Friday, December 29, 2006

Comic Book Review: 52 #34

The Revolution wasn't all that crazy about the past issue. It was okay, but nothing great. I'm hoping that the writers get this title rolling with a bit faster pace than the past several issues. Judging by the cover, it appears that the Question dies in this issue. Let's go ahead and do this review.

Creative Team
: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka and Mark Waid
Pencils: Joe Bennett
Inks: Ruy Jose

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: Week 34, Day 1: We begin with the Suicide Squad ambushing Black Adam, Isis, Osiris and Sobek in the Redwood National Forest. Atom Smasher grabs Black Adam and tells Black Adam that he must turn himself in. That Black Adam has to pay for his crimes. Black Adam refuses to be judged by the hypocritical American government. Black Adam then takes down Atom Smasher.

We cut to Persuader fighting Isis. Persuader gets the upper hand and chops his axe into Isis’s arm and her face! (Nasty!) Persuader is about to kill Isis, when Osiris snaps and blasts off at top speed and tears the Persuader in half. (Double nasty!)

Osiris is horrified at what he has done and repeats over and over that he wants to do good. Black Adam tells Osiris that they have to go home.

We cut to Amanda Waller watching the entire event on her monitor. She tells Vertigo that she didn’t expect the Suicide Squad to succeed. However, they did provide her with what she really needed. That video feeds were live and recorded. Amanda says that all these super-powered teenagers are the same.

Week 34, Day 4: We cut to Natasha and some of the other female members of Infinity Inc. out among their adoring public. Lex Luthor arranges for a department store to be closed for three hours so that the ladies of Infinity Inc. could shop in peace. When Lex’s assistant goes to pay for the ladies’ clothing, the cashier informs her that Lex’s car has been declined. Lex’s assistant correctly realizes that this must all be a set up. We cut to Barbara Gordon coordinating with Black Canary. Barbara tells Black Canary that their plan is in place.

Lex’s assistant orders the ladies of Infinity Inc to immediately go back to the limo. Barbara Gordon broadcasts to one of the police officers that the crows of onlookers has gotten huge outside the store and recommends that the ladies be taken by individual guards in three different directions.

A police officer grabs Natasha and quickly guides her to the stairs. Once they enter the stairway the police officer reveals herself to be Black Canary. In the stairway is Steel. Steel tells Natasha that he arranged this so he could talk to her. Steel tells Natasha to look at him and see that the powers that Lex gave him are gone. Steel says that the powers are simply temporary. Steel then asks Natasha how in the world could a slug like Blockbuster grab Natasha’s friend, Trajectory, and break her neck? That Trajectory was way too fast for that too happen unless Lex took away her powers. Steel tells Natasha to look at the facts and draw her own conclusions.
Week 34, Day 5: We see Clark Kent tied up and being questioned by some thugs. The thugs inject Clark with a truth serum. They then ask Clark why Superman is masquerading as Supernova. Clark responds that Supernova is not Superman.

Week 34, Day 7: We see The Question being wheeled into the hospital. They admit him into his own hospital room. The Question can barely talk and is clearly about to die at any moment. Renee Montoya sits in The Question’s room and watches the New Year’s Eve presentation taking place in downtown Metropolis on TV.

We cut to the thug who was questioning Clark telling Lex Luthor that Clark doesn’t know Supernova’s secret identity. Lex tells the thug that Clark is of no use to him. Lex tells the thug to take Clark back to his home and let him believe he was interrogated by the Yakuza.

Lex then reads the results from the latest effort to give him super powers. Once again, the effort failed and Lex’s body continues to reject the Everyman treatment. Lex is exceedingly angry. Lex says that Supernova has been wining too many hearts. That Metropolis is Lex Luthor’s city. It is definitely not Supernova’s city. Lex says that it is time that Supernova failed in the face of a real challenge.

We cut to the New Years Eve presentation in downtown Metropolis where tons of new super heroes from the Everyman project are flying through the air. The countdown from 10 to 1 to the beginning of 2007 begins. As the crowd at the New Years presentation counts to one, we see Renee Montoya holding The Question’s hand. We then see Lex with a malevolent look on his face as he pushes a red button. End of story.

We then get a two page back up story about the origin of Zatanna. End of issue.

The Good
: 52 #34 was another good read. It really is amazing how consistent the boys at DC have been with 52. To make a weekly comic book a quality read each and every week is extremely hard to do. And to do it without any marquee names is even more difficult.

