Countdown to final crisis volume one is the first of four paperbacks telling the story of what happened prior to 'The Great Disaster'. In this review I will be talking about the story as a whole rather than individual volumes. I would not reccommend buying this alone. In order to grasp the magnitude of events you may also be interested in Death of the New Gods
. In short The Gods of Apokolips and New Genesis are being murdered by a mystery killer, the most evil of Gods is looking for a way to survive. With this backdrop we go into the countdown.
The cover of Volume one is misleading, Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Supergirl and most others barely feature in this story. Its Donna Troy, Jason Todd, Mary Marvel, Captain Atom, Kyle Raynor, The Pied Piper and Legionnaires Karate Kid and Una that play the biggest roles. A disaster is coming and only Captain Atom holds the key to averting it. The problem is he is missing. Its up to Donna, Jason and Kyle to scour the parallel universes to find him. Through their adventures we get a guided tour of the new multiverse with such crazy concepts as vampire batman, teen titanimals and evil versions of our heroes.
However this is only one strand of the tale. Karate Kid and Una from the future superhero team 'The Legion of Superheroes' are stuck in this century and Karate Kid has a virus. Its a race against time to cure him before he dies or the deadly strain becomes contagious and ends the world as we know it.
In another subplot Mary Marvel, the sweet, innocent sister of Captain Marvel is now powerless. Desparate to get her power back she goes down a dark path. Can she save herself or will our heroes have to use force?
Its a cosmic story that showcases the variety of the DC universe. As the title says its a countdown to a big event 'Final Crisis'. Although the countdown introduces us to the concepts in 'Final Crisis' its not essential. As a stand alone story this series works. Its format as a weekly means the story can breathe and characters are fleshed out well. While some changes that occur may not be to the tastes of all long time readers those with a more open mind will probably enjoy this.