This is me angry that I even spent $5.00 on the whole series which retails for $13.00 at cover price. Countdown: Arena was crap. A story that never need been told. Shit! Shit! Nice Kubert covers is all. It would have been nice (maybe I missed this,) if there was a guide to the different universes so readers could look up basically which universe was which. What a lame fuck around. Though this universe glossary would not have made the story itself any better. I feel like I need to read Zero Hour again. Right now. If memory serves, that story was just as good...
What is this series about? The Monarch is gathering an army of armies to stop the Monitors, aliens who have made it their job to make sure there are no interuniversal crossings. So The Monarch has taken our favorite heroes in various incarnations from their respective universes (apparently there are 52-Thanks Infinite Crisis). So there are three Superman, three Batmen, three Blue Beetles, etc, and each group of three must battle within the group to show who is the best fighter.
This worked about as well as most of the fights in DC versus Marvel. Originally it seems this was to be an 8-issue series, but it turned into 4-issues, the fourth extra-sized. ...Even with the extra space, I doubt this would have been a good story. It should have been left as minor exposition into how Monarch gathered his army.
Obviously I'm behind on my reading, so I'm off to finish the last 20 issues of Countdown, but only after I finish volumes 3 and 4 of Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus.
My understanding is that Countdown: Arena will soon be available in TPB with some additional content. Hopefully this additional content will be so good that it makes up for the lack in the titular story. You can pre-order the collection here, on Amazon, or through your friendly local comic book shop, which is preferred if you want to keep that place in business.