Hey! Y’can’t just stop…. This is Metropolis! Stuff like this happens twice a week!
–Annoyed Cabbie, to a driver who has stopped to witness an earth-shattering event.

Following the success of their weekly series, 52, DC hopes to see lightning strike again with Countdown, which maps out the new DCU, the one changed by events from 52. Although the issues count backward from the end of that series (starting with #51), roughly a year has passed, chronicled in the mainstream DC titles.

Title: Countdown #51-48

Writers: Paul Dini with Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Tony Bedard, Adam Beechen.

Artists: Jesus Saiz, Jimmy Palmiotti, J. Calfiore, Mark McKenna, Carlos Magno, David Lopez, Tom Chu et al.

Special features by Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund.

Premise:

  • Jimmy Olsen investigates mysterious doings in the DCU, and it’s no stretch to say that something odd is happening to him.
  • Darkseid has an evil plan, and one of the New Gods has dead.
  • The Flash’s Rogues’ Gallery reunite, and we can assume that their intentions are not benevolent, though their numbers include two who have worked with heroes in the past.
  • Mary Batson awakes from a coma, stripped of her powers. She finds herself entangled with a very angry Black Adam who has regained his abilities since the end of 52.
  • Karate Kid has been imprisoned by the Justice League.
  • The Monitors review the history of the multiverse while debating how best to keep the universes separated and unaware of each other. One faction of Monitors stalks those who do not belong in a particular universe, and that faction has no qualms about killing.

High Point

The opening issue quickly establishes several plots, features some memorable imagery (though the initial panels are disturbing), and introduces our cast of characters in the form of Darkseid’s collectible action figures war room models.

Low Point

The Monitors’ plans could use some explanation. Killing people who have crossed between universes stops them from doing damage, yes, but how can these deaths serve as a “warning to others,” given that no one is supposed to know that the multiverse exists in the first place?

The Scores

Originality: 2/6. The universe has changed and this will have dire repercussions for the inhabitants of the DCU.

Artwork: 4/6. This team has thus far achieved more consistent results than we saw in 52, with nothing as bad or as good as the worst and best in that series.

Story: 5/6. I’ll start with a high score, since the first four issues show promise, and 52 managed to bring several plots together effectively. The stories move at a slow rate, however, and this score could drop quickly. So could my interest in reviewing another weekly series.

Characterization: 4/6. They’re attempting to do what 52 occasionally did very well: showcase and develop lesser DC characters.

Emotional response: 4/6.

Flow 5/6.

Overall: 5/6.

In total, Countdown #51-48 receive a score of 29/42.