Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Week 19: Rabbit Redux

Trying to relive moments of youthful glory and ending up trapped in a tight little recursive loop: isn't that what superhero comics are all about these days? Daniel is Precut Archetype #14, the Ex-Jock Who Wants to Get Back That Moment of Athletic Majesty, and he's not subtle about it--even Harry Angstrom didn't obsess that much about it. This is far from the only comic I've seen in the last few years that's got some sort of grim and not-too-carefully-masked metaphor for the state of long-underwear stuff; to return to the Seven Soldiers references I was making last week, part of what's so valuable to me about the 7S project is that it suggests where the superhero concept can go next--ways to use the idea that respect the past but are forward-looking rather than backward-looking.

I could go on about the poisonous effects of nostalgia on superhero comics, and one of these weeks when I've got more time I probably will. For the moment, I'll just note that one of those poisons is a sort of stylistic leveling. A lot of my other favorite new comics of the moment are projects like Finder and Fell and DMZ and... well, I haven't really warmed to Casanova yet, but I'm still buying it. What I like about them is not that they aren't superhero stories or even that they're not wildly intertextual the way 52 is (obviously I'm probably a little too into intertextuality), but that they've all got incredibly compressed narrative urgency, and they all read like nothing but themselves--they're forward-looking in terms of the way they work as comics. 52, for all its mystery and momentum, still hasn't really found the kind of distinctive storytelling voice that I love about certain comics (including, actually, a lot of comics involving its writers); I read it because I'm dying to find out what happens next, but not because of the way it'll be expressed, if you see what I mean.

This week's cover has its own issues with the past, and with past incarnations of the future. Others (especially on Newsarama) have already analyzed the significance of the dates Booster's dashing through, but to recap:

*85,271 is the setting of DC One Million (one million months after Action #1)--smart of Jones to have its "5" and "2" offset just slightly from the numbers in the cover logo

*1938, 1939 and 1941 were the first appearances of the Missing Big Three

*1935 was New Fun Comics #1, the first comic published by the entity that became DC--and somehow I wouldn't be surprised to see Jack Woods pop up in this series...

*1985 was Crisis on Infinite Earths

*3006 is now + 1000 years = Legion time

*the significance of 4006 and 5252 aren't clear

A year I was hoping to see show up that didn't: something from the 5700s, the era of Pol Manning, Hal Jordan's future alter ego. Also notably absent: the 25th century (home of Booster and Skeets), and the 64th century (home of Abra Kadabra). And whenever Alix Harrower's ancestor, "Earth's first superhero," was active, cf. Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer.

This issue is also, I think, the first time we've seen Skeets actively breaking his own experience of time: if Daniel's caught in a time loop until the year 1,000,000, he's not going to get out in time to become a direct ancestor of Booster, is he? So who's going to ferry him 500 years into the past? And we're in "Chronocops" territory!

Reliving a particular moment indefinitely has been used as a device in a lot of other comics--Strontium Dog and the ending of this mystery in space come to mind--but it also reminds me of the monster in the time-stream in this issue, whose dialogue was even more screwed-up than the The All-New Atom's aliens', and included probably my favorite all-time line of awful comics dialogue: "IS/WAS HUNGRY! MUST/WILL/HAVE EAT!" Gerry Conway, thank you for traumatizing nine-year-old me. (Actually, there was an even more traumatizing line in an earlier issue of Superman Family, but I'm gonna have to dig through my old issues to try to find it.)

I'm happy to see that the DC tarot challenge I suggested last week yielded a couple of responses (and I'd be happy to see more): for those of you who don't read the comments, Dr. Obvious made a card for The Hermit, and Jonni made one for The Devil.

Also, if you haven't been looking at Keith Giffen's layouts at , you might want to--they've started posting outtakes from each issue, too, and they're kind of fascinating.

