With DC starting another weekly series and Figs anxious to continue his Morrrison-athon, this seems like a good time to take a look back at 52.

 

<SPOILER ALERT> .... Due to the amount of plot building and foreshadowing in this series, spoilers aplenty will be tossed about. You have been warned. ... <SPOILER ALERT>

 

DC has tried the weekly comic format a number of times. 

 

The granddaddy of DC's weeklies would be the Millennium crossover series.  I suspect this was issued weekly because DC wanted to confine its annual crossover to the summer.  Millennium started off with a bang but ran out of steam quickly after the initial Manhunter reveals.  One could argue that the story was forced to move too slowly to wait for each monthly to have a crossover.  In any case, DC’s takeaway was that another format would work better for their crossovers.

 

DC’s next weekly project was Action Comics Weekly.  This was run as an oversized anthology title with six different features; a Superman 2 pager, a Green Lantern 8 page lead, and four rotating 8 page features.  After 42 issues ACW was reformatted back to a regular length title, once again spotlighting Superman.  A number of the features received new titles and minis but DC did not try an anthology title again until the Showcase series in the 90s.

 

The triangle Superman titles were DC’s next go at weekly storytelling.  DC had four titles that were telling Superman stories, Superman, Action, Adventures of Superman, and Superman: Man of Steel, and they decided that rather than having each creative team look for a different perspective to differentiate their title, they’d have each storyline continue from one title to the next.  To make sure there were no gap weeks, Superman: The Man of Tomorrow was added to cover 5th weeks.  This system required lots of coordination and editorial control but lasted for a number of years, until the titles had a reason to separate after the death of Superman.

 

It was many years before DC tried another weekly, finally giving it a go with 52.  52 was a comic that DC put a lot of resources towards, essentially putting five of their top writers on one comic.  Greg Rucka, Mark Waid, Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, and Keith Giffen crafted an anthology comic of interweaving stories set during a time the rest of DC’s line was restricted from using, except through flashbacks.  The comic was supposed to chronicle what went on during a missing year, and did to some degree, but ultimately wound up focussing more on the stories of its lead characters.  DC intended to have a puzzle that would be filled in, showing how the one year later status quos came about, causing fans to become more invested in their characters.  Fans became invested in 52 and its focus characters, making 52 DC’s most successful weekly to date, allowing most of the key characters to spin off into either minis or ongoings, and showing that people will read both weeklies and anthologies if the circumstances are right.

 

After the success of 52, DC almost immediately started another weekly, Countdown (To Final Crisis).  Once again, Countdown was set up as an interweaving anthology.  This time, the series was set up with one main writer and in the same time frame as the rest of the DCU.  Whereas 52 was off on its own, Countdown made a concerted effort to act as a “spine” for DCU current events.  This proved to be unwieldy for continuity and unsatisfying as a story.  Countdown proved to be a critical failure, mostly ignored going forward.  However, sales were high enough that DC decided to try another weekly the next year, Kurt Busiek’s Trinity.

 

Trinity was a more focussed story, with bigger name characters to increase its draw.  It initially focussed on the relationship between Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman but quickly veered into an alternate reality story about how the DCU would differ if Supes, Bats, and WW were removed.  By going with an alternate reality story, Trinity removed the need to coordinate with the rest of the DCU, however, it also became less “important” in the context of the DCU.  Ultimately, Trinity didn’t do as well as its predecessors, whether this was due to problems with the story or because Countdown poisoned the well is debatable.

 

The next weekly from DC was a departure in format, the broadsheet comic, Wednesday Comics.  This was an anthology set up like newspaper comic strips of old rather than comic books.  This had big names, working on varied characters, over a shorter time frame.  Each strip had its own flavour as the creative teams were varied and were not bound by comic book continuity.  Although, widely considered a creative success, more volumes have not been forthcoming.

