52! Week Fifty-One

By Johns, Morrison, Rucka, Waid, Giffen, Bennett, Jadson, Brabo, Baron, Leigh, 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

“Homecoming”

Week 51, Day 1

Animal Man arrives on Earth and reunites with his wife and kids.

Week 51, Day 2

People gather at Superboy’s memorial to commemorate his sacrifice a year earlier. Diana Prince, Bruce Wayne, and Clark Kent are in attendance, as well as a number of superheroes.

Week 51, Day 3

On Rann, Adam Strange’s sight has returned. Some Green Lanterns question him about what he saw and what happened to the Emerald Eye of Ekron. But Adam leaves to be reunited with his family and the Green Lanterns go off to deal with the fire creatures plaguing Ranagar.

Week 51, Day 4

Lobo returns to the Thrice-Perfected One to offer it the Emerald Eye as requested. Lobo asks the Fish God to release him from his pacifist vows and why it wanted the Eye. The Fish God tells him that the Eye “is the only weapon in the universe which can kill me”. Lobo says, “Ya don’t say…” and the Eye fires on the Fish God.

Week 51, Day 6

The Bakers are having a get-together with friends when aliens arrive at the front door, yelling, “Bounty for Lady Styx! Die! Die! Die!” Starfire arrives, blasting them. She offers Ellen Buddy’s jacket and then collapses.

Week 51, Day 7

Skeets arrives at T. O. Morrow’s Rocky Mountain complex wanting the map that Red Tornado created when he saw “the garden”. Rip Hunter thanks Morrow for luring Skeets there. Skeets explains that he isn’t “Skeets”, but a transformed Mr. Mind who is “so hungry [he] could eat a universe!”

Rip commands Booster to grab what’s left of Skeets while he grabs Red Tornado’s head, and they leave in the time sphere, going “Back to where it all started”.

Thoughts

The ticker on the cover returns and breaks the fourth wall by declaring “51 issues down and one more to go”. Was that really necessary? Also, I love how the gears “falling” out of Red Tornado’s head represent different Earths — it’s a good visual and great coloring.

I like how Buddy is literally glowing with sun energy when he appears in front of Ellen, but is there radiation to be concerned about? It’s certainly a reason to not see them embrace, and I find that curious. Is this supposed to represent the distance still present in their relationship? Buddy seems uncharacteristically confident in this scene, and I wonder if that continues elsewhere.

The DC Database website points out that the Superboy memorial occurs before the one-year mark (as shown in issue 1). Considering that World War III just occurred, and I’m sure many more people were killed or affected in some way, this memorial doesn’t seem like it would be as important as shown? I know it’s a device to circle us back to the beginning and to establish the return of the Trinity, but it lessons the authenticity of the universe we’ve seen thus far. Another thing that doesn’t quite work for me is the scene between Ravager and Kid Devil. I know it’s to provide some explanation as to why those characters had been in the Teen Titans during the year, but it just seemed shoe-horned in. However, this scene reminded me that I need to seek out the issues in which Donna Troy has taken on the Wonder Woman mantle. Also, we are explicitly told why Tim Drake’s Robin costume is now red and black: he looks up at Superboy’s statue and says, “They were his colors”. I really like that tribute and had forgotten it for the last 15 years!

I know this is just a timing thing, but having just finished the Gerads/Shaner/King Strange Adventures series and seeing the reunion of Adam with Alanna and Aleea in this issue is … bittersweet?

So what does Lobo do with the Emerald Eye of Ekron after this series?

Finally, I had forgotten that we got the Mr. Mind reveal in this issue, so this surprised me. And boy were they channeling the ending of Back to the Future with this cliffhanger, huh? I’m really looking forward to the conclusion of this story and the revelations within!

The Origin of the Justice League of America

By Waid, Reis, Albert, Sinclair, Leigh, Richards, Schaefer, and Siglain

Reis/Albert do a great job of making the Appellaxians look menacing (but Superman’s legs look a little wonky in panel 3). I always liked the idea that it was a honor for a hero to be invited to join the League, but the ones who aren’t invited have to be a little upset by not getting an invitation, right? And what is the criteria for being offered membership? Has the League in the comic books ever done a Justice League Unlimited-type approach where every hero is a member and are called on when those powers or skills are required for a mission? That could make for an interesting set of stories over time….

Episode 200! Justice League of America vs Amazing Spider-Man

Direct Download (1:19:12)

It’s episode 200!!! To celebrate this monumental moment, I present to you, my dear listeners, two titanic team-ups (of sorts) in the grandest superhero tradition! It’s JLA vs JLA and the Spider vs the Burglar! It’s Justice League of America #200 vs Amazing Spider-Man #200! It’s two for the price of … 200? Whatever, I’m a podcaster, not a mathematician. Enjoy!

Other issue #200 comic books mentioned:

  • World’s Finest Comics
  • Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes
  • The Superman Family
  • The Brave and the Bold
  • Daredevil
  • Green Lantern
  • Wonder Woman
  • Hellblazer

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

Thanks for listening!