More notes:

Pg. 1: Skeets meets his own primitive ancestor! Also, it looks like Daniel's high school was in Manchester--perhaps the Alabama home of Bart Allen and the speedster from last week's Luthor League. Anybody who read Impulse more closely than I did want to tell me if their high school football teem was indeed the Spartans? I'm doubly curious because my home town had the real Spartans. Well, not "real," but you know what I mean.

Covington, OH is a real city, but it's a little surprising that Daniel lives there--I thought it had been fairly firmly established that Metropolis was on the East Coast (one of the step-sisters of "Cinderella City" New York).

World's Finest Weekly seems to be another one of those Brave and the Bold-type DCU magazines. I wondered at first why Booster would be on the cover (the obituaries section in the new issue of my wife's alumni magazine includes a very short, deadpan obit for Ken Lay--he didn't make the cover, either...)--but I'm guessing it's an old issue from the "Booster Talks!" headline we see later.

Pg. 3: Of course his number was 52.

Pg. 4: Skeets, head-on, looks a little bit like an airplane, doesn't he?

Pg. 6: Q. Why is Kory still bothering to wear Buddy's shirt? A. To keep Buddy from getting embarrassed, I'm guessing.

Pg. 8: "Kettles in blue grass"? Seriously, the "I can't describe this using English" routine makes me think Buddy's about to bust out the 64-character alphabet.

Pg. 9: I guess Ted the Bug has a big sister, too.

Pg. 10: Lots of little Biblical allusions here--"follow the fish," indeed!--and I'm curious to see what the "Stygian passover" was, since "passover" implies that something was spared for a particular reason. "Sector 3500" would be out of the 3600 sectors that the Guardians divided the universe into in old-fashioned Green Lantern continuity; it's not mentioned here, so I'm assuming it hasn't been mentioned before.

The particularly interesting word is "Vegan," though--Vega, in the Giffen-plottedInvasion project, was home to the Warlords of Okaara, the Citadelians, and the Guardian-linked Psions. Also, the Khund invasion's beachhead was Australia...

I don't mind the quasi-Catholic iconography popping up--as Matthew pointed out elsewhere, extreme ridiculousness is not just acceptable but necessary in Lobo stories--but what almost spoils this scene for me is the artwork. Some of Olliffe's faces are really sloppy--the ones at the top of this page, for instance.

Pg. 11: The Wizard blog identifies the entity they're running from as Lady Styx, although she's never quite named that way on panel. And it sure looks like Lobo's "splendid eye" is indeed the Emerald Eye of Ekron.

Pg. 12: I thought the Weather Wizard's big fear was no longer jail but Hell... this scene feels grafted-on--it's pretty much an excuse to get Supernova and Wonder Girl together so she can ID him, but the fight with the Weather Wizard doesn't seem to serve the greater storyline at all.

Pg. 14: More awkward faces. And as funny as "Skeetles" is, it's kind of like an ice cream bar named after Kato Kaelin. "Respect my personal space, please"? A weird thing to say under the circumstances.

Pg. 15: The Flash T-shirt is a nice touch.

Pg. 17: A terrific reveal--a clue I've had shoved in my face for weeks & have been reading wrong anyway. Well done.

The Origin of Animal Man: Eight whole Brian Bolland pictures! I am not complaining, though. I was hoping to see Jog's suggestion of Waid writing Morrison realized, although I didn't actually expect it--but it would've been nice to see some hint of Buddy's unique metafictional position. If 1935 and 1985 are important years within 52, he's more likely than most of its characters to understand why.


At 6:47 PM, Blogger Squashua said...

"Hi" says the Newsarama poster. I noticed today that when you take a DIGITAL 5 and place it next to a DIGITAL 2 (proper font unavailable), they resemble S and Z. If you superimpose the DIGITAL 5 and the DIGITAL 2, you get a DIGITAL 8, which sideways gives you INFINITY. Thanks for playing. For gits and shiggles, here's a link to an image.

At 6:52 PM, Blogger Douglas Wolk said...

Squashua, thank you for catching that stuff, and sorry I didn't credit you directly earlier!

