Cover date: November 8, 2006
Writer: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Penciller: Shawn Moll (breakdowns by Keith Giffen)
Inker: Ruy Jose, Mariah Benes, Rodney Ramos, Prentis Rollins and Nelson
Cover: J.G. Jones and Alex Sinclair
"Past Best Hope"
Reviewed by: Jason Larouche
ELSEWHERE - A bearded Ralph Dibny and the Helmet of Dr. Fate seek an audience with the Spectre. Dibny is willing to pay the ultimate price if the Spirit of Vengeance would resurrect his wife, Sue. The Spectre agrees and transports them all to an asteroid 40 million miles away from the sun where they find the comatose body of Sue's murderer, Jean Loring, current host to the mad god Eclipso and placed in solar orbit. Spectre offers Ralph his power to exact revenge on Jean, and suddenly Eclipso attacks. Ralph gains the upper hand and transports them away from Fate and the Spectre.
In a dark room of clocks, Waverider is crouched in a corner. Suddenly, Time Commander appears to confront Waverider for breaking his agreement to help the Time Stealers hunt down Rip Hunter in exchange for their allegiance to him. However, Time Commander suddenly disintegrates in his own hour glass and vanishes, and Skeets appears in his place. Waverider accuses him of the multiple paradoxes and splinters in the timestream, which Skeets refutes, pointing out that Alexander Luthor is responsible. With chronal energies, Skeets restrains Waverider and interrogates him on the whereabouts (or WHENabouts) of Hunter. Waverider, in an insulting tone, swears he hasn't the slightest idea of where to find him. Skeets then points out that it is Waverider's own metal that coats his shell and that it was HE who burned it off his corpse before arming himself with multiple cutting tools and transporting them both away with Waverider screaming in pain.
NAMDA PARBAT - From afar, Charlie (The Question) observes Renee Montoya go through another round of martial arts instruction from his own teacher, Richard Dragon. Doctor Aristotle Rodor, meanwhile, busily examines Intergang's bible-like "Book of Crime." Later, after weeks of noticing Charlie taking meds from "Tot" and multiple coughing fits, Renee finally asks him when he quit smoking. He tossed out his pack of cigarettes and said not soon enough. Charlie had been diagnosed with lung cancer seven months ago and admits that he doesn't have much time left. Montoya then posts the same inquiry that she has repetitiously used for weeks: Why her? Charlie simply answered "That's the question, isn't it?"
They reconvene in Tot's quarters, where he has been able to decipher Gotham City as a location. The rest of the prophecy goes "absent its knight-protector, the Apostle stakes his bloody claim devouring the heart of the twice-named daughter of Cain." Then it dawns on Montoya that it is not Cain that is the target, but Kane...Kat Kane.
Week - 84, Day 2.
DIBNY RESIDENCE - Ralph and Jean have travelled through time to the past. Converted to spiritual form by Dibny, Eclipso hears Sue Dibny's voice and realizes he's brought her here to witness the murder she committed and that laying a guilt trip on her won't work. Dibny then uses the Spectre's abilities to both suppress Eclipso's influence and restore Jean Loring's sanity. But Ralph's motives for curing Jean of her possession and insanity are anything but altruistic. "Damning a soul is so much more satisfying when they know right from wrong." Dibny intends on trapping Jean in an unending time loop so that she would continuously witness her crime over and over for all eternity. As Sue comes down the stairs and into the kitchen near the phone, Jean becomes hysterical with fear and regret, begging Ralph for forgiveness. Ralph is unphased, but just as the phone (which Jean used in atomic form to travel into Sue's brain and kill her) rings, Sue points out that he's only torturing himself. Ralph screams, and suddenly, he is back on the asteroid with Spectre and Fate, and Jean, again Eclipso, is returned to her comatose state. As the Spectre reclaims his power, Dibny accuses him of tricking him, knoowing he couldn't do it. Spectre tells him that he meant every word, and that it was HE who failed to carry out the deed. However, Ralph has recieved clarity from the experience and knows a better way to get his wife back. He tells Fate to take them to the one place where he may be able to reclaim Sue: Namda Parbat.
TO BE CONTINUED...