 

This leads us to DC’s latest attempt at a weekly comic, Before Watchmen.  Before Watchmen is different from its predecessors as it’s more accurately 7 minis with a common backup and trade dress.  It remains to be seen if the backup will in some way relate to the other stories or if the minis will have any themes in common beyond working towards Watchmen.  Regardless though, with its scheduling and a backup that requires all the minis for the full story, this has to be seen as a type of weekly comic.

 

So, as DC turns away from the interweaving anthology weekly in favour of linked mini series, the time has come to take a look back at 52 to determine what made it so uniquely successful.

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Richard Willis said:

I guess it would have been clearer if I had said "didn't increase fast enough in the regular titles after 52."

Of course, it's remarkable that they could pull off this level of quality and consistency for an entire year of weekly comics. After they took a breath it was probably hard to bring that back.

P.S.: I enjoyed it in particular because of the emphasis on the less-well-known heroes. 

Richard Willis said:

When I was reading 52 it seemed very well constructed. Is the reason that they dumped it all that the sales didn't increase fast enough?

 

 

I guess they kept relying on the short-term fan-grabbing shocks, and the 'badass and awesome' approach, to try to bump up their sales in the run up down to the New 52, rather than the patient world-building and humane, character-focused work that we are seeing here in 52. It's clear that the creative 'supergroup' driving 52 had a very different view of what made for good popular comics than did TPTB at DC in this era. (I know Johns had a foot in both camps, but whatever!) It's no wonder that two of them bailed shortly after 52, and the other one paddled his own defiantly individual canoe within the DCU.

Come to that, Steve Wacker seems to have been a lynchpin in 52, and they lost him even before 52 reached its halfway point, I think. But we won't read too much into that.

As an aside, and reflecting again on how each of the team shored up the others' weaknesses, Final Crisis might have had a better shot at pleasing a few more people and being more widely appreciated if it had had the same iron discipline in getting all the issues out on time as 52 had! (Yes, it would still be Final Crisis, and deeply problematic as such, but maybe it wouldn't have worn out the patience of less committed readers as quickly.)

(Image courtesy of comicbookdb.com)

52 #21 - Teambuilding Exercises

 

Day 1: In Metropolis, Natasha pleads Eliza’s case to Lex and he decides to reinstate her to the team.  Meanwhile, on another mystic plane, Ralph deals with a guard demon to gain access to the underworld.              

 

Day 3: The Infinity Inc. team battles Blockbuster in Las Vegas while Luthor watches and prepares “the show” for broadcast.  Just after Blockbuster is subdued, the Teen Titans make the scene.  The two teams take to arguing and Luthor takes the opportunity to remotely grant Blockbuster extra power while cutting Eliza’s.  During the ensuing battle, Eliza is killed.  

 

Day 6: A funeral is held for Eliza.  Steel attempts to approach his niece but is rebuffed, however, Beast Boy wants to hear what he has to say.

 

Day 7: A mechanic in Australia puts the finishing touches on an “artistic” body for the Red Tornado head.

 

The new Infinity Inc. takes centre stage this issue, giving us a lot to think about while telling us a chilling little tale of Luthor’s evil.  Much of this issue is a reaction to issue 17, where Luthor’s team expressed some initial concerns.  The team wanted distinctive costumes and codenames, so Luthor obtained the trademarks to Infinity Inc. from the Pemberton Estate.  Eliza mouthed off about Luthor’s controlling ways, so first she had to apologize to be forgiven and accepted back into the fold, then she was manoeuvered into a fatal situation, (as Luthor is not the forgiving type).  Luthor had been grooming the team for branding purposes to maximize its marketing possibilities, so when the team becomes more of a distinct entity, the newly acquired brand name is shepherded and protected through controlled media exposure and having at least half of the members adhere to codenames associated with the brand.  That the comic could be such an extensive reaction to another issue while still telling such a complete story is a true testament to the writing team’s ability.

