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Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

52: Week Eleven

52: Week Eleven

Scheduled to arrive in stores: June 14, 2006

Cover date: August 2006

Writer: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Penciller: Joe Bennett (breakdowns by Keith Giffen)
Inker: Todd Nauck, Jack Jadson, and Marlo Alquiza
Cover: J.G. Jones and Alex Sinclair

"China Syndrome"

Reviewed by: Jason Larouche

Click to enlarge



Week 11 Night 5 - Washington DC

Ralph Dibny ambushes three members of the Resurrection Cult, aka "The Cult of Connor" demanding to know a) the mastermind behind it, b) why his wife's grave was desecrated, and c) why his wedding ring was stolen. But when he saw the hooded individual on the ground revealed to be a young girl, the shock brings him back to his senses before a fellow member swings a tree branch at the side of his head. The three take off while Ralph recovers and answers his cell phone. It's Bernie from Opal City Storage, calling to let him know there's been a burglary at his storage locker.

Day 6 - Gotham City

Renee Montoya and "Charlie" (aka The Question in civillian disguise), debate the hazards of Renee's chain smoking while waiting for an informant. The informant in question is debutante Kate Kane, who leaves her girlfriend waiting for her in the car. Kate confirms Renee's suspicions regarding her family's involvement in 520 Kane St., but no one's occupied the property up until 6 weeks ago when it was leased by a Gotham-based company called Ridge-Herrick Holding. Satisfied, the pair prepare to leave when Kate then questions what Renee's up to since she's operating without a P.I. license. Believing Intergang to be watching, Renee said she doesn't owe Kate anything, which cuts Kate to the core given their relationship ten years ago.

Reconvening at their van in the parking garage, Renee cites her reasonsfor the slap in the face she dealt Kate as thatshe's tired of peopleshe cares about dying around her. Charlie, busy digging through his files for the company, points out he knows the real truth behind Renee's breakdown and alchoholism: she blames herself for not avenging Detective Crispus Allen's death by gunning down her killer, James Corrigan (released on lack of evidence) when she had the chance. As far as Charlie's concerned, she blames herself for doing the right thing. Getting back to business, he pulls up the information on Ride-Herrick Holding; the company is a subsidiary for HSC International Banking, one of Intergang's legal fronts which handles both R & D and human resources. It's headed up by former League of Assassins agent Whisper A'Daire, and she is protected by a bodyguard known only as Abbot. As they plot out aB & E strategy, they're being monitored from the nearest rooftop by an unknown figure casting a bat-like shadow on the face of thegarage.

Later that night, Montoya and the Question (now faceless) work the security systems inside Ridge-Herrick as they manuver up to the board room, where they overhear information on an expected arms shipmentcoming from Klahdaq, leading toRenee to suspect Black Adam mightbe involved.Before they can learn more, both are cornered from behind by a gigantic wolf, whochargesat the Question, sending him into the boardroom.The two other members of the meeting restrainboth he and Montoya while the wolf transforms before their eyes into the man they recognize as Abbot, referred to by the reptillian-skinned Whisperas "Mr. Abbot." After obtaining Renee's name out of her, she orders themen to deal with them. All three "board members" transform into a humanoid Hyena,Lion, and ape and an all-out brawl erupts. Though both the Question and Renee hold their own (especially since Renee still has the weapon she found the week before), they're soon outmatched. The brawl is then interrupted by a small projectile that flies through the air and lands near Montoya on the ground.

A batarang.

But when Renee is relieved the rumors of Batman's disappearance were exaggerated, she sees who hurled it: a red-haired woman clad in a bat-like costume with a red bat emblem. As she puts it, a "Batwoman," who does more than impress her as she single-handedly holds her own against the metahuman monsters. When she has a shot at the ape, Montoya aims the weapon but Batwoman stops her with a deflective strike before subdoing the ape herself. Renee recognizes the move from somewhere but can't place it. A second later, staring at Batwoman, her look of suprise becomes one of recognition. But before she can explore the matter further, Batwoman draws her grapple and swings back out the window. The Question suggests she likes her, but Renee tells him to shut up.

Day 7 - Opal City

At the Opal City Public Storage, Bernie leads Ralph to his locker. The door's been pulled off of its hinges and spraypainted with the "Resurrection" symbol. As Ralph looks through his things to find anything missing, Bernie points out he's been seeing more younger members of the Resurrection Culton the street, but he's never figured them for thieves. As to what they took, Ralph can't be certain, as all of his photos and personal effects seem to beaccounted for.

Elsewhere, in an undisclosed location, members of the cult- including Wonder Girl - gather around a straw figure garbed inone of Sue Dibny's outfits and fitted with Ralph's wedding band. The figurerests on a platformdesigned to resemble a gigantic "Resurrection" symbol. To be continued...

