T-MINUS: "Countdown" #36

By Justin Eger and Brian K. Eason

"Somebody tell me how this isn't a massive waste of time?" - Batman

T-Minus 36

Opening the week, the Challengers of Beyond are in deep, as they square off against lots of insect-like creatures. As if that wasn't enough of a problem, the buggies also happen to be able to use some serious magic, making for a troublesome encounter, especially since Bob the Monitor can't teleport them out. The fight, however one-sided, continues until the arrival of the bug-master, a mystery person who, at the close of the scene, lurks off panel.

At Shadowcrest, Mary Marvel finally pops, engaging in an all out magical battle with Zatanna, all at the silent urging of Eclipso. It's a decidedly one-sided fight, as well, as Mary, full of youthful stupidity, simply hammers at Zatanna until she falls, though the scene ends before the final curtain.

Karate Kid and Una find the location of Orr, the man who might be able to provide some answers about the disease ravaging the Kid's body. The problem? Orr is guarded by Equus, who takes the fight to the Kid without hesitation. Kid wins the day, only to be undone as Equus takes Una hostage.

Mr. Action Jimmy Olsen meets the Justice League, where he is summarily rejected by the Leaguers assembled.

In Gotham, Poison Ivy holds Trickster and the Pied Piper in check with her plants. Though Trickster falls under her pheromone spell, the two Rogues have enough wits between them to bluff Ms. Isley into thinking that they're a part of the master plan initiated by her partner, even though they've got know idea who it is. The answer? Deathstroke the Terminator, who isn't exactly thrilled to have two goofs intruding on his plans.

Deathstroke also happens to be the subject of this week's backup feature, written by Scott Beatty and drawn by Tony Daniel.


BE: The Challengers of Beyond versus magic using bug people. Why does this make me so happy?

JE: Because it's insane.

BE: It is insane and it's nice to see an opportunity for the writers and artists to cut loose like this. Speaking of, Jim Calafiore is back on the art chores. Once again, I am loving it.

JE: It's pretty, all right. The inks need a little polish, methinks, but Califore really seems to be getting the feel of the characters.

BE: And it always comes down to the facial expressions. He really captures the moment.

JE: No arguments here. The looks on Piper and Trickster alone are worth it.

BE: And the stars of our show have a run in with Poison Ivy and her mystery partner, the dialog is great and Piper's "immunity" to Ivy makes the scene.

JE: Yeah, very cool. However, I found it odd that trickster got his wits back about him so quickly. Could he simply have been faking the attraction?

BE: No. He fell for it, but his insanity and Ivy's confusion probably broke the spell. Now, as much as I loved the idea of an evil Mary Marvel, she's sort of become more of a brat and less evil. But, she is a teenager, so maybe we're looking at less of a case of "power corrupts" and more of a case of "adolescent power fantasies."

JE: Yeah, coupled with Eclipso's influence, since the queen of evil copped to causing the loss of control in Mary. Such a shame, but, really, it's not like we didn't see it coming. Even if it is a case of the power vs. Moral Mary, really, how many teenagers could cope? Heck, man, I couldn't even cope with it.

BE: And you are a well known pillar of strength and morality. It says so on your business cards.

JE: Yup. Not a well-paying gig, mind you, but someone's got to do it.

BE: Mr. Action has his JLA try-out and Batman - Batman (post "Infinite Crisis") is kind of harsh. With the latest run of "Outsiders: Five of a Kind," I am seeing a pattern.

JE: I am, too, but in this specific instance, I'm thinking it's less Batman and more the situation itself. After all, even if he knew everything about you, would you let Jimmy on the Justice League? The kid, however funny, is a liability.

BE: If they let Snapper Carr hang out with them, you'd think they would at least let Jimmy do monitor duty.

JE: Snap, snap daddio, indeed.

BE: Karate Kid and Una run into the mysterious Mr. Orr and Equus from the Superman "For Tomorrow" storyline from "Superman" #204 (Jun. 2004) - #215 (May 2005).

JE: Which is once again on my reading list. Still, I'm unsure about how much I like a Superman villain being taken out by, essentially, a kid that punches real good. Really, I think this calls for (once again) the litmus test: everyone should fight a Kryptonian so we can see how tough they are.

BE: That would make for a very long line at the Fortress of Solitude.

Wonder Woman: "Where's Superman?"

Batman: "Punching out villains at the Fortress. He's up to the letter 'E.'"

Do we recognize the mysterious hand at the end of the Challengers versus insectoids portion of the story?

JE: It's lurking back there on the edge of my mind. I want to say Forager, but I know that's wrong.

BE: I was thinking Queen Bee, but her gear is gold and black. And Ivy's mystery partner is - Deathstroke. Yikes!

JE: Dum dum DUM! Head butt-kicker is once again back on the scene. I know a lot of folks have problems with Deathstroke, but I love the character. I just wish he still was enough of a good guy to have his own book again.

BE: Ditto. Slade is a perfect villain when written correctly. He usually only loses because the unexpected happens.

Panel of the Week

And this is my boomstick!


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