52! Week Thirty-Four

By Johns, Morrison, Rucka, Waid, Giffen, Bennett, Jose, Baron, 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!).


“Suicidal Tendencies”

Week 34, Day 1

The Suicide Squad watches for and then engages the Black Adam family.

Week 34, Day 3

The two groups fight, and Osiris pleads for Black Adam not to kill them, but when Persuader chops Isis’ face, Osiris is the one who murders the villain. The family leaves, and Amanda Waller tells her team that she got what she wanted.

Week 34, Day 4

The Infinity, Inc. women shop for clothes for an upcoming New Year’s Eve party and Barbara Gordon (Oracle) makes it so that chaperone Mercy Graves’ card is declined, separating her from the girls, specifically Natasha Irons. Disguised as security, John Henry Irons provides some facts about Luthor’s Everyman Project, challenging his niece to “draw your own conclusions”.

Week 34, Day 5

Clark Kent is injected with a truth serum and asked why Superman is masquerading as Supernova. Kent laughs and tells them truthfully, “he’s not Superman”.

Week 34, Day 7

Charlie is at St. Luke’s in Gotham City and Renee Montoya receives word from the doctor that the end is near. She sits with Charlie, who sings “Danny Boy” quietly, as she watches the New Year’s Eve countdown. Elsewhere, a Luthor employee tells Luthor that they have verified that Kent is telling the truth. An irritated Luthor goes up the roof, seeing his Everymen flying through the sky and glances down at the paper that confirms again that he is not compatible with the Everyman Treatment. He decides to make it so Supernova, who is “winning too many [Metropolitans] hearts”, fails “in the face of a real challenge”. As the city counts down to the new year, and Charlie dies, Luthor ominously presses a remote button.


I like this simple cover with the question mark on the toe-tag — it’s quite effective.

So we have another timing error (something that didn’t happen that often in this series, at least so far). For some reason, they tagged Day 1 and Day 3 in the same scene. I sincerely doubt the fight between the Black Adam family (I know they refer to them as the Black Marvel family, but I prefer my name) and the Suicide Squad lasted three days. I suspect that Day 1 was just supposed to be the Squad surveilling and then engaging on Day 3. Also, I found the “tickling” between Electrocutioner and Plastique gross. I’m sure that when I first read this issue that I minorly freaked out at the first (and final) appearance of the Persuader in the 21st century. I know the L.E.G.I.O.N. book was fond of directly connecting events and characters (if only as ancestors) to their 31st century counterparts, but did they really need to in this case?

I wonder if Geoff Johns was aping himself (I assume Johns is responsible for this part of 52) when he had Osiris body slam Persuader into bloody bits? Orisis’ anguish at being the one who murders as his step-father has done before, while he implored Adam not to earlier, was affecting, as was the the panels showing Isis comforting him in shadow and rain. Finally, has anyone noticed that Sobek is getting bigger and more menacing looking? Or is it just how the individual artists are portraying the character? He’s also speaking much more confidently — I wonder what this means…?

I have long complained about the Irons family drama in these issues, but what is it about what John says to Natasha that elicits her worried reaction? Is it just the way he delivers his message (which should have happened a long time ago)? Ugh!

I love that part of Metropolis’ New Year’s Eve celebration is dropping a Superman shield instead of a traditional Times Square-like ball (or an “L”, if Luthor got his way). I also liked the overlapping images of all the flying characters (Superman analogs), the countdown, Charlie dying, and Luthor’s pressing the button, presumably (and if memory serves) to negate the powers of everyone outside. Though, just on the surface, the villain pressing a button is hardly a dramatic close to an issue. This part of the ending really overshadowed the death of the Question, though I enjoyed the way they portray the passing of the mantle with Charlie singing “Danny Boy”: “It’s you, It’s you must go and I must bide”.

The Origin of Zatanna

By Waid, Bolland, Lanham, Richards, Schaefer, and Siglain

My first exposure to Zatanna was from a JLA cover (#161) where she wore the more traditional superhero costume — skintight outfit with a cape — and that very tight and long ponytail. I would only see her in what is considered her traditional outfit later, as shown in this issue. And then I found out that she wore what her father wore and I thought that was kind of dumb. Well, now I’m the dummy because I love this look now, especially how Brian Bolland draws the character.