History of the DCU Part 10
Writing/Layouts: Dan Jurgens
Finishes: Andy Lanning

Harbinger's Orb now covers the events of the Infinite Crisis: the emergence of the OMACS; the distance between Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman in light of Max Lord's death and Brother Eye; the role of Earth-Two Superman and the treacherous team of Superboy-Prime and Alexander Luthor; the ensuing battle; the deaths of Superboy and Superman of Earth-Two, both at the hands of Superboy-Prime; the disappearance of the Flash and the Speed Force; and the final defeat and incarceration of Superboy-Prime. Donna then questions the future, and the Orb responds "A shadow has cross the barriers. An anomaly I cannot explain." The Orb points out that whatever this means, Donna is the key. She was meant to die in the final moments before Luthor's tower fell, and yet it was Jade who perished. A bald man appears behind her and says it's because of this deviation in the time stream the Monitors have decided against making themselves known for the moment.

To be Continued in the DC Universe Everywhere.

4Main Story - 4: I have to admit; this story is really starting to shapen up. The Question-Montoya teamup and Ralph Dibny subplots work better than the Booster Gold story, I find, due to the multiple layers that keep getting added on. Thedecision to reintroduce Kathy (sorry, I mean Kate) Kane into the Bat-mythosas both a sociallite and an in-the-closetlesbian is both a controversial and gutsy move on the part of the writing team. The chemistry between Montoya and Question has become one of teacher and student; hesees the guilt in Renee and wants to put a good cop back on the path of the righteous through this trial by fire. But now that the connection between the street address and Kate's family has been revealed, it also gives cause to consider that Renee's history with Kate was a decisive factor on bringing her in. I also like the inclusion of characters like Whisper A'Daire and Mr. Abbot, who were introduced in the first post-NML story in Detective Comics, because it maintains the Bat-connection to the overall plot, just as the "Cult of Connor" contributes to the Superman connection. Speaking of which, I'm not sure if that is the official title of the cult or if it's just something that Ralph said out of anger, out of a suspicion that Wonder Girl might be the one behind this movement. To be honest, if it IS the official title, then it's really a bad move on the writer's part because up till his death, Superboy's secret identity as Conner Kent was just that, a secret. I don't think that someone with that knowledge would be so careless as to name it The Cult of Connor. Moreover, it would emphasize the connection Wonder Girl has to this organization, thus labeling her the possible mastermind, which would run counter to her claim in the latest Teen Titans issue that she JOINED the cult as opposed to STARTING it. As to the hinted resurrection of Sue Dibny at the end of the issue, I think readers could sense that this was where things were leading the moment Ralph was brought into the case. As to whether or not that straw figure IS in fact straw or Sue's body wrapped up in straw...well we'll leave that to the imagination. Anyway, that's my only complaint. The introduction of Batwoman and hints that Renee knows who's under the mask work perfectly and am interested in seeing how this angle pans out. It's like a female spin on the Batman-Jim Gordon partnership. All in all, good job so far.

5Art - 5: I've said it before and I'll say it again: Joe Bennett's babes rock! His renditions of Montoya, Whisper, and Kate/Batwoman are outstanding. But what's more outstanding is the fact that the new Batwoman costume was designed by the great Alex Ross. He seems to have combined elements of the original Batwoman outfit with the mask design, but then he diverges from it slightly and adds in elements from the Batman Beyond design, which works. In fact it also resembles the design for the animated version in "Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman." The boots, gloves and utility belt also echo the Barbara Gordon Batgirl design, albiet of a different color scheme. Joe continues to impress and his women are one of the reasons why I buy the book. (okay that can be taken into so many contexts. LOL.)

5Backup Story - 5: Dan Jurgens gives a great, simple summary of the events of Infinite Crisis that helps the reader understand key events in the series. Then again, he's done this for the past ten weeks as he's taken the significant events that have shaped the DCU pre-Crisis andpost-Crisis and condensed it into a format that is easy to follow and interpret. However, the cliffhanger sucks slightly because personally I was hoping to see the catalyst that led Donna Troy to assume the role of Wonder Woman. Still, the fact that the title of the series is called "History of the DCU" and not "How Donna Took the Tiara" it makes sense to leave Donna's fate up in the air. It was a good ride in terms of a stroll down memory lane. Now on to the art...

5Art - 5: What can I say? Jurgens is the master. No one can touch the work he did on Superman or Marvel's Avengers. And he demonstrates that mastery by matching his summary of the Crisis with scenes taken from the series and putting his own spin on them. The shot of Cassie crying over Connor's dead body echoes the Death of Superman. However, the one complaint I have is his design of Earth-Two Superman on the first page. The face just doesn't work. Other than that, his rendition of Donna is flawless and amazing. And Superboy-Prime looks too bulky in the panel where he's beating Earth-Two Supes to death, and too goth in the final shot of the demented Boy of Steel. Other than those shortcomings, Dan pulled off a masterstroke in this series and look forward to seeing his work on his next project.

5Cover Art - 5: JG Jones hits the mark in this dynamic image. It fully connects to the initial encounter between Montoya and Batwoman in the interiors. Great Job, overall.


Mild Mannered Reviews

2006

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

January 2006

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