I have now dropped Countdown. The extent to which there will not even be a pretence of a story in this comic has become painfully clear.
Let's look at the series/miniseries spinning out of Countdown:
Search For Ray Palmer
Countdown To Mystery
Countdown To Adventure
Death Of The New Gods
Lord Havok & The Extremists
Then there's the stories not promoted as Countdown tie-ins but which have been absolutely necessary to follow it so far:
The Lightning Saga
Death Of The Flash
Then there's the other big crossover stories that I would bet good money on tying in in some way:
Sinestro Corps (and its own spin-offs...)
That isn't even counting the issues of ongoing titles that are getting drawn in (like Superman, Blue Beetle and The Atom). Nor is it counting the numerous 52 spin-offs, which will almost certainly tie in.
None of this can possibly be necessary from a storytelling perspective. Fifty-two issues is more than enough to tell any story in by itself. That's Cerebus and High Society put together. It's double Morrison's run on Animal Man. It's Promethea plus Watchmen plus The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (well, a few issues less than that, but still...). It's an expanse of space few comics creators have been able to work with, and almost none have been guaranteed. It's a gargantuan canvas on which a truly epic tale could be painted.
But instead of bothering to do that, Countdown is instead being used as a repository of deleted scenes from other comics. Now, I'm not arguing that the series shouldn't tie into the main DCU - it is, after all, a cross-over, and that's what they do. But nothing at all is happening in Countdown itself to justify its existence.
In this issue, the only things - the only things - that aren't continuations of events that happened in other comics are:
Holly (who we've still not been given any reason to care about) watches Harley Quinn do the splits in the air (and even this may well be coming out of some other comics I'm not reading)
Jimmy Olsen draws some pictures of himself in his old Silver Age costumes
Mary Marvel (who appears to have two watermelons attached to her chest) shows her black leather panties a lot and gets covered with mud.
Oh, and there's a backup feature in which a bunch of near-omnipotent cosmic beings of unstoppable power are so scared of the Siegel family's lawyers that they use the most ridiculous circomlocutions possible to avoid saying the word 'Superboy'.
All the rest is stuff following on from Flash (the Rogues), Atom (the Ray Palmer bit), JLA and JSA (the Karate Kid stuff).
Even that wouldn't be too terrible, were it done competently. To take the Atom stuff as an example, because it's the only one of those comics I'm reading, we have three pages here featuring the Atom and his supporting cast. It sets up nothing that readers of the main title don't already know, so it's of no value to them. But it doesn't actually say who these characters are, either in dialogue or in a caption box of the "For more about Ryan Choi's adventure in the Palmerverse, see All New Atom, on sale in three weeks! - Molecular Mike" type. So anyone who isn't reading Atom will not have a clue what's going on and they won't even be pointed in the right direction to find out.
The most entertaining thing in this comic, by a long way, is the pull-out ad for hot dogs. At least that has some Sergio Aragones artwork. Unless you have a burning desire to see incompetent drawings of the scantily-clad bottom of a teenage girl, there is no possible reason for wishing to read this.
Countdown may well be the biggest mistake DC have made in ten years or more. Because they're turning Countdown into a brand, but what that brand says to me is 'steer clear'.
If you put out Steve Gerber writing Dr Fate, I think "this is something I need to pick up." Put out Countdown To Mystery and I think "Danger! Run away!"
I may pick up some of DC's new titles, but it will be cautiously, and I will not be inclined to take a chance, or give any comic from them the benefit of the doubt. DC have consistently mis-solicited these comics (Keith Giffen is still not working on the title, despite having been solicited as breakdown artist on every issue). They have lied in the promotional interviews (saying the title would be self-contained, when it's anything but). And they have insulted those of us who gave them the benefit of the doubt but pointed out the flaws in the comic (saying we don't understand how it's being paced).
I will keep this URL for a while (a couple of people have asked me to keep it just so they don't have to update their blogrolls) but I will never buy another issue of this drivel, and any comic that requires me to buy it will be dropped (though if the Atom tie-in is anything to go by, nothing of any consequence will ever happen in these tie-in bits). Starting tomorrow I will start talking about comics that are good - or at least interestingly bad - rather than comics whose only function is to waste perfectly good trees and make their readers a tiny bit more stupid.
Everyone involved in the production of this series should be ashamed of themselves for producing such meretricious drivel. But not as ashamed as I am for supporting them.
Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me every week for ten weeks straight... well, there's no word for how foolish that makes me, and how ashamed I should be. But even someone as stupid as me eventually learns.