In 1985, DC Comics unleashed an event that would forever change its Universe. DC’s continuity had become so cluttered over the years that they needed something to make everything coherent and accessible for new readers, and to get rid of all the alternate earths in the DC Universe. Marv Wolfman and George Perez stepped up to the plate and created Crisis on Infinite Earths, which gave readers the DCU they know today. And now, 20 years later, Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka and Judd (MTV’s The Real World) Winnick have something just as big planned.
There’s been something brewing in the DC Universe since last year’s Identity Crisis miniseries, and this is the book where all the plot threads for the coming year are finally laid out on the table. Ted Kord—alias The Blue Beetle—has gone looking for money that has vanished from his account. On his seemingly bureaucratic quest he runs into various heroes of the DC Universe, all of whom treat him as a mere footnote. The mystery deepens as he stumbles upon several situations that will turn into major plot points in the year to come. The Beetle can’t convince anyone to listen to him as he finds these things out—and when that happens, things only end poorly.
This book essentially acts as nothing more than a catalyst of what’s to come, but even in that regard it’s a pretty good read. In The Beetle’s investigations, he learns of an intergalactic battle between Rann and Thangar, a darker time coming for the world of magic, Lex Luthor organizing a new team of villains and The O.M.A.C. Project (a plot to destroy the world’s super-humans). All four of these spin off into their own miniseries, leading up to the epic Infinite Crisis series later this year.
Countdown uses three writers and five artists to tell one story, which is hard to pull off. Usually when more than one writer gets hold of a book, it becomes a disaster, but not here. Winnick, Rucka and Johns are all at the top of their game, and manage to give readers a reason to care for a c-level hero like the Blue Beetle. The art is divided up into a chapter for each artist—Morales, Benes, Saiz, Reis & Jimenez—and each does his job very well. The styles are so similar and the pacing so tight that at times the artist shift didn’t even register.
With all that has happened in the past year, one thing is certain: It doesn’t look like it’s any more fun and games for DC Comics. Things have just taken a big turn toward the dark side, with no promise of things getting any brighter in the months to come. This universe isn’t just for kids anymore.
COUNTDOWN TO INFINITE CRISIS Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, Judd Winnick (writers); Rags Morales, Ed Benes, Jesus Saiz, Ivan Reis & Phil Jimenez (artists). DC Comics
Free Comic Book Day Saturday, May 7
On the brighter side of things, who loves free stuff? Every year, to boost interest and grab new readers, comic publishers pick a day to give out free comics to anyone interested. It’s turned into a little bit of a yearly celebration, and everyone tries to get in on it. Shops throughout Utah have something up their sleeves, and in addition to offering free stuff, most of them have a sale to go along with it. That way, if you like what you read, another one is right on hand and dirt cheap. Make sure you visit the website to find a store near you. www.freecomicbookday.com
Black Cat Comics 1 Year Anniversary
May 14 marks the birth of Utah’s newest comic shop, and a celebration is in order. Marvel Comics and IDW Publishing are just a few of the names that have donated prizes to be given away for this party. Also, Brian Wood is going to be signing. You might know him from Demo or Channel Zero, but if those don’t ring a bell just know that he helped out on design work for Grand Theft Auto. Pop in and pay these guys a visit. Black Cat Comics @ 2265 S. Highland Dr., 461-4228.