Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Week 24: Still a Few Bugs in the System

To paraphrase Lenore Stonecipher Beadsman in David Foster Wallace's novel The Broom of the System: Is it my imagination or did this comic book just get really weird? For a detail-crammed, sprawling, context-starved, fight-scene-packed comic with ten million characters you've never seen before striking impressive poses, Phil Jimenez is your only man--and since this is the issue that's referenced Infinite Crisis most since the early weeks of the series, it's nice to see him in the mix. (And yes, I'd rather see too much going on in 52 than too little. Glad to see this issue erring on the right side.)

Since there's a lot to say about the on-panel content this issue, and I don't have a lot of time for more thoughtful analysis right now, let's go straight to the notes:

Cover: I actively love the idea of treating Firestorm's flame-head as a light source. And "This Shirt's a Clue"--I want a T-shirt like that. Although this time it's Firehawk whose costume is different on the cover than it is on the inside. Hey, maybe that's a clue!

Pg. 1: We've actually covered Maggin before--the real-world one, who first "convinced" Ollie to run for mayor. Jack Ryder, of course, is the Creeper, and I mostly linked to that page because I love the image; "You Are Wrong!" is Ryder's lefty-bigmouth talk show. Plus you'd think the JLA phone would be a little less obvious, especially if Ollie is trying to play down his relationship with the other prominent Star City resident with his facial hair. Star City appears to have a functional streetcar system--I'd have thought that'd have been a casualty of the "Amsterdam Avenue Disaster"--and it appears to be in awfully good shape in the establishing shot at the top of the page, given that back in Week 8 there was so much rubble everywhere I thought I was reading a mid-'80s George PĂ©rez comic (thus even more reason for Jimenez to draw this one). And is that the Space Needle in the background?

Pg. 3: Weird title, considering that the only direct association of the phrase "just imagine" with DC stuff is this. Maybe because it starts the same way as "justice"? This issue does keep riffing on versions of justice: Oliver's "Justice... For All" banner, J'onn's Justice League connection (and desire to do what's just), Al's Justice Society connection, and Jon's final words, on which more later. Ambush Bug is eating a bag of Ch'ps--Ch'p, whose Wikipedia entry breaks Blogger's HTML or I'd link it here, was the unforgettable 22-pound Green Lantern of space sector 1014, killed in this heartwrenching issue. I'm very happy to see Bulleteer again; I'm a little confused about her embrace of the superhero life, though, and I really wish she got more than ONE WORD of dialogue the whole issue. Do we even know where this scene is happening? It looks like a library of some sort (by the security device at the left of the page, and the books behind it); it might make more sense if we got a suggestion of whose idea the new League was...

Pg. 4: Ambush Bug's always been a metafictional sort, capable of jumping straight through the fourth wall whenever he feels like it; great to see him back, especially with Giffen's involvement. And somebody's got a Starfire poster on the wall! Do libraries have those?

Pg. 5: It's not just Rhode Island, it's the town of Happy Harbor, Snapper Carr's home town! The Doom Patrol and Young Justice both set up their HQs for a while there, too. And J'onn does seem to be around a lot when JLA HQs go boom.

Pg. 6: Have we seen Max's murder of Ted from this angle before? I don't think so--and it's probably worthy of note that Checkmate's gear has logos for ProGene Tech (the company responsible for sinking San Diego and lifting Aquaman's DNA in Aquaman), the D.E.O. (for which the Kate Spencer Manhunter and Cameron Chase both work), Task Force X (the official name of the Ostrander-era Suicide Squad), and Cadmus, which has been advertising all over the 52 site ("Nobody's Perfect... Yet")... and which was more or less created by Jack Kirby. Him again. Speaking of which, some of the weapons in the Checkmate armory look more than a bit like Montoya's Kirbytech gun. I don't think we've met Secretary of State Kakalios yet elsewhere, but perhaps his name is a nod to the James Kakalios who's the author of The Physics of Superheroes.

Pg. 7: "Justice is served"? No, that's what Scourge said. Oh no! Maybe the "crossover between universes" means that Booster is actually Scourge! That's why the title this week references Stan Lee!

Or not.

