52 wrapped up its first major plotline with the death of Ralph Dibny’s last issue. I’m sad to see Ralph go and think that DC made a mistake killing off a character that they had done a good job of finally developing into a compelling and interesting character. Since we are quickly racing to the end of 52, I fully expect 52 #43 to be another wild read. Let’s do this review.
Writers: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and Mark Waid
Art: Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Week 43, Day 1: We see Osiris and Sobek opening the secret entrance to the Rock of Eternity. Sobek comments on how hungry he is. Osiris and Sobek go to the main room and see Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel, Jr., and Mary Marvel waiting for them. Sobek is creeped out by the Rock of Eternity.
Captain Marvel, Jr. is angry that Osiris killed a villain. Captain Marvel tells Osiris that Osiris has a good soul. Captain Marvel asks Osiris why he came to the Rock of Eternity. Osiris says that his powers from Black Adam are cursed and that Khandaq is paying the price. Osiris asks Captain Marvel to take away his powers.
Black Adam and Isis then enter the room. They had followed Osiris and Sobek into the Rock of Eternity. Black Adam responds that Osiris’s powers are a gift, not a curse. Osiris responds that Khandaq and he are suffering because of Black Adam. Osiris punches Black Adam. Isis and Captain Marvel, Jr. try and restrain Osiris. Osiris breaks free from them.
Osiris then realizes that he just hit his sister Isis. Osiris apologizes to Isis. Isis tells Osiris that Khandaq is under attack by some unseen evil force. That Black Adam’s powers have enabled Isis and Osiris to help so many people. That they should be using their powers to help fight this unknown evil that is plaguing Khandaq rather than fighting with each other. Isis asks Osiris for him to not turn his back on his family.
Black Adam tells Osiris that it was Osiris who made Black Adam a better man and showed him the good he could do. Now Black Adam asks for Osiris’s support. Osiris agrees to help them. Sobek once again comments on how hungry he is.
Week 43, Day 4: We see Animal Man getting his powers re-booted by the yellow aliens. Animal Man wakes up on the planet where he was left by Strange and Starfire. Buddy pleads for the yellow aliens to not leave him here. That there is nothing alive that his super senses can find to enable him to survive in this atmosphere. Animal Man starts to suffocate. Buddy looks at his picture of his wife and kids and says he has to concentrate and find some animal power out there somewhere.
Animal Man then senses Sun-eaters. Animal Man assumes the massive power of a Sun-Eater including migration maps and homing abilities. We cut to a spaceship where a pregnant woman is about to give birth. Unfortunately, it is a birth along the lines of the movie Alien. We see the “baby” rip out of the stomach of the woman. It is Lady Styx reborn.
Week 42, Day 5: We see Osiris alone with Sobek. Osiris says that he is leaving Khandaq. That he needs to be far away from Black Adam and Isis. Sobek then suggests that Osiris could rid himself of his powers by saying Black Adam’s name. Of course, then Osiris would transform back into his weak crippled body.
Osiris says that Sobek is right. That assuming his weak crippled form will be his penance. Then maybe Kahndaq will be free from all the death and disease. Osiris says the name “Black Adam” and transforms into his normal human form. Osiris tells Sobek that he was right. Maybe his life will return to normal and perhaps he will be happy again and all of Kahndaq will be as well.
Sobek’s eyes then glow red and he chomps down on Osiris. Sobek continues to eat Osiris in a rather bloody fashion. Sobek then comments that he is not so hungry anymore. End of story.
We get a two-page backup story concerning the origin of Plastic Man. End of issue.
The Good: Well, that was certainly an unexpected ending. I pride myself on being able to give a confident review where I am firm in my views on a specific issue. However, I felt like I waffled with my review of 52 #42 as I struggled to decide how much I liked the issue. And now, I find myself in the exact same position where I am struggling to decide how much I liked 52 #43. I could have easily given 53 #43 8 out of 10 Night Girls instead of the 6 out of 10 Night Girls that I gave it.
Let’s begin with the plotline that I enjoyed hands down. The scene with Animal Man rocked. I’m thrilled that Buddy is not only alive but is clearly better than ever. The writers show us the heart of a true hero that beats inside Buddy’s chest. I loved how Animal Man stared at the picture of his family for the strength to search as far as possible for any life form that he could use in order to survive.
And what a life form to pick! A Sun-Eater! Sweet. And seeing Animal Man bursting with the Sun-Eater’s powers was cool. Now, Animal Man should have absolutely no problems finally getting back home to Earth. It has been a long hard struggle, but it appears that Animal Man is finally going to be able to complete his long journey home to his family.
We also got to see the rebirth of Lady Styx. This is absolutely no surprise. You knew that she wasn’t dead. Her “death” a couple of issues ago was way too fast, easy and convenient to be the final exit for such a supposedly powerful villainess. Now that Lady Styx is back I’m curious to see what the writers have in store for us.
