Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Week 16: Oliveyoogh

A good setup this week, and a potentially exciting convergence of plotlines, badly marred by major lapses in narrative logic. The biggest one is that Montoya makes the cognitive leap that "Intergang's going to hit the wedding" based on the presence of rat poison in the Intergang-related site... but a) not only had the wedding not been announced at the time they found the rat poison, Adam hadn't even proposed to Isis yet, and b) if Intergang's got access to Kirbytech guns and things that transform people into were-beasts, what the hell do they want with a low-tech/low-budget option for causing mayhem like a shrapnel bomb with anticoagulant coating? The bomb-at-the-wedding plot also assumes that there wouldn't be extensive security at a royal wedding, and that the other super-types there, including Captain Marvel Jr., wouldn't notice the commotion once Renee started yelling about the kid having a bomb, and that the stampede Renee and Charlie worried about wouldn't happen if she just screamed that there was a bomber and shot her. (It also really bugs me that this story is making the lazy jump from "Middle East" to "suicide bomber," but that's another issue.)

The other missing pieces of the puzzle are in the Adam/Isis love story, which is just about as forced as the Black Panther/Storm love story other commentators have been roundly mocking. We've seen so little evidence of why Adrianna should be attracted to Adam that we get a scene of Mary Marvel commenting on it so that Adrianna can explain it all away--and it doesn't work. At least I've got some hope that there'll be some explanation on this front later. As for this week's title: "Uhebbuki" seems to be a transliteration of Arabic for "I love you," as spoken by a man to a woman, although it's far from the most common way of spelling it. ("Ohiboke" is much more common.)

Hope everybody's been reading J.G. Jones' cover blog over at Wizard--this week's is a particularly interesting exegesis of a particularly terrific cover. As Wally Wood noted, a three-stage composition always works, and Jones has come up with a smart way to get a lot of depth into a scene where everything is actually pretty close together. (And he works in another Soviet propaganda poster design, while he's at it!) He does note, though, that "[t]he flowers that are raining down are a clue that Isis is overhead. When she flies around she is creating flowers and greenery wherever she goes like Mother Nature." That's a great visual effect, and it would be even better if, for instance, we'd ever seen it inside the comic. Also, I should know better by now than to complain that neither Montoya nor Charlie are wearing on the cover what they're wearing on the inside, but surely Tot could've thrown a khaki button-down shirt for her into that big ol' shipping container. And "who's she wearing"?!? Not the best question for Isis's outf--oh wait. Her belt-piece is red, black and yellow...

Black Adam's origin: nicely done, although I'd really like it if more of these two-page origins mentioned the characters' creators, who in this case are Otto Binder and C.C. Beck. Adam, it's worth mentioning, appeared in exactly one Golden Age comic--this one--whose cover features the same "vs." formulation Grant Morrison makes fun of in this fascinating interview. (I think I first encountered the story here--a much more affordable alternative, if tinier.)

And one other cool little surprise on the DC Nation page: it appears that the previously posted cover art for Week 17 is only a detail of the full image, a very cute parody of Week 1.

While we're at it, there's lots of 52-related material in Justice League of America #1. SPOILERS AHOY AGAIN FOR THE REST OF THIS PARAGRAPH. The most important one, I suspect, is that it suddenly makes a bit more sense what the significance of the "artificial soul" is: as in the case of Red Tornado and the Metal Men, it is capable of resurrection, since if its body is destroyed it can return once the body is reconstructed. Also, things look grim for Animal Man ("We should pay a visit to Ellen," Superman says, noting that Buddy's not available). And the Question is... open. Vixen gets a note from ?Q, and assumes that it's a come-on ("Firehawk said he's a pain in the ass. That means he's good in bed"), then asks for "him" and gets the answer "Ain't you gonnna be disappointed... the Question ain't operated out of Hub City for over a year." Of course, the "disappointment" could also easily be that ?Q isn't a "he" at this point. Plus: there's a "hush tube" and a "father box"!

More notes:

Pg. 1: I don't think we've known before that Isis's brother's name isn't Osiris but Amon--another Egyptian deity, associated with wind and "the breath of life," whose cult was pretty much overtaken by the Isis/Osiris cult. He's the first "A" among the gods who give Black Adam his S.H.A.Z.A.M. powers. Also, I wasn't familiar with lychnis before I Googled it, but how could I resist a link with a name so much like "Guy Gardner"?

