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52: SBC’s Reviewers Comment on the Historic 52 week Event

A column article, Comics Bulletin Soapbox by: Keith Dallas

Michael Aronson: I’m going to jump out of the story discussion right away, but in summation, totally worth it. Not 100% satisfactory in execution, but by far the most involved and gripping serialized comic series I can remember reading, thanks in large part to DC’s triumph of shipping a new issue every week for an entire year. Bravo.

But negative nancy that I am, I want to focus on the one aspect of 52 with the least consistency and dodgiest execution: the art.

Ironically, assigning Keith Giffen as layout artist for all 52 issues was an admirable decision as pencillers on 52 have credited Giffen for cutting down their draft time and mapping out the choreography of the story while keeping a mostly homogenized framing style throughout. Homogenized as it may have been, I never got over the nagging feeling that Giffen was intentionally keeping things simple. Panel sizes and shapes tended to keep to uniform boxes, the focus of each panel usually squarely on the characters some 2-4 feet away. Busier artists seemed constrained by the layout, either having to scale back on detail for the purpose of clarity or simplify their stylistic trappings for the sake of the clarity Giffen intended to express. Most problematic, I found, were the splash pages. Scenes like the rain of the supermen and the onset of WWIII gave us the basics without more spectacular dazzle and awe. When readers feared that 52 would suffer from too many cooks in the kitchen, I don’t think they counted on the lead artist drafting an easy-bake recipe.

So how about them pencillers. Nineteen in all on the main series, not counting Giffen, J.G. Jones or backups-only artists. That comes out to an average of 2.7 issues each, or 57 pages, but distribution wasn’t nearly that smooth; to be honest, distribution was pretty abysmal. Months before 52 launched, the plan was for four pencillers to alternate between issues, ideally averaging one a month. The only penciller who nailed that goal and then some was Joe Bennett, so much applause to him. If anyone will be remembered artistically for 52, it’s him. Chris Batista disappointed slightly, contributing to only 9 issues (and not all full issues), but he was able to manage a pretty consistent look for the Steel plotline. I have a feeling Eddy Barrows could have put in more effort to 52 had he not been assigned to the All-New Atom in the fall, but then I wasn’t greatly impressed by his work. Then we had Johnny-come-latelies like Patrick Olliffe, Justiniano and Darick Robertson (also holding down another monthly), early jumpers like Dale Eaglesham and Todd Nauck, and the bafflingly singular contributions of Ken Lashley, Tom Derenick and Joe Prado.

Did 52 need an all-star diva artist lineup, along the lines of Quitely, Van Sciver and Pacheco? Hell no. Not only would that have wrecked more havoc to the schedule than was already done, but despite Giffen’s simplistic layouts, a consistent and uncluttered look was really necessary. The contributions of more stylized artists like Phil Jiminez and Darick Robertson were a treat, but they also hurt the efforts of their peers by comparison. But using no-name third-rate artists like Shawn Moll and Giuseppe Camuncoli swung too far in the opposite direction. This should’ve been the chance for up-and-comers like Al Barrionuevo, Renato Guedes – heck, most of the artists miscast on “Brave New World” titles – to get some of the limelight like Justiniano did so late in the game.

But really, if Keith Giffen was saving artists so much time through his layouts, why was only one penciller able to average an issue every month? That’s inexcusable. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful that editorial desperation was able to schedule enough artists to get each issue out on time, but the result looks almost as ugly as it does pretty. I’m not sure what more could have been done, but if Joe Bennett was able to draw five of the first six issues, someone had the right idea for a brief instant. Though issue #25 was split between four artists, each handled five pages of separate scenes, giving each a distinct look and feel – this too would’ve been a great way to go had it been more than a one-off experiment.

Of course, the strongest visual aspect of the series, and perhaps one of its greatest selling points of 52, was the gorgeous cover work by J.G. Jones. DC better be planning a text-free oversized collection of all 52 covers, even people who gave up on 52 couldn’t stop praising the covers. More than pretty paintings, Jones’ covers stand out for utilizing all the innovation in design that Giffen neglected. The Question covers had a pulp mystery look, the space heroes were awash in eerie environments, Booster’s covers brimmed with sensationalism, and Doc Magnus became an action-adventure model. I’m particularly smitten by covers #7, 19, 24, 46 and 49.

