52 was a weekly series published by DC Comics starting in May, 2006. Because I had my 52nd birthday in late 2020, I thought it might be interesting (fun?) to examine this series for its 15th anniversary. I plan to post once a week about each issue. To read previous posts, click the link (52!).
Week 43, Day 1
Osiris and Sobek travel to the Rock of Eternity so that Osiris can ask Captain Marvel to make him part of the Marvel family, ridding him and Kahndaq of the curse, but Black Adam and Isis arrive to convince him otherwise. There is a brief struggle between Osiris and Black Adam, with the former accidentally hitting Isis. Osiris stops and apologizes, and she convinces him to stay with her and Adam.
Week 43, Day 4
The aliens who first granted Animal Man his powers reset the morphogenetic graft and return him to the asteroid where he was left for dead. He begs them to not leave him here and that he will die there without any animal ability to keep him alive. With seconds before he suffocates, and looking at a picture of his family, Animal Man reaches out with his powers and comes into contact with sun-eaters. Now smiling, Animal says, “Migration maps. Homing abilities. Oh, yes.”
Elsewhere, a pregnant alien’s baby violently extracts itself, and it is Lady Styx reborn.
Week 43, Day 5
Back in Kahndaq, Osiris reveals that he only told his sister that he’d stay with them because that’s what they wanted to hear, and he plans instead to leave Kahndaq: “As long as I have these powers I need to be far away from anyone–“. Sobek then tells him that he can rid himself of the curse by renouncing his powers, returning to his broken human body as Amon. Orisis agrees, “That must be my penance!”
After Osiris changes, he tells Sobek, “Perhaps I will be happy again and all of Kahdaq will be as well.” Then Sobek chomps down on Amon’s torso. Amon tries to speak Black Adam’s name, but Sobek bites his head off, announcing, “I’m not so hungry anymore.”
I like the double play of the title, “Family Matters”: it can be things a family deals with together and that family is important, both of which are at play here for the Black Adam family and for Animal Man. And like all families, they now have a death to deal with…
When I would think of this series over the years, I would remember very distinctly a few scenes, and Osiris’ grisly death at the mouth of Sobek was one of them. So was this justice for Osiris the murderer? At the very least, it was the end of the Black Adam family, a concept from this series that I liked.
Speaking of Sobek, I was hoping to see his physical transformation over the course of this issue and not just at the big reveal/chomp. On the final page, his mouth is more extended and his teeth look longer and with sharper points. Given that Sobek urged Osiris to change to his human form in that last scene, I wonder if he would have taken a bite out of his “friend” when they were about to enter the Rock of Eternity earlier?
That scene is where I also had trouble with the presentation of the book. What we were seeing didn’t match the dialog. When Osiris and Sobek reach the inner chamber, he says, “Who is down there?” Yet, there is no “down” and the Marvel family are clearly lit and only a few feet away. Later, after Osiris has struck his sister, he says she was bleeding, but we don’t see that.
As for Animal Man, I’m curious how far away were those sun-eaters? Can he reach out for light-years? For example, could he take on aspects of animal life on Rann when he’s on Earth? My recollection of Animal Man after this series was that the writers focused instead on the relationship between him and Starfire, creating a “romantic” triangle with them and Animal Man’s wife. Ugh.
Finally, Dan DiDio announced in the DC Nation entry in this issue that the follow-up to 52 would be another weekly series, Countdown, with Paul Dini as head writer and Keith Giffen again breaking down the art. DiDio said, “Countdown … will act as the spine of the DCU for the next year”. While I read Countdown, I don’t recall it having any real impact on the DCU until the end, which was merely a lead-in to the next event. In fact, I had a feeling before the first issue had shipped that it would not be as good as its predecessor, and I was right. Don’t expect weekly posts about Countdown, dear reader….
The Origin of Plastic Man
By Waid, Van Sciver, Sinclair, Lopez, Richards, Schaefer, and Siglain
Plastic Man has never interested me. I think it was the cartoon series in the 80s that prejudiced me against the character (not to mention the following season where they gave him a son — wait! Was that the first appearance of Offspring?!). However, I like the promise of his origin told here, specifically, how he uses his real identity to infiltrate criminal organizations and takes them down as Plas.