Countdown is Coming (Barry Allen Too!)

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DC Comics has announced the follow up series to 52 – aptly named Countdown, will be another weekly series counting down from 51 to 0, and will serve as the backbone of the DC universe.

If you have followed any of the summer events from years past (Crisis comes to mind), Countdown will serve as link to all of the other DCU titles. DC says Countdown will be a stand alone series, and I’m hoping they don’t change their mind requiring readers to buy all of the tie-in issues just to understand the overall story.

Countdown will begin the week following 52 – Week 52, but will not be a continuation of the story.

In an interview at Newsarama, Keith Giffen said, “The point of Countdown is that once the meaning of 52 is revealed, Countdown then explores it. It’s like if 52 was to find a route to the Indies and they stumbled across America? Or here we go — if 52 is Columbus, then Countdown is Lewis and Clark. In other words, 52 ends on a big revelation that will affect the entire DC universe. Countdown goes in and says, “Let’s play with it.”

Here is the official solicitation information released by DC last week:

COUNTDOWN 51-48
Written by Paul Dini and others
Breakdowns by Keith Giffen

51 written by Paul Dini; art by Jesus Saiz
50 written by Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray; art by Jim Calafiore
49 written by Tony Bedard; art by Carlos Magno
48 written by Adam Beechen; art by David Lopez

Covers by Andy Kubert & Tim Townshend

The event of the year is here! This brand-new, year-long weekly series features a cast of hundreds where anything goes! With head writer Paul Dini and a rotating team of some of the industry’s best writers and artists, COUNTDOWN will serve as the backbone of the DCU in 2007. When a character dies in COUNTDOWN 51, it sets off an unexpected ripple that will touch virtually every character in the DC Universe. The COUNTDOWN is on.so begins the end!

COUNTDOWN 51 on sale May 9
COUNTDOWN 50 on sale May 16
COUNTDOWN 49 on sale May 23
COUNTDOWN 48 on sale May 30
32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

I’m super excited to see Paul Dini heading this project and keeping everyone in line. DC has done an excellent job in meeting the weekly deadlines for 52, and the lessons learned from that series are sure to be carried over. When asked what happens in Countdown, Dini said, “Sh*t blows up!”.

Who is the character that dies in Countdown?

At the DC Nation panel held at the New York Comcic Con, orange buttons with the phrase “Jimmy Olsen Must Die” on them were handed out. DC confirms Jimmy Olsen, Mary Marvel, The Monitors, Trickster and Pied Piper would all be featured heavily in the new series.

The big surprise is readers may get to see the return of Barry Allen! At the end of the DC panel, Dan DiDio was asked if the Countdown teaser image Major Spoilers ran a few weeks ago included Jason Todd as Robin, and Barry Allen as the Flash, to which DiDio quickly responded “Yes”, before realizing what he had done. Now providing this wasn’t another misleading statement from DC (Ralph drinking whiskey), and hoping the company doesn’t change the outcome just because the beans have been spilled (Armageddon), this could be one of the most welcome returns in comic history.

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Does Barry need to return? Wally West has been the Flash since the 80s, and many current readers may never have read a Barry Allen issue of the Flash, so his return could be a mixed blessing. Could this reveal and the return of the multiverse mean an alternate Barry Allen is floating around in time/space like Billy Pilgrim? Or could Barry simply pop in and out like he did in Crisis?

In either case, Countdown #51 drops May 9.