The following list includes pencillers who worked on the main 52 series. Artists who only contributed to the backup origins won’t receive mention, although artists who penciled the main series and contributed to the backups will be credited for their full involvement. I ’m not including the WWIII issues because WWIII was tangential to 52, and personally I’d be happy not to acknowledge it ever again.

Joe Bennett – 13 issues, 2 backups, 251 pages
Chris Batista – 9 issues, 156 pages
Eddy Barrows – 7 issues, 135 pages
Patrick Olliffe – 7 issues, 107 pages
Dan Jurgens – 2 issues, 11 backups, 78 pages
Shawn Moll – 3 issues, 61 pages
J.G. Jones – 52 issues, 1 backup, 55 pages
Darick Robertson – 3 issues, 46 pages
Drew Johnson – 2 issues, 41 pages
Giuseppe Camuncoli – 2 issues, 38 pages
Phil Jiminez – 3 issues, 1 backup, 34 pages
Jamal Igle – 2 issues, 1 backup, 34 pages
Justiniano – 2 issues, 33 pages
Dale Eaglesham – 2 issues, 1 backup, 27 pages
Todd Nauck – 2 issues, 25 pages
Ken Lashley – 1 issue, 20 pages
Andy Smith – 1 issue, 20 pages
Tom Derenick – 1 issue, 11 pages
Joe Prado – 1 issue, 9 pages
Mike McKone – 1 issue, 9 pages

And last but certainly not least . . .

Keith Giffen – 52 issues, 1 backup, 1086 pages

I understand that 52 put far more effort into telling a compelling year-long weekly story than drawing a pretty one, and the writing came out generally superb. However, this kind of undertaking required a far more competent and reliable art team. I’m not sure what DC’s plan for Countdown entails, or if they’ve learned from their mistakes, but hopefully they’ve had a head start to tap the necessary talents and get them going on the weekly/monthly grind. 52 issues in 52 weeks is good, 52 artists in 52 weeks isn’t.

And I apologize for neglecting the inkers, but I don’t have that much free time.




Shawn Hill: What a rare feeling. To have reached the end of a mega-hyped, mega-popular series, and to be pleased and satisfied by most of what has gone on, and by the state of things aiming towards future stories. When was the last time that happened to this reader? Seven Soldiers, I suppose (though you can argue over the hype and popularity of that one).

This one had me smiling several times as I turned each page in anticipation. Sure, there were plenty of manipulations to get us here, and such a broad canvas that, like a soap opera, favorite characters and plot-lines could drop off the canvas for weeks, before re-emerging again. The creators are to be lauded for sticking to their guns with this title; they started this series with a particular cast of characters (so beautifully depicted on Jones’ final wrap-around cover), and they stuck with them to the end. Keeping Clark, Diana and Bruce mostly off-panel allowed these lesser lights room to shine, and it was great to check in on Bruce facing his demons, or Clark playing a more retiring role, while the Question, Elongated Man, Wonder Girl and Animal Man proved what readers of their former titles and stories already knew: that they were great characters when given the right kind of stuff to do.

This is the series that built on the promise of Booster Gold from the initiatory Countdown one-shot (though I admit I initially thought they’d squandered his potential anew with the misdirection of his initial depiction back in the first few weeks). This is the series that captured Luthor’s evil and pettiness in breathtaking fashion, and one that took manipulative pathos (the cult of Superboy, the spookily re-animated wicker Sue Dibny) and turned it into eerie transformations and clues that paid off. Ralph’s revelation at the end of his journey was big and surprising and well-planned enough to rival the Magneto/Xorn reveal in Morrison’s New X-Men. Whoever thought that Ralph Dibny would compete with Erik Magnus on a dramatic scale?

But his tale wasn’t the only poignant one. Steel’s niece Natasha went on a real heroic journey, ultimately earning her mentor’s respect. Kory’andr proved her mettle and her solid moral instincts in deep space against world-level assassins, and Adam Strange and Buddy Baker certainly earned their eventual happy family reunions as her allies.

The Marvel family got perhaps the rawest deal of all, but Black Adam’s fall was epic, and this aftermath issue eclipses even that by leaving earthly politics behind for a real sense of wonder. So why exactly are there 52 earths again? Why not? It’s more than enough, and so much better than the mundane, illogical, brutal one we’ve been dealing with for two decades too many.

