Top 15 Worst Moments of Countdown
July 20, 2009
The 15 most awful moments from the dreaded series!
(Open on Linkara sleeping)
Linkara: (in his sleep) He's a man... Punch... Wears a purdy hat...
(Unbeknownst to him, however, a robotic hand reaches out to the pile of "Countdown" comics and zaps them)
Robotic stranger: (sounding like Linkara) There. Let's see if that produces the desired result.
(Theme song plays, followed by title card for this episode, set to "The Final Countdown" by Europe; cut to Linkara on his futon)
Linkara: "Countdown To Final Crisis" is one of the worst series I've ever had to read. The plot holes are big enough to bury a thousand copies of each issue; the story itself is more focused on killing and promoting other books than to actually give us a good story; and the artwork ranges from lazy to outright terrible!
Linkara (v/o): Hell, combined, I've already spent more than an hour giving its history and just trying to summarize its awful story. I hate it for what it represents in the industry: a mindset that says that crossovers should be the focus, shock deaths are more interesting than compelling characters, and that editors should be the ones to dictate how a story progresses. But in summarizing all of it, I've left out or just gleaned over things that, in a regular review, I could spend half the video making fun of.
Linkara: And because I want to get this piece of crap out of my system once and for all, we're going to talk about "Countdown" one more time! This, is the Top 15 Worst Moments of "Countdown"!
(Cue the countdown intro, set, in this case, to Europe's "The Final Countdown"; this is the interlude footage throughout the video)
Linkara (v/o): Number 15: The "Mr. Action" Costume
(Cut to a closeup of a cover of the comic showing said Mr. Action costume)
Linkara (v/o): Good Lord, this was a stupid idea! Who was demanding that Jimmy Olsen run around as a superhero? And aesthetically, it's just gaudy, but not in a good way, like some costumes.
(Cut to a shot of Green Lantern from the Golden Age)
Linkara (v/o): Take the Golden Age Green Lantern, Alan Scott. By all accounts, his costume is ridiculous: baggy pants, big, oversized collar, and a red shirt and purple mask. By all accounts, this costume should be horrible, and yet, if he shines that green ring in your direction, you'd hold up your hands in fear and scream...
Linkara: (holding up hands in fear) ..."Dude, you can dress like any circus performer, I don't care!"
(Back to Olsen's Mr. Action costume)
Linakra (v/o): But this outfit doesn't look right at all! And hell, he doesn't even stay in it for a good chunk of the series, so why even put him in it to begin with?
(Cut to another shot of Olsen, or rather, multiple Olsens, each with different superpowers)
Linkara (v/o): While we're on the subject, okay, I get that all these superpowers are throwbacks to the Silver Age when Jimmy Olsen would get superpowers every five minutes, but he's supposedly getting them because the souls of the New Gods are getting planted in him. Well, when the hell was there a New God who was a giant turtle man?! Or a super-stretchy guy?! Or one who shot needles out of his skin?! Or turned into vapor?! Mr. Action: lasted all of a moment, and thankfully died in that moment as well.
Linkara (v/o): Number 14: Mary Marvel's orgasmo-pole
(A panel from the comic is shown of Mary Martin holding a staff and smiling creepily)
Linkara (v/o): This one falls under the major artistic failings of "Countdown". Now, I know a weekly comic can be a difficult thing to get out on time, so you have to cut some corners and sometimes just say, "Screw it, let it go through." But this is just ridiculous! Look at her! What are we supposed to take from this? That Mary has an orgasm whenever she holds a phallic magical pole? We can't even say the dialogue saves her from that interpretation! It just reinforces it! Even if we didn't take that interpretation, it'd look awful.
(Linkara is seen imitating Mary Marvel's pose: his glasses are off, and he holds his magic gun while rolling his eyes upward with a dopey look on his face)
Linkara (v/o): Mary Marvel and the pole. This isn't band camp, Mary, put the pole down.
Linkara (v/o): Number 13: "The Puppets Convinced Me."
