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Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

52: Week Nine

52: Week Nine

Scheduled to arrive in stores: July 6, 2006

Cover date: September 2006

Writer: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Penciller: Keith Giffen (breakdowns), Shawn Moll
Inker: Tom Nguyen

"Dream of America"

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

Week 9, day 1:

Lex Luthor celebrates his meta gene program with other rich folk. Steel bursts in, now coated in metal, and attacks Luthor, demanding Natasha back. He disarms Lex's bodyguard and moves closer to Luthor, only to be stopped by a team of villains in green and purple suits with L letters on them. Nat is leading this team.

Natasha and Steel spar, escalating in violence. Steel demands that she comes with him, then tries a softer approach. Neither work. Natasha, now more powerful, hits Steel in the stomach, causing him to bleed from the mouth, before punching him across town and into the bay.

Animal Man wakes up next to Adam Strange and Starfire in the lair of Devilance the Pursuer. Adam Strange activates his rocket in Devilance's face as Animal Man calls in bugs. Starfire breaks free, takes Devilance's staff, and they free themselves. Apparently, Devilance attacked them because they saw something in the universe they weren't meant to when Alexander Luthor altered history.

Devilance, unseen, pursues them.

Week 9, day 1, night.

Renee, in a bar, tries to relax. She's spoken to by a man named Vic, who tells her to call him Charlie. Perplexed, as she's in a lesbian bar, he reveals that he was at the warehouse. They go to the men's room, and inside "Charlie" reveals himself to be The Question. Above, Batwoman watches as The Question indicates that Gotham is being targeted by Intergang.

BACKUP STORY: History of the DCU - Part 8
Writer (and layouts): Dan Jurgens
Finishes: Andy Lanning

This part basically recounts the events of Identity Crisis, in brief, ending in the point when Batman found out that he was mind wiped.

3Main Story - 3: You've really got to rate this series on two levels, the overall picture, as you go along, and the individual issue, which is hard to judge, because you really, as of now, have no idea where this is going at all. Should we? I don't know. I've never read a 52 issue maxi-series before. Even Maximum Carnage wasn't this long, even though it had a definite point.

I guess the Return of Superman was a weekly, most of a year-long ongoing about a single subject. But even it had a TON of deviation, and things that were immaterial and unrelated.

This issue is a basic fight. Nat vs. Steel. It's also the somewhat resolution of the Adam Strange situation with Starfire. It also has Renee and Question talking some more about obscure stuff that hasn't come to the fray yet, beyond the idea that Intergang is coming to Gotham, and a sneak peek at Batwoman.

The Nat and Steel fight was great, and exposed a great bit of character that's been festering for ten years Steel overshadows Nat and has never really let her explore herself, and how that can impact her desire to follow the straight and narrow. The fight went on for a bit too long, but because it was a fight with words and not a fight with fists, in other words, because it was to character, I enjoyed it. It also gives Steel a true, vivid dimension of hate toward Luthor, which he's kind of lacked. He's never been firsthand destroyed by the man, really, that I've seen (bearing in mind I stopped reading his individual series at about #6 because I didn't have the money as a kid...I might be missing something).

I'm still finding myself totally uninvested in the Adam Strange thing. Of all the people swirling around the DCU, of all the chaos in the wake of the events of Identity Crisis, why are we focusing on a one-off villain dilemma involving a largely tertiary character with a few more tertiary characters fighting what looks to be a re-hash of a Millennium Giant? Maybe I'm missing something.

Renee and Question, for the first time, fell flat in this issue. Mostly because we've been watching Renee mope around for 9 issues now, searching for answers, and it's not that that isn't in character, but more that it's reasonable to move the plot forward by seems a bit arbitrarily stretched.

BUT, with this issue, it seems to be going somewhere. You have the two characters finally together, trying to figure something out, and Batgirl, lurking, ready to pounce. The only problem being, it's the first day of the week at that point, so we won't see the end of that scene next week, we'll see a week later, so I'm worried this might be prolonged even more without really hitting its stride. But then, of all the stories so far, Renee's story is the most compelling to me, because I'm interested in how they're going to handle Batwoman, number one, I want The Question to become a prominent character, number two, and number three, if I see anything I want in this series, it will be Renee redeeming herself from the brink.

Larger the conflict easily understood and prominent in this story? No.

Is this an event in the sense it's been promoted? No. It's just a character story, and a good one.

Should the story be clearer at this point, almost a fifth of the way in? I would say yes, but like I said, I don't know yet.

What's the biggest problem? Well, you're looking at the DCU in the wake of the most catastrophic event since the first CRISIS. Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are out there doing...SOMETHING, and we have no idea what yet. They're DC. Period. I mean, they should at least be mentioned or surmised beyond their own books. Also, we're looking at Booster Gold, Starfire, Renee Montoya, Steel, Animal Man, Adam Strange...the only big gun character here is Luthor. Where's the rest of the DCU? How are they all coping with the shock and damage? Did Hawkgirl shrink? What did they do with Alex's body?

I'm still enjoying this series. This issue was great for half, a bit repetitive and boring for the other half, but the series as a whole is still entertaining, I'm still enjoying it, and I have very high hopes that all of this will come together. It would be hard not to with this group of writers.

4Art - 4: A bit rushed in places, but still very well done in most respects, especially the emotion in Nat and Steel's fight. I don't like the character design on Devilance, very Millennium Giant, almost He-Man-y. The team design on the new Team Luthor is inspired, but also repetitious, with little variation for all of the characters. Still, great green and purple action, and very good work.

2Backup Story - 2: It's basically a summary, so it's hard to rate. It's well written, but it's also something anyone reading this book would know, as is most of the rest of the History of the DCU so far. GREAT art, but what's the point of this? Wikipedia does this. How about highlighting some of the changes that have occurred to all of our favorite characters? How did Aquaman come to be what he is now? What changed in Batman's history with Joe Chill? What did Superboy's punches do to Zod and Superboy of our Earth and Lex's presidency, etcetera...they could sum it up in the remaining few parts, but then, it won't be much material devoted to what is obviously a metric butt-ton of change.

Hey, how about Birthright? Just a thought. Sigh.

It's nice to have a refresher on the DCU history with so vivid a palate, but I mean, where's the new stuff here we need to know, the stuff we want to know?

5Art - 5: All I have to say is: JURGENS. Period. Heh.

At any rate, he manages to take the feel of Identity Crisis and mimic it perfectly. Very good work, good pace, good writing. It's just the subject matter that leaves a bit lacking...

3Cover Art - 3: It's a compelling image, a giant smashing at the three heroes, but purposefully giving the exposure on the lens feel and taking the characters out of focus seems unnecessary to me. It's arty, and sometimes that works out really well, but like I said, the design of this guy doesn't make him very threatening to me, kind of like Galactus.

Kudos for all of these covers sticking to what's in the issue, though. Very nice.

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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