Friday, May 09, 2008

Darkseid Equals Death (DC)
Countdown #2 When: June 2008
Why: Paul Dini, Sean McKeever & Keith Giffen How: Scott Kolins

The Story So Far...
When the prophecized death of the New Gods begins; Darkseid begins siphoning the powers of each of the deceased for future use in his attempts to create the Fifth World on Earth. In need of a storage vessel, Darkseid recognises Superman's best pal, Jimmy Olsen, as one of the most protected individuals in the cosmos.

Though the mysterious development of these strange powers gives Jimmy hope of becoming his own type of superhero; the intrepid photo journalist soon discovers the truth about his many fantastic transformations! After being reunited with Superman, Darkseid is able to take control of Olsen's new abilities, forcing him to emit Kryptonite!

The intervention of the Atom gives Jimmy a chance to take control of his powers, but even with the giant-size energy of a New God, he's unable to overcome the dark lord. Just as all hope seems lost for Superman's pal a boom tube ushers the arrival of a New God thought dead - Darkseid's son, Orion! Intent on putting an end to his father's darkness once and for all, can Orion fullfil the prophecy?

Tale of the Tape...
ARTWORK: Jack KirbyARTWORK: UnknownStrength: Darkseid 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Darkseid 5 (Professor)
Speed: Orion 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Darkseid 7 (Unstoppable)
Agility: Orion 2 (Average)
Fighting Ability: Draw 6 (Warrior)
Energy Power: Darkseid 6 (Mass Destruction)

- The second son of the New God despot, Darkseid; Orion was part of a peacekeeping trade between frictioned twin planets.
While Mr. Miracle would take his place on the destructive world of Apokolips, Orion would have a lighter life raised by the Highfather Izaya.
Izaya taught Orion to control his inherent rages, making him one of the greatest warriors the universe has ever seen! His legend includes a brief reign as ruler of Apokolips, and member of Earth's Justice League.
It has been prophecized that Orion will one day destroy his father, plunging his body into the depths of firey pits.

Orion, a New God, possesses fantastic strength, speed, and endurance.
With the aid of an Apokoliptian Mother Box, Orion is capable of maintaining a calm, while also focusing his energies. His astro-harness also allows the funneling of destructive energies from The Source from which the New Gods came, and also facilitates travel through almost any environment.

- Born to Yuga Khan and Heggra; the New God named Uxas would ultimately change his name to Darkseid as part of a reinvention that would include the assassination of his mother, and ascension to ruler of the planet, Apokolips.

In his desire for universal domination Darkseid seeks the Anti-Life Equation; an ability that will grant him omnipotence over all thought and being. This quest has brought him into regular conflict with the denizens of a distant planet called Earth. It is Darkseid's belief that the recesses of the human mind retain lost fragments of the Anti-Life Equation.

Darkseid's power rivals and maybe even dwarfs any of his New God peers, or even those from other pantheons of godly order. Ungauged levels of strength and invulnerability provide a baseline for the enduring despot, with other abilities, such as his Omega Effect, providing a lethal projectile offensive said to be inescapable and nigh impossible to survive.
Also at Darkseid's disposal are endless hordes of parademon soldiers, fiercely dedicated and willing to die in his name.

The Math: Darkseid Ranking: Darkseid (#79)

What Went Down...
Just as the fates of Ray Palmer and Jimmy Olsen seem sealed a boom tube explodes spewing forth an astro-harnessed Orion who survived a death that took him directly to The Source. He is none too pleased to see his father.

Channeling the very power of the mystic Source, Orion blasts Darkseid with a devestating blast of energy from his harness. Darkseid laments his disappointment, summoning his own energies for a clash of New Gods!

A raging Orion warns the heroes of the Justice League away; allowing the fullest of his powers to swirl like a maelstrom of raw force! Declaring his intent to fullfil his prophecized victory, Orion doesn't see the bending beams of energy coming up behind him -- Omega beams!

Orion survives Darkseid's occular assault reduced to a smouldering mess.
His dark father is unremorsful when punting his burning son. Orion's body hurtles to the ground with explosive impact. Superman, Green Lantern, Flash, and Donna Troy reluctantly watch on, aware of their helplessness.

Darkseid pins Orion's skull beneath his heel to gloat. The strategum only serves to provoke Orion's untapped rages further. He bursts from his self-made crater, toppling Darkseid, only to take a mount position and unleash blows that rock the already destroyed city of Metropolis!

Crackling energy bursts from the two titans as they lock in close quarters like the ancient gods of Olympus. Darkseid mocks the details of his prophecized downfall, "... I don't see... your precious firepits, Orion..." The Apokoliptian despot feigns a moment of joy for his son's promise to sacrifice his own life to kill him, and then...

... Orion plunges his fist into Darkseid's chest!

Darkseid drops to his knees as firey energy pours from the cavity in his chest. Orion stands over his father a vision of stoicism, "Ever so arrogant, this Darkseid. Straight through to the end. Goodbye, father."

