“Nice outfit.” – Kyle Rayner
|“Countdown To Final Crisis” #14|
Since all of our action finds a home on Earth-52 this week, we’ll start at the top. Holding Forerunner at his mercy, Superman-Prime confronts Solomon, demanding to know what the Monitor knows. Using the delusions of Prime to his advantage, Solomon convinces the mad power that the perfect world he seeks, the one world that should survive, is actually the world under siege at this very moment. Deluded, Prime streaks off to do new battle, while Solomon is left to confront Forerunner.
In Belthera’s hive-like throne room, the insect queen confronts her defeated minion, the red and blue clad Wonder Girl, who explains her defeat at the hands of Donna Troy. But, really, it’s a nasty surprise for Belthera, as the star-spangled hottie reveals herself to be the true Donna Troy, and proceeds to put a hefty beatdown on the queen. With Belthera’s defeat, Donna is crowned queen of the insect warriors, and she’s joined by Kyle Rayner and Ray Palmer.
Elsewhere on the planet, the Monitor of Earth-51 does battle with the hordes of Monarch’s superpowered armies, determined to defend his planet from the invaders and set things right. Another Earth-51 hero shares the same sentiment, as Batman-51 leaps into action along side his new partner, Jason Todd, now the Red Robin. The trio takes the fight directly to the villains, working overtime to drive the forces back, though they’re simply outnumbered by the weight of Monarch’s forces. Outnumbered, that is, until the arrival of Donna and her newfound insectoid army.
Capping off the action, we take a moment to review Monarch’s base of operations as he conducts the battle from his floating citadel. Examining the battles on Earth-51 and adjusting his strategies, Monarch’s crew is surprised to see some sort of missile streaking towards the citadel, battering its way through all the defenses that protect Monarch. The missile then arrives on target, shattering into Monarch’s observation deck. Superman-Prime has arrived, and he’s ready to kick some butt.
The issue finishes up with an Origin of Gorilla Grodd, written by Scott Beatty and drawn by the masterful Art Adams.
BE: Tony Bedard and Paul Dini on writing again this week, and Pete Woods, Tom Derenick and Wayne Faucher on art. This is starting to feel like a monthly series and there’s a single hard hitting story to boot.
JE: Once again, totally solid, if a bit rushed in places. Very fine.
BE: And the brilliance of this singular focus, at least for me, is that it makes me hunger to know what’s up with Piper and Jimmy Olsen.
JE: I’m on the same page with you, at least for Piper. I’ve been sitting here wondering. I’d also like to see more of Karate Kid and Buddy Blank.
BE: You lie. What you want is OMAC and as an aside, since there is a Kamandi special coming out, what are the odds on Buddy’s grandson being Kamandi?
JE: Odds are super good, and yes, you see through me like cellophane. I want some serious OMAC action, mohawk and all, right now! I want the One Man Army Corps versus all those other OMACs.
BE: Such a moment may reclaim all of the Kirby fans that die a little with each New God that passes.
JE: Just like me!
BE: Well, we speculated that Prime might get his ass handed to him by Forerunner or possibly Doomsday. How could I know that Solomon would go for Prime’s weak spot — his minuscule brain.
JE: Simple, yet effective, though how you hit a target that small is beyond me.
BE: Cue the rim shot. This is comedy folks!
JE: Should I go get my Groucho glasses on?
BE: Um, no. As for the traitorous Solomon, now he has to face Forerunner. Place your bets.
JE: Neither one entices me too much, though it’s unlikely that either will end up too badly damaged with so long left in the run.
BE: Sadly, I think it will be a stalemate or they will team up to help prevent the Great Disaster (although I’m starting to believe that such a thing is impossible).
JE: Glad I’m not the only one. There’s a lot of impending doom out there and it’s starting to give me the jitters. Even the solicits for the next couple of months are enough to give me nightmares.
BE: Folks, when they say “final” crisis, believe it. Donna pulls out some subterfuge and ousts Belthera as queen of the insectoid Myrmidons. Okay, we saw it coming, but it was still a nice angle, although the Belthera subplot still seems tacked on.
JE: A little bit, just enough to give Donna an army to take control of. That was a nice touch and we get to see Kyle and Donna together again, though Donna’s in a much different version of her Wonder Girl gear than was show in that power preview so long ago. And speaking of that poster…
BE: Red Robin. We called it, the readers saw it coming. It was foreshadowed in advertisements from almost a year ago. Now that it’s here — what do you think?
