Wait, What? Ep. 87: Tiny Yellow Boxes

Untitled It's funny. I keep thinking we're going to hit our "proper" hundredth episode any minute now and we're still only eighty-something percent of the way there. (It's probably the high-weirdness of having 145 entries accessible on iTunes that's throwing me off...) But we will get there!

Yes, neither rain nor snow nor sleep, nor screwy Skype, nor half-maintained hardware, nor early morning airport visits, nor crazy screeds by prominent webcomic cartoonists where the phrase "we won!" really means, "stop harshing my mellow," can keep us from our appointed rounds...unless we decide to take a week off.

Whatevs: we have a two hour episode for you, full of complaints about some of the above, but also delightful discussions of Reverse Aquaman, Saga #3 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples, Avenging Spider-Man #7 by Kathryn and Sturart Immonen, the history of kitty cats, Saucer Country #3, Wolverine by Jason Aaron, Bakuman, Batwoman, Watchmen Toasters, the fabulous oral history of DC's Countdown to Final Crisis over at Funnybook Babylon, The Zed-Echs Spectrum, Thor, Thanos, fanfic, Fraction, Bendis, and the perennial favorite:  more, more, more.

It is on iTunes (let's assume for the sake of argument) but it is also here, for you to download and listen to, and to raise as if it was your very own child, albeit one that chatters on endlessly and never really seems to hear what you say (yes, very much like your very own child, indeed!):

Wait, What? Ep. 87: Tiny Yellow Boxes

And as always, we hope you enjoy and we thank you for listening!

Count this!

Haven't done a proper comic book "review" in a really long time, and despite being swamped with getting ONOMATOPOEIA done this week, and having to make a serious dent in the new order form, I thought I'd jump back in here for a minute.

I'm reasonably sure that better writers than myself will tackle the complexities and joys that were COUNTDOWN (I'm especially waiting for Chris Eckert's deconstruction -- Downcounting, when he wrote it, was WONDERFUL), but in the meantime you can deal with my bleating.

DC has had a pretty bad last two years. Their editorial vision has been, in my humble opinion, horrifically broken, and, more importantly, completely and utterly out of touch of the interests of the audience. What successes they've had have seemed to this observer to either be completely accidental (SINESTRO CORPS) or actively worked against (the end of 52, and the multiverse, etc)

I've been selling comics in my own store for nineteen years now, and we've always been a "DC store" -- selling more DC comics than Marvel comics. This makes us a rare and unique creature in comics retailing, as far as I can tell from speaking with my brethren and reading the sales charts.

And right now in 2008, we're selling more Marvel comic books than DC. If it weren't for DC's superlative backlist program, and the strength of Vertigo titles in that format like Y and FABLES and DMZ, it would be a total and complete rout.

Marvel, to be sure, has been on a strong run with the of-the-Zeitgeist CIVIL WAR, but it is clear to me watching our sales figures and listening to my customers that an equal measure of this switch has been DC completely and utterly bobbling the ball.

The first real signs, for me, was "One Year Later", which was about as unmanaged and poorly fitting of an idea as anything I can think of. Virtually every DCU book took a sharp downwards spike in the wake of OYL, as the readership didn't understand what was going on in the books they followed, and given no real incentive to pick up new ones.

That could have been managed had it not been for COUNTDOWN, "the spine of the DC Universe" -- a spine that virtually no one enjoyed, and that had what seemed to be a billion-jillion awful tie ins and crossovers and "spin outs" all predicated on branding and ideas that no one (not even, it seems) the creators were especially enthused by.

COUNTDOWN finishes this week with COUNTDOWN #1. The original plan was that COUNTDOWN would finish with a #0, but that #0 has been repositioned as "DC UNIVERSE #0", leading to the silliness of "1 and counting" in this week's COUNTDOWN, when it isn't any such thing...

DC's previous weekly, 52, wasn't amazing through all points, but it least it had narrative character arcs that actually lead to somewhere meaningful for most of the involved characters -- virtually each character went through some form of character growth during the series and ended up in a different place and head-space than they were at the beginning.

Not so with COUNTDOWN. Let's look at it:

HOLLY & HARLEY: I guess they're girfriends now (? Was that what we were supposed to get from the end?), which really seems out of character for Holly at least -- why isn't she looking for Selina? I guess technically this is a change, though a very hamfisted and out of character one.

MARY MARVEL: Started off evil, ended up evil, didn't learn a thing. Heck, Black Adam showed more character growth in COUNTDOWN, and he was on, what, 4 pages?

