Have you seen it?

Have you read it?

What did you think?

34 Responses to “Is COUNTDOWN TO MYSTERY #3 Out?”

  1. Leigh Mortensen Says:

    It’s nice to see a story that’s so self contained in the days of writing for the trade. Pretty damn funny for being a story about dealing with psychological scars (mind you I guess there’s not a lot of comedians who wouldn’t find that surprising). So tight I couldn’t even see the seams. I laughed when I saw the spells, but I’m not sure if it was at the idea itself or at how fitting it actually is. It had a good beat and was easy to dance to.

  2. TwoBuckTim Says:

    This issue really brought everything together for me! I love Maddy. I love Kent’s realization of his predicament. I love the idea of tech-based incantations. And I love Justiniano’s art more with each new issue.

    My new mantra is: Ongoing, ongoing, ongoing…

  3. Leigh Mortensen Says:

    “It’s nice to see a story that’s so self contained ” – I.. hadn’t even noticed the title of this issues story before I wrote this. I feel like a boob.

  4. Adam McGovern Says:

    The best yet. I always thought of contemporary computer-fascination as a bid to reverse-engineer our own unknowable brains, so what better setting than this clever psychodrama for the concept of divination incarnating digitally? The layered self-critique coexisting with cracking good story-spinning is masterful. Loved the part where Kent tries to reassume the upper hand by dusting off his PhD hat and probing Maddy for her feelings of inadequacy, only to be short-circuited by her immediate honesty. For someone with such a reputation for cynicism, Steve can locate silver linings like no one else (see the spiritually-becalmed conclusion of the early-2000s Howard the Duck mini), and Kent’s levitation at the end was a heartwarming cosmic click of the heels before god-knows-what’s next for him. I can’t wait for each month’s session!

  5. jb Says:

    I said this a couple of blog posts back, but:

    I was particularly interested in the fact that even though Nelson is in a basically desperate situation financially, he is still thinking of things like being fair to the pawn shop owner and paying him back.

  6. Steve Gerber Says:

    jb: I’m glad you picked up on that, and I’ll be curious to hear what others think about it. I wanted Kent to have a conscience.

  7. Starocotes Says:

    It was a thrill as allways and not only because I got my issue on time this time 🙂

    The fact that Kent can cast spells even when not in the Dr. Fate persone is quite promising and now it would be great to see if he even can do it without the helmet or is the helmet not only a library of spells that teaches but also the conduit through which the spells are cast.

    The moral dilemmas he finds himself in are not only of the mystical kind but also very mundane and of such a kind that I can feel for him.

    There are two questions: What happend when Kent did cast the “Spirit Winds” spell? It looked like he and Maddys decended but I guess I’m wrong there. Also if he was still standing in the store what where the implications there?

    Do you know why Justiniano doesn’t do the art for issue 5? He wrote as much in his blog on myspace.

  8. Lord_Nabu Says:

    THis might actually be exquisite timing, I might be getting my comics shipment within a fortnight, meaning i will be less behind than otherwise…

    I’m REALLY looking forward to this!

    Sad to se Justiniano won’t do #5, he really is good for the title, though a good dose of Ditko Dr. Strange would still do wonders in my twisted mind…

  9. Steve Gerber Says:

    Justiniano’s absence from #5 has entirely to do with scheduling. He’ll be back with #6 and hopefully for the remainder of the COUNTDOWN TO MYSTERY series — and beyond that, if he’s willing and the series continues in some form. Everyone (including the readers, if you folks are any indication) is thrilled with the work he’s doing on the book.

  10. jb Says:

    It’s not just his conscience though. I think having such an ingrained sense of the value of things and not looking for a free ride makes him well suited to the 10th age “rules” that were already set up in 52.

  11. Steve Gerber Says:

    Starocotes: I don’t want to give too much away, so for now let’s just say you’re asking all the right questions about the helmet.

    About the spirit winds spell — that could’ve been illustrated a bit more clearly than it was, but your interpretation was correct. When Kent gave the “arise” command, he and Maddy sank into the ground.

