Without a doubt, DC Countdown to Infinite
Crisis stands as the best buy in comics you can make
this week. For one thin, wrinkly dollar, you get 80 pages
of comics goodness, just like the old days. Those of us
that remember dollar comics can gently shed a nostalgic
But those old dollar comics were never
like this. Sometimes they claimed to be earth-shattering,
such as when the Earth-2 Batman died in Adventure Comics.
The outward ripples, however, weren't much.
Here, however, DC delivers on everything
it promised to do. Three of their top writers (and it's
nice to realize "hey, they actually DO have more than three
top writers") combine skills to pretty much blow the DC
Universe apart. Let's face it, though; they're picking up
on stress fractures that have been starting to show for
Perhaps Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka and Judd
Winick are merely picking up a ball first thrown into play
by Brad Meltzer with Identity
Crisis. Certainly bits and pieces of the narrative
seem familiar, including the jumping around in time to build
suspense. Some of the dangling threads from IC also
get noticed. Want to know just how much Batman knows? Well,
we still can't be sure, but he's doing something about it.
That previous series, however, was thematically
about reclaiming the past, and this one definitely catapults
the DCU forward. Even though the writers redefine what has
come before (not just characters - entire series
now have a disturbing subtext, and some of them will come
as a surprise), the real changes remain to play out for
months, even years ahead.
Like Identity Crisis, this "final"
one restores luster to characters long thought ridiculous.
In this case, the Blue Beetle and Booster Gold get their
due. Wisely, the writers don't invalidate any of the duo's
incompetence; they just give us another look at it. I have
a soft spot for the team, whose finest moment for me (and
acknowledged in this book) was in facing down Doomsday during
"The Death of Superman."
Despite being pretty much incompetent boobs,
they didn't shirk in the literal face of Doomsday. The best
moment in the "Funeral For a Friend" aftermath was Blue
Beetle's worry that Booster Gold would not survive. Here,
the realism of that friendship, and the surprising depth
of it, comes back to the fore.
Add to this some of the best artists working
in comics. The cover alone has sucked people in for months,
as it is penciled by Jim Lee with painting over it by Alex
Ross. Inside you will find chapters by Rags Morales and
Michael Bair (adding to that Identity Crisis feel),
Phil Jimenez and Ed Benes. But up and comers Jesus Saiz
and Ivan Reis prove that they deserve their growing fanbases.
This is one of those rare multi-handed works that transition
seamlessly from chapter to chapter, due to more than solid
work from everybody.
The matching of artist to chapter makes
sense, too. Without spoiling any plot points, it's very
clear that Jimenez needed to be on the final chapter, as
he marks a subtle but telling difference in facial structure
for some major characters. The book lays the groundwork
for four already announced mini-series. Actually, that's
too coy; the sheer nakedness of the shilling to get us to
buy four new books feels almost refreshing. Thank you, DC,
for making me your Fanboy toy.
Look out for The OMAC Project, which
Paul Pope so cleverly revisited last month in Solo.
But Jack Kirby's paranoid vision of the future seems like
child's play compared to the glimpses Countdown gives.
Somehow the first Blue Beetle's enchanted
scarab will play into Day of Vengeance, though I'll
admit it's never made sense to me that Ted Kord wouldn't
try using it before now.
Two series get thrown in, but they've been
set up better elsewhere. Anybody reading Adam Strange
knew The Rann-Thanagar War was coming, and its inclusion
here makes the only false note. Villains United at
least gives us a chilling preview, and knowing that Gail
Simone will be writing it only makes it more anticipated.
All this for just a buck. If only DC could
offer more comics at this great a price...but then, how
many titles could they guarantee would sell as well as this