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52 #27

Posted: Thursday, November 9, 2006
By: Jim Beard



Writers: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Artists: Shawn Moll (p), Ruy Jose, Mariah Benes, Rodney Ramos, Prentis Rollins, Nelson (i)

Publisher: DC Comics


For Synop-Sissies Only: Ralph Dibny gets scary. Waverider and Skeets get chummy. Renee Montoya gets kneecapped. Time Commander gets fried.

Welcome to the second half of 52. My warmest thanks to everybody who’s been reading these reviews. I appreciate it. Let’s get right into this week, eh?

The Yo!: Week Twenty-Seven is a solid issue that significantly advances some of the more interesting storylines and characters of 52. I was glad I read it.

Let’s talk about Ralph Dibny. With this issue, he has, for a fictional character, been changed forever. I know you may be wondering where I’ve been for the past twenty-six weeks, but honestly, I’ve been in something akin to denial all that time. Oh sure, I’ve commented at length about Ralph’s journey since Sue’s death and what 52 has done to him, but the events of Week Twenty-Seven hammered it home and made me realize that he will never, ever be the Ductile Detective of my golden past again.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because we are getting one helluva character arc out of it, maybe one of the most important character arcs of any DC character ever. I’m going to say that Ralph has gotten perhaps the most significant attention of any 52 cast member to date, and this week lays that out in spades. This is a strong, very strong entry in his quest, maybe even stronger than a wicker Sue Dibny calling Ralph’s name and his subsequent breakdown (note to self: haven’t found out who or what helped him back from that yet). You don’t have Ralph Dibny take on the power of the Spectre and take his wife’s murderer back in time to relive said murder and not come away with scenes that reverberate in your brain. The writers have pulled out all stops and show no signs of halting the speeding train that is Ralph Dibny’s journey through obsession, madness, magic, life, and death. Bravo.

Oh, Week minus Eighty-Four? Too cool. Made me sit up and take notice of the dates for the first time.

Waverider enters into the 52 milieu in a big way this week. Only glimpsed last week, the “Seer of Hypertime” gets a rude awakening from our old pal Skeets and will most likely not survive the encounter. The “broken time” story ramps up here, folks, and I found myself reading every single word, every sentence, carefully and thoughtfully, letting them seep into me and letting my brain try and sort it all out. Skeets wants to find Rip Hunter, a man described this issue, gloriously, as “the pioneer and inventor of time travel.” I applaud that passage and give DC a hearty pat on the back for honoring an old-school character thusly. He’s gotta be pretty important for Skeets to do the things he’s done in order to find him. This segment of Week Twenty-Seven almost rivaled Ralph’s for sheer balls and for some pretty damn good reading.

The appearance of Time Commander scored a few points with me too, DC. My God, is that old Brave & Bold story one of my absolute faves!

Then we come to Renee Montoya and her train wreck of a life, a wreck that gained some quite immense new wings and dings. This issue provides another wrinkle in her relationship with the Question and quite painfully illustrated the frustration of a person who is beginning to learn to trust and then is thrown the Mother of All Curveballs. The Question is dying, you see, and Renee learns this while sitting on a lonely mountain somewhere in Tibet. She is without friends and surrounded by strangers. Her budding feelings for the Question have been thrown down a deep, dark hole, and she finds herself about to lose the anchor she most desperately, passionately needs in her life. Then, on top of that, she discovers her old lover is in dire and immediate danger. And Renee’s stuck in Nanda Parbat.

I also applaud the turn of the wheel back in the direction of Batwoman. Yes, absence did make this heart grow fonder. Bravo.

If all this wasn’t enough, the threads of 52's storylines have been once again pulled closer together this week. Renee is linked to Batwoman and Black Adam; Adam is linked to the missing scientists and Oolong Island, etc. Now, Ralph Dibny becomes linked to Renee as he begins a new line of inquiry to Nanda Parbat. We’re halfway through and thankfully the stories are coming together. Will they unite in a tapestry or in a bloated and ugly snag in the fabric of time and the universe? Keep reading.

I really, really liked the Origin of Black Canary. Her JSA connection is given the exposure it deserves, and the Howard Chaykin art was a sweet delight.

The Meh: A little bit of meh this week. I wanted to start to avoid talking about the art in 52 if I found it to be unpalatable as the weeks wore on into the second half, but alas, I cannot keep silent. The art in Week Twenty-Seven was bad. Very bad. Sub par. This is the level of art I expect from lesser companies, not DC. This looks amateurish and not worthy of inclusion in one of the hottest series of recent times. I’m not sure exactly how much was Shawn Moll’s doing but despite the insanity of five inkers on one book…no, wait, let me repeat that: FIVE INKERS on one book, Shawn has to take some of the heat. I’ve said before that I understand DC is under the gun to produce this series, but we’ve had some decent artists already on this book, and there are others in DC's stable that have yet to be tapped for 52, like Don Kramer for example. We can do much, much better than this. Points were lost this week purely for the art. That’s a pity because otherwise it’s a solid, solid read.

A quick note about the Spectre: I know this issue occurs between his Hal Jordan and Crispus Allen phases but is there anything more he could do to get me to dislike him a little more? I mean, he’s a JSAer, for God’s sake, a hero I should admire (being a JSA fan) but he’s got something going here in 52 that just doesn’t sit right. Creepy, sure, that’s okay, but why should I be made to feel that the “Hand of God” is a devil in disguise, a Mephistopheles to Ralph’s Faust, and somebody you just don’t want to have anything to do with if you’re a good person? Why is he like a vulture sitting in a tree? Why is he all “devil on your shoulder”? Any chance that the Spectre could at least begin to act like he’s on the side of the angels again?

The Moment: Almost went with Skeets' revelation of the origin of his golden skin (a great moment to be sure) but in the end it had to be Ralph Dibny holding a sane Jean Loring and forcing her to watch the murder of Sue Dibny all over again. It read and looked like a scene out of a 70s Marvel horror comic, and I mean that in a good way (can you tell who’s been buying a lot of Essential TPBs lately?). Wirey, tense, rough, harsh, and burns an image into your retinas that you won’t wipe away any time soon.

The Line: “We were supposed to be the new Time Masters!” Isn’t that a great line? I mean, you could only get a line like that in a DC comic and have it work. I actually felt sorry for Time Commander.

The Character: Ralph? He’s gotten this award before, but he sure went through a lot crap this week and probably deserves it. Waverider? Walks into 52 and steals the show? He probably deserves it too. Renee? She’s won this almost as many times as Ralph, but she too took her knocks this issue and maybe lost something she really, really needs.

So, who is The Character? Tell ya what; YOU decide and let me know on a message board somewhere. I can’t decide, and I can’t wait to see who YOU picked!

Mr. Wanty: Wants more threads to come together, more storylines to advance, more characters to learn and grow, and most of all, to have 52 end in a way that feels like some kind of an ending, not one that feels like the series isn’t a “whole thing.” Give us that ending, DC. We wants it, yes we does.



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