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Author Topic: Countdown to Infinite Crisis  (Read 4994 times)
HaemishM
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on: April 08, 2005, 02:26:17 PM

Or... how to kill a character you've pretty much written off for years and make it an event.

This new event book from DC was released and I've read it. If you've read last year's Identity Crisis, this one takes the same tonality of that overhyped series and turns it to 11. It is the beginning of what will be a 6-month long event series of series leading into this fall's Infinite Crisis, which purports to unfuck the muddled continuity of DC Post-Crisis without wiping the slate clean and starting over. I expect there will be a number of deaths between here and there. This issue leads into 4 mini-series that are coming up, The Omac Project, Day of Vengeance, Villains United and Rann/Thanagar War, each of which will deal with a different aspect of the DC Universe and create events that will lead into Infinite Crisis.

Now, while Identity Crisis was well-written, I felt the ending was a sucker punch bit of straw-grasping. Making the killer of Sue Dibney be an irrationally insane former wife of the Atom just felt like a copout, especially after 6 previous issues of densely-suspenseful storytelling. I also did not like the way it played fast and loose with some of the main Justice League heroes morality, including making the Flash the person who ultimately decided it was ok to mess with villain's minds. Let's not even get into the pretty brutal depiction of the regular DC universe, or the idea that Batman was also mind-wiped. Let's just say it was well-written, but utterly off in tonality to the characters it portrayed.

Get used to it. Countdown continues that tonality and pushes the envelope on it, also assuring this will be the status quo from here on until the next great reboot. It tries desperately to outgrim the grimmest, turning the DC Universe into a less-logically consistent version of the Watchmen universe. Yes, it's that grim.

Yes, a character dies, and I won't spoil it here. He dies pointlessly and brutally. I'm not so annoyed by his death as by the off-handed way it seems to be done. The only way it actually serves the story for him to die is as a way of saying, "The stakes are higher." Which, if you've followed along anywhere in the issue, you already know that. Giving a little bit away, I will say that right near the beginning you discover that 100 pounds of Kryptonite has been stolen (which in the DC Universe counts as a big-time weapon of mass destruction), you see villains like Lex Luthor, Deathstroke and Talia (Ra's Al Ghul's daughter) in the same room plotting something, and that some shadowy organization with major money and power knows the identity of ALL the DC heroes, including Superman and Batman. If those 3 things aren't raising the stakes, no gruesome bullet to the head shot is going to convince you otherwise. Anyone even remotely familiar with the DC Universe should know that those 3 things alone should be enough to get every superhero on red alert status.

Hell, if Sue Dibney's death could cause that much consternation, any one of these 3 things should get the whole hero community up in arms.

As written by Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka and Judd Winick, and illustrated by Rags Morales and Michael Bair, Ed Benes, Jesus Saiz and Jimmy Palmiotti, Ivan Reis and Marc Campos, and Phil Jimenez and Andy Lanning, the book looks incredibly good, and is written well. Which makes me very sad, because of the heavy-handedness of the whole thing.

Maybe this will lead somewhere good. I'm not entirely sure.

Velorath
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Reply #1 on: April 08, 2005, 08:30:21 PM

If anyone out there is just looking for something to read, Countdown is 80 pages for just $1.  The problem I have with hyped up events like these is that when the writers, the artists, editors, marketing people, and the EIC keep trying to tell you what a great, meaningful story this is going to be it makes me take a much closer look at the writing than I would if it were just another issue of some comic.  In comics with lasting effects, where characters will die and the universe will never be the same, it's that much more important to me that there are no major plotholes and that everyone is pretty much in character.

As other reviewers have pointed out, one of the main problems with the story is that it shows a lot of major heroes pretty much being complete assholes to one of their fellow heroes.  Readers notice this kind of thing, just like they did with Avengers Disassembled.  There were three writers on this thing.  You'd think between the three of them they could get the characters right.

Also, people can tell the difference between really wanting to tell a story that really affects the characters and really wanting to hype up a marketing stunt.  Of course when you've got an issue that leads into 4 minis, which lead into more shit it's not that hard to notice.  Out of all of this the only thing I'm interested in is Villains United.  Gail Simone is a great writer and you've got characters like Deathstroke and Black Adam working together.

Between this and House of M it will be hard to find Marvel or DC comics over the next few months that don't tie in to these storylines.  On a side note Batman's deceased sidekick, Jason Todd (the second Robin, whom readers voted to kill) just showed up to be alive and well (for real this time, unlike Hush).  Well he's more somewhat evil rather than well but you get the idea.  Apparently though, Winick in an interview said he doesn't plan on doing a story that actually shows how he's still alive anytime soon as that's not too important right now.  rolleyes

Edit:  Something I found very interesting, DC is providing weekly updates showing everything that's going on in the DC Universe related to Infinite Crisis.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2005, 09:41:37 PM by Velorath »
Velorath
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Reply #2 on: April 30, 2005, 12:32:25 AM