JE: Not bad. I still had hopes for Jason’s redemption, so it’s kind of a let-down on that end of things. I’m sorry to see his Red Hood look go.
BE: While the leather jacket was a bit 1990s for me, the full face helmet was an excellent look for him. We can only guess how long the Red Robin angel lasts. Since the plan for “Infinite Crisis” was to kill off Dick Grayson and replace him with Jason, I can only imagine that the Red Robin character is meant to fulfill that plan without Dick dying.
JE: Makes sense, to an extent. Might prove interesting to see Jason stay on Earth-51 following the Great Disaster, assuming, of course, the multiverse survives at all. Otherwise, I just don’t see him working out on our Earth. He’d make just one too many goody-good Bat-trainees. I liked the Hood for what he stood for, that final solution that I’m surprised Dick and Tim let run rampant for so long, let alone Bruce.
BE: The Monitor of Earth-51 shows why he had a paradise. This guy may be the only monitor we’ve encountered that’s worth keeping around. So, any bets on how soon he’ll die?
JE: I say not until “Final Crisis.” As the only decent Monitor, he’s going to be a lynchpin in Earth’s fight against the Great Disaster.
BE: That would be the conventional wisdom, but I didn’t expect Bob to turn coat and be destroyed by Solomon. Here’s hoping, Monitor-51 could be very entertaining if it’s done right.
JE: Agreed. Perhaps he’ll take over as the sole Monitor, since he’s the only one with the right idea.
BE: Which brings us back to “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” I have to pause to say that I expected better of Monarch than the cookie-cutter Stormtrooper armor on his legions. Come on Nate, what about Roman legionaries or an Egyptian motif?
JE: Hey, if we’re going that far back in time, why not a cowboy motif, or some Nazi armor, both hearkening back to the “Armageddon” miniseries (and Nate’s time travel trip to fight Monarch) of so long ago.
BE: Stop. You are making my soul hurt.
JE: What? It was good.
BE: Up until the bad guy was Hank Hall it was brilliant and then it all went sideways.
JE: Okay, I’ll give you that one. Poor Hawk and Dove. Never been right since.
BE: Batman-51 shows Jason (and us) why he’s formidable on any world. Kryptonite pills? That’s just mean. Jason, not to be outdone, pops Superwoman’s eyes out. Ouch. So much for a kinder and gentler DCU. But, frankly, I loved it.
JE: Jason taking out Superwoman’s eyes was an interesting and particularly brutal tactic. Batman, also had some good moves, but he was getting just a bit too creepy for me.
BE: Yeah. It’s great, isn’t it? Sorry, but I like the Bat-Bunker Batman. He’s crazy.
JE: Allow me to present you with the award for Understatement of the Year.
BE: I graciously accept. We close with the showdown of the series: a pumped up Prime against Monarch. There’s no good that can come of this — unless Prime dies, in which case, I give it a thumbs up!
JE: We knew that Prime would be a factor in this situation, and we knew he’d be the one to bring some hurt, but I have to wonder if this will lead Monarch to finally unleash his army of power from “Arena.”
BE: I certainly hope that that is the case. I have a small fear that the army from “Arena” is not going to play as big a role as we want, at least not until the rebels from that series show up.
JE: You’re probably right, but it seems superfluous to go through all the trouble of gathering such powers only to leave them by the wayside. Unless they’re meant to help Monarch avert the Great Disaster to his own ends.
BE: Or they were meant to sell a mini-series.
JE: Which they did, and smashingly, too.
BE: The origin piece for this week is a particular joy to me, Gorilla Grodd written by Scott Beatty and drawn by the amazing Art Adams. This is a guilty pleasure. I am a sucker for ape characters and storylines and no one draws them like Art Adams. Scott Beatty lays out the origin that is concise and brilliant in its brevity. When this series ends, they need to find a place for Scott to keep this up.
JE: Scott should just have an ongoing book, and if you like monkeys, you’ll have to remind me to tell you two of my own home-grown monkey stories. It’ll wow you. But yeah, I’m not a big Grodd fan, but this origin was pretty nicely done.
BE: I’m not sure I want to hear any of your “monkey stories,” young man!
JE: What, you don’t trust me? Or my monkey? Right turn, Clyde!
Panel of the Week
Well, it’s about time.