Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Week 39: Like Something That Seeks Its Level

I'd been looking forward to that Montoya-and-Richard-Dragon encounter, too! "Don't ask (the front cover about) the Question..."

This is not the first time we've seen the Luthor-becomes-Superman gambit, this issue's main story beat. As J.G. Jones notes, the idea was alluded to here, but it was also something of a Silver Age staple, appearing here ("What irony!") and here and here and, although it's not obvious from the cover, here. It's even turned up a bit more recently.

Something I really liked about the Azzarello/Bermejo Lex series, though, was that we got a sense that Lex is fully justified in his own mind--that he's not just jealous that the alien gets the powers and he doesn't, he genuinely believes that Superman is in the wrong and he's in the right, and that anything he does can be justified by his ends. That's more interesting to me, and scarier, than the Luthor motivated by a sense of egocentric unfairness and resentment. I love the stories where we get hints of sympathy for Luthor's perspective--they remind me of Samuel Richardson's Clarissa, the best 1500-page-plus prose novel ever written in English, whose bad guy, Lovelace, is so seductively sympathetic that Richardson kept adding sections to it to make him come off as more evil.

The problem of justification, especially justification for violence, is as huge and tricky as problems get; a few years ago, I read an even longer (and even better) book all about it. It can make for great comics, too. My favorite manga series at the moment is Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata's Death Note--anybody among the commenters reading it too? feel free to chime in even if you haven't commented before--which is all about a cat-and-mouse game between a serial killer and a detective, each of whom believes, more or less reasonably, that they're in the right and that the other one has to be stopped. (The serial killer is ostensibly the hero of the series, and he actually does have pretty strong justification--at least at first.)

But on the other side, we've got straight-up monsters like Everyman, who isn't just a cannibal for fun, he's got Jake's corpse on a checkered tablecloth with a goblet of wine--a kind of "ooh, look how bad I am" move. (The wine, by the way, seems to be for the 52 drinking game, which should've included dismemberments from the outset. For those of you just joining us, it also includes sports bras, bad lorem ipsum, teddy bears, and Watchmen allusions.) That makes him somehow much less interesting to me--which connects to my whole problem with the Crime Bible: it short-circuits the entire problem of moral justification. Another way of putting it: this song--sung by Catwoman, no less.

Lex's Everyman, incidentally, isn't DC's first; that would be Johnny Everyman, who appeared in a handful of early issues of World's Finest (beginning with this one) and Comic Cavalcade. The first Johnny Everyman story has a caption on its first page noting that it's "prepared in cooperation with the East and West Association, devoted to furthering understanding between peoples." (That page appears opposite the final page of a Boy Commandos story, on which Rip Carter--hey, wonder if there's a connection to Rip Hunter and/or Daniel Carter there?--is seen yelling into a microphone: "The Nazis are not supermen but super-beasts! Beasts with minds to conquer and weapons to kill!") Here's an interesting little history of the character--apparently, the East and West Association was a group headed by Pearl S. Buck, who was also on DC Comics' Editorial Advisory Board at the time!

Oh, and speaking of Rip Hunter: Eight weeks ago we learned that the next clue from Rip's blackboard to be addressed would be "he won't smell it"--have we actually gotten anything on that front?

A few days after I read last week's issue, I thought: hmm, there was something I liked about that, something unusual... Then it hit me, or rather didn't hit anyone: there were no fight scenes, no violence, no obligatory showdown between an ostrich, a chorus girl and a lampshade--the only physical struggle was Montoya dragging Charlie up the mountain. And it was thrilling anyway. Still, the presence of physical conflict in every issue is just one of many unspoken assumptions about how superhero comics are supposed to work in 2006. A couple of things other people have written in the last week or so have reminded me just how much I'd like to see those unwritten laws done away with--or at least made entirely optional--because I think they're at least as harmful as the old unwritten laws they were designed to counteract.

One of the people who's been posting in the last week's Supergirl blogosphere kerfuffle is Dean Trippe, who's also put up his own drawing of Supergirl, which gives me the kind of actual-teenage-girl vibe I've rarely seen in comics since Jenny from Scott McCloud's Zot!. Looking at it, my first reaction was that if there were a Supergirl comic that looked like that, I would totally buy it. In hardcover, even. I got the same kind of reaction to it that I got from the announcement of Morrison & Quitely's All-Star Superman, and there's a reason that's one of DC's best-selling titles, you know? It's committed to pure pleasure on every page, in a way that I don't get nearly enough from most superhero comics, and it doesn't look or read like anything else.