What will I take from this series besides enjoyable mysteries, solid character growth, and relief that the new Batwoman wasn’t a sacrificial lamb after all? The bloody violent moments will definitely stick with me. They were a lot like the splatter moments in the movie Hot Fuzz; coming out of nowhere, loosely related to the rest of the narrative at best, gory and excessive on purpose, they each served to underline moments of abrupt change or to signal grim final solutions. Osiris being eaten by Famine; Batwoman’s ritualized injury; The Question’s harrowing final days; Ralph’s tragic fate; the dining habits of the space queen; the even worse dining habits of Everyman; the doomed army of Luthor sycophants, falling from the sky; Mr. Mind unfurling from his shiny cocoon … ewww, I’ll never forget that one! The vile nature of these moments served the story rather than obliterated it, and they were delivered with competence no matter who was sharing the illustration chores that week.

I’ll also always remember the creepy dysfunctional family of mad scientists (all bad boys with too many destructive toys and not a lick of common sense) playing in the sandbox of Oolong Island. Their interactions portrayed DC’s twisted geniuses as creative despite their various insanities, and seeing this geek squad take down Black Adam was an unexpected twist.

It felt like someone was behind the wheel of this one, from start to finish. The fact that reader interest stayed up from the start, despite the unprecedented nature of the experiment, makes this a risk-taking format variation that paid off, creatively and financially.




Chris Murman: Let’s be very clear on one thing: if you started on the series, there is a very good chance you completed it. Regardless of whether you started in the beginning or the middle, I’m betting you saw it through to the end. This series got a ton more money from me than any series ever has, and I’m not in any way upset about it.

I’m not going to preach to you how this story was one of the most ingenious and creative I’ve ever read, because it just wouldn’t be true. It was very clever, and there were several gasps from this reader during the 52 issues. I thought it was very well built as it neared the end of the run. I also read more than a handful of issues that didn’t accomplish a thing.

It still doesn’t change the fact that I still bought the entire series. Congrats DC, you captured something I had been missing in my life: the joy of Wednesdays.

What I would like to address is how the Distinguished Competition successfully made this series their top seller. Mind you, in my opinion, it was never actually meant to end up that way, but sometimes you just fall into a great idea.

We found out in the final issue what had been discovered many weeks ago; that the secret of 52 was the re-establishment of the multiverse. I’m not here to address that because you already know how you feel about it. That still didn’t tell me what “the 52” was. I say that because in several mini series over the past year, we’ve seen numerous characters either refer to “the 52” or just “52.” The Guardians even stood around Oa chanting the number like it’s replacing the phrase, “Remember the Alamo.”

DC managed to infuse just two numbers into every book it could, and the result? It immediately became a tie-in issue. No need to plaster a color bar with 52 over half the page; you just had to start reading the book. So you say you enjoyed Kyle Raynor’s Ion maxi-series? It tied into 52. Hawkgirl’s ongoing book did as well. Justice Society of America managed to infuse a bit of it as well with the help of the hilariously insane Starman. Get the idea? Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Didio has said that when they first started, the rock star writers and editors wanted to use 52 to draw people to the other titles in the DCU. When they realized that more people were picking up the weekly than anticipated, they changed course and did the reverse. It made me ponder if this was the true meaning of a crossover series. Should you need a banner across the cover page of a comic to let you know you should be reading a book? Wouldn’t it make more sense to use one book to make your entire publishing universe work as one cohesive unit?

In essence, DC discovered that most of their main titles they published were a part of a huge, massive, year long crossover that in all likelihood saved their year as far as the bottom line. Something tells me they will continue the trend and use Countdown to accomplish the same task of moving their books along at the same pace week after week. I do not have the newest weekly on my pull list as of yet, but if I’m a betting man, it will probably end up there at some point if DC doesn’t blow this series.

The question that remains is, did they mean to do this from the very beginning? The world may never know. Congrats again to DC, on accomplishing the feats you set out to do: you didn’t miss a deadline, and you pulled your books into one smooth motion. Here’s hoping the train doesn’t stop anytime soon.




Jason Sacks: In one way 52 is a dramatic leap forward for American comics. No other series from any publisher has ever spanned the scope and breadth of this story. Whether you enjoyed or didn’t enjoy the storyline, there’s no arguing that 52 delivered what it was intended in major part to deliver: a year-long, weekly serial comic with a limited number of characters that would keep user interest throughout the run. The series was bold, dramatic and exciting, and despite the fact that it resolutely concentrated on such B-list and C-list characters as Booster Gold, Black Adam, the Question, the Elongated Man and Animal Man, 52 kept user interest high. And although some storylines were left unfinished, the last three weeks provided a nicely satisfying conclusion.