(Panels of the comic are shown of Trickster and Pied Piper playing with puppets of Piper and the Flash)
Linkara (v/o): Here's what I didn't talk about in the review because of time: while Piper and Trickster were on the run from the Suicide Squad, they were also on the run from DC's heroes, since they helped murder Bart Allen. During one sequence, Batwoman and the Question have the two cornered. Trickster, however, pulls out a set of puppets that he conveniently has on him to explain how they're innocent. While Batwoman just wisely punches him out, the Question lets them go, saying the puppets convinced her.
Linkara: Yeah, Jim Henson did that all the time to get out of speeding tickets.
Linkara (v/o): Now, I admit, I still kind of have reservations for Renee Montoya as the new Question – long story there; go read "52" – but I don't think for a minute that she's that dumb, or that the puppets convinced her that Piper and Trickster were too stupid to have killed anyone. Really, it just looks like they wanted to grab onto "52"'s popularity by bringing in two characters from it. But since they're far too competent for this mess, they made up this flimsy justification to let them go.
Question: Did you forget I was a homicide detective in Gotham's bloodiest department? Trust me, those two idiots couldn't kill time.
Linkara: Oh, I don't know, their storyline in "Countdown" didn't do much of anything else.
Linkara (v/o): Number 12: Kyle Rayner: The Green* Club
- NOTE: Linkara only says, "The Club", not saying "Green" as part of it.
(The fight between Donna Troy and Mary Marvel is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Now, before anyone jumps down my throat, I will say, yes, this scene is hilarious. This is another one I didn't mention in the main review: right at the end, after Darkseid was done crashing on Mary Marvel's couch and letting her turn evil again, Mary fights Kyle Rayner and Donna Troy again. And what magnificent weapon does she use? Kyle's body, of course! Yes, she actually grabs him like a rag doll and starts beating up Donna with him! I love the sound effect, too: "WHAP WHAP WHAP WHAP WHAP"!
Linkara: Now, you're probably wondering why included this on its "worst moments" if I liked it. Well, here's the thing: it's funny, but it's another sign of "Countdown"'s idiocy!
Linkara (v/o): We're supposed to take Mary seriously as a villain, maybe even sympathize with her in our desire to make her good again and hope she sees the light of day, but instead, this scene makes us want to see who she's going to use as a flail next. It's like the writers slipped that in there as if to say, "Hey, sorry about all this, but I hope this makes you laugh."
Linkara (v/o): Number 11: "Who monitors the Monitors?"
(Cut to a shot of a panel showing Donna asking this very question)
Linkara (v/o): Let's get something out of the way here: while "Who watches the Watchmen?" may have popularized the phrase, the thing is thousands of years old! I really doubt the "Countdown" creators were so desperate that they were trying to tie it in to "Watchmen". That being said, there's still numerous idiotic things about it. The original Latin has different meanings, including "watchmen", "police", "guardians", etc., etc.
Linkara: But (makes "air quotes") "monitor"?! Yeah, you could stretch that to mean "some kind of protector", but otherwise, "to monitor" really just means "looking at stuff"; e.g., monitoring.
Linkara (v/o): So, what they're basically saying is, "Who looks at the people who look at stuff and doesn't do anything but look?" But let's give them the benefit of the doubt with this statement, and instead, look to the premise, that they're going to make sure the Monitors play nice. I remind you all, this is the same group of people who had a tough time trying to fight one monitor, and now they plan to keep fifty of them in line?! Furthermore, why the hell do the Monitors need to be looked over? Do I really need to retread the "We should do something" joke? For crying out loud, the federal government moves faster than these twits! And really, what did they do in "Countdown"? Yeah, Bob and Solomon were a problem, but overall, the Monitors did jack!
Linkara: Really, if they want to be a preventative force, they should say, "Who darkseids the Darkseid?" (beat) Wow, that sounded really dirty.
Linkara (v/o): Number 10: "Re-Todd"
(The last panels of issue 26 are shown)
Linkara (v/o): Just think about this for a second: you just spent the rest of issue 26 trying to convince that this is a mature, important storyline that people should be reading.
(Cut to a panel of Donna saying, "Sure I'm alive now... but it hurt like hell when Re-Todd shot me.")
