01 August 2014

Faster than a DC Bullet: Project Crisis!, Part XXVII: 52: The Companion

Comic trade paperback, 224 pages
Published 2007 (contents: 1962-2006)
Acquired March 2013
Read June 2014
52: The Companion

Writers: Mark Schultz, Gardner Fox, Dan Jurgens, Jack Miller, Greg Rucka, Steve Ditko, Grant Morrison, Steve Gerber, David Goyer & Geoff Johns
Pencillers: Doug Mahnke, Carmine Infantino, Dan Jurgens, Alex Toth, Kano, Steve Ditko, Chas Truog, Murphy Anderson, Walter Simonson, Leonard Kirk
Inkers: Tom Nguyen, Carmine Infantino, Tim Dzon, Alex Toth, Stefano Gaudiano, Steve Ditko, Doug Hazlewood, Murphy Anderson, Walter Simonson, Keith Champagne

52 is, as you might know, an 52-part series filling in a year in the DC universe where Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are all gone. It draws on DC's vast tapestry of characters and concepts. 52: The Companion helps illuminate those backstories, making it useful preparatory reading for 52: here we see Steel's relationship with his daughter, Elongated Man solving a mystery, Booster Gold telling Blue Beetle his origin, Rip Hunter on a mission through time, Renee Montoya dealing with the death of her partner, the Question standing up for his principles, Animal Man on a trip to Paris with his wife, Adam Strange battling a threat to the planet Rann, the deaths of the Metal Men and the breakdown of their creator, and Captain Marvel learning the tragic history of Black Adam.

I'm about halfway through 52 now, and I can tell that some are directly relevant to it (Will Magnus's breakdown, Black Adam's past, Renee's emotional state, Booster's origin), while others are more general, just letting us see those heroes in action in younger days (Steel, Elongated Man, Rip Hunter, Adam Strange, the Question, Animal Man). But I find myself making note of things I learned from them frequently, so the time reading them was well spent. Also appreciated is the commentary from Mark Waid on why the characters were picked for 52, their place in DC history, and why the stories were picked for this volume. (Isn't Mark the greatest at continuity? It always feels like a useful foundation in his hands, never a prison.)

They're not all great stories, but most of them are good, and they reveal the breadth of what the DC universe has to offer at its best.

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