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Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

52: Week Eight

52: Week Eight

Scheduled to arrive in stores: June 28, 2006

Cover date: June 28, 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: "History of the DCU, Part 7"

Back-Up Story & Layouts: Dan Jurgens
Back-Up Finishes: Andy Lanning
Back-Up Inkers: Guy Major & Jeromy Cox

Reviewed by: Barry Freiman

Click to enlarge

Day 1: Natasha Irons works on new 'Lady Steel' armor - she's still angry with her uncle John that he won't make her new armor.

John Irons is surprised to discover that he's transforming into a bona fide metal man -- genuine stainless steel. (But is he nonstick?)

On the other side of America, Green Arrow stops a shop owner from stopping a looter because, in the aftermath of the destruction of Star City, many need to loot just to eat and survive. Or so the ever-liberal Green Arrow believes. He's joined by the non-costumed Ralph Dibny (formerly the Elongated Man). Ollie punishes himself for the destruction of Star City. Ralph suggests Ollie consider politics.

They come on an upside down "S" logo, previously established to be a Kryptonian symbol of resurrection. The Cult of Conner had been in Star City but is gone.

Day 2 (misprinted as Day 3 in the issue): John Irons is being studied by a scientist at S.T.A.R. Labs. He realizes that the transformation is the result of Lex Luthor's formula for making meta-humans. Luthor must have injected Irons with the formula when they were together at S.T.A.R. recently discussing the dead Luthor doppelganger.

Days 3-5: Metropolis has a new mystery man in blue and red who appears to be able to teleport himself and others as well as inanimate objects as well as apparent enhanced strength.

Booster Gold angrily confronts Skeets about the new mystery hero. Clark Kent is also there, apparently trying to get a reaction from Gold on the new hero for the Planet. He guarantees Gold he's going to find out who this new hero really is.

Also on Day 5, Natasha Irons discovers her uncle John's DNA is being rewritten by the Luthor metagene formula. She thinks he's a hypocrite for denying her power but seeking it out for himself.

Night 5: Natasha has a setback in building new 'Lady Steel' armor. She angrily confronts John about his getting powers from Luthor and doesn't give him a chance to explain what actually happened before storming out.

Meanwhile, on an unknown planet, castaways Buddy Baker and Adam Strange are looking for Starfire. They find her trapped in netting. Too late they realize it's a trap to net them as well. A mysterious giant collects the three heroes in his hand.

Day 7: In Metropolis, Lex - with Mercy at his side - looks over the masses of people lined up to receive his metagene formula. He tells Mercy they're his slaves. Lex notices Natasha Irons and, realizing who she is, invites her in as the first candidate of the day.

Night 7: Luthor tells his scientists to proceed with the DNA resequencing on Natasha without waiting to do all the normal prescreening. And to give her the "whole package" of resequencing strings.

To Be Continued...

3Main Story - 3: Things are starting to happen. I generally like the storyline with Steel and his niece. It was nice to see Clark Kent again. The hero that "Wizard" revealed to be the mysterious "Supernova" debuts. And Lex Luthor finds new and more diabolical ways to manipulate the masses. (No offense intended to Mr. Spacey's interpretation or Mr. Singer's direction in the new flick, but this type of three-steps-ahead of everyone else manipulation is Lex Luthor, not the land-land-land shtick of the 1978 movie).

Also the writers are off a bit with the pacing of the story. They're not working within their own rules that this is the "24" of comic books. Nat Irons fights with Steel on "Night 5" - then it should be Day 6 that she shows up at Lex's meta-making facility. Instead two days pass. If the intent is to make me believe this is an impetuous teenager acting on impulse, what did she do all day on Day 6? More importantly, what did Uncle John do all day on Day 6? Giving John the time to stop his niece from doing what even a monkey (and not just Detective Chimp) could figure out she'd naturally do next just makes John look all the more irresponsible as a guardian when he isn't shown trying to connect with Nat at any point during Day or Night 6.

4Art - 4: The art is a real highlight of not just this issue but every issue so far of "52" - not that the art is superficially beautiful or that they've discovered the new George Perez, but that there are different artists rotating on the book and it still feels like a cohesive story drawn by the same guy. This is largely due to Keith Giffen's unique breakdowns. Funny how Giffen's approach to panel planning became a real signpost of the post-First Crisis DCU in "Justice League America" and now it's serving a similar role again post-Second Crisis.

2Backup Story - 2: Donna continues reviewing history from the reincarnation of the JLA with the Big Seven. Along the way, she reviews "A Final Night"; Conner Hawke following in Ollie Queen's footsteps; Superman and Lois getting married; the Atom-led Titans; Electric Blue Supes; the Gotham Earthquake and resulting No Man's Land; Batgirl Cassie Cain; Young Justice; the new old Teen Titans; the return of the Justice Society; Hal Jordan becoming the Spectre; Lex Luthor running for President; the Imperiex War; Hush; the death of Donna Troy herself at the hands (eyes actually) of a Superman robot; the Outsiders being reformed; the demise of Young Justice and continuation of many of those heroes into a new, new Teen Titans; the JSA saving Hourman from the moment of his death; Spoiler inadvertently setting off Gotham's war games, becoming the first female Robin, and being killed by Black Mask; Superman meeting his cousin Supergirl; and finally, a hint of the darkness initiated by the murder of Sue Dibny.

If you've already read "Brave New World", then you know Donna Troy's job as caretaker of Multiverse history has already been superseded by a new group based on an old character. As a gay guy, I know I'm supposed to love Donna Troy and think how fabulous she is - DC's Phil Jimenez and Allan Heinberg are certainly exemplary of the out-gay community that thinks Troia's the cat's meeeee-ow. But she bores me. Most characters that become gay icons unfortunately become immediately one-dimensional stereotypes. Jimenez had a miniseries devoted to the character setting her up as the alleged predestined savior of the at-that-time upcoming "Infinite Crisis". Jimenez spends so much time writing her as 'fabulous' and 'beloved', and at the heart of not just the Titans but the DC Universe, without ever proving to me why she deserves this honor other than because she's a survivor with great hair. I don't even have the slightest idea what her powers are - except her power to bore deeper than Cave Carson.

This story is adding nothing to my understanding of the character and it's making me like her even less. It's time to stop looking backwards, Donna, and live for the future. Go save a life or two - that's what heroes do, not watch the Multiverse equivalent of the "History Channel" all day long.

3Art - 3: Competent. More than I can say for Donna Troy at this point.

4Cover Art - 4: The John Henry Irons covers have been my favorites so far and this cover isn't any different. In fact, it's probably my favorite cover of the series to date. It creates a real connection to the legendary John Henry of American folklore.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2006

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