Identity Crisis revealed some shocking, but entirely plausible, secrets of some top-name DC heroes, secrets which actually made sense of issues raised by past stories. The series cast shadows over DC history.

Countdown to Infinite Crisis, an expensively-produced but inexpensively-priced comic ($1.00 U.S. for 80 pages!) picks up from that story, and functions as a prologue to several comic series that will shake up the DC Universe further, a kind of Crisis on Infinite Earths for the 2000s.

General Information

Title: Countdown to Infinite Crisis #1-2
Writer: Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, Judd Winnick
Artists: Rags Morales, Mike Blair et al.
Cover Art: Alex Ross and Jim Lee

Premise:

The Blue Beetle stumbles upon a mysterious plot that affects the entire DC Universe and how we perceive it. A supposed ally of the Justice League has long been working against them. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor, affiliate to the plot, organizes a society of villains, and war breaks out in space and in some mystic realm.

High Point

Giving us a single, focal character for a multi-character “event comic,” and a rather human one, at that.

Low Point

The idea that the beloved Justice League International of the 80s was, to a large degree, ineffectual, and had been kept ineffectual, without their suspecting it. I didn’t mind the gloomy retcons of Identity Crisis but this seems to contradict the history in a way that, like Marvel’s Clone Saga, messes unfairly with a lot of fans’ memories.

The Scores

Originality: 2/6 A hero discovers a plot that will affect all aspects of a comic-book universe, and every character and title. A previous development suffers from the “reinterpretive” variety retcon (a retroactive change that affects how we perceive a past event, rather than an outright revision of events). A major character, though currently titleless, character dies, though the door conveniently remains open to bring in a new version (assuming they just don’t rewrite continuity once more). Someone we thought was good turns out to have been evil all along. A movement exists to eliminate superheroes, because they are an affront to the average person

A comic book receives much promotion because it actually exists to promote other comic-books.

Artwork: 5/6 The artwork is well-done, if standard, comicbook fare.

Story: 4/6.

Characterization: 4/6 Did the League really see Blue Beetle as this much of a loser? Still there’s some interesting characterizations of major DC figures.

Emotional response: 4/6 It’s become much harder to take “universe-shattering event comics” seriously. Yeah, so they kill the Blue Beetle. So what? The formerly deceased Hal Jordan Green Lantern recently made a comeback, and appears in this comic. They offed Captain Atom recently, but his status remains uncertain (for one thing, he appeared, without explanation, in Identity Crisis). Superman died, but we knew that was a gimmick from the get-go. Robin died, but it wasn’t the original, and he was replaced. Continuity shakeups happen more quickly than I can track them.

And, while the secret to the mystery makes more sense than the killer in Identity Crisis, it’s been used and overused since the 1980s. I think we can safely say it has become a cliche. While it has a certain logic to it, we need more than this comic gives us to make that premise worth reading once more.

Flow 4/6 Multi-character “event” comics often suffer from choppiness. This one benefits by focussing on one DC hero, and it handles the timeshifts fairly well.

Overall: 4/6 It’s well-produced, but it is only a prologue.

In total, Countdown to Infinite Crisis receives a score of 27/42.

Additional Comments

1. DC made a huge deal about the re-introduction of the Kryptonian Supergirl in Superman/Batman. When will they start featuring her?

2. In addition to affecting numerous DC titles, this cheaply-priced comic introduces several regularly-priced series, including Days of Vengeance (involving DC’s magic heroes), The OMAC Project, Villains United, and The Rann-Thanagar War.

3. Elsewhere, another reviewer examines this comic and the two opposing trends currently at work in DC, the neo-Silver Age and dark revisionism.

4. The current approach to Luthor keeps him an outlaw criminal(necessarily, in the wake of Superman/Batman #5), but he’s back in the executive suit, instead of the purple-and-green battle armour.

5. The head villain behind the plot, it must be noted, manages several Evil Overlord cliches, including the minions with hard-to-see-through masks and the need to explain his plot to a hero before killing him.