Linkara (v/o): But then you make a terrible pun and use ablest language at the same time! And not only that, it's an out-of-character thing for Donna to say! She's never used the word "retarded", nor would she ever insult someone so stupidly! And then there's that goofy expression on Kyle Rayner's face when she says it. Plus, he has the gall to reinforce the statement by saying it's a good line!
Linkara: It's amazing how, in five entirely different ways, a panel can so utterly FAIL!
(The panel is shown again, and to a buzzer sound, the word "FAIL" appears in five different places all over the panel)
Linkara (v/o): Number 9: All the Killing
(A montage of shots of the characters who were killed in the comic are shown)
Linkara (v/o): Let's go through these one by one. First of all, Duela Dent. It's revealed in "Countdown" that killing her wasn't about preventing crossovers with parallel universes, but to start a flimsy justification for Bob to go off and try to hunt Ray Palmer. THAT IS THE EPITOME OF POINTLESS! Then there's the Jokester. DC gave a big push for this guy, giving interviews about him, printing a comic that explains his backstory, featuring him in a couple of issues... and then he's unceremoniously killed off. Why?! How about the Trickster? The initial "Countdown" interviews said he was supposed to go through a journey with Piper that would see him overcome his homophobia. And instead, bullet to the head! Karate Kid and Triplicate Girl? One spends half the series coughing, and the other one gets killed by rats to rescue two characters who we'll never see again. Whoop-de-friggin'-do!
Linkara: Now, to be honest, I'm actually really against character death in general. Why take away the ability to tell stories about them? But, if you're going to kill a character, (points to camera) here's a tip...
(Cut to a shot of a cover for "Crisis On Infinite Earths", showing Superman holding up Supergirl's dead body and crying out)
Linkara (v/o): If you really must kill a character, you make sure it's their crowning moment of awesome! The instant when the readership looks at the character and says, "Oh, that is the most badass thing I've ever seen!" Here are two examples. First, there's the pre-"Crisis" Supergirl. When "Crisis On Infinite Earths" was being written, it was decided that Superman had too much baggage from Krypton. He had Kryptonian enemies, allies, Kryptonian cats, dogs, horses, monkeys... They wanted Superman to be the last son of Krypton, so that meant killing off or just ignoring these things.
(A montage of shots leading up to Supergirl's death in question is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Get this: the Anti-Monitor, the biggest bad guy of them all, is ready to blow up all of reality. So, what does Supergirl do? She punches him. And punches him. And punches and punches and punches and just whales on the guy until one lucky blast from the Anti-Monitor kills her. But her death had meaning. It had soul. It showed a character dying to save lives. But she wasn't just some victim or shock death. She forced the heavily-injured Anti-Monitor to retreat.
(Cut to shots of the Spider-Man villain Doctor Octopus)
Linkara (v/o): Or hell, how about Doctor Octopus? Yeah, he died once, too! He's better now, but when they decided to kill him off, they knew he shouldn't go out like a pansy. They spent half the issue with him fighting and scoring a few good hits before he died, because the writers knew you had to honor the legacy of the character.
Linkara: Bottom line: if a character's going to die, (holds up his fists and pretends to punch something) they better go out swingin'!
Linkara (v/o): Number 8: "I'll kill you to DEATH!"
(Shots of the comic showing Superboy-Prime are displayed)
Linkara (v/o): Oh, dear Lord! Whose idea was it to bring in Spasticboy-Prime?! Seriously, I wanna know who thought it'd be a good idea to bring this guy into an already-jumbled mess! It was already hard enough to take him seriously when he was so whiny in "Infinite Crisis", but we could kind of sympathize with him because of what we knew about him. But here?! He's not compelling in the slightest! The "I'll kill you to DEATH!", though, is where it was clinched that we could NEVER, in any way, take him seriously as a villain ever again. Oh, sure, he'd still be a threat to the heroes, but when you know eleven-year-olds who could form more mature statements than that, it goes to show what a crappy villain he is.
Linkara: Here's the thing: while a good villain can indeed be someone who you want to see dead or defeated, it shouldn't be a chore to have to slog through reading about them!