  12. Adam McGovern Says:

    << jb Says:
    November 25th, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    It’s not just his conscience though. I think having such an ingrained sense of the value of things and not looking for a free ride makes him well suited to the 10th age “rules” that were already set up in 52. >>

    And it’s not just magic rules either — with everything else he’s got to contend with, Kent’s sense of simple justice stuck out like an Earth 1 Superman in the midst of a gritty crossover bloodbath, and it’s more than silver-age nicety from a writer who started in the ’70s; as a shrink Kent would understand the power of routine and common social norms to structure behavior and balance your footing in the world, and when you’ve been on the business end of real-life addicts and dirtbags like Kent had become, you come to realize how much less vulnerable those rooted in social rules are than the haunted predators who seem to have more power. Somebody said of the definitive shrink, Freud, that he may not have had all the right answers but he knew what questions to ask; Kent is willing to build his stairway out of the abyss one step at a time and he’s learning to ask the universe nicely.

  13. Stefan Immel Says:

    Starocotes: I don’t want to give too much away, so for now let’s just say you’re asking all the right questions about the helmet.
    This is answer enought for me.

    About the spirit winds spell — that could’ve been illustrated a bit more clearly than it was, but your interpretation was correct. When Kent gave the “arise” command, he and Maddy sank into the ground.
    I did see exactly that but wasn’t to sure if that was exactly what happend. I guess the real implication of that will become aparent in one of the next issues.

    And that you are talking about the series continuing (even if it seems just like wishfull thinking on your part) makes me very happy.

  14. Brian Spence Says:

    I FINALLY got to my comic book store and picked up all three issues. GREAT STUFF! I expected it, and maybe I’m a little fanboy biased, but it was one of the best superhero books I’d read in a while. It reminds of Seven Soldiers, but Dr. Fate actually makes sense!

  15. Scott Andrew Hutchins Says:

    I’ll be picking it up later this week. I’ve read all the Helmet of Fate parts now except Zauriel, so I’m catching up eventually. I’ve like them all so far, especially Sargon and Black Alice, so I hope I haven’t set my expectations too high for Zauriel just because it’s by my favorite writer. Amazon doesn’t credit you for the trade paperback. Is that a goof, or was Zauriel excluded for an all-Gerber paperback More Pain Comics?

  16. Steve Gerber Says:

    Quickie answers to various questions:

    The possibility of continuing the series is more than wishful thinking, but still less than “news.” Joey Cavalieri and I are discussing various approaches we might take.

    The Zauriel story is in the HELMET OF FATE collection, but it’s the last story in the book, so there are four other writers (not to mention artists) in line ahead of me for credit on Amazon. I’ve gotten used to it. ESSENTIAL MAN-THING Vol. 1, for example, is credited to Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway (who of course wrote the first several stories in the book), even though 75-80% of the material in that volume was written by me.

  17. Stefan Immel Says:

    @Scott: In all fairness I have to say that the Zauriel One-Short isn’t bad but isn’t that great either. So if you don’t like it you still should pic up CtM because it really doesn’t compare. Zauriel is a solid comic with a pretty straight forward story but CtM has a depth of storytelling, characterisation and a flow of words that withstands (or even surpases) comparison with Moore, Gaiman or any other great comic book auther out there.

    @Steve: It’s great to hear that continuing the series is at least an option that is dicussed. I would hate so see you leave. So far it was a great ride and I still can’t wait for the next book.

  18. Alistair Says:

    Like it. Like that Maddy perceives things differently to Kent. Intriguing references to specifically American archetypes and American consumerism. Will this be an exploration of the American soul as well as an individual’s?

  19. Lord Nabu Says:

    Please! Make the ongoing “news”! 🙂

  20. A.L. Baroza Says:

    I’m amused by Kent walking around in public wearing the helmet, looking not unlike a tinfoil-hat crazy. I’d like to think that’s intentional.

    I admit to being a lot more interested in Kent’s psychological/spiritual rising and advancing than in the more conventional bad-guy battle in #2, and hopefully by the end of the miniseries his life will have some reinvigorated purpose. Or, at least will have made some concrete steps toward this.

