"Who monitors the Monitors?" – Donna Troy
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The final issue DC Comics’ "Countdown to Final Crisis" opens with a view of the Multiverse and a lamenting Jimmy Olsen, frustrated that no one will believe his incredible story of the 52 Earths and what he’s lived through for the past year. Forager, Jimmy’s insectoid girlfriend and last survivor of the planet New Genesis, is less than understanding as she gives him the "let’s talk" conversation that all couples dread.
Donna Troy pays a call on the pensive Ray Palmer as he contemplates his place in the world of his birth, a world that no longer seems like home. But Donna is not alone when Kyle Rayner and then Forager join her at Ray’s home. The heroes attempt to convince the Atom the Multiverse still needs them and they can’t simply walk away after all that has happened.
Meanwhile in Gotham City, we discover the Pied Piper not only survived the fall of Apokolips, but he’s decided life on the wrong side of the law is not for him and that it is time to take up a more heroic lifestyle. Under the same Gotham sky (and Bat Signal), Jason Todd makes his choices. No longer interested in the life of a sidekick or that of a costumed adventurer, Jason returns to the streetwise vigilante he was before this all began.
The Monitor, Solomon, visits the Source Wall and confirms the boundary between universes still stands. To cold space and the wall itself, Solomon eulogizes the passing of the great Darkseid and derides the vanity of the other Monitors, a flaw he cannot see in himself. At the end of his tirade, Solomon constructs a small memorial to the lord of Apokolips, begging the question: Why, of all the New Gods, is Darkseid not a part of the second Source Wall?
We find Mary Marvel and Black Adam in the desert as Mary tries to impress on Adam that she and he share common goals. Yet, a year of turmoil seems to have taught Mary nothing, as she fails to understand that in comparison to Adam, who believes he does what he must do, she is willful child interested only in fulfilling her own desires and hunger for power and recognition.
In a desolate bunker, Buddy Blank and his grandson await death by starvation when Brother Eye returns. The super computer uses its power to create a new type of OMAC and (fulfilling T-MINUS co-author Justin Eger’s dream), returns the original OMAC to the DCU. Buddy, as OMAC, frees himself and his grandson from the bunker into the world. The pair venture forth, protected by Brother Eye and Buddy’s ability to transform into the One Man Army Corps.
Ray Palmer and his "home for mopey heroes" are next visited by Nix Uotan, the Monitor of Earth-51, who convinces Ray the Multiverse needs the Challengers of Beyond, and sponsors the team as well. On the Monitors’ satellite, Nix and the Challengers confront the remaining Monitors. Ray and company explain the Multiverse needs protection and the Monitors will be policed by these displaced heroes. Ray Palmer, the only member of the group that is not an anomaly, forswears his homeworld to wander the Multiverse with Donna Troy, Kyle Rayner, and Forager. As the quartet departs, they leave the Monitors with a warning: The Challengers will be watching.
We close the issue, and our series, with Harley and Holly. The girls have returned to Gotham and, under the same Bat Signal seen earlier in the issue, the pair contemplates all they have seen and done over the past year. The pair give us closure and normalcy to this mad ride and hope for a tomorrow that faces its Final Crisis.
JE: Welcome to the end, my friend. Been one hell of a haul.
BE: 51 weeks. That’s some kind of endurance trial.
JE: Congratulations for sticking it out this long, as well.
BE: And to you and all our readers.
JE: This makes two weekly series for me. Maybe Keith Giffen and I should go have a beer.
BE: Drink one for me and make him explain how the "Great Darkness Saga" fits into all of this.
JE: Deal. Paul Dini takes over writing chores solely this week, bookending the series handily, as you will remember he also wrote the first issue alone.
BE: Not surprisingly either, knowing the end from the beginning has advantages.
JE: Tom Derenick and Wayne Foucher provide the visual touches for the week.
BE: They’ve definitely been the heavy hitters for this series.
JE: Let’s hope for another regular gig for them. I thought the art was suitable and appropriate. But I’m sure you’ll gladly guess what my favorite image was (which we’ll talk more about later).
BE: Was it Donna in the low cut red shirt? No, I know it wasn’t, that was mine.
JE: Close. Very close.
We start off in Metropolis, having a sit-down/break-up with Jimmy Olsen and Forager.
