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.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.