Overview

52: Week Two

Review

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52: Week Two

Credits

  • Words: Grant Morrison, Mark Waid, Geoff Johns, and Greg Rucka
  • Art: Keith Giffen and Joe Bennett
  • Inks: Jack Jadson
  • Colors: Alex Sinclair
  • Story Title: Looking Back at Tomorrow
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.50
  • Release Date: May 17, 2006

DC’s groundbreaking event continues, featuring more sinister foreshadowing than an M. Night Shyamalan flick. Infinite Crises, indeed…

Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man, pays a visit to his recently departed wife’s grave, there only to find an enticingly ominous graffito scrawled upon her tombstone; a mark – a symbol – one that by its very nature could only be a dreadfully personal message written for the erstwhile detective himself. Smelling a mystery in the works, the suicidally depressed sometimes-hero moves towards the one figure the ideogrammatic message naturally leads him to: Wonder Girl. Meanwhile, Booster Gold marches on with his repeatedly stymied attempts at utilizing his knowledge of the future in order to establish himself as the greatest hero of the post-Infinite Crisis age; Professor Magnus, creator of the Metal Men, discovers a portentous series of kidnappings that bodes ill for…well, everyone; and the mysterious Question pays a midnight visit to Renee Montoya, and leaves behind a written address which the former police woman then journeys to.

It is still far too early in the game for an epic the length of 52 to begin unraveling its mysteries, or to begin spotlighting even tertiary connections to where the fans know it all must end, yet one thing the quartet of fan-favorite writers of 52 do do is that voodoo they do oh-so-well – they tease. Unlike many comic series today, whose futures are forever uncertain (they could be cancelled, revamped, drawn into a crossover, or even outright given to another writer without any due warning) 52 is a concept that is foundationally solid in its execution. The writers know precisely what they want to do, how long they have to do it, and even where they must (and therefore will) conclude, thanks to the bookend One Year Later event snaking throughout all other DCU books. This results in a truly titillating reading experience, with (as mentioned earlier) foreshadowings galore mixed vigorously with heady slow-burn drama.

One of my own greatest fears when faced with this weekly-published, year-long gala event, was that it possibly would fall into the trap which most crossovers do – that only every fourth, or fifth, or even sixth issue would in reality wield the storytelling merit, with those that fell in-between acting as mere filler to meet the demands of the "event" publishing design. Thankfully, with this second issue out and in my hands, it appears that the overall plot construction will be along the lines of the past published Michael Moorcock’s Multiverse series, which serialized a number of continuing short stories that eventually wove themselves together for the grand finale ending. There’re a slew of similar shorts scattered within 52, though none of them divvied up so neatly as an actual anthology might place them. Rather, the myriad plotlines slip seamlessly from one to the other then back, granting no more than a taste within any given scene. This could become aggravating before the marathon experience is complete, but for now, it satisfies sweetly, with hope that the many unfettered arcs will soon tether together to form one vast mosaic that’ll draw the reader panting to the very bitter end.

The art continues to be of superior quality as well, a quality that has lasted past the initial opening, which is a blessing, but again it won’t be until much later in the program before fans and pros alike will know if the final product will suffer due to the book’s hectic publishing pace. Joe Bennett and Jack Jadson turn in a gorgeous set of pages both this week as they did with the last, with perfectly pitched colors embellished by Alex Sinclair. Keith Giffen’s layouts are strongly dramatic, managing classic forms united with a vital touch of the new-age dynamism expected from any modern visual medium. Combined, the art crew for this first month of 52 presents a striking, stark and affecting launch for the seminal series. The story is a snowballing monster of high-tension drama and the pretty, pretty pictures do grant, bolster, and heighten this desired ambiance with old and new school authority.

So – so far so good. It’s already a marvelously well constructed opening that features fan-favorite, second-rate characters all of whom the writers obviously hold an adoration for. Even if the series doesn’t change everything or even reveal anything – which is another possible problem: the back-stories for most of the OYL series are being explored within each individual comic separate from all others, and if this continues, what, then, will be the point of 52? Well, even then, this weekly monstrosity will go down in history as the singularly best-told and most carefully handled B-list character team-book ever produced. I can live with that; happy as a cat in a hat eating fat off a rat.

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