DC Comics’ Countdown

I figured it was time to talk a bit about DC’s new weekly title “Countdown.” The Revolution has been thrilled with 52. Actually, that is understating the fact. 52 has been nothing short of an absolutely brilliant effort by DC.

I had low expectations for 52. I wasn’t convinced that DC could get me interested in a bunch of B and C-list characters. I was worried that 52 would become nothing more than excuse to slaughter a bunch of lower tier heroes. And I wasn’t convinced that DC could handle the weekly format.

Honestly, I thought DC had bit of more than they could chew. DC and Marvel have both been plagued by delays on their monthly titles. DC had the issues with Wonder Woman and Green Lantern. Marvel had delay issues with, well with just about every monthly title they publish.

Japanese manga companies are used to the weekly format. American comic book companies are not. I wasn’t too sure that the issues would be released on time each week and if the creative team could consistently crank out quality reads every week for 52 straight weeks.

It was an ambitious effort and DC flat out knocked it out of the park with 52. I am incredibly impressed that every single issue of 52 came out on time. And on top of that, the quality of each issue was remarkably consistent and dependable. Yeah, the art was the Achilles’ heel of 52, but this title was never about the artwork. It was always about the story.

So, now DC is feeling plucky after pulling off an industry first in an incredibly successful and well done weekly title. And this confidence and the money generated from 52 has encouraged DC to do it all again. This time we will go backwards from issue 51 down to issue 0.

Countdown will vary from 52 in that it will not flow in “real time.” This is probably a good idea. After all 52 was a unique story and I’d rather have a slightly different format with Countdown in order to cut down on the natural and inevitable comparisons between the two titles.

Now, like I was with 52, I have serious reservations about Countdown. The fact that DC did such a good job with 52 makes me a bit more cautiously optimistic about Countdown than I was with 52. I am no longer concerned that DC won’t be able to keep up with the weekly format and ship each issue on time. Trust me; there will be no delays on Countdown.

My concern is more with the creative team being employed on Countdown. There was no doubt about it that 52 was just loaded with talent. The writing team of Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Mark Waid and Greg Rucka is very impressive. That is an all-star line up of talented writers. It is pretty hard to not turn out a quality read when you have such impressive talent as those four writers working together.

Unfortunately, the writers assembled for Countdown are not nearly as impressive as the writing team for 52. Paul Dini is the only writer for Countdown who genuinely impresses me. There is no doubt that Dini is an incredibly talented writer and an excellent idea man. With Dini controlling the show, I feel that we should be in store for a fun ride.

However, it is the rest of the writing team that concerns me. Instead of the all-star line up of writers that we got on 52, we get a much more journeyman line-up on Countdown. Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Grey, Adam Beechen, Tony Bedard and Sean McKeever round out the writing team for Countdown.

Now, all of these gentlemen are talented. With the exception of Daniel Way, there are no hacks being employed by Marvel and DC. But, these writers are certainly not big name writers. They are not the top tier writers in the industry. These writers are all dependable and solid journeyman writers. They aren’t going to crank out issues that are horribly unreadable like a Daniel Way penned issue, but they aren’t going to crank out anything that is going to really impressive.

Dini is the only writer with any star power and top tier talent. I’m concerned that a writing team filled out with journeyman writers may make Countdown a much less dependable and consistently good read as 52 has been.

Palmiotti and Grey can pen an action filled and mindlessly entertaining story. But as Battle for Bludhaven and the Freedom Fighters show, they have a hard time cranking out anything of a real high quality and tend to lose their focus over the long haul and crank out stories that are a bit campy and the dialogue can get a bit stiff and cheesy.

Tony Bedard has never impressed me. I thought the issues he wrote when he filled in on Uncanny X-Men and on Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes were pretty pedestrian. Sean McKeever has never written anything that really grabbed my interest.

And Adam Beechen? Well, I’ve discussed his talents in my review of Teen Titans #44. Beechen is capable of putting out a solid, but not spectacular, story. But, Beechen is also capable of putting out some rather unimpressive stories as well. Beechen is definitely not a top tier writer.

Who knows, maybe this writing team will elevate their game and crank out some fantastic reads. I haven’t seen anything in their previous work that would make me think that is going to happen on Countdown, but you never know. This might be the time when one of these journeyman writers really blossoms into something special.

On the other hand the team of artists assembled for Countdown most definitely exceeds the team of artists on 52. On Countdown we get Keith Giffen, Jesus Saiz (Manhunter and Checkmate), Jim Calafiore, (Exiles), Carlos Magno, (The Phantom) and David Lopez (Catwoman).

Giffen must be crazy for signing on for a second tour of duty on a weekly title! I am a huge fan of Jesus Saiz’s artwork. I dig his style. Saiz can flat out draw! Check out his gorgeous rendition of Huntress.

I also like Jim Calafiore’s artwork. Calafiore is a dependable and solid artist who can crank out a nice looking comic book. You can check out the pic from the Exiles for a better look at his work.

I like David Lopez’s art as well. I’m glad to see Lopez doing the art for a comic book that I read. I don’t like Catwoman, so I haven’t been able to enjoy his art on that title. I’m glad that DC has tapped Lopez to be a part of this art team.

Now, I’m not familiar at all with Carlos Magno. I’ve checked out some of his work on The Phantom. It is ok. I’m not crazy about Magno’s style of art, but it isn’t bad. Magno should certainly be albe to provide solid enough artwork to get the job done on Countdown.

All in all, I definitely love the line-up of artists for Countdown. This is a much stronger team of artists than what we got over on 52. If anything, Countdown should certainly be a nice looking title.