"The Origin of Black Canary"
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Howard Chaykin
The daughter of the original Black Canary of the Justice Society of America, young Dinah Lance was always discouraged from superheroics by her mother. Despite this, her "uncles" on her mother's team realized the passion and rebelliousness Dinah had would recieve a better positive outlet through embracing the family business. Under the tutelage of Wildcat and other JSA's, Dinah not only mastered the martial arts, but her own unique talent: the metahuman ability to emit an ultrasonic scream from her lungs. Dying her hair blond, Dinah defied her mother and took up the Black Canary mantle. Thus far, she has been a member of the JSA and the JLA, but most prominently with the Birds of Prey,†a network of female agents under the command of the cybernetic superheroine known as Oracle.
Main Story - 5: My apologies, boys and girls, for the lateness of this review. I promise I'll be on the ball next time. Now on to business. This was a good follow-up to IDENTITY CRISIS. In fact, the confrontation between Jean Loring and Ralph Dibny has been something that was just waiting to be covered. This was really a psychological battle as opposed to the run-of-the-mill superhero-supervillain slugfest. Including the Spectre was a good move, for using him as a plot device made the encounter both possible and plausible. It was obvious he left a bit of himself in Dibny through the power transfer, but as to where Spectre ended and Ralph began is anyone's guess. I mean, how else would one react to being given the chance at revenge? Jean's crime was callous and cold, and having her relive would be suitable, but that was the true test of Dibny's soul; it was the breaking point. Did he truly want to become a monster as cold as Jean, or even the Spectre? It was an interesting bit of irony: a man on the edge restores sanity to the mind of a killer in order to torture her with guilt, only to have that killer make him step back and think it through. All in all it was a good moment for this series. Ralph demonstrated that though he is in grief, he still retains some semblance of right and wrong.
As for the Question/Montoya storyline, Charlie's motives for recruiting Renee are becoming more transparent the more he lets Renee into his life. It doesn't seem likely that†a man who makes himself faceless would let someone in this far unless there was an ulterior motive. The trail of breadcrumbs leading up to this point seem to make sense with Richard Dragon - Charlie's own teacher - now instructing Renee, and the revelation that Charlie has an inoperable tumor with not much time left to live. I can easily see Charlie passing on the mantle of the Question to Montoya, giving her purpose again. Renee seems like the best fit: she's an ex-detective, a tough fighter, and always yearning for understanding. It would also explain why neither she nor Question have been seen thus far in the One Year Later timeline. I have to admit the martial arts sequences and the first-person narration (Renee's thoughts) are reminiscent of Frank Miller's BATMAN: YEAR ONE.
The only element of #27 that made little sense was Skeets. Is he suddenly an anti-hero or villian? And where did he get those abilities? His story bears watching. I don't know; I wasn't that much of a Booster Gold reader but I don't remember a computer having the ability to manipulate time-based powers to restrain and torture someone.
All in all, a great issue, especially since the heroes are starting to converge on each other's respective situations, such as Dibny making a stop at Namda Parbat.
Art - 3: Moll's art didn't really do that much for me. Though the Jean-Ralph story was good, its visual element didn't really seem to capture the moment. A better move would have been to recruit IDENTITY CRISIS' Rags Morales. That would have really taken the reader back to that story, as well as make a good transition from that story to this one. Still I guess that would've offset the Question and Skeets storylines. Speaking of which, just as the writing mirrored Miller's prose, the breakdowns and setup mirrored that of the artist who collaborated with him on that story, as well as the opening scene in the first issue of LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT. I think the problem was too many inkers on this issue. Either†way it was an okay job, just not the best.
Backup Story - 5: Mark Waid thus far has proven that he's capable of sifting through a character's complex past and break the origin down to†its defining moments. The summary is good, focusing on the mother-daughter connection and the friction between the two. It was also a good amount of attention to detail, noting that Dinah was a brunette before a blonde. I know it's not that big of a deal but sometimes hardcore readers have a thing about that sort. All in all good work, Waid. Can't wait to see what you do for Superman.
Art - 5: Normally I love Howard Chaykin's work. His pencils on female characters are classic. But this time around I think the heavy inking gave it a real grainy look. Still I'm giving it a top rating because it's just good work.
Cover Art - 3: The cover does its job by depicting the body of Eclipso and The Spectre, but I just think that JG Jones and Alex Sinclair could've used another vintage point.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2007.