52 #41 Review

The boys at DC have kicked 52 into a higher gear. They have delivered excellent reads over the past several reads as the storyline in 52 begins to heat up. There are only 12 issues left on this title. There is no way that at this critical point in the storyline that we could possibly get a bad issue. There is just no way that 52 #41 is going to be anything less than another exciting read. Right? Let’s find out.

Creative Team
Writers: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka and Mark Waid
Pencils: Guiseppe Camuncoli
Inks: Rodney Ramos

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: Week 41, Day 1: We see Adam Strange and Starfire being pursued by a bounty hunter named Mo-Lek the Hunter. In the battle, Starfire gets an arrow shot into her shoulder. Mo-Lek tells our heroes that the Lady Styx isn’t dead. Mo-Lek then falls in defeat to our heroes.

Week 41, Day 2: We cut to Nanda Parbat. Renee Montoya returns after being with the monks on the mountain for the past several weeks. Professor Rodor tells Renee that Richard is waiting for her in his ice cave. Renee enters the ice cave and is immediately attacked by Richard. The two spar while Richard tells Renee that whenever she meets adversity she denies her grief. That Renee hasn’t accepted her grief over The Question’s death.

Richard tells Renee that if she wants to honor The Question then she must stop running for herself. Richard takes down Renee and forces her to look at her reflection in the ice. Richard says that Renee must deal with who she is and see who she can be. Renee says that she can’t and runs out of the ice cave.

Week 41, Day 3: We shift to the Haven Correctional Facility. Ralph Dibny is investigating T.O. Morrow’s cell. The Warden tells Ralph that they have searched ever inch of the room and can’t figure out how Morrow escaped. Ralph pulls down the new security camera that was installed and informs the warden that there are scratches around the lens rim. That there is teleportation micro circuitry inside of this new camera.

We shift to Ralph visiting one of the inmates of the Haven Correctional Facility: Dr. Milo, the Technomancer. Dr. Milo is in a wheel chair. Ralph tells Milo that he has information that Milo has acquired for a well-traveled antiquity that Ralph needs. Ralph pulls off one of the wheels from the wheel chair. Ralph tells Milo that he is impressed that Milo would fake a paralytic condition just to get the artifact smuggled into the Haven.

Ralph breaks off the facade of the wheel and it reveals the Silver Wheel of Nyorlath. The Warden enters the room and is shocked at what Ralph has done. The Warden calls for security. Ralph then looks back at Milo who is lying on the floor. Milo has no legs. Ralph is stunned and says he has to go. The Helmet of Fate then says to Ralph that the final hour is last upon them. They disappear.

Week 41, Day 5: We zip back to Nanda Parbat. We see Renee sitting on a bench next to a hot raven haired woman. That woman is Wonder Woman, but Renee doesn’t know that. Renee asks Wonder Woman what she is doing in Nanda Parbat. Diana responds that she is waiting for a friend (Bruce Wayne). That her friend is supposed to help her start a new life. Diana said her old life wasn’t working out. That she killed a man (Maxwell Lord).

Renee says that she is here because she tried to save he friend from cancer. Renee curses that it makes no sense that she can be in a land full of miracles and her friend still dies of cancer. Diana says that Renee will only find reason if she looks from within and not from without. Renee says that she is afraid what she will see if she looks inside of herself.

Diana replies that that is all the more reason to do it. That it is a simple question. Which will have greater rule over Renee, her fear or her curiosity?

We see Renee go inside the ice cave and star at herself. She is holding a candle. The candle flame extinguishes and the smoke forms the shape of a question mark.

Week 41, Day 7: We cut back to space where Strange and Starfire’s ship has been badly damaged in their fight with Mo-Lek. That the ship is crippled and is tumbling into a K-type sun. Strange curses himself for letting everyone down. Strange then wonders where the Green Lanterns are. That there were supposed to be Green Lanterns here.

Starfire tells Strange that on Tamaran she was taught that they make their own destiny. That she is leaking vital life essence from her injury from the fight earlier, but it doesn’t bother her and it shouldn’t bother Strange. Starfire tells Strange that she made a promise to return Buddy’s jacket to Ellen Baker so Strange better get them out of this situation or she will show him just how obnoxious a princess can actually be. Plus, Strange has a wife and baby waiting for him.

Strange says that Starfire is right. Strange says that on Earth he was just a man, but on Rann, next to their weak and infertile men Strange was a monster-hunter, a godlike physical specimen. Strange said that he thought he was only a hero among weaklings. As a result he has become what others call an over-achiever.

