Overview

52: Week Twenty-Seven

Review

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52: Week Twenty-Seven

Credits

  • Words: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and Mark Waid
  • Art: Keith Giffen, Shawn Moll, and Howard Chaykin
  • Inks: Ruy Jose, Mariah Benes, Rodney Ramos, Prentis Rollins, and Nelson
  • Colors: Peter Pantazis
  • Story Title: The Past Best Hope
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.50
  • Release Date: Nov 8, 2006

Ralph Dibny confronts his wife’s murderer at last. Will a broken hero take his revenge?

The latest wing of Ralph’s "magical mystery tour" brings him to the ethereal doorstep of The Spectre. Aching for vengeance but lacking a host spirit, the Wrath of God eagerly enters into an agreement with the grief-stricken Mr. Dibny. Loaning out his mystic power, The Spectre takes Ralph to the woman who has caused them both so much pain—Jean Loring, Sue Dibny’s murderer and current host of The Spectre’s rival, the dark god Eclipso. Revenge and reunion with his beloved are within Ralph’s grasp but can he bring himself to take them?

Meanwhile, in the hidden city of Nanda Parbat, Renee Montoya pursues her training with martial arts master, Richard Dragon, and discovers a shocking possibility for why she was drawn into this globe-trotting quest. Details from the so-called "Crime Bible" will have dangerous implications for another member of the series’ cast. And "evil Skeets" continues his rampage across time, seeking to locate Rip Hunter, the only man who may be able to stop him.

Week Twenty-Seven marks a substantial turning point for 52 and delivers a moment DC fans have been waiting for since Brad Meltzer’s Identity Crisis set the tone for the company’s direction several years ago. After his wife’s death, the once-whimsical Elongated Man has been everything from grieving widower to near-suicidal wreck to (perhaps) raving crackpot. One former friend is responsible for the collapse of Ralph’s world and here at last, he has the opportunity to get even. The path he chooses when this moment presents itself provides some of the most powerful and disturbing drama of the series thus far.

I’m not as enamored of the Nanda Parbat revelation in this issue however. It’s difficult to discuss it without spoilers but if this leads where I think it will, it could substantially alter one character and take another off the board entirely at the peak of that character’s popularity. It remains to be seen if this is where the writers are taking this. It’s entirely possible that they will surprise us (as they often have before) and throw a curveball just when we think we know what’s at stake.

Shawn Moll’s art vividly conveys all the rage, terror, and desperation the characters feel in their bizarre circumstances. It increases the level of drama admirably, especially accentuated as it is by the more subdued colors of Peter Pantazis. I never thought I’d see the Elongated Man channeling the wrath of The Spectre but damn if Moll doesn’t make Ralph one scary-looking son-of-a-gun. The issue closes with Howard Chaykin’s rendering of the Black Canary’s origin. I’ve never been enamored of Chaykin’s rough, scratchy linework, though he does a decent job with our favorite "pretty bird."

Spectacular drama tinged with a slight concern for the future (in more ways than one. "Time is broken," as you may recall) make this installment of 52 a rather engrossing read.

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