(A shot of the Anti-Monitor from earlier is shown, as part of another comic)
Linkara (v/o): Let's look at the Anti-Monitor again. Recently, the Anti-Monitor was brought for the extremely well-done "Sinestro Corps War" event. When I saw him again, alive and in charge of the Sinestro Corps, my jaw dropped, and I was more interested than ever in what was happening. When you see a guy like the Anti-Monitor, you want to pay attention to him. You want to know how the heroes are going to overcome a threat like that. And when you consider that the Anti-Monitor is as basic and evil as it can get, it goes to show that you don't necessarily need anyone too complex as your villain, just a big enough threat that you can't tear your eyes away.
(Back to Superboy-Prime in "Countdown")
Linkara (v/o): But really, Superboy-Prissy is the villain who got the most panel time in this series, and the capstone to his existence is "I'll kill you to DEATH!" He's drawn as an actual adult who's saying those words. It doesn't make you want to pay attention and more, it makes you want to flip the page and make you look at anyone but him! "I'll kill you to DEATH!" Don't worry, asshole, you're doing it anytime you open your noise hole.
Linkara (v/o): Number 7: Any of the artistic writing and discontinuity
Linkara: I really can't pick any single one of these; it's just all over the map.
Linkara (v/o): I mentioned in the review the issue that ended with Piper and Trickster falling out of the evening sky, with the high-tech jet in the background, only for the next issue to be a clear, blue afternoon, with a regular jet in there, but there were plenty of others. For example, remember the Question from earlier? This is how she's supposed to look. (another shot of the Question is shown, wearing an obvious blank mask) Now, when they first had her appear at the end of an issue, this is how she actually looked!
Linkara: I mean, what the hell? Does she have silly putty all over her face? Didn't the artist do any research on what these characters are supposed to look like?!
Linkara (v/o): Here's another good one from the Piper and Trickster storyline: Wally West, the Flash, and the cousin of Bart Allen finally catches up with the two to get their explanation for what happened with Bart's death. At the end of this issue, he's pissed as all hell and says they deserve to die and tugs on the handcuff cord, which has a defense mechanism designed to shock the two. In the next issue, he says he didn't do it at all and that they should quit whining. How about Holly Robinson's mood hair? Eventually, they settle on her as a redhead, but NO ONE seemed to know her hair color when it started!
Linkara: For a story that was so editorially-driven, I'm surprised the editor wasn't actually DOING THEIR [sic] JOB! (beat) Wait, that actually doesn't surprise me. If they were doing their job, this wouldn't be editorially-driven in the first place!
Linkara (v/o): Number 6: Any scene where the Monitors are talking to each other
(A shot of the Monitors is shown)
Linkara (v/o): If anyone asks you how to bring a story to a grinding halt, you point them in the direction of these scenes. The same information is imparted to us over and over: the Monitors can't decide what to do, and they're changing. Lather, rinse, repeat. It's bad enough that these Monitors seem to have nothing to do with the original one from "Crisis On Infinite Earths", other than their general appearance, but nothing they have to say contribute to the story. And they all speak in this faux (pronounced "fox") "dramatic" style of speech to make it seem like what they're saying is important, but all it does is bore the reader into wondering when we can get back to the dead baby demon that eats poop! I'm not against having these characters, but for crying out loud, let us have a reason to give a damn about what they're saying!
Linkara (v/o): Number 5: Bob's Heel-Turn
(Cut to a panel showing said heel-turn)
Linkara (v/o): I've gone into this during the actual review, but it bears repeating. Now, I admit that when I first read that a few years ago, you'd better believe it got me interested in the story again. But now that I've reread "Countdown", it just comes straight out of nowhere! Let's once again compare this to a good comic. Spoilers here for the awesomness that is "52", but I won't give you all the details. Early on in the series, Grant Morrison looked to the other writers of the series and said, "What if Skeets, the little robot sidekick of Booster Gold, turned out to be evil?" Not only was this a shocking twist in the story, but they had decided on it early enough so that they could write the story from there without it being a major continuity problem. But in "Countdown", Bob's sudden shift to evil mastermind doesn't make any sense!
Linkara: Just look at the progression of events they're presented to us...
