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52 #4

Posted: Thursday, June 1, 2006
By: Jim Beard



Writers: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Artists: Keith Giffen (breakdowns), Joe Bennett (p), Ruy Jose and Jack Jadson (i); Backup feature by Dan Jurgens (p), Art Thibert (i)

Publisher: DC Comics


For Synopsissies Only: Montoya kicks bugbear booty while the Question takes it easy. Booster Gold ‘splains a few things to an admiring flame. Steel talks to himself and plays floppy-fish. Ralph Dibny takes a bath in more ways than one. Our returning space heroes have some, ahem, BIG problems…

The Yo!: There is a new definition for weirdness in comics, and its name is “52 Week Four.”

At first, I thought this week was about waiting. Everybody seemed to be waiting for something: Renee was waiting for a building to speak, the astronauts were waiting for signs of the space heroes, Bea was waiting for Booster to see the light, Ralph was waiting for clarity of vision, heck, even the Question was waiting for Montoya to save his butt. You’d think it would make for a pretty passive comic, eh? Well, then it got weird. Really weird. And because we’re in The Yo!, I mean “good-weird,” of course. Good, comic-booky weird-weird.

Its starts with Halo’s spookin’ me all out with her “lightning that can’t strike” mantra. Is she referring to the Shazam lightning? Then ol’ John Henry goes nutso. Who’s playin’ him? It continues: Ralph Dibny immerses himself in the First Church of the Superboy, Montoya fights a scaly goon that almost literally comes out of the woodwork (love that Kirby-tech pea-shooter she acquires!), and Good-Gosh-Almighty, that last page!!! Weird, I tell ya! Weird! Keeps you hopping through the whole issue, and sets a definite tone of “anything goes”…which can make for some very cool comic reading.

Renee Montoya, bless her, made me sit up and take notice finally. Here in Week Four her true self seems to kick in, much like Ralph Dibny’s last issue. She’s a butt-kicker of high caliber and absolutely not short in the brains department. Here tête-à-tête with boy-toy The Question was funny and sad and felt awful real. Her pleasure at finding what could only be some of Intergang’s Apokolipian weapons makes you want to hug and kiss her. Really.

High marks again for more DC Universe mentions. Halo (Mike W. Barr, your check’s in the mail!), Zeta Beams, Animal Man’s wife, and Steel’s original costume all in one issue make my heart swell with fanboy pride.

The Meh…: Into each comic a little rain must fall. Booster Gold’s story in 52 has been relatively lack-luster and repetitive to this point, and Week Four only drives that point home. He’s shallow, he’s self-centered, he’s egotistical, and…oh yeah, he’s shallow! Now he’s a contender for Uber-Jerk. Call Guy Gardner, someone’s muscling in on his territory.

Steel’s story has been very good until Week Four. Now, he’s suddenly suffering from one of the most over-used clichés in comics: arguing with your own alter-ego. I mean, this has been done to death and is currently transpiring over in the Bat-books with Two-Face! Suddenly John’s as nutty as Harvey Dent? As the Green Goblin? Sheesh. And it appears as if he might be growing some kind of organic shell or armor? Well, huh. I’ll wait to see where it goes, but this was a pothole in the path of me getting to really like this character.

And Ralph Dibny? Oh, Ralph (he says in his best Laura Petrie voice), is there any difference between you and a box of rocks? Is this how a detective works? I had such high hopes last week for his comeback play, hope that he’d gotten a juicy mystery to pull his butt up off the couch and do something. So, he does. He gets dumb. I won’t say it again: Ralph Dibny, the world-famous Elongated Man, is smarter than this. I want to see his some brain cells cookin’ with gas next issue. Grrrr.

The Moment: Can it be anything else but that fantastic, delicious, out-and-out weird last page? Wow! Where to start? What to say? Heroes from the depths of space return…but at what cost??? Alan Scott, eye bloody. Hornblower, impaled. Bumblebee, tattered and torn. Other heroes, fused and melded as one. Hawkgirl…grown to gigantic proportions!!?? In the old days, Zeta beams used to simply transport you across galaxies just as you were about to kiss your sweetheart. Now, that’s all out the window. Heroes crippled, changed beyond recognition…oh God, I can’t wait to see where this goes!

The Line: “A secret door? What is this, D&D?” I’m not so sure the younger among us will get the full impact of that line, but it hit the high-schooler in me like a brick Jacuzzi. One silly line transported me back to Bob Wenzlaff’s basement and a weekly round of Gary Gygax’s fantastic fantasy RPG. That chuckle was worth it all for me.

The Character: Steel, Booster, and Ralph are all out of the running for this week. Who does that leave? The leaves, for my money, lil sass-pot Renee Montoya. Can’t believe I’m sitting here typing it, but Ms. Montoya pulled herself up by her bootstraps, danced with the Monster, saved a fellow do-gooder, and, get this, seemed like she might be enjoying herself. That hint of fun, that glint or spark of the joy of life, even if you’re in a dire predicament, made Renee stand head-and-shoulders above all others this week. Bravo. Now, let’s see where she’ll take it from here.

Mr. Wanty: This week Mr. Wanty wanted more about the missing scientists and much more progression of these storylines. Mr. Wanty also still wants to see what another artist could do on the book (although as usual, Joe Bennett turned in another fine job), and really, above all, Mr. Wanty wants to know what the heck is the point so far in History of the DCU. Hopefully Mr. Wanty will find out very soon and want for nothing.



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