At 7:05 PM, Blogger Squashua said...

Don't apologize for that, I'm totally cool with it and do not require credit. In fact, it's the other guys who gathered the original date facts that should be credited. I just compiled their research and applied additional logic and speculation. Real credit goes to users Stitch22 and Munkeypunk on the DC Forums and e5inc from Newsarama.

At 7:17 PM, Blogger Squashua said...

By the way, 7 superimposed on an S also makes a nice infinity.

At 9:09 PM, Blogger raphaeladidas said...

p.17 Do we think there's any significance to Skeets' dialogue box looking "human" here instead of "mechanical?"

At 9:16 PM, Blogger raphaeladidas said...

Oh, and 4006 refers to "2000 years from now" on Rip Hunter's board.

At 9:57 PM, Blogger Jeff R. said...

Again, for the "clues in other books" department, see GL #13's ending this week.

And speaking of infinities, what got done to Michael struck me as a pretty darn close replication of the origin of the Legion enemy the Infinite Man...

At 4:48 AM, Blogger Filby said...

One year on the cover that wasn't mentioned: Year 0. Which doesn't exist.

Nothing significant, but we see a few members of Despero's race (pink, horizontal frill) in the refugee camp.

A long time ago, it was mentioned in passing that 52 would introduce a new villain in deep space that would make Darkseid pale in comparison. I think this is our first glimpse of her.

At 6:51 AM, Blogger Jamie Ott said...

Lady Styx is her name from what I've heard.

I'm pretty sure that Skeets we see here is NOT the Skeets we thought we knew. And the 'He knows' in a different voice is definitely a clue.

Basically, Skeets never knew what was in the lab. Booster either told him a lie or omitted details because he realized who fault the time divergence really was. Skeets needed Daniel's DNA because Booster's suit is genelocked to only allow Carter DNA to use the goggles. But because he had to stay and hold the timelock open, he couldn't enter the room. He had to use Daniel to find out what Rip knew. Now, he knows that Rip knows....hence the "He knows."

Daniel was expendable from the moment Skeets scanned him. But by getting rid of Daniel, did Skeets cause the time anomally by destroying Booster's ancestor?

My overall theory is that it is Apokolips behind both Luthor's and Egg Fu's efforts in the US and China to create a superpowered arms race. They are using the kidnapped scientists to create the new heroes post-IC. We already know that Egg Fu was the one watching Morrow in Week Six.

With East and West tensions rising, Darkseid plans to to trigger WWIII. The catalyst is to be the death of Isis and the war is intended to be a distraction from an actual invasion or takeover by agents of Darkseid. Hence, the Intergang connection. They are moving weapons into both the US and Khandaq (maybe the Question has it wrong, or is lying to Renee about the smuggling).

Isis is either knowingly involved with Intergang's activities or was put in Adam's hand with the express purpose of being the trigger for her death. I personally think she's in on some of it and is there to further distract Adam. I don't think she is aware of any plans to kill her by Intergang and they probably didn't count on her becoming Isis.

"2000 years from now." - 4006. Most recently seen on the cover of Week 19. Which means that this time is significant. Following some of the current thinking; Kamandi, the Atomic Knights and Hercules Unbound all took place in the same universe somewhat further on in the DC universe. It was established that it was a parallel universe but that was before CoIE and IC. A Great Disaster tied the three together, possibly from Radiation and much of the future setting stories referred to IIRC, WWIII. Think Captain Atom, Bludhaven and Monarch and we may just have had a glimpse of that future.

However, each of these have made their way in the the DCU proper of late. First, in Superman/Batman, they ended up in a future with Kamandi. This was before IC happened. Next, we saw the Atomic Knights in the Battle for Bludhaven where it was found they were based out of Command D. And recently, a Hercules showed up in Wonder Woman #2. We have also seen Ani-men numerous times in 52.....possibly the descendants of Kamandi's intelligent animals.

