Thursday, March 22, 2007

Week 46: Bodies With No Surprises

You know, usually when the cackling villain's got the hero suspended over the acid bath, you wonder how the hero's going to survive. But I can't even imagine how Sivana's going to get out of this one.

That said, this was the most fun issue we've seen in a while, mostly because of all that Oolong Island action. For once, we get to get inside the skulls of the bad guys, and it turns out that they're the pasty, geeky types who cleave to pulp-fiction devices because they want to prove themselves superior to the "Super-Jocks"; they've waited decades for their revenge on somebody who's physically strong. They cling to their grudges; they want to show everyone who's boss.

All except for Veronica Cale, who just wanted "to change the world." (One way that the multiverse stuff might pan out is that she could change which world she belongs to--!) After divine judgment in the form of Black Adam passes over her, she renounces violence and walks away. That might be her exit from the narrative, like Astoria; it might be an actual moment of repentance (having abandoned her past in the symbolic form of her pearls, engaged in one last act of eros and one last act of thanatos, and given herself up to fate). But as long as we're going to be alluding to the Cain story's rock and red rage, I can imagine Dr. Cale in some kind of mark-of-Cain scenario.

The end of Morrison's "Rock of Ages" storyline in JLA suggested how much good Luthor might have done if he'd actually acted in the world's interest (contrast Ra's al Ghul, who has a reasonable claim to make that he is acting in the world's interest). It's worth wondering if any of the Oolong Island crew might be worth rehabilitating; the answer seems to be that as brilliant as they are, they don't care a bit about anything other than their personal gratification. Hence the nonstop party atmosphere on the island--they're not making sacrifices for what anybody can convince them is the greater good, but they're getting quick thrills and revenge, and there's nothing else they can be tempted with. (For another take on the same sort of situation, see this week's debut of Rick Veitch's very funny, very biting Army@Love.) Would they actually fit in on Apokolips? Sivana sure would; the rest of them wouldn't last an hour.

Anybody keeping a canonical list of Signs of Things to Come in the DCU? As various people have noted, the 52 team put in a little appearance in last week's Tales of the Unexpected, the Monitors turned up in Stormwatch: PHD, Everyman's in Manhunter, the Emerald Eye is on the cover of next month's Brave and Bold, and the Bleed made an appearance in Ion last month...

More notes:

Pg. 2: "They already walk among us": Apokolips is already here? Yes, yes, 52 ends conclusively--but it does seem to be teasing a lot of the Fourth World/Darkseid stuff that Countdown is promising.

Pg. 3: From "I'm an atheist" to "he'll save us" in one sentence--beautiful!

Pg. 4: I love that Black Adam's approach to any challenge is to dismember it.

Pg. 6: "The final crisis is coming": prophecy is a funny thing, as they say. (And speaking of funny things, "doesn't that turn you on?" may be the funniest line of this series so far.) I think this may be the first time the term "anti-life" has been used in 52; what Dr. Cale is referring to is the Anti-Life Equation, the slippery formula Darkseid was seeking in Jack Kirby's original Fourth World stuff. (What it means in practice is shown vividly in the Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle mini.) Felix Faust was mixed up with a spell that's also referred to as the "anti-life equation" here, but who knows if that's even canon at this point.

Pg. 7: You'd think Morrow would just use eSnipe if he's so worried about it.

Pg. 8: Dr. Cale appears to have lost her pearls in the heat of passion; you'd think if she were planning to go to her doom she'd want to be wearing them! Unless Dr. Magnus has swiped them to make some kind of pearl Metal Man or something.

Pg. 9: Two great character moments here: Veronica having a "post coitum omne animal triste est" moment, and so intent on her method of suicide that she blithely kills the guy who gets in her way; and Black Adam's reaction to her confession...

Pg. 10: When this page ran on Newsarama last week, I thought it directly followed Pg. 1, and was afraid that Dr. Cale was getting crushed by the door.

Pg. 12: Bad lorem ipsum! Drink! (All over this issue, actually!) Curiously enough, the concept of the tesseract was invented by a gentleman who appeared in a very good comic book a while back. Morrison has also used tesseracts before in his stories--in DC One Million, it's where Earth stores its cities.

Pg. 14: And of course he's got an acid bath waiting upstairs. Next he's going to have to wake Adam up to explain his evil plan before he kills him... there's a beautiful little Alan Moore/Bryan Talbot quickie in this issue about basic mad supervillain training--more than 20 years later, I still remember the punch line: "And remember, the wages of sin are death... but the hours are great and the perks are terrific!" Also, how does Morrow know about "the secrets of the cosmos" being in Reddy's head?