All right, now we get to the murky part of this review. The Osiris plotline. I don’t know exactly where I want to go with this. There is no doubt that the writers delivered one hell of a damn ending! I mean, this was a total shocker. I didn’t see it coming at all. And it was a double-surprise ending. I wasn’t expecting Osiris to get killed. And I certainly wasn’t expecting Sobek to be the killer. So, the writers certainly succeeded in delivering a stunning hook ending that gets the reader eager for the next issue.
You know, you should figure that anything created by Dr. Sivana is probably going to be evil in the long run. Personally, I wouldn’t pick up any stray pets from Sivana’s lab. And this all begs the question of how much is all of this Sivana’s plan. Or is this just a random act by a creature created by Sivana? I don’t know, but I’m definitely curious to see what the writers have in store for Sobek.
I thought that the scene with the Marvel Family and the Black Adam family was very well done. It certainly does appear that the Marvel Family is “blessed” while the Black Adam family is “cursed.” That the Marvel Family’s powers spring from love and hope while the Black Adam Family’s powers derive from hate and anger.
And poor Osiris is portrayed as a terribly tragic figure. Osiris is somewhere in between the Marvel Family and the Black Adam Family. Basically, Osiris is a very good person who truly wants to be a hero and to do the right thing. He has the good soul that would be required of anyone in the Marvel Family.
However, Osiris is also cursed with Black Adam’s anger. And this anger causes Osiris to lash out in violence. And we see that as he punches out Black Adam and then even hits his beloved sister, Isis. It certainly does seem that Osiris’s powers are truly a curse. And that Black Adam’s anger and hate have infected Osiris’s soul.
Osiris’ desperate mission to rid himself of this perceived “evil” and to embrace his natural good heart and soul leads to his downfall. And that is what makes Osiris so terribly tragic. All Osiris wants to do is to be at peace with himself, to be a hero, and to save the people of Kahndaq. And in his desire to do this, Osiris brings on his own death.
One thing I do know is that Sobek better run and hide because an enraged Black Adam and a distraught Isis are going to open up one massive can of whup-ass on his lizard butt.
Jurgens and Rapmund supplied some solid artwork. I loved the art during Animal Man’s scene when he gains the powers of the Sun-Eater. Well done.
The Bad: And here is where we get to the other side of the Osiris plotline. Yes, Osiris’s death was shocking. And Sobek being the murderer was stunning. And it all created a huge surprise ending that stunned the reader. However, just because something is shocking and stunning doesn’t necessarily mean it was well done or good. For example, you could end the next issue of the Justice League of America with Batman killing Wonder Woman and that would certainly be a shocking ending. However, would it be a good ending? No.
I think, in this case, the writers have mistaken a shocking twist ending for a good ending. My issue is that Osiris’s death served no purpose. And I firmly believe that if a writer is going to kill off a character then that death must absolutely serve a purpose. Now, we have been given the deaths of two main characters in 52 in back-to-back issues. And I feel that both deaths lacked any purpose or point.
Killing a character just for shock value is lazy writing. It is easy to just off a character in a shocking fashion. However, it is hard to develop a character into an interesting character and to figure out something intriguing to do with that character. It is also tough to write a death that has a purpose or point. I just get the feeling that the writers went the lazy route with Osiris’s death.
Yeah, Osiris’s death does a good job of establishing Sobek as a nasty vicious villain. But, that is about it. I don’t see what else Osiris’s death accomplishes. And setting up Sobek as a monster villain isn’t enough to justify Osiris’s death. You could easily have done the same by having Sobek feast on some innocent people in Kahndaq.
Plus, once again, DC spends the time and effort developing a character like Ralph or Osiris into an interesting and compelling character and then kills them off. I just don’t get that. I think Osiris had plenty of potential and I think DC wasted the chance to not only have a cool new character but to increase their drive for diversity by having a young Arab hero.
I also found Sobek stating how hungry he is throughout the issue just to set up that horridly cheesy line at the end about no longer being hungry was poor writing. That tacky line at the end took what was a serious and shocking death and gave it a schlock feel.
And what in the hell happened to this new shiny happy more positive DC Universe that Didio was yapping about at the end of Infinite Crisis? How, DC was going to get away from the dark tone that had become more and more prevalent? I find this new DC Universe more bloody and violent than the DC Universe prior to Infinite Crisis. I mean, did we really need a one-page splash shot and then three more gory panels of Sobek eating a naked Osiris? Sometimes less is more. And look at the level of gore in other DC comics like the JSA where Johns is mowing down characters in a brutal fashion.
Look, I don’t mind a dark DC Universe where there is tons of violence. But, don’t go out of your way to claim that this new DC Universe is going to be more positive and less grim, and then deliver us the gorefests that we have gotten in 52 and in JSA. Be consistent is all I’m asking.
Overall: 52 #43 was definitely a stunning read. I loved that Animal Man is back and better than ever. And I’m certainly curious to see what the writers have in store for Sobek and the Black Adam Family storyline. Hopefully, they can build off Osiris’s death and give it more meaning and purpose.