PIED PIPER & TRICKSTER: Well one is dead, while the other magically isn't. PP decides to "be on the side of the angels" -- but he already was until the editorially-mandated death of Bart Allen.

JASON TODD: Still a psychotic fuckhole, didn't even keep the "Red Robin" costume. Sheesh.

The "CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN" (that is, Donna Troy, Kyle Rayner, and Ray Palmer) are all left not even an inch different than they started (Ray is mopey, though), and given a new "mission" that will last about as long as Donna stayed a Darkstar, if that long. Said mission barely makes sense anyway -- any one Monitor has been pretty clearly shown to be stronger than any 10 superheroes combined, what on earth could these three (and that bug-girl from the Olsen storyline) (?!?!?! WTF is she doing there?) possibly hope to do anything against the monitors? And, anyway, even if they COULD (which they can't), just exactly how are they going to transverse the multiverse in order to do so, without that Monitor helping them constantly? Wha?

JIMMY OLSEN: Started a schlub, ended a schlub, didn't even get his story. As the "everyman" of the story, he fought gods (*rolls eyes*

JACK KIRBY: Pretty much shat upon. The Fourth World is annihilated, to no real good end, the final prophecy is rewritten to serve a lousy story. OMAC is reborn with the mohawk, but in a way and method completely the opposite of what Kirby did, and not for what sounds like any good story reason. Kamandi also seemingly re/unwritten.

And all this for $152.49 -- 51 times $2.99.

At the end of the day, COUNTDOWN was an complete mess, going nowhere, doing nothing, and not even doing it well. Utter CRAP.

In a lot of ways, DC's future really depends upon FINAL CRISIS -- it's got to be REALLY good in order to draw people back to the DCU. And while Grant Morrison and JG Jones would sound like the people up for the job, if anyone is, the rumor columns are suggesting that it isn't going to ship on time (and the buzz around the freelancers is that project is already compromised)

I don't have a ton of faith in TRINITY at this point either -- our preorders for 52 while it was running were around 35-40 buyers; preorders on COUNTDOWN dropped down to about 14 bodies. Currently TRINITY is sitting at NINE people signed up for it, despite a pretty a-list creative team on it.

Plot should flow from character; characterization should not be dictated by plot. DC *has* to learn this and learn this very quickly if they don't want to lose more market share and customer interest.

What did YOU think?


Oh yes, there will be blood

COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS #24: First, it's the Sensational Character Find of 2007, the Jokester, who comes out as being sorta interesting, then is unceremoniously killed a week later, and now Earth-15, the "If Only" world where the sidekicks grew up to become their mentors -- really, the only of the (new) multi-earths that I liked. Superb...er, MAN-"prime", fresh from his well-I-guess-we-know-how-that-turns-out Sinestro Corps storyline (and, really, is it just me, or does it feel like someone in DC editorial is upset that Sinestro Corps hit with the audience, and COUNTDOWN didn't, and is actively trying to undermine it? They can't be THAT petty, can they?) decides to kill everyone and everything on that earth, in about the most gruesome ways possible. I mean, seriously, do we really need to see a pregnant woman get a spear through her belly in "the spine of the DC universe"? Really? The craziest part is that, other than that, this is even a less interesting issue of COUNTDOWN than usual -- and given how low their standards have been until now that's kind of saying something. What else happens this issue? Last issue's possibly intriguing scenario of Firestorm being taken over by Desaad is undone in almost the least possibly interesting way, and Mary Marvel, rather than being in Darkseid's grip.... isn't. Wow. That's it.

Man, this is just plain CRAP.

I just don't get DC editorial this decade...

TITANS EAST SPECIAL: Weirdly, Judd Winick seems to not to get the New Teen Titans at all -- I say "weirdly" because he's of the right age for them to be a primary influence, but the whole opening section of the book featuring them at their glory point is astonishingly badly voiced. I know its favorable to bash on Judd as a weak writer, but I've always had a great deal of affection for the man, so how badly bungled this was (down to the visible leg hair on Dick Grayson's short-pants Robin) really hit me hard. Jerking away from that travesty, we switch to Vic Stone in the present Trying to Get The Band Back Together, then switching over the B-List Titan brigade when no one wants to. Vic apparently didn't read the cover blurb which asks us "which one will die?" (hooray for selling points!), and then we're treating to a bunch on b-listers dying horribly. Wow, now the Band Can Get Back Together.... for Revenge! Hooray!

