There are some terms that should trigger some kind of recognition for every fan in the Comicdom. Marvel fans will acknowledge a Secret War as important (though strangely enough, very few have any clue who the Beyonder is), and will fear the Infinity Gems. For DC fans, one word strikes fear into their hearts: CRISIS.
This rampant fear stems back to 1985 mini-series that attempted to clean up the clusterf*ck that was DC continuity. The event quite literally changed everything, and represented a new era for DC Comics. Until, of course, they screwed up the follow-up, and kept doing so for the next ten years.
It was then that Dan Jurgens (you know him as the guy who killed Superman) decided to fix everything with his infamous Zero Hour. The result killed most of the Justice Society, ruined Hawkman, screwed with Atom, and basically changed nothing, universe wise. The only bright spot was that it allowed the 40 year old Legion of Superheroes to ditch their convoluted history and relaunch.
No one will ever accuse Crisis or Zero Hour (identified as a Crisis itself) of being easy to follow, especially for the casual fan. Despite that, the two storylines solidified the term in DC lore. If something was identified as a Crisis, it was a big deal. Period.
DC was well aware of this when they put out their Identity Crisis storyline that tore apart the bonds between the early members of the Justice League and killed one of the most adored side characters in the DCU. All the whilst, a bigger, badder Crisis was in the works. After great hype, a lead in issue and four mini-series to set the stage, DC busted out with Infinite Crisis, where a whole lot of crap went down, but nothing really happened. It was exactly as its predecessors had been: a mega event that allowed all titles to make any changes deemed necessary with no storyline excuse whatsoever.
And once again, DC had solidified the Crisis as something to be taken very, very seriously.
These universe-changing events had taken place well apart from each other. Crisis on Infinite Earths was in 1985, Zero Hour in 1994, and Infinite Crisis in 2005. It seemed that DC was aware that this was something to hold onto in case of emergency. A mega event ready to be used, as long as it had enough time to build. And with the enormous scope of the potential storyline, it would need quite a bit of building.
So, of course, now it’s tossed out every available chance.
A year after Infinite Crisis wrapped up (and the completion of the 52 mini-series that followed several side characters), DC was once again ready for a Crisis using the same Monitor characters from Crisis on Infinite Earths. This time it would be following the return of the Multiverse (52 parallel worlds brought about by Infinite Crisis) and the Monitors’ efforts to stabilize the world from any and all possible threats. The word Crisis is thrown around repeatedly, and everything seems ready to change again.
And this time, it doesn’t seem important at all.
Countdown lacks pretty much everything its parent series (Infinite Crisis and 52) had going for it. The novelty of a year long weekly comic is long since gone since the book started the week after 52 ended. The mega, everything changes event? We just had one. Actually, more like we just had two. It simply feels like they’re going through the motions now. The drama’s gone.
After Infinite Crisis and 52, we’re all ready to settle in and enjoy our regular titles. Instead, just after we finish adjusting to the Infinite Crisis changes, all the titles start crossing into Countdown, to give it its status of mega event. But there’s nothing new here. The heroes have gathered and prevented the destruction of the universe this way so many times already, it’s not fun anymore. It’s time to do something else, and give the universe a little bit of time to recuperate before blowing it up again.
So this time next year, hopefully DC will give it a rest and let their universe be for a while. Crossover events? Sure, have at them. But for the love of the big red ‘S’, give the Crises a break. We’ve all had enough for a while.