RandoMonday: Justice League of America #11

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

Justice League of America (2006) #11 by Brad Meltzer, Gene Ha, Rob Leigh, Art Lyon, Adam Schlagman, and Eddie Berganza, with cover by Michael Turner and Peter Steigerwald

This has always been one of my favorite issues of the Brad Meltzer written JLA. I first read this in the trade collection, and in large part because of this issue and that I loved the relaunch of this title so much, I went and bought all of the single issues. This is a gripping done-in-one story focusing on Red Arrow and Vixen. A building has collapsed and they are both trapped inside. A lot of the story is Roy Harper assessing the situation and convincing Vixen to use her powers to get them free. Vixen, unfortunately, comes across as the damsel in distress and is a disservice to the character, but it does also show that heroes sometimes have feet of clay. I just think they could have easily reversed the roles, especially because of Red Arrow’s past and his anxiety over orphaning his daughter, and the story would have been just as strong, though the ending would need to be tweaked.

Ha’s and Lyon’s art really worked well to convey the claustrophobic nature of the story. There’s a reference to smoke where they are trapped and the grainy way the colors are shown really accentuates that aspect. The pacing of this story is top notch. The first page is mostly black panels with jagged borders and dialog boxes with gray text to give us what happened before page one. As each panel progresses, we see more and more of Red Arrow on the right as they situation is revealed to us, and when you turn the page, there’s a two-page spread reveal. The next few pages build the tension as Red Arrow attempts to locate how close Vixen is to himself. Then there’s another reveal demonstrating just how bad things are for the characters.

The rest of the issue is mostly discovery: that Vixen’s powers have changed and is why she can’t call upon a burrowing animal to help them escape, and, in another full-page reveal, that they are trapped upside down in the rubble. The following page is again mostly black panels with text, but the dialog boxes start off upside down and turn as you read each panel, simulating the movement of the characters in total darkness. Of course, they finally escape, and the issue ends with them ascending in the water as the panels fade to black again, just as they issue started. The dialog of the people who spot them ends with, “Sure that’s them?” “Definitely them.” “The ones who saved us.” I like it when the heroic efforts of our costumed heroes are appreciated.

Finally, there’s a few Titans references Red Arrow throws out, further endearing me to this story, such as when Dick trained him to breath and focus in a crisis situation, just as Batman had trained Dick, and Red Arrow compares the trembling in Vixen’s voice to Gar (Changeling) when he lost Terra. I love when writers/artists throw in continuity stuff, thus building a larger narrative. It’s called the DCU for a reason! :)

Podcast Episode 85: First Impressions – DC Comics

DC Comics has put out a lot of new stuff recently, so I talk about

  • Doctor Fate
  • Martian Manhunter
  • We Are Robin
  • Robin, Son of Batman
  • Justice League of America
  • The Omega Men
  • Earth 2: Society
  • Constantine, The Hellblazer

Please send your comments to longboxreview@gmail.com, chat with me @longboxreview on Twitter, or visit longboxreview.com. Please subscribe, rate, and review the show via iTunes.

Thanks for listening!

Direct Download (58:10)

 

RandoMonday: JLA: Year One tpb

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

JLA: Year One tpb by Mark Waid, Brian Augustyn, & Barry Kitson (storytellers), Michael Bair, Barry Kitson, Mark Propst, & John Stokes (i), Patrick Garrahy (c), Ken Lopez (l), & Barry Kitson (cover)

There was so much about the 1990s superhero comics that I missed out on, and this one of the better stories that I later found in trade. This collection of the 12-issue series retells the Justice League of America’s origin story, but goes way beyond the original Appelaxians invasion plot from Brave and the Bold #28; in fact, it follows them for what is ostensibly a year after that momentous gathering. Along the way, they have to foil another Appellaxian invasion, and deal with the press, themselves, and their supporting casts. There are a lot of great little character bits as well, such as Aquaman mumbling all of the time because sound travels further underwater, thus not requiring such volume when speaking. The only bad part about that was that it was repeated several times throughout the issues. Another great moment was when Green Lantern is told he isn’t the leader of the team, and that Flash is. Speaking of Flash, he and Black Canary (who is taking the post-Crisis place of Wonder Woman in this tale) start to develop feelings for one another and even kiss at one point.

I also enjoyed the mystery of who was financially backing the newly formed JLA (and it’s probably not your first guess), something that we find out in the very last pages (but I won’t spoil it for you). Then there’s the part involving J’Onn, where he has kept files on all of his teammates, as well as any other superhero he’s encountered. Of course, this doesn’t go over too well with the team. It was also something that was touched on in the “Tower of Babel” story from JLA a few years later. All good stuff, especially if you like adding dimensions to material that is decades old.

The art of the series is mostly very good, but some inkers don’t mesh well with Kitson’s art, I’m afraid. Regardless, I highly recommend reading this series, especially as a trade.