This shit just makes me fucking sad. CRAP.

I really really don't get DC editorial this decade....

What did YOU think?


Halfway to something

COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS #26: First off, someone needs to smack that logo around a bit, because it sure looks like "Countdown to Anal Crisis" to me! This issue is exposition-heavy, but at least makes it seem like something has been going on all of this time. Too bad the previous 25 issues weren't anywhere near this engaging.

But I have a question -- if, in fact, the very act of travelling between worlds causes stress on the Source Wall, which will eventually destroy the multiverse, then isn't "The Bad Monitor" just as culpable as anyone he's chasing around? Further, where are these "Town Halls" taking place? Aren't these 51 other Monitors stressing the Source Wall just as much every time they get together? Isn't this their third or fourth meeting at this point?

Plus, look at that splash page again -- I count WAY more than 51 Monitors in that room; even giving some allowance to Mickey Mouse Ears and two-headed Monitors, there are still at least 63 figures, by my count...

Anyway: its got nowhere to go but up, but still we're sadly AWFUL.

COUNTDOWN PRESENTS: LORD HAVOK AND THE EXTREMISTS #1: Well, almost worth it for Liam Sharpe drawing monstrous and hulking figures, but who really gives a fart for Marvel analogues, where the villains won? It just smells like Cash In to me, and was pretty AWFUL

COUNTDOWN TO ADVENTURE #3: I guess the lead Lady Styx returns story is OK-ish, but I'm not very sympathetic to any of these characterizations (I mean, seriously, Buddy maybe being in live with Kory? Really?!?); the Forerunner story where she goes to the Justice League of Magicians world is an interesting scenario, but it basically rendered uninteresting because of how quickly they kick her ass (not much of a badass eh?), and how dull of a antagonist "Dark Angel" is. EH, overall.

COUNTDOWN TO MYSTERY #2: Quite liked the Dr. Fate portion, but the Eclipso stuff was pretty terrible. A very low EH on that one.

This deluge of COUNTDOWN stuff really working against the books, I think.

What did YOU think?


Back to it: Hibbs considers the countdown

(Honestly, I wrote this yesterday, but blogger wouldn't let me post it then...)

OK, lets see how dusty my muscles have become...

COUNTDOWN #38: I was actually starting to think that this was getting at least a little better -- there was some plot movement in the last couple of weeks, and the return of Giffen to the breakdowns helped the storytelling a little. But, no, I read this issue and was left with another horrible taste in my mouth.

Part of it is just the sheer sloppy nature of the book. Maybe its that there's too many things going on in the DCU, and the traffic managers can't get it right; maybe its that books aren't where they are supposed to be, and there are fill-ins all over the place, and the cover was mocked up 12 weeks ago... but I knew there was a problem when I saw that cover with "The First Appearance of Mr. Action!" on it; and the burst-logo "Collector's Item!"

Neither is true (though the second is far less true than the first), and if you can't get your cover right, what else can you do wrong? I don't know... maybe they're trying to be Ironic? Maybe even Sarcastic? But, either way, it just don't work.

This sloppiness continues inside in a couple of places: there's the "the rogue's are stated again and again to be bumbling idiots, yet they keep escaping from deathtrap encounters versus people out of their weight class" or "The Calculator tries to black out cities, and drop airplanes from the sky to distract Oracle, but doesn't think to send some simple muscle to her place... at the same time Karate Kid and No-Powers Girl effortlessly break in" (Sure, he's from the future... but I dare you to go back in time to 1007 AD and effortlessly find... well my History-Fu is weak, come up with the appropriate comparison)

(Plus, you know, if you're DYING, I'd be kind of interested to understand why you're going to a computer specialist, really -- wouldn't a prominent DOCTOR, say a Midnight, or even a Fate be a much better decision? Jes' sayin')

But I think my favorite sloppy-ass Howler was the sequence on the boat with Zatanna where she casts a spell on the crowd of onlookers in danger. That spell? It is something very much like "teg dniheb em!", or, really, the equivalent of "watch out!" -- it's not a spell, its a warning! (now, of course, if the art showed the crowd magically teleporting behind her, then, sure, spell... though I would think that "snailivic to ytefas!" would have been a better phrasing in any case)

That was basically the moment I looked at the comic and though, "Man, they really don't care, do they?"

