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52: The Novel

52: The Novel

Story: Greg Cox
Cover Art: JG Jones and Alex Sinclair
Cover Design: Georg Brewer
Text Design: Tiffany Estreicher

Published by: ACE/Berkley Publishing Group (July 2007)

Reviewed by: Aaron Thall

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In the days following the conclusion of the Infinite Crisis, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman have vanished.

In Gotham, Renee Montoya, despondant and drunk following the murder of her partner, is confronted by the Question and drawn into a web of intrigue that will take her across the globe. At the same time, Bruno Manheim is fostering in the age of the Religion of Crime, and a new heroine, Batwoman, is determined to stop him at all cost.

In Shiruta, Black Adam's determination to end the threat of metahumans to his country once and for all finds an enemy in Intergang, which plots to wipe him out, and an obstacle in a striking young woman that just may hold the key to Adam's happiness...

Across the globe, mad scientists vanish without a trace...

In Metropolis, Booster Gold's self-serving attempts to take Superman's place are complicated both by Skeets' continually more inaccurate data on the future, and by the arrival of another new hero, Supernova. Booster attempts to get Skeets fixed by Rip Hunter, but when he visits the lab, he finds only cryptic clues and a picture of himself and Skeets, blaming him for breaking time. Without the ability to predict the future, Booster resorts to faking a battle with a supervillain, but when Booster's plan to revive his popularity gets revealed to the public, it leads to his very public demise.

Left to his own devices, Skeets contacts Booster's ancestor to gain access to Rip Hunter's lab. Once inside, the truth is revealed: Skeets is the one Rip Hunter feared... The one destined to destroy all of time and space...

2Story - 2: After I reviewed the Infinite Crisis novel, I came into this story ambivilant. Crisis wound up being less than the sum of its parts, and knowing that this novel was also written by Cox, I feared that it would only be a direct novelization, adding nothing to the story so many people enjoyed last year.

I was wrong. It was MUCH worse than that. Instead of not adding to the story, or leaving it be, Cox TOOK THINGS OUT. Gone are the Great Ten, Elongated Man, Firestorm's Justice League, the Metal Menand so many other side-trips. Gone are the side-events from the World War 3 miniseries.

In attempting to streamline the story, much has been lost. Without Elongated Man, a full fourth of the story is absent, including the conversation with Supernova that was critical to helping readers discover the truth about that hero. Several chapters, due to this unnecessary trimming, are literally a single page, an insult both to the writers who worked hard to craft this epic, and to the readers who paid good money and spent their time reading to get the full 52 experience.

What remains present could have been expanded on greatly. Question's illness suddenly pops up out of nowhere, without any foreshadowing, halfway through the novel. Batman's rediscovery is reduced to a couple of mentions and a cameo appearance in chapter 51. So much is cut that there's utterly no chance of a new reader guessing who Supernova is.

Thus, what remains is but the barest bones of 52, a shell of the true story, and barely worth the time. Adam's rise and fall from grace remains tragic but oddly perfunctory. Question's eventual demise is still sad, but it feels like it comes too quickly and without enough build-up.

We get no answers about how Batwoman came to be, no resolution to Atom Smasher's subtle betrayals of the Justice Society, barely any assurance that Superman will be back... Once again, the story is left incomplete.

Borrow this book from the library if you must read it. It's another disappointment.

3Cover - 3: Would it have KILLED them to use the cover to 52 #1? Really? As it is, so many of the players in the book don't get to appear here... Black Adam, Supernova, Skeets and many others. Batwoman getting the center slot? She's absent more than half the book and remains a cipher for almost all the rest. She doesn't deserve that slot... Booster or Montoya did.

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