T-MINUS: "Countdown" #48

By Justin Eger and Brian K. Eason.

"Stuff like this happens twice a week!" – Metropolis Cabbie

Previously in the DCU

A quick tour of the DCU gave us a really flexible reporter and a few characters getting in waaay over their heads.

T-Minus 48

We start off this issue hanging with Mary Marvel (or, at least, the former Mary Marvel) as she talks out the meanings of power, responsibility and the cost of each, with Adam reminding Mary that powerhasn't always been the best thing to be in control of.

Up, up and a way up in space, Karate Kid and Starman have a little chat about what turned Kid into the madman known as Trident and how he came to be under the control of Starro while they sit in their cages on the JLA satellite. The answer, at least according to Starman, is that yes, the Impossible did happen. Doctor Impossible, the anti-Mister Miracle, made it all, well, possible.

Following a funeral for Duela Dent and some talk among the Teen Titans, Jason todd arrives to speak with Donna Troy about living on borrowed time and how she, like him, might not really belong in this world, making her an enemy to the Monitors, as well.

We then jump to Metropolis, where fire from the sky sees Jimmy Olsen back on the street, snapping pictures and hitting the signal watch. Unfortunately, Superman is in the Vega System, and just isn't fast enough to save Jimmy and some pedestrians from some falling architecture. Good thing Jimmy has that super-speed…

Wait… what? Jimmy Olsen saves some people with super-speed? Where'd he get that?

Unfortunately, we're left wanting our answers, as Superman arrives on the scene to try and help out, followed immediately by a battered and bruised Lightray, member of the New Gods (see below). Lightray crashes to the ground, and Superman leaves him in the care of Mr. Olsen as he flies off to catch the god's attacker, who teleports away suddenly. Returning back to the scene of Lightray's, Superman arrives just in time to see the New God perish from his wounds.

In the back-up feature, the Monitors review the first few meetings of the Justice Society and the Justice League during what would become know to us as the "Crisis on Multiple Earths" annual meetings.


Lightray, our recently deceased New God, was the high-spirited and cheerful sidekick of the grim and taciturn son of Darkseid, Orion. Lightray (whose real name was Sollis) first appeared with the other New Gods in "New Gods" #1 (February 1971). Among his powers was the ability to control light, creating concussive blasts of light, lasers and waves of heat. He could also move at "the speed of light, maybe even faster." Lightray was a principal character in Jack Kirby's "New Gods" series and was even briefly a member of the Justice League.

The latest incarnation of Starman (the 8th hero to bear the name) first appeared in "Adventure Comics" # 282 (March 1961) as Star Boy, a member of the 30th century's Legion of Super-Heroes. Thom Kallor was born on an observatory satellite orbiting the planet Xanthu. In the beginning, Star Boy gained Kryptonian-level powers when he was caught in a comet's tail. As time passed, Thom's powers faded, leaving him with the ability to increase mass, density and gravity. In the "One Year Later" event, Thom was revealed to be the new Starman of the Justice Society. He also appears to be completely insane, following a trip to Earth-22 (Kingdom Come). Go check out this week's issue of 'Justice Society of America" for more on that.


BE: Who knew that Kahndaq had a Gotham consulate? And more importantly, why wasn't someone keeping an eye on this place?

JE: Do you really think that Batman is NOT keeping an eye on the place? And, honestly, the way the story has read so far, it makes me wonder if Adam actually has powers and not just a new costume.

BE: Strangely, I had the same thought at the moment he said, "My powers?" But I really like how completely insane Adam looks at the end of the first sequence with Mary.

JE: Well, the slaughter of millions might do that to you. Just go ask The Joker, who he REALLY looks a lot like.

BE: But Joker put the laughter in slaughter (sorry, I've been dying to use that line).

JE: I want to rescind my comment about Batman. The consulate is foreign soil, and even Batman knows not to tread on sovereign territory.

BE: Moving on, I'm pretty sure that the Metropolis cabbie is giving the other driver the finger.

JE: I thought he was holding a cigarette, but, really, is that any better?

BE: This is a Public Service Announcement from Johnny Dangerously: "Remember, kids. Don't pick up smoking. It doesn't make you look cool; it makes you look stupid. If you need something to put in your mouth, make it chewing gum. Smoking is the worst thing you can do to your body. *man with cigarrete in background drops dead* See?"

JE: Man, you are on with the humor today.

BE: I'll be here all week, try the veal. Do you remember that while Jason Todd was briefly with the Titans, and that during his confrontation with Tim Drake (the current Robin), Jason was furious that no memorial statue was made for him? He seems to have gotten past that.

JE: So far, anyway. Of course, he knows he's never done things the way other people have preferred, so he's probably got a "Screw them" mentality. Or he could be looking to make inroads with the new team. After all, the classic way to prove yourself to someone in comics is to kick the shit out of them.