Linkara (v/o): Solomon kills Duela Dent on the pretext that she's an anomaly, an individual who's supposed to be from a different parallel Earth. Bob doesn't think the Monitors should do such a thing, and he goes to the Source Wall to find out about the Great Disaster. It says that the way to prevent the Great Disaster is Ray Palmer. So he goes with the others to find Ray Palmer. Okay, logical progression of events. But then, when they finally find him, he says they've got to kill him! Why?! Never explained! Hell, the next issue, Bob tells Solomon that Ray Palmer was "the key". The key to what?!
(Cut to a shot of Ghostbusters, showing Dana possessed by Zuul)
Linkara (v/o): The key to Zuul?!
(Cut to a shot of a shot of Doctor Who)
Linkara (v/o): The Key to Time?!
(Cut to a group shot of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman)
Linkara (v/o): The key to a better comic?!
(Editor's note: "(Trinity: The Weekly series AFTER Countdown)")
(Back to "Countdown" again)
Linkara (v/o): And if this was a plan from the start, why go to the Source Wall and learn about the Great Disaster?! Why bring along the others?! And why was Solomon trying to rile up the other Monitors on the pretext that they needed to stop Bob's little quest?!?
Linkara: I mean, come on! The story had enough plot holes already! You didn't have to dig up another twenty!
Linkara (v/o): Bob the Monitor's heel-turn: he should've just kept turning until he got dizzy and passed out.
Linkara (v/o): Number 4: The Great Disaster
(Cut to a shot of this Great Disaster in this comic, with the phrase "The Great Disaster Is Upon Us!")
Linkara (v/o): "Disaster" is one of those wonderful words that really sounds kinda cool when you think about it. And calling a major event, something ominous and horrible, "The Great Disaster", kind of ups your expectations in curiosity. Now, I will grant "Countdown" a few things. Morticoccus itself was an interesting idea for a villain or just a cause for this disaster.
(Cut to a shot of the comic "Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth")
Linkara (v/o): Now, the ultimate aim was to create a world where Jack Kirby's "Kamandi" alternate future tale could exist, but they did it in such a moronic fashion! All throughout the story, the Great Disaster is hinted at, prophesized, and generally shoved down our throat that this is something that needs to be corrected. But in the end, what did we really get out of it?
Linkara: MORE PLOT HOLES, THAT'S WHAT!
(Back to "Countdown")
Linkara (v/o): First of all, Karate Kid is told he has to stay in the past 'cause he's infected with the virus. What the hell kinda sense does that make?! He's from the future, and he doesn't belong in that time period! If he can't return, he'll no doubt alter the timeline, especially when he's carrying around a horrible, deadly disease! And really, if you're worried about the virus spreading in the future, wouldn't you be even more worried about it spreading in the past? I mean, at least you got the aid of future science on your side to help fight the illness. And what exactly was Ray Palmer supposed to do to prevent it? Yeah, he was supposed to put his DNA in others of the vaccine, but we saw in the story that the virus, thanks to Karate Kid's more advanced health, because he's from the future and all, made his presence moot! And how convenient that the virus seems to work differently on some people. For Karate Kid, it resulted in a horrible, lingering death; in others, it turned them into animal people or power rats or a psychotic Scrappy-Doo.
(Cut to footage of an episode of Scooby-Doo featuring Scrappy)
Scrappy-Doo: (swinging in on a rope) Da-da-da-DA, da-DAAA! Puppy power! (hits a monster scarecrow in the face on the rope, scattering straw everywhere)
Linkara: The Great Disaster: never before has there been a more fitting description of "Countdown".
Linkara (v/o): Number 3: Darkseid sitting* on Mary's couch
- ANOTHER NOTE: Linkara doesn't say "sitting".
(Cut to a shot of the cover of an installment showing Darkseid)
Linkara (v/o): I mean, really, Darkseid is supposed to be one of the top villains of the DC Universe! This is the guy who drives Superman to almost homicidal rage. And what does he do in this story? He's supposedly manipulating all these events, but what does he actually do to set that in motion? All we see of him for 90 percent of the story is him playing with action figures. What, are they voodoo dolls? If he moves them a certain way, he's advancing the plot? (a panel of Darkseid on the couch is shown) And then the crowning stupid moment is him on Mary Marvel's couch. Why? Did he get tired waiting for her to show up again? Stand tall, man, you're Darkseid! Darkseid is!
