The Revolution has been extremely excited for 52. I have very high expectations for this title. Unfortunately, many times when you do that the actual product fails to meet up to your expectations. I really hope that 52 proves that theory wrong and is as good as I think it will be. Let’s hit the review and find out.
Words: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka & Mark Waid
Pencils: Joe Bennett
Inks: Ruy Jose
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Total Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: The issue starts with the broken crystal shards from Infinite Crisis swirling around into a large explosion and we then see the birth of our New Earth.
We cut to Week 1, Day 1. Elongated Man is at the remains of his home that was destroyed by the Monster Society that attacked Opal City during IC. We see Montoya getting drunk at a bar. And we see Steel helping to find survivors in the rubble of Paris.
We skip to Week 1, Day 2 & 3. Elongated Man is on the phone with someone about the memorial service in Metropolis for everyone who died during IC. We see Montoya continuing her drinking binge at a bar. We see Steel continuing to save people from the destruction left behind by IC.
We hop on to Week 1, Day 4. Steel is talking to a firefighter about how the good guys managed to beat the bad guys. That the heroes won their biggest fight ever. The firefighter then asks Steel when things are going to go back to normal.
We jump to Week 1, Day 5. Booster Gold has caught Mammoth trying to rob a jewelry store. Mammoth is confused how Booster knew what he was up to when Mammoth didn’t even know he was going to steal the diamonds until he did it. It was all spur of the moment. Booster claims he had an inside tip. Booster then slams Mammoth to the ground and takes advantage of his photo-op. Booster tells a couple of little kids that Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman are all fine and they he has seen the future and knows that he is right.
Booster then poses triumphantly over a fallen mammoth and does a quick shill for “Soder Cola” because “sometimes even a super-hero gets thirsty.” By the way, Booster’s outfit has various sponsor names on it. Skeet then tells Booster to chill on the exuberance since people are still upset over Superboy’s death. Someone then asks Booster what is his reaction to the death of Superboy. Booster then sheds some what appears to be crocodile tears and then takes off. Skeets compliments Booster on his theatrics.
Booster then comments how Skeets has every news headline stored in him for the next half millennium. Booster goes on how tomorrow is going to be the defining moment of a century and that he is going to be a part of it. Evidently, Skeets has told Booster that tomorrow, Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman will appear and announce the new Justice League and Superman will give a famous speech that will be taught in civics classes for the next 500 years. And that Jimmy Olsen will win a Pulitzer covering this story. Evidently, the JLA are going to ask Booster to join them. Booster comments how being a member of the greatest JLA ever will increase how much his sponsors will be willing to pay for that kind of placement.
We cut back to Ralph Dibny in his hotel room the night before the funeral in Metropolis. He has his cell phone messages playing. We see the obituary for Sue Dibny on his night stand. Ralph puts a gun barrel in his mouth with tears streaming down his face. But, a message playing on his phone stops him. It is the Mortuary calling to tell Ralph that the cemetery has found a message on Sue Dibny’s tombstone.
We then shift over to Steel flying with his niece Natasha. Natasha is sporting a spiffy new suit of armor. Steel tells Natasha to land immediately. Steel wants Natasha to help him clear the 800 tons of debris in the city. Natasha wants to go meet the Titans in order to be a member of their group. Steel replies that Natasha wants something that she doesn’t deserve yet. That heroes must earn respect and to do that they must help others. Natasha says that it is her armor and her life and she is going to do what she wants. Steel replies that it is his armor that he gave her and that she has not earned it. Steel deactivates her armor and tells her that if she wants armor to build it herself.
We cut over to Kahndaq, where that crazy Black Adam is talking to his people saying that he is going to be an ambassador of Justice and will lead the world by example. Suddenly a dissident appears in the crows calling Black Adam and all of Kahndaq heretics. The Terrorist has dynamite strapped around his body. Black Adam swoops down, picks the terrorist up and throws the dynamite far into the air where it explodes harmlessly. Black Adam then tears off the terrorist’s right arm and tells him that he has “three more chances to tell me who sent you.” (Nice bad-ass scene! Gotta love Black Adam!)
We jump to Week 1, Day 6. We see a group of people break into Dr. Sivana’s lab and abduct him.
We then cut over to the gathering of all the super heroes in Metropolis. We see Geo Force, Zauriel, Green Arrow, Black Canary, The Ray, Speedy, Flash (Jay Garrick), Bart Allen, Black Lightning, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Power Girl, Doctor Light, Wildcat, Grace Choi, Fire, Martian Manhunter, Beast Boy, Tasmanian Devil, Wonder Girl, Raven, Frankenstein, Mr. Miracle, Huntress, Bulletier, Metamorpho, Guy Gardner, John Stewart, Mr. Terrific, the real Aquaman, Star Girl, Hourman, Nightwing, Dr. Mid-Nite, Sand, Zatanna, Plastic Man, the members of Doom Patrol and some other assorted heroes.
Booster counts down to the moment when Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are supposed to appear. But, they don’t. Skeets starts to breakdown and falls to the ground in a cloud of smoke. Booster freaks out and starts ranting about how they were supposed to be here and how the future depends on them. Clark then appears and tell Booster that they aren’t coming.
