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).

52! Week Forty-Seven

By Johns, Morrison, Rucka, Waid, Giffen, Camuncoli, Ruggiero, Pantazis, 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

“Revelations”

Week 47, Day 1

Tim Drake waits outside a cave in Nanda Parbat for Bruce Wayne and is challenged by a monk to solve this riddle:

There’s a goose inside a bottle. … How do you get the goose out without injuring it or breaking the bottle?

Week 47, Day 2

Diana and Tim discuss Bruce’s undertaking of his “spiritual purification”.  She tells Tim, “Something vast and grand is happening and it brought us all here. I hope he finds what he’s looking for. And you, Tim”.

In Gotham City, Whisper A’Dair sacrifices a man trying to divine who Batwoman is. Later, she and Bruno Mannheim discuss the failure, and Brother Abbott criticizes Mannheim’s interpretation of the Crime Bible. They fight, and Whisper comes to a realization: the twice-named daughter of Cain can be found because her name is “Cain”.

Week 47, Day 3

Dr. Magnus works on his new Metal Man as he listens to the tortured screams of Black Adam. When he activates the golem’s responsometer, it calls out, “Crush. Raze. Trample.” His mini Metal Men implore him to switch it off.

Week 47, Day 4

Animal Man travels to Space B and converses with the aliens who created and have since upgraded him. They tell him that he can access any “point in space or in time”. To illustrate, they show Buddy a point one month ahead in his personal timeline where Ellen is being comforted by another man.

Week 47, Day 5

Beast Boy can’t believe Natasha has turned down his offer to join the Teen Titans. He discovers that she is joining her uncle’s new Steelworks facility. Dr. Avasti tells John she quit her job at STAR Labs and wants to know if he’s hiring. She then kisses him.

Week 47, Day 6

The Question visits Kate Kane’s apartment to find it in shambles. Nightwing arrives to tell Renee that “they took her. We’re going to get her back.”

Week 47, Day 7

Diana converses with Rama Kushna, asking the deity, “What have I become?” Rama Kushna answers with,

When did you, in all your perfection, ever share the pains mortals feel each day of their lives?  Until now. Welcome to the world, Wonder Woman. Here is wisdom.

The monk returns to offer Tim more soup, and Tim wonders if Bruce should have returned by now. He also tells the monk he realized that “there’s only a goose in the bottle because you said so,” to which the monk responds, “You are correct. The goose and the bottle are only words”. Then, Bruce emerges from the cave, smiling.

Thoughts

This is probably my least favorite issue of the series thus far, both in terms of the art and the vignettes. Specifically, the Batman and Wonder Woman segments feel disjointed from the rest of the series, and my major issue with the art is that everybody looks similar, like the artist had one male and female template.

Regardless, there are some interesting things in this issue:

  • The dissent in Bruno Mannheim’s organization is interesting (and expected), so I hope we see that play out more.
  • I’m more interested in Space B in regards to Animal Man than I am in the issue with “future” Ellen. Does Space B play into what’s coming at the end of this series? Is it played with anywhere after this?
  • It was nice to see Natasha’s and John’s story come to a close (I assume), especially given it’s been my least favorite of the series. I was also glad to see John and Dr. Avasti moving on with their relationship.
  • What is the “wisdom” that Rama Kushna shows Diana?

The Origin of the Teen Titans

By Waid, Kerschl, Peru, Lopez, Richards, Schaefer, and Siglain

I like how they focused on Cyborg as the central figure of this incarnation of the Teen Titans. What I intensely disliked about the Teen Titans title is the one year jump that occurred during 52. Up to that point, this was one of my favorite titles at the time.

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.

Comic Chat (September 2021 Comics)

Direct Download (1:02:08)

I talk about some comic books I read in September 2021, as well as a new(ish) comic book in a new creator spotlight.

