The Monitors
Jason Todd/Robin II/The Red Hood
Donna Troy/Wonder Girl/Troia
Flash’s Rogues/The Rogues
Mary Baston/Mary Marvel/Black Mary
James Olsen/Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen
Lois Lane
Holly Robinson/Catwoman II

Written by: Paul Dini with Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray; Pencils: Jesus Saiz

This week opens on the Daily Planet’s intrepid photog, Jimmy Olsen who is determined to find out more about the death of Lightray (the New God who died last week in Metropolis) and the visions he had of the Source Wall. Jimmy receives a mysterious note and heads into Suicide Slum to meet with someone. That someone turns out to be Sleez, self proclaimed “former servant, aide and counsel” to Darkseid, who informs Olsen that he has finally figured out how to destroy the Master of Apokolips. Before he can reveal that secret to Jimmy though, someone or something appears in a blaze of light and kills Sleez - and it wasn’t Darkseid. The only thing the reader is left with is the tagline DC had been using in the advertising campaign prior to Countdown’s launch - “So Begins the End!”

It looks like there’s about to be a major war among the New Gods - but who’s hunting whom is a question that still needs to be answered.

A side note to Jimmy’s encounter with Sleez in the Slum, is the appearance of a girl outside the building who saves a homeless man during the attack which drops half of the burned out building onto the street. The girl is wearing a variation of a Hello Kitty t-shirt and in Rundown HQ’s opinion its none other than Holly Robinson, recently transferred to Metropolis from Gotham. With Holly in Metropolis it’s only a matter of time before her and Olsen cross paths.

Switching gears, the book also continues to follow Mary Batson’s adventures in Gotham. Now invested with all of Black Adam’s powers, Black Mary (as the fan press has named her, if not the comic itself) is patrolling the skies over Gotham, trying to ascertain the fluctuations she senses on the magic wavelength. She comes across a group of pregnant woman performing a demonic ritual that results in the summoning of a demon with a body made from dead infants (a wee bit distasteful, to be honest.) Mary makes short work of the demon and leaves him for the authorities, revealing that she is definitely more powerful than ever before and a bit harsher than her normal sunny self. The effects of Black Adam’s powers are obviously more than just to her new fashion sense.

The Rogues interlude is more of what’s all ready been displayed these last few weeks - they are out drinking and yet another fight breaks out between the Pied Piper and Mirror Master. It’s understandable, since Mirror Master is responsible for the death of Piper’s parents! While Rundown HQ is definitely happy that some of the best written villains in comics are getting a lot of page-time, we are getting a bit worn down by the decompression this particular plot thread is going through. It’s been six weeks and really the Rogues are in about the same position they started at in Week 51. Only readers of regular Flash comic know that Inertia (the current Flash, Bart Allen’s imperfect clone from the 30th Century) has sprung a huge trap for the Flash in an attempt to take the Speed Force from him; but in the pages of Countdown, the Rogues (including Inertia) have done little more than get their drink on!

The final pages of this week’s issue are dedicated to Jason Todd - a/k/a The Red Hood - meeting again with Donna Troy, this time in Washington, D.C. in the middle of the Amazons’ attack on the capital city (see the Amazons Attack mini-series for more details on that story!) Jason is trying to get Donna to realize the gravity of their situation in that they are similarly situated to the murdered Duela Dent as anomalies on this Earth - they’ve both died and been brought back. They just don’t belong in the universe. The former Robin's done some homework and discovered that the alien who killed Duela was none other than the Monitor (note to readers: the characters don’t yet know that there is a new Multiverse with 52 universes and 52 corresponding Monitors for each universe.) Donna can’t believe that the Monitor is even alive (she remembers the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, unlike most DCU characters), never mind that he would murder someone in cold blood. That’s when the Monitor’s newest weapon is unleashed on the pair with devastating results.

Obviously an analogue to the original Monitor’s agent on Earth - Harbringer (see pic above) - Forerunner (see pic to the right) seems to be fiercer, more vicious, and invested with more powers than Harbinger ever displayed. She easily (and quickly) takes out both Donna and Jason, leaving readers with another cliff-hanger ending.

As solicited, Forerunner will be appearing prominently in DC’s upcoming Countdown to Adventure series that will star Adam Strange, Starfire, and Animal Man. Her future role as hero or villain is unclear at this point, but right now things don’t look good for those deemed unacceptable to the Monitors. That list, while obviously containing Jason Todd, Donna Troy, and Kyle Rainer, could also contain a lot of other characters who have died and come back to life. A-list characters like Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Green Arrow Oliver Queen, and most importantly, Superman!

If the Monitors truly are waging war on these so-called anomalies, and there is a burgeoning battle brewing amongst the New Gods, the entire DCU could be in for quite a ride. So begins the end, indeed!

Next week: Enter the Justice Legion(?!) of America!