Overview

52: Week Twenty One

Review

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52: Week Twenty One

Credits

  • Words: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and Mark Waid
  • Art: Keith Giffen and Joe Bennett
  • Inks: Jack Jadson
  • Colors: David Baron
  • Story Title: Teambuilding Exercises
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.50
  • Release Date: Sep 27, 2006

Lex Luthor’s super-team gains new costumes and an official group identity. But there is a price to pay for their deal with the Devil.

Having purchased the name from the Pemberton estate, Lex Luthor dubs his group of Everyman Project volunteers the new Infinity, Inc. Just as the original Infinitors were the next generation of the Justice Society, so too is Luthor’s group the next evolution for superhuman kind. At least, so the press release and the snappy catchphrases claim. But when a new Blockbuster begins rampaging through the Las Vegas strip, Luthor impassively watches his little pawns in action, manipulating the situation to his whims. Perhaps some good old-fashioned tragedy will help sway public opinion even further in his favor…

While Infinity deals with an earthly threat, Ralph Dibny begins a spiritual quest alongside the Helm of Nabu. This time around, a visit to the Aztec underworld of Mictlan and its demon guard is in order (how precisely this is possible when Nabu has supposedly abandoned his helm remains to be seen).

Week Twenty One disturbingly showcases just what an evil, Machiavellian schemer Lex Luthor can be and why he is firmly at the top of the DC villain totem pole. Not that we truly needed such a reminder but seeing Lex in action is always something of a horrifying wonder to behold. The issue begins with some sly nods to American culture and prepackaged celebrity as Luthor and Mercy debate about their heroes’ public image and whether their witty superhero banter can be re-recorded in "post." There’s a chilling sort of humor to these scenes as a life and death struggle is reduced to sound bites and meticulously edited content. But comedy quickly shifts to tragedy as Lex makes a fateful decision for the life of one of the naïve children that have played into his hands. It’s one of the more heartless and truly, effectively villainous moments I’ve read in a comic all year.

The issue is also certain to be of interest to fans attempting to piece together the puzzle of DC’s "missing year." Among the highlights this time around are an appearance by the Teen Titans and a few revelations about the new characters shown to have come and gone from their ranks during the span of 52. The resulting confrontation also provides a great snapshot of metahuman culture as the prolific DC concept of "legacy heroes" receives a derogatory, though clever, nickname ("blood brat").

Once more, the art is handled by the stellar Joe Bennett, one of the most talented of the 52 illustrators. He continues to deliver clean pencils, solid figure work, excellent expressions, and stirring action sequences, all key components of a good superhero comic. The storytelling felt a bit unclear at first in the final conflict of Blockbuster and the hapless Infinitor but otherwise, the art is quite impressive.

Heroism and the struggle to understand, define, and embrace what it means is exacting a toll on the cast of 52. But the weekly juggernaut continues along strongly and again delivers a compelling read.

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