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!).
Week 42, Day 2
Renee Montoya relights the candle. She is still in the cave, eyes closed, telling herself to “gaze into your self-made ABYSS. See what’s staring back.” When she does open her eyes, she sees her reflection, but without her face.
Week 42, Day 3
At the Tower of Fate, the Helmet of Fate tells Ralph Dibny that it is time to utter the incantation to bring his wife back. Ralph puts on the Helmet, pulls out a gun, and shoots himself in the head.
The bullet slams the Helmet into the wall, releasing Felix Faust, and then the Helmet transforms into Ralph’s wedding ring. Faust, surprised, says, “You knew it was me …? How?” Ralph tells him, “Because Faust, I’m a detective”. Ralph then maps out how he knew early on that Faust was behind the ruse. Ralph also admits that he has not been drinking boos for some time now, but gingold — and the Elongated Man punches Faust! He also tells Faust that the gun he just used is not a typical firearm, but a Wishing Gun: “Load a bullet … make a wish … and fire”.
Faust confesses that what Ralph has surmised is true, and then tells him why: after bargaining his soul with the demon Neron for power, Faust negotiated a trade with Neron for a “soul p-pure and stuh-strong at its moment of g-greatest despair … so I ch-chose yours!”
Neron arrives, wanting to take Faust, but Ralph tells the demon that Faust is his now. “I’ve put up with this façade for weeks. I’ve been through Hell and back to get to you.” Neron “trades” Ralph’s wedding ring for Faust by flinging it through Ralph’s heart. Ralph dies, a smile on his face. Neron tries to leave with Faust but realizes that the spell of binding that Ralph cast earlier is still in effect and it is trapped inside Fate’s tower. It vows to make Faust suffer “for eternity”.
Week 42, Day 7
Fire visits Sue Dibny’s gravesite. She picks up a wedding ring from atop the gravestone, crying, and whispers, “Oh, Ralph…”.
I misinterpreted the final scene with Renee from last issue. I thought it was in tribute to Charlie, but it was the final phase of Renee’s transformation.
This issue had quite the reveals! Ralph knew nearly all along that Faust was behind everything, from the Sue mannikin to his missing wedding ring. And then there was gingold and the Wishing Gun. What a cool concept, and it completely subverts the scene with Ralph supposedly about to kill himself. We see what transpired before the panel shown in issue 1, with Ralph saying, “I wish I were with Sue”. Knowing what happens to Ralph next, I guess he gets his wish after all. However, I find the “façade” Ralph has been portraying for weeks to be a bit disingenuous — after all, last issue he seems quite callous and oblivious to his actions. I suppose besides being the world’s stretchiest human and a great detective, we should also consider him a world-class actor? I don’t care for these kinds of mysteries where we don’t get to see all the clues, or am I just that unobservant?
Ralph says at one point that he’s waited a while to get Neron present, and it wasn’t to make a deal with it. Did he figure out some way to get to be with Sue if Neron was his murderer? And I loved the panel showing the smile on his face as he died, telling Neron, “I got you …”. It was a very low-key version of “I’m not locked in here with you; you’re locked in here with me!”
I found the final page scene confusing. Fire picks up Ralph’s wedding ring? Why was it there, four days later? Why is Fire (whom we haven’t seen since issue 4, I believe) at the gravesite? Did she and Ralph have a friendship from their time on the Justice League (I really don’t know — that era of Justice League history is foreign to me)? Or is this signaling the next chapter in Ralph’s “life”?
The Origin of Green Arrow
By Waid, McDaniel, Owens, Sinclair, Lanham, Richards, Schaefer, and Siglain
Every time I see Green Arrow in his Silver Age costume, I think how much I miss the red gloves. Reading this origin, I also want to read more about Oliver’s time as mayor of Star City.