What is "DC Countdown?" Writer Judd Winick Discusses The Book

"What is 'DC Countdown?' Who is Batman holding in his arms on the cover?"

It's the most often asked and debated questions on comic forums since news broke on Friday of this March debuting one-shot. The 80-page one-shot is written by Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka and Judd Winick, with art by Ed Benes, Rags Morales, Phil Jimenez, Ivan Reis and Jesus Saiz, a cover by Jim Lee & Alex Ross and edited by Dan DiDio. With DC loading the book up with many of their big guns, and a $1 price point, it's clear this is an important next step in the DC Universe.

Sources tell CBR News that numerous titles already in publication play in to the events of DC Countdown. "Adam Strange," "Teen Titans," "JSA" were three of the books mentioned where current and future storylines lead in to "DC Countdown." And according to our own Rich Johnston, his sources indicate this story leads into a "Crisis 2" series of some sort.

In the solicitation text for "DC Countdown" released today, the only clues given were that each story in the book "follows a member of the JLA through a mystery that touches on nearly every character in the DCU" and that it "is an essential project that features nearly every major character operating in the DC Universe. It's a project that will resonate for months to come and is a perfect jumping-on point for readers who've been wondering where the people who helped deliver 'Identity Crisis' could possibly be going next."

At this point DC Comics is keeping as quiet as can be about the book. Both Greg Rucka and Dan Didio declined comment when asked. Writer Geoff Johns hasn't responded to our request for comment. CBR News did speak with writer Judd Winick Friday afternoon and while he couldn't discuss story specifics, he was able to provide some background detail and perspective regarding "DC Countdown." It all began with an idea Dan Didio came to the three writers with over a year ago.

"The five of us, myself, Greg, Geoff, Dan and also Eddie Berganza, locked ourselves up for four days and came up with what will be a very large story, one that will be unfolding over the next couple of years," Winick told CBR News.

Winick said that the writers crafted the overall story together, then broke off and wrote their individual chapters. He said "DC Countdown" does tie in with events that unfolded within the pages of DC's hit mini-series "Identity Crisis."

"There are certain story elements that come right out of 'Identity Crisis,' but also I'd say that creatively, the creative spirit of 'Identity Crisis' lives on through this," said Winick. "Many of the turns and sort of character based bent that you got with 'Identity Crisis' and the sort of writing that Geoff, Greg and myself have always leaned towards, we've now been allowed to embrace fuller. We're allowed to write stories which are for keeps."

When asked if he's involved long-term with this storyline, he said yes and added, "I'll go even further to say that it's something that everybody is involved in long term. It's a much larger story, this is just chapter one.

"It's an important first chapter and it's also been written in a matter that if you come to this fairly cold you'll be fine," continued Winick. "It's the way I always write comics and I know it's the way Greg & Geoff always do and the way Bradley took the approach.

"When we were discussing 'Identity Crisis' way back when, the whole concept behind 'Identity Crisis' was taking all these classic characters and also not-so-classic characters that people may not be familiar with and the point is that the strength is in the story itself. It won't be about you having to have followed the DCU for decades and someone will turn the page and a character will pop-up that you've never heard of that's supposed to have resonance, but doesn't because you don't know who it is. We're not doing that. We're writing the story from the perspective that anybody, anybody can pick up this story even coming cold to the DCU and find it riveting. It's all character based. You have large iconic characters and you have rather small ones."

But could "DC Countdown" have happened without "Identity Crisis?"

"I don't know how to answer that," said Winick. "Could this story have happened without 'Dark Knight Returns?' I don't know. There are elements of 'Identity Crisis' in here, but I think part of this overall concept is that everyone was so pleasantly surprised with the popularity and level of acceptance across the board of 'Identity Crisis' and that larger and important stories can still play. It doesn't necessarily have to be a story that's just a single event. We can have large, character based stories that come in and out of one another."

With a price point of just $1 for an 80-page book, this is clearly a book DC wants in every readers hands and the reasons for the reduced price are obvious.

"We find it to be important and it's a way to send a shot across the bow to tell people that this is something of importance, we want you all to get it," said Winick. "We want it in all of your hands. You can call it a promotion or you can call it sort of just the first chapter. It's the first chapter of something larger to come. It's a very good primer and we want you all to come read this story."

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