 

It seems like most of Infinity Inc. are more interested in climbing a celebrity hierarchy than in being heroes. We find out that Eliza idol worships the Flash family.  She wants to follow in her idols’ footsteps and won’t feel she’s “hit the big time” until she becomes a member of the Titans, bearing a name associated with the Flash family; (rather than assuming her own identity, she feels the Titans need to give her the ID she wants).  Likewise, many of her teammates have assumed the identities of former heroes instead of blazing their own paths.  When the Titans call them on this, they feel justified, despite having no legacy connection, because Luthor owns the trademarks and has granted them these identities.  Even while questioning the Infinitors, the newer members of the Titans show this same attitude, with Little Barda suggesting that legacies aspire to move up as well.  Just before she’s killed, Eliza shows signs of asserting her own will, claiming the title of Kid Flash without it being granted, thus questioning the celebrity hierarchy, (and yet she’s still bound by it, as the name she chooses for herself is a legacy name).

 

Other items of note:

 

- Ralph turns the tables and ties someone else into knots.

- Natasha downplays the Titans, showing a shift in desire from the beginning of the series to now.  (One could almost see this as a metaphor for aspiring comic creators.  First wanting to play with the toys, then, after having gained more experience, wanting to strike off on a more original path.)

- Luthor makes a meta in-joke, complaining about lame dialogue from the four writers.

- Fury seems to be on the way to turning a chip on his shoulder into prejudice against the “blood brats”.  (Luthor’s influence or does this simmer under the surface of DC earth?)

- Lex takes a page from the Booster Gold play book and provides his own villain.  (Is this the logical extension for all super heroes that aspire to be celebrities?)

- Eliza’s funeral contrasts sharply with Booster’s funeral in issue 18.  (A celebrity going out on top.)

 

Best Lines:

“Looks like time for Nuklon to go nuclear!”

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“I know, and we had four writers.”

(Image courtesy of comicbookdb.com)

52 #22 - Burial Ground

 

Day 1: Luthor reviews taped footage of Supernova’s appearances in an attempt to discern the hero’s identity.  He ultimately rejects his flunky’s conclusion and decides that Supernova must be Superman in disguise.

 

Day 2: Jon Standing Bear travels by bus to Metropolis, beating up a pervert en route.

 

Day 3: Luthor has genetic tests run and is shown to have a negative compatibility for the “Everyman Treatment”.

 

Day 4: Jon Standing Bear attends his father’s funeral and inherits his father’s Super-Chief talismans.  His grandfather requests that Jon help him commit suicide.  Jon complies.

 

Day 5: At a public function, a man accosts Luthor claiming that Luthor removes the “Everyman” powers from those that don’t stay subservient to him.  The man is laughed off and kicked out of the function but Steel approaches him for more information.  A kidnapping attempt is made on Doctor Magnus.  Magnus is “rescued” by a different party of kidnappers.

 

This was a bit of a quiet issue that put some pieces in motion for Luthor, Super-Chief, and Doc Magnus. 

 

It appears that Luthor has transferred the Superman shaped hole in his life over to Supernova.  Supernova then magnifies Luthor’s ire by striking a Superman like pose outside Luthor’s window.  (As there was no apparent reason for this, it’s one of the very few times in the series that something was done just to get the plot to move from point A to point B.)  This extra motivation convinces Lex to get himself tested and verify he’s not a suitable candidate for the Everyman Treatment.  Thus, while Luthor can turn powers on and off for a lot of people, it seems he doesn’t have the option himself.

 

Jon Standing Bear is introduced this issue in what seems like a deliberate effort to reintroduce a character for the long haul.  Super-Chief is not a product of the Everyman Program or the mainstream society in general.  He shows disinterest in the program, advising the girl he saves that he doesn’t want to fly, he would only fall.  When he does discover his equipment, the articles and powers are couched in cultural terms, a sky stone instead of a meteorite, the strength of a thousand bears and the speed of a thousand running deer instead of in terms we’d normally expect.  Even his definition of a hero is somewhat skewed from normal, as his very first act upon gaining the talismans is to help his grandfather commit suicide.  So, we have a relatively unique hero stepping forward with a strong back story, different perspective, and who’s already had a third of an issue to himself.  He’ll be around a while, right? ;)

 

(The interplay between the girl and Jon is a phenomenally far reaching snippet of dialogue. “Don’t you want to fly too?” “ I’d only fall.”  This sets up that he’s not interested in the Everyman Program, it provides irony in that he winds up getting powers anyway, and it foreshadows his quickly realized death.  Quite an accomplishment for two lines.)

