52 #18 Review

Last issue of 52 was my least favorite issue of this series. I don’t think this is the beginning of a trend. I just think that the writers on 52 were catching their breath and turned in a filler issue. I fully expect 52 #18 to rebound and deliver a quality story that we have come to expect with 52. With that in mind, let’s hit the review.

Creative Team
Writers: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka and Mark Waid
Penciler: Eddy Barrows
Inker: Ron Stull

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: Week 18, Day 1: We see the House of Mystery which is the home base of the Croatoans. Sangaku, Terri and Detective Chimp enter the main office and find Tim Trench sitting in the office with the lights off. Tim is wearing Dr. Fate’s helmet. When Terri touches Tim, he transforms into a puddle of liquid and Dr. Fate’s helmet falls to the floor.

Week 18, Day 2: We shift to Kahndaq where the Question is receiving the Order of the Crescent which is the highest honorific medal that a foreigner can receive. The Question is receiving this honor from Black Adam and Isis for his help in stopping the suicide bomber who attempted to blow up the crowd at their wedding.

Black Adam is pissed that Montoya did not appear for such an honor. The Question responded that Montoya is still dealing with having to kill a girl. Black Adam retorts that Montoya had no choice and she did the right thing. Black Adam feels highly insulted that Montoya keeps snubbing him.

We cut to Black Adam punching a hole in the wall of the room that Montoya is staying at. Montoya is drunk and in bed getting it on with some hot chica. Black Adam gets in Montoya’s grill for her continuous insults toward him. Black Adam picks her up by her neck and Montoya starts crying and tells him to kill her. Isis steps in and says this is not solving anything. The Question agrees and says that the real issue is Intergang. That Intergang must be stopped. Isis and Black Adam agree and vow to help bring down Intergang.

Week 18, Day 3: We see Detective Chimp at meeting with Ralph Dibny in Marseilles, France. Detective Chimp shows Ralph Dr. Fate’s helmet and tells him the story about what happened with Tim Trench. Detective Chimp said that Ralph was the first person that he thought of when confronted with such an odd mystery. Ralph tells Detective Chimp that they need to call in Shadowpact. That this mystery is going to require their help.

Week 18: Day 4: We cut to Booster Gold’s funeral in Cincinnati, Ohio. Evidently, this was the only town that Skeets could find in America that wasn’t full of anti-Booster Gold sentiment. The only heroes on hand are 6 no-name losers who only appeared because of their agents getting them the gig or because of a posting on a HeroList website. They are all doing this to try and increase their profile and exposure. None of them actually knew Booster. Clark Kent is there to cover the funeral. He is the only other person present. Clark thinks this is all terrible. That Booster was too good of a man for the world to forget him so quickly.

After the six lame heroes and Clark leave the Church and head to the Cemetery, Skeets stays behind. Skeets approaches a man named Daniel Jon Carter. Skeets runs a bio-scan that reveals that Daniel Carter is one of Booster Gold’s ancestors. Skeets tells Daniel to contact him tonight so they can talk about his future.

Week 18: Day 7: We see Ralph Dibny and the members of Shadowpact in Giza, Egypt. (Ah, so conveniently close to Black Adam’s Kahndaq.) They all stand around Dr. Fate’s helmet. Suddenly, the helmet starts calling out Ralph’s name. The helmet tells Ralph that this is now the 10th Age of Magic. That the new forces of magic obey new laws and new axioms. That nothing comes without a price. That Tim Trench learned this hard cold fact. That Tim was too impatient and he paid the price.

Dr. Fate’s helmet tells Ralph that it can give him all the answers that he seeks. But, that the journey will be full of trials. The helmet asks Ralph if he is prepared to make ever sacrifice that the helmet asks of him. Ralph says “I am.” Ralph then grabs Dr. Fate’s helmet and begins to walk off. The members of Shadowpact ask Ralph who he is doing. Ralph tells them that they heard what the helmet said and that he is ready. The members of Shadowpact yell for Ralph to wait as Ralph gets in a truck and speeds off with Dr. Fate’s helmet. After Ralph as left with the helmet, the members of Shadowpact ask each other if Ralph actually thinks that Dr. Fate’s helmet was talking to him. End of story.

We are “treated” to a two page origin of The Question. End of issue.

The Good: 52 #18 was an excellent rebound issue. I enjoyed 52 #18 much more than the last issue. The boys writing 52 continue to impress me. This issue had a nice measured pace. As always, the reader is treated to plenty of nicely crafted dialogue. The writers continue to generate quality chemistry between the various characters. It is really nice to read a comic where the story is so technically sound with good structure and a focused and clearly mapped out direction and purpose.

