Week 16: OliveyooghA 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"!
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.