I really really hope that DC's new maxi-series, Countdown, can sustain its own weight. In many ways its predecessor, 52, was almost Homeric in tone, detailing the journey of the DCU over the "lost" year. Unfortunately though, a Homeric epic doesn't quite work without the presence of the Divine. Sure in 52 there was plenty of mysticism, but very rarely did we see any real characters that encompassed that level of godly power. Essentially it was quiet coming-of-age story. You can jam pack with all the chaos and craziness you want, but plastering "World War III" on the cover four comic books doesn't automatically give it emotional impact
Countdown could have the very same problem of faltering under its own weight. 52 issues of a comic gives you plenty of room for a story to degenerate into something unrecognizable. I think 52's biggest problem was its constant need to adhere to the concept of "real time". Countdown, in its first issue, has already freed itself from this, by presenting a very brief moment in time. It doesn't jump in time in space the way 52's first issue did, in an attempt to display the "grand" scope of itself. If Paul Dini continues to do his job right, this story will be aware of its own portentousness, but won't need to use it's self-awareness as a crutch.
Already, in issue #51, its proven itself capable of the kind of pacing required in a epic. The ending of 52 left so many DC fans with low expectations, regardless of the DC/Warner Bros. hype machine's efforts. Lower expectations makes the task of telling an epic story that much easier. With 52 and Infinite Crisis, we were constantly too aware of how large the story was supposed to be. With Countdown we are slightly less aware. Countdown is not about defining or redefining the DCU. It's simply a story set in the DCU. It's the same reason that Identity Crisis and Countdown to Infinite Crisis was far more powerful and effective than the Infinite Crisis mini-series itself.
Hopefully Countdown can keep the work up. This first issue, along with the three big reveals, contains some damn solid writing on the part of Dini, as well as maybe the first comic where I actually enjoyed looking at Jesus Saiz's art. I'm excited to see what Sean McKeever will be doing with the story. I wasn't too impressed with his work with World War III, but I am a huge fan of his Spiderman Loves Mary Jane work, so I have faith that when presented with a better story, he can really produce.
Right now, it's obviously way too early to tell how well Countdown is going to work as a story, but taking into account only the first issue, I'd have to say I'm pretty curious/excited to see what is going to come out next.
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