In Doc Magnus’ section, we find out Magnus has rebuilt Mercury.  Unfortunately for the Doctor, Shade has built some inferior versions of Iron, Lead, and Platinum and intend to draft him into their organization.  Magnus manages to fight off Shade and is then “rescued” by some fellow mad scientists.  Who are the good guys again?

 

Other items of note:

- There were a couple of nice Easter eggs in this issue.  Fastback, from the Zoo Crew, is being used as the mascot for the bus company and Silverblade, a comic from the 80's, is being advertised as a movie.

- The news suggests that some of Luthor’s new heroes may be breaking athletic records.  (Part of me really wants to see an Astro City storyline about this.)

- Luthor claims that qualifying for the Everyman Program is means based, yet last issue Nuklon was detailing the hardships his family endured to get him into the program.  Another indication that Luthor takes every advantage to control people when it’s not going to negatively impact his PR.

- Luthor’s disbelief when his flunky suggested that Supernova could be Superboy, while logical and correct, also echoes his disbelief that Superman could be Clark Kent.

- While fighting Iron, Doc Magnus gets to make a lame scientific joke... "Resistance is not an option."

- Magnus gets some mercury on his face while he’s running.

 

Best Lines:

“Get out of here, Ferry, before I get all Themyscira on your ass.”

“I know, and we had four writers.”

Hah!  Well spotted! 

- Natasha downplays the Titans, showing a shift in desire from the beginning of the series to now.  (One could almost see this as a metaphor for aspiring comic creators.  First wanting to play with the toys, then, after having gained more experience, wanting to strike off on a more original path.)

Another personal self-reference to the comics writers perhaps, and the conditions they work under?  I definitely got a certain vibe from the following lines of Little Barda's line : "But maybe one day I'll be the BIG.  We all aspire to be something else, don't we?"  This issue in particular with the cobbled together Teen Titans, and the corporately licenced Infinity Inc, was some kind of commentary on trying to produce something real and lasting and worthwhile from the bits and pieces and secondhand leftovers that comics writers often have to work with.  Especially up-and-coming writers, who have to work with knock-offs and pale imitations for a while before they are allowed to handle the big properties.

There's not one, but two teams of compromised, thrown-together knock-offs and C-listers here. 

And then 52 as a whole is an attempt to see what can be done with characters from below the A-list.  Maybe the break-up of this version of the Teen Titans, and the revelation of how flawed this Infinity Inc is shows us the writers facing up to the worst case scenario for their project?  That they are trying to make a bunch of corporately owned,  arbitrarily thrown-together superheroes into a viable and noble endeavour?  (Rucka Waid and Morrison have all since shown their exasperation with working within DC's corporate/artistic environment.  Maybe Luthor is a stand-in for DiDio, whose reign as EIC was notable for the number of innocent young heroes that got thrown under the bus for the sake of marketing?  :-)  )

I didn't know Power Boy the first time I read 52.  I've since read his few glancing appearances in then-recent Supergirl where he was her Apokalyptian possible love-interest.  That added some enjoyment to seeing his brief role here.

Silverblade, a comic from the 80's, is being advertised as a movie.

I think the 80s Silverblade was refashioned in the 90s as a movie within the DCU whose hero inspired Batman.  James Robinson did an arc of LotDK about it.

The interplay between the girl and Jon is a phenomenally far reaching snippet of dialogue. “Don’t you want to fly too?” “ I’d only fall.”

