SPOILER WARNING: The following contains spoilers concerning "The Death of the New Gods" #7.
"The end… of everything… was nigh." â€" Buddy Blank
With the Challengers arrival at Cadmus, the tale shifts this week to the perspective of just one man, Buddy Blank, a Cadmus scientist of forced to bear witness to all of this issue's developments, beginning with a mindscan that proves Atom and his cohorts are, in fact, exactly what they say they are.
Buddy spends much of the week with Una, watching as the world itself begins to go slightly mad, with news reports of men going rabid and animals taking on human characteristics. As the world loses its grip, Cadmus scientists dissect Karate Kid and accidentally free the Morticoccus virus, which mutates uncontrollably and escapes into the unsheltered areas of the labs before being subdued by the heroes. Though the scientists insist that no one was contaminated during the near-escape, researchers begin to go the way of the outside world, as do their lab rats.
The Morticoccus is loose, and it's mutating at an overwhelming rate, adapting so quickly that no man-made process on this Earth can stop it. It's too smart, you see, having come from a century where all science and technology is light years beyond what is currently available.
The world is infected.
A rare few, the most powerful of this Earth's heroes, are inoculated against the virus using a serum made from Ray Palmer's immune blood. However, even these precautions are not enough, as the virus will ultimately adapt and overcome even this resistance. Even with the world going to hell, Buddy thinks only of his own family, his daughter and grandson who are stuck somewhere in the outside world. Joined by Una, Buddy makes preparations to leave Cadmus and seek them out, to spend his last moments in the company of people who care about him.
Unfortunately, as he readies to go on his journey, there is one last bit of damning news Buddy bears witness to: Green Lantern Hal Jordan has left Earth to seek out a cure in the far reaches of space, but, as he himself is infected, all Hal is actually doing is spreading the disease throughout the universe, dooming everything.
Chipper enough for you?
BE: Forty-Six issues down -- five to go.
JE: How the time has flown. Since issue #26 broke, we've been clipping along.
BE: Adam Beechen joins Paul Dini as they continue the Morticoccus story arc. I was looking at the pencils by Mike Norton and thought they looked really good and then realized Jimmy Palmiotti did the inks. Great team these guys made.
JE: Yeah, this issue was very clean, again. It's nice to see a superhero book look like a superhero book. My favorite panel was probably the image of Jason over the burning Gotham.
BE: Very epic. It had a Marshall Rogers feel to it. This issue's narration style was remarkable. If you love this series or if you hate it, you have to give huge props to the storytelling this issue.
JE: It was quite a risk to tell the tale solely from Buddy Blank's point of view, and quite a change in the regular storytelling devices.
BE: The solo narration lent a genuine air of desperation to the story.
JE: And made it a lot more personal. It was a good choice. It's easier to read earth-shattering events when told from the everyman perspective.
BE: Since Buddy Blank appeared in this series, we've held out hope for an OMAC appearance. I am sure it will happen, but I am no longer guessing when.
JE: Me, either. We were on the verge of it a dozen times, and I had originally felt certain that the Morticoccus would be linked to the change, but no longer. Now, I just roll with the punches.
BE: It also appears that the writing team is deliberately keeping us in the dark concerning whether this is another Earth or if the heroes have been somehow written out of history.
JE: I commend them on it, and curse them as well. It's a cheap trick to keep us begging for more, but it's done so well that it's hard to be mad.
BE: Once the Morticoccus is removed from the corpse of Karate Kid, it turns into a huge, freaky worm monster. Damn, this disease sucks.
BE: It also appears, as we discover later, that there is no point in trying to fight the disease. The Morticoccus is smarter than we are.
JE: Yeah, that's really unhealthy, and also very difficult to get out of from a writer's perspective. Paint yourself into a corner like that and you'll literally be climbing the walls.
BE: Which continues to point to a multiversal armageddon for the DCU.
JE: That's pretty much the only logical conclusion, yes. If "Countdown" and "Final Crisis" are meant to take all the extra Earths off the board, they're doing a good job.
BE: I fully admit that I have no idea where this ends, but I wager we will have infinite Earths again.
JE: I'm leaning away from it, though putting all the work into a series of planets that never got used does seem silly.
BE: Poor Jason gets no respect this issue. He even gets pasted by Kyle in a single panel.
JE: And after such a cool pose earlier on the page. Not cool at all.