The problem is that in some ways the conclusion is also a leap back.

Now DC has come full circle back to the idea of parallel universes, some twenty years after the Crisis on Infinite Earths removed them. The Crisis is looked back on as a turning point for the DC Universe, a chance for the whole line to reboot and for older, previously moribund characters to get a new lease on life. It generally succeeded for a time, though there were some notable failures - I’m still confused about Hawkman’s history, even after all these years. Of course, the Crisis also removed the concept of parallel universes from the DCU, something that has rankled some fans and pros since the day it happened. And in subsequent years, the DCU has drifted toward a confusing hodgepodge of “sort-of” parallel universes that evil Superboys can punch their ways out of.

Now, finally, the fans and pros who wanted parallel universes back are getting their way. And I’m not sure if it will help or hurt the DC Universe (or is it now the DC Multiverse?).

On one hand, fans have become much more sophisticated in the last 20 years. Marvel’s series Exiles is all about a team of heroes who save parallel universes, and last year Captain Atom crossed over into the Wildstorm universe. It seems fans get the idea of parallel universes without a lot of trouble. Besides, there’s really not much space between Elseworlds stories, the universes of Infinite Crisis, and declaring these worlds just exist.

On the other hand, in giving fans what they want, DC may see fit to indulge in the sorts of things that make hardcore fans happy but can lead to confusion among more casual fans. What might a casual fan make of the recent Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters mini-series when an almost identical set of characters live on Earth-10? For that matter, won’t it create reader confusion for Renee Montoya to be the Question in “our” Earth and Vic Sage on Earth-4? Is the real Justice Society on Earth-2 or “our Earth”? I suppose all these questions will come out in the wash, but if a hardcore fan like me has trouble really understanding this, what will a casual fan think?

No matter how nostalgic we fans might be for that era, the time of “Flash of Two Worlds” and the early JLA/JSA team-ups has passed. Parallel worlds were a clever creation in their day, but the idea of having multiple versions of the same characters running around was confusing by the early ‘80s and has the risk of being even more confusing in this era. This revival might backfire on DC, pushing readers to embrace Marvel’s more cohesive universe instead of figuring out the tangled DCU.

Will the return of parallel universes drive more fans to Marvel, or will it revive a spark that DC might feel it’s lost since the Crisis? Either way, it’s a brave chance to take. As was the idea of doing a weekly super-hero series. 52 paid off for DC; maybe the return of Earth-2 will do the same.




Nicholas Slayton: Over a year ago, I remarked that DC Comics’ “One Year Later” jump was an odd choice for a company that had been moving at such an interconnected pace, where continuity was at its height, and the stories were wonderful. One Year Later turned out to be one of my favorite moves by DC, with the main titles getting a revitalization that exceeding my hopes.

In that column, I also referred to the announcement of 52 as “This brainchild of the top DC writers (Johns, Waid, Morrison, Rucka, and various others) shall reveal what happened in the missing year week by week. Combined with the hints through the various titles that have hit OYL, DC has given us a grand mystery of events and characters that can only entice us further and have us at the edge of our seats.” I was expecting to find a story that fit into the current continuity presented in the One Year Later titles and explain the mysteries presented in them, such as the return of Commissioner Gordon to the GCPD. The true product though, was a tad different.

Rather then focus on the aspects surrounding the main DC members during the missing year, 52 focused on a diverse group of C and B-listers. It was “A year without Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.” Ralph Dibney, the former Elongated Man, Steel, the Question, Renee Montoya, Booster Gold, and Black Adam made the original main cast, with Adam Strange, Animal Man, and Starfire making up the supporting cast. These nine provided the main stories of the series, sometimes interconnecting, but mostly independent for the course of the year. The writers drew from many tales such as The Odyssey and created unique ideas themselves. The series manifested unique characters like Supernova, Batwoman, and Lady Styx. Intergang loomed over our heroes, time was threatened, and in the end, 52 emerged.

