Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Week 7: All-Facial-Hair Special!

Hey, there's another blog about this series called "52 Pickup"! How'd that happen (rather NSFW link), as Dan Savage says?

Evidently the exhaustion affecting our lost-in-space "Lost"-in-space crew this issue is catching--the fancy opening credit sequence is gone now, replaced with little text boxes and last-names-only. (As Jog pointed out, last week the "of" didn't even bother to show up to the title the "History the DCU" feature.) And the title this week? "Going Down"? There's something a little smarmy about that for a story whose emotional center is Montoya and Kate's relationship--I know the idea is that it's also about every other character being on the decline, but it's obvious that that's the main referent. Plus American Virgin is already using the same title for their current storyline.

(A side note: it's interesting that I think of Montoya by her last name, and Kate by her first. Ralph, John Henry, Booster-even-though-that's-not-really-his-name, Black Adam, The Question--I can't call him Vic... Montoya. Maybe it's a cop thing.)

The thing that makes this issue work, though, is that it's basically the first time we've seen a payoff, rather than just a setup, in the whole series: the return of Manthrax (God what a terrible name), and Booster's takedown, has been coming for what feels like a good long while. It's also, I think, the first time we've seen any two of the nominal main characters interacting, other than Montoya and Monsieur Q.

But what's really going on in the Montoya-and-Kate scene, and to a lesser extent in the Booster-and-Ralph scenes, is the weird kind of pleasure that comes from seeing a familiar formula play itself out. DC's Mort Weisinger-era superhero comics tended to get over on mixing routines and clichés with WTF? moments, which is strangely like the way 52 seems to be working so far. If DC hadn't already shouted to the world that Kate Kane was Montoya's ex (or that she was going to be Batwoman), there might have been a little bit of buzz in discovering it after they'd interacted for a couple of pages. Instead, it's the Poor Girl Visits the Mansion routine, followed by the Difficult Confrontation Between Ex-Lovers from Opposite Sides of the Tracks routine: "You can show yourself out." "You know where to find me?" "Yes... I always have..." Cue a slightly wobbly-from-overuse tape of the theme from Love Story, you know?

Still, the last time we got to see Montoya--her scene with Maggie Sawyer in Week 5--was also a formula scene: The Hard-Bitten Cop and the P.I. (well, the wannabe P.I.). And the thing I loved about her to begin with was that she was such an unexpectedly human character so much of the time--that her interactions with other characters didn't often play out according to familiar formulae. I really want to see her surprise me again.

(Plus is it just me, or is Kate Kane's head disproportionately large for her body, like Nancy Reagan's? She's heading toward MODOK territory! On the other hand, the two strands of hair that are always falling down into Montoya's face make me think her big secret might just be that she's going to become the new Ambush Bug. We have been told that the Bug's going to be showing up in 52, after all...)

As far as the History of the DCU goes, it's just totally embarrassing now--it makes no sense at all as a story on its own, as a getting-up-to-speed guide for new readers, or as setup for some potential future story. The caption this time that makes me throw my hands up in despair is "Battles raged as entropy ate away at both ends of the timestream, working toward your present. In less than three days, it would be gone." It reminds me a little of the bumper sticker that says "My Other Car Made the Kessel Run in Less Than Twelve Parsecs." I'm still really looking forward to the origin backups, although it looks from the new solicitations as if there aren't going to be 40 of them, since Week 21 is a "special full-length story."

And, left over from last issue: yes, I do think, as Jamie Ott suggests in the comments to last week's entry, that there are some clues pointing to Egg Fu--talk about cultural sensitivity--! EDITED TO ADD: It is Egg Fu!

More notes on this issue:

Pg. 1: Buddy's still shaving, but Adam isn't?

Pg. 2: Not enough that they're on Adon--Kory's trying to talk a man named Adam into eating a fruit that will change him? And "that mysterious power output we detected"--do we have any idea what that is?

Pg. 3: I see that Montoya's back on the sauce. Speaking of clichés, how long until the inevitable throwing-bottle-against-the-wall scene ILC keeps joking about? "Rangers From Tomorrow": seems to have been something invented for this reference, and looks like the sort of thing that was substituted at the last minute for, I don't know, Battlestar Galactica.

Pg. 4: "Catwoman 'Robs' Pharmacy"? There's a story in those quotation marks, I imagine. Too bad about the lorem-ipsum explanation underneath it.

