And this issue ain’t nothin but a convenient way of wrapping up loose plot points with a convoluted resolution

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I’m not a violent man, but I do like a good action sequence. Indiana Jones fighting hordes of Nazis and coming out with nary a scratch, Jean Claude kicking the snot out of a bar full of rednecks without breaking a sweat, or even The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling giving each other a smack down week after glorious week all make for good times. Of course I know none of this stuff is real. If Dr. Jones, Van Damme, or even the GLOW gals were to actually do the things they pretend, they’d be reduced to bloody balls of flesh in moments. If I can dismiss all of this as fantasy and fun, why then does it bother me to no end that the Everyman storyline is wrapped up in a neat tidy package?

01.jpgThis is probably going to be one of the shortest reviews of 52 that I’ve cranked out to date. Instead of giving a blow by blow account of every page, you’ll find more rants than anything.

John Henry and the Teen Titans know Natasha is in deep trouble, and as any family member would, Steel is ready to rush in and rescue his niece. Donning his original Steel costume, the group flies into action.

Luthor has already been alerted, and as a good employer orders the evacuation of the building so he can kick some good guy ass. When the supers arrive, Steel is a man driven by the pent up anger and rage he has had to deal with these last 40 weeks. As he takes out one big bad after another with a simple punch or swing of his hammer, I have to wonder why the Teen Titans even suited up for the game. Oh sure, they get to take out an armed security guard or two, but really, they are there more for show than anything.

Steel smashes through floor after floor of Lex Corp. headquarters until he reaches the top and confronts Luthor and grabs Natasha. As we have learned from reading week after week, nothing is what it seems, as Natasha transforms into a giant crab.

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Yup, it’s Everyman.

Steel’s shear will and strength is enough to break the power grip, but he has to sacrifice his armor. Instead of giving fan boy service, DC is giving plenty of fan GIRL service as Steel must fight bare-chested. John Henry is wearing a full pair of pants under that armor, why isn’t he wearing a shirt? I would think wearing a plated metal suit would start to chafe after a while.

Instead of taking Everyman down with the same blow he used to take out the other members of Infinity, Inc., Steel let’s Hannibal take one too many steps backward and he falls through the hole in the floor Steel created in his haste to skip the lower levels of the company and get to the final Big Boss Battle.

Wait – I thought John Henry was a hero and all about saving people, not letting them fall to their deaths? Isn’t this what he has been bitching and moaning about since this series began? And why didn’t Offspring catch him like he did to so many of the falling super heroes during Rain of the Supermen?

Twelve pages in, and this issue is making less and less sense with all logic out the window.

Finally, the shirtless wonder busts in on Luthor, only to take a full blast from Luthor’s new Superman powers.

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Way to state the obvious there Nat.

Tell me again why John Henry isn’t burned to death? He is nothing but a man after all.

Regardless, the battle continues with Lex giving Steel the same beating he gave Natasha last issue, even going so far as to impale John Henry with his own hammer.

We all know how crazy villains can be, going so far as to monologue their entire plan so the hero has time to plan an escape. But with Luthor, we not only see him pulling the same old monologue gag, but we actually get to see his justification for everything he is doing. In his mind, he isn’t psychotic; he actually thinks the world would a better place if he were installed as monarch of Planet Luthor.

The fight continues, and in the melee, Natasha is freed and uses the electronics in Steel’s hammer to disrupt and turn of Luthor’s powers just like Lex did to everyone else. Good job Natasha, in a few short panels you figured the secret formula out and hacked an electronic hammer to the exact frequency to disable Luthor. It makes perfect sense…

With Lex’s powers gone Dr. Irons tells Lex the Everyman treatment is actually toxic and would have killed Luthor in six months.

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Uh… don’t throw stones John Henry, remember you let Everyman fall to his death just a few minutes ago.

The big fight scene ends with the Teen Titans and the police leading Mercy and certain members of Infinity, Inc. away. Wait? How do the police know Mercy has done something wrong? Steel and the Titans are the ones who did the breaking and entering and smashing up a building. Did I miss the scene where Team Take Down Baldy turned all of their evidence over to the D.A.?

Being a fan of the action/adventure genre, the big battle ends when the Luthor Corp. logo is smashed to the ground by Steel.

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Gotta admit, he looks pretty good for a man who just a few pages previous was told he had fecal matter leaking into his blood stream.

Meanwhile, things are not good in Kahndaq as the nation begins to destabilize thanks to the influence of the Four Horsemen.

