Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Friday, September 22, 2006

52, My thoughts so far

So 52 has reached week 20. That seems like a milestone, so I decided to write down a collection of opinions about the individual storylines going on thus far, possibly a few casual predictions (very likely completely wrong) about what'll happen next. I'll try to avoid any major spoilers for the current issue, but I can't promise anything, so be warned.

Montoya and the Question: This is probably my favorite ongoing storyline thus far. I admit that sometimes the dialogue can get really awkward, especially when the writing starts channeling a bad Dashiell Hammett. But I really like the characters and I really like their interactions. The Question seems humanized here in a way that I haven't seen him humanized in a long time. I've always thought he had one of the most alien/inhuman perspectives in the DCU which makes him occasionally hard to empathize with. However here, there is a nice balance. He's still strange, crazy and not quite right, but there's more clearly a man underneath.

Renee's downward spiral is working for me too. I occasionally think there's a bit too much pandering to the lowest common denominator with regards to the portrayal of her relationships, but I love that she's a strong woman. She's competent at her role even as her emotional life goes down the tubes. I like that, despite my comment above, her sexuality is portrayed as a part of her but not entirely who she is.

Most importantly though, this is the first time in a long time that I've read something that had a male and female partnership that was strictly platonic. And I love it. There's chemistry between them and by now, it seems like there are strong emotions as well, but they're the emotions of friendship and camaraderie. I love their interaction. I like his role as older brother/mentor. I really hope those theories about him dying and her taking his place are wrong, because I'd love to see their relationship evolve further. They're a fantastic partnership.

Batwoman: We haven't seen much of Kate right now really. Just a few scenes. But I'm hooked. I like her. A lot. I've heard complaints that she gets first introduced through her sexuality, her relationship with Renee. On one hand I understand the complant, but on the other, honestly, I think she's introduced in the way that new characters are supposed to be introduced. Through their relationships with previous characters.

So far I can't say much about her character, but from what we've seen at least she's quick, fiery and intense. She's got a lot of sexual chemistry with Renee, which is appealing. She seems to kick ass as the Batwoman. This is all I need for starters. I'm really looking forward to seeing the upcoming issue with her and Batman.

Black Adam and Isis: Initially, I hate to admit this, but I wasn't too enthralled with the Kahndaq story. Black Adam is interesting, but preferable to me in small doses. Much to my surprise though, it started to grow on me, becoming one of my favorite parts o the comic.

I think part of that is Isis. Adrianna is a character that should be incredibly cliched, and is, but somehow she's working for me. I think it's the humanizing effect on Adam. (Anyone who can provoke hairline worries from Black Adam is okay in my book). It's also fascinating to me that when he brought her to Billy, he wanted her to be given the goddess's powers. To be more powerful than he is.

I like seeing her explore her powers and potential as Isis. It's wonderful to see characters that just genuinely want to do good. Sure she's searching for her brother (hopefully he'll be the Osiris we see in Teen Titans), but she's not letting her failure keep her from doing good work. I would read her comic series.

And I'm really glad that Billy's crazy spells seem to have been a one-time occurrance.

Ralph Dibny: If you'd ever told me I'd find Ralph hot, I'd think you were crazy. However, this Ralph is hot. He's fiery, intense, passionate, driven, a bit crazy and something of a hypocrite and I'm just fascinated.

Honestly, and this is probably going to get me in trouble, I always thought Ralph and Sue were something of One-Note wonders. Their adventures were fun, but not terribly enthralling. They're likeable, but they were never going to be more than pleasant diversion characters.

While I had problems with certain elements of the execution of Identity Crisis, over all I thought it was a good story. I was hooked, beginning to end. The portrayal of Ralph and Sue at the beginning pushed all my buttons the right way, and the end made me hurt.

But Ralph's a star now. He's fascinating. The moment where he confronts Booster (and I maintain there is a big difference between them, Ralph may have wanted fame, but he'd never have left a friend in need in the lurch for a publicity stunt, I think. Not a friend in as bad a shape as Ralph was. But I digress) was stunning visually and emotionally.

I'm really fascinated to see where this one is going.

The Resurrection Cults: Now this idea intrigues me, but so far the execution has fallen a bit flat. I don't understand why someone as sensible as Cassie is involved. I get she's grief-stricken, but this seems to go against her nature. The bit with Sue is interesting, but I think all the bits of Ralph fighting cultists and going "Oh my god, you're a child" are way too heavy handed.

The "Devem" stuff interests me though.

Steel and Co.: I'll be honest, the Steel storyline thus far hasn't been doing much for me. I like the character but I find Natasha grating and I can spare no real interest in the conflict between them. Lex Luthor's plan is intriguing me.

This issue is the first time Steel's story has interested me so far. It's good to see him using and even appreciating his new powers, and the twist with Luthor is promising.

I just hope they keep Natasha on the backburner.

The Great Ten: I've heard some complaints about inherent racism in some of the character concepts and they do seem to have a lot of merit. But I also think that they have the potential to be very promising characters, beyond the stereotypes involved in their creation. So far I've found them interesting in Checkmate, so I'll give it some time before I formulate my own opinion.