Pp. 15-17: This scene, on the other hand, feels oddly tacked-on--the point is to demonstrate that a) Everyman's still alive, b) Natasha's earned and is now wearing her armor, and c) John Henry's bounced back from being skewered six weeks ago. But there's a lot that doesn't seem right about it: "noted scientist and businessman"? How about "former President of the United States"? Clark's "intuition" doesn't quite add up either. And Everyman being taken out with one punch diminishes his scariness considerably. Although "murdering waste of carbon" does bring to mind Waid's best line of the week, from the excellent Brave and the Bold #2: "Carbons and silicates..."

Pg. 19: Remember how I was complaining about how the JSA's absence of a raison d'ĂȘtre was a problem? I spoke too soon, because here it is, all spelled out: to set a good example for the super-kids. Fair enough. Can anybody point me toward what happened with Damage and Icicle?

The Origin of Batman: Great to see this feature back. (Now I just hope Giffen's layouts return to the 52 site too...) With an origin that's been retold this many times, the exercise is less boiling it down to two pages than coming up with some fresh angle on it, and I think this does it very nicely. I'm curious who the guy with the glasses and moustache in the top panel of page 2 is (if anybody); I'd love to know whose idea the dirigible was. And, having read this story the other day, for once I'm happy not to see a character's (purported) creator credited in one of these backups.

31 Comments:

At 5:45 AM, Blogger James said...

Everyman was in Manhunter, I think - impersonating Blue Beetle. Not in Blue Beetle.

My guess on Damage/Icicle is that it's an offhand reference to Damage's new, more violent approach to taking on supercriminals. Did Icicle have anything to do with the Freedom Fighters death? I can't recall..

 
At 6:18 AM, Blogger Filby said...

Icicle wasn't there when the Freedom Fighters were decimated, no. He's just one of many JSA-related villains with whom Damage would be likely to cross paths.

Also, how does Morrow know about "the secrets of the cosmos" being in Reddy's head?

I think it's common knowledge on Earth at this point that something bizarre happened in deep space related to the Crisis, and Morrow already knows Reddy was present to witness it.

 
At 6:21 AM, Blogger Filby said...

By the way, what was that large brown humanoid in the background when Magnus and Cale were going at it? The Plutonium Man?

Also: I guess we're closer to what that "OTHERS?" on Rip Hunter's blackboard meant.

 
At 6:36 AM, Blogger Matthew E said...

Everyman was in Manhunter, I think - impersonating Blue Beetle. Not in Blue Beetle.

Oh, is that what it was? I was wondering. When I read "Everyman was in Blue Beetle," I couldn't figure out what I was missing. "I just reread Blue Beetle, and I can't remember seeing Everyman anywhere. Qu'est-ce qui se passe?"

The Reach, on the other hand, has appeared in Blue Beetle...

 
At 7:14 AM, Blogger Squashua said...

As James said, the "Damage/Icicle" thing is the first appearance of a reference to something that happened offstage. I suspect we'll probably see a detail about it in a future Damage flashback issue of JSA.

Or not, since Damage does a pretty good job explaining some major points of his post-rehab life in this latest issue.

 
At 8:27 AM, Blogger Emmet Matheson said...

I noticed the dirigible in the Batman origin too. It's rather similar to the one on one of the pin-up covers Jim Lee did during Hush. The only other Batman/Zeppelin imagery I can think of is the opening sequence of the 90s cartoon.

 
At 8:50 AM, Blogger Douglas Wolk said...

James: whoops on the Manhunter/Beetle front. Fixed, and thanks for pointing it out.

Filby: excellent call on the Plutonium Man front, and I think you might be right about the "Others?"

 
At 9:55 AM, Blogger Jeremy said...

T.O. Morrow may know about the secrets of the cosmos being in Reddy's head because . . .

the bulk of T.O. Morrow's gimmick is that he's seen the future.

Which I'm guessing will somehow link into the Booster/Rip Hunter story as well.

In fact, if you want a quirky theory, you could say that TO Morrow may have created Reddy in the first place because he foresaw that one day a robot named Red Tornado would somehow acquire such unique knowledge. Ahh, paradox. But there I go again with the stupid theories.

 
At 12:14 PM, Blogger Garret said...

Last week there was some conversation that Mr. Mind had taken control of Black Adam. What if Mr. Mind has taken control of Skeets. It's hinted that he's not himself ...

 
At 5:11 PM, Blogger Squashua said...

