52 is the hottest title on the market right now. Yeah, that’s right, even hotter than Marvel’s Civil War that is moving at a snail’s pace. 52 is hitting a fever pitch as we head straight for World War III and the end of this series. 52 #40 looks like it centers on the much anticipated showdown between Steel and Lex Luthor. This should be very interesting. Let’s hit this review.
Writers: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka and Mark Waid
Pencils: Chris Batista
Inks: Rodney Ramos & Dan Green
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Week 40, Day 1: We begin with Steel getting a message from Lex Luthor that he has Natasha captured at his office and for Steel to come and meet him. Steel armors up and contacts the Teen Titans and asks them to meet him at Luthor’s building.
We cut to Lexcorp’s building being emptied of all the employees in anticipation of the impending massive brawl. The Teen Titans and Steel then bust onto the scene. The Titans that arrive include Beast Boy, Raven, Aquagirl and Oddball. Aquagirl comments how terrified the employees looked as the flied onto the scene.
Steel retorts that they are reacting like that because of the New Years Eve tragedy where people were falling from the sky. Steel curses that only Lex would steal the phrase “Look up into the sky!” and turn it into a warning. Our heroes battle with Lex’s robot guards as well as Nuklon. Steel takes down Nuklon. Steel comments that they are wasting too much time fighting the “redshirts.” (A little Star Trek reference for you.)
Beast Boy tells Steel to go after Lex while the Titans deal with the guards. Steel busts through several floors and arrives in Lex’s office. Lex’s assistant pulls a gun on Steel. Steel knocks her out with one hit. Natasha runs over and hugs Steel. Then Natasha transforms into Everyman. Everyman turns into a giant crab and crushes Steel into all his armor cracks and falls off. Steel then breaks Everyman’s claw. Everyman transforms back into his human form and staggers back in pain and accidentally falls down the hole that Steel made coming into Lex’s office. Everyman falls several stories and lands and breaks his neck.
Steel, sans his armor and armed only with his atomic hammer, confronts Lex who has the real Natasha bound to a chair. Lex blasts Steel with his heat vision. Lex continues to kick Steel’s ass. Lex then offers Natasha a chance to get her powers back and to rule the Earth by his side. That they can re-name the Earth planet Lexor.
Steel then gets up and comes back for more punishment. Lex tells Steel to lie down. Using his X-Ray vision, Lex says that Steel has four broken ribs, a ruptured appendix and his small intestine is leaking fecal matter into his bloodstream. Steel responds that Lex has no noble intention. No love. No creed. Nothing gives his life meaning…only Luthor. That Lex is empty and all the powers in the world will not fill that hole.
Lex and Steel begin fighting again and Steel throws his hammer at the chair where Natasha is bound and frees her. Lex flies Steel up to the roof of the building. Without his hammer, Steel is totally defenseless. Natasha remembers that Lex proved that a close range electrical pulse can disorganize the artificial Exo-Gene. Since the hammer has an atomic power source, Natasha is able to reprogram the hammer and create a massive electrical pulse. Natasha comments that Lex creating an “off” switch was his big mistake.
We then see Lex collapse on the roof. He is now powerless. Steel gets up and says that Lex should thank him. That the Everyman treatment is toxic. In six months, Lex would have been dead. Steel then takes out Lex.
We cut to the Titans standing outside of the main entrance to the Lexcorp building. Suddenly, the giant Lexcorp symbol comes crashing to the ground. The Titans exclaim “Look up in the sky!” We see Steel with his arm around Natasha standing triumphantly over a fallen Lex.
Week 40, Day 5: We cut to Kahndaq. The rain is still pouring from the skies. IT has been over a week. The rain is killing all the plants. The people of Kahndaq and broken out into civil unrest. The hospitals are overflowing with the sick suffering from plagues that haven’t been seen in years. The cemeteries are overflowing.
Osiris tells Sobek that this is all Osiris’s fault. That Osiris wasn’t able to keep his corrupt powers under control. That those around him will suffer because of it. That he is cursed. That Kahndaq is cursed. Osiris says he needs to release his powers and gain new ones to set things right. That Osiris needs to go to the Rock of Eternity. That he needs a new family. End of issue.
