Countdown: Arena #1 (DC Comics)
By Keith Champagne, Scott McDaniel & Andy Owens
My better half was a big fan of the “reality show” Rockstar Supernova, so as a result, I watched much of the run of the series as well. After I read Countdown: Arena, I was reminded of a biting bit of criticism Tommy Lee offered up to a would-be rock star: “That was sautéed in wrong sauce.” Writer Keith Champagne faced an uphill battle when it came to crafting this DC Universe version of Mortal Kombat, that’s a given. But the premise here is ludicrous. Monarch forces heroes to fight alternate versions of themselves so he can amass the perfect army of superhuman soldiers. He’s able to force them to fight with the threat that he’ll destroy their homes, their entire worlds. But if Monarch has that kind of power, what he does he need a Batman for? A Nightshade? Or even a Superman for that matter? Another problem with the book is that its appeal relies heavily on the readers’ familiarity with these Elseworlds versions of DC icons. Champagne’s script offers little background on these characters or why we should care about them.