After being bored with The OMAC Project, things picked up a bit with Day of Vengeance.  Aside from the opening bit with Jean Loring becoming the new Eclipso (I don't think anyone wants to be reminded of that horrible ending to Identity Crisis) what we've got is a good setup with the Spectre going around wiping out all the mages and supernatural beings he can find.  Not being much of a DC reader I don't know the main characters being used here like Ragman, Enchantress, and Detective Chimp, but the book is still enjoyable and the last page promises some Captain Marvel action in the coming issues.  Worth picking up for those mildly interested in Infinite Crisis.
HaemishM
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Reply #3 on: May 02, 2005, 02:38:10 PM

Yeah, Day of Vengeance was better than Omac. What's interesting is the things this setups in the latest Adventures of Superman. Superman gets possessed by Eclipso (but not the same Eclipso gem that gets Loring, I assume), and at the end of the book, faces off against Captain Marvel. That battle will be next issue, and should be good.

Ragman and Detective Chimp have always been mostly bit players. Enchantress has been a villain, I think.

Velorath
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Reply #4 on: May 05, 2005, 12:13:33 PM

Just read through Villains United and Superman 216.  Villains obviously was mostly a setup issue, and if you've been paying attention to the hype, and the small tie-ins that have popped up in other comics, most of this issue will seem like a retread.  We do get the introduction of the group of 6 villains who will oppose the Society, and I'm interested in seeing how that turns out.  Not as good as Day of Vengeance, but better than OMAC.  With 5 more months until Infinite Crisis though, this could all get very old, very quick.

As for the Superman/Captain Marvel fight in 216... well obviously it's not going to compare to the one most of us have seen in Kingdom Come, and the ending leads into Day of Vengeance which came out a week before.  Of course with all these mini's and tie-ins I don't expect every little part to come out in order.
HaemishM
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Reply #5 on: May 05, 2005, 02:18:38 PM

Fuck, you mean the whole Superman/Cap. Marvel thing leads into DoV? WTF? I mean, it was bad enough we got to see Hal Jordan as Green Lantern at the beginning of Countdown, even though the end of Rebirth isn't even fucking out yet, but shit. This has been planned for a year? Two years? And they can't even be bothered to get the schedules consistently linear? It doesn't bode well.

Velorath
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Reply #6 on: May 05, 2005, 02:46:47 PM

Yep, it shows Eclipso going off to use Jean Loring as a host after being forced out of Superman by the Spectre.  All the minis and tie-ins seem to be stepping on each others toes a bit rather than enhance the overall story.
Velorath
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Reply #7 on: May 26, 2005, 02:33:33 PM

Well, just 5 more months of this stuff until Infinite Crisis now... and then 7 issues of an Infinite Crisis mini... and then probably some other stories dealing with the aftermath I'd imagine...

Having just read through the first issue of The Rann-Thanagar War, and the 2nd issues of OMAC Project and Day of Vengeance, I still can't help but wonder if this "event" couldn't have been streamlined just a bit.  As it is the current issue of OMAC Batman finally gets around to actually talking about all the mindwipe stuff rather than make subtle comments about how he doesn't trust various characters (and I've read that there's supposed to be a 5 part story in JLA that covers most of this plot thread and leads into Infinite Crisis so it doesn't really seem to go anywhere in this issue).

Rann-Thanagar #1 is mostly setup as one would expect.  Nothing great so far but better than I was expecting given a complete lack of interest in Hawkman.  Day of Vengeance continues to be the best of the minis so far and it ties in with JSA somewhat which is one of my favorite current superhero comics.  There's certainly something interesting about the Spectre going a little crazy without a human host, to the point where he's killing even minor sinners right now (including apparently a little kid who stole some money out of his mom's purse).  It's also making me interested in some third string characters which is a nice change of pace from the rest of the event that wants to either kill off characters or make them complete assholes (like Batman).

There's also a Superman tie-in with OMAC and some Teen Titans and Outsider stuff, but I haven't read them yet.
HaemishM
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Reply #8 on: May 26, 2005, 03:51:01 PM

My second biggest problem with this whole Crisis thing is that despite all the planning, they keep putting out books in the wrong order. The Hal Jordan Green Lantern appearing in Countdown one month before Rebirth finishes, the Eclipso thing, now Captain Marvel is getting tossed around all over the place. It's also not cool how they show Shazam holding the Blue Beetle scarab in JSA #73, as if hinting there would be a new, mystical Blue Beetle. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr......

Velorath
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Reply #9 on: May 26, 2005, 04:24:22 PM

My second biggest problem with this whole Crisis thing is that despite all the planning, they keep putting out books in the wrong order. The Hal Jordan Green Lantern appearing in Countdown one month before Rebirth finishes, the Eclipso thing, now Captain Marvel is getting tossed around all over the place. It's also not cool how they show Shazam holding the Blue Beetle scarab in JSA #73, as if hinting there would be a new, mystical Blue Beetle. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr......

Some of that's poor planning, some of that is the fact that it doesn't seem like a big deal in the industry right now for books to ship late (which I think is what caused the Green Lantern problem).  And of course there's going to be a new, mystical Blue Beetle.  The question is will it be a new character or an existing one?
HaemishM
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Posts: 41821

the Confederate flag underneath the stone in my class ring


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Reply #10 on: May 26, 2005, 04:37:11 PM

And of course there's going to be a new, mystical Blue Beetle. 