The Wizard 52 blog names all these characters; the short version is that they're all Leaguers who've died. Fascinatingly, the sculpture of Red Tornado incorporates his lower-half-of-body motion effect, although the Flash doesn't have what looks at first like speed lines--it's just the flag General Glory is holding.

Pg. 8: Oh no! It's Pride! I knew this was going to be a DC/Marvel crossover thing!

Or not.

Pg. 9: The "keeping the bad guy's head as a paperweight" thing sounds like Black Adam's old way of doing things. But Mr. Atom turns out to be an old Captain Marvel enemy who's a robot; I assume the new one is too. I confess I'm a little foggy on post-Crisis Shazam continuity, but this page suggests that he was involved in a nuclear explosion that destroyed the Marvels' home town (can anyone give me an issue citation?); keeping his head around might be a very bad idea for Kahndaq... Sabbac appeared in a couple of issues of Captain Marvel Jr., and was on the cover of this one.

Pg. 10: Might somebody have explained here how Firestorm got de-merged with Cyborg? "Schwartz" would have to be Julius Schwartz, a regular supporting cast member of the old Ambush Bug specials and miniseries (who did other stuff too). Oh, actually, here's that story I just linked to--and guess what, it's written by Elliot S! Maggin! Will coinkydinks never cease?

Pg. 11: Okay, this is where y'all come in; who can name all or even some of these pirates and robots (described on the Wizard blog as "villains from different time periods," which seems a little off)? And why are there no monkeys or zombies?

Pg. 13: Now that's funny. "Immortal Bald-Man-In-Armor" indeed. A different Crimson Ghost was a Republic serial villain (whose bare-skull image has been used a lot by the Misfits), and the Tornado Ninja has the same lower-half-of-body effect as the Red Tornado!

Pg. 14: Skeets has a new design, it looks like...

Pg. 17: Is this meant to be, like, the Happy Hunting Ground? The old guy isn't Jon's grandfather, it's Flying Stag, the first Super-Chief. So it looks like Ralph has been camping out in the land of the dead for a few weeks with the Helmet of Fate as his Virgil. Most intriguing element: the dead Jon saying "why can't I... do right?" He doesn't think his death (or loss of power) is unjust; he's concerned with his own failure of virtue.

Pg. 18: The return of bad lorem ipsum! And the Daily Planet's typesetters don't know how to spell "Metropolis"! Firestorm readers (I'm not really one of them), is it public knowledge that Lorraine is Firehawk? And--OH NO! 52 is going to be a Civil War crossover!

Pg. 20: And Atom Smasher's putting together the new Thunderbolts!

Or not.

That next-issue box had sort of better be a joke. Although actually I wouldn't object if it weren't.

Two curious things about the Booster Gold origin: one, it's in the present tense, with no mention of his unfortunate evisceration; two, Skeets "possesses no combat capabilities," despite what we saw a few pages ago. But it's "an excerpt from the Justice League archives," which perhaps is why it's not so up to date. Also, how did a 30th-century Legion flight ring end up in the 25th-century Space Museum? Anybody more up on Booster than I am want to explain?

Meanwhile, over on the official 52 site, there's this magazine subscription offer. Sign me up for Congo Bill World Travel!


At 8:55 PM, Blogger Matthew Perpetua said...

Shouldn't Fireface have been the little floating fiery face just to the right of the Bulleteer's ass?

At 9:00 PM, Blogger raphaeladidas said...

I can't remember how LSH items ended up in the 25th century but there's no way that explanation could still be true what with the Legion reboots. Unless it's still true in the way that Power Girl's Earth-2 origin is still true (but there seems to be a pretty good chance that Earth-2 is around again).

At 11:52 PM, Blogger Eric said...

My favorite part of this week was the self-reflexive *GFN* that Ambush Bug mutters when being knocked out by Firestorm.

And I think they're in some sort of rented space, judging from the handtruck on the pin-up page (I love how everyone's so posed until the eye gets to the bottom of the page and you see slovenly ol' A.B.).

My first experience with Ambush Bug was reading the Ambush Bug Nothing Special, which I quite randomly picked up in a thrift store on February 8, 2004. Anyone know the significance of that date?