Booster Gold: Evil Skeets is the awesomest thing ever, and as unlikely as the actual possibility is that Skeets could find the direct paternal ancestor, I still think it was a good move. Daniel is intriguing. He's Boosterish but without a lot of the baggage. I can't put my finger on why I like him, but I do. I definitely don't think he's dead yet.

And again, evil Skeets is awesome.

the Space Trio: This is another storyline I was initially apathetic about (I don't care much about New Gods, unfortunately) but somehow suddenly I'm eagerly anticipating the next installment. I know it's not Lobo. Lobo's a character that I can take in very small doses (and usually then only in Warrior, where his over-the-topness was balanced by the sheer cracky joy of everything else) but that last bit about the origin of the eye? Awesome.

I'd also forgotten how much I like Buddy Baker.

Supernova: I find Supernova mildly interesting, but I have no real patience with the "Who's behind the mask?!" type stories. I connect to my favorite heroes based on the man/woman behind the mask. I prefer my heroes to solve the mysteries rather than to be the mysteries.

It's probably why I'm so happy they made a point to introduce Kate by her civilian identity first. It's much easier to get a handle on the woman as well as the hero that way.

Clark Kent: Though he's no longer Superman, Clark Kent seems to be everywhere in the DCU. And that's how it should be. :-)



  • At September 22, 2006 9:50 AM, Blogger R.Nav said…

    If I'm not mistaken, Osiris (The God, not the Teen Titan) is indeed Isis' brother. But.. uh.. also her Husband

    I'm enjoying the heck out of 52. And my enjoyment of it will double if Supernova is revealed to be Ambush Bug (Most fun internet theory yet!!) or hey, anyone but Booster or Rip Hunter is revealed to be Supernova :)

  • At September 22, 2006 10:12 AM, Anonymous Vincent J. Murphy said…

    I've got a love/hate thing with 52: there are some issues that are really awful, but there's still enough going on to keep me buying.

    They sorta dropped the whole Giant Hawkgirl thing, though, which annoys me. I'm sure she'll show up. Plus, I'm waiting for the eventual "event" deaths (my bet is on Starfire, unfortunately).

    The Question/Renee stuff is getting old quickly, but the Booster stuff is making up for it.

  • At September 22, 2006 10:23 AM, Anonymous Loren said…

    Okay, I TOTALLY agree with you about Ralph Dibny! He is hot!

    And, evil Skeets RULES! "He knows!"

    Also, I agree with you about the Montoya and the Question storyline as my favorite in the bunch. Yes, there's some bad Dashiell Hammett going on, but I do really like their relationship. I hope both of them survive 52. I'd really love to see them have a book of their own or see them interact more outside of the confines of 52.

  • At September 22, 2006 10:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I doubt they'll kill Question and replace him with Montoya

    And if it was up to me, once 52 is over, Montoya would remain Q's partner and take the costume identity of "The Solution"
    or something

  • At September 22, 2006 11:17 AM, Blogger joncormier said…

    Or "The Answer" - I kind of like the idea of The Answer being drunken debauchery (sometimes involving lingerie).

    I'm enjoying the heck out of Clark Kent being, well, Clark Kent every now and again. But honestly I like the whole feel of the comic being something that the creators need to knock out as fast as they can. This is the spirit of old school comics and is why they had an idea a panel as well as miscolored parts. I like to see that again because it means they're working hard to keep it on time.

    I do, however, feel a bit flat on the whole Dibny storyline. And it had a lot of potential. The Dr. Fate's Helmet thing is integuing now, but so was the cult and that was sort of a let down.

    I'm waiting for the time travel bits to take off as well as Lex's Gaudy Force and the Metal Men.

  • At September 22, 2006 1:20 PM, Blogger SallyP said…

    I am actually enjoying 53, it is fun that it comes out every week. I'm enjoying it whole lot more than Civil War, which has made me want to cry. Anyway,I do like Ralph and evil Skeets, and I like
    Buddy and Strange too, although a little bit of Lobo goes a very long way. Batwoman not so much. What does confuse me, is that they couldn't find a few old Justice League members to come to Booster's funeral. Guy I can understand, but what about Bea or Diana?

  • At September 22, 2006 3:24 PM, Anonymous Mark Engblom said…

    I've found 52 to be frustratingly uneven from week to week. Granted, balancing the needs of at least half a dozen story threads is a tough job, and I enjoy the "grand experiment" aspect of the project, but the momentum of each story thread is hampered by the need to switch the focus so quickly.

    I think the biggest disappointment so far hasn't been any of the main storylines, but the backup features.

    Jurgens' "nothing but the facts, ma'am" recap of the DCU was a plodding bore, and Waid's two-page origin stories just seem like fluff. Pretty fluff, but fluff nonetheless. I'd rather get two more pages of story each issue than these rather inert origin features.

    Here's hoping the pace really starts picking up as we near the halfway point, and that there is even more dramatic convergence of the story treads.