BE: Hopefully he's forgotten when Tim took the cheap shot and kicked him in the jimmy.

JE: Ah, the fondest memories always begin with a kick in the funbag. For me, at least.

BE: Now who's being funny? And while I think that it is a good guess on Jason's part that he doesn't belong in this world, it's kind of a stretch to say that he believes Donna doesn't. While Donna has had more origins than costume changes, she has, as far as we know, always been an Earth-1 character.

JE: What about the original "52" backup feature, and "The Return of Donna troy?" Didn't those establish that Donna was actually intended to be the keeper of the Multiverse? Wasn't one of her "alternate identities" actually Harbinger?

BE: They did and she was, yet since the Harbinger worked for the original Monitor, you have to wonder where she falls in all of this.

JE: She's a danger to herself and others.

BE: During the Karate Kid/Starman conversation, I don't know what I like better: Karate Kid doing his kata or Starman mimicking it.

JE: Good eye. I didn't catch that until the second read through. Though, as we're seeing in the JLA / JSA crossover, those wacky Legion kids have a lot more up their sleeves than it appears.

BE: I'm very happy to see this version of the Legion. While I'm enjoying the current Mark Waid run, the Cary Bates, Dave Cockrum/Mike Grell stories are still some of my favorites.

JE: It's a shame to see Waid leaving the title. He had a good feel for it.

BE: Completely. I was sold on page one of the first issue with the opening dialogue:

"With the help of interstellar alliances, the Earth entered a millennium of utopian peace. Now, at the dawn of the 31st Century, all we, our parents and their parents have known is security, stability and order. We're so sick of it, we could scream."

That was probably the best lead-in for a series I have ever read.

JE: Bar none. I practically cheered when I read it, and then immediately wished four about ten years of my life back so I could, indeed, be that cool.

BE: Now Jimmy has superspeed. As I mentioned last week, Jimmy has had some wacky powers but that wasn't one I could verify. Stretching and speed, could Jimmy be tapping into the powers of dead heroes like Elongated Man and Flash? If Jimmy starts using Lightray's powers I think it bears out my theory.

JE: This would be awesome. Flat out. Kind of like Peter Petrelli on "Heroes." Though, really, it wouldn't make me like Jimmy Olsen any better.

BE: You know, Jimmy has feelings too.


BE: It's just a tagline folks. So, if Superman was near Vega when he got the message. Either the post 52 Superman has his Silver Age speed, or the JLA are using impressive teleportation technology like a Boom Tube or a Zeta Beam.

JE: I was under the impression that Infinite Crisis and the subsequent storylines re-established Superman's abilities as being on par with his Silver Age identity, complete with super-intellect, which was how the topic was first brought up in my neck of the woods.

BE: I frankly have no issue with that. Alan Moore proved that good writing can make all of the Silver Age stories relevant when he wrote "What ever happened to the man of Tomorrow?" and Kurt Busiek has followed through with the OYL Superman titles.

JE: My only issue is that (as started above) this makes Superman technically smarter than Batman, which I don't agree with, though, in the end, it makes sense.

BE: Who can kill a God? Darkseid can, but he's not big on running away.

JE: Unless it suits him to do so. Use Lightray as a warning to the heroes of Earth, just so he can draw them into a trap. I'm alternately leaning towards one of the Monitors as having been involved. They seem to have some punch.

BE: That's a very likely suspect. Does this mean that the Fourth World has its own dimension again?

JE: I'm hoping not. I'm just thinking that this might be a call to the heroes to prepare for Darkseid's plans and a reminder that we should be worried about the Source Wall from a few weeks ago.

BE: Could the monitor in question be taking his cues from the Source Wall?  I'm guess that's a yes.

JE: I have one more thing to add to your comments. Did Jason's comment about "living on borrowed time" ring the same bells in your head as it did in mine?

BE: I hope I correct in saying that it made me think of the Challengers of the Unknown. We on the same page here?

JE: We are indeed as brothers! I love the Challengers of the Unknown, and I've had a thought for a while now that, instead of being a separate bunch of people, why not make a team out of superheroes? And maybe that was a hint for us. Jason, Donna, maybe a few others who "don't belong," according to the Monitors. That would make a pretty spiffy team, and what would be a greater "unknown" then the universe post-crisis. And the reference DiDio made   in his backup article to Adam Strange, Starfire and Animal Man as the Challengers From Beyond cemented the idea even more into my head.

BE: Well, Grant Morrison did want to revamp the "Challengers Beyond the Unknown." I can't imagine this is a coincidence. And for this week's blatant plug: the Challengers From Beyond will be appearing in the companion series, "Countdown to Adventure."

And I'm spent.

Panel of the Week

Faster, punk! I left my stove on!


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