Friday, April 01, 2005

Review: DC Countdown #1


It's time once again.
Ever since 1986 when comics were turned inside out by the appearance of Alan Moore's THE WATCHMEN and Frank Miller's BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS there's been a sort of self-awareness. Some call it relevance.

Between those two events and DC's CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS comics were put into a new age closing the door on what had come before and forging a new trail. One of darkness and gloom.

THE WATCHMEN and DARK KNIGHT were assumed to have been hits because of how they portrayed heroes in a sort of anti-hero way. A more darker and violent way. Thus began the era of comics where it was cooler to be angst-ridden and bloody.

Now we're on the verge of another era. One that seems to be taking that last movement and cementing it into the foundation for everything to come next.

After reading DC COUNTDOWN #1 I'm not sure where I stand on this.

There's a lot of debate on whether or not Dan Didio has a mean-on towards Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis as he's already killed off Sue Dibney in IDENTITY CRISIS last year and proceeds to radically tear apart the cult classic JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL team with COUNTDOWN.

The writing is decent and makes the death of a hero seem not as forced. I could see the death as a necessary evil to progress the story and so I don't feel as defensive as I could be considering the character who died was a favorite of mine for years. And the only reason I didn't scream all kinds of obscenities was because the writing set it up where it was necessary. And the character's death won't go unnoticed.

The other character involved in this book who takes a dramatic turn is another from my old days of comic reading. While I'm shocked that this character would propel himself to the heights he is now at, I see it still fitting into his personality and it does seem right for him.

It's just a shame that things turn out the way they do.

The sad part of this is that between COUNTDOWN and IDENTITY CRISIS, the JLI of old is forever scarred.

I'd read somewhere that DC has offered Giffen and DeMatteis a regular series again featuring the characters from their FORMERLY KNOWN AS THE JUSTICE LEAGUE. This after the success of both that mini-series and the sequel in JLA: CLASSIFIED featuring the characters from their JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL series.
One has to wonder who Giffen and DeMatteis would use in their ongoing book now.

DC COUNTDOWN serves many other purposes beyond that of destroying the old JUSTICE LEAGUE of the '80s. It also leads into four mini-series that in turn lead into INFINITE CRISIS, the sequel to 1985's CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, in time to celebrate the 20th anniversary of CRISIS.

According to DC big changes are afoot. Including heroes not trusting each other, characters coming back to life, second stringers becoming more important and magic and sci-fi becoming crucial elements of the DC Universe again.
Oh, and less JLI.

As an event DC COUNTDOWN is a great book. It sets up the premise quite well and leads into each spin-off equally well. There's even full-page ads for each mini-series and an editorial that explains the purpose behind it.

Between it and SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY, however, I'd have to say SEVEN SOLDIERS has garnered more of my interest. But it can be pretty much guaranteed that COUNTDOWN will have far more lasting effects on DC's comics than SEVEN SOLDIERS. At least until the next major event.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm going to have to disagree with your comment that COUNTDOWN is a "great book." The suspense, such as it is, is so hamfisted and poorly executed as to make me wonder who it was that wrote this: Paul Dini, who I know to be a capable creator, or Paul Dini's ego, something that the "me-too" feel of this entire endeavor seems to reek of.

The great thing about 52 was that it was very much a groundbreaking event that will set the standard for any universe-spanning event for years to come. You read the next issue of 52 because you wanted to see what happened next.

COUNTDOWN, on the other hand, lacks the compelling story and instead attempts to blackmail us into reading the next issue through rather stale turns of drama and mystery.

The whole Jason Todd thing (which I know started way before COUNTDOWN) is eerily identical to the story Evan Dorkin wrote for FIGHT MAN, wherein Fight Man's kid sidekick, Kid Fight Man, comes back from a climactic fight with a villain in the guise of an old villain to wreak horrible vengeance on his former mentor. That they have chosen to perpetuate this storyline that was originally presented as a joke leaves me scratching my head in wonder.

This is supposed to get me to read more?

And let's not forget the ad campaign - as if coy little enigmas will make me spend three bucks each week to find out what wwmmdd means. I don't care how big Eclipso's cleavage is now, I won't even waste my time reading it in the store with a creative team that thinks I'm childish enough to fall for an old stunt like that.

If I sound hostile, it's because 52 was a work of genius. It was ballsy, it was new, and it worked.

COUTNDOWN comes off as a childish and uninspired attempt at one upmanship and there's no way I'll spend another dime rewarding what is essentially a massive creative step backwards.