I haven't read further from this point, but the girl he saves seems to be the 'caucasian female' candidate that Luthor told his scientists to line up as Eliza's replacement last issue. 

They are putting good work into Superchief and Red Tornado, but I vaguely recall that neither storyline goes anywhere.  But that's life sometimes, as Eliza found out last issue...

For what it's worth, the Silverblade comic was about an old actor who was given the power to transform into any character he'd ever played, and in that context, "Silverblade" was a Zorro-type character he'd starred as at his peak.  That would make sense as a DC-owned version of the movie that inspired Batman.

(Image courtesy of comicbookdb.com)

52 #23 - The Island of Professor Morrow

 

Day 1: Doctor Magnus is deposited on Oolong Island with the missing “mad scientists”.

 

Day 5: Montoya and the Question discover a secret Intergang base where children are being brainwashed.  Among the children, they discover Isis’ brother; unfortunately, they are unable to rescue him and are forced to watch as he is crippled.  Subsequently, Black Adam and Isis arrive and destroy the installation.  Isis discovers she cannot heal her brother’s body but Black Adam grants him a portion of his power and he is able to transform, becoming the new hero Osiris.

 

Day 6: With the children rescued from Intergang, Isis determines the next way the Black Marvel Family will “improve the world”...  it involves a trip to China.

 

One of the cover blurbs this issue was, “Renee Montoya - is SHE the Answer?”.  With the benefit of hindsight, we know she’s not the Answer... she’s the Question.  One gets to wonder as we read along, how many plot points were planned out in advance and how many were cobbled together from a sudden inspiration at the last minute?  Despite the cover baiting, it seems like Renee’s eventual assumption of the mantle was always intended.  (But who knows, maybe she was intended to be a different hero trained by the Question and Vic Sage’s death was a last minute decision to give the series and character more impact.)  One thing we can be almost certain of however, is that Osiris was always intended to become a mirror version of Captain Marvel Jr.

 

With this issue, the Black Marvel Family grows by a member.  It’s really at this point that one can’t help but notice the parallels with the Marvel family.  Black Adam has always been a bit of a dark mirror to Captain Marvel, but Isis, a preexisting character who was refashioned for this series, doesn’t really have all that much in common with Mary.  Osiris, on the other hand, is fashioned directly off of the Captain Marvel Jr. template.  Amon is crippled by villains antagonistic to Black Adam, Black Adam grants him a portion of his power by calling on Adam’s name, and the newly empowered Osiris takes his place as the junior member of the Shazam trinity.  So, we have the Black Marvel Family stepping into the publishing void left by the Marvel Family, anti-heroes assuming the mantle, yet now clearly following a Marvel Family template; this created expectation will allow one of the great misdirections of the series.           

 

Also this issue, Whisper quotes from the Crime Bible again.  This time we get a reading from the Epic of Moriarty, (much like the New Testament has books associated with the Apostles).  In the Crime Bible, instead of 40 days of fasting and reflection leading to a victory over temptation and evil, 40 days of beatings break “the Detective”.  (One would assume this refers to Sherlock Holmes but in a DC context one might wonder if they’re hoping for a self-fulfilling prophesy, as Ra’s Al Ghul often refers to Batman as “the Detective”.)  Just what all the young kids need to put their faith in. ;)

 

Other items of note:

- In Sivana’s giant robot, the controllers are sitting in the “brain” and then the brain’s removed to let Magnus out.

- Sivana’s giant human form robot crushes the Cricketron like a bug.

- IQ claims that sunlight makes him smarter.  Is he (A) a crazy nut or is this (B) more Morrison follow through?

- “The way of the red rage and the rock.”  Could this be an early hint of the Red Lanterns and Darkseid in Final Crisis?

- We get some definite foreshadowing in the Question section, as the Question tells Montoya that “there are some things you just have to accept”.  (A crippling here, a death there... you just have to accept these things in a Geoff Johns’ book. :))

- Getting granted the powers of Shazam may be the only time that “voices in your head” are a good thing.

