Overview

52: Week Forty-Nine

Review

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52: Week Forty-Nine

Credits

  • Words: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, & Mark Waid
  • Art: Keith Giffen, Eddy Barrows, & Don Kramer
  • Inks: Dan Green, Rodney Ramos, Eddy Barrows, & Michael Bair
  • Colors: David Baron & Alex Sinclair
  • Story Title: Eve of Destruction
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.50
  • Release Date: Apr 11, 2007

Doc Magnus takes on the mad science squad of Oolong Island while the world stands on the brink of war.

As the Justice Society arrives at the gates of Oolong, ready to take Black Adam into their protective custody, they are confronted by the members of China’s Great Ten. The Ten seek to protect their country’s interests by hiding their role in the attack on the Black Marvels. They also have a surprising link to Oolong’s monstrous master, Chang Tzu. Amid the chaos, the time is at last right for Dr. Will Magnus to unleash his latest Metal Men and stop the madness he’s been forced to observe. This year’s models are a bit on the…compact side however.

Week Forty-Nine is the chapter just before the start of World War III, the cataclysmic event that will lead into 52’s conclusion. Anyone who has been following my reviews knows that I’ve grown rather disillusioned with the Black Adam plotline of late and am finding it difficult to muster anticipation for the coming battle. Be that as it may, the spotlight of Week Forty-Nine rests squarely on Doc Magnus and brings his involvement with the weekly series to more or less a close. Chang Tzu’s "science squad" has been one of the more amusing plotlines of 52 and it was fun to see these socially stunted, yet staggeringly brilliant lunatics one last time. Magnus acquits himself well in this issue, proving what a scarily bipolar badass lurks behind that dapper Silver Age façade (though why Chang Tzu didn’t expect this treachery from the start is beyond me).

As is typical of this series, the story allows otherwise B-list characters like the mini Metal Men a chance to shine. The fight against our insane eggman, Chang Tzu, is humorously absurd. The writers also provide a surprisingly touching moment with Professor Morrow. And while I’m not crazy about where it’s all leading, there is solid character drama between Black Adam and his one-time blood brother, Atom-Smasher.

This time around, the art is delivered by Eddy Barrows, a solid draftsman whose work I’ve been enjoying on The All-New Atom. Like many of 52’s illustrators, Barrows doesn’t attempt anything flashy but gives us a pleasing superhero style that plays up the at turns dramatic and bizarre character interaction. My continuity sense is tingling at the apparent mix-up of Professor Mortis and Dr. Death but that’s a very minor complaint (maybe Magnus can’t keep them all straight either). On the backup, Don Kramer vividly brings to life the generational saga of the Justice Society. Kramer has come a long way since his early, shakier work on JSA and by now seems quite comfortable and capable with the characters.

It remains to be seen if my ambivalence will return as we enter the series’ final three. But for now, Week Forty-Nine gives us a nice blend of humor and drama as we seemingly bid farewell to Oolong.

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