James Jesse/The Trickster
Hartley Rathaway/The Pied Piper
James Olsen/Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen
Lois Lane
Kal El/Clark Kent/Superman
Mary Batson/Mary Marvel
Jean Loring/Eclipso
Ryan Choi/The Atom III
Jason Todd/Robin II/The Red Hood
Donna Troy/Troia
"Bob" the Monitor
Holly Robinson/Catwoman II
Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn
Val Armorr/Karate Kid
Luornu Durgo/Una/Triplicate Girl


So, lots going on in between the covers of this issue, but not really a lot happening. We start off where last week we left off - with the Trickster and Pied Piper freefallin' from 30,000 feet. Luckily, Piper grabbed a piece of luggage on the way out of the plane they were being held in and, lo and behold, within are Trickster's flying boots! Convenient for the pair, but still a little hairy. Good thing they were able to crashdown into Gotham Harbor.

Well . . . maybe not a good thing, since every cape in the DCU is going to be hunting them for their role in the murder of Bart Allen a/k/a the Flash! And since Gotham is home to the greatest manhunter in the world, a/k/a the Batman, a very bad future awaits our two favorite Rogues.

Especially since the first place they head for help in the big bad city is to pre-eminent Bat villian, the Penguin. Bad choices seem to be plaguing these two. Being cuffed together isn't helping.

Next up, the issue checks in on Mary Marvel and Jimmy Olsen. The former is contemplating the Riddler's sage advice about finding a mentor (and someone with a bit of dual personality - Jean Loring, a/k/a Eclipso - seems more then ready to take on the position!) The latter has created himself a costume and a super-hero name . . . get ready for MR. ACTION!

Moving on . . .

Holly and Harley are still with the Athenian Women's Shelter, but now are apparently in the Gotham extension. I could have sworn they were in Metropolis last issue! Hmmm. This seems to be the first of many continuity/consistency gaffs that plagued this issue (and some of the previous ones to a lesser extent.) Anyway, Gotham doesn't like their newest Amazonian guests, especially since Wonder Girl and Supergirl just took out Air Force One over in the mini-series, Amazons Attack!

Over in Ivy City, the Atom is getting small with the newly named, Bob the Monitor (yeah, I know), Donna Troy and Jason Todd. Heading into the micro-verse to find Ray Palmer, their first stop doesn't exactly look friendly - robotic amphibians and mutant micromen abound!

Finally, the book closes on Karate Kid in a scene that seems to have happened some time ago in the rest of the DCU (remember those continuity gaffs we mentioned a little while ago?) Completing their mission to resurrect Wally West and his family into the 21st Century, the Kid and his fellow Legionnaires get gone. But Brainiac Five tells the Kid his mission in our time isn't over. Anyone reading Justice League of America and "The Lightning Saga" already know this, but what we didn't know is that the Kid gets some help sent to him - Triplicate Girl! Or, more accurately, Una, one-third of the Triplicate Girl persona. What's their mission here? Wouldn't you like to know! For some clues, check out the latest issue of Justice Society of America where Superman asks the very same question of the Legion's Starman.

Well, it feels like it is about time for we here at Rundown HQ to give some deeper commentary on Countdown so far. While we've been enjoying some aspects of the story - specifically the Rogues' adventure and Mary Marvel's journey - a lot of the rest of the book, especially in recent weeks has felt like filler. More accurately, it's felt like a series of recaps for the same stories happening in other books. We understand that the book is attempting to tie together the continuity of the entire line of DCU titles, but the focus of Countdown itself is starting to get lost in the scramble to "fill in the blanks."

This week seemed to be the weakest of all the issues so far, with only a few pages advancing the stories of the lead characters and even worse than that, the issue was filled with head-scratching continuity flubs: Is Clark Kent/Superman really just sitting around at his office when Air Force One is taken out by Amazons (who by the way have been ransacking Washington, DC for the last couple of weeks)?? Is Karate Kid just getting to the point of trying to leave our universe, days after Bart Allen's funeral that happened in the last issue of Countdown? Did Piper and Trickster fall to Earth from Mars? Because if not, they must be defying gravity to give Holly and Harley enough time to get from Metropolis to Gotham between the Rogues exit from the plane 'til the first page of this issue.

Being diehard DC heads, the Rundown hates to harp on these "fanboy-ish" continuity issues, but when the gaffs take you so far out of the story, it's hard not to address the problems with a critical eye. And to go one further, the less said about this week's art, the better. There isn't a single consistent countenance on any character that appears in this issue.

In closing, the Rundown isn't giving up hope on this title. Quite the opposite, with 12 issues published, Keith Giffen on board next week for layouts, and the talented writing pool and veteran editorial team now on the book, things should only improve. It's just the hope of all of us here at Rundown HQ that some of the continuity rubs are a little less obvious and that DC focuses more on story-telling than story-recapping. If this title is truly meant to be the "spine of the DCU" - as it was so often touted - then let it tell its own tale and build off that base. Don't just use the title as a bridge between disparate storylines throughout the rest of this gigantic shared universe; use it to BUILD THAT UNIVERSE!

Next week: Issue 40: Tiny but DEADLY!