"I don't exist anymore!" - Firestorm
By Justin Eger and Brian K. Eason
After last week's explosive dispersal of the expanded Challengers, "Countdown to Final Crisis" #7 sees Holly and Harley going off on their own, boarding a bus to get back to Gotham as soon as possible. Unwilling to be caught in a crossfire of superpowers, especially with their God-given talents now fading away, the safest place for them to be is far from the action. As we find out in a brief flashback, Jason Todd feels the same way, though he chooses to continue his vendetta against crime.
Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice, Kyle Rayner, Donna Troy and Mary Marvel help Ray Palmer transport Karate Kid and Una to the Justice League's headquarters. The goal is to use the League's technology to synthesize what exactly makes the Morticosccus virus so deadly. After that, Ray then intends to synthesize a vaccine and cure from his own immunity.
Just one problem: The Justice League has no idea who Ray or Kyle are. In fact, the team members, joined by Firestorm, are looked upon as intruders, and the League members bring the fight to these new opponents. Using Firestorm's abilities, the group teleports away quickly, trying to buy some time and ascertain what happened to them while they were in space. Seeking out Jimmy Olsen at Habitat, they find the location no longer exists, and neither does Jimmy -- at least in the eyes of those he thought he knew. Much like all the others, no one recognizes Holly and Harley, either, not even her beloved puddin'.
While at the former location of Habitat, the team decides the next best place for technology is the nearby Project: Cadmus labs. Reluctantly, Jimmy leads the group to the place he has such a long history with, only to find Cadmus all but abandoned, guarded by just a few mutants and Dubbilex. Reading the visitors minds, Dubbilex discovers the reason for their visit and offers to help, if only he could. As it happens, Karate Kid is already dead.
And our favorite backup feature continues with the Origin of Bane by Scott Beatty and and Bane co-creator Graham Nolan.
BE: Tom Derenick and Wayne Faucher have the art chores again this week, but to mix things up, we have Adam Beechen joining Paul Dini on writing.
JE: I like the consistent artwork. It's been helping. A lot.
BE: I can't wait to see these two on a regular monthly series. They are quite the workhorses.
JE: One can only hope, though I imagine a few months of weekly books would easily burn out the drawing hand.
BE: The book was gorgeous this week. I particularly liked Harley and Holly on page #1.
JE: Very much so. The art was clean and detailed and just good all over. I know that sounds gushy, but good art makes it so much easier to enjoy.
BE: No, you are dead on. Somewhere along the line I believe I suggested that the Mysterious Earth-1 is the Silver-Age Earth. I am betting that this is Earth-1. Then again, since they don't know Ray Palmer and they do know Ray Terrill, I could be wrong and our heroes have been erased from history.
JE: I considered much the same thing, and, as you say, the Ray Terrill threw me off greatly. Also, the loss of Habitat seems to point to an alternate Earth as opposed to an altered Earth. Yes, I know, it must be way harder to erase people than to erase a set of buildings, but, really, are Jimmy's buddies so important that they, too, were erased?
BE: Perhaps it is the issue of not being on Earth when something happened. Another thought is they were shunted to a world where they filled in specific "blanks."
JE: An interesting proposition. Something to consider would be what roles, or "blanks," as you say, they would need to fill.
BE: See, I should learn to stop saying things that put me on the spot. In this particular case, I'm assuming that it is possible (but less likely than other explanations) that the world in which they arrived was specifically missing each of these characters. If that is the case, then the Earth they are on is both natively missing the cause of the Great Disaster (the Morticoccus) and the solution (Ray Palmer). This would imply that the cause and the cure are linked on some level. When in doubt, I blame the Source, since we must remember that the Death of the New Gods is directly tied to the Great Disaster.
JE: Everything you said makes perfect sense. No cause, no cure, and we could therefore assume that this is the sole place that could survive the Great Disaster without any repercussions. If you want to play the Silver Age game, then that's the way to go.
BE: I see no wings on the Flash's boots, so this must be Wally.
JE: Dual lightning bolts for a belt rather than the wrap-around bolt belt confirms it. To me, that's more inclination that we're not on Earth-1.
BE: Nicely spotted. I never remember the belt.
JE: I never remember the boot wings.
BE: While this issue seems to be one full of talking points, it seems that Mary is losing it a little here, or maybe she's supposed to be edgy now. And is it me or in the lightning bolt getting darker?
JE: I noticed the same thing. Could Mary's powers vary with her mood?
BE: She has a mood logo.
JE: Ha! We really are back in the Silver Age.
BE: Harley misses her 'puddin'? I thought she and Joker were quits?
JE: Just because you're taking some time apart from someone doesn't mean you don't long for their companionship, and who else does Harley really have?
BE: We head off to Cadmus, a place that Jimmy Olsen should feel right at home, but Dubbilex doesn't know him. While this may be another Earth, and possibly Earth-1, it's one where Cadmus knows nothing of Jimmy Olsen.
JE: You're way more informed about the Silver Age than I am, and likely moreso than most of our readers, so I'll toss you this one: Was there even a Cadmus in the Silver Age? I know that the DNA Project was created by our beloved Jack Kirby back in the day, but can they be considered the same thing?
BE: The term "Cadmus" was not used pre-Crisis, but Cadmus and DNA were (and are) considered the same project.
BE: A world without Jimmy is really a big deal. That's a much bigger fixture of the DCU than even Donna Troy or Ray Palmer. That's a ton of the Fourth World stories dramatically changed.
JE: Which is part of what we've been seeing all along. Here's an unlikely but still potentially cool thought: What if the Great Disaster isn't of the explosive variety? What if it's a much subtler kind of disaster, yet still with the same power to alter life as we know it?
BE: I think you're on to something there. The Morticoccus, for example?
JE: Welcome to my page. Quick spit-balling idea here: Assuming we're not on Earth-1, could the Morticoccus Virus have another to do with our altered state of being for the heroes?
BE: Now we have a working theory. What if their exposure is subtly erasing them from time? The theory has merit, but the subtle lack of identifying what Earth they were on when they arrived makes me think they are indeed on another Earth.
JE: Bingo. Not all Disasters have to be doom, lightning and volcanoes.
BE: There has to be lightning and volcanoes at some point and probably a red sky. If you don't have that, how can you have a proper Crisis?
JE: Doesn't have to be proper to be damaging, that's all I'm saying.
BE: And Karate Kid is dead.
JE: We've got a pronouncement, and we've got a body. Could be a sticky situation.
BE: Backup origin is Bane of all people. The Batman characters are getting a lot of play here.
JE: That was a nice surprise. Considering I consider myself a Gothamite by nature, I like the background on the Bat-villains. And he does have the best rogues' gallery.
BE: Most of them were created by Bill Finger, so you won't get an argument from me. Best is a good word.
JE: Well, I left some wiggle room for the fans of the Flash Rogues out there, which I am perfectly willing to put right up there in second place.
BE: And Flash fans do love the Rogues, in all their goofy glory. Nice art by Graham Nolan, always one of my favorites.
JE: I'd forgotten how much I loved his artwork until I read his name on the page. His post-"Knightfall" art was legendary.
BE: He is the perfect choice for Bane.
Panel of the Week
Not the guy you want forgetting your name.
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