13 July 2015

Faster than a DC Bullet: Project Crisis!, Part XXXI: 52 Omnibus

Comic hardcover, 1202 pages
Published 2012 (contents: 2006-07)
Acquired December 2012
Read August 2014
52 Omnibus

Writers: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Art Breakdowns: Keith Giffen
Pencillers: Eddy Barrows, Chris Batista, Joe Bennett, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Tom Derenick, Dale Eaglesham, Jamal Igle, Phil Jimenez, Drew Johnson, Justiniano, Dan Jurgers, Ken Lashley, Mike McKone, Shawn Moll, Todd Nacuk, Patrick Olliffe, Joe Prado, Darick Robertson, Andy Smith
Inkers: Marlo Alquiza, Eddy Barrows, Mariah Benes, Joe Bennett, Belardino Brabo, Keith Champagne, Draxhall, Drew Geraci, Dan Green, Jack Jason, Roy José, Andy Lanning, Jay Leisten, Dave Meikes, Nelson, Tom Nguyen, Jimmy Palmiotti, Rodney Ramos, Norm Rapmund, Darick Robertson, Prentis Rollins, Lorenzo Ruggiero, Rob Stull, Ray Snyder, Art Thibert, Walden Wong
Colorists: David Baron, Pete Pantazis, Alex Sinclair
Letterers: Phil Balsman, Pat Brosseau, Jared K. Fletcher, Travis Lanham, Rob Leigh, Ken Lopez, Nick J. Napolitano

At some point, I planned on doing something big for this book-- you know, "52 Reasons That I Loved 52." But then time got away from-- very away from me-- and as it is this review will go up a whole eleven months after I read this book, and a lot of my specific memories have faded, which is a shame, as I did write very specific reviews about a number of very unmemorable books taking place in and around 52.

But anyway, 52 covers the year after the Infinite Crisis on a week-by-week basis. It's a year where Superman is without his powers (he exerted them more than ever before to defeat Superboy-Prime during the Infinite Crisis), Batman is travelling the world trying to remember how not to be a dick, and Wonder Woman is on a spiritual retreat. So it falls to the true greats of the DC universe to watch over the Earth. You know, Booster Gold, Elongated Man, Steel, the Question, Batwoman, Lex Luthor. Those guys. The giants.

Of course, I was predisposed to like this. It's those also-rans of the DC universe that I love the most about it; I have a complete run of Justice League Europe, I have read every Green Arrow comic published between 1983 and 2011, and I believe that the 1992 Elongated Man miniseries is an unjustly overlooked highlight of the superhero genre. On the other hand, it's hard to deny that this has its problems-- some plots unnaturally spin their wheels for months, while others leap ahead between issues. Some of it is just boring; I really wanted to like the space heroes, but aside from their encounter with a newly peaceful Lobo, I never really connected to these adventures. There's a little too much of Black Adam punching people to death. And by "a little too much," I mean any. Some of it is confusing, like whatever Booster did to beat Mister Mind at the end. Some of it seems misguided, like Wonder Girl joining some kind of super-weird cult devoted to Superboy.

But then, there's the island of super-geniuses finally putting one over on the the one they see as the ultimate super-jock in Black Adam, there's Booster Gold's moment of final redemption, there's Renee Montoya losing everything and learning why it's important to do so, there's the Elongated Man revealing just how much he's worked out all along, there's Renee's desperate trek through the snow to save a life, there's Doctor Magnus (creator of the Metal Men) having monthly visits with the imprisoned T. O. Morrow (creator of the Red Tornado). And, in my favorite favorite moment, there's Clark Kent realizing he doesn't have to be Superman to be a great journalist-- and the amazing action he takes as a result.

I know that auteur television is all the rage these days, and certainly people really dig auteur comics a lot, too. But there's something to be said for really solid writer's room television (I think Ira Steven Behr on seasons 3-7 of Deep Space Nine was really great at this, and Ron Moore learned from him to repeat his success with seasons 1-2 of Battlestar Galactica, but that's another blog post), and 52 is basically writer's room comics. Johns, Morrison, Rucka, Waid, and Giffen are all really good comic book creators, but they all have completely different skillsets and interests. Each has done great comics on his own, but their work as a group blends their strengths in a way you'd never expect. One of the thrills of the DC universe for me is the diverse kind of storytelling it has. Who'd think that Superman: Last Son, Seven Soldiers of Victory, Gotham Central, The Brave and the Bold, and The Great Darkness Saga all take place in the same millieu? And yet all of those diverse perspectives take place in the same book. 52 is the definitive statement of what DC can be at its best.

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