The opening scene was a good intro to this issue that was heavy on the state of the world of Magic since Infinite Crisis. We have been left wondering what has been going on with Dr. Fate and the world of Magic for some time. It appears that we are finally going to get some answers to these questions.

The scene in Kahndaq was perfect. This scene boasted great dialogue and fantastic chemistry between Black Adam, Isis, The Question and Montoya. Black Adam has benefited so much from 52. The writers have done a nice job fleshing out his character and making him more complex and interesting. However, it was nice to see flashes of the “old” imperious Black Adam in this scene. Just because he isn’t ripping people in half anymore doesn’t mean he is going to tolerate being treated like a chump.

Montoya’s reaction to killing the girl is understandable. And given her predilection for drinking away her sorrows, I thought her reaction in this scene made sense. The writers have managed to use this plot to make Montoya more interesting as well. Up until now, I haven’t been able to really get into her character. The part where she tells Black Adam to go ahead and kill her was pretty powerful and shows how torn up she is.

Of course, the most important part of this scene is that the writers now have unified two separate plotlines into one with the combination of the Question/Montoya team and the Black Adam/Isis team. This should be very exciting. I’m looking forward to seeing these heroes lock horns with Intergang.

Booster Gold’s funeral was seriously depressing. It was rather powerful to see nobody showing up for Booster’s funeral except a couple of loser metahumans who were looking for a chance to boost their profiles. The touch of having all the corporate stickers on Booster’s coffin was pretty funny. Nice dry humor there. DC is really piling it on Booster. Even after death, he is getting abuse. This makes me think that we haven’t seen the last of Booster Gold. I can’t believe that DC would give such a sad send off to a character like Booster Gold.

I liked the little twist at the end of this scene when Skeets encounters Daniel Carter who is one of Booster’s ancestors. I am rather interested to see where the writers take this plotline. And this is strength of 52. Each time the writers wrap up a plotline, another even more interesting plotline surfaces.

Of course, my favorite scene was the final scene with Ralph and Shadowpact. I love how the writers are handling Ralph. Ralph is a character that I have never cared about at all. He was just some goofy 3rd stringer JLA member that never captivated my interest. Amazingly enough, with Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis and now 52, DC has managed to make me enthralled with Ralph’s character. I know many fanboys will dislike how DC is “abusing” Ralph. Personally, I don’t see it that way. DC has managed to make a no-name minor player in the DCU into a central figure superstar of the DCU. DC has gotten many of us to actually get interested and care about Ralph’s character. That is pretty incredible.

I like this “journey” that Dr. Fate’s helmet is going to take Ralph on. I liked it even more that at the end of the scene, we find out that nobody but Ralph heard the helmet talking! What a fantastic twist! The writers continue to play with the readers about whether Ralph is actually on to something or if he is truly insane. First, we see Ralph during the resurrection attempt by the Cult of Superboy hear the dummy talk to him with Sue’s voice. We are left wondering if that really happened or if Ralph was just nuts. We continue this theme with the ending of this issue. Is it all in Ralph’s head or did Dr. Fate’s helmet really talk to him?

I’m betting that Ralph is not actually insane. We saw a shadowy figure watching Ralph in the final panel of 52 #13. That looked like Phantom Stranger to me. So maybe Ralph is on to something and Dr. Fate’s helmet is going to help Ralph on this journey of the new world of magic in the DCU. Ralph’s journey and the state of the new world of magic in the DCU should turn out to be a very entertaining storyline. I am excited to see where the writers go with this plotline.

I thought that the artwork was solid. Nothing great, but nothing terrible. And that is to be expected. 52 has always emphasized great writing instead of incredible art.

The Bad: I don’t have much to say negatively about this issue. I do have once concern with DC’s use of Montoya. I hope that Montoya isn’t eventually reduced to simply fulfilling the role of T & A in comics. I was concerned that DC pushing two lipstick lesbians was going to turn into nothing more than an excuse to have plenty of steamy girl/girl action to titillate the young males who read comics. I have a feeling that this is more of the reason why DC has two lipstick lesbians in Batwoman and Montoya rather than this true desire to have more “diversity” in the DCU.

Overall: 52 #18 was a nice rebound issue from last week’s lackluster issue. Originally, the Intergang plotline interested me the least. However, I am getting more and more captivated by the Intergang plotline. That is the sign of good writing. My favorite plotline is still Ralph’s story and this issue made me even more excited to see what they have in store for Ralph. 52 continues to be a very well constructed and plotted storyline full of nice dialogue and good character development. If you don’t mind the measured pace that is necessary in a weekly comic, then definitely give this title a try.