 

Best Lines:

“You really are a bastard.”

“Well, I was raised in an orphanage, so you’re probably right...”

 

Questions:

Does anyone else think the story flows better when you have a little bit in the previous issue relating to one of the main sections?  Did they decide to start doing this as a bit of a cliffhanger alternative?

 

Do the “Next in 52" visual blurbs on the last page actually accomplish anything useful?  Did anyone find these excited them or caused them to pick up an issue when they otherwise wouldn’t have?

I liked how they used the word 'choice' very pointedly to segue from the Mad Scientist bit to the Question/Black Adam bit.  The two sections were very different tonally.  If there was only one writer I might think it was heavy-handed, but in a book with 4 writers, it's another nice sign that they are trying to make a joined up whole.

The whole issue was about denied choices, when you think about it.  From Magnus' captivity to Montoyez' inability to act, through to Osiris' complete lack of say in what happened to him, good or bad.

The 'Next in 52' boxes work more like TV teasers that may appear at the end of an episode, or, as in Battlestar Galactica, at the start of an episode.  I think they are more suited to TV than comics, partly because of the lack of word balloons in them.  TV teasers wouldn't be very effective if they were completely silent!  Here, they are a diverting teaser whilst you are looking at them, but they don't really add to the experience of enjoying the series.  It is a little clue, however, that 52 is a comicbook version of the DVD TV box sets that were then all the rage.  Mad Men and The Wire would have been seen more on DVD than on TV at that time, and causing quite a stir.

I guess for the fans that pored over every detail of the comic every week, they gave them something to chew on, but I think I just skimmed over them when I was reading it weekly without really figuring out what I was looking at.  In collected form, they are pretty redundant, as you just turn the page to see what happens next.

I have to say, Johns really hooked me with the whole Black Adam's new family thing.  I was rapt from around this point on.  It was a very interesting thing to do with the character.  And I had no investment in these characters or situations going in.  But then, it would appear Johns' heart is really with the baddies, so when they act like dipsticks, it's not dissonant, but perfectly in character, unlike the way it is with the JSA or with 'Saint' Hal, the Super-Jock.

Morrison's sense of fun, love of absurdity and appreciation of these whacked out SIlver Age concepts and characters really makes the Magnus section shine, btw.  He's a pretty nifty comics scribe!

(Image courtesy of comicbookdb.com)

52 #24 - Just Imagine

 

Day 1: As Green Arrow gears up for his election run, he receives a call from the new Firestorm offering him membership in a new Justice League.  He turns him down flat.

 

Day 2: We check in with the Martian Manhunter who’s updating the fallen Leaguer statue display in Happy Harbor.  It seems MM’s been preoccupied this year dismantling Checkmate after the Omac debacle.  He believes he’s finally succeeded.  Meanwhile, in China, the Black Marvel Family withdraws Kahndaq’s active support from the Freedom of Power Treaty.

 

Day 6: The new Justice League’s press conference gets interrupted by robots and pirates brought together by Skeets’ party planning and world domination service.  Sadly, Rip Hunter doesn’t RSVP so Skeets slaughters a bunch of “Everyman” party crashers and winds up killing Super-Chief in the bargain.  Luckily, Super-Chief’s extended career doesn’t end in vain, as it does serve as an object lesson for Ralph Dibney.

 

Day 7: The new JLA disbands, proving that there are worse things than Detroit and giving the impetus for Checkmate to reorganize, with more political power than ever.  Concurrently, over in Louisiana, Amanda Waller drafts Atom Smasher into the Suicide Squad.  Long live the government programs!

 

I thought this was one of the weaker issues despite (or perhaps due to) touching on so many plot threads.  Over the course of the issue we check in on regulars: Black Adam, Elongated Man, Skeets, Super-Chief, and Luthor’s Everyman Program.  We also see a new Justice League organized to fill the void in the missing year, see Green Arrow’s campaign get off the ground, and find out how the Martian Manhunter occupied his time while things have been in flux.  Throw in a partial recap of both Countdown to Infinite Crisis and the OMAC Project and a partial setup for the new Checkmate series, and this was one busy issue.