Ditto for Alice Hunt's idea for a Ralph-and-Sue comic set in the '60s with the Question as an occasional guest star. I mean, last night I watched The Thin Man--more or less the model for the historical Ralph/Sue relationship--and thought: I want superhero comics that are like this. It's too late for an actual Elongated Man comic along those lines, of course; I think 52's take on him is probably the best thing that could be done with a post-Identity Crisis Ralph. But I want a comic like that. If nothing else, there has to be some kind of playful and innocent comic series around now for someone else to despoil 40 years from now.

(Speaking of which, a small note on spoilers: anything that's already been published is obviously fair game here, but if you happen to know stuff that's coming up, don't spill the beans, please? Thanks.)

More notes:

Pg. 5: The Spectre literally stepped on Atlantis in Infinite Crisis. As for the "shackles of Arion," I'm not sure what they are, or what the beast they're containing is (although with that headdress it looks a little like an underwater Lockjaw), or what a "warded link" is--the only result for a Google search on that phrase is a triple-X site. There's such a thing as a "warded lock,", but that doesn't make sense in this context.

Pg. 6: And Ralph now has (or had) a wicker ring in place of the old ring he lost? He wasn't wearing it in Week 32. I hadn't realized before now that Ralph and the Fate helmet were playing "find the object," either. Apparently other people have gotten a link before, but then been eaten by the beast, which has subsequently been re-chained? This whole sequence has a weird kind of fabulistic dream-logic or non-logic to it...

Pg. 7: They are, of course, using a Boom Tube, as in Kirbytech--not this kind.

Pg. 8: It's actually spelled "High Chaparral,", and as far as I know it hasn't been revived. Good to see the return of Dr. Tyme's costume! The only microscopic naked Amazons I know of in DC continuity have most likely never heard of Tyme. We've dealt with Suspendium before, but I'm glad to see the Mister Mind thread being picked up again (after more than half a year).

Pg. 9: Veronica Cale is once again not wearing her black pearls--maybe Ralph and Fate picked them up as another of their "special objects."

Pg. 11: Somebody on the Newsarama forums (as noted by Squashua in last week's comments) pointed out that by an A=1, B=2... cipher, S+O+B+E+K = 19+15+2+5+11 = 52. Yow.

Pg. 12: For every BOOOOM there is an equal and opposite KRAAKOOOM. Here come the Horsemen!

Pg. 13: There are some serious chronology problems with this sequence. One: it's Day 5, immediately after a Day 6 sequence. Two: Natasha and Everyman are still wearing the same ripped clothes they had on in the first few pages. Three: the power-implanting process seems, earlier in the series, to take a very long time, and at the beginning of the scene Luthor insists that everything has to be ready to begin in 15 minutes... but three minutes of story time, tops, elapse before we see powered-up Luthor turn up.

Pg. 20: Luthor's shirt is burned away in the shape of Superman's insignia. Although something about it suggests Power Girl's lack-of-insignia. Poor Natasha: since she knows everything now, what are her odds of surviving to Week 40?

The Origin of Mr. Terrific: Appropriate to take a psychological approach to a character who's so much about his personal ideology that he literally wears it on his sleeve. I love that he's the "third-smartest man alive": can anyone tell me who the first two are? are either of them on Oolong Island?

Next week's 52 Pickup might be a day or two late (or might not). I know, I cry wolf about this stuff a lot. (And "late Wednesday evening" counts as "right on time," by my standards.) But I am going to be late one of these days. As opposed to the mighty 52 team: 3/4 of the way done and not a ship date missed yet. Good going.


At 7:47 PM, Blogger Tobias said...

Smartest two are, I believe, Luthor and Batman. Though I could be wrong...

At 8:35 PM, Blogger Michael said...

He's always referred to as the "third smartest man on Earth", like it's his logo. It must drive him nuts.

