Just found this on the DC message boards, and it sums up what I also felt after reading COUNTDOWN...
posted by ladymoondancer...
"What infuriates me is that I've extrapolated from the advance reviews that now they are retconning Max's "evilness" as reason for the supposed "weakness" (i.e., no members who could tote planets around) and light-heartedness of the JLI era.
I'm so angry. They took a venerated series about friendship, comraderie, and laughter, the series that said, "Life's screwed up, but you've got to laugh," and they systematically assaulted it, picking off the characters one by one before attacking the very premise, the very core of the JLI.
This is where people get it wrong: Giffen didn't "make jokes" out of the characters. Making a joke out of them would be having Ice turn evil and then die, so the League would be tragic, or murdering and retroactively raping Sue Dibny, so Elongated Man would have angst, or killing off Ted and skewing Max, so that . . . what? So that they can show how much "more realistic" it is to live in a world of pain and betrayal rather than friendship and hope?
There's a joke in there, all right. Too bad it's not funny."
Yep. That's what DC did to some of it's fans. they took a well-loved era of the JUSTICE LEAGUE and tainted it with all the "grim 'n gritty" stuff that seem to permeate everything nowadays.
COUNTDOWN isn't a bad story. Truth to tell, it's a very good one. But something that DC (and Marvel, for that matter) have to realize is that fans also OWN these characters, at least emotionally. A particular level of emotional attachment exists between reader and character, however fictional that character might be.
Man, I'm still depressed.