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-Three

By Johns, Morrison, Rucka, Waid, Giffen, Jurgens, Rapmund, Hi-Fi, Lopez, 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

“Family Matters”

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.”

Thoughts

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.

52! Week Thirty-Seven

By Johns, Morrison, Rucka, Waid, Giffen, Olliffe, Geraci, SInclair, Lanham, Richards, Schaefer, 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

“Secret Identities”

Week 37, Day 1

Skeets threatens the bottled city of Kandor demanding that Rip Hunter and Supernova surrender themselves to it. Rip tells Supernova to stall Skeets while he reassembles the circuitry of Supernova’s costume. Supernova exits Kandor and he is revealed to be Booster Gold. Rip tells Booster to tell Skeets everything to buy them more time.

Booster tells Skeets, “I’ve known what’s up with you for weeks now”. When Booster visited Rip’s lab, Hunter appeared and told Booster the truth about Skeets and they formulated a plan: Booster would gather weapons after faking his death and assuming the role of Supernova, whose abilities were the result of the Atom’s size-changing belt and the circuitry of the Phantom Zone projector in Superman’s Fortress of Solitude.

Rip joins Booster in the Fortress and activates the projector on Skeets. However, as Booster observes, Skeets has “eaten the Phantom Zone…!” Rip makes a hasty retreat with Booster, but Skeets follows.

Week 37, Day 4

While Green Lantern helps repair Star City’s electrical grid, Oliver Queen talks with Black Canary about Ralph Dibny, telling her that he’s unstable in trying to bring back his dead wife.

Week 37, Day 5

Lobo presides over Animal Man’s funeral, and then Adam Strange and Starfire head back to Earth. However, Animal Man wakes up, calling out to his comrades, “Don’t leave me!!!” Then the aliens that gave Buddy his powers appear saying, “And so it begins.”

Thoughts

What were they thinking, spoiling the reveal on page 4 on the cover?! That was quite the reveal, though, which can only be overshadowed by the upcoming one regarding Skeets. I like the whole bit about Booster’s dead body being from his future — I wonder if that was ever dealt with in any way in his solo series that followed this?

This issue, with the exception of the Star City interlude, was chock full of revelations: 1) Animal Man didn’t actually die and 2) his alien benefactors appear with an ominous sounding proclamation. Could you imagine the dread Buddy is feeling in that moment when he awakens, thinking he was abandoned light years from home and no way to get there? Alas, he has no time to ponder his predicament. Is there a connection to these aliens and what Rip Hunter is dealing with regarding the timeline and what Skeets has become?

But wait! They’re not done with us yet! This issue also features Dan DiDio’s DC Nation column that proclaims “This column is a clue!” under the 52 banner. I remember the message boards being abuzz about the secret code that, as I recall, I found out some months after this. I’ve never been one to try and figure out stuff like this*, content to let others with more time and inclination to do the legwork. What I don’t recall is if I found out the reveal at the end of the series first or this secret message — I think it was the former. I even went on one of those boards and proclaimed my appreciation for the new paradigm, something I don’t think I repeated.

In case you’re curious, the message was “The secret of fifty-two is that the multiverse still exists.”

The Origin of Firestorm

By Waid, Igle, Champagne, Sinclair, Lanham, Richards, Schaefer, and Siglain

Was fusing with multiple people a new thing with Jason as Firestorm? I only read a few appearances of this version of the character, and I know his series was a favorite of one of my friends, but I’ve yet to read it. I liked this time at DC Comics when the successors to these characters were younger and not another white dude (like Blue Beetle and not like Kyle Green Lantern).

52! Week Thirty-Six

By Johns, Morrison, Rucka, Waid, Giffen, Igle, Champagne, Baron, Brosseau, Richards, Schaefer, 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

“How to Win a War in Space”

Week 36, Day 3

Lobo delivers Starfire and Animal Man to Lady Styx and asks for his bounty. Styx tells him, through interpreter Fishy, that there is no bounty and they are all to be broken down into bio-mass “to serve her needs”.

Styx’s minions attack the trio, incapacitating Starfire. Fishy tells Lobo the many insults Lady Styx is hurling his way, causing the Czarnian to abandon his pacifist ways. As Lobo charges Styx, she eviscerates him. Animal Man calls for Adam Strange, who fires from outside, allowing the Head of Ekron to come through. Lobo grabs Styx and throws her at Ekron, who then flies into a sun eater.

During the battle, Animal Man was shot with necro-toxin and is becoming delirious, and then he goes quiet. At the same time on Earth, Ellen Baker seems to sense it and starts to cry.

Week 36, Day 5

Charlie condition worsens, despite Tot’s best efforts to send healing flowers from Nanda Parbat, which gives Renee an idea.

Week 36, Day 6

Renee prepares to take Charlie to Nanda Parbat. Kate tells her that this “looks an awful lot like denial”. Renee tells her it’s “defiance”. Kate implores Renee to stay with her, to fight Mannheim, but Renee tells Kate that Charlie saved her, so she will take him back to Nanda Parbat in the hopes that it will save him or she’ll die trying.