Pg. 5: It's the introduction of the All-New, Grim, Bearded, Righteous Elongated Man! Wiith a vest under his jacket! Is this what's Ralph has become from the part of his personality that was built around Sue being stripped away? And if Booster's so into future-tech, what's he doing with a mobile phone that looks like something from 1987? Couldn't he get an endorsement deal from Sprint or something?

Pg. 6: Plus is the fact that we get 75 seconds, tops, worth of dialogue between Skeets' nine-minute and three-minute warnings another indication that something's amiss with time, or that the writers aren't sure how long it takes to read their words? The "just called"/"number not in service" thing suggests there's some sort of reality-slip happening...

Pg. 8: If Ralph has learned anything from hanging around Green Arrow, it's how to point his finger. That little "boom" in the background: is it the tanker from later in the story, or a boom tube?

Pg. 9: Story/art disconnect: Montoya "ironed [her] shirt" before going to see Kate? So why is she wearing her usual V-neck T-shirt, leather jacket and jeans? Did she burn the shirt while ironing it?

Pg. 10: Here's another case where a little more digging into DC history might've done some good. There actually was a Hamilton Rifle Company, although the idea of a whole lot of family money coming from a rifle company is probably an allusion to the Winchesters. As it turns out, the DC Universe already has a knockoff of the Winchesters: the Cambridge family, whose Winchester-Mystery-House-like mansion was seen in Swamp Thing #45...

Pg. 11: So Kate punches Montoya with her left hand? And do most people tend to respond to a single provocation from an ex by hitting them?

Pg. 15: Are little kids in 52 now required to be carrying teddy bears?

Pg. 18: I'm guessing that the woman talking to Ralph in panel 2 is Ami Soon, named on the previous page. And it sure looks like she's the woman hanging out with Ralph and Detective Chimp on the cover of Week 18. Could she, perhaps, be the new romantic interest for him that's been hinted at?

Pp. 19-20: Sort of a relief to see a wordless sequence, although this one seems a little long for its content, and the last panel looks very much like the cover of Week 9--is the situation going to remain static for the next week and a half?

17 Comments:

At 11:56 AM, Blogger Avi Green said...

Could she, perhaps, be the new romantic interest for him that's been hinted at?

I don't know, but either way, after the extraordinarily vile way in which Sue Dibny was tossed out, I'm not buying it. Assuming that this is what DC's trying to do with Ralph, it becomes apparent that they're forcing it upon the audience regardless of whether they accept their steps with the characters or not.

Sales and publicity stunts don't wash with me.

 
At 12:05 PM, Blogger Garrie Burr said...

"Rangers of Tomorrow" -- I thought it was referencing Tommy Tomorrow and his Planeteers...

Re the Hamilton Rifle Company: Edmond Hamilton was the writer on the original Batwoman story in Detective Comics 233.

Take care out there...

--Garrie

 
At 3:07 PM, Blogger Mark Fossen said...

Story/art disconnect: Montoya "ironed [her] shirt" before going to see Kate? So why is she wearing her usual V-neck T-shirt, leather jacket and jeans? Did she burn the shirt while ironing it?

A friend of mine irons his t-shirts. He's not an alchoholic lesbian ex-cop, however. But perhaps he and Montoya share that small trait in common.

Sales and publicity stunts don't wash with me.
I find it hard to believe that there's any sales/marketing/publicity to be had from "Ralph gets laid."

... unless Ralph hooks up with Detective Chimp.

 
At 4:44 PM, Blogger Skeets (And Booster Gold) said...

Damn, I hate Ralph.

 
At 8:37 AM, Blogger Emmet Matheson said...

"Catwoman 'Robs' Pharmacy"?

Maybe she got a home pregnancy test?

 
At 1:25 PM, Blogger Jamie Ott said...

Douglas,

Thanks for the mention for the Egg Fu theory. I've been enjoying the breakdowns since Week 1.

A couple things I noticed this week:

Anyone else wonder about "Don't ask the question, it lies.", when Booster said to Ralph, "Ask Skeets!".

Why the heck would Skeets, who seems almost human-like recite the sordid details in front of Ralph and Booster? That struck me as odd. Was this statement a lie and because of the time flux, Sue may still be alive?

Also, in the Catwoman 'Robs' Pharmacy article, a line was repeated in the jumbled mess of the text. "Stones in the Fressa". Anyone have any idea what Fressa is? The only reference I could find is to a type of body cream. Is this how Luthor transmitted the meta-gene to Steel?

