Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Week 28: A Set of Ragged Claws

Before we get to this week's issue, I'm happy to announce that I've just turned in the manuscript of Reading Comics (see the "About Me" box to the right). You know what that means, don't you? That's right: more time to do unpaid writing about weekly comic books! After this week, anyway. Not that there's a lot to cover in this mildly disappointing issue anyway--after a few weeks where the overall plot was racing along, it's mostly spinning its wheels this time, and there aren't a lot of fun Easter eggs either.

So let's look a bit at what might be coming up. In the latest "5.2 About 52", we see a preview of week 29, with its JSA cover (and no cover blurb for whatever origin is in that issue, oh dear). Notable thing on the bottom-of-cover crawl: "39 Days till the Rain." That would put us in week 35, with the super-bodies falling from the sky past Luthor's office.

The 52 cover image for DC's February solicits--that great shot of John Henry watching as the insignia falls off Luthor's building--appears to be the cover of week 40. "One of the main players in 52 having everything--and everyone--taken away from him": that goes almost too neatly with the "you'll cry for Black Adam" and "a DCU country gets wiped off the map" predictions. Especially since the next sentence mentions Ralph, who'd be my next guess for who it's about.

Also, the cover of week 32 does indeed show Ralph (or the similar-looking Richard Dragon) and the Fate helmet in what we can assume is Nanda Parbat, along with the Accomplished Perfect Physician, who (as I mentioned in last week's comments) "uses sound to promote healing and cure cancer." And speaking of Fate's helmet: never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain, as the saying goes.

One possible red herring: I'd suspected that all the Kirby Konnections popping up in 52 might have been a signal that Apokolips would be the big reveal at the 3/4 mark, since we haven't seen any of the big-name New Gods characters in a while, aside from the climactic riffs of Seven Soldiers. But DC's February solicitations include this issue of Firestorm, featuring Orion, Darkseid and what looks to be the Shilo Norman Mister Miracle on the cover. Hmm.

We get an extra page this issue, which sorta makes up for the one we lost a couple of months ago!

The title of "Beyond the Black Stump" comes from Australian slang meaning "way out in the middle of nowhere," and is also the title of a novel by Nevil Shute. (There's also a comic strip with the same title.) And it turns out there actually is a Black Stump!

More notes:

Pg. 1: This scene would be a lot more effective, but for two earlier scenes I've read. One of them was the bit in "Face the Face" where they turn on the Bat-Signal, which Gotham hasn't seen for a year, and everybody cheers. The other one was in Hitman, somewhere in this storyline, when Tommy Monaghan needs to contact Catwoman, and constructs a "cat-signal" out of... well, I'll just let you read it for yourself. Also, doesn't Kate have e-mail?

Pg. 3: The return of Ridge-Ferrick. You'd think they'd use a different name to leave less of a paper trail.

Pg. 4: Is anybody else enjoying The Irredeemable Ant Fella as much as I am? Also kind of great to see that the Red Tornado runs on PlayStation 2 technology.

Pg. 8: In which Johnny Warrawa, barely introduced, gets hustled off stage. "Mebbe our time here's up. The tornado man's gone walkabout" is a rewritten line from the solicitation, which then read "Maybe our time here is over. Red Tornado's gone walkabout." Was he ever actually identified as the Red Tornado by any of the characters in the Australian scenes? Also, I keep looking at this week's cover and thinking I'm seeing this guy's head.

Pg. 10: And Buddy is explaining this why?

Pg. 11: Man, that lizard-dude's fingernails are a mess.

Pg. 13: Mannheim's fingernails don't look so hot either. Manicures all around! "The red rock and the rage" was "the red rage and the rock" when it appeared before. Maybe "red rock" is a reference to Ayer's Rock--unfortunately we don't actually see Ayer's Rock anywhere in this issue (unless that thing in the background of Pg. 3 counts), or any scene like the cover--which I suspect from that link was the image that led to the rather misbegotten "Red Tornado in Australia with a voicebox that keeps saying 52 despite the fact that his voicebox was earlier seen embedded in Mal Duncan's throat" storyline.

Obviously, Mannheim is really into culinary metaphors. (So are both Montoya and Lobo, both of whom use "bite me" this issue.) But why is he emphasizing the first word of "the Questions"? The only person who can get away with that kind of emphasis on the definite article is John Hollander.

Pg. 15: Dead astronaut (look at the background), enormous space creature's bare skeleton, metal debris in the background--I don't know that it's an "asteroid," as Adam calls it, and I don't think there's a "confined space," as Buddy calls it, but I feel like I should recognize this scene. Are there any old DC science fiction comics that would've resulted in this scenario? Could it be the skeleton of one of these?

Pg. 18: You know, when we saw him last a while back, Ekron was all "I WILL KILL YOU IN 52 WAYS!" and now he seems all peaceable-like and Green Lantern-y. And he also doesn't seem to be weaponless without his other eye.

