bob and the rest. But he did and was annoying as he could be the entire time. He came out of Countdown exactly where he came in. Tough but lame.

Solomon the Monitor- What happened here? Solomon had played chess with Darkseid? In which of the 52 dimensions? Confused. He killed Duela Dent and then tried to make Bob the enemy but them was the bad guy or the good guy. What? Then he leaves a Darkseid chess piece at the Source Wall. He will never be seen again.

Mary Marvel- Another main character who had no personality going into Countdown and is never developed. She turned super evil and then super compassionate and then super evil again. No real motivation for what happened to her. She dealt with Black Adam (who gave her powers that she lost somewhere), then fought Zatanna and Klarion. She finally got involved with Paradise Island for some reason and wasted way too much time thinking Eclipso would be helpful. The best they could do with this character was give her a very short skirt and make her evil. Didn’t she murder someone in this book? And she attacks at Donna Troy with really no motivation. Terrible character work.

Buddy Blank- So the writers established a whole relationship with this character on Earth 1, but KK and Una ended up with a totally different Buddy (OMAC) and grandson (Kamandi) for their final days. I think. The mom was introduced late. And how did she travel to the roof and not get any further? And how did the dog not attack grandson earlier? What was all this? Why did Buddy not become OMAC when he could have been much more helpful? Was it because of the new wave of blue OMACs? Hard to care too much since so much is just not compelling… At least he was able to open that heavy door so that they could “head home,” wherever that could be in this new world.

Nix Uotan the Monitor- Thank goodness Grant Morrison took this character back. Earth 51 was a total wasster of time. Maybe he should have monitored Thanagar in this dimension instead…

Jimmy Olsen and Forager- Jimmy’s story was all over the place. He stored a bunch of powers for some reason that was not easy to understand. His most interesting moments were at the beginning with Joker and Croc and then with Darkseid, but a main character looking for direction for 51 issues… not fun. And Forager- was she a new God? Shouldn’t she have died? She really had no importance to the story and I’m not sure why she stayed with Jimmy in the end- would have been more interesting for them to break up… And how many bad jokes about Chinese food leftovers do we need in one book?

Donna and Kyle- Kyle seems to be the one character everybody did well. But Donna? What were her motivations? What was her arc? So exciting to see her and Kyle, but ultimately these characters were left homeless right where they started. The Final Crisis definitely didn’t It looked like Dini thought he would be creating this new Challenger team, but there was no follow-up to this team. Disappointing!

Ray Palmer- Another one I feel the writers understood and boasted the most interesting arc. He came back to the DCU sand caused the death of a lot of former JLAers at the hands of Bob, Though he wasn’t very useful against the Morticoccus virus.

Holly Robinson- No character development. Not sure why she was even included or how she could have made it past the sea monsters at Paradise Island. I can think of fifty other characters who would have been more fun vs this esoteric garbage character.

Harley Quinn- Why did Dini fail his creation? She was not in her costume once. she just blended into the background and had very little of her famous personality. She was entirely disappointing.

Thus endeth my rant. I hope nobody else reads this book.

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I don’t necessarily disagree with your criticisms, but I have to admit that my reaction to it was far less visceral than yours. I found it utterly mediocre and largely forgettable, yet I wouldn’t put it on my list of stories that have angered me. It was more boring than anything to me.

I suppose the one place where our opinions differ is in regards to the Challengers’ universe-hopping adventures. I appreciated the brief stops in popular Elseworlds locations because I prefer DC as a multiverse, and those stories were initially released at a time when DC didn’t have a multiverse.

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UPDATE POST FOR WEEK 11 (SEPT. 13-19)

Countdown 5 narration

Two weeks left! This week, we’re looking at Countdown to Final Crisis #8-4. Here are the tie-ins:

  • Spin-offs: Countdown to Adventure #7-8, Lord Havok #5-6, Countdown to Mystery #6, Salvation Run #5, and Death of the New Gods #7.

  • Related series: All-New Atom #21-22 and Gotham Underground #6.

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Whoo. Okay. So I just binged just now from issue seven up until the end of the book. I do NOT recommend anyone doing that.

I will say that the issues dealing with the Great Disaster I’m sure felt very bleak and gratuitous before, but a story involving a mysterious virus of unknown origin causing massive mayhem and pain hits WAY different in 2020. The whole book ends in a whimper, but that definitely felt like one of the worst parts of this series.

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UPDATE POST FOR WEEK 12 (SEPT. 20-26)

Insert your “Final Countdown” jokes here, @RenegadeRobinsClub! This week, we’re looking at Countdown to Final Crisis #3-1. Here is a guide to these issues:

  • Spin-offs: Salvation Run #6-7, Death of the New Gods #8, and Countdown to Mystery #7-8.

  • Related series: Gotham Underground #7-9 and All-New Atom #23-25.

  • There was supposed to be a Countdown #0, but we got DC Universe #0 instead.

  • Oh, and there’s Final Crisis itself, I guess. Not that it has much to do with Countdown.

Here’s your final chance to express your thoughts! Let it all out like a embittered Superboy!

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Well, going through this series was an interesting experience. What’s funny is that while the more infamous and well known bad moments of this story were bad, in a weird way they were kind of the highlights, because in the end this is a series of mostly disconnected and uninteresting plots bloated up well past what it should have been. In the end, most of it is just kind of boring, which is almost worse.

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I’m sure that some of you have seen Lewis Lovhaug’s reviews of this series, and while I think he’s downright wrong at times (see especially the “Darkseid in a chair” gag, which shows that his knowledge of the character was derived mostly from the DCAU when he made these videos in 2009), his commentary is still amusing.

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I can appreciate your thoughts on the Challengers, but the team really never challenged anything. If it had been revealed that Bob had been causing ripples with his visits that would have ben cool and beefed up those (mostly one-shot Elseworlds visits. I think Countdown might have been better if the Challengers had not only visited those worlds but had experienced a lasting effect, like a Red Rain Harley Quinn or an Extremist good guy Circe or really anything that lasted beyond the “end with a whimper” 51 issue story. It was as if Dini and crew were shackled; the complete opposite of the character redefining of 52.

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They (and the book in general) certainly challenged my patience.

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