The Good: Now that was one seriously satisfying payoff. The entire Steel/Natasha/Infinity Inc/Lex Luthor/Everyman Project plotline has been building to this moment since 52 #1. The reader has patiently been waiting for Lex Luthor to be exposed for the fraud that he is and to see the inevitable clash between Lex and Steel. And it was definitely gratifying.
52 #40 was all about the much anticipated Steel versus Lex brawl. And the writers did a great job delivering a well paced brawl that filled the entire issue with the exception of the final two pages. We got plenty of violent action. Lex brutally beats down Steel. And we saw Everyman break his neck and Beast Boy coldly stating that there is only room for one shape shifter.
Yup, there is your happier more positive and lighter DCU courtesy of Dan Didio. Look, I totally dig dark, violent and grim titles. But, if you are going to make a big deal about shifting the overall dark mood of the DCU to one that is more positive and brighter then you better back it up.
Steel came across the total stud that he is and a true hero with a heart of a champion. I was never a big fan of Steel before 52. However, the writers have gotten me to completely change my opinion about Steel. I am officially now a huge fan of Steel. 52 has been an excellent platform to display what an incredible character Steel is. 52 has managed to accomplish one of its purposes by taking a minor character in the DCU and elevating him to a much higher status in the hierarchy of the heroes in the DCU.
Plus, Steel is a great template for how to create a well rounded and appealing minority hero. Notice that the word “black” does not appear anywhere in his codename. And notice that his greatest strength is his mind and his heart and not some physical super power like super strength or invulnerability or speed. Race does not define who Steel is. Steel could be any color and his character would stay the same. That is the sign of a well developed minority hero that is not crippled and totally dependant on his race.
I loved that Steel’s armor cracked and came apart during his brawl with the guards and with Everyman. That left Steel with no armor and armed only with his hammer to take on Lex Luthor imbued with all of Superman’s powers. John Henry Irons invokes images of his namesake from American folklore.
John Henry, a symbol for labor in America, went head to head with a steam powered hammer machine using just his brawn, heart and two hammers in his hands. Henry wins the contest showing that heart and the human will is superior to technology. Unfortunately, Henry dies from a heart attack after the challenge which illustrates the tragic nature of the fight between the working man and technology that will inevitable replace them no matter how hard they work.
I was half expecting John Henry Irons to die at the end of this issue after taking down a super powered Lex Luthor. Then DC could replace John with Natasha and increase the population of the female heroes in the DCU. Thankfully, DC wisely decided to keep Steel alive. Seeing Steel refusing to lie down before a much more powerful foe was awesome. Steel, broken and bleeding, still standing defiantly in front of Lex without any hope to win was so inspirational. I got goose bumps seeing that.
Steel showed that the heart and will of a hero is superior to any super powered villain. No matter how powerful evil is, the goodness will prevail. That humanity is more powerful than technology. Lex’s technology that granted him Superman’s powers made him far superior and more powerful than Steel without his armor.
It was nice to see Natasha being the person to de-power Lex. After Lex had de-powered Elizabeth and gotten her killed by Blockbuster, it was great that Natasha gave Lex a taste of his own medicine. Steel and Natasha made a great team and it was good to see these two family members re-united and working as a team once again.
The Osiris scene was well done. I dig the twist that Osiris is going to go the Rock of Eternity to get rid of his cursed powers and gain new powers and a new family. I didn’t see this coming. This should spice up this plotline. Black Adam certainly has always struck me as somewhat of a “cursed” and tragic character. His powers have done nothing but corrupt himself and everyone around him.
I like this avenue that the writers are taking Osiris and it will be great to finally see Billy Batson once again in the pages of 52. There hasn’t been a lot of panel time for the Marvel family. I’m curious to see what Billy’s reaction is to Osiris’s request.
The Bad: The artwork is average at best.
Overall: 52 #40 was another good read. This title just keeps getting better and better. DC has done a phenomenal job with 52. This issue delivered a resolution to one of the main plotlines running through 52. This is the first sign that the writers are beginning to wrap up certain long running plotlines as we head to WW III and the climactic ending of this title. 52 is a wonderful title that is definitely worth your money. If you haven’t been reading it then I would certainly recommend getting the trade paperback whenever it comes out.