Comic Review: 52 #13-16

This is Metropolis! It’s a city Brainiac tries to shrink to bottle size every Thursday. Don’t tell me nothing is on tonight.
–Booster Gold, #15

These issues present a quickly-planned wedding, a Marvel Family renunion, at least three different escapes, the death of a major character, and the apparent loss of another’s sanity.

We’re still in the dark with regards to those missing mad scientists.

Title: 52 #13-16

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

Covers by J.G. Jones and Alex Sinclair.

Supporting features by Mark Waid, Kevin Nowlan, Eric Powell, Jon Bogdanove, J.G. Jones, et al.


Renee Montoya and the Question experience trouble in Kahndaq, while Black Adam and Isis get married and repair their relationship with the Marvel Family. Ralph Dibny enlists some high-profile help as he infiltrates the Kryptonian Kult, T.O. Morrow escapes but provides Dr. Magnus with the key to reviving the Metal Men. Clark Kent continues to occupy space on the sidelines; the heroes lost in space make an escape. Finally, events involving Booster Gold and Supernova turn tragic.

Supporting features include origins of Elongated Man, Metamorpho, Steel, and Black Adam.

High Point

Despite a wedding in #16, this issues best moments are its darkest ones. Ralph Dibny’s loss of sanity, though surrounded by a Low Point, worked. I also liked the chilling panels involving Montoya in a foreign prison, and wish they had let the plot develop a little further before the inevitable, satisfying escape.

Potential High Point: the still-unrevealed identity of Supernova. Who is this character? One of Luthor’s new heroes? An alternate-timeline Booster Gold? A Green Lantern? A plot device created by the missing mad scientists? A Marvel superhero, disgruntled with Civil War?

This could be good.

Low Point

The heroes whom Ralph Dibny summons quickly conclude -—before they find the evidence– that the Kryptonian cult has no real power and that Sue cannot be restored to life. Their arguments would be entirely convincing in our world. However (as Dibny notes), all of these characters have returned from the grave, thanks to DC’s excessive use of the “Revolving Door of Death.” Events much more fantastic than what the cult proposes occur regularly. Why, then, do the Justice Leaguers immediately assume the cult is a fraud? Why do the rules of our universe suddenly apply? And wouldn’t this storyline be more dramatically meaningful if DC didn’t kill and revive characters at the drop of a mask?1

In #16, Montoya stops a terrorist attack at Black Adam and Isis’s wedding. Regardless of the surrounding spectacle and pageantry, these events would attract greater notice.

Conventional comic books require us to accept far-fetched premises, but the stories have to make sense within those premises. I’ll accept the presence of superbeings, but not a sudden suspension of all plot logic and fundamental human nature.

The Scores

Originality: 3/6. The depiction of Black Adam2 is comparatively original, and Ralph Dibny’s story now goes in an interesting direction, unusual for comic-book heroes. Most of the events remain typical for mainstream comics, but they’ve been handled well.

Artwork: 4/6. The internal artwork varies from very good to passing fair, depending on issue and storyline. The covers, however, are consistently interesting. This latest lot take on a pulp paperback quality.

Story: 4/6. I remain interested in where each plot is heading.

Characterization: 4/6. One of the problems with reviewing an ongoing series is that I end up repeating myself.

Emotional response: 4/6. The Montoya/Question plot remains the strongest, though events have been happening a little quickly for real emotional impact. Booster Gold’s antics have a certain humor to them, before they take a predictable, darker turn.

Flow 5/6. The writers and artists have put obvious effort into producing a unified comic, despite the many narratives.

Overall: 4/6

In total, 52 #13-16 receive a score of 28/42.

The 52 reviews will continue monthly.

The Timeshredder’s reviews may be found here.


1. The heroes’ attitude recalls the pre-1985 episodes of famed children’s show Sesame Street, wherein no one would believe that Big Bird had a friend named Mr. Snuffle-Upagus. On a street inhabited by blue monsters, a numerically-obsessed vampire, and a garbage-can dwelling Grouch, why did anyone consider the sentient avian’s furry proboscidean friend to be far-fetched?

Of course, 52‘s cult may have more behind it than the evidence currently suggests.

2. DC brought Black Adam into their universe when they acquired the rights to the Fawcett characters in the 1970s. They were required to tamper with the character’s history; he’d died memorably at the end of his first 1945 appearance. As Adam and Captain Marvel had equal abilities, their battle could reach no conclusion. Finally, Uncle Dudley, usually a comic relief character, tricked Adam into saying the wizard’s name: Shazam. Black Adam reverted to his human form, his thousands of years caught up to him, and he perished from extreme old age.