    (Not being familiar with the previous incarnations of Dr. Fate, the book to me reads like Dr. Strange Year One, in that we are privy to the human redemption that facilitates the acquisition of great power. Or something.)

    Overall, it reads great and feels very modern, unlike the Zauriel one-shot. Justiniano’s art is fantastic.

    More Maddy, please.

  21. Stefan Immel Says:

    I hoe for a healthy mix of self searching, mindless (or not so mindless) good vs. evil battle (with the real question what good and evil is) and trying to figure out how that “magic” thing works. And if I got that right from Steve I guess that is exactly what he has in mind.

  22. berk Says:

    I think the hat has to go, he looks like an idiot walkng around with that thing on. Or maybe it’s intentional, as A.L. Baroza speculated. Even so.

    I agree with A.L. Baroza though that Kent’s psychological development is the most interesting aspect so far. I thought the set-up was very promising, but he seems to me to be recovering much too quickly from what must have been a devastating psychological state. For example, his conversation with the other street guy iin #2, the day after he’d been beaten up by him in a “bum fight”, made Kent appear relatively unscathed psychologically by what would have been a deeply humiliating experience for him. I know we all complain about “decompressed” story-telling, but I’d like to see the process of Kent’s development slow down a little to give the story a chance to get things like that across.

    My only other negative comment is that I think perhaps there’s a little too much explaining going on at times. The caption when he and Maddy make the transition from her shop to the other dimension, for instance, wasn’t really necessary. The reader could grasp what was happening from the artwork and the dialogue. And Kent’s interpretation of his experiences there seemed to come to him a little too easily; I understand that as a pshychiatrist he’d be used to thinking and interpreting bizarre narratives symbolically, but when he’s actually experiencing those narratives as a participant, i think it’d be a little more believable if he didn’t grasp what the hell was going on too quickly (and immediately pass it on to the reader), and would allow the reader to appreciate the sheer strangeness of the experiences he’s undergoing, as well as enhancing the aura of mystery, of hidden depths, that I think surrounds the best examples of this kind of story .

    But I’m enjoying the series quite a bit. I think it has the potential to be up there with some of the best Steve Gerber stories ever. I’m even impressed with the artowrk, after some inital disappointment at Gulacy leave the project, and scepticism after seeing that first cover. Justiniano’s doing a first rate job. Eagerly looking forward to the next issue.

  23. David Allen Says:

    Speaking as a Gerber partisan from way back, I have to admit the first issue didn’t grab me. Too plot-driven, I guess. The second issue was more involving. But Dr. Fate was beginning to seem like a series I would admire more than actually warm up to.

    Issue 3, by contrast, was relaxed, funny, philosophical and weird, introduced a lively new character, gave us numerous frissons of pleasure (“I, Meme, Mine”!) and, to move the story forward, featured a misshapen pink representation of the main character’s psychological state. In other words, this is the Gerber we know and love.

    Suddenly I can’t wait for issue 4.

  24. Scott Andrew Hutchins Says:

    Bought last night. I haven’t read it yet. Still haven’t read Zauriel because I’ve been only able to keep my eyes open long enough when I get home to read 8 page stories form old mystery comics–many sittings to get through issues of House of Mystery and the like. Probably this weekend.

  25. Steve Gerber Says:

    I like the hat.

  26. Steven Schwab Says:

    I really enjoyed the latest issue of Dr. Countdown to Mystery, I mean Fate. It’s seems amazing that you haven’t done a book like this before, considering how perfectly you portrayed Dr. Strange when you were writing the Defenders.

    I also liked the way you dealt with what’s usually subtext in other sorcery comic; whether what we’re seeing is actually happening or just going on in the mind of our main character.

    However my favorite part of the story was when Kent and Maddy were having coffee at “Sawbucks.” I laughed out loud at that one.

    Good luck with everything,

  27. Lord Nabu Says:

    “I like the hat.”

