Week 10: You've Got Me? Who's Got You?Alternate title: "Clark Kent, you're a mean drunk."
Somebody gets called a "terrorist" twice in this issue: Adrianna throws it as an insult at Black Adam, and Clark Kent straightfacedly mentions a crew of "Bahdnesian terrorists" who've stolen an ATV. In the first case, it seems questionable; in the second, it seems kind of ridiculous. "Terrorist" gets used as an all-purpose bogeyman these days, not least in mainstream comics, and it's worth pointing out what's wrong with the way it's being used here.
A good working definition of terrorism is the one that's currently at the top of the (contentiously edited) Wikipedia entry: "a strategy of using violence, or threat of violence to generate fear, cause disruption, and ultimately, to bring about compliance with specific political, religious, ideological, or personal demands. The targets of terrorist attacks typically are not the individuals who are killed, injured, or taken hostage, but rather the societies to which these individuals belong." In other words: terrorism is a tool used in the service of an idea about the way the world should be, and it's intended to make a society conform to that idea out of fear of violence. (The first comic I read that actually involved somebody explaining that they were a terrorist in the name of a political goal was this one--Plastique was then a Quebecois separatist.)
So. Is Black Adam a terrorist? The only person he's committed violence upon in the name of his ideology (at least in the current storyline) is Terra-Man, whose post-COIE, pre-IC incarnation (sigh) was more or less an eco-terrorist himself. So what's the society that's supposed to be fearing future violence from him? The Secret Society of Super-Villains and the Monster Society of Evil don't really count as societies in that sense, do they? Adam also appears to have killed Terra-Man on what's effectively Kahndqian soil (at least their embassy), for acts committed in Kahndaq's airspace, and what he's putting together in this issue sure seems like a legitimate, if scary, political coalition. If someone can offer a good argument that what he's up to is terrorism, I'd love to hear it, but it doesn't seem like it to me.
As for Supernova's punching bags: Bahdnesia is a tiny little country. It's sort of an analogue for Tibet, but not really--for one thing, it appears to be an island. (It's where Johnny Thunder was born, and picked up his Thunderbolt.) So what are "Bahdnesian terrorists" doing trying to steal an American ATV in the U.S.? How would that be terrorism instead of theft--what kind of fear might it inspire? What sort of political goal would a Bahdnesian terrorist want? ("We demand a monthly Johnny Thunder comic, or... we'll steal more cars!") If Bahdnesian terrorists are doing destructive stuff in the U.S. in the name of the Bahdnesian government, aren't they more or less begging for an American military response? And, more to the point, if you're stealing a military ATV in the middle of Metropolis, what the hell are you going to do with it, anyway? Drive it onto the next boat heading to Bahdnesia? Again, if somebody can make a case for this being a believable terrorist act, I'm all ears.
Greg Rucka, in particular, is very good with geopolitical stuff--he's been dealing with it beautifully in Queen & Country, and Checkmate is at least sorta promising so far. So it bugs me to see 52 using "terrorist" as an all-purpose synonym for "bad guy," without going at least a little deeper into means and motives.
As for this week's "History of the DCU," I have three things to say: "It all fits together..." may be the most inaccurate thing anybody has said about the entire run-up to Infinite Crisis; to say that "Wonder Woman killed Max Lord for his crimes" totally misses the point of that storyline; and "to be concluded next week!" is the single most promising line of this entire backup series.
Pg. 1: So we know that saying "Shazam" doesn't do anything to Black Adam any more. Has he tried "Kimota"?
Pp. 2-3: Wizard identifies the August General in Iron (not "General August"...), a Rocket Red, Cascade from the Global Guardians, a version of Ibis the Invincible, some woman in a Kobra-related outfit, Sonar, and somebody called Lady Zandia (can anybody tell me more about who she is?). Nobody yet from Bahdnesia, although it's mentioned later in the issue, or Vlatava, Santa Prisca, Bogatago, KooeyKooeyKooey, Bhutran, Austanberg or Gorilla City--thanks to this page for reminding me of some of those names--and we already know that Bialya isn't happy about Black Adam.
