MUST READ: The Oral History of Countdown to Final Crisis

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Countdown Teaser 1 MUST READ: The Oral History of Countdown to Final Crisis
Or: how did we get here anyway? Chris Eckert does something we’re surprised more anal retentive fans internet researchers haven’t done, and collates Five Years Later: The Oral History of Countdown to Final Crisis using the plethora of internet interviews that flooded the comics internets in the innocent days of 2007. Although, as Eckert points out, a lot of material from that era has been removed, including most of Newsarama and The Pulse, to name but two. So what was Countdown?

it also provided us a near-perfect lab specimen of what an Editorially Driven Comic Book looks like. To a certainly extent, everything you can say about Countdown is true of nearly every Big Two superhero comic:

It was published to fill a hole in the schedule
Non-Executive-Staff creative members were treated like interchangeable cogs, comic-producing machines
Plot Events (and importance to the companywide Uberplot) were privileged over what would be traditionally called “story” and “character”
It received constant “comics” “media” attention on the big blogs despite no one, not even the interviewers and DC employees extruding the book weekly, seemed to care in the least


Our own memory of the time is similar…as the above teaser circulated (as did the one below) following the revelation of the 52 miniseries, it seemed tearing apart every little continuity link of the DCU for story shock value became the goal. And they also represent what has become status quo for the DCU: people crying and mourning in a shattered landscape of dark grays, browns, and green. And not everything worked out behind the scene either:

MARTS: For the first four books, we’ve brought in Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, Adam Beechem, Sean McKeever, and Tony Bedard. These are our key writers who will be working with Paul in the beginning, but also that doesn’t stop us from bringing other writers in to work on the project… If we choose to crossover with another storyline or a book which is being driven by another writer, we can allow that writer to come onboard and tell their portion of the story inside Countdown and working with Paul. That way, there will be a real feeling of cohesiveness between the series and Countdown, but it also allows the writer to maintain some level of input and control over the character they’re writing on a monthly basis.

Eckert: In case anyone is curious, this never happened.


Some would argue that 52 is where the EDC became the only thing driving the superhero mainstream. But surely COUNTDOWN is where it drove off into the unchartered territory that would lead to the New 52 revamp.

650px Countdown Teaser 2 MUST READ: The Oral History of Countdown to Final Crisis

Comments

  1. Although, as Eckert points out, a lot of material from that era has been removed, including most of Newsarama and The Pulse, to name but two.

    I find this to be the big bummer of comics journalism’s shift to the Web. Stories and interviews get lost when servers go down or sites fold or change owners, and history gets lost. Maybe someday we’ll discover that there’s a Bill Blackbeard of online comics journalism out there, printing everything out.

    The Internet Archive doesn’t capture anything close to all of it.

    Also, Countdown sucked. For the record.

  2. For the few issues I was reading Countdown seemed pretty horrible, but then I didn’t like 52 either, so maybe I’m not the target market for these stories.

  3. Torsten Adair says:

    [Looks up Countdown on Wikipedia to see what happened]

    HA!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Countdown_to_Final_Crisis#Production_history

    “52 done right.” (Wait… wasn’t 52 a good series? I read the trade collections, it was pretty easy to follow, had some nice shockers, and tied up everything neatly.)

    Jimmy Olsen had superpowers?

    Holy crap… those plot summaries are almost as long as the series! Snoozefest…

    Oh, and I forgot about how the rails didn’t connect in Provost… DC Universe #0… Geez… is this the reason DC decided on the New 52? The storylines were more convoluted than a protein molecule? Or was it just to sweep it all into a box and hide it in a corner of the attic, like a high school yearbook?

  4. Yes, DiDio did infamously call Countdown “52 done right”. You can kind of see why; 52 was a big hit, but because of the design, it didn’t spawn anything which they could build off of. Countdown was supposed to be a new “brand”… yeah, not so much.