Pg. 2: There doesn't seem to be an actual diamond that plays a significant part in the Caesar-and-Cleopatra story, but there is a line in George Bernard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra, in which Apollodorus says "Friend Rufio threw a pearl into the sea: Caesar fished up a diamond." (The "diamond" in question is Cleopatra!)

Pg. 4: Is the box labeled "FRAG" (later "fragile") what Lobo is hiding inside?

Pg. 6: How does Isis change back to Adrianna, anyway? ("Oh not-so-mighty Adrianna!")

Pg. 7: Perhaps Billy's stabler the more distance he puts between himself and the Rock of Eternity. Perhaps this is just another one of those inconsistencies. And if his "authority as keeper of the Rock" means he gets to perform weddings, wouldn't the wedding have to be at the Rock? It's not like ships' captains get to go around marrying people wherever they feel like it.

Pg. 8: We keep seeing Kahndaq's residents with headwear of various kinds; wouldn't this be a good opportunity for Charlie to indulge his fondness for hats?

Pg. 9: Tawky Tawny, just as promised! And Uncle Dudley! But where's this guy? I ask only because his appearance here gave me a laugh I still remember 25 years later...

Pp. 14-15: An almost-fumbled bit of pacing here--the lightning that appears when they all say "SHAZAM" is a lot more dramatic the first time than "let's have some more lightning." Otherwise nicely suspenseful, though. The suicide bomber's prayer is, of course, a retelling of the first part of Genesis 4. (Perhaps you know it from the Golden Age version; it wasn't really covered in the '90s revamp.) It's worth noting, though, that the rock in question isn't actually in the standard Bible text; it's a traditional holdover from the Manichaean version. (Last time a Grant Morrison-related project had "archons" and "Manichaean" on the same page, one of his characters had this to say about it.)
Cain, of course, went on to a very successful career at DC. Actually, is the "rock" meant to be conflated somehow with the Rock of Eternity?

Oh, and "all universes"? Very interesting. Maybe Billy knows something we don't.

Pg. 17: Looks like the Kirbytech gun blew a hole in the bomber instead of vaporizing her as it did the creature at 52 Kane.

Pg. 18: One Adam carries his virgin bride across the threshold (followed by, dear Lord, a visible trickle of blood--subtle much?)...

Pg. 19: ...and another one can't get his rocket off the ground and claims that "this has never happened to me before." At least the "time slows down" thing makes a good excuse for the tabled-ness of this plot.

Next week, as I mentioned, I'm not going to be anywhere near a computer. (If you're in Black Rock City, stop by Vanilla Pod in Groovig at Chance & 4:30 and say hi.) Instead, we'll have a special guest star doing 52 Pickup; anyone who says "fill-ins suck" is way, way off the mark. As you can see by the sidebar, it's none other than the amazing Ragnell! See you in two weeks.


At 4:28 PM, Blogger Andy Bayer said...

You asked why one of the Marvels wouldn't hear the screams. I think that the crashing lightning would have blocked most of their hearing.

At 4:40 PM, Blogger Andy Bayer said...

Looking over your post again, you said that Isis is supposed to create flowers and greenery wherever she flies. During the ceremony, there are roses raining down. Could these be a result of the queen of khandaq? Or just decorations dropped from helicopters?

At 8:08 PM, Blogger Eric said...

Also, check out the cover to JLA #1 and compare it to the original Benes artwork...where the Question formerly stood between Donna Troy and Firestorm, he's been replaced by...Martian Manhunter, maybe?

And Booster Gold's been replaced by Big Barda. The new Blue Beetle also turns up in the background.

At 8:29 PM, Blogger Michael Nicolai said...

Natasha surpassing John Henry, Renee surpassing The Question, Booster surpassing... Booster..

Could Black Adam be the new Captain Marvel?

At 6:33 AM, Blogger Jamie Ott said...

For me, this was one of the weakest issues in the series. The logic jumps Renee makes were just too unbelievable for me.

I'm thinking that since Adam is the Law in Khandaq, he can recognize Billy's authority to wed them.

BUT what was this about Billy believing Adam can change? Did they decide to skip the last two years of JSA? Billy has never believed good things of Adam. Maybe his time in the rock has addled him?

