52 Week One (2006)

52 Week One (July, 2006)
“Golden Lads & Lasses Must…”
Writers – Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka & Mark Waid
Art Breakdowns – Keith Giffen
Penciller – Joe Bennett
Inker – Ruy Jose
Colorist – Alex Sinclair
Letterer – Nick J. Napolitano
Assistant Editors – Jann Jones & Harvey Richards
Editor – Stephen Wacker
Cover Price(s): FREE & $2.50

Welcome everyone to my three-hundredth daily post here at the humble blog.  I was racking… or wracking my brain trying to come up with a subject worthy of a “hundredth” milestone post.  After a whole lotta thought, I decided that I should cover part of DC’s weekly comics event, 52.  This was an ambitious project wherein DC produced a chapter each week for an entire year… and here I am trying to review a book every day for… an entire year?  Maybe?  Who knows… seems an achievable goal… hell it’s only a couple of months more… ehh, we’ll see.

I want to take a moment before hopping into the spoilery synopsis to thank anyone who is reading this, or has ever read my ramblings.  This year has afforded me the opportunity to find some true joy in my comics compulsion… and make some great friends.  And though, I’d be lying if I said doing this “on the daily” wasn’t sometimes a chore, I’m still very happy to have stuck with this “project”.  

Maybe it’s the afterglow of Thanksgiving talking… or maybe I’m just a sap… but really and truly… thanks for sticking with me, if’n ya have.

We open as the shards of reality swirl in the cosmos… the result of Superboy Prime’s incredible temper tantrum during Infinite Crisis.  The shards continue to spin before converging in a brilliant burst of light… when our eyes return to focus, all that remains is the planet Earth… a slightly altered planet Earth.

As we make landfall, we are privy to several vignettes featuring some of our main players… Ralph Dibney, who is still reeling from the death of his wife, now stands among the ruins of his home.  Renee Montoya is drinking her troubles away in a Gotham bar where it is all but confirmed that Bludhaven has been wiped out.  Steel is helping a French officer clear away the rubble of a wrecked school.  This is in the shadow of Infinite Crisis… worldwide chaos and destruction on a scale never seen before.

Over the next few days, Ralph continues picking up the pieces… he receives a call confirming that Superboy did not survive his battle with Prime.  Montoya is still drinking.  Steel brings an injured man, who may have been saved by Green Arrow to medics.

We then get a bit of a teaser… the eyes of the citizens of Metropolis go skyward.  “Look!  Up in the sky!” booms in a tinny robotic voice… why, it’s Skeets heralding the arrival of Booster Gold!  Booster has Fearsome Five member Mammoth hoisted above his head… he hurls him into the group… then stops for a primo photo-op with the kiddies.  Of particular interest, Booster’s costume is covered in sponsorship logos… real good stuff here.  He actually turns away from the photo op, to hold up a can of “Soder Cola”… all that’s missing from here is a gleam on his teeth.

Skeets suggest that Booster wipe the smile off his face, since Superboy just died.  Like a classically trained actor, Booster turns that smile upside down… and even manages to summon up some well-timed tears for the cameras.

As Booster and Skeets leave the scene, they discuss how, if Skeets’ records of time are correct, within the next few days Booster will be invited to join the newest (and greatest) incarnation of the Justice League of America… a personal invitation from Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman themselves!

We shift to a hotel room for a rather unpleasant scene.  Ralph Dibney is sitting on the bed with the clipping of his wife’s obituary on the nightstand.  He’s chewing on mints as his voice mails play.  He places the barrel of a gun in his mouth… however, before he is able to pull the trigger, one of his messages reveals that a message has been found on Sue’s tombstone.

We rejoin Steel as he approaches his niece, Natasha… who I think is also going by the name Steel… but we’ll refer to her as Natasha to assuage any confusion… mostly mine.  She is headed off to help the Teen Titans.  Steel insists she stay put as there is plenty of debris that needs clearing here.  He continues by claiming that Natasha hasn’t earned the right to play superhero yet.  She’s obviously offended by this claim, and decides to head off anyway… that is, however, until Steel uses his super-tech to disengage her suit of armor.

Meanwhile, in Kahndaq… Black Adam is addressing his people about their new mission.  His speech is interrupted by a suicide bomber… which, I dunno if you want to intentionally screw with Black Adam… just doesn’t sound like a good idea.  I’m also guessing that a TNT vest would do little more than tick Adam off.  Anyhoo, it’s a moot point, as Adam snags the creep and heads skyward… tears his arm off… and tosses the TNT far enough into the sky so that it doesn’t harm anyone…

We then get an odd little scene in which Doctor Sivana is watching television while admiring his worm in a jar… that’s Mister Mind to us mere mortals… his viewing is interrupted by a pair of large scaly individuals who drag him away.

