“You’re making it so very hard for me not to pull this trigger.” – Batman of Earth-51
|“Countdown To Final Crisis” #16|
Most of our issue this week takes place on (or around) Earth-51, as Monarch’s arrival from last week kicks into gear. Yes, it’s all out war around Earth-51, as Monarch’s assemblage of twisted heroes takes the fight to the assembled Monitors. For all the power of those universal watchmen, the battle is still hard fought and bloody, and in the midst of the carnage we see the stories unfold.
In the midst of the fighting, Monarch and Solomon take a moment to discuss the battle and what drew monarch to this point and time. Taunting the Monitor, monarch revels in his power, forcing Solomon to run back to the Universal Nexus stationed in the space above the planet. There, his fellow monitors chastise both his cowardice and his plans to become the Source, all before leaving to fight a battle that truly is no longer theirs, yet one they will do anything to win.
Joining them is this Earth’s own Monitor, who hid Ray Palmer’s existence in the hopes that he could avert the looming Great Disaster. Still, in the face of losing all he holds dear in this world and his own individuality, the Monitor joins the fight, mentally steeling himself and considering the fact that nothing will take away what he now considers his.
The subject of that Monitor’s earlier thoughts, Ray Palmer, is found trying to escape the biggest chaos with Kyle Rayner. Still recovering from the loss of his new old friends last issue, Ray begins to explain what his alternate self had been doing to combat the Great Disaster, only to be interrupted by vile versions of Green Lantern, Booster Gold, and a redhead in a short skirt and tiny top. Alternate Power Girl? Mary Marvel? Miss America? Who can say, aside from the fact that she’s on hand to kick some butt.
Let’s sidestep to visit the other Challengers, as Jason Todd and Donna Troy seek a way to aid this earth in the struggle against Monarch’s army. Donna abandons Jason on a rooftop, telling hism that this is no fight for someone without powers. As she does, she herself is ambushed by a villainous version of herself, a mean version of Wonder Girl that puts some serious smack down on our Donna, all courtesy of Queen Belthera (remember her from the trip to the subatomic Palmerverese?) Belthera, it seems, has joined Monarch’s forces and plans to use the population of this new Earth to bolster her own hive forces.
Though abandoned from the bigger fight, Jason has his own troubles, assaulted by one of Lord Havok’s minions, the hideous Gorgon. As the monster throws Jason off of a rooftop and taunts him, Jason turns away for a moment, using his sky-high view to see the carnage that the battle is bringing to the world. As he turns back, Gorgon falls away, unconscious, defeated swiftly by none other than this Earth’s Batman, who has been watching the war unfold from his Bat-Bunker.
Just a slight problem for Jason at this point, or, well, two, actually. One: This Earth’s Jason Todd also died in Batman’s arms, and he’s not taking too kindly to what he views as an imposter. Two: This Batman kills, and he’s certainly got no problem with ventilating Jason, now a captive inside the Bat-Bunker, unless he gets some answers.
Back on the Universal Nexus, one development shakes Solomon from his lethargy, as Superman Prime arrives and challenges the Monitor to help him find his homeworld.
As if that wasn’t enough, it’s a hop, skip and a jump to New Earth, specifically Metropolis, where Jimmy Olsen discusses his fate with a nearly naked Forager, who happens to be using Jimmy’s shower to clean up. During this interesting and awkward discussion, Forager reveals that Jimmy Olsen is the repository for all the fallen souls of the New Gods.
Back it up with the origin of Sinestro by Scott Beatty and Fernando Pasarin and we’ll call it a week.
BE: Four months and counting, just 16 weeks, hard to believe we’ve been doing this column for eight months.
JE: Time flies when you’re kicking ass and spending money. I’m shocked we could keep it up this long.
BE: I’m shocked that Jonah has let us go on this long! Cue the rim shot.
JE: Hey, he loves us! I think. [Ed. Note from Jonah: I do!]
BE: This issue we have Paul Dini and Tony Bedard on the writing, layouts by Keith Giffen, pencils and finishes by Pete Woods, Tom Derenick and Wayne Faucher. All in all, nice looking stuff, let’s see how it reads.
JE: I think it reads well. It’s got a decent flow to it, very distinctive of Bedard, and the art team gave me an issue that was (not unpleasantly) reminiscent of Marvel’s original “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” miniseries. I enjoyed it.
JE: And it wasn’t just a slugfest. There were a few pretty significant developments as we leave off Mary Marvel for a week and get down to business with the Challengers. Nice to see them getting involved in the fate of this world.
BE: And it’s no secret that I am very pleased by the focus falling on Jason Todd.
JE: As am I.
BE: Solomon the Monitor has led his brothers and sisters against Monarch and it’s not going well. It seems as if Monarch is well aware of Solomon’s plans.