Everyone and everything in this story is dancing to dictates of the Plothammer -- but the plotting doesn't really make much sense, or come from a place that is especially interesting, and none of the individual storylines seem to have much thematic connection to the others. Plus, there's way too many Big Coincidences -- the threat to Oracle JUST HAPPENS to occur when KK shows up; A random ship in the ocean where Z and MM are JUST HAPPENS to be the one where more Kirby Kharacters die; and so on.

And all of this serves to make everything occurring seem to be weightless and unmoored to the universe around it. WHEN are events happening? I mean is "Amazons Attack" OVER at this stage? All of the characters in the first part of the book seem focused on Oracle's issues. Clearly "The Sinestro War" isn't happening concurrently with this -- there's Hal on Earth on page 2. In fact, why are the Monitor Corp so hung up on the Joker's Daughter and Donna Troy when Superxxx Prime and the frickin' ANTI-Monitor are wandering around out there?

I don't know, I'm almost certainly over thinking this all.

Things are probably still redeemable -- certainly LOST got infinitely better in its latest eight episodes or so, fixing a lot of the meandering problems it had in the 20 episodes before that, and steering straight towards a visible (if not understood) conclusion -- and maybe Mike Carlin can fix this mess in the back half of the title... but I wonder if the audience is going to care... or, if they even care whether they'll come back. Comic readers (esp mainstreamy superhero focused ones) are often very pedantic about their "collection". It is hard, if not impossible to entice people back into a mini series they've already sampled and dismissed. Its not like an ongoing monthly, people will leap on and off of those at will -- but minis just "feel" wrong in the collection if you don't have them all. There's an "I'll wait for the trade" moment if there is one at all.

Also: for the record, my FOC (Final Order Cutoff) for COUNTDOWN #35, I adjusted my number downwards yet again, and it just hit half of _52_ -- we were ordering about 75 copies of most issues of _52_, and my order for COUNTDOWN now stands at 37. I suspect this week's "Mr. Action" cover will chase more people off, and next week will be 35 copies or below. I don't think, at this point, it is going to stabilize until it gets to the 25-30 copy range. Which, ugh, is going to be really bad for the hassles of dealing with a weekly comic.

Either way, this individual issue of the series, as a single use of your $2.99, is pretty AWFUL.

What did YOU think?


My first thought of the day

I'm doing my cycle sheets (counting the comics we've sold in the last week) [and, God, I can't wait until I never need to do this ever again when POS comes in] {or, at least, being able to spot check inventory at least}, and, jesus, COUNTDOWN is seeing some brutal drops. We lost ANOTHER (nearly) 25% between weeks 3 and 4. This *could* be because it was such a small week o' comics last week, and maybe people are just not coming in, but the other piece of data is that we sold NO copies of week 2 or 3 either this week. That's really really not good.

I'm going to give it one more week before I totally freak out, but right now? The Great Disaster COUNTDOWN is counting down to appears to be the sales of COUNTDOWN...


Hibbs wobbles into 5/23

It seems like I keep starting each week's set of reviews, but never quite finishing them lately? Gonna try (since it is such a small week) to get through virtually everything by this time next week... COUNTDOWN #49: 52 was always, always, without fail the first comic I read each week. And, three weeks in, its the same with COUNTDOWN. But, I'm reasonably confident that won't be the case a month from now -- I'm really not feeling it. (You know there's something wrong when Doug Wolk's chosen successor starts his second issue review with "Well, that wasn't very good at all, was it?")

I may need to go back and look at the start of 52 again, but it seems to me that by this point in 52, the individual character arcs were all well into play:

Will Ralph find Sue? Will Booster find respect? Will Renee find herself? Will the "space heroes" get home? Will Black Adam fall even farther? Will John Henry... hm, harder that one... make up with Natasha, I guess?

Everything else in 52 gets back to those points, even with all of the flash and dazzle, and, so, 52 was effectively a human story about human motivations.

And, yes, I know its absolutely unfair of me to keep comparing this with 52, but the book physically demands such comparisons.

In COUNTDOWN, here's what I think we have so far:

Will Jimmy get a story? Will the Monitors do [something barely understood by the audience]? Will Karate Kid... well, dunno, but let's go with "prevent the Great Disaster"? Will the Rogues...again, unclear yet again so far, but probably some sort of redemption/destruction split Will Mary find herself (/powers)?

Of these five threads, only the last two seem to have much of a human core around them. #2 & 3 are... well they seem like comic stories ABOUT comic stories, y'know? And Jimmy... he's meant to be the POV character, the "everyman" of the DCU, but ironically that's what renders him the least dramatic, really -- he's Jimmy Olson, Superman's Pal, and ain't nothing gonna happen to him. "Jimmy Must Die!" buttons notwithstanding. He's the safest character in this series, let alone the entire DC universe.