The series started off slow. Characters and storylines had to be introduced, and I’ll admit the first few issues were a tedious read. Still, the early concepts were enthralling. Black Adam was out to create a treaty that would limit the power of American superheroes, while Ralph Dibney investigated the Cult of Superboy, a group offering to resurrect his dead wife. In fact, that story spawned my favorite issue of the story, where Ralph, Hal Jordan, Green Arrow, and Metamorpho teamed up to take on the fraudulent Cult. It was a great moment showing heroes being friends and kicking butt, it was exactly what 52 was about: heroes. Other stories were far slower, such as Steel trying to regain the trust of his niece Natasha, who went over to Lex Luthor’s side, after Luthor had invented a pseudo-metahuman gene.

For a while, the series floundered. Stories got drawn out and went off on different tangents. Noticeably, Ralph went off on a search for mystical objects all of a sudden, totally different from what he had previously been doing. The Question/Montoya story went from tracking down bad guys to a mentor/student move involving Batwoman, the ever cool Richard Dragon, and the repeated “answer the question” motif. With the exception of the Supernova mystery, the series hit a lull. However, the ending really kicked things into high gear. While I honestly hate what 52 turned out to be, especially since I got into comics after 1985, the execution was spot on, and the way things tied together were genius.

While I enjoyed 52 as whole, the main problem I had with it were the continuity issues. Obviously, it was a unique story and wasn’t out to be constrained by telling the exact stories of what happened to series holders in the missing year. However since the current creative teams on titles such as Batman do not seem to be putting any thought into it, it would have been nice to find out what happened. Instead, we get a lot of details that do not exactly mesh with the current continuity of OYL. From the Bat-signal being lit multiple times, to Batwoman, to Green Arrow being shown vibrant and healthy despite being shown to have been out of the picture recovering from near fatal wounds in his own series. While they weren’t big to the grand scheme of things, it did pull me out of the story, and on top of the mid year lull, decreased my interest greatly.

However, for all the problems I had with the story, I cannot applaud DC more for this. A yearly book, put out on time week after week, telling a story in real time, who would have thought that would happen? The use of rotating artists allowed for continued reliability on scheduling, and Keith Giffen’s breakdowns allowed for a great consistency. Cover artist J.G. Jones delivered brilliant covers week after week, with inspiration ranging from science fiction B-movies to apocalyptic visions of the Four Horsemen incarnate. Honestly, I love all the covers; they were amazing.

DC handled this book perfectly. The story may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, but DC gave this book everything they had. Four of the best writers in the business today, a legendary artist doing breakdowns, beautiful covers, and no delays whatsoever. I am, however, worried about their next weekly Countdown. They’ve made a fatal mistake with it. 52 worked so well because of the One Year Later jump, giving it a clear playing field. Countdown is set during the current stories and aside from my disappointment at another story covering a year of the DCU time aging characters (the Teen Titans will probably be off in college by the end of it), it means that inconsistencies between it and the ongoing titles can arise. Story arcs can interfere with the pace of it. Without another OYL, I ’m not so sure it can work as successfully as 52. Still, what may come, then come what may. The future is the future. Where we stand now, 52 was a success and a landmark to the comic book industry, and it’s something that will go down in the history books.




Thom Young: Thirty-two weeks ago, I reviewed 52 #20 and I wrote the following:
My one concern is over whether it will have a satisfying conclusion when we finally get to the fifty-second issue. In an actual soap opera, some of the multiple plots may eventually intertwine while others will forever remain disparate. That fact of soap opera mechanics actually creates verisimilitude even if the actual plots may not. However, 52 isn’t an infinite series the way daytime soap operas are meant to be. It’s a finite series that eventually needs to tie up all its plots in the end.
So, now that the fifty-second issue of 52 is here, my verdict is . . . it’s not an entirely satisfying conclusion, but at least it wasn’t terrible.

For the most part, I’ve enjoyed this series. There haven’t been any issues that I would have given five bullets (and very few that I would have given even as much as four bullets), but neither can I recall any issues that I would have given less than three bullets.

After fifty-two issues, here is what pleased me about this series:
  • I don’t recall any horrendously bad dialog—and, considering Geoff Johns was one of the writers, that fact surprises me to no end after all the horrendously bad dialog in Infinite Crisis and his pre-Donner issues of Action Comics.

  • I don’t recall any horrendously bad scientific elements (or pseudo-scientific elements)—and, considering Geoff Johns was one of the writers, that fact surprises me to no end after all the horrendously bad science in Infinite Crisis.

  • Most of the story threads were both interesting and entertaining. The only one I really didn’t care for was the Steel and Luthor thread—but neither did I hate it.

