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!).
“Deaths in the Family”
Week 44, Day 1
Black Adam is struck by lightning, and he tells Isis that Osiris’s power has returned to him. They find Amon dead and Sobek reveals that he is Yurrd, the Unknown, also known as Famine. The other three Horsemen of Apokolips arrive and attack the couple. Black Adam breaks Yurrd’s mouth, and Pestilence infects Isis with its disease. Death is about to kill her when Adam uses one of War’s guns to stop it. He kills Pestilence, and Isis then calls up lava to help Adam against Death, who then flees. Before she dies, Isis tells Adam he was right and that he should avenge her and Amon.
In Nanda Parbat, Renee knows that Isis has died when the flower the demi-goddess gave her wilts away. When she wonders how Adam and Osiris will cope, Tot and Richard Dragon tells her to find out. Tot gives her Charlie’s hat and coat, but she rejects the notion, “I’m not going to be him”. Dragon convinces her that some questions “can only be answered by wearing a mask,” and she dons the hat, a tear falling down her cheek.
I love this cover — the blood on the white background, the reflection of Isis in her brother’s blood — it’s an indication and a portent. I’d love to know how Jones and Sinclair created the splatter and spray — is it just Photoshop brushes?
So the whole Oolong Island machinations were because Black Adam refused Intergang’s offer in issue 3? What of the Darkseid connection and the Crime Bible? This just looks more like crime family squabbling, but I suppose DC needed to revert Adam somehow. How many times will they continue to play with that toy? It’s become a specific Black Adam trope (they’re doing it now in Justice League). Also, I felt it was too easy for Isis to tell Adam, you were right, destroy the evil in the world and avenge us. Or would that be hackneyed to have Adam struggle against his baser nature and his wife’s dying plea to not succumb to pain and rage?
RIP Isis, we hardly knew ye. It’s especially poignant because at the time of this writing, JoAnna Cameron, who played the character on The Secrets of Isis television series, died within the last week. I would have loved to have seen this character interact more with the larger DCU. I know they brought the character back, but I doubt she’s the same. Perhaps I will seek out her other appearances (including the 1970s The Mighty Isis series).
Last post, I described Sobek biting Amon’s head off as he tried to speak Black Adam’s name, but in this issue, Amon’s head is still attached. Also, given Sobek’s hunger, I would have expected there to be less of Amon intact. Perhaps DC editorial didn’t want to go too bloody (the cover notwithstanding).
As for the arrival of the other Horsemen of Apokolips or Monster Society or whatever, they are pretty much a nothing burger, aren’t they? Sure, two of them kill a super being each (well, one really), but four of them couldn’t take out Black Adam, so they are hardly the threat I think the Oolong scientists thought they were. Perhaps I’m missing something and should go read 52 Aftermath: The Four Horsemen? (Probably not.) Also, I hoped to have some connection with Veronica Cale given her tears at the sight of these creatures when they left Oolong Island (issue 38). Perhaps that’s to come, but I would have preferred that to the end scene with Renee sort of donning the guise of the Question. I do appreciate, however, that when she puts on the hat, her face is partially obscured, foreshadowing the inevitable (and obvious). It is the last vestige of her as simply Renee Montoya, much like it’s the last remnant of Black Adam, benevolent ruler.
I feel like I have wondered in these posts if the Marvel family members shared the power, meaning that Captain Marvel is actually weaker because Marvel Jr and Mary have a part of his power. This seems to have been confirmed because when Amon died, Black Adam is hit by lightning (which is a nice visual for that) and he tells Isis that “I feel … stronger. [Osiris’s powers] have returned to me.” Maybe this is well known to Shazam-o-philes, but I had always been curious.
Finally, this issue contains a house ad for the series, asking us if we have solved the mystery. There are pictures of characters representing the major storylines of the series, with Rip Hunter’s crazy chalkboard in the background. I reviewed my post about issue 6 where those chalkboards appeared and while some things have been revealed since then, there really hasn’t been a resolution to a lot of the items, meaning there’s a whole lot of revelation needing to happen in the next eight issues.