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….

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 Thirty

By Johns, Morrison, Rucka, Waid, Giffen, Bennett, Jose, Baron, Balsman, Fletcher, Richards, Schaefer, Wacker, 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

“Dark Knight Down”

Week 30, Day 1

Nightwing and Robin search for Batman, discovering his cape and cowl, but no Bruce Wayne.

Kate Kane has her doctor friend treat Charlie at her apartment and offers to let him and Renee stay as long as they need to. Later, while Kate goes out to search for Mannheim, Renee stays with Charlie, meditating.

Robin discovers enough weapons “that could start World Wars 3, 4, and 5”. He tells Nightwing that he will talk to Bruce, and Nightwing tells Robin that he is “going back to work”.

Week 30, Day 3

In the desert, Bruce Wayne encounters a member of the Ten-Eyed Brothers and they fight. Once Bruce has defeated him, other Brothers appear, telling him as they raise their swords, “If you flinch. If you shudder. You will not survive.” “Do it,” he tells them. Later, Robin finds Bruce kneeling in the sand. Bruce tells him that the Brothers kill demons and he asked them to kill his. “It’s over,” he says. “Batman is gone.”

Week 30, Day 7

Batwoman fights and interrogates the man-beasts for Mannheim’s whereabouts, when Nightwing arrives to help. He offers to help, and Batwoman accepts.

Thoughts

I spent more time researching this cover than any other so far. It looked so clearly like an homage to a classical work of art that I had seen before, but could not recall. I even went to Comics Twitter for help! The best match I could find was a work by Italian Renaissance painter Raphael, Saint Michael Vanquishing Satan. Regardless of the inspiration, this is a beautiful cover that pulls from classical, religious imagery, with Bruce Wayne vanquishing the “demon” Batman, similar to how the Archangel Michael vanquishes the devil in Raphael’s painting, with the addition of the Eye of God (?) in the background. The image of Bruce in his costume, but without the cowl, also reminds me of when Bruce Wayne was lost in time during Final Crisis, but that would be a few years away at this point.

Seeing Batman, both in flashback and when we see Bruce Wayne, was a bit jarring, but I’m surprised, given how Batman-happy DC has been for decades, it’s taken this long to get him and other members of the Batfam into the story. But I do love the first few pages as Nightwing describes his time as Robin and how the artists portrayed the cascading craziness and events in Batman’s life, from Robin’s death, to Joker shooting Barbara, to Bane breaking Batman’s back, and the rest (though the panel showing him holding a gun to someone’s head is foreign to me…). While I enjoy a Nightwing/Robin team-up normally, I would have preferred a return to the Cult of Conner plot or more with Ralph. However, seeing Bruce Wayne declaring that Batman is gone while the sun rises behind him (signifying a cleansing, a renewal) almost makes this breach of 52 contract worthwhile.

Speaking of team-ups, again, I would normally quite enjoy Nightwing joining forces with, well, anyone, but his male gazing of Batwoman was quite cringe-worthy. I assume Rucka wrote this sequence, but I find it hard to believe that given when Dick says Batwoman is quite the eyeful and “What can I say? I have a thing for redheads.” Later, Dick is clearly ogling Batwoman’s chest. Blech.

I’ve spent far too much on the bat family here, so I will end with my appreciation of the panel showing Renee meditating with Charlie smiling in the background. The affection between these two characters is one of the highlights of this series.

The Origin of the Metal Men

By Waid, Rouleau, Sinclair, Balsam, Richards, Schaefer, Wacker, and Siglain

I’ve never been much of a Metal Men fan, but this entry taught me that Elementics is a thing in the DC Universe. Magnus’ invention of the Responsometer is one of those comic book conceits that should be a much bigger deal than it is shown to be, but then, the Metal Men have often been depicted as comedy relief, undercutting the invention.

When it comes to the Metal Men’s “powers”, Gold is described as “infinitely ductile”, but interestingly, platinum is considered the most ductile metal. Also, Tin is “remarkably malleable”, but gold is considered the most malleable metal (all according to my google search anyway). I wonder if any creators have played with these differences?

There is a reference of the Metal Men being able to “alloy themselves” — presumably to join together as a giant robot (I vaguely recall seeing this in some comic book)? I just appreciate the use of the word “alloy” in that context.

Comic Book Memories

Direct Download (30:41)

I talk about the following comics that elicit some special and specific memories for me:

Original video: https://youtu.be/HF7NKCqXXJw

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

Thanks for listening!

Robin 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular!

Direct Download (1:12:58)

Robin 80th

Holy octogenarian! Robin the Boy Wonder turns 80?! This episode I discuss the stories, pinups, and other items in the Robin 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular!

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

Thanks for listening!

Links: