Oct 16, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 234: 52 #1, May 10, 2006

I actually picked up the next issue of Alpha Flight this morning, and was about 4 pages in when I remembered that I'd decided to take a break from that comic. And what better way to pass a week than with DC's first foray into a weekly comic, 52.

52 picks up right after the events of the ridiculous clusterfuck that was Infinite Crisis. I call IC this because, rather than a nice, compact, followable event series, Infinite Crisis was a series of mini-series and one-shots and preludes and hints dropped in every comic leading up to it that, unless you were buying every single title DC was publishing at the time, made no sense whatsoever. I'm a strong proponent of the notion that an event series ought to tell a coherent story, and if there's crossovers or ancillary series, those series should enhance the story, but not be necessary to the enjoyment of the main title. Infinite Crisis did not do this. It's the same as with Marvel's Secret Invasion, which would have made absolutely no sense if I wasn't already reading the Avengers titles that crossed over into it.

Anyway, after the events, whatever they were, of IC, all DC comics jumped ahead one year. 52 is the story of what happened that year, week by week.

This issue gives introduces us to the six main characters with whom we're going to take this year-long journey. They're all B-list heroes (though Booster Gold certainly does not see himself that way), so it's kind of a cool ground-level look at the aftermath of one of these world-shaking crises. Steel's sections, helping with rescue efforts in Paris and chatting with the rescue workers, is particularly well-handled, as is Ralph Dibney's story. Dibney, it should be noted, is still reeling in the aftermath of the Identity Crisis mini-series, and the revelation that his wife Sue turned out to be a murderer. Of all the stories in 52, Ralph's is by far the most poignant, and probably the most well-realized. Though, having said that, the Renee Montoya/Question storyline is really pretty great too.

I admit, I only ever really picked up 52 when it came out because of the creative team. Though I'm not a big fan of Geoff Johns' subsequent mangling of the DCU, at this point he was riding high on a pretty fantastic run on Green Lantern. Grant Morrison, Mark Waid, and Greg Rucka are all amazing writers, and really any one of them on a title is reason enough to read it. All three? Sold. Add Keith Giffen on layouts, and you've got what promises to be a truly solid piece of work.

I guess over the next little while, we'll see if that promise is fulfilled. I've re-read 52 in its entirety only one other time, aside from when it was coming out, and I don't actually remember my reaction. I think the plan, at least for the foreseeable future will be to do a week of 52 and a week of Alpha Flight. The runs I have of both are quite lengthy, so this'll be a nice way of breaking them up. I know I said I was going to dive into the pile of "to read" comics sitting on my floor, but 52 called out to me, and I answered.

So. Week one sees Booster's knowledge of the future proved false, a bit of a crisis for him. Black Adam asserts his command and vision for Khandaq. Renee drinks a lot, Ralph wants to kill himself, Steel is heroic, and The Question commandeers the Bat-Signal for his own mysterious purposes. What will next week bring? Find out tomorrow!

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