We hop on to Week 1, Day 7. We see the Question peel off the Bat decal from the Bat-Signal and take a can of spray paint and spray a “?” on the signal. He then fires up the signal and says “I can see you.” We see Montoya coming back to her apartment. She finds a note from her girlfriend that she is leaving Montoya. Suddenly a bright line shines into her apartment. Montoya says that the signal is supposed to be pointed up and she closes her blinds. We then see the question mark signal outside her window. The Question then says “Are you ready?” End of issue.
The Good: The writing was solid. There is no doubt that all the writers are talented. And the issue is well written. I thought that it was a neat idea to give a daily countdown during week 1 leading to day 6.
The first issue did its job which was to introduce the reader to all the main characters of this series. Also to show us their different personalities and how each one of them is dealing with the aftermath of the Crisis in their own way. No, 52 #1 was not terribly exciting. It didn’t have that big “WOW!” scene. It was very low key and nothing happened that we didn’t already know from Infinite Crisis. But, I think 52 #1 did its job in laying the proper solid foundation for a 52 issue story.
I like how Elongated Man is still grieving over Sue and how Crisis just seemed to dredge up more bad memories. Ralph being forced to go through the remains of their house was painful and well done. The scene with Ralph putting the barrel of a gun in his mouth ready to end it all was nicely done. I really can empathize with the pain that Ralph is going through. One of the weaknesses in comic books is that many times characters get over deaths of other characters in an issue or two and then it is never revisited and they act totally normal. But, Ralph’s reaction is realistic. This is something that a man can probably never get over.
And then we are given a hint of an upcoming storyline with Ralph. The fact that someone has written a message on Sue Dibny’s tombstone. This is interesting and I’m curious to see where this storyline goes.
I have never been a big fan of Steel. I think the “S” should be reserved for Superman and no one else. Having said that, I really liked Steel’s character by the end of 52 #1. Steel is a man of honor, integrity and duty. He has the spirit of a hero and I loved his old school attitude. The scene where Steel totally schools his bratty niece was fantastic! If nothing else, 52 #1 made me interested in Steel and I’m looking forward to what they do with his character.
Renee Montoya is the next character that 52 #1 focuses on. I have never really like Montoya, even though she is a Hermana and I like to support mi gente in comics. Sadly, even after this issue, I still find Montoya to be a rather uninteresting character. She is just a female version of the stereotypical hard drinking messed up police detective. Her character is hackneyed and 52 #1 did nothing to change my opinion. I hope that if DC is going to kill one of the characters from 52 that Montoya is the one they kill.
We are teased with why the Question is fixating on Montoya as if she has some as of yet unknown important role in this story. I hope it is more than what we got in this issue which was watching her drink herself into a stupor and getting dumped by her girlfriend. Snore.
And that leads us to the Question, who coming into this title was my favorite character. I have always thought that the Question was a great character with plenty of potential. DC could have a hit character on their hands if they handle the Question properly. I did like the scene where the Question pulls off the bat decal and then spray paints a question mark on the old bat signal. Very cool. I also like the way the Question looks. He reminds me of Rorschach and that is a good thing.
Black Adam has always been a favorite of mine. So, needless to say, I loved his scene in this issue. Having him tear off the terrorist’s arm and tell him he has three more chances to tell Black Adam who he works for was sick! I loved it. This scene reinforces that Black Adam is one bad mofo that you don’t want to mess with.
Booster Gold got the most attention of all the 52 characters. I really like how they are writing Booster. Booster is back to his shilling ways. And that is the way Booster should be. In order for Booster to be reconstructed as a true hero, he needs to be broken down and shown the faults of his previous ways. And it appears that Booster is headed for a serious deconstruction period. I love how the final scene was written with Booster just losing his mind that the big three icons never appeared. Skeet fizzles out and crashes to the ground. Booster is going to have to re-evaluate his position in life and how he goes about things.
My guess is that Booster will no longer be able to rely on Skeet’s archived history of the Earth since this is now a New Earth. Since Infinite Crisis has created a New Earth, then all the history archived on Skeet’s is no longer true or reliable. Everything has been changed.
The abduction of Dr. Sivana was the second teaser for a future storline. I’m interested to see where the writers go with this angle.
Overall, the writing was solid and well done. The dialogue flowed well. The art was nice. Not great, but nice. 52 is a good looking book and the art makes it enjoyable to read.
The Bad : The only negative to the art is that the layout was very uncreative. We had several pages of boring 9, 7 or 3 block panels. It was very static and unimaginative. It gave the issue a bit of a plodding feel to it. That is Giffen’s fault. I have never been a big fan of his. Giffen needs to step up his game and give the rest of these issues a more creative look.
Maybe it was my own high expectations. Maybe I built up 52 so much in my mind that 52 #1 was doomed to be anti-climactic. Unfortunately, 52 #1 didn’t even come close to meeting my expectations. We didn’t learn anything new in this issue. It just felt like a re-hash of the final events from Infinite Crisis #7. There was no “pop” or “sizzle” to hook the reader with the first issue. We did have Dr. Sivana’s abduction by some unkown group and we had the mysterious message written on Sue’s tombstone. But, neither of them were really big or shocking. I probably would have done something big or unexpected just to hook the casual reader in the first issue and then made the second issue more of a set up issue. I just think it is important to try and hook readers as quickly as possible.
I won’t be too harsh on 52 #1, because, like I said, it did its purpose which is to lay the foundation of a 52 issue story and to introduce and give us a flavor of each of the characters in this story. Unfortunately, that also makes for a rather bland opening issue.