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Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

52: Week Fifty Two

52: Week Fifty Two

Scheduled to arrive in stores: May 2, 2007

Cover date: May 2, 2007

"A Year in the Life"

Writer: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Penciller: Mike McKone, Justiniano, Eddy Barrows, Chris Batista, Pat Olliffe, and Darick Robertson (breakdowns by Keith Giffen)
Inker: Andy Lanning, Walden Wong, Rodney Ramos, Drew Geraci, and Darick Robertson
Cover: J.G. Jones and Alex Sinclair

Reviewed by: Barry Freiman

Click to enlarge

Week 0, Day 0: Booster and Rip Hunter are in the time stream witnessing the birth of a new Multiverse. A year ago, Rip Hunter watched as Alex Luthor tried to remake the Earth until Conner (Superboy) Kent sacrificed his life trying to stop Alex. The broken Earths collapsed in on themselves and formed the new Earth DC - New Earth - but the extra energies were too much for one Earth so a new Multiverse of 52 Universes was created: New Earth is the new DCU Earth and then there are Earths 1-51.

Booster and Rip have to stop the evolved Mr. Mind from devouring the Multiverse. Mr. Mind feeds off time and space which is how he was able to eat the Phantom Zone. As he regurgitates the Zone at the heroes intending to trap them forever, Supernova appears using the circuitry in his uniform to deflect the Zone and put it back where it belongs in time and space.

Supernova is Daniel Carter, 21st Century ancestor of Booster Gold, who was last seen after Mr. Mind, hiding inside Skeets, trapped him in an endless loop of 52 seconds stolen from the timeline. Rip moved the loop into the time stream and gave Daniel the Supernova uniform. It turns out Rip knew they'd be attacked by an evolved sentient worm puking the Phantom Zone at them because he had broken into Professor Morrow's laboratory and seen the future on a machine Morrow invented that allows him to see into the future.

As Mr. Mind is about to attack again, Red Tornado's head adjusts the time bubble's settings for a jump to Earth. But it isn't New Earth, it's one of the Earths in the Multiverse. Mr. Mind follows them and starts to consume events from the Earth's history which makes Earth history change. This happens all over the Multiverse as Mr. Mind goes from Earth to Earth.

Earth-17 looks like a world destroyed by a great disaster whose heroes are Atomic Knights riding mutated beasts.

Earth-3 becomes a world with a Crime Syndicate, an evil version of the Justice League.

Earth-10 is a world where Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters fight the Nazi menace on American soil.

Earth-50 is the Wildstorm Universe.

Earth-5's greatest heroes are the Marvel Family.

Earth-22 is the place where the events of "Kingdom Come" apparently take place.

Earth-2 is the home of the Justice Society but it's different than the classic pre-Crisis Earth-2. Many of the heroes are wearing darker versions of their classic costumes. Also this Earth reflects the events of "Infinite Crisis" as Huntress is holding up a newspaper with a photo of the Earth-2 Superman and Power Girl and a headline reading "Kryptonians Still Missing". A sidebar story headline reads "Luthor Claims Innocence" and shows a picture of a bald Lex Luthor.

Earth-4 is policed by weird heroes like the Question, Blue Beetle, and Peacemaker.

Rip Hunter puts on a space suit. He uses Morrow's machine to show them the future if they fail: Mr. Mind's hyperflies have devoured every living thing and all that's left is darkness.

Booster has a brief crisis of confidence but the real Skeets mutters out a message that he believes in him. Booster goes somewhere in time.

Rip tells Daniel that there is a future coming that records this moment as the beginning of Booster Gold's glory years as a hero and that heralds the birth of something called the Megaverse. Rip says it's his job to make sure this is the future that comes to pass.

Rip leaves Daniel in the time bubble and goes off into the time stream to get some items he needs.

On New Earth, in the past: it's the day after the end of the first "Crisis on Infinite Earths". Ted Kord (Blue Beetle) is searching through rubble for the blue beetle scarab when he meets up with Booster Gold who has traveled back in time for a power source. Booster takes the scarab and goes back to the future.