Well, do note that Skeets looks like he could be a little Quislet-esque spaceship, and have a tiny pilot inside. Plus the varied word balloons... it's just that the only time he's been "open" would have been at Dr. Magnus' lab.

 
At 8:23 PM, Anonymous The Midnight Gardener said...

I haven't seen the Batman origin pages yet (I'm waiting for the trades, so I thank you for regular spoilers/updates to tide me over!) but a guy with glasses and a moustache in the Dark Knight's context sounds like Matches Malone to me, maybe.

I always like the look of a dirigible anchored above a city, (weren't there some in Watchmen?), it adds an interesting past/future look to a city like Gotham. I imagine they would be something high to redirect off of when swinging on bat-cables from building to building, too.

Good city surveillance vantage points, too, if Bruce still goes for that sort of thing after Brother Eye. Perhaps they are Waynetech.

 
At 9:26 PM, Blogger raphaeladidas said...

"Midnight Gardener" made me think of this.

 
At 4:36 AM, Anonymous andy g said...

Not sure about the Icicle reference, but Damage had his ass kicked by the Society of Villians in Infinite Crisis #1 and was reported as in intensive care by Perry White in #2 of the same series.

Jump forward OYL and Justice Society #4 shows Damage with a full face mask a la Golden Age Atom, but this one hides some grotesque injuries.

And that whole scene read a bit like "Justice Society #4 In Stores Now".

 
At 5:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That mustached man is in fact President Teddy Roosevelt... a rather ruuged Prez, perhaps to lend some manlyness to Wayne Manor...

Has there been some legal change re: giving credit to the creators of the big 3? I checked the WW origin way back and there is a credit given.. but in both the Bats origin and key issue (the Batman no more thingy) there are no references to Kane (or Finger)... my understanding it that their presence has always required a citation of creation...

Michael

 
At 8:12 AM, Blogger Jamie Ott said...

In regards to the Mr. Mind/Skeets theory. We know now that Sivanna tested his Suspendium on Mind and that Mind metamorphasized after Sivanna was taken away in Week 1. That alone seems like a big enough clue to point to him being the culprit behind Skeet's going bad, as it sets him up perfectly as a nemesis for Booster and Rip. Then there's Skeet's resemblence to a space ship, moreso in 52 than in any other rendition of the character, which has been pointed out ad infinitum could be where Mind is hiding.

We also have the shot of the Phantom Zone prisoner's all wearing Mr. Mind like glasses and as Squashua pointed out, the various word baloons he's been seen using.

I also like Jeremy's explanation about Morrow. It makes sense and I could really see them going in that direction.

And Icicle makes an appearance in Flash this week. From jail....so whatever happened seems to be well coordinated or just incredible coincidence.

Douglas, I like your interpretation of Veronica's sequences, her bits didn't really seem to make a lot of sense on the first read through. However, I don't think the she and Magnus actually did anything, as he is apologizing when they next show them.

And can I get a BOOYAH! for the newly announced Booster Gold series? I was estatic at the announcement last week.

Jamie

 
At 2:04 PM, Blogger Joel Priddy said...

Mind if I name drop? On one of the best evenings of my life, I ended up eating dinner with Will Eisner, Thomas Inge, and Ben Katchor. Mr. Eisner brought up Bob Kane: "You don't want to speak ill of the dead," he said, "But the man could even embarass Stan Lee." Ben Katchor added "We used to call him Bob 'The Schmuck' Kane." Apparently, Kane would stop literally every person he encountered and say "Do you know who I am? I created Batman!"

 
At 9:48 PM, Blogger Leee said...

(One way that the multiverse stuff might pan out is that she could change which world she belongs to--!)

What? There's no multiverse anymore!

 
At 10:09 PM, Anonymous kyle said...

the only thing that bothers me about the "mr mind goggles" theory is i swear the phantom zone criminals (the classic 3) are wearing them when they show up in post-52. on the toys even?

 
At 12:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't that Dr. Thomas Wayne in the picture, Bruce's late father? Bruce has this revelation ("I shall become a bat") in the study, which once belonged to Dad, of course...

 
At 6:43 AM, Blogger Filby said...

the only thing that bothers me about the "mr mind goggles" theory is i swear the phantom zone criminals (the classic 3) are wearing them when they show up in post-52. on the toys even?

I believe goggles are part of the Kryptonian prison uniform.

Besides, why would Mister Mind put funny little goggles on all of them? For kicks?

 
At 10:26 PM, Blogger acespot said...

