Previews Countdown-1
Wizard and the solicitations broke the story on COUNTDOWN Monday, with Newsarama adding more to the mix yesterday. We didn’t have time to blog the big news, but in case you missed it: yes, DC is launching another line-spanning weekly comic, one with Paul Dini as head writer.

What’s interesting about it, from our standpoint, is that the vast man (and woman) power required to keep a weekly comic on track is economically viable in the direct market. Also, mastermind Dan Didio has finally come full circle and brought the TV process to bear on comics. (Lest we forget, before he came to DC, Didio’s background was in producing TV toons like Reboot.) It’s not enough that TV writers were (for a while) the hot commodities in comics, now the entire TV writing process has its year-long moment in the sun. We’ll turn to Wizard’s interview with “showrunner” Dini for pullquotes:

What’s your role in the whole process?

DINI: Sort of an executive story editor and head writer. What we’re doing is something not unlike the way a lot of television shows are written, where there will be one head writer who is charting the direction of the series with a writer team handling the creation of the episodes. I am writing a couple of scripts. My job is more working with the other writers to do the weekly books, and then coming in once the script is completed to make sure that the voices of the characters are the same, that the storyline is working and that we’re all on the same page. I brought a lot of myself to that main story, and now I’m imparting that to the other writers. They’re bringing their own takes and their own creativity and their own imagination to work on the characters, and I’m trying to make sure that it all fits together. I’m sure if I looked at the whole thing I would scream, but day-to-day it’s a lot of fun.

We were a little sad that innocent little Mary Marvel will now be getting the grim’n’gritty treatment, but such is the fate of innocence in a grim’n’gritty world:

A character trying to find her way in a larger universe is Mary Marvel. We start with her at kind of a low point in her life, where she has to evaluate what it is she’s been doing as a superheroine and where she’s going. And a lot of her story is kind of a battle for her destiny. This is very much Mary’s trial by fire.

And of course, after COUNTDOWN…NOTHING will be the same!

[T]here’s a lot of fun character work in it also, and there are moments of triumph and tragedy throughout. So, yeah, this is a story with a lot of action, a lot of change, and a lot of repercussions for the overall DC Universe. In fact, when we get toward the end, you’ll see some truly world-shaking changes that will start in Countdown and then sweep through all the other books and will really change the face of DC for a long time to come.

NOTHING! Do you hear us? NOTHING!!!

Getting back to the whole TV thing for a moment, we were gabbing with one of our comics industry pals a few weeks ago and a pretty good case can be made that substituting typical TV writers for typical comics writers hasn’t really pushed the medium forward that much and in fact, the trend seems to have died down a bit. We always hear good things about Allen Heinberg’s writing, but the Wonder Woman fiasco may have put the nail in the coffin for trying to wrangle people with six figure incomes into towing the line for a comics type page rate.

At any rate, COUNTDOWN is in extremely good hands with Dini–who has always juggled the various needs of tv, film and comics admirably–at the helm, and a stable of fine writers. Will it have more civilian appeal than 52? We shall see.


  1. Is it just me, or has the whole “big comics crossover earth shattering event” lost all meaning and significance? Ever since these big events became an annual thing I’ve totally lost interest in them.

    No matter how hard we try, we’re just not going to recreate Crisis on Infinite Earths.

    These events will have much more meaning and impact on readers if we relegate them to real event status that occur no more than once or maybe twice a *gasp* decade.

  2. I tend to agree with Mike. DC should be focusing on telling good stories in the marquee books (or, in the case of Wonder Woman, ASB+RBW, Action Comics, and Wildstorm, telling any stories at all!), before throwing resources at yet another “EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG!” event. Identity Crisis was great, though polarizing. Infinite Crisis was great, though the art problems stung us towards the end there. 52 has been great. And we’re still revving up for “World War 3” and “Amazons Attack” and maybe even “Gorilla Grodd has a Toothache.” Do we really need another event?

  3. This actually makes complete sense for DC. By partitioning up the art process they got to keep control of the final product and make each artist as close to an interchangeable machine part as possible. Now they can do the same with writers! Whoopeee! Comics made by even bigger committees!

  4. I’m glad we’ve got a diverse market with lots of good material coming out from a variety of publishers.

    DC & Marvel can continue to sell to the weekly continuity addicts and everybody else can read Monster, Scott Pilgrim, or whatever.

  5. I think that Mary Marvel is at a low point for a few reasons:

    1) It doesn’t take the Wisdom of Solomon to see that characters bought from other companies (Blue Beetle and the Question from Charlton, members of the Freedom Fighters from Quality) don’t do well under the current DC administration. They tend to get hurt or killed a lot. The phrase “cannon fodder” seems to apply to them a lot…

    2) Having recently appeared with the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League, she has loser stink on her. And you know what’s happened to Booster Gold, Blue Beetle and Maxwell Lord recently…

    3) The Marvel Family is changing so much under the current administration that anyone looking for anything closely resembling an old Marvel Family story is going to be left scratching their heads…

    4) The last big crossover messed up not one but TWO Superboys…

    5) No matter how good it is, Jeff Smith’s version won’t change anything about the DCU Marvel Family…

    And lastly, looking at how convoluted Supergirl’s storyline was before she was reintroduced by Jeph Loeb, she’s probably not feeling too bright about her prospects.

  6. OK, ignoring the whole “event” status of comics from the big two, and whether or not they impact the universe – let me say this: Weekly comics are needed.
    Marvel and DC both need to have one. They’re really the only leg up on the internet theft of comics, the wait for trade crowd, and the overall sense of death to the floppy comic hurdling down on the industry.
    Really, if someone gets hooked on these books, waiting for someone to upload the next edition won’t cut it when a Wednesday fix is available. Waiting for a trade? Well, some will still probably do this. But with a well-written serial comic, trades should be more cumbersome than they’re worth.
    I like stories that are written for the trade. At some point, a lot of the comics out there need to stop coming out as their individual titles and instead come out in more of an anthology-based weekly magazine, then collect the more popular runs as trades later, after they’ve found an audience. If regular comics ever want to dream of getting back into 7-Eleven or newstands, that’s the format they should be cranking out. It also opens up more of a chance for those comics considered good but not getting sales. Imagine what Manhunter’s readership would be like, both in numbers and support, if you were also buying JLA #1 and Detective Comics at the same time. Or what if Dan Slott’s Thing were attached to Astonishing X-men?

  7. CIVIL WAR was different. Maybe it’s because I work in politics, but CIVIL WAR was relevant. Very relevant. It’s the first big one that meant much to me.

    but we also have to remember for young fans, CRISIS is sort of like the JFK assassination. It doesn’t mean anything to kids today, as much as that shocks people who were alive then.

    I started reading comics in the 2nd grade, but the first big event that MEANT SOMETHING to me was INFERNO. INFERNO will always be my CRISIS.

    Big events are a part of our coming of age, so I don’t want them to go away, but they could struggle hard to make them matter. A lot of them really sucked. Remember ATLANTIS ATTACKS? Of course you don’t.

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