52 – Week 52

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“This is the end…the end my friend, the end…”

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So this is it, the final bow, the big finale, the wrap up of the weekly series that has propelled some of the lesser known DC Characters to the forefront and engrossed readers for an entire year. This week, most of the unanswered questions get answered, Mr. Mind gets even more vile, the official return of the Multiverse, the return of someone we thought dead, and an appearance by someone who is apparently still dead.

02.jpgLast week Booster Gold and Rip Hunter were trying to get away from the ravenous Mr. Mind. The destination – one year ago, the end of the Infinite Crisis, and the beginning of 52, and more precisely the moment when Alex Luthor recreated the Multiverse. DC did a great job of even using the first page of 52 – Week 1 to give us an indication of how long and how thought out this series has been.

Interestingly, in this new Multiverse, each Earth is an exact duplicate of the other, and this is what Rip Hunter has been trying to save all this time. But with the appearance of a giant size Mr. Mind, everything is in jeopardy. Mr. Mind thinks the best course of action is to vomit the Phantom Zone on the duo to trap them inside, but Hunter has a different plan up his sleeve.

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So who is THIS Supernova?

None other than Daniel Carter.

Wha-huh?

Seems Rip plucked him out of the time loop Evil Skeets/Mr. Mind put him in many many issues ago. And since the Supernova suit is laced with Phantom Zone projector technology, the suit is able to deflect the regurgitation and restore the Phantom Zone to its proper place.

If you like time travel stories, this issue is packed with it, and there are certainly a lot of careful reading and rereading that needs to be done in order to tie everything together in a logical way. To an extent the writers have been able to create a compelling story involving time travel, but there are a couple of sticking points that don’t quite make sense to me yet. But I’ll get to that in a moment.

Last week, Rip Hunter made it a point of taking the head of Red Tornado with him into the Time Sphere. Because Reddy has the entire map and vibrational frequency of each of the different Multiverses in his head, he becomes the perfect navigator for this mission. To try and ditch Mr. Mind, Reddy drops them out of time/space and on to Earth.

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Oh Yeah! One of the very first DC comics I ever read (or at least one of the very first that had a huge impact in my life) was issue #271 of World’s Finest. This was an origin retelling of all the times Batman and Superman met and learned of each other’s identity. At the heart of the story was a villain who claimed to know who they were, but the duo had no memory of ever fighting. As a ten year old, this was an awesome giant sized story that kept me entertained throughout a long drive across the country my parents liked to call “the family summer vacation”. The big ending was the reveal that the villain wasn’t from their Earth, but rather Earth-2 – a parallel Earth where Batman and Superman were much older heroes. This totally blew my mind and had me wondering just what was going on.

I didn’t get to read comics on a regular basis until several years later when I was able to get a driver’s license and drive to a comic book shop in Topeka (not Gatekeeper, sorry Matthew), to pick up Crisis on Infinite Earths. Here all the multiple Earths were collapsed into a single bit of continuity, erasing Batman from Earth-2, killing off Barry Allen, and much much more. I was really sad to see the concept of the Multiverse go away. But with a confangled continuity, the Multiverse began to reassert itself over the years until the most recent crisis brought everything back to whence it came.

“But Stephen, if all of these Earth’s are exact duplicates of one another, you still don’t have the elder Superman/Batman from Earth-2.”

One would think that dear reader, but remember, Mr. Mind is hungry. And since he was bombarded with Suspendium, he has a hunger for everything time. With each Earth the team visits, Mr. Mind begins eating years and events from that particular universe’s history, resulting in a skewed planet. Instead of a generic Earth-17, we now have Earth-17, home of the Atomic Knights.

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Earth-3 gets another reboot, with the Injustice Gang Crime Syndicate of Amerika returning to their own universe instead of hiding in a pocket dimension.

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Earth-10 is probably better known as Earth-X, the place where World War II never ended. Check it out; the Freedom Fighters are fighting Nazi versions of Superman, Green Lantern, the Flash, and Wonder Woman.

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Earth-50 makes ties to the Wildstorm U.

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Earth-5 – the 5 looks a lot like the letter S, meaning this is the Earth of the Fawcett characters. I don’t know how this is going to impact the Marvel family of Earth-1 though.

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Earth-22 is the Earth where Kingdom Come is a reality.

