Overview

52: Week Twenty-Nine

Review

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52: Week Twenty-Nine

Credits

  • Words: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, & Mark Waid
  • Art: Keith Giffen & Chris Batista
  • Inks: Jack Jadson
  • Colors: Alex Sinclair
  • Story Title: Name Calling
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.50
  • Release Date: Nov 22, 2006

The Justice Society faces an uncertain future and Doc Magnus sups with madmen in a rather twisted Thanksgiving issue.

Once, the Justice Society and the Justice League had a standing tradition of sharing Thanksgiving dinner. Not so during the "missing year." With the League disbanded and the Society members attending to other matters, only the three elders—Green Lantern, The Flash, and Wildcat—are gathered to observe the day. As Lex Luthor’s Everyman Project continually churns out new metahumans and the world turns its back on the old heroic guard, the JSA begins to wonder if obsolescence and retirement is to be their fate. However, a line is crossed when Luthor unveils his latest recruit, a young woman with a very familiar (and only recently vacated) name. Also, Steel makes a discovery that will affect the lives of all the new Everyman heroes.

Meanwhile, the mad scientists of Oolong Island feast on genetically mutated turkey under the watchful eyes of Chung Tzu (don’t call him "Egg Fu" if you value your life). Still held against his will, Doc Magnus receives unwanted attention from Veronica Cale—who may have tumbled to the good doctor’s weakness.

It could be argued that Week Twenty-Nine is covering already well-tread ground. The rise of a new generation of superhumans with less discipline but plenty to prove and the questioning of the older generation’s place in the changing world both bring to mind the philosophical struggles of comics like Kingdom Come (small wonder, with Mark Waid, that story’s scribe, on the creative team). However, with a Justice Society re-launch in the near future, it’s appropriate to examine just why the team should exist or whether a new model of heroism should lead the way.

In truth, the writers make a convincing case for both sides. While in our guts, we know Lex Luthor is up to something and his Infinity Inc. creations lack respect for the past they so eagerly co-opt, many do seem to have their hearts in the right place. The JSA argues that these impetuous kids don’t fully comprehend the life they’ve been thrust into, yet how many of the power rings, freak accidents, or mystical gifts of the Golden and Silver Age heroes came with instruction manuals? What really separates the Everyman from the Superman? Is there or should there be a difference? These are enticing questions that the story shines a spotlight on. And the sadness and rage this newest Infinitor engenders adds a strong emotional sting to the debate.

In addition, the scenes on Oolong Island bring their customary absurd humor and teasing hints about just what this bunch of loonies is up to. Veronica Cale is adding an intriguing new element to the proceedings with her Machiavellian tendencies and healthy respect for her own feminine charms. With her simple yet underhanded tactics, Cale comes across as more dangerous than all the cartoonish and immature mad scientists combined.

Chris Batista returns to the penciling duties this issue with more solid, straightforward superhero illustration. He does particularly good work with the JSA, as their philosophical quandary takes a visible toll on the heroes. Every wrinkle of worry can be seen on Jay Garrick’s face, Alan Scott’s eye-patch makes him look like the weary veteran he is, and we can see Wildcat wondering if it’s time to finally give up the fight. Yet all retain the nobility and presence that such classic characters should have. I also have to give Batista props for making even a ludicrous character like Egg F—sorry, Chung Tzu—seem frighteningly sinister.

Its themes may be familiar but the questions raised by Week Twenty-Nine seem to be as prescient as ever.

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