RAGE.

Unless it's a reincarnated Ted Kord, they can keep that shit to themselves.

Velorath
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Reply #11 on: May 26, 2005, 04:56:11 PM

And of course there's going to be a new, mystical Blue Beetle. 

RAGE.

Unless it's a reincarnated Ted Kord, they can keep that shit to themselves.

Kord's probably just better off staying dead right now and waiting a few years for all the angst to just pass on through before he comes back.
Velorath
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Reply #12 on: July 29, 2005, 12:06:00 AM

I'll say one good thing about "House of M":  It might be dull, padded, and overall just goes at a slower pace than a couple geriatrics with bad hip bones fucking, but it doesn't get anywhere close to approaching the sheer volume of tie-ins in DC's crossover.

Now for those who don't know, and at the risk of sounding like a passage out of the bible, Identity Crisis begat Countdown to Infinite Crisis.  Countdown begat four minis.  Those four minis will lead into Infinite Crisis.  Infinite Crisis will then lead into OYL (One Year Later).  You see, after Infinite Crisis is all over, the DC Universe will skip ahead one year.  Some heroes might have retired and been replaced, some just might have a new status quo, but what about that year inbetween?  Well apparently DC felt there weren't enough tie-ins already so they annonced a 52 part weekly series, so far titled "52" that will take readers through the new DCU.

I remember I used to think things were bad when crossovers lasted all summer.  Now they span several years.
HaemishM
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Reply #13 on: July 29, 2005, 10:25:35 AM

The tie-ins on Infinite Crisis are getting a bit long in the tooth. But at least most of them are pretty damn good stories. The Flash Rogue War stuff has been excellent. I just got done reading the "Sacrifice" story that ran through Superman and Wonder Woman, and fed out of OMAC. Fuck me, but the ending, while pretty much telegraphed about halfway through the 4th part, was surprising.

I'm just not sure how much bigger they can make the Infinite Crisis than all the stuff leading up to it.

They are getting a bit excessive on the crossovers again, though. But at least it isn't Secret Wars 2. I still want to stab Bendis in the face for the end of House of M #3.

Velorath
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Reply #14 on: July 29, 2005, 10:37:49 AM

The tie-ins on Infinite Crisis are getting a bit long in the tooth. But at least most of them are pretty damn good stories. The Flash Rogue War stuff has been excellent. I just got done reading the "Sacrifice" story that ran through Superman and Wonder Woman, and fed out of OMAC. Fuck me, but the ending, while pretty much telegraphed about halfway through the 4th part, was surprising.

I'm just not sure how much bigger they can make the Infinite Crisis than all the stuff leading up to it.

They are getting a bit excessive on the crossovers again, though. But at least it isn't Secret Wars 2. I still want to stab Bendis in the face for the end of House of M #3.

A lot of the DC stuff is good, I'll agree.  I like the OMAC stuff (some people were of course pissed though that a 4 part crossover that's pretty much vital to the story got inserted between issues 3 and 4), and I think Day of Vengeance has been really good as well as it's tie-in to JSA (JSA 75 had a great fucking ending, especially if you've been reading the series).  Rann-Thanagar though is pretty much unreadable to me.
HaemishM
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Posts: 41821

the Confederate flag underneath the stone in my class ring


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Reply #15 on: July 29, 2005, 10:55:57 AM

Rann-Thanagar is the least enjoyable of the 4 minis, simply because it's pulling from so many damn obscure sources. Most of the characters and situations in it were really just subplot stories in other books. The Adam Strange mini that preceeded it was good, but it does seem to have a weak premise. Of course, none of them are as bad and schizo as the Donna Troy return thing, which is just chaotic and unfocused.

I'm still not quite sure why they chose CATMAN to be the badass in Villains United though.

Velorath
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Reply #16 on: July 30, 2005, 08:08:28 PM

Rann-Thanagar is the least enjoyable of the 4 minis, simply because it's pulling from so many damn obscure sources. Most of the characters and situations in it were really just subplot stories in other books. The Adam Strange mini that preceeded it was good, but it does seem to have a weak premise. Of course, none of them are as bad and schizo as the Donna Troy return thing, which is just chaotic and unfocused.

I'm still not quite sure why they chose CATMAN to be the badass in Villains United though.

I didn't even bother with the Donna Troy series.  It was obvious from the start that was just a marketing thing with a story thrown in as an afterthought.
Velorath
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Reply #17 on: November 28, 2005, 08:54:32 PM

Link to New Mystical Blue Beetle.  At least Keith Giffen is co-writing, but no Ted Kord.
HaemishM
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Posts: 41821

the Confederate flag underneath the stone in my class ring


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Reply #18 on: November 30, 2005, 01:37:11 PM

I think not making it Ted Kord is a good idea. Let SOMEBODY stay dead for fuck's sake. If Giffen is doing it, he has more hits than misses. I still wish he could have finished the March Hare series he started back in the black and white indy days.

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