JE: I’m wondering if there is some as-yet unrevealed original plan between Monarch and Solomon that has gone horribly, horribly wrong for the Monitors.
BE: Good insight. It did seem like there was something going on between them to which we weren’t privy. What surprised me was that after realizing the depths of Solomon’s betrayal, the remaining Monitors entered the fray again and apparently selflessly.
JE: I was surprised by that, too, but it’s actually gotten personal for them now. It’s not just their Earths, but their own individuality that’s at stake, and it doesn’t look like they’re willing to let go so easily.
BE: That’s a very common theme and I love it, that once individuality is found or gained, it’s too precious to lose. It’s an oldie, but a goody. Thank god that Earth-51 has a Batman and that he’s just as driven as our own, because he may be the last chance for this world.
JE: Um, he might be just a tad bit more driven than ours. After all, this Bruce is wearing some serious com-Bat armor and has a veritable arsenal of weapons, not trophies. It’s an important distinction, because this Batman looks like he uses what he’s got and then some.
BE: It seems that the rest of the heroes left him as the last watchman and he prepared himself for the worst.
JE: I like it, though. After all, if one hero was going to go bunker-crazy and batten down the hatches, you know it would be Bruce. Though I’m surprised the heroes seemed to be okay with the final solution for villainy.
BE: He did seem a bit “Dark Knight Returns,” didn’t he?
JE: Or a little more “Punisher” than you might think.
BE: Um, yeah, Queen Belthera returns. Was I the only one that had totally forgotten her? And she’s relevant, why?
JE: I won’t say I’d forgotten her, but it was a surprise to see her show up again. Guess she liked her some Donna Troy enough to go get one of her own. Though, I have to say, I’m in agreement in wondering just why she’s around.
BE: It just kind of felt like we’re trying to close up that thread, it was a little jarring. And when Solomon thought his day couldn’t get any worse, Superman Prime showed up.
JE: Yeah, that’d be enough to foul up my day. Interesting, though, that Prime may be the key to eliminating Monarch’s army. He might cut a deal with Solomon to get his perfect world back.
BE: Predictions? Prime burns out much of his overcharged energy cutting down Monarch’s army?
JE: I’m on board with that one. Place your bets.
BE: Jimmy Olsen, powers of the gods, hot naked alien in his house — yes, Jimmy Olsen must die.
JE: There we go. I knew I’d convert you eventually.
BE: It’s only jealousy speaking.
JE: Jealousy, rage, general disillusionment. They’re all good in my book.
BE: In all seriousness, if Jimmy is a “soul catcher” then could it be that he is the repository for the souls of the New Gods that are being killed and (I’m stretching here) the father of the Fifth World?
JE: It’s a stretch, but it’s not far off. After all, we know Jimmy’s being protected by Darkseid on some level, so, while Jimmy may not be the likely Source (pun intentional) of the Fifth World, he’s likely the tool that will get us (and Darkseid) there.
BE: Unless — let’s try this, Solomon and Monarch both indicate that someone has told them that someone is going to become the Source, it’s obviously Solomon’s goal. What if it’s Jimmy?
JE: That’s signifying a lot of importance to Jimmy Olsen, that’s for sure. However, as time looms, it does make its own sense. I wonder if there are other candidates out there, though.
JE: My bet.
BE: We close the story with Jason and Bats and the recurring (and hardly subtle) Red Robin costume. Whatever could it mean?
JE: Red Robin costume? Where? You mean that first time they showed it, or the hundred other times? Seriously though, this was a neat curveball to me. After all, we were all looking to “Kingdom Come” and Jason’s redemption. Instead, we get a Batman that’s just as deadly on crime as Jason as the likely inspiration for the coming costume change.
BE: That would be a hell of Batman/Robin team. I’d buy it.
JE: I think we already have.
BE: Origin for this issue is Sinestro and on the heels of what could, arguably be called the model for the perfect crossover, it’s nice to see. If anyone has missed the “Corps War” in Green Lantern, find it, devour it and get ready for the big stories to come.
JE: That trade’s a-comin’, I can feel it! ‘Til then, this is a very nice origin story, and one that doesn’t directly tie into the ongoing story as yet. A nice break from the looming Countdown.
BE: Expect to see the ring bearers of the Sinestro Corps, the Green Lantern Corps and perhaps the Red Lantern Corps before “Countdown” stops counting.
JE: It’s an interesting twist on the old legends, that’s for sure. I wasn’t sure how to feel about the Rainbow Coalition of Lanterns, but so far, so good.
BE: Have faith in Geoff Johns, I do.
Panel of the Week
It was this or Com-Bat armor Batman. I think we chose correctly.