Pg. 19: Vengar is the home planet of the 30th-century Emerald Empress.

Pg. 20: "One more @$%?!$*& twist!" It's just as I hoped: while we're out in space we're going to encounter the Silver Twist. (Or maybe not. But it always struck me as a useful way to go for a last-minute fill-in issue, along the lines of the Prisoner episode "Living in Harmony.")

The Origin of Catman: Not entirely sure why he's being covered here rather than somebody who could use a bit of explanation for a DC neophyte reading 52 (like Starfire, say), but a nice enough origin. Detective Comics #311 was his first appearance; I liked Gene Colan's version of him too.

16 Comments:

At 7:51 AM, Blogger Squashua said...

Yeah, the lizard guy really does need a manicure. And now a dentist.

 
At 8:03 AM, Blogger Jamie Ott said...

Douglas,

One of the reasons I haven't been theorizing like mad lately is that I've been trying to rethink the whole Apokolips equation. It seems like more and more, that they will be at the core of the next big event (with Lady Styx and the Monitors) but the Mannheim connection is just too close to fully let go.

Maybe Darkseid is behind it all and as a result of 52 the New Gods are stuck on Earth (as seen in SS).

I think we need some more really big reveals before we can truly start figuring out where this is heading. There's too many plot threads that are plodding along right now. Not that they aren't enjoyable, but without some of these reveals, we're gonna be left with a LOT of questions at the end of 52.

I'm with you on the Space Whale though....especially if they are in the future as I suspect.

Jamie

 
At 10:52 AM, Blogger Jeff R. said...

I'm still holding to the "L.E.G.I.O.N. is still in continuity, so there must be two Emerald Eyes hanging around in the 20th century" viewpoint. So either they're in the past, or they're in the far future and our renegade GL was driven mad by having the two eyes and grew himself a head/ship to hold them in.

 
At 12:37 PM, Blogger Squashua said...

Who are what is the Triple Fish God (I keep thinking I should order one at McDonalds) and where are Alan Scott's eyes?

One thing I didn't understand this issue was that Ekron is a giant floating head with one missing eye that has a GL ring inside, or something) and inside his brain is a humanoid. Did he run out of power and lame himself under the bones or what? That whole sequence was confusing.

 
At 12:44 PM, Blogger Michael Nicolai said...

This far into the game, I don't think there are going to be as many big reveals. I really don't think the space heroes are in the future. At least I hope not. Distrustful narrator is one thing, but when you get distrustful timestamp, then you might as well just throw everything out. Last weeks negative one year stamp is a good show of faith that all is right in those little boxes. I think they will get to Earth right before the end of the series, just in time for someone to die!

If Darksied isn't behind everything, maybe some New Gods tech is involved. Like the Worlogog from Rock of Ages, or maybe Lady Styxx found the anti-life equation. Also, if Booster is the new Rip Hunter, and Renee Montoya is the new Question, can Buddy be the new Adam Strange?

 
At 12:54 PM, Blogger Michael Nicolai said...

Oh! I had a wild speculative theory last week and forgot to post about it. Supernova is Conner from when he went into Hypertime, pulled out by Rip Hunter (who was keeping Hypertime a secret, right?). But it's from before he started dating Cassie, so he's all alkward around her. Supernova is the new Power girl!

 
At 4:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mannheim's line about "Questions," plural, and that they shouldn't be here "yet" implies two things.

One, Mannheim is another man "out of time", another one lost in the missing year in which time was broken.

Secondly, it adds some hope that Montoya becoming the new Question doesn't mean Vic has to bite the big one first! There can be TWO questions!

 
At 5:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Red Tornado's body reminded me of the cover from Action Comics #455 (Jan. 1976). I had only been reading comics for a year or two at that point, so I vividly remember the covers to all the comics I had then.

 
At 6:04 PM, Blogger Squashua said...

Steven-

Remember that Mannheim is following the preachings of the Crime Bible, which is, itself, privvy to prophecies and secrets from the future. Mannheim is only following its teachings.

The question is: where did the Crime Bible come from?

The answer? Skeets wrote it from his faulty future knowledge and planted it.

 
At 6:22 PM, Blogger Eric said...

Interesting note about Living in Harmony (Alexis Kanner was my favorite character in TWO Prisoner episodes. He's the robot-like gunslinger in this one, and he's the Dem Bones singer in the finale. More on the finale in a second.). Someone else brought up the fact that Rick Burchett's version of the Q? looks like Patrick McGoohan today on our forum.

What if, in the last issue of 52, Montoya rips off the Question's mask to reveal the face of Detective Chimp, then rips that off to see her own face? All while Rip Torn freaks out in the background?

