You’re reading The Complete Infinite Crisis, a Comprehensive and Encyclopedic look through the universe-changing superhero event published by DC from 2005 to 2006. Shelfdust are proud to provide a complete overview of the story, and everything that happens in it. We thought this would be easy, but we’ve had to bring in a bunch of experts to help us out and explain all the really confusing bits!
We’ve just found out that there’s something called Countdown to Infinite Crisis, which seems to be important. Time to bring in one of our big guns – Steve Lacey – to find out what it’s all about!
Steve! I’ve just heard that there’s a “Countdown to Infinite Crisis” story which doesn’t appear in the Infinite Crisis trade paperback. What was Countdown about?
Steve Lacey: I’m surprised it’s taken this long to track around to Countdown to Infinite Crisis, as this is where the whole things officially starts. Countdown was one of those sporadic, oversized, underpriced comics that DC put out on occasion to drum up interest in their books. Think the Rebirth special, but eleven years earlier. It follows former JLI member Blue Beetle as he picks up the thread of a mystery that runs through the DC universe and deals with his status as a perennial C-lister. Someone’s nicked a whole bunch of his cash, and he’s not going to stop until he finds out who and why, even if it kills him. Which, uh…
Ted’s quest is the spine of the book, and touches on some of the themes that would feature in Infinite Crisis itself, notably featuring a fragmented superhero community that fails to look after itself, and a character whose time has passed reacting to the world today. Along the way, it teed up the four miniseries that would bridge this one-shot and the core Infinite Crisis series. Having said that, one miniseries was mentioned only in the form of a video voicemail… This was primarily the first part of the story featured in The OMAC Project, which would pick up immediately following the final page of this one-shot, before the blood had even dried. Yeah…
80 pages for $1, featuring artwork from various Crisis-related artists (Rags Morales from Identity Crisis, Phil Jimenez from Infinite Crisis, Jesus Saiz from The OMAC Project, and Ivan Reis from The Rann/Thanagar War), and a story from Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, and Judd Winick. And one of those wouldn’t actually get to play any further with Infinite Crisis titles. Jim Lee provided a cover, which was solicited with a blackened silhouette of the body in Batman’s arms. Not that it stopped the internet from unmasking the corpse before the date of publication, of course. There was clearly something about the shape of those goggles…
Tell us more about Blue Beetle and who he is? He’s the star of the one-shot?
Lacey: Ted Kord is the Blue Beetle. Not the original, and not the one you’ll be familiar with from Smallville, Batman: The Brave And The Bold, or Young Justice: Invasion. No, this is the character that DC came to own in the mid-1980s when they bought up Charlton Comics, and folded a bunch of their superheroes into the DC universe during the original Crisis. When the Justice League title was relaunched in 1987 and writers Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis found the majority of the heavy hitters of the DC universe unavailable to them, Blue Beetle became one of the centrepieces of the book. Often paired with Booster Gold, the two would become synonymous with the ensuing era of the League, the ‘Bwa-ha-ha’ era.
The success of the characters is rooted in this era, as a lighter, comedic touch and strong focus on characterisation was a hit with readers. Kord is best seen as a Bruce Wayne analogue – he’s technologically gifted, the owner of a successful tech company which funds his superheroics, and he doesn’t have any powers. He also doesn’t have a tragic backstory fuelling his heroics, which partly enabled the light-hearted escapades. Oh, and he’s the inspiration for Dan Dreiberg, Watchman’s Nite-Owl.
Following a few months spend in a coma, courtesy of Doomsday’s fists, Kord floated around the DC universe for a few years. Prior to Countdown to Infinite Crisis, he was a supporting characters in Birds of Prey, where he crushed on Barbara Gordon and dealt with an ongoing heart condition. He also featured in the JLI-revival series Formerly Known As The Justice League, and I Can’t Believe It’s Not The Justice League, where he got to spend his last months surrounded by friends and engaging in hi-jinks, escapades, tomfoolery and japery.
Okay Steve – I’m going to have to pause you for a moment. Formerly Known as The Justice League? I’ve never heard of that before! We NEED to know more about that series! Come back on Friday for more!
Steve Lacey is a writer and podcaster best known as one half of The Fantasticast. You can find him on Twitter here!