Eight Weeks and Counting Until “Final Crisis”

DC Universe Braces For Massive Upheaval as “Countdown” Progresses


Published: April 3, 2008

As of this writing, the DC Universe stands poised upon the brink of ultimate destruction. Eight weeks and counting. Eight weeks until “Final Crisis.” For a large number of you, I’m willing to bet that this means absolutely nothing. What is “Final Crisis?” What is “Countdown?” Heavy questions and too broad for me to properly answer in the space I am so graciously allotted. Suffice it to say that “Countdown” is the first chapter in what promises to be the most important superhero story ever told.

Courtesy of MCT

Helmed by Paul Dini, famous for “Batman: the Animated Series,” “Countdown” (renamed “Countdown to Final Crisis” with issue No. 26) is DC Comics’ second attempt at a weekly comic book series, an experiment they first began with last year’s “52.” Spinning out of “52” and the critically acclaimed “Infinite Crisis,” “Countdown” is exactly what the title would lead you to expect. Beginning with issue 51 and counting backward, it is the ticking clock of the DC Universe. When the clock hits zero, “Final Crisis” will begin, and the DC Universe will never be the same.

The word “final” is perhaps a misrepresentation of what “Final Crisis” has in store for fans. The DC Universe will not end. Such a development, in the realm of comics, is completely unprecedented and totally incomprehensible. So no, this is not the end, as it were, or even the beginning of the end. Rather, “Final Crisis” will simply be—true to its name—the last “Crisis.” For anyone familiar with DC’s long, “Crisis”-ridden history, this still says a great deal.

In the context of the DC Universe, the word “crisis” carries tremendous weight. DC’s romance with “Crisis” events has its roots in the Multiverse, a concept explored in early stories such as “Crisis on Earth-One” and “Crisis on Earth-Two.” A universe of infinite Earths and infinite versions of DC characters, the Multiverse presents something of a morass as far as story continuity is concerned. However, this tangled mess of worlds and heroes was temporarily untied by Marv Wolfman in the now-legendary “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” an epic crossover event which effectively undid the Multiverse and established Earth-One as the official backdrop of the DCU.

Nearly 20 years later, writers Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison decided to shake things up. Launching out of Brad Meltzer’s “Identity Crisis,” “Infinite Crisis” and the resulting “52” reestablished the Multiverse, this time with 52 parallel earths, as opposed to the infinite realities Wolfman had seen fit to erase. If the omens hold true, “Final Crisis” will reveal the final fate of these 52 worlds and will set down a new status quo for the DCU.

With this in mind, we must view “Countdown” as little more than prologue. It is, ostensibly, a story revolving around the bit players of the DCU, bench-warmers like the Piper, Trickster and Jimmy Olsen. Don’t worry if you don’t know who they are; you aren’t really supposed to. However, as this disparate cast of characters wanders through the post-“52” DCU, it becomes readily apparent that something is dreadfully wrong. A shadow looms large and menacing over the DCU, and armies are marshalling in the space between worlds. Gods are dying and worlds are burning, and all the while something known only as “the Great Disaster” waits to swallow all worlds. It may be mere prologue, but “Countdown” does not lack for scope.

This was perhaps the chief problem with the early issues of “Countdown.” It was difficult, at first, to glimpse the grandeur on the far horizon, a problem which can be attributed to the series’ overall length: even the longest comic book event rarely lasts for more than 12 issues. With so much material to cover, it is not difficult for the reader to feel somewhat lost. However, once its wheels start turning, I guarantee you’ll want to stick around for the ride.

As of this writing, the DCU is only eight weeks away from “Final Crisis.” Things are beginning to take shape, mysteries beginning to unravel. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, now, and from where I’m standing, it promises to be something brilliant.