You know when you're watching a TV show and there's only a few minutes left and the plot isn't anywhere near finished, and there comes the creeping sensation that this is going to be a two-part episode? I've been getting that feeling from 52 the last few weeks. There's been an abrupt change in the pacing since New Year's. After two or three months of slow, agonizing sub-plot repetition it feels like they are rushing to try and fit everything in before the end of the series. You would think they lost an editor or something.

As for the rigid pattern of monthly violence in superhero books, that's one of the reasons I stopped reading them. (Well, for the most part...) It comes part and parcel with the delivery medium. In the glorious distant future when superhero comics no longer come in pamphlet form, their creators will be free to play with pacing and content. For now it's same old, same old every month because that's all the publishers know and what all the fans expect.

At 9:06 PM, Blogger raphaeladidas said...

I hate that "third smartest man" thing so damn much. How was this determined? What kind of intelligence are we talking about? Can intelligence even be measured? I could go on but I won't.

This was obviously a setup issue for bigger things to come. The real action was in Ion this week. The appearance there of the Bleed goes a long way towards explaining where DC is heading with things.

At 4:06 AM, Anonymous Dave White said...

If Sivana's been bombarding Mr. Mind with suspendium, is it possible that he's evil Skeets?

At 6:45 AM, Blogger Jamie Ott said...

Okay, now that I've caught up with the last two weeks, I first want to point out a few things from last week that no one has touched upon to my knowledge.

First, was Charlie murdered? Go back to Week 38 and read it again. His first few words (interspersed with Renee's injections) were poison. In fact, these are the ONLY coherent words he has. Right up until she puts the mask on him. It's then that he is suddenly strong enough to speak to her coherently and in complete sentences.

Didn't Renee get the 'morphine' from Kate? They've shown those needles an awful lot over the last few weeks and I can't shake the feeling that this is important.

And what's with Cale and her nosebleeds? She's had two that I recall (last week and during the Thanksgiving dinner) but nothing in Rucka's run every hinted at this. If it happens more than once, it quite likely another clue.

As for this week, I'm glad I'm not the only one who seems surprised that Ralph is wearing a wicker wedding band....

Also the Crime Bible passage Egg Fu reads from mentions 'Apokolips', not the Apocalypse.

And Hannibal? Are we really surprised that he is that depraved? I actually wish that they had used a different name so that he didn't seem like such a derivation of Lector. It was a chilling image, however.

And while I appreciate how vile Lex is, I much prefer him how he was portrayed in the animated JL and the Silver Age. Given the correct motivations, he COULD be a hero. But not this Lex, he's a touch to sadistic for me to feel any sympathy for.


At 6:57 AM, Blogger Jamie Ott said...

ARRGGGH! I hate when I hit send and remember something else I wanted to mention.

Fate. I still maintain they are showing the helmet at a certain height for a reason. We've only had one instance that this wasn't the case, right? I'm chalking that up to a penciller gaffe.

And I don't think anyone here believe that this is truly 'Fate'.

I also wouldn't be surprised to find a Larzarus Pit in Nanda Parbat....

At 7:49 AM, Blogger webrunner said...

Ralph had the wicker ring right after the wicker Sue incident.. it might have disappeared for a while but this isn't the first time it's shown up.

I had a thought: has there been any previous "KRAAKOOOM" in 52 which may have signaled the appearance of Hunger?

Re pg 13: "Time is broken". It's great how much that can explain, it's like Superboy Punch.

At 7:50 AM, Blogger Squashua said...

Nosebleeds: Cocaine or tumor?

Spot the Emerald Eye.

At 7:51 AM, Blogger raphaeladidas said...

Jamie, I think you're right about the helmet's height.

And in case anyone doesn't know, the helmet can't really be Fate because Helmet of Fate: Detective Chimp shows that the helm was travelling through space during the time of 52.

At 7:53 AM, Blogger raphaeladidas said...

Spot the Emerald Eye.

And a mechanical one at that.

At 9:28 AM, Blogger Holz said...

So my question is why exactly we didn't get any Montoya in this issue? Last week left us on quite a cliffhanger, and to leave her alone for an entire week (especially when the cover says specifically says she'd be in the issue) was just jarring.

I suppose I've finally become spoiled on the whole week-to-week storyline aspect...

At 11:30 AM, Blogger Garrie Burr said...

Regarding the nosebleeds: the only DCU precedent I can think of for those was Max Lord, who got them after using his manipulation powers.

