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Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

52: Week Seventeen

52: Week Seventeen

Scheduled to arrive in stores: August 30, 2006

Cover date: August 30, 2006

Writer: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Penciller: Keith Giffen (breakdowns), Chris Batista
Inker: Ruy Jose and Jack Jadson

"Last of the Czarnians"

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge



Week seventeen, day one:

Luthor's "Justice League" foils a Kobra attack on a nuclear base in the North Atlantic.

Afterwards, Luthor preps them for talk show appearances and other public nuance. Eliza, the speedster, has words with Lex about forcing the powers on her, then speeds off.

Week seventeen, day two:

In space, Starfire clears debris for the spacecraft Adam Strange is attempting to fly home. Caught up in the crossfire of asteroids, they're forced to crash.

Week seventeen, day four:

Stuck on an asteroid, Starfire and Animal Man talk about the schema of creation. Animal Man believes in a set future as he's seen, and Starfire believes in a future we set on our own.

Devilance suddenly appears, and begins attacking the ship. It seems nothing can stop him, until a being from nowhere turns him inside out.

Lobo. Adam Strange explains Lobo, and Starfire goes to talk with him, noting that he's smoking in space. Lobo rips her shirt off, and they talk. Starfire makes the "money" symbol with her hands.

Back inside, Starfire explains that she told him she was a rich princess, and that apparently Lobo has joined the church and has problems of his own, so he needs their help, which is why they're not dead.

Week seventeen, day seven:

Red Tornado wakes up in front of indigenous people in Australia, saying, "52".

Back-Up Story: "The Origin of Lobo"

Back-Up Story: Mark Waid
Back-Up Art: Keith Giffen
Back-Up Inker: Jack Jadson

Pretty self-explanatory, Lobo's origin. No mention of where he's been since his death. The last Czarnian, Lobo killed his entire race and then went into entrepreneurial bounty hunting...

3Main Story - 3: An interesting deviation, if a deviation, from the main storyline.

I can see this story is designed to be a cool, revelation-style issue, as it's the return of Lobo, who's been missing/dead for a long time now. But then, there are two things that sour the experience for me. First, the fact that the revelation is not a revelation for me, given that it's pasted all over the cover (bad form) and second, the fact that there's no attempt at all to explain how or why he went from dead to alive and in the middle of space.

Yeah, I get that a drop of blood can bring him back to life, and so it's virtually assured that he'll survive anything, particularly in a fictional construct (comics) where death is just a hack write job away from being erased. I dig.

What gets me is that we're in the most decompressed story of a decompressed era of comic book storytelling, and we're dealing with existential quandaries from Starfire and Animal Man (a few characters not many people give a solid crap about) instead of finding how Lobo, the Main Man, came back to life, a far more interesting subject, in my opinion.

Still, is Lobo back, and does that rule? Yes.

But he comes back fighting (ugh) DEVILANCE? Devilance was pretty lame when he first showed up. Now you're telling me he whisked himself across time and space somehow (notably not explained) to do battle on an asteroid over three specks of flesh he could conceivably squash in a second? I smell a bit of Morrison there, but maybe I'm crazy. Nonetheless, the complete irrationality of both the return and the return, if you follow, burned this would-be 5 down to an average issue for me.

Little things, like that, like Lobo smoking in space, which was played for laughs, but honestly flubbed for me.

I also take issue with Lobo simply ripping off Starfire's shirt as a joke, and no one getting worried/offended about it. Yeah, she's a hot chick with an exhibitionism streak, and yeah, Lobo's a misogynist, so it makes sense for those two to have that interaction. But is Adam Strange or Animal Man going to say NOTHING about what they're seeing? I mean, they had time for an existential quandary, but Adam Strange has nothing to say about being inefficient in stopping what is essentially a sexual assault?

The Luthor squad is still a neat sub-plot...in fact, most of these plots are interesting sub-plots on their own. The problem being, they're all months or weeks apart in this series. Instead of a series of four comics that cover all of this subject matter, they're trying to do it all at once, in one comic, so it gets confusing and a bit hard to make it a coherent narrative. Still, like the cover points out, 35 more to go, and that's a lot of ground to get this cohesive, and further still, with a comic every week, it's much easier NOT to get lost, unlike, say, All-Star Superman or All-Star Batman, which came out once in 1988, as I recall, and has yet to be seen since.

So in other words, a lot of cool plot threads, many dangling and not coming to the fray, many coming into their own, but a little more focus would help this issue. It seems like they're padding to the beats a little bit, and with cool forays, but hey, why tell a story if every piece isn't essential, isn't that writing 101?

4Art - 4: I'm astounded that Giffen is keeping up with these breakdowns, and that they're all turning out to be so consistent, coherent, and well done. It's an incredible feat, and it's awesome work. There isn't a whole lot of flash, but when there is, it's great, like Lobo's appearance, Lobo taking on the creature, Lobo's splash... and even a lot of the panel-to-panel work stands out.

5Backup Story - 5: Surprisingly hilarious and well written. A very generic origin, as most of these origins have been, but nonetheless, sharp and strong, particularly the part about a warm excretion being the last feeling you have before you meet up with Lobo. Hands-down, the funniest origin thusfar. I still want to know where the heck he's been...

4Art - 4: Enjoyable work on the part of Giffen. Nothing really amping it up here, but still, his usual, good style.

3Cover Art - 3: Five of five for the image, which is just awesome, and the funny words, forgivable in this case because it's breaking that fourth wall. One of five for TOTALLY ruining what would have been an awesome, unexpected surprise.


Mild Mannered Reviews

2006

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

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