Rip steals Suspendium from Sivana (and shoots him to get it) but he lets slip that there's a Multiverse out there in front of Sivana. The team meets up back in the time bubble. Rip turns up the circuitry in the Supernova suit.

Rip takes the time bubble back to his lab on New Earth. Mr. Mind follows and makes himself smaller to do so. Booster traps Mr. Mind in Skeets' body which has now been lined with Suspendium by Rip. The cage won't hold Mr. Mind until the Suspendium is fully charged by it moving fast and hard against the time stream. After saying goodbye to his robotic little buddy, Booster Gold tosses Skeets' body into the time stream and tells his ancestor Daniel to "go long". Supernova flies through the events of the last year.

Week 2, Day 1: Supernova passes Booster meeting with Dr. Magnus to ask about the problems he was having with Skeets 52 weeks ago. He goes further back in time.

Week 1, Day 1: He spikes the Suspendium laced Skeets and there's a tremendous chronal explosion. Shortly thereafter, Sivana finds the devolved Mr. Mind in the desert and imprisons him, setting into motion the events that will ultimately cause Mr. Mind to end up devolved and found in the desert by Sivana. Mr. Mind is doomed to repeat the same 52 weeks of near-victory over and over.

Daniel is spit out of the time stream. Booster, Daniel, and Rip head back to New Earth and the present. Rip tells Booster that he was able to copy Skeet's mem-self into a leftover responsometer and that Dr. Magnus can bring Skeets back to life.

Booster asks Rip if he's worried about all the changes to the Earths that were made by Mr. Mind but Rip says it's again a Multiverse of possibilities and things are the way they should be.

Week 52, Day 6: Black Adam is now "The Most Wanted Mortal in the World". Checkmate is assigned the task of finding him. In Metropolis, John Henry and Nat work while listening to the news. In Washington, the Department of Metahuman Affairs is discussing Black Adam and among those present is new agent Diana Prince (the once and future Wonder Woman).

In Kahndaq, the amulet of Isis sits in a garden of blooming flowers as a hand reaches for it.

Somewhere, a man in black walks the streets in Sobek-skinned boots.

At the Golden Rule Preschool in Sheffield, Alabama, a school teacher is panicked as she's questioned by government agents about a huge fire pit that opened up in the class just after the children collectively drew something so nasty it even makes the agents recoil. The ghosts of Ralph and Sue Dibny appear and Sue says "Honey, your nose is twitching."

Booster goes to see Dr. Magnus who puts Skeets back together using a back-up copy of his programming from when Booster came to see him a year earlier. Skeets has no memory of the last 52 weeks.

Week 52, Day 7: The new Question removes the Question mark from the Batsignal on top of police headquarters and puts the Bat-emblem back on it. She shines the Batsignal into Kate Cain's home and says: "I have a question. Are you ready?"

The end.

4Story - 4: The Multiverse is back and yet it's different. Instead of each of these worlds being constrained by the events of the past, each Earth is enriched by them. Earth-2 still exists with the Golden Age heroes and their offspring as the principal good guys. Yet things are different. This Huntress and Robin aren't the same Huntress and Robin who died in issue 12 of "Crisis on Infinite Earths" and yet they are. This same logic says that nothing in this new Multiverse negates the fact that Supergirl, Superman's cousin, died in "Crisis on Infinite Earths #7", and yet, on "New Earth", Supergirl, Superman's cousin, is flying around half-naked with a chip on her super-shoulder.

An older Superman apparently lived on this new Earth-2 and disappeared along with Power Girl but perhaps these are not the Golden Age Superman who died in "Infinite Crisis" and Power Girl who lives on New Earth but different incarnations of those characters altogether.

Earth-5 is like Earth-S (and a 5 looks like an S, what do you know?) which had been the home of the Captain Marvel family. Earth-5 has a Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel Junior, and Mary Marvel but these are in addition to those same characters who continue to live on New Earth. The Judd Winick-penned "The Trials of Shazam" is telling the story of Freddy Freeman on New Earth. On New Earth, Captain Marvel is the new Wizard. And, on New Earth, Mary Marvel is currently in a coma but is about to figure prominently into the next weekly series "Countdown". The same goes for the Freedom Fighters who exist in their more classic representation on Earth-10 (get it? They used to live on Earth-X pre-Crisis and X is the Roman numeral for 10).