    I remember well those !@#$ teaser images, and how everything was supposed to mean something, as in “There’s a reason Mr. Miracle’s looking down, and Big Barda’s looking up”. So, so dumb.

  5. Jesse says:

    That was worth the read. It’s like seeing sausage get made but it’s really bad sausage. Didio set the DCU on fire and is doing everyone a favor by showing up and helping us move to the DCNu. Thanks.

  6. “Some would argue that 52 is where the EDC became the only thing driving the superhero mainstream”

    Why? That was pretty clearly a writer-driven series throughout, particularly given Didio’s complaints that the writers weren’t following the editorial dictate to tell the story of what happened during the “missing” year. One might argue that the switch came at the end during the “WWIII” “event”, but that was at the point that Countdown was already in the promotional materials as DC’s new priority.

  7. Nick Jones says:

    After reading the linked page, it seems like Countdown was a case of way too many cooks spoiling the soup, compounded by the fact that the head chef had no idea how to keep the ingredients straight or what good soup actually tastes like. It’s a shame, as I would have loved to go back for seconds on 52, but was offered Cream of Didio instead.

  8. MightyJew says:

    Ken, 52 was ripe for spinoffs. Booster Gold was a spinoff of 52, was excellent for its first year, and was moderately successful for the next 3 years or so. There was also a great Black Adam mini that spun out of 52. DC could’ve done great stuff with the creative teams and characters utilized in 52, but they burned their brides with Waid and Rucka.

  9. Roberto Briceno says:

    I enjoyed 52 a lot and I knew when it ended that marked the end for me reading a any “event” book. I did the whole COUNT TO INFINITE CRISIS with all the six minis and the 52.

    Glad that I stopped there. Glad that I didn’t waste my money on Countdown or any other stupid “event” book.

  10. Joe Lawler says:

    Bride burning? I guess they had to find a way to top Sue Dibny in Identity Crisis.

  11. Joe Lawler FTW!

  12. I liked 52. Until that WW3 trainwreck. Countdown was “Bizarro 52“, taking everything that worked about 52 and doing the opposite. That was when the DCU ceased to matter to me, and the only DC-brand comics I’ve read since then have been specific series by creators I liked, usually with little connection to whatever else was going on in other series (which is now an anti-selling-point).

    (For the record, Marvel lost me a long time ago. Same crossover sickness.)

  13. MightyJew says:

    *bridge

  14. 52 at least felt to me like it was TRYING to work as a story in its own right. As near as I can recall, it’s after that series ended that DC took a nosedive for a few years into producing comics that were utterly impenetrable to the outsider, and pretty much lost me entirely as a reader until the recent relaunch.

  15. Shawn Kane says:

    Following 52 and knowing who was originally involved Countdown should have been fantastic but as it’s been said, editorial (I would assume Dan Didio) made it a total mess.

  16. “Ken, 52 was ripe for spinoffs. Booster Gold was a spinoff of 52, was excellent for its first year, and was moderately successful for the next 3 years or so. There was also a great Black Adam mini that spun out of 52. DC could’ve done great stuff with the creative teams and characters utilized in 52, but they burned their brides with Waid and Rucka.”

    Well, that’s two. There were a few others (Infinity Inc, Giffen’s Doom Patrol, though that came a few years later), but overall the nature of 52 (a self-contained story set a year in the past of current continuity) did not allow DC much wiggle room to build on that momentum. World War 3 was obviously forced in to SOMEHOW ride the wave. So you can understand why DC and Didio would want to repeat that success, but in current continuity so as to immediately spin projects out of it.

  17. 52 was a wonderful experiment that kind of worked. (Really enjoyed it when it came out). But Countdown was…um…I didn’t bother. I was like come on guys, ANOTHER weekly year long event? This soon? But I have fatigue…I need to relax a while…please…let me relax. Why are you killing The New Gods? Is that all of them? Yes? But I like The New Gods. I…no?

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