Thursday, February 22, 2007

Countdown: hotter than Indian chili powder (which is much hotter than the stuff you might normally buy, believe me)

-I know this piece on the aging of superheroes in the DC universe is the sort of thing I usually mock, but I found the first half to be genuinely interesting (though ideally I would have liked a little more on the role of fan expectations in the aging of characters, a subjcet which Bondurant only touches upon briefly). Unfortunately, the second half is more "Gee, I can't wait to read [new project] because hopefully they'll do all the things I want them to do," a sentiment which DC has relied upon to sell its big events for the last two years. Marvel, on the other hand, seems to be going with the "Rubbernecking at the Carnage on the Freeway" approach when planning its mega events.

-Still, the return to the weekly format might be a problem for DC, if the responses to Newsarama's interview with DiDio and Marts are indicative of the general spirit (which, actually, they probably aren't):

"As someone who's historically been much more of a Marvel fan over the last few years, I have to admit I kind of find this frustrating. I made the commitment to 52, and I've enjoyed it for the most part, but I'm also glad to see it coming to an end, if only for financial reasons. Having another weekly series start up immediately, and apparently being fairly important for the DC Universe as a whole (and thus, potentially affecting the titles I do collect -- BoP, JSA, Catwoman and JLA under Meltzer, at least), just feels like I'm being asked to make more of a commitment than I want."

"I'm conflicted on this. You could look at Countdown AS a big event that leads into another big event -- I mean, did I read this right, or didn't DiDio say that Countdown was the staple in the fold of the DC Universe... in other words, if you read Countdown, you'll probably be picking up other titles as well. Seems to me that's standard fare for 'big events' nowadays. One central title that almost makes the reader purchase others...If that's the case, then I am extremely wary of this. Marvel is doing it with Civil War/The Initiative, and DC's been doing it for years... when does this end?"

"Well, I'm a bit conflicted as well. Part of what I loved about 52 was the particular selection of characters and writers, and also that it was FINITE. Countdown is apparently also finite, except when you think of it as an extention of 52, and start wondering what comes next. But I do rather like a weekly book (even if it turns out quite expensive) and having a book to tie the DCU together sounds intriguing enough to give it a shot."

"I gave DC a shot with 52. I've bought every week's issue. Has it been worth it?...No. My reaction to a new 52 issue every week is not, 'Sweet! Can't wait to see what happens now!'...It's more along the lines of, 'Ugh...52...I wish this was over.' There were a handful of cool things that have happened in that book, but not nearly enough to warrant a weekly issue. Most of the stories are just horribly drawn out and boring. Sorry guys, I'll pass."

"I would love nothing more than to follow an 'important' 52, but it's gonna break the bank for me, so I have to skip out. Kudos to those who can follow this. It's strange; 52 was getting me into the DCU (Marvel zombie here)... but the huge financial commitment of another weekly comic will probably help me back out of the tentative steps I have made into the DCU. Too bad for me.On the other hand, if I hear that Booster Gold and the new Question will be making regular appearances in here, I may eat my words."

To be fair, some people seem to be eagerly (or is that "heavily?") awaiting it as well:

"I am actually a bit more excited about this than I was about 52.I like that Dini is heading it up - loved his animated Universe. I like that it is reflective of the DCU but still seperate. My biggest complaint about Infinite Crisis was that it felt like 4 page check-ins with other books and not seperate. But if 52 is a year and Countdown is a year, doesn't that age a lot of the teen characters (Robin, Speedy...) really quickly? I don't see DC having Robin as a 20 year old, but if they keep moving the Universe in real time, it is logical to happen sooner than later. (that's all the complaining for that) I'm curious if it will seem like less of a jump on to people because it starts with 51 and goes down (people love their #1 issues afterall) All things concerned, I'm looking heavily at it"

Sounds like it needs to get out to a fast start. And who better to accomplish that task than Tony Bedard and Carlos Mango?

-Here's something nerdy which nobody's talking about (at least right now): costumes. It's been said that DC superheroes in the SA were little more than an assortment of costumes; if so, it's a testament to the artists who designed them. Even if the Green Lantern (Hal Jordan version) had no discernible personality for the first 10 years he was around, he at least had a cool costume--so cool that it became iconic. But I saw this, and I started thinking: will there ever be anything iconic about X-23? How many costumes has she had? If every new artist feels compelled to redesign her costume, will there ever be a visual hook we associate with her (besides the claws)? There's a reason Angel is the least popular of the original X-Men. (Okay, part of that reason is that wings/flight as one's exclusive power is pretty boring, but I still think the endless assortment of frequently lame costumes hurt Angel as a marketable intellectual property.) Related: I think the decline in Cable's popularity can be traced directly to subsequent artists' unwillingness to draw the enormous shoulder pad things which Liefeld gave him. Cable IS those shoulder things.


Chris said...

"Even if the Green Lantern (Hal Jordan version) had no discernible personality for the first 10 years he was around, he at least had a cool costume--so cool that it became iconic."

Just an update: he's back to having no personality now, just a series of continuity points he refers back to between boring fights.

Thanks a lot, Geoff Johns.

Julio said...

Well, as far I can't tell Countdown doesn't happen in the space of a year, instead the issues to do "52 different places/happenings/stances on the DC Universe", so no more aging will happen. Though a 20 year old Robin would problably be able to do that storylines from Armaggedon 2000 where he is a senator.