T-MINUS: "Countdown" #38

By Justin Eger and Brian K. Eason

"There's no chance I can get you to attack me for real, is there?" – Mr. Action

T-Minus 38

Heroes around the world unite to save the planet from a series of near-catastrophic incidents involving computer malfunctions. The source? Calculator has gone to war with Oracle, and the two battle it out in cyberspace, virtually assaulting and distracting each other, bobbing and weaving though the Internet in some seriously geeky combat. The result, finally, is Oracle pimp-slapping Calculator and shutting down his system. That settled, Oracle turns to her newcomers from last issue, Karate Kid and Una, at which time the Kid reveals that he is dying and in need of help.

The only world incident not related to the battle is a fight on the high seas, where Slig of the Deep Six, on the run from a mysterious force that slaughtered his team, runs into Mary Marvel and Zatanna. Mary loses control once again, raging out in an attempt to, ironically enough, gain some control over the situation, but the mysterious villain guns down Slig and fades away, leaving Mary and Zee to pick up the pieces while Eclipse continues to spy on them.

In Gotham, fallout from the cyber-war shuts down all the power in the city, where Batwoman and the Question attempt to bring in Trickster and Pied Piper. In an attempt to prove their innocence, Trickster pulls out a pair of hand puppets, one of Trickster himself and one of the Flash (see below). Though Batwoman is set to run the two idiots in, the Question lets them go for reasons of her own.

Out west, Jimmy Olsen, in the guise of Mr. Action, attempts to join the Teen Titans. An attempt to display his powers results in a kick to the jaw from Robin. Thus, Jimmy's powers didn't kick in. Despite the mishap, Robin tries to convince Jimmy to get back to doing what he does best, being a damn good photographer.

In the end, Darkseid himself takes the stage, looking at the life and death of all things and his plans to obtain absolute power.


Slig and the Deep Six are Darkseid's aquatic terrorists. The group first appeared in "New Gods" #2 (April-May 1971). The group consisted of Gole, Jaffar, Kurin, Shaligo, Slig, and Trok and each had a different special ability (as we saw in this issue with Slig's disintegration touch). The Six had been killed several times, only to be resurrected by Darkseid. How this most recent death differs from prior deaths remains to be seen.

The explanation for Jimmy Olsen's knowledge of Jason Todd's secret identity is addressed this week in "Action Comics" #853 as Jimmy discovers there are a lot of things he knows that he shouldn't know.


BE: The opening segment, showing the heroes stopping the global disasters, was vintage Silver Age. It was a nice touch.

JE: Yeah. The last time I saw this done really, really well was back in "JSA" under the control of James Robinson. Always had a fondness for things like that, too, lots of teams, lots of heroes. Good stuff.

BE: This is one of the classic tropes of comics, and I'm glad we're seeing more. Another would be, in the recent JLA/JSA team-ups, where we see mixed teams of heroes split up to cover the globe.

Art this issue was pretty good. Jim Palmiotti's inks were very tight and brought the whole thing together.

JE: Yeah, Palmiotti on top of Saiz should be a requirement for some books. Very sharp. Made me very happy.

BE: A minidress and fishnets means it must be Mary Marvel and Zatanna. We have the Deep Six making a final appearance (we assume) and see that Mary's impulse control issues are still a problem.

JE: I'm not having that much of a problem, since I never cared for the Deep Six. However, the fact that the ranks are being thinned out more and more bodes not at all well for anyone involved.

BE: This appears to be what passes for a war with someone like Darkseid. A single powerful entity wiping out his troops (and at least one of the New Genesisians.)

JE: Odd thought, and not likely: Could it be the Black Racer, ending the lives of those whose time has passed? I like this not as much as my Monarch idea (see below) but it's an interesting thought.

BE: One would think Black Racer would make an appearance, but on the other hand, one would assume he was known by Slug and Slig. 

