Ralph beats the Devil

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The big build-up of Ralph’s journey to be reunited with his wife finally reaches its climax. And as suspected, all is not as it seems. Spoilers ahead!

Since our last check with Ralph, he has been in the Tower of Fate whipping up incantations and setting spells in action. The Wheel and the Link have been used in a binding spell to make sure no one gets in or out. As far as magic goes, this looks to be one scary way to bring back Sue and it culminates with Ralph putting on Fate’s helmet, pulling out the gun from the Anselmo case, putting it to his temple and pulling the trigger.

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But instead of a wet gooey mess of brain matter and bone, the helmet takes the brunt of the damage, hitting a wall and turning back into a wedding ring; the ring used during the attempted resurrection ceremony so many weeks ago. And there is an even bigger surprise – providing you didn’t read last week’s review – the Helmet of Fate was really Felix Faust in disguise. Is this a surprise to Ralph? Not at all.

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Yes, the world’s greatest detective has been playing along all these weeks just to see where Faust would lead him, all the while plotting his own scheme. Much like Poirot or Ms. Marple, Ralph spends several pages recounting the clues and events that lead him to his conclusion.

  1. Faust is the one that caused the wicker Sue doll to come to life
  2. Faust used the wedding ring as a totem for spiritual possession
  3. Faust used the Croatoans to bring Ralph into the story when he killed Tim Trench, only he didn’t count on Ralph looking for fingerprints on Fate’s Helmet
  4. The big give away was the tale “Fate” told about Faust and the problems he had with Neron. The only way Faust could get away from Neron was by sacrificing a fresh clean soul, in this case Ralph’s.

And even though Faust has been near Ralph’s side for most of this adventure, he obviously wasn’t paying close attention to Ralph’s own actions or even thinking things through.

As many suspected, the whiskey was actually Gingold, giving back Ralph’s elongating powers.

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01.jpgRalph has a lot more up his sleeve than just Gingold. The gun he has been carrying around, the one he used to almost blow his brains out twice, is not a normal weapon, but rather a magical gun, simply load a bullet, make a wish, and fire.

Wow. As a cool “never saw that coming” plot device, I like the concept and idea of the wishing gun. The only problem I have with it is there are no references to a wishing gun or Altonio Anselmo, Magician Gangster ANYWHERE in the DCU. This one plot twist leaves me feeling rather flat. The gun certainly becomes the deus ex machina.

Why is that a problem for me? While I can let the gun no one has never heard of slide by and enjoy the story for what it is worth, the writers have gone to great lengths to weave obscure characters and events from DC’s vast history into 52, and having this wishing gun suddenly appear cheapens the entire adventure like a dime store pulp noir story.

But that isn’t the last surprise in this issue. Neron arrives to claim his property, but because Ralph has made Faust his bitch, Ralph is refusing to give him up so easily. As previously discussed, Faust’s soul isn’t worth what it once was, and there is no way Neron will bring Sue back in exchange.

Ralph then reveals he changed his wish. His wish back in the hotel room at the beginning of this great adventure was to be with Sue, not that he wanted to die.

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Neron takes Ralph’s wedding ring and shoots it through Ralph’s chest like a bullet. Considering the ring has been tainted magically, this might explain why it passes through Elongated Man’s body so easily, or perhaps it is because Ralph wanted it to happen.

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In his death, he may be reunited with Sue in the land of the dead, but I don’t think Ralph’s story is over just yet. Neron quickly figures out he’s been tricked. Ralph is the one that set up the Spell of Binding around the Tower of Fate, and now that he is dead Neron and Faust are trapped inside unable to get out.

If you have read other DCU titles, you know Faust is around OYL, so this means he and Neron have escaped some how. Ralph is absolutely right when he said this isn’t over yet. There are 10 weeks left in 52, and I have a feeling we’ll be seeing Ralph and Sue again real soon.

The Good

  • This issue proves Ralph is THE detective in the DCU. I would really like to see Paul Dini write a detective thriller with Ralph as the main character.
  • Neron getting tricked
  • Montoya accepting her own fate

The Bad

  • While I generally liked the art, there are a few panels where things felt a bit off. Several times the characters looked totally different from one panel to the next
  • Three words – Magic Wishing Gun

DC did everything they could to keep this mystery under wraps forcing readers to find the clues sprinkled throughout 52 and other titles. This is by far the best storyline of the series and if this is the final chapter, I’m happy with the ending, but if it isn’t, then oh boy, the best is yet to come. If the wishing gun had a real history I’d give this issue the final push it needs earn a 5 Star Rating, but because it doesn’t Week 42 only earns 4.5 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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5 Comments

  1. February 25, 2007 at 9:15 pm — Reply

    I hope we see more Ralph, as there aren’t that many more JLI characters for them to assassinate. :)

  2. February 26, 2007 at 9:37 pm — Reply

    On the one hand, excellent summing up.

    On the other hand… POIROT! MRS. MARPLE!

    Geez!

    – Z

  3. February 27, 2007 at 7:44 am — Reply

    caught and fixed ;)

  4. February 27, 2007 at 4:25 pm — Reply

    Er… actually, I messed up a bit too. It’s Miss Marple, not Mrs. But compared to the fact that your post still calls her Marples plural, I think I’m okay. :)

    – Z

  5. February 27, 2007 at 5:07 pm — Reply

    CURSES! Fixed, yet again ;)

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