Here it is mentioned that Zatanna’s magic is genetically inherited — I wonder if this aspect was ever explored because the idea of magic and science melded in this way is fascinating to me.

This origin references her (retconned) involvement in Identity Crisis where she mind-wipes the League’s enemies (one of the lowest points in their history), which tarnishes her for a while.

Birds of Prey: Of Like Minds, Part 2

Direct Download (1:58:09)

Nerd Goggles podcast host MJ and I continue our discussion of Birds of Prey: Of Like Minds, issues 58 through 61, by Gail Simone, Ed Benes. Alex Lei, Rob Lea, Hi-Fi, John E. Workman, Jared Fletcher, and Lysa Hawkins. If you haven’t listened to Part 1 of the discussion yet (where I interview MJ for a bit before we discuss issues 56 and 57 of the series), you can find it at https://wp.me/pZkAx-1Pd.

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

Thanks for listening!


Birds of Prey: Of Like Minds, Part 1

Direct Download (2:00:57)

Nerd Goggles podcast host MJ joins me to discuss (among other things) her podcast, comic book origin story, the pitfalls of social media, and the role of criticism in Art.

Then (at the 41:51 mark) we begin our discussion of Birds of Prey: Of Like Minds, issues 56 and 57, by Gail Simone, Ed Benes. Alex Lei, Rob Lea, Hi-Fi, John E. Workman, Jared Fletcher, and Lysa Hawkins. Please join us next episode for our discussion on issues 58-61.

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

Thanks for listening!


RandoMonday: Nightwing Annual #2

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

Nightwing annual 2
Nightwing Annual #2 (2007) by Marc Andreyko (writer), Joe Bennett (penciller), Jack Jadson (inker), Phil Balsman (letterer), Jason Wright (colorist), Rachel Gluckstern (assoc. editor), Joan Hilty (editor), and Bennet and Jadson (cover)

You can probably guess that I like this annual. Batgirl and Robin are on the cover, and the whole story focuses on Bab’s and Dick’s relationship over the years. It starts off with Dick proposing during the Infinite Crisis. Nightwing gets hurt, and Barbara Gordon nurses him back to health. Along the way they reminisce about their adventures together, but the story focuses on their growing feelings for one another. In one scene, Robin confesses his love to a “sleeping” Batgirl. She admits to Dick later that she had waited too long to respond, and he ended up with Koriand’r. After she was shot by the Joker, Dick shows up at her place, they make love, and the Dick tells Barbara that he’s engaged to Kory. Needless to say, Babs isn’t pleased. Also, I know that Dick has had intense feelings for Babs, but to sleep with her when he’s engaged to Kory doesn’t strike me as true to his character–it comes across as a convenient excuse to tear these two apart for a long while. At this point in the story, Batman shows up asking Dick to accompany him and Tim Drake on a world-wide trip to regroup and reconnect (did DC ever publish a story detailing what the Bat family did on that year-long trip?). It’s then that Barbara gives Dick back the engagement ring, telling him to propose after he’s found himself again and when he can fully commit to them. He leaves her a letter and the ring, promising to return to her. The last panel shows Babs looking at the ring and saying that she’s going to hold Dick to that promise. Unfortunately, that never happened. My (dim) recollection is that TPTB at DC never allowed that relationship, and by extension, the marriage to go any further. More’s the pity.

The art on this book is above average. I think the way that they drew Robin was a little too goofy for my taste (and the whole scene of them being trapped in a safe and the resulting shtick of Robin hiding a boner with his cape–come on), plus Robin looked much older than he should have been in the timeline being shown. Barbara, however, is shown very nicely throughout, albeit seemingly one age as well. Perhaps I’m being too critical. After all, this timeline is only about three years from when the two are first shown together in the story and when Kory makes an appearance. I just wish most artists wouldn’t draw teenagers as adults all the time.