Maybe it will get better, who knows, but at this moment in time, I'm really only vaguely interested, and I don't see any immediate evidence that this is going to change. So: EH.

This issue also starts a backup of "History of the Multiverse", just like 52's "History of the DC Universe" (which really wasn't), and really everything you need to know is the first line: "The Timestream. A place unaffected by the flow of time..." Buh, wha?! AWFUL.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #26: I'm going to pretty much echo Graeme, all the way along -- this is effective, compelling work, and I liked it very much, especially its structure and use of 0ff-panel (esp. the Falcon's speech thing), but one thing bugged me: in the bar where Bucky confronts the redneck guy, the redneck guy calls him a "jackhole". Yet, both Falcon and Luke Cage use "$#!^". That really really bugged me. Other than that? VERY GOOD.

IRON MAN HYPERVELOCITY #5: One of those "and that's why covers are important, kids!" moments -- I had skipped reading #2-4 of this mini, but the cover here made me said "Huh, give it a read" Glad I did -- pretty ripping cyber-sci-fi action that made me think than nothing less than a Warren Ellis comic. I was fairly lost on the stakes, etc, but I was still wonderfully engaged with the story as it transpired, which is exactly what a comic should do: VERY GOOD.

OK, that's enough for right now. More tomorrow, I hope...

What did YOU think?


Yikes, count me out: Hibbs dabbles with 5/16

Just one real fast while it's fresh in my mind: COUNTDOWN #50: Forget everything I said last week, I really didn't like this one. At all. There's five scenes in here, and I'll leave the bookenders for last. There's a (very quick) Mary Marvel bit which is unobjectionable; there's a sequence with Batman and Karate Kid that doesn't (on the surface) appear to have anything directly to do with COUNTDOWN, and seems a bit more like an ad for the JLA/JSA crossover... unless that doesn't resolve in any significant fashion in which case, wtf; and there's a Rogue's sequence which is adequate, but a bit overlong for the information it needs to unfurl.

Then there's the Jimmy bookending stuff.

Uh... what?

Obvious question, first: Jimmy knows Batman's secret identity? And the entire history of his legacy? And that Jason impersonated Dick for a little while? Even if I accepted #1 & 2, how is #3 even possible? Kal that much of a blabbermouth?

But there's a writerly sin here, too, page 4, last caption, totally highlighted as the end of narration, boom end on "he's willing to kill". With this in mind, why the hell is Superman sending Jimmy in alone? For that matter, why isn't Superman apprehending him for his crimes? Hell, for THAT matter, why is Bruce sparring with Karate Kid a few pages later? His now rogue partner is involved with a meta-human death, and Bruce isn't man-on-the-scene? Really?

(this is actually why you probably don't WANT the Big Three in play in these things -- they're so overly competent, you have to write around them to get anything done)

But the bigger sin is in the end Jimmy scene, even more specifically on that last page. First off, the clumsy fake-cliffhanger of the last two panels (!) comes exactly out of nowhere, and has nothing to do with the rest of the scene, and since we can be relatively assured that Jimmy Olsen isn't going to die (at least this early in the game, and, frankly, probably ever), it's a wholly false cliffhanger. But even worse is that the whole thrust of the Joker scene concludes with information THE READER ALREADY KNOWS (well, or at least, and reader who actually knows who Duella Dent was in the first place... but they're the only ones who might possibly care, all 52 of us) (Heh)

Actually, back to the "cliffhanger" -- I just flashed that it made me think of DC CHALLENGE, a really horrible DC mini-series, where round-robin writers took turns trying to top themselves ("Bwah-ha-ha, how will [Adam or Sean, I don't recall who is next in rotation], get out of this?")

If it had just been the middle bits, I wouldn't have been enthusiastic, but, y'know, it was all OK, but those bookends just soured me on the whole deal. AWFUL.