Mr. Terrific's origin: No mention of the Spectre here? I'll have to re-read those, now. I recall Mr. T's origin in the Ostrander series had a great deal to do with a crisis in faith.

Has anyone sat down and re-read all of 52 so-far in one sitting? How did it flow?

Thanks for the continued good work, Douglas! Oh, yeah: hate to do this after a compliment, but isn't the Suspendium link supposed to go to Shazam! #1 instead of Sword of the Atom #3?

At 11:41 AM, Blogger Kiel said...

Oddly enough, we found ourselves in a similar discussion about pacing in single issue comics in this week's Thursday Morning Quarterback meeting in the Wizard offices ( - go to the second page). I'm agreeing with Michael here that the problem with issues having too much violence or (as I found the case was with Daredevil this week) too much explaining of things is that readers and creators generally expect a single issue of any comic to be a single reading experience. People complain so much about "writing for the trade" as a trend that makes nothing happen for many issues, but really we're stck in the same pattern that's existed in comics since they broke the anthology format of the Golden Age. Sad to say, but I think the only solution really is making the shift to OGNs.

However, if anyone remembers the recent blog kerfuffle about the Tokyopop OEL creator who was complaining about making the three act structure work in three volumes, it seems that some creators working in any format will limit their plotting based on said format.

And also oddly, I just watched The Thin Man last week. I read the book a while ago and ended up buying several of the movies on VHS at Mark Newgarden's garage sale in Brooklyn last summer.

At 11:43 AM, Blogger Kiel said...

Hmmm...the QB thread didn't post right. Let's try this again...

Yeah, you'll have to copy and paste the two parts separately.

At 11:53 AM, Blogger Squashua said...

Internet Education 101

Lesson #52: How to shorten links

Step 1: Receive a New God-sized url. Copy it.

Step 2: Go to or

Step 3: Paste Week 15 Hawkgirl-sized url into the form.

Step 4: Submit form and receive tiny url as such:

Tune in next week for Lesson #53: YOU'RE is a contraction; YOUR is possessive.


At 2:55 PM, Blogger Eric said...

"he won't smell it" -- I hope this has nothing to do with all of those beans that Doc Magnus is eating.

Dan Didio made the comment somewhere that Ralph was a great detective, and not the funny-guy that we've always seen him as. Someone questioned, and I agreed with them, why he couldn't be both.

But then again one gets the sense that if Didio say down and watched a Thin Man movie, he'd be glad that he didn't have to think up some way to kill off William Powell and Myrna Loy.

The constant call goes out over the world -- where is this bright and fun DC that has been previously talked about. Right now, I'm only buying All-Star Superman and the Spirit. I'd totally buy that Trippe Supergirl though!

At 4:17 PM, Blogger ZC said...

"First, was Charlie murdered? Go back to Week 38 and read it again. His first few words (interspersed with Renee's injections) were poison. In fact, these are the ONLY coherent words he has. Right up until she puts the mask on him. It's then that he is suddenly strong enough to speak to her coherently and in complete sentences."

As far as I know all the "poison" stuff is Charlie being delirious.

"Didn't Renee get the 'morphine' from Kate? They've shown those needles an awful lot over the last few weeks and I can't shake the feeling that this is important."

If I remember the scripts correctly, the needles ARE important, but because they act as a visual symbol for Montoya dealing with Charlie and his pain, and, in a way, as the needles run out, so does Charlie's life.... I guess.

"And what's with Cale and her nosebleeds? She's had two that I recall (last week and during the Thanksgiving dinner) but nothing in Rucka's run every hinted at this. If it happens more than once, it quite likely another clue."

I think the nosebleed thing is just "oh crap NO ONE CAN SEE THE HORSEMAN UNDAMAGED" or something similiar, you know?

On the topic of Lex, while I absoluetly love the image of Lex saying "I'm Superman", I have to agree with you, Douglas, that the LL:Man of Steel characterization IS the one they should have stuck with. God I love that miniseries.

At 7:22 PM, Blogger creativename said...

I do believe that Charlie's "poison" refers to his chemotherapy. Which, by the way, really IS poison.

Hmmm... and no reference to Mr. Mind being stuck in caterpiller form, never reaching his full potential and then being bombarded with particulate time? After all the butterflies you mentioned last week?