Strange says that their ship has no power and is falling apart and is falling towards a sun. That he can get them out of this. That they have some Nth Metal shielding around the engine cores that he might be able to sue.

Suddenly, a massive planet shapes object appears between our heroes’ ship and the sun. The ship lands on this planet. A Green Lantern appears and says that they have Strange and Starfire. That he made the sighting and Green Lantern Mogo made the catch. End of story.

We get a two page back-up story concerning the origin of Starfire. End of issue.

The Good: 52 #41 was a real stinker. I’m stunned that the boys in DC managed to break the momentum that they had built up over the past several issues that were really incredible reads. Basically, 52 #41 would have sucked without the scene with Ralph Dibny and the final scene of this issue.

As always, I love any scene when Ralph Dibny is in it. We see both sides of poor Ralph in this scene. We see the brilliant detective mind that Ralph still possesses. We also see the maniacal and delusional side of Ralph when he rips the wheel off a wheel chair of a man who has had both legs amputated.

The writers have done an excellent job showing how Ralph has become more detached with reality with each passing issue. Even Ralph is shocked at the reality that Milo has no legs. However, nothing will get in Ralph’s way of him completing his quest. That Ralph is willing to do anything and to stoop to any depths in order to complete his quest and bring Sue back to life.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I have this feeling that Ralph isn’t going to meet a happy ending in this storyline. Personally, I hope that Sue stays dead. I also dig this unhinged version of Ralph. For the first time in forever, Ralph has actually become an interesting and compelling character within the DC Universe.

The final scene of this issue was awesome! Green Lantern Mogo makes his appearance in spectacular fashion. It appears that our heroes are finally a step closer to making it back to Earth now that the Green Lanterns have come to their rescue.

I also liked the panel time that Adam Strange got so that readers who are unfamiliar with his character got a chance to get some insight into his personality and what makes him tick. Strange is a character that never really interested me prior to 52. However, the writers have done a good job with his character and gotten me to like him more and more with each issue.

The writers also teased the reader with the hint that Lady Styx is not dead. The bounty hunter Mo-Lek alludes to the fact that Lady Styx is still alive. I’m sure that we will see this villainess again.

I enjoyed Camuncoli’s artwork. I thought it was some of the better art that we have gotten on this title.

The Bad: The scenes with Renee Montoya in Nanda Parbat were just terrible. Let’s remove the fact that I think it is a massive mistake to kill off Vic Sage and replace him with Renee Montoya as the new Question. Like I have said numerous times before, I do love the idea of more Hispanic heroes in the DC Universe. It is most certainly a needed element. However, not at the expense of established white characters. DC should simply employ some good old fashioned hard work and creativity in fashioning brand new Hispanic character to better reflect the burgeoning Hispanic population within America.

However, I am going to set aside my obvious displeasure with making Renee the new Question. I am not going to employ “fanboy logic” in critiquing a story. Even if I don’t like what a writer has done with a specific character, that doesn’t mean that the story itself can’t be well written. There are many times when I didn’t like the direction a character went in, but the writer wrote the story well and I acknowledged that fact.

However, in this case, the Renee Montoya scenes were poorly written. It has been painfully obvious and so blatantly telegraphed since the first issue of 52 that Vic Sage was going to die and Renee would take his place as the new Question.

On a title like 52 where the writers have been so good at throwing curve balls at the reader, it is stunning that they would have been so mind numbingly predictable about this plot line.

Now, yes, I suppose that Vic Sage could still stage a miraculous come back, but I wouldn’t bet on it. And it would be tough to pull off coming back to life after dying from cancer in a fashion that would make a good story.

Also, the continual use of the “question” theme about Renee having to answer “the question.” About what is “the question?” That Renee has to look within. Even everything under the sun being shaped like a question mark ala the smoke from the candle. We have seen that done over and over during 52. It is just too much.

The writers have taken a neat theme and fashioned it into a sledgehammer and just beat the reader over the head with it. A little bit of imagery is engaging to the reader. Too much of the same imagery is overwhelming and serves only to lessen the impact of the imagery. It also makes the writing look amateurish.

All of the dialogue in Renee’s scenes seemed predictable and hackneyed. These scenes were just poorly thought out and just as poorly executed. The dialogue between Wonder Woman and Renee was so plodding and obvious. You knew what each character was going to say before they said it.

Overall: 52 #41 was a real disappointment. Given how fantastic this title has been over the past several weeks and given the fact that we only have twelve issues left, I really didn’t expect the writers to cough up such an unimpressive read. Oh well, I firmly believe that this is a mere hiccup and that the next issue will return to form and deliver another solid read.