52: Week Thirteen


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52: Week Thirteen


  • Words: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and Mark Waid
  • Art: Todd Nauck and Kevin Nowlan
  • Inks: Marlo Alquiza
  • Colors: Alex Sinclair
  • Story Title: Haystack
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.50
  • Release Date: Aug 2, 2006

The Elongated Man attends to his wife’s possible rebirth at the hands of the Krypton cult, but his best laid plans go awry and lead to a truly unforgettable climax.

Ralph Dibny enlists the whole of DC’s recently resurrected heroes to determine if his wife, Sue’s return from the veil is in truth possible. He smuggles Hal Jordan, Metamorpho, Green Arrow, and even the self-proclaimed heavenly angel Zauriel into the closed ceremony proceedings. After a brief rundown/recap for the newcomers, Ralph struggles to decide whether to trust or dismantle the cult whom his once-ally Cassie Sandsmark – Wonder Girl – seems so smitten with. The sequence that follows is a surprisingly clever, well-orchestrated debate amongst Ralph and the other heroes, culminating in a decision made and an outcome sure to leave its mark upon readers, both for its chilling implications and unexpected consequence.

Week 13 is yet another singular-focused chapter of the 52 epic (following the Clark Kent sequence in Week 10 and Black Adam’s in Week 12), which spotlights Ralph Dibny and his predicament with the Krypton cult, investigating their plan to resurrect his wife (who died in the inaugural chapter of Identity Crisis). I was pretty much hating this subplot until this very issue, mostly due to its unbelievable premise. The idea hinges upon the fact that a cult which wishes to resurrect Superboy – yet wanted to troubleshoot their abilities to do so upon a lesser being first – would for some reason choose the most infamous corpse besides the Boy of Steel himself to have come along in DC continuity in years. Why, precisely, would they choose such a controversial, noticeable target for a practice run? And this is alongside the explication that the cult was convinced that Ralph wouldn’t consent to any such mystic abuse; so if they didn’t want him noticing or finding them, why would they choose his wife and even graffiti her tomb with their sigil as a signal?

Sense notwithstanding, this slowly building plotline at last comes to a head in Week 13, and utilizes disturbing imagery, playful use of DC’s past dead-but-retuned heroes, and compared to its previous handling, is remarkably well executed both in character and dialogue. The tension of the scene is palpable; the arguments for and against the ceremony equally ring true; and the conclusion is remarkably effective as a cliffhanger finish. For once, I honestly couldn’t tell which of the four 52 scribes had the largest hand in this; though one aspect of the sequence seemed inarguably Morrison’s, the writing itself seemed more Johns or even Waid. Such ambiguity of voice was a pleasant surprise, hallmarking the fact that the writers’ approach to the book seem to be gelling far more than in previous installments.

Todd Nauck does an outstanding job at illustrating the events in Week 13, and while I would have intuitively wanted a darker, more atmospheric artist to tackle the subject matter of a resurrection ritual and the frightening outcome that this particular tale had, Nauck handles the action and resultant pathos with dreadfully apposite art. His Ralph is presented as a man truly torn, both ethically and emotionally, and his presentation of the other heroes is equally fitting, showcasing their iconic status as well as their personal, divided opinion on the cult and their offer of life after death. There’s a (very) brief scene involving Black Adam and Isis, following up on the major occurrence of Week 12, and Nauck ironically falters with his work here due to his the dozens of orphaned children whom he illustrates with uniform blank-eyed expression, evoking (improperly) the same creepy undercurrent that the Kryptonite cult sequence contained.

Additionally, there’s a two-page origin story for The Elongated Man by Waid and Kevin Nowlan, but just as in the Wonder Woman back-up of Week 12, the origin offers nothing new or unknown or changed from the pre-IC Ralph Dibny, so the purpose of such a quick recap character history seems redundant and a waste of two pages.

Nonetheless, I was richly entertained by the entirety of the primary tale, and while I still hope for a later explanation/revelation that will clear up why Sue Dibny was selected for resurrection (we probably won’t get one, but I can hope…), I can happily report that this issue handled the concept with such an effective slant, that what normally would have been a criticism I’d harp upon until judgment day, now seems moot and beside the point. That point being that this plot is leading to some seriously fun places, with some thrillingly intriguing connotations. It’s a great issue; a great read. Thirteen weeks down and I’m still hooked like some stupid fish that hasn’t figured out why certain worms glisten at their midsections like that….

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