At 9:03 PM, Blogger Emmet Matheson said...

How much fun was the Oolong stuff vs the LexCorp Tower biz, and a Wk 15 Hawkgirl sized BOO to D.Didio for spoiling World War III in the DC Nation column, even though, y'know, it was sorta obvious anyway.

At 2:34 AM, Anonymous andy g said...


Grant Morrison is fond of nosebleeds in the presence of creatures from higher planes of existence. It happens quite regularly in The Invisibles.


Three cheers for its absence last week. One of the great strengths of 52 has been its reliance on mystery, suspense and emotional drama and conflict to drive its story forward. The impending World War III is perhaps the least interesting aspect of the series.

Is Ralph insane?

How will Montoya cope with the loss of another partner?

Will the Black Adam Family survive (it don't look good folks)?

Will Buddy get home?

Where or when is Booster this time?

Who is the forth horseman?

Will Steel save his daughter?

These are the reasons I buy each issue, not because it's the build up to a 'war'.

At 7:34 AM, Anonymous Binkley said...

In The High Chaparral, the main character "Big" John Cannon married a woman named Victoria Montoya. Vic Montoya? I gotta believe this was not a coincidence.

At 7:57 AM, Anonymous Oz said...

Just thought of something I'd toss out, although I haven't read this week's yet. On the forums the impression is that Sobek is Famine, the missing 4th horseman who was sent ahead. This is because he's always eating, and a humanized animal (Silvana's bit).

Everyman is always eating too. Doesn't his power itself rely on it? Sounds famine-y...

At 9:01 AM, Anonymous David C said...

Actually, what makes it cool is "third smartest man" is (after some other character says he must be the smartest) Mr. Terrific's *self* identification!

I like it on a bunch of levels. It shows he's realistic and (well, kinda) humble. And on another level, knowing who *is* smarter is almost more impressive than *being* smarter!

At 9:09 AM, Anonymous David C said...

I wonder what the origin of the Crime Bible is? Obviously, it's from Apokolips, but it seems like it should be a psychological warfare weapon created *by* Apokolips, as opposed to something Darkseid himself would see as a holy book. (I can't believe that Darkseid would see what he does as "crime" in any sense.)

At 9:55 AM, Blogger anthony said...

I'm getting the feeling the Question won't die per se but will be confined to Nanda Parbat, leaving Montoya to take up the mantle. I seem to remember some kind of precedent for folks being trapped in Nanda Parbat for some reason, but it's probably just wishful thinking or I'm conflating a Deadman story with something else.

At 10:26 AM, Blogger Squashua said...

Hey Doogie, you going to stick with this for the long haul by keeping this weekly beast up for Countdown? :-)

At 10:53 AM, Blogger Douglas Wolk said...

Squashua: only if somebody pays me to. (I'm talking to a couple of entities that might...) I really enjoy writing this every week, but on the other hand I do have mouths to feed.

Creativename: good call on the caterpillar/butterfly thing!

At 12:13 PM, Anonymous jacob munford said...

"Just thought of something I'd toss out, although I haven't read this week's yet. On the forums the impression is that Sobek is Famine, the missing 4th horseman who was sent ahead. This is because he's always eating, and a humanized animal (Silvana's bit).

Everyman is always eating too. Doesn't his power itself rely on it? Sounds famine-y..."

Of course, we've seen Lady Styx do her fair share of eating as well.

At 1:35 PM, Anonymous rmitchum said...

"I had a thought: has there been any previous "KRAAKOOOM" in 52 which may have signaled the appearance of Hunger?"

Try Week 26.

At 2:02 PM, Blogger Douglas Wolk said...

Oh excellent catch, rmitchum! KRAKOOM + suspendium + time-travel + BOOOM + where Mr. Mind was when we saw him last...

At 2:15 PM, Blogger raphaeladidas said...

david c: Where did Mr. Terrific refer to himself as the third smartest man? Even acknowledging that there are (two) persons who are smarter, that's still a rather self-aggrandizing thing to say and very unlike Michael.

This entering the word verification twice thang is getting very old.

At 2:17 PM, Blogger raphaeladidas said...

Douglas: If someone else doesn't pay you to write about Countdown, I bet if you set up a PayPal account many of us would be happy to. Though I don't know if it'd be enough to make it worth your while.