At 12:55 AM, Blogger Michael said...

It's difficult to explain how 30th century objects (flight ring, Brainiac 5's force field belt) got to the 25th century - time travel plays havoc with verb tenses - but here's something that was just posted last week or so that explains it pictorially.

This was 1986. I don't think the ring/belt thing was ever clarified for the post-Zero Hour reboot Legion, much less the current Legion.

At 6:30 AM, Blogger Garrie Burr said...

"Just Imagine" was the tag-line for the first Schwartz Justice League ads for Brave & Bold #28: "Just Imagine...your favorite heroes in one adventure together!"

Or something like that...

BTW: I needed some smart-sun last week, having totally glazed over your links to the blog with all the Egg-Fu/Dr. Yes history when I made my own posting. Sigh...

At 7:03 AM, Blogger Jamie Ott said...

You know what really bugged me about this issue? J'onn's monologue to Booster. Guess what J'onn, MICHAEL listened to Ted even though he didn't necessarily believe him. So much so that he was seriously wounded helping him. Just one more case of J'onn being written poorly, even if they did have good intentions in writing this segment.

AB was great in this issue. This appearance alone nearly rivals the gems that the Question has had throughout the series.

The Starfire poster bugged me, was that foreshadowing to something tragic? We know that someone won't make it in January, will she be the one? I don't know why but I think this may have been a real Perez pin-up from the '80's...notice the abundance of hair she has here.

We have not seen that angle of Ted's 'death' but even then, it doesn't really show much. And again, there is no scene of his body's disposal. Only Sasha's word that he was cremated.

And I believe there were a few more icons on Lord's monitor but IIRC, those were all there.

The Sabbac they referred to in this issue is a ex-russian mobster who killed the original Sabbac and assumed his power. He was turned into a demon and has fought CMJ and the Outsiders numerous times. He was last seen as Gizmo's replacement in the Fearsome Five.

So who does Skeets look like? Don't play with me, man! :)

As to Booster's 30th century equipment ending up in the 25th century....don't think too hard about as it's kind of a time loop that's never really been explained. It's there because Booster stole everything and buried the time sphere....which was dug up and put into the Space Museum for Booster to steal in the first place.

And why wasn't the death of Booster's sister included as an essential storyline? That was an important story for him, IMO.


At 7:31 AM, Blogger Squashua said...

With Maggin's appearance, I'm left wondering if there's been an Earth-Prime merge.

At 7:33 AM, Blogger Squashua said...

Oh, and Skeets is in Metropolis so he's obviously trying to draw out Super "Bodog" Nova.

At 7:56 AM, Blogger Squashua said...

Last post, I promise. I love how "Poledancer" is designed to look like "Infectuous Lass".

At 8:17 AM, Blogger Jamie Ott said...

Pole Dancer needs her own mini-series!

A couple of other things I forgot to mention earlier. Please note that once again Fate's helmet is not shown floating around at odd angles but looks like someone standing behind Ralph. I still think it's significant.

Black Adam....continued to be manipulated by Isis. Now he has lost the respect of the international community that he has worked to set up. And the Americans aren't buying it. He's going to be set against by both sides, I believe. And Osiris? That much enthusiasm cannot be good.

And Squashua, my first thought that he was trying to draw out Supernova but the case could be made he's looking for Superman (if this is Brainiac) or some other protagonist we have (or have not)
seen yet, such as Hunter.

It also looks like Skeets is starting to grow a body in this issue.


At 10:15 AM, Blogger The_Tragic_Spa said...

While it's true that Skeets is growing a body, (and all very impressive that he can take out Chief Redshirt), I'd really like to avoid seeing that character in combat situations again. I don't know, did anyone else fail to find him menacing?

Not only did I feel like the Bulleteer could probably take him in about 30 seconds, it seemed like he would make a lovely accessory. I don't know. It's just hard to take a villain seriously when it looks like he should have a headphone jack.

At 11:12 AM, Blogger Dennis Culver said...

unrelated but in last week's Mystery in Space, Captain Comet says he was killed by Lady Styxx. Also the solicits for January's Omega Men also mentions Lady Styxx.

