Oct 18, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 236: 52 #3, May 24, 2006

Rather than give a general overview of this comic, I'm going to instead focus on a couple of panels. In literary studies, we're often told that a whole analytical paper can be hinged upon a particular sentence, or even word, in an imaginative work. I have, in my undergrad, actually written on individual words and the ways in which we might interpret a whole work or section of a work based on that interpretation. This is called, or is a facet of, close reading, the fundamental tool of the literary critic.

Close reading in a comic is slightly different, because we have to look at both the narratological qualities of the art and words and also the semiotic qualities of the form. I'm going to look more at the former than the latter today.

Here's the first panel I want to consider:

Thus far in the series (as short a distance as that is), all we've seen of Booster Gold is a money-hungry, endorsement-seeking, future-mining dick. He's always been one of my least favourite heroes in the DCU, mainly for the above-stated reasons. Here, however, we see him taking a slightly more serious approach to things. When his information about the future starts to prove itself unreliable, rather than whining and moaning, he realizes that there's a good chance that something has gone wrong with time. In the wake of a universal crisis, such an assumption is not an unfair one to make. It's smart of the writers to give us a little more depth in Booster at this point, especially considering he's one of our focal characters for the series. The more prevalent characterization would have worn thin had it not been tempered by this side of the character. There's a reason he's been on the Justice League, and a reason he hasn't been shut down by any of the other heroes: he does actually care. It's just that the caring is buried deep, deep, deep beneath a shiny capitalist veneer.

Here's my favourite panel in the whole issue:

Continuity-wise, it's often difficult to say what adventures have happened to this point, and which have been retconned out of existence. Steel is, as far as I know, keenly aware of Luthor's criminal dealings. He was a member of the Justice League (during the Morrison years) when Lex was involved with the Injustice League, and thus knows that the act of caring President is just that with Lex. Their whispered exchange, the tacit acknowledgment of one anothers true feelings, is a lovely little moment. Neither can act on their true feelings, but that doesn't mean that neither can't make those feelings known. At least to each other.

52, as I've repeatedly called it, is an experiment. As the series progresses, I feel like the creative teams take the results of the early parts of the experiment and apply them to the later parts. My recollection is that the later parts of the series are far better, that the creators realize what they can do with the format, and what they don't need to do with the format. I suppose we'll see. So, that's a tiny little close reading, not terribly in depth, but what I was feeling like talking about today. See you tomorrow!

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