At 2:47 PM, Blogger Squashua said...

I think if you take too long on the page, the word verification expires and you have to enter a new one; I believe that's what's (that is what is) happening.

At 3:20 PM, Blogger Josh said...

I really didn't like this week's cover. I agree with J.G. Jones that this is probably one of, if not the weakest cover he has done so far. From what he says in his 52 Cover Blog, it appears him and his editor don't agree on a lot of concepts, and the editor usually wins out.

While I understand that the editor needs to have creative control, it seems like most weeks we get a bland cover are a result of him disagreeing with the editor. Jones is a fantastic talent, and although his 52 covers have been far from perfect, overall they have been much more consistent in terms of quality than the series itself. Speaking of the series itself...

After looking at Week 26 again: I'm going to reverse my Sobek theory, and agree that he is Hunger. That's not to say he can't have a change of heart, and end up defending the Black Adam family in the end, though.

What will become of the mad scientists once Intergang is through with them? Do Magnus, Cale and the rest really think Egg Fu is going to let them off of the island alive? Good thing the Metal Men are there to help, even if they are only a few inches tall right now.

How were Natasha and Hannibal govering against the ceiling when Mercy came into the lab? Does Hannibal mimic a person's superpowers as well? I suppose Natasha could have been holding him, but their posture leads me to believe that he is the one holding her.

Everyman is a creepy (if not derivative) villain. Here's hoping he makes it through the end of 52. Also, weren't Luthor's Everyman subjects supposed to go through a rigorous psychological screening before getting their powers?

On a completely different note, what happened to the Luthor/Natasha romance sub-plot? I was kind of hoping it would pay off, but it looks like that whole angle has been overlooked. He seemed quite fond of the girl before he got superpowers and threw her into a wall.

I wonder when/if Adam Strange and Sapphire will return to Earth? Either way, it looks like it's up to Buddy to save the universe. Cool!

The origin of Mr. Terrific was gorgeous and very well done. This is, in my opinion, one of the strongest origins so far. I only wish we got these things on a weekly basis, instead of the irregular schedule they have been on. Hopefully in the future they can become a recurring feature of Countdown. Getting two pages of art can't be that difficult, can it?

Oh, and Mr. Wolk, I would gladly donate to the 'Douglas Wolk Countdown' fund. Set up that paypal box today!

At 3:38 PM, Anonymous Jeff Pennington said...

Upon re-reading of this issue, I began to wonder about something during the Black Marvel Family scene. Sobek was created in a lab in the US (supposedly) beneath the Sivana mansion from a regular ol' crocodile from what it seemed, and learned to speak from the experiments. So that begs the question; how exactly does he suddenly know how to speak fluent Egyptian? ( which I guess is the language they're using ) I think maybe this lends some credibility to the fact that Sobek is much more than he seems.

At 4:04 PM, Blogger raphaeladidas said...

On a related note...

At 6:13 PM, Blogger Jog said...

Hey Douglas, how far along are you in Death Note? One of the things I enjoy most about the series is how it manages to reconstruct itself as a slightly different thing every few volumes without totally destroying its charm. It's a one-on-one battle of wits! Then it's a team-up comic (complete with jazzy headquarters)! People forget everything! Then characters die and new ones show up! It's kind of a marvel how it hasn't gotten old, plus it's had the good sense to end serialization already (although I know a bunch of fans'll swear the plug should have been pulled in Vol 7)...

At 7:07 PM, Anonymous Don said...

Re: Lex & Natasha.
Y'all missed the point. One of Lex's primary "joys" is annoying the ever-lovin'-bejeezus out of Steel.

Luthor is evil. He gave Nat powers because he knew it would irk Steel. He "came on" to Nat because he knew it would irk Steel.

How could Lex beat her up? Because he no longer needs her to "one up" Steel, and at this point, killing Nat would irk Steel into a rash move (like attacking Lex, who then would use his new "super" abilities to squash John Henry like a bug).

Fits the "evil Lex" profile to a "T".

At 7:26 PM, Blogger David C said...

Mr. Terrific's self-identification as "third smartest man" is in Infinite Crisis #5.

At 8:33 PM, Blogger Emmet Matheson said...

If he's so smart, how come he's not on Oolong?

