reviewbubble.jpg01.jpgIs Ralph Dead?

A cryptic message highlights this week’s installment of 52. Ralph and the helmet of Dr. Fate are still seeking answers to life after death, which ultimately lead to the mystic city of Nanda Parbat.

02.jpgThere are three storylines we follow this week. The first is a quick check in with the adventurers in space. They all agree that in order to get back home, they will have to go through Lady Styx’s army and even though they know it could mean their death, they are willing to risk it.

It is good to know the Emerald Head of Ekron is now on their side. Does this mean Lobo has returned the Emerald Eye? Even though this storyline is adapting the Odyssey tale, as the group grows from 3 to 5 (or six if you count the dolphin), I see a Magnificent Seven group forming.

For the Teen Titans it’s time for a membership drive.

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Some of the characters we have seen before in Teen Titans #38, so we know who is going to make it and who doesn’t.

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(from Teen Titans #38)

This makes the confrontation between Captain Marvel Jr. and Osiris some what of a disappointing one. On the one hand, I can understand Junior’s reasoning, but on the other, Osiris hasn’t done anything to show he is as bad as his brother-in-law. And given Black Adam has changed for the better, it seems they should be welcoming Osiris to the team. Maybe it is the talking croc…

You know we have seen other walking talking monsters on Oolong Island, could talky crocky be an early experiment to create the minion army?

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Wow, this panel just jumps out and grabs you, doesn’t it? This line really gives some credence to the multiple Earth theory I presented several weeks ago. Talon is a Robin-esque character from Earth2, where everything is run by the Crime Syndicate. We’ve seen the CS appear in a Justice League Classified story arc, as well as the Superman/Batman annual, which was released a month or so ago.

The big story this week is Ralph’s adventure to Nanda Parbat to seek and audience with Rama Kushna to seek answers to questions about death, dying, and the dead. Along the way he encounters Yao Fei, the Accomplished Perfect Physician or the Great Ten team previously seen in the first couple of weeks of 52.

Ralph aids Fei in tracking down another member of the Great Ten. Hu Wei can transform into a Yeti, but without is charm, his rage gets out of control, causing him to attack and kill people in the region.

While seeking the lost teammate, Ralph saves Fei from an attack and proves he is worthy of an audience with Rama Kushna.

Kushna true to her form gives direct, yet cryptic answers about time, love, death, and light.

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Obviously we aren’t worthy enough to see the secret Rama Kushna shows Ralph, but I have to wonder if it has to do with the perception of time. With time involved, does this mean Rip Hunter will tie closely into Ralph’s quest? Where is Deadman, and weren’t The Question and Renee just in Nanda Parbat a few weeks ago? I sense both Vic Sage and Ralph have lots of questions about death and the great after life, and get the strong feeling these two paths will cross before the year is out.

Even though we aren’t privy to the Great Answer to the question of Life the Universes and Everything (which is not 52 by the way), Ralph does give some details of his encounter to Yao Fei.

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So the big question is, “Is Ralph Dibny already dead?” Other reviewers have speculated that this may be so, and the missing year is really a hallucination Ralph is having during the final 52 seconds of his life.

It does make some sense, but I don’t think this is the case. First, Ralph has had too much direct interaction with other characters throughout the series. Even if he were a ghost, it’s the direct involvement with others of the DCU that doesn’t allow this to play out. Second, if it is all a hallucination, then why are the current one year later titles referencing events that happened during 52?

I rather view the phrase from an eastern philosophy standpoint, which believes we all create our own reality. This doesn’t necessarily mean “there is no spoon”, but rather we are in control of our own fate, and our actions create our current state in life.

Ralph’s appearance at the beginning of 52 has him putting a gun to his mouth ready to blow his head off. Is this how 52 will end? While he is not dead yet, will Ralph have to die in order to be reunited with Sue? We haven’t seen him in any of the DC issues post 52…

I’d rather believe keeping Sue alive in his heart and mind – like we saw at the end of Identity Crisis – is The End, which has already been written. Dang… I hate all the metaphysical thinking one has to do in order to enjoy a story.

The Good

  • Nanda Parbat is getting a lot of play in 52
  • Teen Titan recruitment reminds me of Legion of Superhero recruitment
  • Aren’t a lot of these characters from Kingdom Come?

The Bad

  • That talking crocodile is getting to me
  • The Great Ten characters seem like a one off just to move the story along.

The events of 52 are really playing out well, and it is obvious at this point DC has taken a lot of time to think out this story and ensure they have all of their bases covered. DC already knows the end of this story, with the plot carefully shielded from the rest of the world. However, as we near the end of the back, and head toward the home stretch, clues and Easter eggs dropped earlier in the year are starting to bare fruit. If you haven’t now would be a good time to gather up all previous issues of 52 and read them from beginning to end once again. The answers to 52 are in there if you look hard enough and from the right angle. See, I can be cryptic too!

I give 52 – Week 32, a 4 out of 5 Star rating. It would have been higher, but my mind can only deal with so much deep thinking before it starts to hurt.

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Parting Shot
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Discuss this issue in the Major Spoilers 52 forum.

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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