The segment with Oracle in electronic battle against the Calculator was priceless. The tech-talk was dead on. Calculator is so much more interesting now that he's not a guy in a purple costume with a calculator on his chest. I hope Superboy-Prime punched that out of continuity.

JE: Man, there was geek-speak that even I didn't understand, but it was perhaps the best part of the issue. As to Calc's old outfit, I'd like to think it's still in the back of the dresser drawer somewhere, just because I like the fact that the character has evolved, and that he wasn't always this good. And since it was Oracle who inspired this change, it's only fitting that she's the one to humble him so.

BE: Ok, I'll take that, now we just need someone to haul out a picture and taunt him with it. I vote for Oracle.

Trickster with hand puppets? Pure brilliance.

JE: Okay, I lied; this was probably the best moment in the issue. These guys are so completely ridiculous. I swear that should have been a Joker reaction to capture back in the day. Weird. Yet awesome.

BE: 'Nuff said. I was also very happy with the Question/Batwoman interaction. Good stuff.

JE: Yeah, though Renee seems a bit stiff since she took up the mask. Odd to see someone in a Bat-suit be the most inflammatory, since Batman is usually so controlled.

BE: I'm glad you mentioned that. I think there is a lot of mileage with Batwoman if they will use her. I like her as an edgy character; she'd make a great counterpoint to Batman. 

JE: Yeah, I look forward to the "Gotham Underground" pairing of the two. It should be interesting to see her dealing with the rest of the boys.

BE: I am chiefly interested in seeing her with Robin. Sometimes I think he's the smartest of the Bat-clan.

JE: I agree. He's likely the most cerebral of them all, a fine counter to Dick's more emotional take on things.

BE: Back with Mary and Zee, we get a glimpse at who is hunting the New Gods. His power moves like Darkseid's Omega Effect, it tracks the foe and makes weird corners. From Slig's dialog, we can assume that this is not Darkseid, however.

JE: Was that weird corners, or was it just how the magic of Black Adam redirected it through Mary?

BE: Well, could be that as well. The first thing I thought of was one big Omega Beam. 

JE: Me, too. Question: did Inzya/Highfather ever display that level of power?

BE: Not that I recall. In the "Genesis" limited series, Highfather was killed by Ares. Whether that remains the case is unknown. This all includes discounting the New Gods portion of "Seven Soldiers of Victory," in which Apokolips and New Genesis were destroyed. Jimmy Olsen, Mr. Action, this stuff is gold.

JE: Daring Robin to try to kill him was funny.

BE: So, must Jimmy Olsen die?

JE: Jimmy, yes. Mr. Action, no.

BE: You're really getting soft on Jimmy.

JE: I'm never soft!

BE: Mary's powers are growing in strange and interesting ways, an with Eclipso finally making her appearance, things should be picking up.

JE: I'm not a fan of the muted guest appearances by Eclipso. I know it builds tension, but I want to see her get back. I want some questions answered.

BE: With 37 issues left, I can assume they'll be coming along at some point.  Karate Kid is dying. There isn't much to speculate on here. We'll have to wait on upcoming appearances.

JE: Speculation is what we're here for. Do you think it's a side effect of being mind-controlled over in "Justice League of America?"

BE: Anything is possible, but I imagine that there is some disease that has been forgotten by the 31st century and there is hope in the present.

JE: Ah, so many STD jokes just begging to be made.

BE: Ahem. Moving along. Finally we have Darkseid. The Lord of Apokolips seems to know he's at war and now we have to wait on more clues to figure out with whom. However, as Darkseid mentions, the New Gods supplanted the Prometheans, can this be the next generation of Gods? New New Gods?

JE: Under Monarch, perhaps? Perhaps it's one war that's going on, not the two or three that have been hinted at.

BE: Wow. Good idea.

JE: It's what I'm here for.

BE: The backup feature establishes that the Monitor for New Earth is walking alone among his brethren. This is not surprising.

JE: Not since we know where he is already.

BE: Kinda took all the suspense out of it, didn't it?

Panel of the Week

She isn't amused, but we certainly are!


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