Storylines tighten and plots begin to converge during the third month of 52. Clark Kent learns to live with vulnerabilities while a vulnerable Ralph Dibny makes a difficult choice. DC introduces Supernova and reintroduces two long-unseen (and never-seen, post-Crisis) superwomen: Batwoman and the Mighty Isis1.

Title: 52 #9-12

Writers: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid.
Artists: Marlo Alquiza, Chris Batista, David Baron, Eddy Barrow, Joe Bennet, Keith Giffen, Jack Jadson, Shawn Moll, Todd Nauck, Tom Nguyen, Alex Sinclair, et al.

Covers by J.G. Jones and Alex Sinclair.

Supporting features by Dan Jurgens, Andy Lanning, Adam Hughes, et al.

Premise:

Renee Montoya and the Question discover Intergang are attempting to set up business in Gotham—- but that discovery drives the criminals further underground. Meanwhile, a new ally appears: Batwoman.

Lex Luthor creates new superheroes, and his plot pits the transformed Steel against his niece, Natasha. Clark Kent, meanwhile, investigates Metropolis’s latest protector: Supernova.

Ralph Dibny tracks the Superboy cult to Wonder Girl, and agrees to collaborate with their trial resurrection of a deceased person: Sue Dibny.

The heroes trapped on a distant planet escape their captor.

Black Adam continues to build his alliance, but he becomes a kinder, gentler Black Adam under the guidance of Andrea Tomaz. The two visit a slightly unhinged Captain Marvel, and Tomaz becomes the superhero Isis.

We become mindful of the fact that something wormed its way out of a chrysalis in Dr. Sivana’s lab.

Supporting features include the histories of the DC Universe and the origin of Wonder Woman.

High Point

The transformations of Black Adam and Captain Marvel suggest that the old Fawcett characters may yet find a place in the DC Universe (they’ve always been a difficult fit). Black Adam sees himself as the hero Shazam intended him to be and, while his methods are problematic, he’s trying to serve humanity. He’s also creating a situation which will put some restraints on DC’s main heroes and allow for commentary on real-world events.

Billy Batson now sits on the throne in the Rock of Eternity. He has become the wizard’s successor, but he’s not coping terribly well at present.

Low Point

I have no issue with the human body and I have long accepted that comic-book superfemales frequently dress like table dancers. However, I don’t know why DC found it necessary to modify the clean-cut Isis’s original costume into a beach party outfit. I imagine this would look especially out of place in middle-eastern Kahndaq, where the woman are shown in hijab.

The Scores

Originality: 4/6. These issues mix standard comic book plotting with fresh takes on a superhero universe. It’s interesting that DC devotes so much of this series to its non-powered characters.

Artwork: 4/6. The internal artwork varies from very good to passing fair, depending on issue and storyline. The covers, however, are consistently strong.

Story: 5/6. The calibre of the story varies, but there’s no question that DC has produced a comic-book page turner.

Characterization: 4/6. As mentioned in the previous review, the series does not handle character with consistent skill. Montoya and the Question are developing a believable friendship, and the series also features an original take on Captain Marvel. Other characters remain flat, and, in any given issue, too many characters appear for complex character development.

Emotional response: 5/6. See “story.”

Flow 5/6. Although some abrupt shifts occur, the creative team handles transitions well. It helps that some of the plots are beginning to converge, and so much has been devoted at present to the Montoya plot.

Overall: 5/6

In total, 52 #9-12 receive a score of 32/42.

Comic Book Note

Batwoman first appeared in 1956 and the original Batgirl (her niece, not Barbara Gordon or Cassandra Cain) in 1961. They made regular appearances in Batman titles until the mid-1960s and then disappeared. Batwoman reappeared in the 70s and was killed prior to Crisis on Infinite Earths. With the rebirth of the DC Universe, she retroactively never existed and, like Supergirl, therefore can be reintroduced for the first time.

Man, these stories result in grammatically problematic sentences.

Isis was created as a counterpart to Captain Marvel for 1970s television, and later appeared in a DC comic series which lasted eight issues. Her secret identity was Andrea Thomas, changed here to Andrea Tomaz. The fact that (as far as I can determine) she didn’t even rate a mention in Crisis on Infinite Earths demonstrates just how little regard DC had for her. Crisis tried to work in every DC character, even managing cameos by Bernie the Brain and the Son of Vulcan.

The 52 reviews will continue monthly.

The Timeshredder’s reviews may be found here.