The Players

James Olsen/Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen
Mary Batson/Mary Marvel/Black Mary
Teth Adam/Black Adam
Holly Robinson/Catwoman
James Jesse/The Trickster
Hartley Rathaway/The Pied Piper
The Monitors

Issue 47

This issue opens with Jimmy Olsen again, in the midst of a vision/nightmare, looking a lot like Lightray of the New Gods. He is glowing and apparently has become part of the Source Wall, the ancient edifice prominent in Jack Kirby's Fourth World saga that is made up of fallen gods and warriors and binds the universe. With so much New Gods action in Countdown so far, its more than a little ominous that Jimmy is having visions of that great barrier to the unknown. Interesting to note is the appearance of one of the alien Dominators who are playing a prominent role in current issues of the Legion of Super-Heroes book.

Next up, we return to Earth (or at least one of the 52 Earths) for a very brief encounter with Holly Robinson, friend of and former replacement Catwoman/Selina Kyle. Holly shows up in Metropolis and a newspaper article reveals that she is wanted for the killing of a police officer in Gotham. While we here at Rundown HQ know little about current goings on in Catwoman, head writer Paul Dini has said that Holly will play a major role in Countdown. Originally introduced in Frank Miller's classic Batman: Year One, Holly Robinson has always been an intriguing character and in the hands of such a well-versed Batman writer as Dini, her inclusion here holds great promise.

The issue briefly touches on Flash's Rogues (again partying!), and while the story of the Trickster and Pied Piper has, so far, been the slowest to develop, the characterization of these villains (or sort-of villains in the case of the Trickster and Piper) has been spot-on. Not since Geoff Johns' run on Flash have the Rogues been as interesting or as unique. Another promising storyline that looks like it's just about ready to bare bitter fruit.

The remainder of the book focused on two major developments. First, the Monitors (led on by the exterminator of Joker's Daughter) make a major decision - the eradication of all multiverse anomalies. Since the ones they seem most concerned with - Donna Troy and Jason Todd - are at the top of the list, it looks like times are about to get very dicey for the former Titans. The final page of this issue also throws Countdown smack into the middle of the Amazons Attack event (more on that next week!)

Finally, let's address Mary Marvel. Picking up from last issue, we find Black Adam questioning Mary's purpose and her innocence. The villain turned hero turned walking tragedy turned mass murderer is clearly at his most desperate and darkest hour.

Without readers knowing how, Black Adam is back in full possession of his powers, but confesses to Mary that he doesn't want them; that they have been nothing to him, if not a curse. Mary - whether in desperation or foolish bravado - clearly desires that power, and Adam is more than happy to impart it to her.

The twist comes, however, when Adam gives all of his power to Mary, transforming the young hero into a more mature, more menacing and a lot less innocent version of what can only be called, Black Mary. Sporting a new outfit akin to Black Adam's, Mary looks devastating in the black miniskirt and high-booted outfit. While word on the internet is split on this "seduction of the innocent" development, it seems that one thing can be agreed upon: this is a Mary Marvel that the DCU has never seen before.

Mary's story has developed the fastest in Countdown, and since we are only five mere weeks into the year-long ride of this title, the future looks bright for fans of the Marvel Family. As we spoke last week about The Question, we have to address the complaints about Mary's changes in the same way: when was the last time you read a really good Mary Marvel story? You may not like the transformation of Mary Marvel to Black Mary, but besides Jeff Smith's The Monster Society of Evil (a modern classic in the making, by the way!), Rundown HQ would say these have the best Mary Marvel appearances the DCU has ever had. Not since Fawcett Comics' The Marvel Family has Mary been portrayed so prominently, or so strongly.

To be fair to the other side of the argument, however, here are some comments by Jerry Ordway, writer of the excellent 1990s DC title, The Power of Shazam on the darkening of Mary Marvel from the Comicbook Resources Blog, Comics Should Be Good.

With all this focus on the character, next week The Countdown Rundown will feature a History of Mary Marvel alongside the weekly column - be here for the first of a series of articles focusing on the stars of Countdown, then come back on Friday for Countdown: Week 46 - a Forerunner of adventures to come!