Back in Metropolis, we see the heroes who managed to survive the events of Infinite Crisis gathering.  They’re catching up with one another… noting who made it… and perhaps more importantly, who didn’t.  We see Bart Allen talking to Alan Scott and Jay Garrick… he turns down the mantle of the Flash while Wally’s “away”… which he will obviously reconsider during his fairly bland volume of the title… he does mention that Wally and Linda’s twins are annoying… and I couldn’t agree more!  They were the dirt worst.

We get a great shot of all the heroes arriving… Booster Gold and Skeets begin their countdown to receiving an invite to the League…

… which doesn’t come.  Booster is flustered, Skeets has never been wrong before.  Skeets then appears to begin malfunctioning… his language being interrupted by binary coding… This is all too much for Booster to handle, so he lashes out to the point where he must be restrained.  He knows Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are coming… they just have to be!  Well, no Booster… they’re not coming… a young reporter with a name tag reading “Kent” has it on good authority they will not be attending.

Back in Gotham, the Question makes some changes to the Bat-Signal… peeling off the classic bat, and replacing it with a spray painted question mark.  He aims the signal so that it shines right into the apartment of Detective Renee Montoya.  He sees her… and wants to know if she’s ready.

A great start to this yearlong epic.  So many seemingly disparate story threads coming out of the Infinite Crisis event… but all feeling somehow connected.  This feels as though we are accompanying the creative team as they take part in an interesting writing exercise… and yet at the same time, it yields a wonderful story.  While this was a little bit less “my” DC Universe than what had proceeded Infinite Crisis, it was still just so damn good.

For this review I am looking at the DC Nation exclusive variant which I received when Dan Didio personally invited me to a super secret VIP DC Comics summit during the Summer of 2006.  Either that or I found it in a dollar bin, I’ll let you be the judge.  To my knowledge the only difference between the versions is the cover.

So we get a bunch of vignettes here… let’s start with Ralph Dibney.  His is a story that really bothers me… like on some sort of visceral level.  I wasn’t close with the Dibneys when I first read Identity Crisis… so the events of that story were somewhat lost on me.  Since then I had read much of the tail-end of pre-Crisis and post-Crisis Dibney stuff… not by design, mind… just read a lot of League.  After getting to know Ralph and Sue… I can’t even bring myself to reread Identity Crisis.  Seeing Ralph here sitting with the business end of a pistol in his mouth… it makes me kind of sick to my stomach.  Like, it really bothers me… which is weird, because not much in comics really “gets” to me, and yet… this does.  Hate what DC did to this couple… just so unnecessary.

Renee Montoya’s life is a wreck… can’t seem to find direction nor maintain relationships.  When I think back to 52, Renee’s bits with the Question are usually one of the first things that pop into my head.  This was an example of DC organically passing a mantle from one character to another… organic and understandable.  Great stuff here.

Then we’ve got Booster.  Booster, Booster, Booster… why do I love this character so much?  Such a jerk… but, such a magnetic personality.  We get the sense that there is an underlying altruism to him… it’s just buried deep under endorsements and royalty checks.  Him using Skeets as his own Gray’s Sports Almanac is an awesome touch.  We get the impression that he’s been doing this for quite some time, and Skeets hasn’t gotten it wrong… until now.  His complete emotional breakdown… to the point where he had to be restrained… when Skeets’ recounting of the present was mistaken was great.  It totally made sense that he would react this way… it also makes Booster’s eventual metamorphosis into a true superhero much more satisfying.

Overall… I’m always going to recommend 52 to fans of DC Comics, new or old.  It’s both a novelty in its presentation, and an amazing story that is definitely worth a read.  Lucky for most, this is a mainstay in the cheap-o bins… to the point where I would call them “bin cloggers”, so they shouldn’t be so hard to come by.  If you’re interested in checking out this very issue… DC Digital has it available to download FOR FREE.  No reason not to check this one out… or revisit it if it’s been awhile.

Before I check out for the day… I would like to once again thank everyone for taking time out of their day to check out my ramblings.  It really means the world to me that anybody would read words that I’ve typed.  Thank You all!

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0 thoughts on “52 Week One (2006)

  • Anonymous

    I, for one, enjoy your write-ups…and the style! Having images from within the comics, as well as the summaries, *along with* your thoughts/review make a great post each and every time!

    I remember looking forward to and then getting/reading this series every week, as well as covering every fourth issue or so for cxPulp. To me, this is the epitome of "the weekly series" done as a series (as opposed to the '90s "Neverending Battle" with the Superman books).

    What happened to Ralph and Sue is a shame–and I think I was in the same boat as you, having little context for them at the start of Identity Crisis, but having more now (though I'm sure you have a lot more now than me).

    I think it was in the final issue of 52 that we got what I felt was 'bout the best possible "closure" on their story given the circumstances. I'd forgotten details of stuff at this start of it.

    Such an iconic book, too, a sort of transition from the DCU that I'd grown up on, to that "middle" area it had from Infinite Crisis until Flashpoint.

    Congrats on the 300th post!


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