52! Week Forty-Nine

By Johns, Morrison, Rucka, Waid, Giffen, Barrows, Green, Ramos, Baron, Leigh, 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

“Eve of Destruction”

Week 49, Day 1

The JSA arrive on Oolong Island demanding that Chang Tzu let Black Adam go. Then, members of the Great Ten arrive to tell the JSA if they continue, there will be war.

Chang Tzu asks Will Magnus if the Plutonium Man is complete and how Magnus endows the “metals with life”? Magnus tells him

… it’s really the responsometer that does all the work. Once a metal is animated, it takes a form that perfectly expresses its own nature. … Metal Men pretty much build themselves.

Then the Metal attack Chang Tzu.

Green Lantern tells the Great Ten they can’t declare war on the JSA — they’re free agents — but the Great Ten call this “nonsense”.

With the help of Thundermind, Green Lantern now knows that the Great Ten are there to protect the secret that Chang Tzu is a member of the Great Ten.

Dr. Morrow attempts to stop Magnus from lowering the island’s defenses, but Magnus gives him the control to teleport to Dr. Sivana’s Omnibot. Morrow tells him, “I don’t deserve your loyalty”. To which Magnus replies, “You were the best teacher I ever knew. I try overlook the whole psychopathic super-villain thing”.

In the Omnibot, Sivana gathers some equipment, thanking Black Adam for allowing him to develop “torture toys” that will work on the Marvel Family.

Dr. Magnus defends himself by firing Lead at Chang Tzu, piercing his shell. Magnus threatens the other scientists with the particle wave ray gun and his bipolar disorder. The scientists run away, and Magnus shoots Chang Tzu a few more times, telling him, “You shouldn’t have taken away my meds!”

With the defense systems down, the JSA enter the compound and begin rounding up the scientists. Atom Smasher locates and frees Black Adam. About Bialya, he implores Adam, “Tell me it wasn’t you”. Adam uses his magic to heal himself and repair his costume. He tells Atom Smasher before leaving the island, “They wanted a war, Albert. I’m going to give it to them”.

IN Metropolis, Nuklon tells the remaining Infinity, Inc. members,

We can still be the future. … We can still prove to the world that we can do it better than those stupid old men in the JSA. We only need the chance.

Thoughts

I love that James Bond homage cover! The ticker at the bottom even pokes a little fun: “The Diabolical Egg-Fu: Shaken, Stirred and Cracked?” Hah!

There are only a few notable items in this issue. One is that Thundermind is helping the JSA by revealing (though it’s only heavily implied) the Great Ten’s motivation for protecting Oolong Island. I’d love to see more between those two groups.

Another is the return of the Metal Men, minus Platinum (and will Magnus do anything with that Plutonium Man?). That scene of the mini Metals attacking Chang Tzu was a nice bit of comedy.

Atom Smasher’s reaction when he realizes that what he thought about Black Adam wasn’t true: the Black Marvel did decimate Bialya. The way the artists drew Atom Smasher’s reaction was very done, considering the full face mask and only white eyes. I wonder if the penciler thought they couldn’t adequately express Al’s emotions if the mask was off? That seems like a wasted dramatic moment.

Then there’s Magnus’ relationship with T. O. Morrow. I loved that exchange between them. Morrow brought Magnus into this situation, revealed Magnus’ bipolar disorder and the need for medication (which they took away), he shoots Mercury and threatens to shoot Magnus, but Magnus still feels a sense of loyalty (or is it compassion?) to the guy.

Finally, Magnus kills Chang Tzu?! Magnus’ quip that “you shouldn’t have taken away my meds!” was very much a 1980s Shwartzenegger action movie moment. But will Magnus answer for this crime (although I’m sure this isn’t the last we’ll see of Chang Tzu …)?

The Origin of the JSA

By Waid, Kramer, Bair, Sinclair, Leigh, Richards, Schaefer, and Siglain

Nothing really of note here, but I love how this entry reinforces DC’ history of legacy that started with the JSA.

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