The Knights we have seen so far have tech that detects metas. Why? Is it possible that they were sent into the past to stop the Great Disaster? Is something in 52 when time breaks and this caused the Great Disaster? Is WWIII the Great Disaster? This could also be the divergent future mentioned above.

In the timeline that went forward, Booster wasn't supposed to have died. His death mucks up time as the heroes cannot stop WWIII from destroying everything. It's somewhere along this point that time diverges from what Skeets and the author of the blackboard (Rip or Booster) knew. This is what brought back the Atomic Knights from the future and why they are shown with the tech we saw later in the Battle for Bludhaven. I bet they make an appearance in 52 where we find out they are from the year 4006. As I mentioned earlier, many of the elements were being teased with could culminate from this point.

The space heroes supposedly saw something they shouldn't have. What was behind the 52 veils of heaven? Some Apokoliptian action or device that was a part of this scheme? Or a divergent timeline(s) because what happens? Whatever it was, they don't recall seeing it. I'm also willing to bet that whatever it is, it's behind the Source Wall. At least not as near as we can tell until Red Tornado comes through whatever tribulations he's going through.

I'm certain that it was a collision with a Boom Tube that messed up the Zeta Beam and the heroes on their way home. If you go back and look at the two page spread you'll notice a white circular light around Reddy, which is eerily reminiscent of the Boom Tubes.

I'm also beginning to think that they are lost in time...possibly in the year 4006. This would explain the pacifist Lobo and both he and the New Gods are long-lived. And remember, Buddy, Booster and Rip all have connections from the classic Animal Man run.

How Ralph and the Cult tie into this, I'm not exactly sure yet. But Steel is essentially a subplot among the larger story while the space heroes and the other main characters seem to be heading to confront the WWIII issues.

At 7:47 AM, Blogger Squashua said...

For the sake of argument, here's the Newsarama post:

From the day the cover for #19 showed up on the internets:

Dates below are from users Stitch22 and Munkeypunk on the DC Forums and e5inc from Newsarama.

Regarding the numbers on the cover of issue #19:

0 - Zero Hour
1935 - New Fun Comics #1 (First DC Comic)
1938 - Action Comics #1 (First Superman)
1939 - Detective Comics #27(First Batman)
1941 - All Star Comics #8 (First Wonder Woman)
1956 - Showcase #4 (First Barry Allen Flash - Start of the Silver Age)
1985 - Crisis on Infinite Earths
200? - Probably 2006, which is either Infinite Crisis or OYL. Notice the second 0 is partially cut-off.
3006 - 1000 years in the future, usual haunt of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
4006 - 2000 years in the future, mentioned on the chalkboard.
5252 - 52 concatenated with 52.
85,271 - DC One Million


- The intriguing dates are 200?, 4006, and 5252.
- It can be inferred that 200? is 2006 based on the presence of 3006 and 4006.
- Booster came from the 25th Century, and that is none of the above.
- Abra Kadabra came from the 64th Century, and that is none of the above.
- Rip Hunter may have disappeared to 5252.
- Is the second 0 of 200 being cut-off on the cover an artistic glitch, like the disappearing arm that touched Tim Trench of Week 18, or was it intentional? It would be nice to have an official answer.

At 7:57 AM, Blogger Paul I said...

I read it because I'm dying to find out what happens next, but not because of the way it'll be expressed, if you see what I mean.

Actually, that's kind of a great thing, isn't it? Fun but ultimately throwaway -- isn't that what superhero comics should be? As professional comics readers, we're so obssessed with the idea of whether a comic is on a "classic run" or not, I like that a comic can be a good read and completely forgettable at the same time. I wish the art were better, but never mind.

At 8:22 AM, Blogger Kiel Phegley said...

I can't recall any issue of Impulse that mentions the Spartans. Most likely the fact that the name was used is due to the fact that, like myself, Geoff Johns went to Michigan State.

At 9:53 AM, Blogger Emmet Matheson said...

1985 is also notable since that's the year in which Booster Gold classically first appeared, to prevent an assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan.

