Overview

52: Week Twenty

Review

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52: Week Twenty

Credits

  • Words: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and Mark Waid
  • Art: Keith Giffen, Chris Batista and Kevin Nowlan
  • Inks: Ruy Jose
  • Colors: Alex Sinclair and Kevin Nowlan
  • Story Title: God is Fragged
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.50
  • Release Date: Sep 20, 2006

All hail the Emerald Eye! A superbly apt origin is revealed for this most esoteric of DCU entities, and the revelations prompt Lobo and Co. to run for their lives!

Week Nineteen ended with a cliffhanger head-scratcher that enthralled fans both for its obvious implications as well as the more indistinct, possible ones. Yet it isn’t the follow-up to this development that makes Week Twenty the thrill-ride that it is. Rather (and as the cover blatantly indicates), it’s Animal Man, Starfire, and Adam Strange’s story – their collusion with the new, reformed and religious Lobo and the incongruous sight of his holding the ever-infamous Emerald Eye of Ekron – that brings Week Twenty into sweetly enthralling territory.

The issue opens on two supplementary, short sequences, both of which add to the growing intensity of the maxi-series’ general momentum. The first involves the mysterious new hero Supernova and his quiet ransacking of a very familiar icon’s supposedly secret property – yet even then it’s what he takes that’s the biggest surprise of all! Second up is a brief but volatile scene concerning John Henry Irons, filled with classic comic-book rescue and paired with an ending that brings about yet another, intriguing disclosure, which moves Irons’ story closer to the myriad others of the 52 canon. Both scenes are attention-getting, and move the reader flawlessly into…

The rest of the book, which in its entirety follows the preparations of Lobo and the trio of star-lost heroes to escape a highly populated, floating remnant of an already destroyed world which they find themselves stranded upon. It’s been noted in reviews for Week Nineteen, that the fish-god, religiously-influenced Lobo is not coming across as the fun and viciously frilly character that he’s supposed to be (and more than likely the writers think he is, even in this form). As much as I enjoyed both Week Nineteen and this current Week Twenty, I have to say I’m in complete agreement – the concept is hysterical, and the execution is clever, unique, and constantly surprising, yet somehow it entirely fails to entertain. The ideas are high-quality creativity (what if Douglas Adams and China Mieville teamed up?), but the final product is missing a necessary something to make it work. One obvious problem: both in last week’s installment as well as in this one, the dialogue during the ceremonial antics of Religious Lobo was irritatingly vague and unpleasantly slapdash. I enjoy reading natural conversation in comics by way of Azzarello or Bendis, but the style attempted for the Lobo-as-Pope sequences came across as wholly disjointed, with no obvious direction as to what was being said or to whom or even why, which results in an intriguing but hopelessly inaccessible set-up.

The one, truly enticing aspect of Religious Lobo is his pairing to the Emerald Eye of Ekron, which has a long, lustrous history (future?) in the 30th century as chronicled in the old Legion of Super-Heroes titles (and not to be confused with the current LSH, which takes place in the 31st). The Eye hasn’t been seen in the modern-day DCU since it took control of Garryn Bek over in the late and much lamented L.E.G.I.O.N. book, but here it makes its startling comeback and receives – for the very first time – a suitable, sinister origin.

The action kicks off relatively swift in Week Twenty, and when it does it leaves the discombobulating Lobo riffs in the dust. The short version: a gargantuan horde of planet-eating parasites descend upon our heroes and a magnificently clever struggle takes place. My hat is off and held high to whichever writer managed to pen the outstanding use of Animal Man’s power during this long battle. The idea of Buddy using his powers to tap into the ensemble of abilities as maintained by the teeming number of alien life-forms about him was not only smart, but also panel-by-panel, meticulously executed with an effective choreography. The battle, of course, leads to the use of the Emerald Eye, and by its use, a major revelation comes clear as to it origins (and if you thought Buddy adapting to alien abilities was fitting, wait’ll you get a load of this!).

Chris Batista pours out a solid set of pencils, with strong, classical layouts by Keith Giffen that are evocative of an 80’s Roger Stern or John Buscema. As I mentioned above, the action sequences were pulled off with a magnificent flair, and both Batista and inker Ruy Jose have earned a roaring round of applause for their part in it. In fact, the entirety of the second half of the book is spectacular comic action at its best – not just poses and preening and pin-ups, but an honest-to-god stream of heart-pounding heroics and grave peril.

Overall Week Twenty is an engrossing chapter to the year-long epic, especially directly after the insinuations as implied in Week Nineteen; the book has me rattling the bars of my cage for more, more, more. The pieces are coming together, and even this isn’t stopping the writers from pumping out novelty after novelty and Easter egg after Easter egg. 52 is jam-packed with continuity surprises for fans everywhere, no matter which generation they’re approaching the series from, nor from which corner of the DCU they’re most familiar with. Compare the difference between Week Twenty and Week One, and just imagine how exciting Week Forty is going to be!

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