At 10:32 PM, Blogger Emmet Matheson said...

furthermore, if Lex is acting sorta off-book, my theory is that Superman not being around has thrown him. Trying to one-up Supes has been his main purpose in life for the last however many years and with the Big S just gone, with no explanation, no corpse, no gloating Mongul or Brainiac, he's had to compete with Steel, of all people, a fellow who more or less is everyting Lex believes himself to be. IE, a regular old smart (maybe even the fourth smartest man on Earth?) dude who HAS in fact used his intellect to put him on par with Superman (or thereabouts).

At 11:04 PM, Blogger Keith said...

Mr. Terrific is definitely not "mad" or has a diabolical streak like the scientists. I also loved his origin pages. It's definitely the least action-oriented and most drama-oriented one and the art is so gorgeous. I think david c nailed it on the "3rd smartest man" angle.

At 1:45 AM, Blogger Josh said...

Re: Re: Lex and Natasha,

Maybe I am reading into something that wasn't there, but it seemed that Lex's affinity for Natasha was about more than just pissing off a B-list hero.

Why did Lex kill off all of the Everymen? I demand an explanation, and 'because he was upset during New Year's Eve' doesn't cut it. Luthor simply doesn't do bad things because HE'S EVIL, he does them because he sincerely believes in his mission. He, like so many others, are waiting for Superman to return; John Henry isn't even a part of the equation. Doesn't Lex still think Supernova is Superman anyway?

Emmet: Good points about Lex, and I agree that Superman missing might account for Lex seeming so... off. Also, who is to say that Lex isn't somehow involved in Oolong Island and Intergang? Black Adam worked with the 'Fake Luthor' in the Society. This seems like fitting revenge to me.

At 11:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ookla the Mok here-
I think Luthor's turning off trhe Everymen's powers was cool and dramatic but also kind of pointless, unless he's suddenly gone just bug-shit insane. As a succesful "legitimate" businessman, he's just opened Lexcorp to a shitload of liability problems, corporate malfeasance, gross negligence, or even manslaughter claims but there's been no fallout on this, uh, so to speak.. Does the public and the law really believe his story about genetic problems affecting all subjects buit his pets in Infinity Inc? Quite a strech..

At 1:37 PM, Anonymous Matt T. said...

Did I miss where the Hal Jordon Specter was eliminated from Mr. Terrific's origin? I never read the series in question, but I was always under the impression that's how it went down. Super-genius and super-athlete was suicidal over the death of his wife, Spooky Hal shows up and tells him about Terry Sloane, and the newly inspired Michael Sloane goes off to be awesome.

Reckon why it was left out here. Perhaps the conflict of an avenging spirit of God helping to create what's arguably DC's (and maybe mainstream comics in general) most prominent atheist.

At 3:46 PM, Blogger raphaeladidas said...

It was the Jim Corrigan Spectre that first encountered Mr. Terrific.

I don't see how declaring yourself the third smartest can be seen in any way as being humble. And it still raises the question of what is being measured, who measured it and if it means anything anyway. See the links in my first post.

At 7:02 PM, Blogger Douglas Wolk said...

On Mr. Terrific's humility: he calls himself Mr. Terrific--how humble is he supposed to be? But I like the specificity of that number. It's like Eminem naming the eight MCs who are better than he is, in order.

On intelligence, let me quote Piet Hein:

As things so very often are
Intelligence won't get you far.
So be glad you've got more sense
Than you've got intelligence.

(But by whatever metric measures smartness in the DCU, who's the smartest woman in the DCU...? That we've seen on-panel, anyway. I nominate Barbara Gordon; anyone want to come up wiith someone better?)

Jog: I confess I'm only up to Vol. 3 of Death Note, but I'm using subsequent volumes as a reward for myself...

At 5:55 PM, Anonymous Don said...

Ya know, I read on another thread, and I gotta agree: What is the point of all the gore in this series?

We've seen Black Adam rip a guy in half, Mannheim smash a guy's head into bloody pulp, people get blood spattered on them, half-eaten people, Skeets blasting people into skeletons....

Are they simply after the shock value? Is gore that "entertaining"?

As much as I'd like to let my 7 and 10 year old kids read comics, I can't let them read this series. And that's a shame, because I'm really enjoying the other non-gory points.