Then there's the implications created by the numerical designations. It isn't Earths 1 through 52. It's "New Earth" (which will get old fast) and Earths 1 through 51. It's therefore implied that there's an Earth-1 that we weren't shown - perhaps it's the Silver Age there. Does Clark Kent anchor the WGBS nightly news with Lana Lang there just as he did in those pre-Crisis Earth-1 days? I hope so.

One of my biggest qualms with "Infinite Crisis" was the idea that, somehow, New Earth was a merging of several Earths but the dominant Earth was Earth-1. Long-time Superman fans know that Superman of Earth-1 and Superman as revamped by John Byrne and Marv Wolfman in 1986 were two very different Men of Steel. I felt Earth-1 actually got ignored by "Infinite Crisis" in the sense it was assumed at certain points that Earth DC was basically Earth-1 and it wasn't any more or less than it was Earth-2. If there is an Earth-1 out there in this new Multiverse, that puts a fix on that for me.

What the heck is a Megaverse? Rip Hunter says it's the birth of a new Megaverse, not a Multiverse. Well, 52 universes would be a lot but would it be enough to be considered Mega? I don't think so. But what if (as my physicist friend Anthony theorizes) each of the 52 Earths was in its own Multiverse with 51 other universes? Then each of the 52 universes would bring their own 52 universes to the table. Then each Earth in each of those sub-universes would have its own set of 52 universes. You see where this is going - like that old shampoo commercial where Heather Locklear told two friends and so on and so on and so on and so on. . . . Now that'd be a mega-sized Multiverse, a Megaverse.

Was 52 a success overall? It came out on time every week for 52 weeks. That's all that DC promised they'd do and they did it. So in and of itself, it succeeded. Of course, long time Superman comics readers essentially saw DC pull off the same thing - following an initial misstep with Action Comics Weekly -- in the late 1980s and early 1990s as there was a time the triangle numbering on the four Superman titles being published at the time essentially indicated the order of a continuing weekly story whether in Action, Superman, Adventures of Superman, or Superman: Man of Steel.

Because "52" took place in a year not being documented in the regular titles, which pick up "One Year Later" than the end of "Infinite Crisis", it wasn't important to keep any other titles out on schedule to keep up with the crossover. The next 52-week series will be different. With next week's "Countdown", it's 52 weeks in the current year in the DCU and it will reflect events of storylines in other mainstream DC books. This means that every mainstream DC book has to come out on schedule or creators and thus fans face the possibility of stories being spoiled by "Countdown". Given how late the Superman titles have been recently, I'm wary that, perhaps it would have been a better idea to prove that they can release every book on schedule for a period of, say, six months, before trying an experiment that relies on timely-released books.

Still, they said a weekly comic book serial couldn't be done and they did it. No matter how "Countdown" proceeds - and the title of course presupposes the question of countdown-to-what-exactly - "52" was quite an accomplishment and a well-told story.

5Art - 5: While "52" was written by four of DC's top-of-the-line go-to-guys, the art has mainly been a showcase for lesser known artists. I finally figured out why. Speed. "52" needed artists whose egos were smaller than the story, people who could be depended upon to get a book in on time. Just imagine Adam Kubert (the penciller of the first several issues of "Action Comics" penned by Geoff Johns and Richard Donner) as a "52" penciller and it'd be easy to imagine that we'd only be up to issue 2, not 52. The art wasn't mind-blowing but it didn't have to be. It was more important that the art not take the reader out of the story, that different artists' takes be consistent enough that characters are mostly recognizable when depicted by multiple pencillers. And that there be a new issue of "52" on the stands every week for 52 weeks. The artists more than met the challenge that a lot of their more well-known peers probably couldn't have. That's even more impressive than the writers having done their job. The artists this time out really prove how compatible they are - six pencillers and five inkers and it feels like one book.

5Cover Art - 5: I liked the cover to the first issue of "52", I like this book-end cover just as much. What I said for the artists getting the book done on time goes double for J.G. Jones and Alex Sinclair.

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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