52 is becoming a crossover.

At 11:15 AM, Blogger Filby said...

Checkmate has four knights. Isis has control over weather. Waller is gunning for the Black Marvels.

"The four horsemen will end her rain."

This can't end well.

At 11:22 AM, Blogger Jeff R. said...

My own guess was that the "Justice League" meeting was taking place in Firestorm's dorm room...

I wish that the Top Hat exploding upper half of body guy had gotten a name...

And also wondering how Skeets' name managed to stay out of the paper...

At 12:18 PM, Blogger Michael Nicolai said...

This was one of the best issues so far, and for me at least, the most thought provoking:

J'onn makes a strong case for Checkmate: If a individual with superpowers can manipulate the government into disbanding an organization whose purpose is to keep tabs on super-powered individuals, maybe that organization should exist? I don't doubt J'onn's motives, but his actions border on treasonous (that is, if he considers himself an American)

Tornado Ninja makes me think of Samurai from the Super Friends cartoon (as well as Wind Dragon" From JLU, which was based on him). I looked him up on wikipedia, and the following lines jumped out at me:
...he was struck by a beam of light which was sent by the New Gods of New Genesis, who were trying to create more superheroes to defend the world from Darkseid.
...Samurai was inserted both to create diversity as well as take the place of Red Tornado, of which part of his character design is based.
Both coincidental, I'm sure. Like Samurai, this series has threads leading back to Darksied, and also features a lot of diverse charaters. Also, Red Tornado.

Dan DiDio's column this week has a bit about 52 "heralding the return of..."
The return of who or what? Like the bit in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy about 42 being the answer to "Life, the Universe, and Everything" but no one knowing what the question was. What is 52? (52 Earths, 52 heroes?) When I first read CoIE, it was like a textbook of the Silver Age DC. 52 reads like a primer of the Post-Crisis DC high points. There's Booster from the JLI, Steel from Death of Superman, Renee Montoya from BTAS. Question could be seen as standing in for Rorshach. Animal Man was one of the first Vertigo titles, and Starfire is a known on every playground from the Teen Titans cartoon. And Grant Morrison's JLA run ended with every person on Earth getting superpowers.

Also: One of the Suicide Squad photos was the Captain Boomerang, I think something about this was mentioned in The Outsiders? Skeets has a very X-O Manowar look. Any signifigance to the LexCorp freezer behind Ollie's office? (what do you mean, "no"?)

At 6:11 PM, Blogger Neil said...

Mister Atom was dispatched by Sargent Steel (himself possesed by Mister Mind) and destroyed the house and hometown of Billy and Mary's adopted parents. That occured in Ther Power of Shazam issue #38 ( May 1998).

Source: and my own memory (though I am too lazy to fish out the issue from my comic boxes to confirm).

At 6:31 PM, Blogger Tom Bondurant said...

The Starfire poster is taken from the splash page of Tales of the Teen Titans #42, Part 1 of "The Judas Contract," so yes, it's a Perez homage. In the story itself, it's part of a modeling shoot -- Kory worked as one of Donna Troy's models.

At 8:24 PM, Blogger Marionette said...

Lady Liberty is a member of SHADE and was killed twice in Battle for Bludhaven. Since the one in 52 has a completely different costume, I'd be tempted to put her down as a wannabe.

But it's not wise to discount anything in 52. Not even if you despise Ambush Bug with a passion.

At 4:37 AM, Blogger mike said...

One thing you missed - the photograph on the Daily Planet on page 18 shows a suspiciously Jack Sparrow-like pirate running from Firestorm with much the same expression as promotional photos for the second Pirates movie!

At 6:32 AM, Blogger Jamie Ott said...


Thanks! I thought that poster looked really familiar.


At 7:35 AM, Blogger Garrie Burr said...

Did anyone else check out Morrison's new take on the Wildcats this week? If so...

See there how the Halo Corporation appears to be "pulling a Luthor" -- offering the world their own bunch of pre-fab superheroes.

I'm sure the affect on the Wildstorm world won't resemble the wind-up in 52, but it could be a fascinating look at how similar ideas can be steered into different directions.