At 12:19 PM, Blogger jonni said...

Wow, good cal jamie - I like the way your thinking's going, I'd never even have considered that they'd all tie into one another.

However, and I fully realise this is after the fact, but I can't believe people missed the arrows pointing at skeets...

3006 may also finally expalin Supergirl meeting the Legion, her current confusion, and perhaps the Legion's current continuity?

As for Devilance - the beginning of bringint the New Gods back into the DCU, or was that the Seven Soldiers Mr Miracle mini? Might also tie into jamie's theory on Darkseid?

At 12:34 PM, Blogger R.Nav said...

I sure do want some Skeetles candy. There's a cute little coupon on the 52 website :)

At 1:08 PM, Blogger Jamie Ott said...

Thanks Jonni!

I was actually of the mind that it was pointing to Skeets. Not originally, mind you but after it was pointed out to me over on Legion World.

And the ad for Skeetles appears right behind Supernova this week in 52....that to me seems like a clue.


At 2:05 PM, Blogger raphaeladidas said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 2:06 PM, Blogger raphaeladidas said...

Jamie, I just want to say that I'm very impressed with the thought that you have put into this story (it never occurred to me that the lost in space group might be lost in time as well). I think I might end up disappointed if it all doesn't play out the way you have posited.

At 2:20 PM, Blogger Squashua said...

Now keep in mind that Booster Gold is nothing if not inventive. We do not know how long he spent in Rip Hunter's lab. He could have spent minutes, or months. And if he used time travel, he could have made it appear to Skeets that it took him only minutes. I'm thinking that the AI code given to Magnus for rewriting the Metal Men somehow eventually made it's way (over time) to Skeets. Supernova is Booster Gold, and either he or his time-lost ancestor will end up being Rip Hunter.

At 2:40 PM, Blogger Emmet Matheson said...

Yeah, Booster Dan seems a shoo-in for nu-Rip Hunter (hey, I guess the 52 writers probably named him after Dan Jurgens). If they follow up on his adventures in 1,000,000 BC (or whenever), odds are good he'll bump into Vandal Savage.

Skeets is starting to look more and more like ED-209.

At 2:48 PM, Blogger Filby said...

An interesting theory I've read today: Daniel winds up in the 25th century, and becomes Booster. Or Booster's father.

Another theory: Booster realized back in Week 6 that Skeets was up to no good, acted like a jerk and hired "Manthrax" to publicly expose him, and faked his death with Supernova's help to throw Skeets off. When Skeets said "He knows," he was talking about Booster, not Rip.

Both of them are kinda out there, but still tasty food for thought.

At 3:09 PM, Blogger Michael Nicolai said...

"He knows" definately refers to Booster. There was a question at one one point as to whether or not that Booster was "The Booster". What's the consensus on that? It's the plotline I'm enjoying the most, but I'm hella confused.

I don't think the space trio are in the future; if they are the Week xx Day xx stamps would be purposely misleading. If that were the case, the timeline for the whole series would be thrown out the window.

At 7:02 AM, Blogger Jamie Ott said...

Thanks Raphael. It's plausible but I'm fully prepared to be proved wrong.

And Michael, it's never been said that in the comic that these are teh same weeks. This is just covering 52 weeks between IC and OYL. It could be that these three are spending those 52 weeks in the future. But I'm starting to think that you're right and they may not be stuck in the future.

At 9:10 AM, Blogger Dr Obvious said...

I'm curious to see what the "Stygian passover" was, since "passover" implies that something was spared for a particular reason.

Main Entry: sty·gian
Pronunciation: 'sti-j(E-)&n
Function: adjective
Usage: often capitalized
Etymology: Latin stygius, from Greek stygios, from Styg-, Styx Styx
1 : of or relating to the river Styx
2 : extremely dark, gloomy, or forbidding [the stygian blackness of the cave]

Ergo, Stygian Passover probably means The Lady Styx didn't kill them.

