In anticipation of their new weekly series, Countdown, DC Comics first released a series of pins only available at comic conventions across the country over the past year. Visit various panels over a weekend and collect the four pins. "Look to the Skies" was a reference to Jack Kirby's Fourth World characters; "Jimmy Olsen Must Die" pointed to the various pitfalls and adventures Superman's Pal would be facing in the upcoming year.
"WWMMD" had people stumped for a little while, but eventually internet savvy fanboys came up with the answer: What Would Mary Marvel Do? The kid sister of Captain Marvel (a/k/a Shazam! to the public at large) was finally going to get the spotlight she deserved.

The fourth pin "I Found Ray Palmer" pointed to the DC Universe addressing a long unsolved mystery in their books - what happened to Dr. Ray Palmer (the public persona of the size-controlling hero the Atom) after his disappearance at the end of Brad Meltzer's and Rags Morales's critically acclaimed mini-series Identity Crisis! A murder mystery focusing on the hunt for a killer of a super-hero's wife, Identity Crisis was the lead-in to DC's massive Infinite Crisis, One Year Later, and 52 storylines. For those who haven't read the book, I won't spoil it, but suffice it to say that the shock of the events in Identity Crisis forced the Atom to transform himself to sub-atomic size and disappear. Now, it looks like DC will finally be turning a microscope on the last year and an half of Ray's life.

Finally, if convention goers were spotted with all four pins by an employee of DC Comics, a fifth pin was handed out: "Darkseid Rules!" This pin (not available to show here) featured a darker orange background, the words "Darkseid Rules" and a close-up image of the lord of Jack Kirby's Fourth World planet Apokolips himself, Darkseid. With the inclusion of this image, readers's questions were answered - after years of little to no use of Jack Kirby's classic 70s creations the New Gods, they would finally be showing up in the next year.

Later today I will post the first advertisements that DC issued using the same slogans from the buttons with a few added elements to create even more speculation.

For those of you who can't wait until Wednesday, though, DC in conjunction with MySpace have allowed a preview of the upcoming Countdown #51 - find it here.