At 10:29 AM, Blogger Biggie said...

I know "Just Imagine" was the tagline for JLA: Year One too.

At 11:51 AM, Blogger Scipio said...

"Also, how did a 30th-century Legion flight ring end up in the 25th-century Space Museum? Anybody more up on Booster than I am want to explain?"

I will.

That was a mystery in Booster's title. It was never solved.

At 3:01 PM, Blogger Squashua said...

Filthy lies.

Brainiac 5 and some Legionnaires go back in time to figure out Booster Gold. After the tale is told, Brainiac 5 donates his force field belt and flight ring as gifts to the president.

It's these donations that become the future Booster's tools. Chicken, meet egg.

At 1:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, for one thing, it wasn't Booster's abandoned time-sphere that ended up in the museum, it was one of Rip Hunter's. I'm not sure what happened to Booster's, but there's no loop there.

Even though the Legion has been rebooted so many times, I've never seen anywhere which explains all their myriad crossovers in their various incarnations with the current era, so I'm assuming that all such appearances are still in continuity, possibly through the use of a pocket universe or something.
The only thing that I've never been able to figure out was the Laurel Kent as Manhunter programmed to wait 1000 years to turn on the Legion when they finally came to Earth, just in case the Manhunters were unsuccessful in averting the "Millennium" which worked out pretty stupidly anyways...that whole thing never made much sense - all mourn the early demise of Steve Englehart's sanity.

Anyways, back to topic, it wasn't Booster's ring or belt in the time museum, it was Brainiac's - which he (maybe) deliberately left in the past so that Booster could steal them in the future.

What I'm concerned about is the origin and history of Booster Gold. It completely neglects the mention of Booster breaking his future equipment when fighting Doomsday and other successive battles. It also neglects the loss of his arm during the JLI/JLE/JLTF Day of Judgement crossover, and omits any mention of the cybernetics and new costume designed for him by Ted Kord. I really can't figure out when he changed from the armored costume back to the classic look. As far as I can determine, this must have been some story between 1996 and 2003, but unless it's the result of a retcon, I can't figure out where it happened.
A little help?

I also couldn't figure the demise of Super Chief. Suddenly his power only lasts for an hour? Oookay. So , I'm expecting Skeets to accelerate his metabolism by one hour, or accelerate time around him by one hour...but instead he ends up reduced to ashes? And then his grandfather gives him shit for having tried to be a super hero, when that's what his family wanted him to do anyways? Whatever. Lame, lame, lame!

I've got more comments on my blog.

At 1:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, can anybody identify all the potential new recruits for the "all-new, all-different" Suicide Squad?

At 2:18 PM, Blogger Douglas Wolk said...

One quick note: thanks to the copy of his origin story kindly provided by one of 52 Pickup's readers, I now know that it was always part of Super-Chief's stone's deal that its power only lasted for an hour at a time.

How it recharged itself, I have no clue...

At 12:35 AM, Blogger Tom Foss said...

Booster got a new hi-tech costume in one of the first Electric Superman issues. It was similar to his regular outfit, but "90s streamlined," and Skeets's program was built into it. Sometime between that and "Formerly Known as the Justice League" he switched back to the old threads.

At 2:48 AM, Blogger Emmet Matheson said...

I should probably hold off on this until the next installment is posted, since this might get ignored, but it just occured to me, and if I don't post it now, I'll probably forget.

Has Booster Gold been eliminated from future/history? Since Skeets flung Dan Carter into the distant past, presumably before DC had the chance to establish his lineage into the 25th C, does that mean that Booster will never be born?
Which ties back to a theory I've LONG had that Booster Gold and Rip Hunter, Time Master are one and the same (it's the haircut). Way back before Infinite Crisis, Rip Hunter guest-starred in the JSA story where the modern team travelled back in time to the 50s to keep Biff from marrying their mom. At the end of that saga, Rip Hunter made some cryptic comments about how he's had to obscure his past to protect his existence from timestream enemies...LIKE SKEETS!!!

At 1:43 PM, Blogger Jamie Ott said...


I willing to overlook some of the information lacking from the backup because it was his origin story, not necessarily a two page history of the character.



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