  • At September 22, 2006 5:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    One of my favorite things about 52 so far is that Clark, without superpowers, isn't that great of a reporter. I find it wildly hilarious (something that Lois is no doubt secretly enjoying to some small degree.)

  • At September 22, 2006 7:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    In general, I'm enjoying 52, but the Steel story bugs me. To be fair, though, I've been disappointed with every Steel story I've read since he stopped appearing in JLA, and even then it was an adjustment because I enjoyed the the last twenty of thirty issues of his own book.

    I did really like seeing Steel use his power to help people, finally. That was great.

  • At September 22, 2006 8:24 PM, Blogger Zaratustra said…

    Well, Daniel -can't- be dead, since he's one of Booster's -ancestors-. Unless he has had a child already.


    I'm just depressed they dropped the page showing what Renee was doing with the Kahndaq girl.

  • At September 23, 2006 12:59 AM, Anonymous chuck said…

    I like the Renee/Question part of 52 best...the 'noir' captions...the way he's so exasperating to her and the 'silent(and not-so-silent) burn' she does...Booster as a 'glory-hound' was interesting...the 'Lost in Space' storyline is hit and is the Ralph storyline...worried at the end of week 18 that he was having a psychotic break...Black Adam is only interesting when he interacts with others, such as Isis, Question/Renee and Billy...jury's still out on characters like Batwoman(cautiously optimistic) and Supernova(indifferent)...

    As for Skeets being evil?

    Reminds me of an exchange on

    Kalinara said, "...technically I'm the Skeets to [Ragnell's] Booster around Ragnell's head shouting product placement ads."

    Ragnell replied: "Don't let her fool you. She's pure evil, and sneaky at that."

    Why are you looking at me like that, Kalinara? Ragnell said it, not me...sure, I'll help you get that ice cream out of the bottom of the freezer...SLAM! *sound of mechanical whistling fading into the distance*

  • At September 23, 2006 3:08 AM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    I warned you, chuck.

    See, no one ever believes me.

  • At September 23, 2006 3:40 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    r.nav: Yeah, but all the ancient gods are gene pool for the divine. :-)

    ...Ambush Bug as Supernova. Hee!

    vincent: yeah. The dropped storylines are bothersome. The pacing has issues too. But there's so much neat stuff too!

    The giant Hawkgirl thing...I completely forgot about that! I really hope Starfire isn't a death, also.

    loren: I agree. A Question/Montoya book would be great!

    anon: I don't think Montoya needs a costume. She's very down to earth. That doesn't mean she can't be his partner though. :-)

    jon: There is something very frenetic about 52 that I find appealing. And I'm really looking forward to more time stuff!

    And I'm sure, costumed or not, Renee will still have her drunken debauchery.

    sally: That bothered me too. Guy's in space, so it's understandable that he couldn't make it (I think otherwise, he'd have been there. He forgave Hal Parallax, I can't see him ditching Booster now). Diana's god knows where. But Bea not being there really does bother me.

    I guess it's to show how far he's fallen...but still...

    mark: The backup features are disappointing, but according to the panels at conventions, they're really intended more to introduce new readers to the main concepts of the DCU. We're not really supposed to get anything out of it.

    It's disappointing, but i think understandable, when considered like that.

    anon: It's great isn't it?

    ticknart: Yeah. Hopefully his story will pick up...or at least have more of him helping people. The Natasha stuff is a huge bore to me. I hate to waste him on that.

    zaratustra: Hee. Unless THAT is how Skeets ruins time. Kill a man whose descendent is running amock before he breeds...

    chuck: ...I have never caused Ragnell (or her ancestor) to be sucked into a vortex.

    However, getting her hit with a plane coming from the wrong direction...maybe.

    ragnell:' wanna see this nifty chalkboard in a basement...?

  • At September 23, 2006 10:40 PM, Anonymous Ununnilium said…

    "The backup features are disappointing, but according to the panels at conventions, they're really intended more to introduce new readers to the main concepts of the DCU. We're not really supposed to get anything out of it."

    Except 52 is so continuity-oriented that I can't see that many new readers picking it up.

  • At September 24, 2006 6:03 PM, Blogger Flidget Jerome said…

    "I've heard some complaints about inherent racism in some of the character concepts and they do seem to have a lot of merit."

    I still find Mother of Champions to be jaw-dropping but for feminist as well as racial reasons.

    The rest of the Great Ten I'm really rather fond of. They seem to be following the Hong Kong Manwha tradtion of superheroes rather than the Western style which I think is a good step-forward.

    I just wish we saw more of them. I'm also hoping that their manwha stylings weren't accidental and that when we get around to the Japanese heroes DC will present us with a actual Sentai Team.

  • At September 28, 2006 5:29 PM, Blogger Rob S. said…

    Giant Hawkgirl has been cured. There's a newspaper in a Khandaq scene from a couple of issues ago that should have said so (according to the breakdowns shown online) but the finished art really doesn't make that clear.


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