In Kahndaq, Osiris reads a newspaper article that calls him a murderer, and he tells Sobek that if he were to go back to Titans Tower, they would have to arrest him. “No matter what we ever do, the entire world will always hate us.” Sobek offers Osiris an apple, telling him, “I don’t hate you.”

Week 36, Day 7

Despite the many artifacts that Supernova has brought Rip Hunter, the Time Master still can’t power the chronosphere. He also worries that Skeets will find them before they are ready. Supernova tells him, “For now we’re safe.” But then we see Skeets hovering over the Bottle City of Kandor in Superman’s Fortress.

Thoughts

I’ll be honest, I thought given the last issue’s events regarding Lobo and the others, I thought he was betraying them. Instead, we get the classic fake prisoner routine. And who didn’t see Lobo resorting to his old ways?! It was only a matter of time. I thought the “death” of Buddy was poignant only because of the follow-up scene with his wife and kids. The artists did a great job of conveying that loss and pain in just a few panels.

Again, based on last issue, I genuinely thought Charlie had died, so I was surprised to see him still kicking. After having read Batwoman comics that came after this, this Kate Kane seems like another person altogether, but maybe this experience led her to be the character I later read?

So we finally get to see Rip Hunter and he’s not in great shape. He appears to be suffering from some sort of chronal aphasia. I loved the way the scene starts to pull the “camera” back from the room Rip and Supernova are in, to just outside, to the building, even farther out until we see that they are in the Bottle City of Kandor, with Skeets hovering nearby! Such a great bit of storytelling with the reveals and foreboding menace.

Finally, I’m curious if anyone bought the 52 Series 1 action figures advertised in this issue? I think I would have liked to get the Supernova figure.

The Origin of Power Girl

By Waid, Hughes, Fletcher, Richards, Schaefer, and Siglain

Aside from the lovely Adam Hughes artwork, there wasn’t much that was interesting about this entry. But was the two infant Kryptonians rocketed to Earth something that was part of Power Girl’s original origin or is this a retcon? Her arriving later as an older person mirrors that of Supergirl’s retconned origin from a few year’s prior to this issue, so which came first? It seems really odd that DC would borrow from itself for what is essentially the same character.

And why did DC decide to keep Power Girl around AND have Supergirl? I see more opportunities for interesting stories about her, the cousin from another universe, as she interacts with Superman, but without the hang-up of living up to his legacy (she already did that with her cousin).

52! Week Thirty-Five

By Johns, Morrison, Rucka, Waid, Giffen, Jimenez, Jurgens, Lanning, Rapmund, Hi-Fi, Lanham, Richards, Schaefer, 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

“Rain of the Supermen”

Week 35, Day 1, New Year’s Day, 12:00:01 A.M.

Everyman Project recipients fall from the sky in downtown Metropolis. A gas main erupts, trapping the nearby citizens, but Supernova arrives, transporting them to the city limits. Infinity, Inc. helps out civilians elsewhere, and Natasha realizes her uncle was right.

Week 35, Day 2

Superheroes from various teams help transport the injured to Saint Camillus Hospital. Plastic Man reunites with his son, Offspring, who saved over 20 civilians. John Irons tells Beast Boy to “get the Titans together” so they can find out why Luthor took all those powers away.

Week 35, Day 3

Lex Luthor tells the Infinity, Inc. members, save Everyman, that they are clean of the “errant gene-sequence” that “caused so many participants to spontaneously reject their enhancements”. Later, Natasha confides in Skyman what her uncle told her, and wants his help to find proof against Luthor. Skyman tells her he will help and that he loves her.

Week 35, Day 6

Adam Strange confronts Lobo who tells the others that they don’t need to figure out how to fight Lady Styx and her armada because he’s taking them to her.

Thoughts

I simultaneously love and hate the issue title, but given Jurgens’ involvement with this issue and his work on Reign of the Supermen, I’m leaning towards love.

Those opening pages by Jimenez and gorgeous and grotesque. The tragedy unfolds as if in slow motion in the way the panels and action are shown on page 1, and then the enormity of the moment hits you with the following two-page spread. That’s some great comic book storytelling. It’s a pity Jimenez couldn’t have drawn the whole issue — not that Jurgens is bad, but side-by-side, there’s an obvious difference in skill and presentation.

I love how Supernova responds to a reporter’s accusation that he vaporized the crowd: “Don’t be absurd.” If you weren’t sure if this Superman or not, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that he’s not.

Has anyone ever touched on one of these Everymen and how this experience affected them? What was the fallout for Luthor?

In the scene between Natasha and Skyman, right after he tells her he loves her and they hug, we see a picture of the team behind them with Natasha next to Everyman — what a great mirroring of the fore-image (and is it foreshadowing???).

In the scene with the space travelers, it’s implied pretty heavily that Lobo isn’t helping the trio against Lady Styx, but is delivering them to her for the bounty, but I wonder if this is just a ruse that we’ll see play out next issue?