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Ah, my favorite Earth, the Earth where Catwoman and Batman got it on giving birth to The Huntress, and a place where apparently spelling doesn’t matter much, unless Lex Luthor really is claiming “white and lavender to pale-blue flowers grow in perfect rings of widely spaced bands around the stems forming a kind of pagoda”.

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Those of us who were sad to see Vic Sage die are now comforted knowing he is still alive on Earth-4. So too is the original Blue Beetle.

As Mr. Mind continues to suck away history bit by bit, it all comes down to Booster Gold – the superhero with the screw-up gene. He gathers the remains of Skeets, turns on the time travel circuitry in his suit and vanishes to a point in time to find the power source needed to trap Mr. Mind once and for all.

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And that point is the immediate ending of Crisis on Infinite Earths, where Blue Beetle is looking for his Scarab amulet. This is a pretty sad moment for Booster, who gets to see his best friend in his prime, and knows he can’t say or do anything to save his life. If anything we do get a final Bwa-Hahahaha moment between the two before Booster vanishes from sight.

Meanwhile, Rip has traveled to Dr. Sivana’s lab to gather all the Suspendium he can. Apparently, by lacing Skeet’s shell with the stuff, the trio will be able to trap Mr. Mind inside.

This is where it gets rather weird, and I’m still not sure I understand everything that is happening. Apparently the Suspendium has the ability to undo the metamorphosis by sending Mr. Mind back and forth through time, all while trapped inside the remains of a failing Skeets.

Back at Rip Hunter’s lab, Skeets and Booster have one final moment together where Skeets tells Michael he has become the hero he always wanted to be. Aaawwwww… not a dry eye in the house.

Rip opens a time vortex, while Booster passes Skeets to Daniel/Supernova football style. Apparently, Mr. Mind got into Skeets at Will Magnus’s lab during Week 2, Day 1. Daniel travels back one week before that event, planting the now devolved Mr. Mind back into the time stream. But instead of being dropped off in a jail or other place where Mind can form a new cocoon, Mr. Mind has landed in the desert where Dr. Sivana finds his enemy and places him in a suspended animation container, never to bother anyone ever again. Or at least he is trapped long enough not to get into Skeets and foul things up.

Since the blue beetle scarab was a part of the containment device, this sequence ties directly into Jaime finding the scarab in the dessert and becoming the new Blue Beetle. Nice touch DC, nice touch.

Returning back to the present, Rip, Michael and Daniel seem very pleased with everything. Rip is more than excited to be able to explore the Multiverse again, and from the previews we’ve seen, it looks like Booster will by his side helping to police all of time. He is already starting to make appearances in other DC titles popping in and out of time for a few panels before disappearing again.

Booster is still pretty upset Skeets is gone, so he pays a visit to Will Magnus to see if he can do anything to fix his friend. He’s Dr. Will Magnus, or course he can fix Skeets. Seems when Skeets was brought to Magnus before, Will made a backup of his hard drive. All he has to do is put the robot back together, reinstall the backup and Skeets is good as new.

We also discover that Ralph and his wife are still dead. But in the DCU, dead doesn’t mean down and out. Here we get a touching look at the two in their new lives.

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G-g-g-g-ghost Detectives!

Something that really surprised me is finding Kate Kane alive and well in Gotham. Apparently getting stabbed in the heart and using your last ounce of strength to save your girlfriend doesn’t mean you die. So it looks like we’ll be seeing more Batwoman in the future. Personally, she could have remained dead and that would have been good enough for me.

The series ends as it began with the (Next) Question asking, “Are you ready?”

The Good

  • The official return of the Multiverse
  • Booster Gold is a hero
  • The official return of the Multiverse

The Bad

  • Time travel is the answer to everything, except apparently for saving Ted Kord and Sue Dibny
  • Earth-Prime?

Well DC, I have to hand it to you, you kept me riveted for 52 weeks, told a very good story, and brought back the Multiverse. While there was too much “return to status quo” by the time we reached the end, I still think this has been one of the best series I’ve read in a long long time. Overall 52 – Week 52 earns a well deserved 4.5 out of 5 Stars.

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If we tabulate the scores for all of the issues together, 52 the series earns a nice 3.5 Stars.

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Parting Shot

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See you next week as we explore Countdown!