Writer: Bill Willingham
Artist(s): Sean Che, Walden Wong (i)
Publisher: DC Comics
This review is a “Countdown” Special tie-in. No really it is. I’m not even kidding you; this review is a “Countdown” tie-in. Seriously, what’s one more tie-in? I only jest. I will say that for the most part the actual “Countdown” tie-ins that DC has released in the past few months have actually been quite decent. The Search for Ray Palmer to me is the most fun and Countdown: The Arena also looks to be fairly decent. But what about those good old super-villains? They’ve been disappearing throughout the DC Universe, it’s a common theme in “Countdown” and it feels like it will come into play during the Gotham Underground mini which seems to be off to a great start. But when you look at Gotham Underground, most of those villains are crime lords, dabbling in a more “sophisticated” form of crime. The villains that have been disappearing are mostly super-powered, so where have they gone? Salvation Run answers this question as the latest “Countdown” tie-in that doesn’t actually say “Countdown” on it.
This issue focuses primarily on everyone’s favorite rogues’ gallery, the Flash Rogues. After an obligatory recap of what’s been going on involving super-villains in the DC Universe, covering everything from “World War III” to Amazons Attack to Bart Allen’s death, it would appear that Amanda Waller and this Rick character have themselves a bit of a civil liberties issue. I thank high heavens that writer Bill Willingham did not get into the politics of the situation because that would have just made a mess of everything. Waller and Rick are more people of action and don’t have time to deal with the law.
Anyways, during our last crisis one of the biggest issues was that the JLA felt the need to do some mind-wipes. We all know where that went during “Infinite Crisis” and beyond, now it appears it’s the governments turn to piss off every super-villain in the DC Universe. Except rather than mind-wipe the villains and make them cannon fodder for the Teen Titans, the government has decided to use a boom tube and send the villains to some far off planet to die. Sending super-villains anywhere in the DC Universe beside the Phantom Zone is a big mistake because they will no doubt find a way back.
There’s some crazy stuff going on in this issue and a few eyebrow raising moments along the way. One of the biggest holes I noticed was the fact that Captain Cold and Heatwave have their weapons. At first, I didn’t think much of it, but then there is a flashback to the moment before they were sent to the planet. In this scene they are clearly handcuffed and their weapons are sitting on a table. Rick, our government agent, explains that they will be given nothing but the nature of the planet to survive. I can buy everything about what’s happening. The government no longer wants to deal with the super-villains; the heroes won’t kill them, so why not send them off to some distant planet to play “Survivorman?” It works, it’s a great idea but I’m baffled by the fact that Captain Cold and Heatwave happen to have their guns. It doesn’t surprise me that the Weather Wizard and Abra Kadabra can use their powers, but would the government really send weapons with these madmen? I highly doubt that. Nonetheless, they have their weapons and they are able to defend themselves against some of the planet’s inhabitants, which look rather familiar.
In terms of pace, this issue doesn’t really drag on, there are many interesting developments, but it does build rather slowly. I’ve noticed that is Willingham’s style and it could work here; my only problem is that this issue feels like a bit of a prologue than a #1. Maybe it’s just my opinion, and I know this is supposed to be centered on the Flash Rogues, but the story doesn’t really seem to pick up until other villains begin to appear. When the boom tube hits, the Rogues are certain more villains have arrived. I think it was very clever the way that Willingham gets them all to agree to find the others, Heatwave’s logic is fantastic: “what if there are women?” It’s simple, yet completely identifiable and believable, definitely one of the highlights of this issue.
One thing I found rather funny was the roster of villains that appear at the end of this issue. I find it funny because all these villains, except for one, have super-powers. I mean there are well-known characters like Cheetah and Clayface, but the most well-known of them doesn’t have any super-powers. I find this choice to be both interesting and an obvious marketing tool for this series, but it does make sense in terms of the DC Universe. Think about it, if you were sending super-powered villains to a far off planet, why wouldn’t you send the most psychotic and dangerous non-powered villain as well? It makes perfect sense in a number of ways that the Joker is the first non-powered villain to find his way to the prison planet. You realize the government’s folly here, and you can also sense they are going to be dumb enough to send Lex Luthor there as well.
Yet another highlight of this issue is the artwork. Sean Chen’s work is really well done. It looks great and every character maintains their distinct look. If I had to pick one thing about this series that would keep me coming back it is definitely the artwork. The display of super-powers looks great, the inking by Walden Wong is spot-on and the color saturation between past and present is perfect.
Overall, this is a slow but decent start to what has the potential to be a great series. Most of the “Countdown” tie-ins are better than “Countdown” itself so I’m definitely willing to give this series the benefit of the doubt. I will say though, something about Dan Didio’s DC Nation column this week, discussing the history of Salvation Run, really bothered me. It seemed like he was taking the credit over the actual writer of this series, I understand he’s the Editor-in-Chief, but it really felt like Didio was taking all of the credit.
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