Monday, November 25, 2013

Concluding In Apocalypse: Countdown To Final Crisis – Volume Four Puts The Final Crisis In Motion!

The Good: Resolves the story, Moments of character
The Bad: Much of the artwork, Not all the tangents pay off as well as they ought to.
The Basics: Countdown To Final Crisis – Volume Four has all the major players in the storyline pushed to Apokolips for the multiverse’s great destructive event that the story has been building to.

The very title to Countdown To Final Crisis foreshadowed how the massive crossover event would end. Obviously, the entire saga was building to Final Crisis (reviewed here!) and with Countdown To Final Crisis – Volume Four, it finally gets there. The fundamental problem with Countdown To Final Crisis – Volume Four is how the storyline gets to where it is going. Building directly on the momentum from Countdown To Final Crisis – Volume Three (reviewed here!), Countdown To Final Crisis – Volume Four finally explains what Darkseid’s endgame is and what the story has been building to.

Countdown To Final Crisis – Volume Four finally resolves the disparate plotlines of the Countdown event, but it does so with almost no real character development and without fully justifying the full range of the cast that was used in getting to the end. In other words, the resolution hardly seems worth the effort and it seems to include a pretty huge plot hole.

In Countdown To Final Crisis – Volume Four, the secondary characters in the DC Universe are focused on, with all of the main characters that have been a part of the Countdown books ending up on Apokolips – Darkseid’s home world – for the first part of a climactic showdown that comes through a use of force that hardly seems epic. Indeed, with so many characters who have the ability to think their way out of problems, Countdown To Final Crisis – Volume Four comes down to a frustratingly brawn-related solution and the near-end “fake out” is both unsurprising and unsatisfying.

With the Challengers – Donna Troy, Jason Todd, Kyle Rayner, and Ray Palmer - teleported to Apokolips, Darkseid’s endgame begins. They discover Jimmy Olsen and when Holly Robinson, Mary Marvel, and Harley Quinn help liberate Themyscira from Granny Goodness, Darkseid recalls one of his most important pieces back to Apokolips. There, Darkseid tells the remaining Monitor, Solomon, that he is preparing to wipe out the multiverse and create the Fifth World. When the Karate Kid’s body is riddled with the Morticoccus and Brother Eye goes to war with Apokolips, it seems like Darkseid might get his wish to rewrite all of reality.

Mary Marvel is given the chance for unlimited power again, a trade that Darkseid is willing to give with only one favor as his price. The price is Jimmy Olsen’s life; a price that, if paid, will release all of the New Gods’ powers to Darkseid. When the multiverse travelers see firsthand just what Morticoccus can do, the remaining heroes realize they must stop Darkseid from getting unlimited power at any cost!

The big plot hole in Countdown To Final Crisis – Volume Four comes late in the book, but it is worth noting. Morticoccus is a tremendous virus that mutates so profoundly and fast that it actually becomes a giant creature briefly. It does so right near Jimmy Olsen after he finally learns that he is a receptacle of all the powers of the now-killed New Gods. So, why doesn’t Ray Palmer figure out that to destroy the Morticoccus, he just needs to infect Jimmy Olsen? The godly powers within him should have been enough to kill even the Morticoccus. Gods don’t get sick; Jimmy Olsen has all the powers of a number of gods, therefore the faux-apocalypse should have been averted pretty easily.

Beyond that, the story is more dull than audacious. The resolution to the story does not seem nearly as complicated as the set-up and some of the elements – most notably the Pied Piper’s part in the resolution – seem ridiculously and ambiguously presented. Piper plays his potentially final song which blows up a location . . . which is seen pages later intact with no explanation.

Also missing from Countdown To Final Crisis – Volume Four is genuine character development. Mary Marvel makes her choice for no particularly clear reason (undoing the development she made in the prior volume). Jason Todd seems like a jackass the nature of which does not seem to be a natural evolution from having been Robin. Ray Palmer hardly seems like the smartest man in the world.

Countdown To Final Crisis – Volume Four has mostly good artwork, but it finishes poorly. The later parts of the book actually have the most rushed artwork in the series. There is almost no sense of movement in the panels themselves and between the panels there is little action as well, so this book has a stiff visual quality to it. Some of the later chapters actually have much sketchier artwork and given how, in many of those chapters, there is a troubling mix of familiar and unrecognizable characters, that is problematic.

Here at the climax, Countdown To Final Crisis – Volume Four is not at all an engaging story, though it brings about an end. The end leads into the poor Crisis event in an indirect fashion and fans who are obsessed with the DC Comics Universe will find it an unnecessary crossover.

For other major DC Universe crossover events, be sure to check out my reviews of:
Crisis On Infinite Earths
Idenity Crisis
The OMAC Project
Infinite Crisis
52 – Volume 1
Blackest Night: Green Lantern
Brightest Day, Volume 1


For other book reviews, check out my Graphic Novel Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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