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52 #31

Posted: Thursday, December 7, 2006
By: Jim Beard



Writers: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Artists: Keith Giffen (breakdowns); Chris Batista (p)

Publisher: DC Comics


For Synop-Sissies Only: Space Sector 3500 is so gone. Natasha Irons is so duped. Ralph Dibny is so right. Supernova is so out. Captain Comet is so terribly, terribly dead.

Didn’t think this week’s 52 could hold a candle to Justice Society of America #1, but hot damn, it did just fine!

The Yo!: Lots to chew on this week. Big stuff, little stuff, important stuff, cool stuff. It‘s a good week to be reading 52.

Space Sector 3500 is overrun by Lady Styx’s ravenous hoard and its bye-bye friendly space aliens (who have really spiffy-cool uniforms). Captain Comet tries valiantly to help, but the invaders are fierce, destructive, and deadly. In a wonderfully chilling sequence of events, we get a front row seat on exactly what Our Fear Lady does to the planets she casts her evil eye upon…, and its anything but pretty. Wholesale slaughter, evisceration, and brainwashing are the orders of the day, and not even old school hero Captain Comet, born “100,000 years ahead of his time” can stand against this perfect storm. It goes badly, to say the least, but my word, was it fascinating to watch.

This detailed invasion is about as “Kirby” as you can get: machines at a scale “of which there is no adequate words to describe,” “believer cubes,” “glorifiers” in the billions, “the living word of the lady”…all so New Gods-sounding it just ain’t funny. I have doubts that it will all tie into Kirby’s classic space saga, but Jack’s spirit and imagination is definitely on display here in these first several pages (despite the gore, something The King would have never have lowered himself to). Chilling, like I said, and it presents a seemingly-unstoppable force on a scale that maybe even our beloved DC heroes would be unable to defend against. All-in-all, a great read.

And before I forget: the Guardians of the Universe? Complete and utter bastards. Time hasn’t mellowed these runts in the least, and any self-respecting entity that would take a power ring for the Corps needs to have his brain box examined. Xax, I feel for ya, little insect buddy. You were never meant to be an earring, my friend.

One might think that any other 52 sequence would have a hard time following up the complete destruction of a space sector and its peoples, but Natasha Irons and her Infinity Inc. bedfellows give it the old Luthor try and serve up a few pages with a wonderfully sickening concept, and a nasty little bit of subterfuge. Everyman, one of Luthor’s guinea pig “heroes,” is also a complete bastard, and, as it turns out, has a unique way of getting his ideas for self-transmutation: he eats his subjects. Yeah, I ran to the bathroom after hearing that one, too. Wow. Points to the 52 crew for that bit of culinary creativity!

Then, Wonder Girl meets up with Ralph Dibny and gives him some valuable information. Everything’s hunky-dory in Dibny-Sandsmark Land (though Cassie’s still fooling herself into thinking Superboy’s returned). Ralph then surprises us by doing a meet-up with Supernova. See, he knows who the Mysterious Metropolis Marvel is and, God bless him, he wants Supernova to tell Wonder Girl the truth.

This is the side of Ralph that I’m always glad to see. He’s been pretty rough-and-tumble in 52, but every now and then his heroism, his nobility, his goodness shines through, and we see the champion we once knew as the Elongated Man. His detective skills are still finely honed, too, and his deducing of Supernova's identity is spot-on. Problem is, he doesn’t tell US! But seriously, I’m not too bugged by it. I haven’t gone out of my way to try and put all the pieces together for any of the 52 mysteries because frankly, I’m having too good of a time watching it all play out. There are some really good clues here, by the way: powers seen from the “proper angle,” “two keys,” a name that shouldn’t be said out loud, and “too much at stake.” I’m sure it's all there to be put together, but hey, I’ll let Ralph be the detective this time. I’ll be the reader and groove to it as it happens.

Oh, and Ralph is drinking fairly heavily this week. Is it booze? Some would say yes, but there are absolutely no signs of inebriation or debilitation of his wit, his intelligence, or his consciousness. Maybe I’m in denial and don’t want to have a drunkard Ralph on top of a jackass Ralph, but for the moment I’m just sayin’ it's Gingold and leaving it at that. More fun that way. And before you say anything else, I’m sure Gingold would smell bad to some people.

One more word about Captain Comet, before I forget. Week Thirty-One is a good lead-in to a fun little book called Mystery in Space. If you haven’t been picking up this miniseries, give it a try…, especially if you’re interest was peaked by Comet here in 52. DC can shill their books all they want and wherever they want. To me, it’s one of the things that comics are all about, and have been for decades.

The Batista art was very nice this week, perhaps the finest that Chris has turned in on this series, AND despite the “inking mob” that seems to be a new mainstay of 52. A clean look was maintained throughout the issue, and the visuals did a nice job supporting and expanding upon the story. Again, nice work. Refreshing to be able to say that.

The Meh: The Robin origin is the definitive definition of “meh.” It just sort of sits there and exists. I think a lot of that has to do with the odd last paragraph (leading me to then say, “yes…and then?”) and the dumb new Robin costume. What was wrong with the previous outfit? Now he has even MORE red all over him?

I liked the Infinity Inc. segment, as I said, and I was glad to see Ralph’s story link up with it, but as usual, I pulled back and asked myself what it had to do with the overall picture. If there is little or no movement on the matter, I could have stood a few more pages added to the space installment.

The Moment Lots of good ones this week, and I almost went with the arrival of the “believer cubes,” but settled on Ralph’s confrontation with Supernova. I think it was written in a way that was both intriguing and non-annoying. Ralph figured it out, wanted to save Cassie some grief, and yet did not make me mad because I hadn’t figured it out. Go figure.

The Line: “Request denied, with honors.” Oh, yeah. THANK you, my masters! Oh, you SHOULDN’T have! No, no, I don’t DESERVE such honors! The Guardians are TOO kind!

Rotten, stinking, little bastards.

The Character: Captain Comet: heroic, steadfast, self-sacrificing, beleaguered, overwhelmed…, and ready with a contingency plan. Never cared much for this guy in the past, but he sure made me sit up and take notice today. Everything a hero should be.

Mr. Wanty Wants the Lost in Space Heroes to mix it up with Lady Styx; Steel to get off his shiny metal ass and tackle Luthor directly; Ralph to get the Fate helmet into the hands of a worthy individual who will use it wisely; the Infinity Inc. dunderheads to take a powder; and for Batwoman to plant a big wet one on Detective Chimp.

Huh, did I just type that last bit out loud?



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