BE: Dude just got dumped by a bug.
JE: I told you he was a punk, but still, here’s a phrase I’d never have expected to utter: Poor Jimmy. He gets shunted around the universe, mutated a dozen ungodly ways, takes on Darkseid single-handedly, and gets dumped. Women are heartless.
BE: A bug woman, that’s a new low.
JE: I’m going to jump a little bit here. Over in Gotham City, we have several important last scenes for the people we’ve followed for so long, beginning with Piper.
BE: I do believe we predicted his survival.
JE: We did, though his arrival in Gotham certainly was a surprise. Not a good place to be with all those vigilantes. While we don’t know how he survived, he seems to have come out on the better end of things, with a renewed purpose and a new faith in being heroic.
BE: And that’s the best place for him. He’s too likable to stay a villain.
JE: Agreed, and bookending that line of thinking is a shot of Jason Todd looking out over the rooftops, Bat Signal in the distance (easily my second favorite image of the issue).
BE: Also glad to see that he’s back in Gotham.
JE: So am I. It’s where he belongs. Unlike Piper, Jason looks at everything he’s been through this past year and decides to say to hell with it all. No costumes, no gimmicks, just an angry young man and a knife.
BE: Can we have the Red Hood helmet back now?
JE: I’m thinking so, but even if not, and he just gets himself a domino mask again, that works for me. And somewhere in between Piper and Jason, we get Holly and Harley, who look to be roommates.
BE: Even with the end of the "Catwoman" title, I’m hoping we get a chance to see more of them.
JE: A miniseries, at the least. The two really end the book well, sending us off on a really good note. I was sad to see the story end, but gladdened that it ended this way.
BE: It gave closure without actually ending, which is what you have to do when you close a chapter.
JE: Precisely. Off in the desert, Mary Marvel confronts Black Adam.
BE: And she has learned absolutely nothing in the entire series.
JE: I fully expected Adam to strip her of her power, seeing that she’s learned no lessons this past year. I guess the new Captain Marvel needed an appropriate villain, though.
BE: I was thinking the same. We have a new Captain Marvel, why not a new Black Adam in the form of Mary?
JE: Nice setup for the future. As tempted as I am to save this for last, we’ll do it now. A quick stop in Bludhaven gets us caught up with Buddy Black, his grandson, and Brother Eye.
BE: Is this Bludhaven or the world of the Great Disaster?
JE: Good question. Very good question. I had thought that the world of the Great Disaster ended again, and since Nix was referred to as having lost two universes, I’m going to vote for our Earth. Favorite panel of the issue: reintroducing a proper OMAC into the DC canon.
BE: I knew that’d make you happy. It definitely pleased me.
JE: And why wouldn’t it? Totally Kirby, totally cool. It was interesting that Buddy was so self-aware of the situation, but, while in his newly awesome body, he really seemed to have no self-control.
BE: That’s going to be a story for another day, perhaps during "Final Crisis."
JE: Or after. All told, I think they’ve set the groundwork out for a new OMAC series or miniseries very well. Now let’s see what they do with it.
BE: As I’ve said, Jim Starlin has a history with the character, so here’s hoping.
JE: Perhaps with Tom and Wayne? Finally, there’s Ray Palmer’s Home for Mopey Heroes. Derenick draws a really sexy Donna, by the way.
BE: Yeah, I kind of noticed.
JE: Also, we get to see the fate of the Monitors, and Solomon’s manipulations, which also continue. As sponsored by one lone Monitor, The Atom, Forager, Donna Troy and Kyle Rayner have decided to remain a team of Challengers. Pretty cool stuff. Looking at the power and brains assembled on that stage, I’d be taking them as a pretty serious threat, even for those so powerful as the Monitors.
BE: I like the idea, but considering that Monarch couldn’t beat one Monitor, I don’t hold out much hope that the Challengers can throw down with 52 of them. But as you say, they have the brains and the will.
JE: Maybe Monarch went the wrong way. Maybe it takes guerilla tactics rather than brute force. It’s an odd grouping that somehow reminds me of the Defenders; a sort of non-team.
BE: While Forager is sort of an ad hoc addition, the team is definitely a team of outsiders. All in all, a nice wrap up.
Panel Of The Week
Justin’s Dream Come True!
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