52! Week Forty-Eight

By Johns, Morrison, Rucka, Waid, Giffen, Robertson, Baron, Fletcher, 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

“Asked and Answered”

Week 48, Day 1-3

Renee Montoya and Nightwing search for Bruno Mannheim in order to find Batwoman and prevent her murder.

Week 48, Day 4

In a fight with one of Mannheim’s fusion men, Nightwing and Renee discover a device that Nightwing first thinks is a bomb.

Whisper A’Dair and Mannheim discuss the upcoming sacrifice, but Brother Abbot once again questions the prophecy, to which Mannheim declares Abbot will be “carved apart for his heresies!”

Renee interrogates one of the fusion men, but she and Nightwing are ambushed by more of Mannheim’s acolytes. Abbot helps defeat most of them, but one is able to activate the device, which is not a bomb, but an energy beam that “tears into … the city, igniting everything it touches. By dawn, a pit of fire will roar at your city’s heart”.

They see that there are multiple beams drilling into Gotham. Abbot tells them that Batwoman’s heart is supposed to open the pit, fulfilling the prophecy. Nightwing devises a plan, but Renee tells him that he and Abbot should go after the devices instead and that she will rescue Batwoman on her own. She applies pseudoderm to her face and the Question leaves, after Abbot tells her where to go.

The Question is about to shoot Mannheim before he can carve Batwoman’s heart out of her chest, but more fusion men attack her. By the time she dispatches them, Mannheim has plunged a knife into Batwoman’s chest. The Question fires, missing Mannheim. She talks to the still conscious Batwoman, but Mannheim attacks her from behind and manages to wrestle the gun from her. Before he can fire, Batwoman removes the knife from her own chest and throws it into Mannheim back and he falls. Question tells Batwoman to “stay with me…”.

Week 48, Day 5

Chang Tzu issues a public broadcast to announce that he and his Science Squad have Black Adam” “Now…. How much am I bid?”

Thoughts

I get two issues in a row where the art is a bit lackluster for me, but I did like the Question pinup page. This issue is considered Renee’s first as the Question, even though she’s worn the mask and hat before this but she does accept the role now and we get a big stylized question in the background making it official, I suppose. I liked how Renee, in her inner monologue, references the girl she killed in Kahndaq, which sent her on a bender that Charlie helped her back from, and that, with her acceptance of the role as the Question, brings her story full circle — the rest is just denouement.

I found the Mannheim stuff at the beginning confusing. He grumbles about not having yet killed Batwoman, with Adair reminding him about the prophecy’s timeline, yet when Abbot questions the prophecy, he screams “off with his head!” — he’s inconsistent. He also references needing a key that A’Dair assures him will be found by Abbot, but nothing is made of that again. Speaking of Abbot, after Mannheim declares that Abbot will be “carved apart”, his lackeys just happen to take him to the same warehouse that Nightwing and Renee are at? How convenient.

As far as the Science Squad, why start a bidding war for Black Adam? Maybe they’re strapped for cash after Adam’s assault?

I’m getting a bit worried for these final issues, if these last two are any indication. Was the creative team getting tired? Were they focused on the next big project? Or are these last two issues just a blip and the final four issues will give us a banger of an ending?

The Origin of the Birds of Prey

By Waid, Scott, Hazlewood, Sinclair, Fletcher, Richards, Schaefer, and Siglain

I did not know that Oracle “learned the ropes of espionage as an ally of the Suicide Squad before starting her own … operation”. I did know from reading some issues of Birds of Prey that there was a botched mission involving Power Girl, but I’ve yet to read the details of that particular incident. Also missing is my having read the issues involving Big Barda and Manhunter — those sound like fun!

I really like the Scott/Hazlewood art in this. I’m not always a fan of when Scott inks herself, but these two together do a good job (as they did in Teen Titans and Secret Six).

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