Review: 52, Volume 2 trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

52 Volume 2I was very impressed with the ongoing storylines in 52, Volume 2. Each of the five principles returned--Renee Montoya, Booster Gold, Black Adam, Steel, and Ralph Dibny--and I felt each of their plots progressed in an unexpected way, from Booster’s death to Renee and the Question’s friendship with, rather than animosity toward, Black Adam and Isis. 52 continues to surprise and delight, and the third volume can’t come soon enough.

After Booster Gold dies saving Metropolis, Skeets recruits Booster’s ancestor to return to Rip Hunter’s lab; it turns out Skeets is actually working to break the timestream. Renee Montoya and the Question are framed by Intergang and imprisoned in Kahndaq; they escape in time to stop a bomber at Black Adam and Isis’s wedding, and help the Marvels rescue Isis’s brother. Ralph Dibny begins a spiritual journey with the Helmet of Fate while the team in space is aided by Lobo. Luthor’s Everyman team become Infinity, Inc., meeting the Titans; the new JLA fails in their first mission and Checkmate is reinstated. T. O. Morrow kidnaps Will Magnus and demands his help on an island of mad scientists.

My favorite plot within 52 remains Booster Gold’s, and it’s unfortunate his gets such a short shrift this time around. My second favorite, fortunately, is that of Renee and the Question, and as I mentioned above, I liked how this plot defied my expectations in this volume--it would be easy to make Black Adam the bad guy and Renee the good guy, but instead we find them working for common causes here. Though I had soured on the seemingly generic Steel/Luthor fight in the last volume, I thought the writers did a great job tying the Everyman project into the legacy of Infinity, Inc., giving this plot a larger connection to the DC Universe.


In the comments that follow each chapter of 52, Keith Giffen talks quite a bit about Grant Morrison writing the scenes with Lobo, who Giffen created. This was my least favorite plot this time around; while I appreciate the tour of the cosmic aspects of the DC Universe, the plot didn’t have much to do with the space-faring heroes themselves, more so than just moving them from point A to point B. Lobo has apparently found religion, though on some pages he still seemed to be his old bawdy self (as when he rips off Starfire’s shirt), and then on other pages professes to have changes. This is further confused by the appearance of the Legion of Super-Heroes’ Emerald Eye which somehow factors in; maybe this will all make more sense next volume when the heroes confront whomever Lobo stole the eye from.

The second 52 volume shows a larger swath of the DC Universe beginning to emerge after Infinite Crisis. Green Arrow pursues his mayoral candidacy while the JLA re-forms; this trade also offers cameos by one incarnation of the Teen Titans, the Shadowpact, and Checkmate. Though much of this is self-explanatory in the other titles, these bits are still welcome; we didn’t necessarily, for instance, learn anything new by seeing Green Lantern ask Mr. Terrific to join Checkmate, but it’s a moving scene nonetheless. I’m eager for more of this as 52 continues. Of course, the Phil Jimenez-penned Martian Manhunter sequence steals the show, as J’onn mourns the fallen members of the Justice League.

This edition of 52 felt slower than the first, without quite as many intriguing twists. The richness of the DCU and the strength of its heritage was more apparent, however, and this makes the second volume a welcome addition overall.

[Contains full covers, sketchbook, commentary from the writers.]

Another volume of 52 down! Join us next Wednesday as our 13 on 52 series continues, counting down to 52 Volume 3, and on Monday, we begin a look at Grant Morrison's Animal Man collections. 
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