The 52 reviews have returned. In these issues, plots begin to converge, Montoya trains to become the new Question, Osiris acquires a talking croc sidekick, and Batman may be quitting for good.1
Title: 52 #25-32
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 Joe Bennet, Howard Cheykin, Dale Eaglesham, Cully Hamner, George Perez, Duncan Rouleau, Alex Sinclair, Freddie Williams II, Mark Waidet al.
Most of the plots converge or at least cross over in these eight issues.
We learn that Chang Tzu—an updated, very alien, rather scary version of the ludicrous Silver Age villain Egg-Fu— is behind Oolong Island and the kidnapping of the mad scientists. Intergang is a client, and perhaps a partner. Dr. Magnus, now off meds and a wanted man, joins the twisted tech crew.
Manheim of Intergang, now a cultic group which sees conventional criminal behavior as a legitimate moral standard, has taken over Gotham City’s underworld.
Bruce Wayne undergoes a ritual to cleanse himself of his personal inner demons, and announces that “Batman is gone.” Nightwing and Robin believe he may have cracked, and they also feel they will become the new Batman and Robin. Robin stays with their mentor; Nightwing follows up on their investigation of Intergang and returns to Gotham, where he fights alongside Batwoman.
The Question and Renee Montoya continue their battle with Intergang. We learn that the Question will soon die of cancer, and Montoya appears to be his successor.
The Black Marvel Family try to prove themselves. Osiris, now accompanied by a lonely mutant creation of Sivana’s, wants to join the Teen Titans.
Lobo, the space-lost heroes, and the Green Lantern Corps take desperate measures to defeat a galactic Big Bad. Lives are lost.
Someone revives the Red Tornado—sort of.
Older heroes confront Luthor’s creations. Steel, now returned to his original form, learns the truth about the instant hero-making process.
Something has gone very wrong with Skeets, and with time itself.
Ralph Dibny and the Helmet of Fate continue on their quest. The Spectre tempts Dibny, Yao Fei (one of the new Chinese heroes) comes to their assistance, and Dibny learns the identity of Supernova but doesn’t tell us. Along their way, the wandering pair cross paths with several of the other storylines.
Origins: Nightwing, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Black Canary, Catman, the Metal Men, Robin, and the latest Blue Beetle.
Issue #25 features Halloween in the DC ‘verse. That issue also reveals the identity of the being who has been collecting mad scientists. DC actually found a way to make the villain formerly known as Egg-Fu convincing.
I’m not certain I entirely buy the new, official story of the Batman (#30), but kudos to Johns and company for developing a history which reconciles the various interpretations we’ve seen from 1939 to the present.
As I mentioned in previous reviews, DC really wants to balance the dark trends in comix with older comic-book fun. This works at times. I loved the lightning flash over the gothic cliché that is Sivana Manor and the trip to the Grade B Movie laboratory in its cellar. The dynamics of the Sivana family seem a little too forced and idiotic, however, a little too much in keeping with their kiddie origins in Fawcett’s peachy-keen comics of the 1940s.
The reaction of the male scientists on Oolong Island to the female Dr. Cale also seems excessive, even for a brief gag. Almost to a man, they behave like horny 12-year-olds.
Originality: 3/6. They’re using old elements, but reinventing them in surprising ways.
Artwork: 4/6. I suspect my comments on this aspect will remain the same until the end of the series. The series has excellent covers. Within, the artwork consistenly varies.
Story: 5/6. The stories were interesting already; the planet-destroying, universe-threatening Big Bad in the space plot, thus far, detracts. Overall, I like the manner in which the plots connect. The connections don’t seem overly forced, and they keep 52 interesting.
Characterization: 4/6. I like the development in Montoya’s character. I’m not certain, however, that I want to see her don a mask. Her newfound skills will help her, but she wears well the identity of a hardboiled detective with DCU-appropriate fighting skills. The characterization in this plot remains the strongest. See “Low Points” for a less impressive example.
Emotional response: 4/6.
Flow 5/6. These issues show remarkable continuity and flow, despite the many storylines.
Overall: 5/6 Okay, I’ve changed this score. I wanted to get across that, overall, this is an “event” series worth reading.
In total, 52 #25-32 receive a score of 30/42.