Everyman got taken out with one punch because he was impersonating a baseline human.

Clark knew about the lead-lined room, and realized that Luthor wouldn't have allowed himself to be taken into custody so easily. Thus, Lex being inside said room was the only reasonable conclusion. As to why Luthor didn't flee the country, though...

I agree with Filby as to the bizarre events (maybe the creation of Htrae! ;P ) being common knowledge by this point, nearly a year later.

Jeremy, regarding T.O.Morrow knowing the future, DC has moved away from that in his more recent appearances, preferring to explain that since his intellect is so astronomical, he can envision and realize future technology centuries in advance. However, that'd be a good explanation as well. Too bad no "Baldies" get we, the readers and commenters of this blog.

I took the random letters on the Morrow's computer monitor to be fragments of code written for the program he had written to hack the auction, or the resulting output of said program.

Filby, I'm thinking "Yes", regarding the "Plutonium Man". Regarding the "Others", I agree that's probably something that will be dealt with in Countdown, regarding Agents of Apokalips already in place on Earth.

Emmett, dirigibles have been a fixture of the gotham sky for quite a long time. Most recently, they were used to good effect in Catwoman.

Icicle showed up early on in 52 at the Haven, didn't he?

Midnight Golfer led me to this clip, for which these are the comments...some people truly need help...

Uh, leee, you're kidding, right? The whole thing was actually supposed to be a big secret, according to Rucka, and then like a two year old running around naked in the front yard, Didio pulled that stupid DC Nation stunt: "Hey, look at me, I have a penis!"

 
At 1:21 PM, Blogger Marionette said...

I'm surprised no one has noted the similarity in the way Black Adam was defeated (having a large object inserted into his brain) after going on a genocidal killing spree, to the way Kid Miracleman is defeated (having a large object inserted into his brain) after going on a genocidal killing spree, in Alan Moore's reimagining of the british version of Captain Marvel.

And why has it taken so long for Luthor to get arrested?

 
At 1:54 PM, Blogger Squashua said...

Probably no one pointed it out because many of us have never been given the opportunity to read Miracleman.

I know I haven't.

 
At 2:11 PM, Blogger Douglas Wolk said...

Yeah, there are an awful lot of resonances with Miracleman in 52, especially Miracleman #15. Hopelessly out of print and not coming back any time soonish, but, um, I bet a CBR file wouldn't be too hard to dig up.

 
At 2:34 PM, Blogger ZC said...

On the subject of the Phantom Zone people's goggles:

I have some black and whites of that issue, and in that panel the only people with goggles are (who I presume to be) Zod and his two cronies, which jives with their appearence in Action Comics. Everyone else has no goggles.

But in the final, published version of the issue, the only person in that panel without goggles is a kid (who I assume is supposed to be the kid from Action, as well).

Personally I agree with filby--there is a mention in Action Comics that Zod and co. were wearing "prison uniforms", and every other Kryptonian that shows up is wearing the same thing, so...

 
At 8:15 PM, Blogger acespot said...

I've got a full set of cbr's of the entire Miracle Man run. They took me forever to procure. Give me your email address (or leave a comment for me through my blog - don't worry, I won't publish it) and I'll email them to you. Otherwise, they're impossible to find...especially the final, unpublished issue, and MM-3D.

They tried to do a similar thing to Proteus in Exiles - inserting something into his brain to stop him from massacring the entire multiverse.

 
At 5:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, I really like the idea of Mister Mind gaining control of the Phantom Zone and, as first order of business, forcing everyone to wear goggles like his.

 
At 8:16 PM, Anonymous Jacob B. said...

I don't have the issue on hand, but I suspect the dirigible is a reference to an early Batman called "The Batman Wars Against the Dirigible of Doom" in Detective Comics 33. I'm fairly certain that the version of the Batman origin narrative that opens the issue was the first.

 
At 12:10 AM, Blogger acespot said...

Apparently, we're not so great, after all...Jog pointed out the similarities between Black Adam's rampage and Miracleman #15 at least a week before any of us thought to mention it here.

 
At 12:41 AM, Blogger raphaeladidas said...

Well, if no one else is going to tell Joel Priddy what a good book "Pulpatoon pilgrmagE" is, I will.

An unexpected surprise to see you here, Joel.

 
At 10:30 PM, Blogger Eric said...

Life's been busy and I haven't been dropping by as much as of late, but I want to personally damn you Douglas for getting that Misfits song stuck in my head.

Better than the time I was singing "Bullet" to myself in an elevator while an old lady looked on horrified I guess.

 

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