Pg. 4: Panel 2 has the return of surprise lines, which I don't think we've seen in a while; panel 8 looks a whole lot like a Kevin Maguire drawing, esepecially Adam's face and jaw-line... As for Spittin' Isis-To-Be:Wizard says her name is Andrea Tomaz, and that's the name that appeared on Giffen's layouts for #3 (and in the early script for #3 that I saw). But in the actual printed comic, she's Adrianna Tomaz. (One name gets Google hits for a real person, the other doesn't.)
Pg. 5: But 912 isn't even evenly divisible by 52!... It's not clear what story, exactly, the Daily Star got. "An exclusive on the investigation"? Maybe it's just the first photos of Supernova, but shouldn't he hassle a photographer about that instead? If there hasn't been an interview with Supernova yet, there's not much of a story to tell anyway.
Pg. 6: I can believe that Perry might have pulled this as a motivational stunt to get Clark back on the case. But if his pink-slip letter is just lorem-ipsum text, as it appears to be, you'd think Clark would have called his bluff...
Pg. 7: Clark is a star reporter and a bestselling novelist! His name sells papers! The worst Perry would actually do, most likely, is tell him to take a break, yes?
Pg. 8: "Great Caesar's Ghost!"
Pg. 9: J.G. Jones says on his Wizard 52 blog that he made careful notes about the cover's color scheme, and this image indicates that the tie's supposed to be dark blue with yellow and red stripes--the same colors as his Superman costume, which is a nice touch. (On the final cover, it's black with yellow and red stripes.) So couldn't somebody in the path of this issue's production made sure that Clark was wearing the same tie on the outside and the inside, or that his jacket could be unbuttoned on the inside too, or that the pants he's wearing aren't standard dress slacks but khakis?
Pg. 10: More surprise lines!
Pg. 12: Perhaps there will someday be an explanation of why a woman from Cairo is named Adrianna.
Pg. 13: I wish there were a clearer explanation of what exactly the Freedom of Power Treaty is supposed to do--it's still awfully nebulous. But I do like the Cary Grant/Kate Hepburn-but-with-the-constant-threat-of-dismemberment tone of their banter. "You're not just a terrorist, you're lonely!"
Pg. 14: Anger lines! I know Lois falling out a window and being caught by Superman is an iconic image, but I'm trying to think of any comics where it's actually happened, other than "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" Anybody in the audience want to point me to more examples? I don't think we've ever heard of "Meta-Human Journal" before--and it's very odd that "metahuman" gets a hyphen; as I recall, the standard superheroes-and-their-doings magazine in the DCU is called The Brave and the Bold. Also, if Clark's just been chopping the vegetables, why did he put the knife down with the blade pointing toward himself?
Pg. 15: "Sweetie, hot!" Love it.
Pg. 16: "A peculiar eyebeam."
Pg. 17: Is Lois left-handed? She's holding her fork with her left hand.
Pg. 18: More anger lines!
Pg. 19: Yes, "sivanium"--it originally appeared here, in a story that's been reprinted a couple of times. And I really like the idea of hybridizing that witth the Metal Men. Also great: the name "Tuesdays with Morrow" that Stephen Wacker used last week in his Newsarama Q&A. Looks like Morrow's been allowed to have some books again: a classic futurist-dystopia, a classic mad-scientist story whose title is set in old-school Macintosh Chicago, and a dreadful but cheap one-shot with a pretty good Atom story in it.
Pg. 20: "Mad Docter Sivana" (sic)? I'd write this off as just a typo, and maybe it is, but one of the first Google hits for "mad docter" is this page, which (once you click to expand) cites "a worm with a white coat, nuke goggles and a pipette." Which at least suggests Mister Mind, who is pretty obviously what went into the cocoon--and, to paraphrase that Wacker interview, probably not what's going to come out.
Next week is likely to be a little late, since I'll be heading to San Diego for Con on Wednesday. In the meantime, why not pass the time by leaving a comment here, especially if you've never commented before? I'm curious to find out how many people are reading.