I abandoned Countdown, so I thought the replacement should be another 52 tie-in, The Four Horsemen. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse or, rather, Apokolips, have survived their apparent death in 52, and face DC’s four greatest heroes: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and… Snapper Carr?
Title: Fifty-two Aftermath: The Four Horsemen
Writer: Keith Giffen
Art: Pat Olliffe, John Stanisci
Bialya, laid waste by Black Adam in 52, refuses all but the most basic international aid and definitely does not want metahuman assistance. Nevertheless, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman involve themselves and realize that the Four Horsemen have been destroyed in substance, but not essence. In the first three issues of this six-issue mini, they receive assistance from the current Mr. Terrific and Checkmate, and by the evil Dr. Cale. Cale, of course, has ulterior motives, but she remains untouchable, as she has filled the power void on Oolong Island, which has become a sovereign state.
The most significant helper, however, is former sidekick Snapper Carr, who here appears more competent than ever before and appears to be affiliated with Checkmate.
Post-52, Batman’s more of a team player, but they haven’t tamed him entirely. I like this conception of the character, who occupies a space between the Dark Knight and a kiddie cartoon.
DC’s output suffers from “event” fatigue. When we know the world isn’t going to end, threatening the world every month wears thin, and at this point creates less suspense than a story where we care about the fate of an individual or, say, a threat to Old Saybrook, Connecticut or Bwlch, Powys.
Originality: 2/6. Heroes face an adversary based on an old mythic concept, one of the heroes has been compromised, they all have to work alongside villains for a common cause, the adversary has a vast videogamesque army of walking dead to assist them, and the most important person in the fight may be the representative of the average man. Sound familiar? The setting is somewhat unusual (and grim) for a mainstream comic, but it recalls the worlds of a thousand “dark” pop culture stories and videogames.
Artwork: 4/6. Though it lacks 52‘s super-sized art team, the quality of the work still varies. The best will impress fans; the worst is passable.
Story: 4/6. It’s difficult to rate one-half of a story, but it has a nice momentum, and Snapper looks a more promising normal-turned-hero than Jimmy Olsen’s current incarnation.
Characterization: 4/6. It’s about on par with the typical mainstream comic. Giffen is trying to create a sense of family among the “Big Three,” without seeming too forced.
Emotional response: 4/6. In a few panels we see the kinds of lower-level crimes that plague disaster areas. With a world-threatening menace on the horizon, little can be done with these elements, but they indicate more original directions for this particular follow-up story. How do superheroes deal with after-effects of a world-threatening disaster?
Overall: 4/6. Overall, the story feels remarkable clean given its dark, grim environment. 52 did a better job of balancing grim and upbeat elements.
In total, The Four Horsemen #1-3 receives a score of 27/42.