At 11:06 AM, Blogger Filby said...

Here's an idea: What if the Emerald Eye is Alan Scott's missing eye? That wouldn't explain the second Eye that's shown up in past Legion continuity, but with all the continuity changes lately...

At 11:47 AM, Blogger Douglas Wolk said...

Nice theorizing, Jamie!

I do like the idea that the space heroes are lost in time, too, but yeah, it doesn't really work out with the datestamps. (It also makes me wonder how the series is going to handle time travel involving all those dates on the cover, if everything happens during the OYL year...)

A curious parallel: the lock Skeets is keeping open is "his great-great-great-grandfather," which is also Daniel's relationship to Booster, pretty much.

"He knows" I suspect refers to Rip Hunter (who figured out that Skeets broke time) rather than to Booster (who's dead, so Skeets would've said "he knew").

The Emerald Eye as Alan Scott's missing eye: interesting! He also tossed off some comment to the effect of "...and the one I've got isn't even my own." So maybe that would account for the second Eye.

At 1:30 PM, Blogger Eric said...

Someone posited the idea the other day that perhaps a tiny worm has found it's way into Skeets' controls?

Haven't we seen hints of Mr. Mind somewhere before?

At 3:38 AM, Blogger Squashua said...

Well, it's got to make you wonder why Skeets has a viewscreen. He looks suspiciously like Quislet (IMG).

The Mr. Mind inside Skeets idea is a good one! Was thinking about shrunken people ala The Atom, and wonder if someone hit by the space beam might qualify (Bumblebee).

At 6:34 AM, Blogger Jamie Ott said...

Thanks Douglas, like I said, I know that I'm most likely wrong in certain spaces but as more clues become apparent, I'll revise them.

Good call on the Stygian Passover, Obvious. Was researching the possible connections last week but was sidetracked.

As for the Mr. Mind theory, it's definitely a possibility. We need to look at the timeline though. Based on what was shown during Week One, I'm of the mind that Mind metamorphasized into something else. Who or what? I suspect he's become Devem based on his post-Crisis power set.

At 11:19 AM, Blogger Emmet Matheson said...

"He knows" I suspect refers to Rip Hunter (who figured out that Skeets broke time) rather than to Booster (who's dead, so Skeets would've said "he knew").

But Skeets is a time traveller himself (itself/herself--could Skeets be a woman???), and throughout this issue constantly amends his tenses.

Squashua's bit about morphing the 5 and the 2 into INFINITY, noted that 52 resembles SZ. Who do we know who has those very letters (twice) in that very sequence in his name?

At 12:12 PM, Blogger Jamie Ott said...

On the subject of infinity, remember way back in JLA: Rock of Ages when Metron mentioned the Source Wall being at the end of time and described what was beyond as being infinite?

I'm beginning to think that Rock of Ages is a very important storyline for the DCU between 52 and Seven Soldiers.


At 5:04 PM, Blogger Filby said...

Re: Lady Styx, you may find this interesting.

At 6:15 AM, Blogger Shawn L. said...

"He knows," may refer to Booster.

So what does that mean for Booster's actions since? He may be "ethically challenged / greedy", but he is a hero, and would want to set things right.

But the guy (thing?) behind it, Skeets, is at his side 24/7. How does he get away from him to investigate or take action without his notice?...

Fake his own public decline (which would explain the paying off of the fake villain with a rubber check, it seemed beyond even Booster's limited ethics would permit) and demise.

The alternate theory is that the decline and death were actually planned by Skeets. It could have been that the force field would have protected Booster, and Skeets overrode the controls to let Booster fry.

Or maybe both are true, that Booster's death was planned by Skeets, but Booster figured it out ahead of time (he WAS in a time traveler's lab, where we know there is functioning time travel apparatus, he could have done some snooping around in time), and took steps to fake things for Skeet's benefit.

Or even more heroically. This is Booster's death, and Booster travels in time in the lab, knowing he has to return to that time, in order to face the death that he knows is coming.


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