    Which is the best answer to anything. Besides, it does add a nice touch of the surreal 🙂

    I’d just to add, that I’d very much like you to keep the action (and the magic) as well as the character building. I’m here for magical superhero action as well as the other stuff. Too often people think that magical superheroes should be about introspection to the exclusion of all else (see: DeMatteis, J.M.). If that was what I wanted I’d read more Vertigo. I want action and Mythopoiesis as much as I want psychological drama.

    Besides that I REALLY like that we have a Dr. Fate already, as other people have commented on this blog, I’d have expected Dr. Fate to make a cameo appearance in issue 8, after much self-searching etc. Instead we have a Dr. Fate from issue one, and we already have 4-5 spells that those inclined like me can ponder (will we get more info about the entities and places the spells evoke? or will we have to theorize a bit longer?)

    Some might claim that I don’t get it, but hey, I’m having fun 🙂

  28. Wayne Says:

    Steve, just want to say I’m hooked on this series. You had me when Nelson hocked the helmet at “Ultrapawn” -don’t know if I’ve identified so much with a protagonist since… Seaguy, probably.

    I hope that you will expand further on the idea of consciousness as a physical phenomenon. I presume (dangerously perhaps) you’ve read Francis Cricke’s ideas on the subject. That said, I think it’s a stroke of brilliance to use this as a new and innovative approach to magic: I can’t wait to see what you do next!

  29. A.L. Baroza Says:

    For the sake of clarity, I don’t hate the hat. I’m kinda neutral on it. And I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing that Steve wants Kent to look a little crazy. Also, I imagine, as is the case with articles of clothing with magic mojo, that what we the readers see may not necessarily be what observers in the story see on Kent’s head.

  30. Adam McGovern Says:

    << I think perhaps there’s a little too much explaining going on at times. The caption when he and Maddy make the transition from her shop to the other dimension, for instance, wasn’t really necessary. >>

    It’s funny that berk should single that one out; the same caption specifically struck me as a textbook example of how to make the medium safe for third-person exposition again — not the overdetermining intrusion of old, but a kind of self-aware text that amplifies and adds texture to the story. I also didn’t mind Kent’s “interpretation of dreams” — the point is that he’s ready for some self-criticism, and this comes out in his fluency with personal and cultural archetypes. (And who’s to say the helmet isn’t helping him along in making these connections faster? We don’t, after all, know what its function and purpose completely are.) Speaking of the helmet, it’s strange that I hadn’t given it much thought one way or the other until other posters here mentioned the endearing absurdity or the annoying incompleteness — I guess I was so relieved to see a superhero not necessarily go through every page in his full-body speedo that it didn’t occur to me that with just the “hat” he could look either underdressed or over-costumed. But in these days of mohawks at the workplace and Starfleet uniforms in the jury box, it feels just about right.

  31. Steve Gerber Says:

    I’m really enjoying this discussion, folks, in large part because I had parts of it with myself in the process of planning the series and writing the scripts.

    It’s interesting that that li’l transitional caption has stirred so much conversation. It was a very deliberate attempt to meld old-school techniques with a modern approach. The same is true of the use of thought balloons rather than first-person narration at certain points in the scripts. (I’ve actually given considerable thought as to which form to use when, but the theory isn’t perfected yet.)

    It looks like my writing style is going through another evolutionary phase on Doctor Fate. Which, from my point of view, is neat-o. Keeps things interesting.

  32. Gordon Says:

    Finally read all three….

    I am delighted by these books and look forward to number 4…

    I am also very happy with the artwork that is illustrating your words.

    great work as usual,


  33. Scott Andrew Hutchins Says:

    I read issue #3 last night. The series is really progressing. It’s such a contrast to Eclipso, which is also good, but is more about plot than character. Nelson’s vision was quite amazing, and your writing here is as strong as it was back when you were doing Man-Thing, if not stronger, and you’ve got artists who can drum up visions as strange. Until Maddy identified herself, though, I thought Cass, Zatanna’s friend, had moved, since they do bear a strong resemblance to each other and I read a library copy of vol. 1 of Seven Soldiers of Victory on the subway yesterday, too.

  34. Scott Andrew Hutchins Says:

    P.S.: When did Eel O’Brien grow toes?