 

Both the Martian Manhunter section and the Justice League part, setup things early in the issue that are paid off later in the comic.  In the case of MM, we find out that he’s been working behind the scenes to take down Checkmate; he seems to have succeeded but by the end of the issue Checkmate is being reorganized with even more authority.  With the Justice League, we see it get reorganized and blunder through its first emergency; we read about its disbanding later in the issue. 

 

Unlike many of the previous issues, the immediate payoffs didn’t seem very satisfying.  I suspect part of the reason is that the heroes are not only defeated, but the result almost makes their efforts seem pointless.  (Frustration might be part of the human condition but it’s not very fun to read about.)  However, I think the biggest reason they feel like a letdown is that they tell more than they show. We get the overview but we’re removed from the action.  Understandable given space limitations but not the best of reads.  (As an aside, I wonder if this issue, with all its connections and references, was the kind of product that Didio was originally hoping for.)

 

Other items of note:

- The Black Adam Family has taken to fighting Marvel Family villains.  Whereas last issue it seemed like they were being positioned to mirror the Marvel Family, this issue it seems like they’re being setup to replace them.

 

- The “Everyman” brigade in this issue seems to be drawing from the same well as Dial H for Hero.

 

- It’s interesting to note that the “new Justice League” didn’t include any “Everyman” heroes, despite having someone just as new in Super-Chief.

 

- It was kind of sad to see Super-Chief go out so quickly, however, his example to Ralph was a beautifully realized, out of nowhere page.  It does seem a little odd though that he was built up a couple of issues ago just for this quick Defenders type moment.

 

- Amanda Waller is just chomping at the bit to go after Black Adam now that he’s distanced himself from the treaty.

 

- Atom Smasher decides that just ‘cause authority calls, it must be right.

 

- The Martian Manhunter makes a speech about ignoring Ted and not being there for Booster, then he proceeds to ignore the new Justice League.  It seems like a pattern. ;)

 

- Just to see if anyone’s paying attention, the next issue area has Ambush Bug in all the key parts.

 

Best Lines:

“You know what I’d say.  Use the word ‘fatcats’ a lot.”

 

Question:

At what point did thought bubbles become so verboten that it makes more sense for the Martian Manhunter to talk to statues he’s creating rather than have a thought bubble?

 

...I did not follow 52 .(As far as DC's attempted " events " of that period went , IIRC I bought the first couple TRINITYs , intending to follow?? , but dropped off .)

  Were the 2-page origins ever collected ?

  Either in the book collections of 52 , or as a separate 100-ish pages TPB all on its lonesome .

  Even especially now?? , from a changed DC Universe , it would provide an interesting look back at that ` now ` transitional period , the New Earth (Wasn't that the phrase applied to it ?????) , the post-INFINITE CRISIS , pre-FINAL CRISIS and New 52 , DCU .

 

 

 

 



Border Mutt said:

(Image courtesy of comicbookdb.com)

52 #23 - The Island of Professor Morrow

 

Day 1: Doctor Magnus is deposited on Oolong Island with the missing “mad scientists”.

 

Day 5: Montoya and the Question discover a secret Intergang base where children are being brainwashed.  Among the children, they discover Isis’ brother; unfortunately, they are unable to rescue him and are forced to watch as he is crippled.  Subsequently, Black Adam and Isis arrive and destroy the installation.  Isis discovers she cannot heal her brother’s body but Black Adam grants him a portion of his power and he is able to transform, becoming the new hero Osiris.

 

Day 6: With the children rescued from Intergang, Isis determines the next way the Black Marvel Family will “improve the world”...  it involves a trip to China.