I try my best to avoid comic book message boards and forums as well as spoiler comic book news sites. I like to read comic books and be surprised by the events as they naturally unfold. However, I have done some cursory searching around for some hints for what Countdown is going to center on.

Evidently, DC isn’t saying much. Now, that means they have something pretty cool in store or they don’t know themselves what they are planning to accomplish with Countdown. DC may just be moving fast to capitalize on the momentum established by 52 and will simply make up the storyline for Countdown as they go along. I would imagine that Countdown has to be leading up to DC’s next huge event that is going to take place next year. A huge event that probably addresses the return of the Multiverse.

We do know that Countdown is going to focus on more B-List and C-List characters. Evidently, Countdown is going to star Jimmy Olsen, Mary Marvel, Donna Troy, Kyle Rayner, Jason Todd, Ray Palmer, Pied Piper and the Trickster. That is certainly one unusual and varied line up of characters.

I dig that Jimmy Olsen is going to get plenty of panel time. Jimmy is a great character with a long history in the DC Universe. I look forward to seeing what the creative team has in store for Jimmy.

I have never been a big fan of Mary Marvel, so I can’t say I really care much about what happens to her.

I love Donna Troy. She is a fantastic character and I really hope the creative team can find a purpose for Donna. Donna has a hard time finding her own identity and role in the DC Universe ever since she gave up being Wonder Girl. I’m glad that DC brought Donna Troy back to life. Now, DC has to give her character some direction.

I hate Kyle Rayner. I have hated this character ever since old crab face stole the mantle of Green Lantern from Hal Jordan. I could care less about any plotline involving Kyle.

Jason Todd is a great character. I loved what Winick did with Jason as the Red Hood. I was extremely unimpressed what Bruce Jones did with Jason Todd as an evil Nightwing. I hope DC has Jason resume the Red Hood identity and refocuses Jason’s character. Jason has plenty of potential and certainly can e a great vehicle to stir the pot and create some drama.

I love Ray Palmer. Absolutely love him. And that is why I am so crushed to see that he is going to be starring in Countdown. That is the last thing I want to see. Now, I’m sure you are wondering why I’d hate to see my boy starring in Countdown if I love his character so much. Well, it is because I don’t want Ray dead. As long as Ray was missing at least he was still alive. I knew that if DC brought Ray back then Dan “Death count” Didio would kill Ray off. And probably in the same lame-ass fashion as how Ralph Dibny and Ted Kord got killed.

So, now that I see that Ray Palmer is going to be in Countdown I am saddened. That means Ray has been marked for death. The worst thing to be in the current DC Universe is an established white male hero. That means that more than likely you are slated for an untimely death so you can be replaced by a handicapped, mute, lesbian, half-Asian, half-Hispanic and Muslim character. I have been less than pleased with how DC has been mowing down their established characters.

Being a Hispanic, I figure that I’m the target audience that DC is trying to pander to. Well, it isn’t working. The race of a character doesn’t factor into me liking them or not. That is racist thinking. I judge each character like I judge the people I meet in real life. I base it off the person they are inside and not their race.

Now, yeah, DC needs to increase the amount of diversity in the DC Universe. I mean, c’mon, Hispanics are the largest minority group in America. Yet, Hispanics are vastly underrepresented in the DC Universe compared to other minority groups. And what lame Hispanic characters we have gotten.

You have cool Asian super heroes in the new Atom and Katana. You have extremely cool black super heroes in John Stewart, Black Lightning and Firestorm. And what do we Hispanics get? The new lame ass Blue Beetle and Renee Montoya as the new Question. *groan* That just sucks. I’d much rather have Ted Kord and Vic Sage back over their Hispanic replacements. And that just proves my point that race never enters into the equation of whether I like a character or not. Oh yeah, I thought of another all time terrible Hispanic DC character. Remember Vibe from the lamest incarnation of the JLA? Just horrible. And what a god awful costume.

Now, I will continually assert that the proper way to create diversity in the DC Universe is to create all new minority characters. And when I mean minority characters, I don’t mean just black characters. I say that because the old way of thinking about diversity in America only views people in terms of black and white. That way of thinking is anachronistic in current day America.

I would like to see more Asian and Hispanic characters. After all the two fastest growing groups in America are Asians and Hispanics. I also think that Native American, Arab and Indian characters would be nice additions as well. It takes more effort and talent to create all new minority characters, but I have confidence in the writers at DC to do the job.

Now, if DC is planning to kill of some of these characters like they did with The Question and Ralph Dibny in 52 then may I suggest Kyle Rayner? Or possibly Mary Marvel? Those are the only two characters of the ones listed that I just don’t care about.

We have seen several teasers for Countdown. One stating that Jimmy Olsen must die. One that says look up in the sky. One that says Darkseid is coming. One that asks where is Ray Palmer. And one where Eclipso is tempting Mary Marvel. Personally, I think it would be pretty cool if Mary Marvel did a heel turn. Having Mary Marvel as a villain would probably get me interested in her character for the first time ever.

All in all, I think that Countdown, under the leadership of Paul Dini, should be a better than average title. The art should certainly be enjoyable. And for the most part, I dig the cast of characters and I think that Countdown has plenty of potential. It just remains to be seen if this collection of writers can pull off what the writing team for 52 was able to do. At any rate, I’m definitely going to be collecting Countdown. The Revolution will certainly be chronicling the events of Countdown just like we did with 52.

1 thought on “DC Comics’ Countdown

  1. In Bedard’s defence, those UXM issues weren’t his idea; he was tasked with finishing one of Claremont’s stories after he got sick. There’s only so much you can do in those circumstances (especially given that Chris ain’t exactly at the top of his game these days).

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