We got a five-page Countdown interlude that doesn't really serve to resolve a complete story in the four-part storyarc where Ryan was involved in what is shaping up to be the year-long Search for Ray Palmer storyline. Its like Ryan got on a bus with Donna and Jason, they took a detour from the normal route and missed Ryan's normal stop so he had to get off at the stop two blocks down from where he needed to be and track back. At the same stop, Kyle gets on and the bus resumes its route.
Judging from this and the preceding issues, I think they tossed a little paper to Gail Simone that said "We'll be doing a Search for Ray Palmer series in Countdown. It would be stupid not to have Ryan Choi involved at all, but we're not planning on having him past September because we plotted the specials without thinking of him. Can you fit a four-part storyarc in while we wait for Kyle Rayner to get freed up?"
Then, of course, they didn't actually wait for Kyle Rayner to get freed up.
I had two questions as of the first page: (1) How long ago did they plan this out? (2) How far behind is Green Lantern right now?
I know the second answer is at least three issues and one week, and that's not me being a continuity cop here. I just think this is a weird anomaly given DC's continuity contortions to make sure all its books have been on the same page since Identity Crisis. The only explanation is that Green Lantern was delayed further than it was meant to, and Johns had Sinestro Corps planned out leading into the pre-plotted Countdown storyline before the delays that corresponded with Infinite Crisis.
They're not fooling anyone.
Unless we're dealing with some sort of time travel plot. And that is a time-honored time-travel plot gimmick, though the editorial box telling us to watch for the Green Lantern issue in three months is a fun addition.
But that's okay, because I saw at least five good things from that first page alone: (1) It doesn't spoil anything from Green Lantern because with this plot we can easily take alternate universes, imposters, returning from the dead, and time travel into account because at least two of those are involved from the outset. (2) Ryan knows him even in a new costume and even though he admits doesn't know American superheroes very well. (3) The look on Donna's face implies she's pleased to see him so this is not a repeat of her Rann-Thanagar War mischaracterization. (4) Finally! A good costume! (5) Mike Norton got the hair right.
Clumsy as the planning is and miserable as it must be for people who aren't following it, I'm enjoying this storyline. One of my favorite characters is present and so far he comes off fairly well, Donna Troy comes off well (and that's a rare treat), there's a few jokes dropped, no unhealthy background symbolism, and its the sort of plot I read comic books for. I mean, alternate universe road trip? I can't resist that.