 

One of the cover blurbs this issue was, “Renee Montoya - is SHE the Answer?”.  With the benefit of hindsight, we know she’s not the Answer... she’s the Question.  One gets to wonder as we read along, how many plot points were planned out in advance and how many were cobbled together from a sudden inspiration at the last minute?  Despite the cover baiting, it seems like Renee’s eventual assumption of the mantle was always intended.  (But who knows, maybe she was intended to be a different hero trained by the Question and Vic Sage’s death was a last minute decision to give the series and character more impact.)  One thing we can be almost certain of however, is that Osiris was always intended to become a mirror version of Captain Marvel Jr.

 

With this issue, the Black Marvel Family grows by a member.  It’s really at this point that one can’t help but notice the parallels with the Marvel family.  Black Adam has always been a bit of a dark mirror to Captain Marvel, but Isis, a preexisting character who was refashioned for this series, doesn’t really have all that much in common with Mary.  Osiris, on the other hand, is fashioned directly off of the Captain Marvel Jr. template.  Amon is crippled by villains antagonistic to Black Adam, Black Adam grants him a portion of his power by calling on Adam’s name, and the newly empowered Osiris takes his place as the junior member of the Shazam trinity.  So, we have the Black Marvel Family stepping into the publishing void left by the Marvel Family, anti-heroes assuming the mantle, yet now clearly following a Marvel Family template; this created expectation will allow one of the great misdirections of the series.           

 

Also this issue, Whisper quotes from the Crime Bible again.  This time we get a reading from the Epic of Moriarty, (much like the New Testament has books associated with the Apostles).  In the Crime Bible, instead of 40 days of fasting and reflection leading to a victory over temptation and evil, 40 days of beatings break “the Detective”.  (One would assume this refers to Sherlock Holmes but in a DC context one might wonder if they’re hoping for a self-fulfilling prophesy, as Ra’s Al Ghul often refers to Batman as “the Detective”.)  Just what all the young kids need to put their faith in. ;)

 

Other items of note:

- In Sivana’s giant robot, the controllers are sitting in the “brain” and then the brain’s removed to let Magnus out.

- Sivana’s giant human form robot crushes the Cricketron like a bug.

- IQ claims that sunlight makes him smarter.  Is he (A) a crazy nut or is this (B) more Morrison follow through?

- “The way of the red rage and the rock.”  Could this be an early hint of the Red Lanterns and Darkseid in Final Crisis?

- We get some definite foreshadowing in the Question section, as the Question tells Montoya that “there are some things you just have to accept”.  (A crippling here, a death there... you just have to accept these things in a Geoff Johns’ book. :))

- Getting granted the powers of Shazam may be the only time that “voices in your head” are a good thing.

 

Best Lines:

“You really are a bastard.”

“Well, I was raised in an orphanage, so you’re probably right...”

 

Questions:

Does anyone else think the story flows better when you have a little bit in the previous issue relating to one of the main sections?  Did they decide to start doing this as a bit of a cliffhanger alternative?

 

Do the “Next in 52" visual blurbs on the last page actually accomplish anything useful?  Did anyone find these excited them or caused them to pick up an issue when they otherwise wouldn’t have?

Were the 2-page origins ever collected ?

  Either in the book collections of 52 , or as a separate 100-ish pages TPB all on its lonesome .

  Even especially now?? , from a changed DC Universe , it would provide an interesting look back at that ` now ` transitional period , the New Earth (Wasn't that the phrase applied to it ?????) , the post-INFINITE CRISIS , pre-FINAL CRISIS and New 52 , DCU .

I'm not a 100% sure, but I believe they were collected as part of the 52 TPBs.  I think Figs is reading the series through the trades.  What say you Figs?

I say thee nay!

The 2-page origins were collected in their own TPB.  I've had my hands on it in the library a few times.

As I've mentioned before, DiDio once stated during a convention speech that these origins would be the new background status quo going forward, and the comics under his purview would concentrate on just telling good stories rather than shaking up the backstories all the time.  This was only a few years before the New 52.  His intentions were good at least...

Most of the Origins seem to be available for free from Comixology, here.

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