Just seems like they could have told the same story without the "Saw" elements.

At 7:23 PM, Blogger Wally said...

The Fourth Horseman? Hunger? You'd expect the avatar of hunger to be able to eat a whole hell of a lot, right? Sobek and Lady Styx are just lightweight eaters.

Skeets ate the Phantom Zone.

At 7:50 PM, Anonymous Don said...

No doubt it's Skeets; fits with the "Yurrd the unknown going about before the beginning of time" stuff. Just some unanswered questions.

Like, how did Rip know about Skeets? (don't say "time travel"; give me something more tangible)

If Skeets can eat the Phantom Zone, does that mean Skeets is 'eating time', too? Is that why Rip is out to stop him?

Is there more to Skeets, such as someone controlling it? Or is Skeets just an Apokolips-created machine being used by "Egg Fu" and Intergang?

At 10:06 PM, Blogger Michael said...

If the fourth horseman is running around as Skeets, how does he benefit from hanging around Booster Gold? What was Skeets up to before Booster died? Was he just trying to foul up time? To what end?

At 4:08 AM, Anonymous randy said...

Personally, I think the Fourth Horseman is Skeets too. Suppose that the Horseman is some sort of 'consciousness entity' ala Doctor Bedlam also of Apokolips that has just simply taken over Skeets' form?

At 5:43 AM, Blogger Emmet Matheson said...

After re-reading Weeks 1 through 13, I have a grand total of 3 observations.
1. Check out Devilance's headgear on the cover of week 9 (it's a little different inside). Does it remind you of the chestplate of any new face/old name hero currently having New Gods run-ins in his own title?
2. I don't remember which week it was in, but during one of Charlie's lectures to Renee about the ills of smoking, he mentions that cigarettes contain (among other toxins) lead. "Dead by lead"?
3. The Skeets set-up is pretty sweet.

At 1:45 PM, Blogger Filby said...

I'm pretty sure "dead by lead" refers to Mon-El. We know from LoSH that he didn't die from lead exposure, but probably comes pretty close. The Action Comics annual with him in it comes out this week, I believe.

What I want to know is the meaning of "He won't smell it" and "The Reach, the Reach, the Reach." I think these are the only really obtuse items still remaining.

At 11:22 PM, Blogger Keith said...

I'm leaning towards a Mr. Mind/Skeets combination as the 4th Horseman. Mr. Mind fed suspendium? Skeets a time traveler? Skeets "not being himself?" I see a connection.

I nominate Amanda Waller as an intelligent DC woman.

don- I believe the gore is their attempt to make super hero comics more "realistic." Black Adam and Skeets wouldn't pull punches "in real life (tm)."Does it work? I don't know. I don't think it's the same level of "torture porn" that modern horror movies have become though.

For a youngster I'd heartily recommend the JLU comic run, and Marvel Adventures: The Avengers. Easily better than 80% of the big 2 comics out nowadays.

At 7:12 AM, Blogger Squashua said...

"The Reach" is something also referred to in Blue Beetle, and probably has something to do with the alien scarab. I figure it's the name of the race of aliens who use the scarab, Lady Styx is one of these "Reach" and she's coming for Blue Beetle, who looks quite like Styx.

At 12:18 PM, Blogger Squashua said...

While we wait paitently for Mssr. Doogie to update his blog...


Comeuppance galore. Big fight scene with Luthor and Osiris didn't get eaten by Sobek... yet.

The clue-seeker in me was slightly underwhelmed.

At 12:53 PM, Blogger Douglas Wolk said...

Update not coming until tonight--I (almost always) get my comics the same time as y'all do, and it takes me a while to write the blog, plus this afternoon I'm going to be on an airplane for a few hours...

At 6:27 PM, Blogger Joshua said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 6:28 PM, Blogger Squashua said...

What happened to your ability to get 52 a couple days early? Fall out of favor with Waid? Dude just posted here recently.

At 9:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The two smartest men in the universe are smart enough to stay well clear of superhumans and their adventures. Also, one is Chinese and the other Indian, so they tend to be out of sight.

At 2:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Add a little romance by sending this personalized "I Love You" teddy bear greeting with his/her first name. You don't need an occasion . . . Just choose the teddy bears color and treat (lollipop or toy pinwheel).


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