The Good

  • There are some incredibly good fight scenes
  • Steel in his old costume

The Bad

  • Everyman has the ability to change into anyone, why then didn’t he use his powers while falling?
  • I don’t remember Steel’s costume being that brittle during his early days
  • John Henry Irons is nothing but a man, yet he is up and walking around after a severe Luthor smack down including having his guts being pierced
  • Why did Natasha wait until this issue to use her smarts?

At the end of the day, there’s one thing that keeps popping up in my head, “As a citizen of the DCU, why do I care that John Henry beat the crap out of Lex Luthor? It sounds like the superhero has gone a bit koo-koo.”

If we examine what has happened to Lex Luthor, the public figure, during 52, he actually comes off as a bit of a good guy. As the year began, Lex revealed all of his bad deeds were actually done by an imposter (Alex Luthor), and he is completely innocent, which cause the public to think he probably isn’t that bad of a guy. Then a couple of weeks later, Lex unveils the Everyman Project, which can give those who qualify super powers. From the public’s point of view, Lex is now a genius hero of the common man.

Flash forward a couple more weeks and a citizen turns on the television to see John Henry on Jack Ryder’s television show spouting some kind of crazy talk about Lex duping us, blah, blah, blah. This “superhero” sounds like he’s jealous because now he isn’t the only hero on the block. The more Henry spouts to the public, the more he sounds like a crazy conspiracist who appears on late night talk radio.

Then there is the tragedy of New Year’s Eve. Lex makes with the “Wha happen?”, and knows his company’s reputation has suffered, but still the accident looks more like a malfunction of the technology instead of the doings of an insane megalomaniac.

Finally, the normal every day citizen sees a report (or is on the scene) to see the Teen Titans and Steel smash into Lex Corp., tear the place to shreds, and beat the crap out of Lex. Why am I cheering for Steel again?

That’s the point. From the DCU citizen stand-point this whole storyline doesn’t make a lick of sense. The only way the story fits is if every citizen in the DCU were privy to the same conversations, angles, plot points, etc. that readers of the series were. Depending on how Lex Corp. or John Henry spin the story, Lex could still come off as an okay guy, which doesn’t explain what happens in Superman: One Year Later.

Again and again I have been disappointed in the Everyman storyline, and this seeming wrap up of this story is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that hopefully we don’t have to deal with it again, and a curse, because nothing is adequately explained. Where is all the evidence Dr. Irons claims he has? Snooping, spying, and illegal entry won’t hold up in court, so how is Luthor going to get his comeuppance? As smart as Steel claims he is, I think he’s botched Operation Bring Down Whitey. I previously thought Week 39 was the weakest issue, but I’ve now changed my mind, meaning 52 – Week 40 earns a measly 1.5 out of 5 Stars.

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Parting Shot

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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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6 Comments

  1. Matthew Peterson
    February 13, 2007 at 10:11 pm — Reply

    As much as you have to love the catharsis of the beatdown, I had some of the same questions you did… Moreover, I wonder how the power process works. If the powers will turn back on in a few moments, how has John saved Lex from anything? Won’t reactivating the powers also reactivate the burnout effect?

    And as wonderfully symbolic as it was to destroy the Lexcorp signage, it comes across as mean-spirited vandalism after Luthor is already incapacitated.

  2. Matthew Peterson
    February 13, 2007 at 10:52 pm — Reply

    And also, when did Steel lose his hand?

  3. February 13, 2007 at 10:56 pm — Reply

    This is one I can actually answer – it was in JLA #37 when he was fighting Sarge Steel.

  4. February 15, 2007 at 5:58 pm — Reply

    Stephen, hate to bring this up, but is Ultimate Spidey 104 and/or 105 in the works? I’m desperate to see some interior pics (I can’t get this stuff in Stroud).

  5. February 15, 2007 at 7:09 pm — Reply

    You’re bringing up Spider-Man in a DC post? The bollocks you must have ;)

    Long Answer:
    If you’ve been following you know I’ve been REALLY behind due to other work commitments keeping me in production until all hours. Both 104 and 105 are in the pile to be reviewed, along with Teen Titans 43, Toxic Shock Comics #1, The Lost Books of Eve, Grimm Fairy Tales, The Helmet of Fate series, and much much more :D. I have two more basketball games to produce over the next two weeks, then after that my free time opens up even more.

    Short Answer:
    Yes, it is coming.

  6. Salieri
    February 16, 2007 at 6:00 am — Reply

    Cool. I’ll be ready & Waiting.

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