And I noted many of the JLA spoilers but they seem to be somewhat ambiguous....except the one about Buddy. That doesn't bode well. I did catch the mention of Skeets, tho. I wonder if that was a reference to OYL. It would almost have to be, since this Skeets did not know Doc Magnus before 52.

And note that this is the second time Isis has diverted Adam away from finding her brother....something doesn't sound right here. I think she's an Intergang plant....because as Renee and Vic found, they were already operating in Khandaq.


At 7:03 AM, Blogger Scott said...

The logical jumps bothered me as well. Why did Renee assume suicide bomber? That's never been Intergang's style -- they've alwyas been more of the planted explosive type.

I have serious doubts about that whole rat-poison-anticoagulant-on-shrapnel concept. Sure, rat poison is an anticoagulant and I'm sure somebody has tried the trick at some point, but that's doesn't mean it works. That type of anticoagulant takes 30+ hours to work on humans, and actually has a pro-coagulant effect at first.

At 7:10 AM, Blogger Scott said...

Revisiting the rat poison bomb concept, here is an article from Slate (July 11, 2002) that takes a very critical look at the idea, for most of the same reasons I had.

At 7:43 AM, Blogger Squashua said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Adrianna is definately an Intergang plant and possibly a disciple of Granny Goodness.

At 7:54 AM, Blogger Jamie Ott said...

Yeah, I give you full props for the idea squashua. I started thinking about it more and more after I first saw you say it and I'm of the same belief as you.

Now, it is possible that she actually fell in love with Adam and is having (or will have) a change of heart...which will make her death even more tragic.


At 10:46 AM, Blogger Empty Book said...

Y'know the cover, what does "Who's she wearing?" mean? I can't figure it out.

At 11:01 AM, Blogger ? said...

As in which designer's clothing is she wearing, I believe.

At 11:42 AM, Blogger Squashua said...

Douglas infers that she's wearing Plastic Man, which is a little joke he's done before, most notably to Big Barda. Likely, it is simply an homage to that joke, considering that it was probably either Morrison or Waid who originally wrote the prank when it appeared in JLA.

And jamie, I totally missed that you wrote about it. I was referring to Douglas wondering what she's thinking. I also don't think she's fallen for him. He's fallen for her, and she's a great actress.

At 1:30 PM, Blogger T.H. said...

Why is Intergang using suicide bombers? So Black Adam won't realize it's Intergang. It's actually a pretty devious plan to use against a nigh-omnipotent ruler whose only soft spot seems to be his people.

At 9:34 AM, Blogger Eric said...

I guess ALL of the 52 characters (besides Batwoman) were excised from the Justice League cover. I guess my Q? myopia strikes again.

Has anyone mentioned how much Jones' Black Adam looks like Bruce Willis? I thought Wacker said that Vic/Montoya were the Moonlighting pair....

At 4:32 PM, Blogger Michael said...

So they call "Shazam!" and invoke the good qualities of mankind or whatever, and they get a lightning bolt but nobody changes back? WTF is up with that?

At 6:21 PM, Blogger Filby said...

My powers of fanwank lead me to conclude that Cap, as the new custodian of Shazam's power, called down the lightning himself. I dunno. I've just been ignoring the plot holes and intuitive leaps.

At 8:35 AM, Blogger Jamie Ott said...

Hmmm....just found out some interesting facts about Boom Tubes from the CBR forums and thought I'd pass them on. Especially since they bolster my theories on the Boom Tube being what hit the Zeta Beam that messed up the space group. Don't believe me? Go back to the space hero recap and you can just see one on the right page.

[URL=]Wikipedia entry on Boom Tubes[/URL]

Devilance was huge because he did NOT travel through a Boom Tube to the Planet, right? It also explains Kendra's giant-Size proportions.

Just a thought.

At 10:56 AM, Blogger Squashua said...

I thought Douglas pointed that theory out in an earlier installment. Also I did not do any research on the following comment: Doesn't Bumblebee have size-altering powers?

At 11:44 AM, Blogger Jamie Ott said...

He might have, I don't recall. I know that I had mentioned suspecting a boom tube (based on the art after looking for possible Fourth World references) but if he did, I completely missed it. :)


At 10:02 PM, Blogger acespot said...

I haven't been reading 52 lately. It just started to annoy me. I'll catch up in a few weeks.


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