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Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

52: Week Thirty

52: Week Thirty

Scheduled to arrive in stores: November 29, 2006

Cover date: November 29, 2006

"Dark Knight Down"

Writer: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Penciller: Joe Bennett (breakdowns by Keith Giffen)
Inker: Joe Bennett and Ruy Jose
Cover: J.G. Jones and Alex Sinclair

Back-Up Story: "The Origin of the Metal Men"

Back-Up Story Writer: Mark Waid
Back-Up Story Penciller: Duncan Rouleau
Back-Up Story Inker: Duncan Rouleau

Michael Bailey Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

Week 30, Day 1

Nightwing and Robin have been following Bruce Wayne as he retraces the steps he took to create the Batman. Dick and Tim talk about this before coming across a group of men who have obviously had a run in with Batman. They take the men down with ease only to discover the cape and cowl of Batman lying near-by.

In Gotham City Renee Montoya and Kate watch a doctor tend to the dying Vic Sage. The doctor recommends taking Vic to a hospital, which upsets Renee. After the doctor leaves Renee relents but Kate tells her that they can stay as long as they need to. Renee argues the point but finally concedes.

Meanwhile Robin and Nightwing uncover a huge crate of weapons bound for Gotham. The whole situation infuriates Nightwing, who feels that while their time in Europe was nice it is time to get back to work.

Week 30, Day 3

Bruce Wayne faces off against one of the Ten-Eyed Brothers in the desert. After defeating him Bruce finds Time waiting and announces that Batman is gone.

Week 30, Day 7

Batwoman tracks down members of Intergang in search of Mannheim. After fighting for a bit she asks if Nightwing, who has been watching her, is going to lend a hand. Afterwards the two decide on different parts of Gotham to search and get to work.

Back-Up Story: "The Origin of the Metal Men"

Back-Up Story Writer: Mark Waid
Back-Up Story Penciller: Duncan Rouleau
Back-Up Story Inker: Duncan Rouleau

A brilliant scientist. A breakthrough in technology. Five beings who are machines and yet also human. They defend the Earth from the unique menace of science gone wrong. They are Dr. Will Magnus and the Metal Men.

4Main Story - 4: While I think the pacing of the scenes with Dick and Tim were kind of clunky the opening three pages is probably the best break down of the history of the modern Batman I have ever read. It just made everything so clear and explained how thing didn't so much go wrong as went dark. The line regarding that the Joker stopped killing for a time was an interesting nod to the "kinder, gentler years" of Batman but it also made perfect sense in terms of the current continuity. It makes Bruce and Dick's early years seem almost magical and that was a magic that remained until Dick became Nightwing and Jason Todd become Robin.

This one scene sold me on the rest of the issue. The writers could have gone in a horrid direction and I would still be satisfied as a reader.

I was a bit surprised to see the writers deal with Bruce Wayne at all. Frankly I thought the point of this series was to show what the rest of the DCU was doing during the year without Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. After thinking about it for a bit I realized that given the way this issue ended it makes sense to show Bruce going through a transformation from the person who, as Tim put it, lost it and the somewhat saner Batman we have today. I thought that the writers chose Tim to be the character to go after him was a nice touch given that the issues the two needed to work out between them.

I also liked seeing Nightwing meet Batwoman. The banter was neat and it was nice to see Nightwing not take the Batman role of talking down to any hero besides him who is guarding Gotham.

I'm kind of upset that the writers are killing off Vic Sage, or at least they appear to be killing him off. I understand that this is part of Renee's journey but like so many other characters that DC has brought back recently they reintroduce and then reinvigorate the character before promptly doing away with them. Oh well. What are you going to do? DC obviously holds all of the marbles on this one and if this whole storyline has at its end Renee becoming the new Question then it might have been worth it.

4Art - 4: That is one funky looking Batman on page one, isn't it? It was a bit of the old and a bit of the new all coming together to make one great looking image.

The art stayed consistently good throughout the rest of the issue. Joe Bennett took Giffen's breakdowns and put a good deal of emotional weight into the re-telling of Batman's story. This shouldn't have been a surprise. Giffen's panel layouts give the more character driven scenes the extra push that they needed to make the reader feel something more for the characters. The conversation between Renee and Kate was a good example of this. You could tell that these two women obviously felt something for each other and all of the pain of the past and present came together to make them connect on a new level in the present and this only worked because there were multiple panels to give the artist room to work.

While I wasn't thrilled with Bruce's fight in the desert as part of the story the visuals at least made it compelling. The eyes on the hands were creepy and the fight was well choreographed. I wasn't entirely sold on the red tint to the work but the art itself was quite good.

4Backup Story - 4: Again Mark Waid handles a tough job admirably. The Metal Men are a pretty easy concept but there have been a few wrinkles over the years that could easily cloud any explanation of their origin. By using the material developed in this series and then glossing over certain events Mark gives the reader a good idea who these characters are and why they should be considered heroes.

4Art - 4: Duncan Rouleau did a fine job drawing this origin sequence. I don't have a whole lot to say about it but at the same time I didn't dislike it either. The supposed tech looked neat and I liked the image at the top of the first page with Magnus and his creations even though they looked as if they were going to break into a production number with Tina taking lead.

5Cover Art - 5: You know the image of Bruce Wayne stabbing the cape and cowl was striking enough to distract the reader from seeing the giant freaking eye in the sky. I don't know if this is meant to represent the tribe he fought inside or if it was some bizarre reference to his past with Brother Eye.

In either case this was another fantastic cover in a long line of great covers. It was eye catching and bizarre and definitely led to me questioning what the heck was going on.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

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