Week 28: A Set of Ragged ClawsBefore 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!
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.