Creator Spotlight: The Lost Boy Episode 1: Pan by Joshua Grant and Marc Rosete (https://diabolicshrimp.com/comics/)

Spotlighted comic books:

  • Radiant Black: (Not So) Secret Origin v1
  • Stillwater: Rage, Rage v1
  • Stargirl Spring Break Special
  • Nightwing #78
  • Killadelphia: Sins of the Father v1

I also read:

  • Something Is Killing the Children v3
  • Star Trek: Debt of Honor
  • Secret v1
  • Serial #4
  • The Marvels #2
  • Strange Adventures #10
  • DC Festival of Heroes – The Asian Superhero Celebration 100-page Super Spectacular
  • Batman/Catwoman #5
  • X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic #1
  • Truth & Justice #4-5
  • Justice League #59
  • Pepper Page Saves the Universe
  • Titans United #1
  • New Mutants by Brison v1
  • Immortal Hulk v9

BUY MY COMICS (please!)

Please send your comments to longboxreview@gmail.com, chat with me @longboxreview on Twitter, or visit longboxreview.com.

Thanks for listening!

52! Week Forty-Five

By Johns, Morrison, Rucka, Waid, Giffen, Batista, Igle, Ramos, Sinclair, 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

“Every Hour Wounds, the Last Kills”

Week 45, Day 3

Shiruta, Kahndaq. The Marvel family help Black Adam with the burial of Isis and Osiris and later try to comfort him, but Black Adam rebuffs their compassion and they leave.

Renee Montoya speaks with Adam, letting him know that Charlie has died and to offer he aid. Black Adam does not take kindly to her “pity” and bids her to go home as he leaves for Bialya.

Week 45, Day 4

Bialya. The Horseman who is Death has taken refuge in Bialya, and the country’s president pleads with Bruno Mannheim for help against Black Adam. Mannheim informs the President that he needs to deal with the situation on Oolong Island and it was “Nice knowin’ ya”.

It is then that Black Adam arrives and kills the President. He begins his assault on the country. Across the world, Black Adam’s actions and potential responses are discussed. Amanda Waller ponders needing 100 members of the Suicide Squad to go up against Black Adam, but Atom Smasher refuses to participate further.

Week 45, Day 5

Bialya. Black Adam continues his swath of destruction. He sees a flower in a pool of blood and cries. Then he is attacked by Bialyans and demands to know where Death is.

Week 45, Day 6

The Great Wall of China. The Great Ten discuss needing to deal with Black Adam should the security of China be threatened.

Death finally confronts Black Adam, telling him that his murdering of Bialya’s people have made it stronger. But Black Adam uses the magic lightning to weaken Death. He tells it, “You are going to answer every question I ask. Then … I am going to spend the rest of the night slowly ending your life”.

Week 45, Day 7

Oolong Island. Veronica Cale asks Sivana, “What happens when he finds out who sent the Four Horsemen into Kahndaq…?” Sivana tells her, as the alarm klaxon sounds, “I’ve been waiting for this for a long, long time. The Black Marvel himself, at my mercy! Bring him on!!”

Thoughts

The inevitable happens: Black Adam on a rampage, and apparently it was all part of Sivana’s plan? At least I got a bit of Dr. Cale’s reaction to this — a pity she wasn’t smart enough to foresee this outcome?

Renee has come a long way over the course of this series. She knows the pain Adam is in and offers her help, which, of course, he does not take kindly to. But even threatened with death, Renee is sympathetic, telling him, “Isis was my friend”. This was the best scene in the issue.

There’s a lot of talk about what to do about Black Adam, but not a whole lot of doing by governments or superheroes. If this was America being attacked, I doubt there would be this delay. And Adam’s slaughter of Bialya’s people is just so inhumane. At one point, he sees a vision of Isis telling him to avenge her and Osiris and he continues his destruction (one of the Oolong scientists states, “He sterilized the Earth!”), but given all of the manipulation thus far, I have to wonder if that was really just grief or an outside force spurring him on? I clearly want to be on his side, that his vengeance is righteous, but given the scale of murder and destruction, the architects of this story clearly do not want us feeling sympathy for him. It does make me want to know the outcome to this — obviously, Black Adam continues long after this series, so is he captured, does he retreat, or …? And what is the impact in regards to superhumans and their involvement in humanity’s affairs after this? I guess I’ll have to reread World War III….