DC Comics, 2007, 22 pages, $ 2.99
Writers: Paul Dini, Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Keith Giffen
Artist: Scott Kolins
Colorist: Tom Chu
Letterer: Ken Lopez
Cover artists: Claudio Castellini, Alex Bleyaert
“The Turning Point!” it says on the cover. To underline just what a momentous turning point it is, the book's cover title changed from plain old Countdown to Countdown to Final Crisis with this issue. “If this is a marathon, then Countdown #26 is the point where everyone starts sprinting toward the finish line,” said DC Comics Executive Editor Dan DiDio in an interview. Considering it's only the halfway mark for DC's weekly 51-issue series, I presume Mr. DiDio hasn't run many marathons. But I digress.
What the above translates to in practice is page upon page upon page of characters standing around explaining the plot of the previous 25 issues to each other in endless lines of mind-numbing exposition.
They say things like, “Obstacles that should have been insurmountable become improbable opportunities.” Or, “As we speak, the Karate Kid has uncovered secrets beneath the cratered city of Blüdhaven... bringing him closer to his ultimate fate. Mere coincidence?”
Or, “Should the Source Wall erode to collapse, should the Source itself be compromised, universes will collide. The resultant cataclysms will generate crisis wave after crisis wave until the Multiverse consumes itself, becomes, once again, the void from which it was birthed. We know this to be true because we have experienced such a cataclysm.”
That, you see, is what it's all been about. You will no doubt be stunned to learn that Marvel's World War Hulk sold better.
The Klingons, meanwhile, still have not found their ray palmer. "What of this ray palmer? Rumor has it he's a key! For that matter, why have we been unable to locate him when we see everything? The sanctity of the Multiverse is being compromised in too many of our domains." Well, looks like the ray palmer is a he, as well as a key. But I kid, of course. The Klingons—there's a whole bunch of 'em—are actually called Monitors, and they're the equivalent of Marvel's Watchers. And Ray Palmer is a character who's better known as The Atom.
And he holds, or is, the key, or a key, to saving, or preserving the sanctity of, the Multiverse.
The Mooo, the Mooo, the Moooltiverse.
See how Countdown can be buckets of giddy fun?
But let's not sugar-coat it. Hazarding a guess, drilling a hole into your knee with a corkscrew is probably less painful than reading this book—and not just if, like me, you don't know what on earth it is meant to be about. I believe there are, in fact, phone books on this planet which are more entertaining than this dross, and I suspect artist Scott Kolins would have had more fun illustrating those, too.