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Counting Up, Counting Down

Tuesday 29th May 2007 by scherem

Its hard to find a good comic shop. Damn hard. When you find one, its hard to let go of it, and sometimes that creates a series of problems. Point in case, My shop, Silver Snail Toronto, is no way local to me. In reality its about a 80 min drive in ideal conditions. Because of this, I only get to empty my pull box once, maybe twice a month. It’s only now that I finally got to around to reading the end of 52, and the start of Countdown. Due to the fact that these issues are over a month old, I’m not going to be trying too hard to be spoiler free.

Issue 51 was interesting in a few ways. First is that it had probably one of the most stunning covers in the series. The majority of the covers to 52 have all been amazing, with the exception of one or two that I didn’t care for aesthetically. Two things stood out as highlights to me in this issue, the first being the resolution of the space arc. Animal Man made it home to Ellen, and they didn’t call off any of his family. Buddy’s relationship with his family was one of the strong themes in Morrison’s run on Animal Man, and was the same here. I enjoyed the little touches of his homecoming, the neighbors coming over to listen to his tales, or his complaints how he lost his jacket which had all his ID in it. I admit I was worried that Ellen had moved on, but in one page they resolved that neatly. But the most impressive thing in this issue was how the revealed the motivation behind Robin’s costume change: Homage.

The double size conclusion to 52 has confused a lot of people (or so I’ve heard). I actually like the approach they took to it. They aren’t tying the multiverse to OA anymore, or even saying its about Earths that took different evolutionary paths. Its about Earths that weren’t completely destroyed and are now rebuilding. And how can I be mad, they revived the Charalton Heroes Earth, where (a version of) Vic Sage is still alive. I do wonder how the Wildstorm bleed fits into all of this, but that is something for future storytellers to address.

52 ends how it began– being Booster’s story. It was nice to see one final interaction with Booster and Ted, which I think was the inspiration of his battle cry ‘this is for the Blue and Gold’. Two colors, two friends. That is the central them of the story: Honoring your partners. From Magnus and Morrow to Ralph and Sue, every story ultimately boils down to finding your friends or dealing with their loss in their lives. This even works for Montoya and Sage, Montoya and Kane and even Black Adam and his late wife.

I hated the concept of the multiverse, and I hated hearing it was coming back— but you know what? I’m excited.

The Ending of 52, leads into the yearlong countdown to Final Crisis, which as hinted, will lead to the birth of the Megaverse. So for a first issue, how does it fair? It started at least four plot lines: Mary Marvel, Darksied, The Search for Ray Palmer, the redemption(?) of Red Hood, and people knowingly crossing multiverses. The fact that they are illustrating this last point as common knowledge (well at least Tod knows about it) is bit disheartening. I was hoping for the multiverse crossovers to be kept at a minimum for the next couple of years. Like 52 though, I hope that this series keeps the beats it established in this issue– I want a weekly comic.

Also, when did Piper become evil, I thought he became good AGAIN at the end of Rogue War?

Countdown 50 was not nearly as good as 51, and actually a bit worrisome. A lot of the issue seems to b referencing stories in other books; The JLA/JSA crossover, the current Flash storyline. I’m worried that I will not be able to enjoy Countdown on its own, like I was able to with 52. Another concern I had, and this may be sloppy storytelling is that they revealed that Red Hood’s identity AND history is public knowledge. If Jimmy knows the Hood is Jason Todd, and was Robin, how hard is it for him to figure out that Batman is Bruce Wayne?

The jury is still out on Countdown, but if its at all paced like 52, it won’t be till about issue 25 when you can safely decide if you hate or like it.

Martin Scherer enjoys reading, thinking and consuming comics in mass amounts. When he is not throwing down the php/xml-fu he is trying to catch up on his comics. He looks forward to hearing your comments about this, past articles or general questions about comics. Contact him via email, martin@geekscape.net