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Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

52: Week Twelve

52: Week Twelve

Scheduled to arrive in stores: July 26, 2006

Cover date: July 26, 2006


Writer: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Penciller: Eddy Barrows (breakdowns by Keith Giffen)
Inker: Rob Stull
Cover: J.G. Jones and Alex Sinclair

Back-Up Story: "The Origin of Wonder Woman"

Back-Up Story & Layouts: Mark Waid
Back-Up Art: Adam Hughes
Back-Up Inker: Laura Martin

Reviewed by: Barry Freiman

Click to enlarge

Day 1: Captain Maggie Sawyer, formerly of the Metropolis Special Crimes Unit, and now in charge of a similar unit in 'Gotham Central', runs into former cop Renee Montoya. Montoya lets slip that she knows about Intergang attempting to set up shop in Gotham City. Sawyer figures out that Montoya was involved in the raid from the last issue and chastises her for alerting Intergang that the GCPD is aware of their activities.

Montoya goes home and finds the Question where she left him - meditating.

The Question tells Montoya that they're going to go to Kahndaq, which is where they found out the weapons seem to be coming into Gotham from.

Black Adam changed the course of a mighty river for his people. In thanks, they pray to him. Adam insists he is their leader but not their ruler and he doesn't want their worship.

Adrianna Tomaz suggests to Black Adam that he can continue to do this type of good work for his people. Adam takes her to the Rock of Eternity where a seemingly half-crazed Billy Batson in Captain Marvel mode sits atop the now deceased Shazam's throne.

Black Adam explains that, when the wizard believed he'd been corrupted by the power of Shazam, he imprisoned Black Adam in a scarab. However, there was a jewel amulet fastened to the back of the scarab that contained the power of another of Shazam's warriors. Adam tells Billy he wants to give that power to Adrianna and invite her to join the Marvel Family.

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, Ralph "Elongated Man" Dibny catches up with Cassie"Wonder Girl" Sandsmark. She explains that the Cult of Conner wants to use Sue Dibny's personal effects to test their theories on resurrection. Cassie apologizes for tricking Ralph into giving up Sue's personal effects but Ralph tells her that, if they want to try to raise Sue from the dead, he wants to help.

Back at the Rock of Eternity, Adam continues to explain about the amulet of Isis. During the 15th Dynasty, Queen Pharaoh Hatshepsut was gifted with the power of Isis until they returned to the amulet on her death. Adam tells Adrianna that, if she takes the power of Isis, she'll be a goddess, even more powerful than him. Adrianna becomes Mighty Isis. Isis tells Black Adam she will join him on his quest to better the world after they find her brother.

To Be Continued...

Back-Up Story: "The Origin of Wonder Woman"

Back-Up Story & Layouts: Mark Waid
Back-Up Art: Adam Hughes
Back-Up Inker: Laura Martin

Fashioned out of clay and given life by the Greek Gods, Diana of Themyscira eventually leaves paradise behind to protect the world beyond as Wonder Woman.

4Main Story - 4: O Zephyr winds that blow on high, lift me now so I can fly.

Old timers like me remember Mighty Isis, a spin-off of live-action Saturday morning TV series "Shazam" in the 1970s. Filmation acquired the rights to a TV series based on Captain Marvel and were subject to the same limitation that DC's always had since they adopted the Marvel Family from the defunct Fawcett Publications. They couldn't call the show "Captain Marvel" because Marvel Comics held the trademark on that name.

As "Shazam" entered his second season in 1975, he was joined by a sister show with a newly-created character, Mighty Isis. Unlike Captain Marvel, Isis was a new heroine created and owned by Filmation. Through a licensing agreement with DC Comics, Isis appeared in an eight-issue comic book series in the 70s but wasn't ever seen in DC Comics again.

Isis's origin was summed up in the show's opening credit narrative similarly to the origin here. The original Isis powers are given to the Queen Hatshepsut. After she dies, the amulet remains hidden for centuries until it's found by school teacher Andrea Thomas. When Thomas says "Mighty Isis", she becomes the super-powered Isis endowed with the power of flight, super speed, and the ability to control the elements among other powers.

Isis appeared in 22 episodes of her own series and three crossover appearances on "Shazam". She later appeared in animated form as a member of the "Super Seven" on the Saturday morning "Tarzan and the Super Seven". After the cartoon went off the air around 1981, Isis vanished into pop culture limbo for about two decades.

At the dawn of the 21st Century, a character named Isis showed up in "Alias Comics". She looked an awful lot like the beloved and thought long-lost TV character though "Alias" didn't own the rights to the TV character.

Taking a tip from "Alias", DC recreates Isis from the ground-up. They reinvent secret identity Andrea Thomas as Adrianna Tomaz. Andrea was a high school teacher and Adrianna is teaching Kahndaquian civics to Black Adam. Plus DC finds a way to credibly tie her to the (Captain) Marvel Family. Very nicely done.

(I would've given the story a "5" if everything in the issue hadn't happened only on "Day 1" -- it strains credibility that nothing else happens that's comic-book-worthy for at least the next six days and that highlights the biggest weakness of†"52": the idea that everything taking place in the course of seven days at a time can be summed up neatly†in 32 pages).

4Art - 4: I can't draw and I'm still envious of Penciller Eddy Barrows that he gets to draw the first in-continuity images of Mighty Isis in a DC Comic.

2Backup Story - 2: Mark Waid is the absolute last person anyone should ask to tell a concise two-page origin. This type of writing requires an economy of words and an ability to sum up the essentials of a character's beginnings. Waid's talent - as it was amply demonstrated about a decade ago on "The Flash" (2nd series) - is pretty much the exact opposite of the skills needed to tell this kind of story.

Stripping the origin of Steve Trevor, the invisible plane, the giant Kangas, the bright colors, and the masked competitor prevailing in the Olympian challenge of bullets and bracelets strips Wonder Woman of everything that makes this woman a wonder. To me, this is a good example of a writer who is afraid of his source material so he infuses it with a darkness that manifests itself in the art in an attempt to add a sense of pseudo-reality to the story of a super chick in star-spangled panties and a tiara. Wonder Woman's story is the story of myth in the modern world. It is supposed to be a ridiculous story. And it's that sense of the bizarre that makes Diana stand apart from the plethora of heroines who've followed in her high-heeled footsteps. Without the wonder, Diana's origin is wholly unremarkable.

3Art - 3: Any New Yorkers remember last summer's huge display in Central Park of orange fabrics hanging from poles? Now we finally know what the artists did with the displays -they gave them to the Amazons for atmosphere.

The art feels confined, dark, and almost claustrophobic. It's too bad the editor chose to reserve half a page of the origin story for a dated, largely irrelevant "Who's Who" synopsis. Hughes could've used that space.

5Cover Art - 5: Black Adam and Mighty Isis? Holy Moley!

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

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