BE: I am deeply concerned by a disease that transforms humans into part animal and animals into part human. I have a theory, however, and I am sure that many of our readers had the same thought. First, we have Buddy's grandson, who, should become Kamandi, the last boy on Earth. Kamandi was the protagonist of a world destroyed by a global apocalypse. The rest of the population? Yeah, they were humanoid animals. The cover of next issue is also very reminiscent of the cover of "Kamandi" #1. This series is getting a lot of Kirby love. Oh, and the apocalypse that created Kamandi's world? It was called "The Great Disaster."
JE: Check, check and check. I was right there with you.
BE: That being said, the Star-Gorilla from Earth-17, that appeared in "Countdown:Arena" stated that he was "attempting to form a truce between the forces of Kamandi and Ben Boxer." Which, of course means that the world of Kamandi exists already.
JE: Gah! Now you remind me. Random fact has thrown a monkey wrench into the works. However, since much (or should that be all) of "Arena" has simply been ignored, I think it's safe to say that we're okay here. And besides, my notes list Earth-17 as being land of the Atomic Knights, not land of Kamandi.
BE: I think that Earth-17 is an amalgam of all of DC's post apocalyptic futures -- with some superheroes thrown in.
JE: Makes some sense, but so do some editorial goofs. Guess we'll have to wait and see.
BE: Buddy and Una head out to get his family. If he takes his grandson to to a bunker named "Command D," we'll have our answer.
JE: Interesting that, if this is "our" Earth, or New Earth, or whatever you want to call it, that Buddy doesn't have any idea where his grandson is, even though we saw them together at the Command D bunker before the jaunt to Apokolips.
BE: Exactly right, which is why I hold that this is not New Earth, but rather the mysterious Earth-1.
JE: I'm with you on that one. Hey, this just occurred to me: if this is our Earth, where the hell is Brother Eye?
BE: Being flung from the surface of Apokolips?
JE: I'd think it still had access to the Boom Tubes, so being stuck out in hell-space wouldn't last long. Maybe that's just me.
BE: I'm sure we'll see him before the end or at least some version of him. The OMAC/Buddy Blank tease guarantees it.
JE: Unless it's just a huge red herring to toy with us.
BE: As for the rest of the Universe, it appears that Hal Jordan has lost all the common sense I have attributed to him and gone off to spread the Morticoccus to the stars.
JE: What a great idea, Hal! Way to help the bad guys get their way.
BE: It is a universal constant that Green Lanterns are not exactly acting like themselves in this series.
JE: Most definitely. Power Rings must be coming with a power-flaw, now.
BE: Back-up origin is Felix Faust by Scott Beatty and Jesus Saiz. Nice stuff. Faust has a lot of history to cover and it is done here in a concise manner.
JE: Very tidy. I'm not a big fan of Felix (Sebastian was more my speed), but this is handled well.
BE: Dude. How can you not like Felix? He turned the JLA into his fingertips (or vice versa).
JE: And Sebastian got his arm ripped off and replaced it with one from a corpse. They've both got really creepy mojo working.
BE: Noted. Remember last month when I told you that Himon was the agent of the Source that is killing the New Gods? Yeah, ask me if that's still true. This month's #7 is the penultimate issue of "Death of the New Gods," and begins with Superman and Mister Miracle facing off with Himon (who, last issue, had been revealed as the murderous agent of the Source.) Well, it wasn't just the readers that didn't believe it, as Superman and Miracle blast the disguise from the slayer of the New Gods to reveal -- the Infinity Man, as many (including us) suspected.
BE: The Infinity Man had taken the soul of Himon early on and Himon was revealed to be on the second Source Wall along with the other dead New Gods. He had been posing as Himon to avoid detection. Infinity Man imprisons Superman in a cage of light and battles Mister Miracle (who is the master of the Anti-Life). During the battle, Miracle destroys the source wall and the Anti-Life and the Source are reunited as one being. Mister Miracle is heart broken to discover that he has been manipulated by the Source, who he worshiped and loved and begs for the new, unified Source to kill him, and his wish is granted. Metron, who has been observing the whole thing, surprises us all by growing a bit of a conscience. Metron tells the Source that his manipulation of Scott Free was cruel and that if this is what the Fifth World will be like, he'd rather not see it. The being grants his wish and destroys Metron. Superman escapes his prison and the Source heads off to face Darkseid. Superman scans New Genesis and Supertown and sees that the remainder of the New Gods have died off-panel. The Source arrives on Apokolips (also devoid of life) to face Darkseid, who has taken a serum giving him access to the power of the Anti-Life portion of the Source.
JE: Wow. That's pretty hefty. It's going to take me some time to process that. Unified Source, Scott Free dead, Infinity Man. Awesome.
Panel of the Week
Looks like he's right at home, wherever we are in the universe.
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