I absolutely loved the beginning to this issue. The sick fight scene between the Black Marvel family and the Suicide Squad was definitely my favorite part of 52 #34. This brawl was wicked violent. Watching the Persuader proceed to chop up Isis was definitely unexpected. Also unexpected was the restraint shown by Black Adam in not killing anyone in this battle. I can’t blame Black Adam for not surrendering himself to the American government. There is definitely no reason why he should stand judgment by the American government for his past actions.

But, the best part of this fight scene was the fall of Osiris. His violent reaction to the Persuader chopping up Isis was raw and vicious. Such an extreme reaction was totally understandable given the situation. However, it was terribly tragic. Osiris truly is a good person who does so desperately want to be accepted as a true hero. Unfortunately, Osiris bears the sins of his “father” Black Adam. Just like his “father,” Osiris has now been caught on video ruthlessly killing a villain. Osiris cannot escape the shadow of the Black Adam legacy. This is going to have such a traumatic impact on Osiris. I am interested to see what happens next. This plotline is definitely one of the more compelling plotlines in 52.

As always, the scenes with Renee Montoya and The Question were powerfully written. These two characters definitely have had the best chemistry and have clicked together like no two other characters in 52. The scene with Renee sitting by The Question’s hospital bed holding his hand while he dies was quite emotional and touching. I know that horrible helpless feeling of having to sit there and watch someone slip away from you. And for a character of action like Renee it must be even more difficult to watch something that she has no ability to stop from happening.

The Steel/Natasha scene was well done. The main reason that I liked it so much is that we finally got an appearance from the Birds of Prey in 52. It is always great to see Babs doing her thing as Oracle. Steel finally got his face to face conversation with Natasha and you can definitely tell that Steel managed to plant some seeds of doubt in Natasha’s mind.

It is only a matter of time before Natasha realizes that Lex has been playing all of Infinity Inc for fools. I know in the end that Natasha will come around and help the good guys take down Lex’s Everyman Project. Honestly, this plotline with Steel and Natasha has really lagged for a large portion of 52 and I’m glad to see it finally building some momentum.

I liked the Clark Kent interrogation scene. Poor Lex. He will never know how agonizingly close he was to finding out Superman’s secret identity. Stripped of his powers, Clark is actually susceptible to the truth serum. This was Lex’s once in a lifetime chance to finally discover the secret that he has so desperately wanted. To see it slip through his fingers without him ever knowing it was great.

Lex’s mysterious evil plan certainly has my attention. Whatever Lex is up to you know it is going to be huge. I also dig how Lex is completely obsessed with Supernova. Lex’s obsession with Supernova is just an extension of obsession with Superman. It seems that Lex cannot live without obsessing over some imaginary adversary. That Lex just can’t deal with sharing Metropolis.

I also find it fascinating that Lex’s body continues to reject the Everyman treatment. I find it highly interesting that Lex despises super powered people so much and prides himself on being so successful in spite of having no super powers; and yet he so desperately wants super powers. Lex always seems so fiercely proud of being human that it is clear that his hate for super powered people is truly just petty jealousy.

The ending was well structured. I liked how we cut back and forth between the crowd at the New Years celebration in downtown Metropolis, Lex in his office engaging his dastardly plan and Renee sitting with The Questions all while the crowd counted from 10 to 1 to greet the New Year. It was a cool way to end the story that helped to increase the feeling of anxiousness in the reader as we wait to find out just what Lex has planned. Ending the issue with such a cliffhanger ending was a great way to hook the reader into coming back for the next issue.

I am really warming up to Bennett’s artwork. I believe that this is the highest score that I have given the artwork on 52 up to this point. Bennett is a good artist who delivers a quality looking comic book. Yes, he is still a bit inconsistent with some panels looking rather ordinary while others look excellent. However, Bennett still has provided the best artwork on 52 out of all of the various artists that DC has rotated in on this title.

The Bad: No complaints with this issue.

Overall: 52 #34 was another good read. You can really feel the intensity of the various plotlines beginning to heat up in 52 has we begin to race to the conclusion. We only have eighteen issues left and the writers still have plenty to address before the end arrives. This ride is really about to pick up pace and I expect 52 to be one wild ride from this point on.


Mark "Puff" Anderson said...

I can't wait until 52 is over and, then, find myself a long weekend with nothing to do but sit and read it all #1-52 and look for the nuances that I feel we might be missing as this chugs along.

Mark "Puff" Anderson

Rokk Krinn said...

Excellent point. I'm definately going to do the same thing. 52 has got to be an even better read when read as a whole.