52’s first suit

I’m a week behind with the wonderful world of 52, the weekly ‘real-time’ comic I enthused about some time ago.  The rest of the community of crazy comics fans camped outside their local shops last week and picked up Week 14, but the last issue I read was Week 13, meaning that I am exactly one quarter of the way through the series, and at an appropriate point to pause and reflect.  The creative team involved with the series have mentioned that the title has some meaning other than the number of weeks in a year, and the first thing that springs to mind for many people is a deck of cards.  Now, there’s been no sign of the poker-themed villains the Royal Flush Gang thus far, but I did wonder whether one could divide the series into four suits, and if so, which suit the first 13 issues represent.

For me, I think it’s hearts, as quite a number of hearts are broken, in one way or another, in this first ‘suit’.  The last page of Week 13 is particularly devastating, turning the screw on a favourite character of mine, Ralph ‘Elongated Man’ Dibny, just when you thought his life couldn’t get any worse.  In the mean time, we have seen a husband and wife separated by many light years, an old flame cause flutterings in Gotham City, a woman searching for her lost brother and a seemingly irreparable rift between a man and his niece.  Bits of shattered hearts lying all over the place.

The series has really picked up in terms of pace as it goes along, and we’re promised (among other things) a funeral soon, which certainly implies that the action will really be whizzing past.  Batwoman has made her debut and a thoroughly underwhelming one at that.  She was actually much more interesting in her two appearances as a civilian than in her moments in super-heroic action.  Another newcomer, Supernova, has made no impact whatsoever.  But I’m very excited about a third new character, named Isis.  She has been brought into the portion of the plot concerning Black Adam, the ancient ruler of the Middle Eastern nation of Kahndaq.  She is in many ways his moral opposite, causing him to re-evaluate his methods and leading his concern for the poor of his country (and the world) in an entirely new direction.  She’s been gifted with the powers of a goddess and you can already see that this is going to mean trouble.  She’s a complicated, multi-faceted character who has the potential to change several of DC Comics’ stalwarts.  I hope she gets plenty of time in the spotlight as the series progresses.

I do wish that the page count of each issue was slightly higher, as some of the ongoing plots and characters can disappear for several weeks at a time, but their stories evidently carry on when we’re not looking.  Steel and his niece had a huge confrontation (both emotional and physical) a few weeks ago for example, but have been absent since Week Nine, as have with the three ‘lost in space’ characters, who escaped from deadly peril that same week.  Perhaps nothing of note has happened to any of them since then.

The series has had its off moments, but most issues have had at least one absolutely golden character moment, such as the currently powerless Clark Kent throwing himself out of a window (Lois Lane style) to get a story, or the madness of Captain Marvel, or the fierce hope of Animal Man’s wife, who refuses to believe that he’s not coming home to her.  It is this focus on relatively real characters (you do need a healthy dollop of suspension of disbelief for any superhero story, after all) that keeps me coming back, far more than the mysteries (who is funding the criminal organisation Intergang?, why have so many scientists been kidnapped?, who is Supernova?, what is Lex Luthor really up to?) sprinkled through the pages.  However, I’m not at all sure how much fun anyone new to DC Comics would find the series,which weaves old and new together with lots of little throwaway lines which may or may not be important, often referring to characters who haven’t been seen for years.  I hope they can enjoy the central characters, and not worry about the peripherals, but I just don’t know.  I’m loving it, though!  My happiness will be complete if we get another glimpse of the super-human hospital, if cantankerous Perry White continues to hound Clark Kent, and if they allow poor old Ralph Dibny to have something to smile about.

Incidentally, the first five issues are to be made available on-line, if non-comic geek readers of the blog fancy a look.  The first issue is up already, and the others are apparently ‘coming soon’.

    • crackerbob
    • November 2nd, 2007

    Your 52 Cards theory is interesting… I’m kinda sad that it didn’t turn out to be right.

  1. I’d forgotten about this post! You’re right, it was completely wrong. But I did enjoy the way the story turned out.

    • crackerbob
    • November 3rd, 2007

    Oh yes, the story turned out great and, in many cases, was completely not what I was expecting.

    I wish Countdown was working out to be even half as good as 52 was.

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