52! Week Forty-Six

By Johns, Morrison, Rucka, Waid, Giffen, Olliffe, Geraci, Ramos, Baron, Lopez, Richards, Schaeffer, and Siglain. Cover by Jones and Sinclair.

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!).

Synopsis

“Mad Science”

Week 46, Day 1

Black Adam fights through various defenses put forth by the Oolong Island scientists. Veronica Cale opens the blast doors to tell Adam that she “made the things that killed your family”, but he walks past her. Once Adam is inside, Ira Quimby galvanizes the scientists to continue fighting. T. O. Morrow then uses tesseract technology to incapacitate Adam, and Komrade Krabb puts a neuro crown on him, rerouting the “electrical impulses [his] brain sends to his body”, incapacitating Adam. Sivana gloats over Adam, telling everyone, “I’ve been making plans for this moment for a very, very long time…”.

Week 46, Day 3

In Metropolis, as Lex Luthor is being escorted to a police van, Clark Kent calls for Steel and the police Chief to follow him. Kent leads them to a room with a lead door, which Steel breaks through, and they discover the real Luthor. The fake Luthor turns out to be Everyman, who decides to reveal himself in order to attack Natasha Irons. Luthor feigns ignorance and Natasha easily dispatches Everyman.

Week 46, Day 4

The JSA search for survivors in Bialya, with the Flash reporting he found no one and Green Lantern states over 2 million are dead. Atom Smasher arrives, telling them that he wants back on the JSA and to help find Black Adam.

Thoughts

I love the double meaning of the title, “Mad Science”, with the emphasis on “Mad” as we see Black Adam flying through the acid rainstorm, his teeth gritted and his eyes couched by shadows.

The most interesting thing about the Black Adam sequence, besides seeing him laid low by Morrow and the rest (wait until he gets free…), is Cale. She starts by telling Magnus that, “We deserve to die”. She genuinely seems on the verge of repentance, especially in the way her eyes are shown in the panel spanning pages 2 and 3. But then she tells Magnus, “The forces of evil are gathering …. Their goal is eternal slavery and the destruction of free will”. She then jumps on Magnus, saying, “Oh, Will — doesn’t that turn you on?” Later, she confesses to Magnus that as a little girl, she wanted to change the world, but “none of this will be remembered”. That’s when she opens the blast doors (after killing a guard to do so) to confront Black Adam. Does she want him to kill her? Does she feel guilt or just the weight of inevitability? Despite her confession (“It was me,” she tells him meekly), Adam breezes past her, as if she doesn’t exist. This woman continues to vex me — she’s a murderer and callous, but also seemingly insecure and shaken to the core by this experience. What will she like be when we next see her (and I do want to see more of her!)?

A smaller, surprising element was I.Q.’s role in this melodrama. He has appeared before, but his role was inconsequential as I recall. However, here, he talks almost like Glorious Godfrey in the way he inspires the assembled scientists to keep fighting, directing them in their battle, and then punctuates the victory with a somewhat modest, “That’s how I saw it all working out anyway”.

The Origin of Batman

By Waid, Kubert, Baumann, Balsman, Richards, Schaefer, and Siglain

I’m not sure why DC felt the need to retell Batman’s origin in this series. There’s some nice Andy Kubert art, though.

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