Jamie

 
At 2:43 PM, Blogger Jim said...

"Kate Kane has the kind of beauty that leaves you breathless..."

Shouldn't somebody have told the artist?

 
At 6:50 PM, Blogger Gabe said...

Pg. 18: I'm guessing that the woman talking to Ralph in panel 2 is Ami Soon, named on the previous page

I think that's still Lois Lane, who's interviewing Booster and Manthrax on the previous couple pages. Her shirt-collar keeps going from red to white, but she's pointing the same recording device. And wouldn't "Ami Soon, Channel Five" be holding a microphone instead?

Best line in the issue: "Ralph Dibny, human race." And would someone please tell me who the guy on the last page who looks like Galactus is?

 
At 6:53 AM, Blogger Dennis Culver said...

Devilance The Pursuer

http://www.sean-walsh.com/newgods/pursuer.jpg

He's a Kirby character from The Forever People comic, he works for Darkseid.

 
At 6:55 AM, Blogger Garrie Burr said...

Although I don't think he looks much like Galactus, the character you're asking about -was- a Kirby-design: Devilance the Pursuer, from the final issue of the Forever People.

Infinity Man traded places with the People in their final issue, sending them to a remote other-dimensional world. Not sure where that stands in present continuity. But if Devilance still pursues the Forever People, then the world Animal Man and Company are trapped on could be their old getaway spot.

 
At 11:53 AM, Blogger Jamie Ott said...

So that would make two minions of Darkseid in two weeks. First, Egg Fu, now Devilance (not having read Forever People, I did not recognize him.)

"The old gods are dead, the new gods want what's left."

Jamie

 
At 2:20 PM, Blogger Steven said...

Catwoman OYL has a flashback to Selina breaking into a pharmacy and grabbing a home pregnancy test...

but leaving money to pay for it on the counter, so she didn't actually rob them, hence the quotation marks.

And yeah, all the Gotham cops are best know by their last name (Gordon, Bullock, Driver, Allen), with the exception of Maggie Sawyer, who's originally from Metropolis where people are know by their first name, and Josie Mac, which is a nickname that incorporates her last name anyway.

I did not like the art for this issue, at all. Giffen's layout remain good, but the actual execution...

And while the History of the DCU remains useless, it was at least the first time in-story anyone's acknowledged that Hal Jordan/Parallax had the exact same motivation as Superboy-Prime (destroy the universe to make a better one).

I do think it's funny that the end of Captain Atom: Armageddon is... the Wildstorm Universe is destroyed and replaced with a better one, and it seemed to work out okay!

So maybe SB-Prime and Parallax had a point.

 
At 5:14 AM, Blogger David C said...

Maybe Buddy can somehow use his Animal Man powers to keep his facial hair from growing out? That'd be kinda handy....

 
At 9:37 AM, Blogger Brian said...

I don't remember Devilance being so.....tall....But who knows what weird powers one of Darkseid's pursuers might hold in abeyance? I mean, he WAS the same size as the Forever People when he was chasing them around, right?

 
At 3:05 PM, Blogger Steven said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 3:06 PM, Blogger Steven said...

Oh, by the way,

Confirmation that "The Great One" IS Egg-Fu.

 
At 2:28 PM, Blogger acespot said...

Doug: Adam can't shave, because he can't see! (But he CAN fix a starship!)

Emmett: Since Selina delivered in the first Month OYL, and this is the 7th week post crisis, it would not yet have been early enough for her to have been pregnant, let alone suspect it.

My own comments and questions:
p.1 How is Adam functioning without his sight?
Starfire is leaning on Buddy!! WOODY! Well, but she's gone all Anna Nicole with food all over her face, so...
p.3 Who were the Rangers from Tomorrow?
p.4 Who is Kate Kane? Is she being retconned into existence here, or has she ever appeared before?
p.6 Why is Booster such a dick?
p.8 Sets Identity Crisis #1 eight months ago.
p.17 With all his sponsorships, why would Booster's check bounce? How come he wouldn't know that the armor hadn't been returned to his storage locker?

HOTDCU
p.23 Are we blaming continuity errors on Superman-2 now?
p.25 Even upon explanation, the Damage/Big Bang thing makes as little sense now as it did then.
They left out AzBat-that was a big part of the darkening of the Batman mythos. They left Ollie out of the frame-but he really deserved props for "taking out" Hal.

Whatever.

 

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