Regarding the previously yelling, rampaging head of whats-his-face: did anyone else think of the little, near helpless alien inside the giant booming head resembling that other inhabitant of an Emerald place that hid behind, among other things, illusions of giant heads (and curtains)?

 
At 6:54 PM, Blogger raphaeladidas said...

Y'know, part of me hopes that all the speculation here is completely off base; that the writers have something in mind that we haven't even considered. I'd love to see some kind of "Fight Club" revelation that we never saw coming and that throws the entire series into a different light.

But I'm not holding my breath. And it's not going to keep me from speculating.

I've been thinking about what the hell the 52 could be (maybe because of Reddy's repeating it over and over). Mainly, I've been wondering what 52 could represent that would be so important to both the Guardians and the Dominators (and the Dominators 1000 years in the future at that). Parallel earths isn't a good explanation. Damned if I know what is.

Hypertime: yea or nay? Didio has seemed rather insistant in his dislike of the concept. Or has that stance been a red herring? If he's so vehement in his opposition to it, why was even a mention of it allowed in the story?

And why haven't we seen Donna Troy? Seems like the Universe Orb would be indicating that time is broken and maybe she needs to do something about it. (This could lead into my rant about how it makes no sense for Donna to be the interim WW but, hey, what TV writers want TV writers get,)

 
At 7:33 PM, Blogger zooberries said...

what i hope for the most: a "The Questions" series. or maybe they're gonna be part of the cast on a "Batwoman" series? Please let The Question not die :(

 
At 9:10 PM, Blogger Douglas Wolk said...

I suspect the answer to the "Where Is Donna Troy?" question can be found at http://www.comicbookresources.com/columns/index.cgi?column=litg&article=2642 .

Jamie: I didn't think 7S:MM was about the New Gods being stuck on Earth, I thought it was kind of more metaphysical--about the interactions of humans being the interactions of the gods too.

Michael: great link!

Squashua: I think the problem with Skeets is not that he has faulty knowledge of the future so much as that he's from another timeline--hence the "Clock Queen" business.

 
At 6:51 AM, Blogger Jamie Ott said...

I still think that Alan's eyes are the Emerald Eyes and they are really powered by the Starheart. If they are in the future, that could account for the size. And remember, for those heroes, the timestamps could be just for marking their time during the year. Whether or not it is the same year as the other heroes may not be as important.

There's just too many oddities with their story but after reading Omega Men the other night, it's starting to hold less and less weight with me.

And I don't believe half of what Didio says in print. The things he said about Nightwing, Booster, and Hypertime all were contrary and all were things he knew would fire up the bloggers and fanboys. Everything he does is deliberate. Now I just want to know what the heck was up with the Beetle appearance in this months DC Nation.

Seeing as how the original Skeets was destroyed, I've always thought that his return was odd. So I'm down with the evil parallel Skeets theory.

I would not be at all surprised to see the Worlogog make an appearance, remember, Morrisson is involved and John's used it quite a bit in JSA.

Jamie

 
At 2:47 PM, Blogger raphaeladidas said...

I started rereading the issues last night and I came to the same conclusion about Alan's eyes. Of course, it raises the question if Alan has one of Adam Strange's eyes, where is the other eye?

Jamie, I agree in general with you about Didio, the only difference being he would go on and on about Nightwing, Beetle, Booster, Flash, etc. but when asked about hypertime he would give the notion a quick dismissal.

Douglas, I'm not sure I agree about Skeet's reference to Clock Queen indicating he's from a different timeline. The idea of a Clock Queen strikes me as one of those character/plot ideas Morrison likes to just throw into the dialogue (like The Red Inferno). And are we even sure that Skeets is really Skeets?

Much of what to make of the series goes back to whether you believe Didio's public pronouncements. He's always insisted there is only one earth with one consistant timeline: one of the points of Infinite Crisis was to establish that definitively. IC would have been the perfect time to bring back any alternate earths/timelines. Since they didn't, it makes me think there aren't going to be any (unless they changed their minds late enough that it couldn't be reflected in IC; hence the changes in the hc, the tease in JLA 0 and the Monitors and the whole "you should have died thing"). They've also been introducing events from alternate timelines (Monarch, Command D) into regular continuity. However, it's entirely possible that IC left the universe and time stream unsettled, and 52 will put the final nail in the alternate universe/timeline coffin. But we know the DC and Wildstorm universes are linked (or were before Worldstorm), so who knows? Time will reveal (pun not intended but unavoidable).

Although I'm confident this is a vanished point of continuity, was it ever explained anywhere why the Emerald Eye was vulnerable to kryptonite?

 
At 2:31 PM, Blogger Filby said...

All I really have to say about this week's issue is that I find it conspicuous that this is the second time that Red Tornado has ended up broken down and incommunicative in the Australian outback, the first being in the completely forgettable Primal Force series.

 

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