(Cut to a montage of clips of Darkseid in the Justice League cartoon series)
Darkseid: (to Lex Luthor) It seems I have you to thank for my resurrection. Though your world will suffer slowly, I grant you a quick death. / But let the universe howl in despair, for I have returned. / I am many things, Kal-El. But here, I am God.
Linkara: Now that is Darkseid.
Linkara (v/o): Number 2: Mary Marvel turns evil... again!
(Shots of Mary are shown)
Linkara (v/o): Okay, let's give "Countdown" the benefit of the doubt again, that Mary was supposed to go through some major character arc where she learned the true meaning of Christmas or something and ended up stronger as a result of it. But what would possess the writers to think that turning her evil again, knowing all the crap she went through, would be the proper move to make? And yeah, I know Grant Morrison wanted her to be possessed by Dassad in "Final Crisis" and have that stupid haircut, but she didn't have to go the route you took!
Linkara: Here's a thought: let Darkseid make the same offer, have her refuse, and then have him force her to become evil. Therefore, it isn't her fault!
Linkara (v/o): Bam! You get the same result, only now she's vindicated, and you want to see her get rescued from Darkseid, instead of making her out to be more of an idiot! The laziness of this storyline is really what puts it at the number-two spot.
Linkara (v/o): But the number-one worst moment of "Countdown"... Countdown Itself
(A montage of shots of the series overall is shown)
Linkara (v/o): You can go ahead and claim I'm cheating with this one, but let's face it: in the annals of comic book history, "Countdown" will be remembered as a moment, nothing more. Hell, it's even hard to call it a story. It doesn't have a traditional story structure. You know, rising action, climax, falling action. Not even the individual issues follow that structure! We have THREE climaxes in rapid succession in the last ten issues, one on Apokolips, one for the Great Disaster, and one more for Darkseid. But the worst sin of all is how utterly pointless the entire series became. Grant Morrison declared that he completely ignored "Countdown" when writing "Final Crisis". That's right, the story that "Countdown" was counting down to... had nothing to do with it! Hell, even in the pages of "Booster Gold", Geoff Johns planted right on the chalkboard "Ignore Countdown"! This isn't a story, it's just a bunch of random scenes that when you kind of glue them together resemble a story! But really, it's just a moment. A dark, unnecessary and offensive moment, but a moment nonetheless.
Linkara: And frankly, after (holds up four fingers) FOUR WEEKS of this, it's a moment I'm tired of! (takes out his magic gun) Let's go put this comic out of my misery!
(He grimly walks up to the pile of comics on the floor and aims his gun at it)
Linkara: "Countdown", I'll see you in Hell.
(Suddenly, to his surprise, the pile of comics suddenly starts laughing insanely)
Linkara: (stunned) D-Did you just... laugh??
(Suddenly, there is an electric surge, and the comics form a body, with arms, legs and a head! It advances on Linkara, laughing insanely. Linkara fires his gun at this abomination, but it has no effect. Linkara tosses the gun aside and holds up his fist. They start fighting, but it doesn't seem to affect the comics at all. On the contrary, it hits him so hard that it sends him reeling. Unable for him to launch another blow, the comic deals a second one that sends him to the ground. Lying on the ground, Linkara's life flashes before him, as he remembers Dr. Insano's warning that "he was coming for Linkara". Then he has flashbacks of Harley Quinn (from the Batman animated series), and he suddenly rises back up again)
Linkara: Hey... "Countdown"... (takes a Power Rangers Dragon Dagger out of his coat pocket) I'll kill you to DEATH!!
(He stabs the comic abomination with the dagger, then, like the Green Ranger, plays it like a musical instrument, which causes the comic abomination to collapse back into a pile of comics it once was. Linkara kneels down beside the pile and starts stabbing the comics with his dagger, followed by tearing up random comic pages with his hands, yelling all the while. Finally, he stops, exhausted and panting for breath)
Linkara: So, uh... yeah, "Countdown" sucks. (continues to tear up pages)
(Stop asking me how I feel about Final Crisis. I made a Comic in 5 Panels expressing that.)