Metropolis is bathed in the explosion of energy before the heavens open to a pacifying deluge. Darkseid's boney remains glow like embers and Orion walks into the pouring night -- victorious.

ARTWORK: Jack KirbyThe Hammer...
In one of the most epic battles of the year: Orion wins! Fatality!

We're running disgustingly late after a week of delays, but I'm pleased to finally have this battle up on the Infinite Wars. The pipedream would be to give the best few reads this sort of treatment each week as a gauge of the year's progress. That just isn't realistic for me, but it's nice to pick up a big battle like this one.

This fight vaguely connects to the on-going Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe discussion, because here is a prime example of the combative chops of the DCU. Orion would undoutedbly be at home with morally ambiguous warriors like Scorpion and Sub-Zero, while Darkseid, to me, is the most obvious lead villain the makers of the game could choose to pair-up with an MK menace.

Of course, as much as MKvsDC has been a driving force on the Infinite Wars, there's a whole lot coming from the comics side of the fence the next few months! As you'll see in the shipping list; it's going to be a big week of books, particularly with DC simmering away with it's upcoming Final Crisis efforts.

By now more information is surely presenting itself, but I haven't really been keeping up. Which I think I like. I'm enjoying having little preconceived notion of what Grant Morrison plans to do with his final chapter in the 'Crisis Trilogy.'

Particularly after the DC Universe 0 special, I'm enjoying the notion of DC heroes ascending to fullfil the void left by the dead New Gods. It seemed foolhardy to expect Bruce Wayne to be among this new pantheon, but the speculative return of Barry Allen instills a faith in me that this is a concept that really could work.

Of course, I'm not entirely sure that's the destiny laid out before the deceased speedster. Initially I was very fond of the idea of a zombified Barry Allen as part of the new Black Lantern Corps and many sources have since suggested that what I thought was a cosmic Barry Allen in DCU0, was actually Darkseid being reborn. So I really don't know where this is all going, but I'm excited.
More surprisingly, I'm excited about the New Gods!

I mentioned at the beginning of the month [Super Powers #5] that I'm not a New Gods fan, but I certainly appreciate the weight of the characters.

Countdown [to Final Crisis] has come under heavy criticism for struggling to maintain a direct line to the stories it's been responsible for instigating. I'm certainly surprised to see this monumental battle told outside of the pages of Death of the New Gods, but to DC's credit, this book has done the unthinkable, and actually gotten me retroactively interested in the related mini.

I'm disappointed that Darkseid is almost certain to return soon.
If I had a greater affiliation for the character, I might disagree, but my preference for death to end in death applies even moreso to the New Gods. Granted, there's a cyclical precedent in the canon, but I just don't feel that's justification for one of the most played out scenarios in comics. Worse still was the immediate fakeout of Orion's death which played specifically into the conclusion of the story of the New Gods.

Scott Kolins is an artist whose stock dropped dramatically when he produced some of the very worst covers I've ever seen, for New Invaders. From that point sloppy digital looking inks have been a constant disappointment of his artstyle, but not so here. Kirby overtones were welcomed in this 'final' clash of New Gods, and helped round this issue out as a strong stand-alone clash.

I was a little disappointed, particularly given that the entire issue is dedicated to battle, that it didn't quite live up to the epic standards of recent comparisons; like World War Hulk #5. The epic nature of the battle was well communicated in concept, but failed to really be reflected in the quality of the artwork. There were glimpses of grandeur very similar to the concluding issue of World War Hulk, but all too often the action was broken by the mundane. This is one time I could undoutedbly call for the popularized 'widescreen' presentation that, although not showing a great respect for the economy of the page, lends a lot of power to a story.

Keith Giffen wears a story consultant credit, suggesting to me a role pertinent to the written side of things, more than the role as layout artist he had for 52. If this assessment is at all correct, it does tend to make you wonder if Kolins might have benefitted from the added direction, but I wouldn't want to be too harsh on the penciller. His inks, though a little rough and imperfect, were a refreshing change from the unconfident and spotty lines I've come to associate with him.

I quite enjoyed the issue on the merit of it's own context, but wish I could've had more scope for the surrounding chapters. I tend to imagine the segmentalized nature of the series probably lends to my selective purchase, but it still might have been nice to have experienced more that led to the gravity of this issue.

I imagine we'll revisit the earlier part of the issue for the Darkseid/Jimmy Olsen showdown, but for the mean time, hopefully this was worth the wait. I'm certainly pleased to have finally added one of 2008's big showdowns to the record!

The Fight: 6 The Issue: 5.5

Missed out on all the New Gods action and keen to catch-up? If your appetite's whetted head over to Amazon where you can find all the information for pre-ordering the collections of those issues! Amazon not only has all the titles you need at affordable prices, but if you use purchase links provided on the site, you help sponsor future entries in the Infinite Wars! You can find more titles in the Infinite Wars Amazonian Gift Shoppe!
Thanks for your continued support! Stick around as the Infinite Wars rolls through overdue posts!

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