Parenthetically, COUNTDOWN #51 had pretty poor first-week sales at CE; LAUNCHING at only 75% of 52 typical first-week sales. This concerns me especially, because I had thought the first issue at least would attract more eyes, and I ordered in the 133% range (the first three months are returnable, however... albeit costing us 29 cents a copy. I FOC'ed Week 47 (my first chance) right down to the minimum required for returnability (100% of 52), but I'm still going to be returning chunks. There's a mathematical point where eating the cost of returns isn't worth the tradeoff of not having to eat unsold product (call it like 4:1), but the problem is determining what the bottom is on this. If I look to COUNTDOWN #51 as analogous to 52 #1, in terms of ratios of preorders to rack sales, then project forward, COUNTDOWN will end up well below half of 52; the only question is will it "hit bottom"? By 52 #12, I pretty much had the right number, will history repeat itself here, or will I know by, say, #4 this time? (God, I hope so)

I felt liberated by the returnable experiment of 52 -- I ordered more copies than I thought I could sell, and it paid off handsomely. Here, I feel shackled by it -- in order to cover my bet, I can't bet below a minimum that I *know* is way way too high.

Wow, I typed way more than I wanted to. More... maybe Thursday? I still have to finish this @#$% TILTING, and we've got a visit to a prospective school for Ben tomorrow, too, which will swallow most of the afternoon, so, unless I feel itchy, maybe I should shoot for every other day (ha, again)

What did YOU think, anyway?


PS: Bionic Woman trailer? Ugh.

Is there a natural "Countdown" joke for the title? Hibbs starts 5/9 off.

52 was special in a way because it was the "first of its kind" -- I think a pretty significant percentage of the comics buying population "bought into the experiment"' that is to say, once you reached, say, Week 12 or so, you decided whether you were "in for the year" or not. That's pretty much what my sales charts say -- there's peaks and valleys (and some absolutely unexplainable dips, but wait for those until I have all 13 weeks I'm capturing on 52, before I present the data, probably in a Tilting), but the through-line of week-to-week sales is really remarkably strong. I really really thought we'd lose half of the readership between #12 and #30, and that simply didn't happen.

I think I made the comparison here, earlier, between 52 and COUNTDOWN, and LOST and HEROES -- HEROES upped the ante for what a long-form drama (on Network TV, because, of course, THE SOPRANOS, or THE WIRE, or even, really, THE SHIELD and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA showed what the promise actually was) could be. That's pretty much the expectation of the audience, that each thing will be better and stronger that what proceeded it.

LOST really needed to step up its game (and, yeah, it pretty much has with the last few episodes -- I'd personally put the turning point back at the Tales From The Crypt one), but who knows if, because of the downtime, the audience it once had will come back?

So, I've thought, since the moment they announced this book, that COUNTDOWN needed to launch really really strong, in order to overcome the innate suspicion of the audience.

And yeah "#51" is a pretty good first issue.

There's action, there's mystery, there's a lot of universe building, and I like a fair amount of the initial characters, and/or underlying continuity enough to be happy.

I had problems, though, of course. First, I thought it was pretty left-field to have Duela Dent and Jason Todd be the main players in this first issue, particularly with the whole casual "I may be from a neighboring earth, but..." comment. I was ready to chalk that up to "well, yeah, she's claimed 20 different identities since her first appearance" (and there's never really been any real resolution to who she really IS, for the 428 of us who actually CARE), but then there was the whole Monitors-with-guns thing (which is, really, stranger than strange.... I already want them to go away!), and they cack her, and, WTF, THERE'S STILL NO CLARITY ON WHO SHE EVEN WAS IN THE FIRST PLACE?

I mean, doubleyou-tee-eff, to the extreme.

The Mary Marvel scenes were nice, but, huh? when was she in a coma? Did I skip over some stray line in 52 Week 50? She was in that, right? I don't remember her getting hurt that bad?

Dramatically, I'm not sure if the plot works. The Countdown is to the Great Disaster, and only Ray Palmer can stop it. Well, OK. So he will. Certainly, we're not going to end up with a post-Great Disaster DCU. Who would want to read that? So, there's not a lot of underlying tension to this.

And my big worry is, like 52, they don't actually have fifty-two comic books worth of story for this. Again, to go back to the (wrong-headed) Television analogy, I don't think that BATTLESTAR GALACTICA or LOST actually has 22 episodes worth of "story" any given "year" -- 12-16 episodes seems like the much smarter way to go. 52 maybe had twice that range of actually interesting-within-themselves issue. And the other third was "filler".

I won't pay $3 for plate-spinning (not that I pay full retail, but you know what I mean), so I'm not willing to embrace COUNTDOWN the way I embraced 52 -- I decided I was ON the ride real early. COUNTDOWN I will be taking week-by-week.

And based on week 1, I'll be getting week 2. A tentative (and low) GOOD.