  • The DC multiverse returned (with the Wildstorm universe now included)—which is what I wanted to have happened at the end of Infinite Crisis, but better late than never I guess.

  • There were a number of Jack Kirby’s characters and concepts that were used, and the implication early on was that we were going to get a Kirby-esque cosmic cataclysm.
Unfortunately, that last item of the things I liked is also one of the things that I didn’t like about the series. Instead of playing a part in the conclusion of this series, the Kirby concepts seem to have been included in order to set up the weekly Countdown series that begins this coming Wednesday.

However, I’m fairly confident in my belief that the weekly Countdown series was not planned when 52 began—which would mean that the Kirby elements were initially intended for inclusion in, and the conclusion of, 52 rather than as a bridge between the two weekly series.

Of course, even the Kirby-related story for 52 was actually the second plan for the series. The original plan was for 52 to reveal what happened in the DC universe during the missing year following the One Year Later jump after Infinite Crisis.

In other words, what was originally intended was a series that showed us Harvey Dent taking up the mantle as Gotham City’s vigilante protector, Donna Troy struggling with the decision to become the new Wonder Woman, a host of heroes filling in for Superman in Metropolis, and Selina Kyle being impregnated during week 14 (et cetera).

(Well, we wouldn’t actually have needed to be shown Selina Kyle being impregnated, but we should have at least been made aware of the situation during week 14.) However, the idea of filling in the details of the missing year was abandoned early on in favor of a cosmic plot based on Kirby’s concepts:
  • Back in weeks eight and nine, Darkseid’s personal “bounty hunter,” Devilance the Pursuer, was sent after Adam Strange, Starfire, and Animal Man because of “something they saw” at the conclusion of Infinite Crisis.

    Only Darkseid (or a replacement ruler on Apokolips) could order Devilance to pursue someone. This problem of who ordered Devilance to pursue Adam Strange, Starfire, and Animal Man was not explained at the conclusion of 52, but the original implication was that the three heroes had seen something that Darkseid didn’t want them to see.

    Additionally, since the three heroes were intended to be on a journey home that somewhat paralleled Odysseus’s journey in The Odyssey, the manipulation of the events by “the gods” was an obvious Homeric element that would have strengthened the story.


  • Intergang, an organized crime “family” from Metropolis, was heavily involved in two or three of the story threads as they sought to expand into Gotham City and run weapons through Kahndaq. However, Intergang is more than just an organized crime family.

    Historically, Intergang’s leader, Bruno “Ugly” Mannheim, answered directly to Darkseid and was supplied with Apokolipsian weaponry and technology in order to build a power base on Earth for Darkseid.
These two elements indicate that Darkseid was intended to play a role in the conclusion of 52, and that something altered that plan. That “something,” of course, was the realization that readers were supporting a weekly series and that DC could profit by continuing to publish a weekly series after 52 concluded. However, there needed to be a reason for the next series, and the Kirby concepts introduced here provided that reason.

There is little doubt in my mind that the Darkseid and Apokolipsian elements that were meant to be introduced in this series (probably around week 39) were held back for Countdown—and that a decision was made to instead have 52 end with the re-creation of the DC multiverse, which I don’t believe was initially planned for this series at all.

I’m inclined to believe that the return of the multiverse was used as the “replacement conclusion” due to the number of fans who had hoped to see the multiverse return at the end of Infinite Crisis.

Essentially, we have these three series (Infinite Crisis, 52, and Countdown) as volumes of a larger ongoing work. On one level, I don’t mind having the three series connect as a larger work even though I don’t believe they were initially planned to be such.

However, what disappoints me is that DC wasn’t honest with the first two volumes of this ongoing project. Infinite Crisis was a dreadful series that was filled with problems—and subsequently solving many of those problems in 52 doesn’t make Infinite Crisis any better.

While 52 has been an entertaining and mostly satisfying series, it’s unacceptable to not wrap it up neatly after the readers invested a full year and $130.00 in the series. Of course, 52 is now going to be a memorable series for bringing back the DC multiverse, and the ten-year-old fan that I once was is very happy to see it.

However, the literature professor in me sees that DC missed an opportunity to make 52 have deeper connotative meanings by playing honestly with the Kirby concepts they were weaving into the story—which, of course, have absolutely nothing to do with the multiverse.

Other “Kirby elements” that could have been folded into 52 for the planned Kirby-esque conclusion include:
  • As Michael Aronson has pointed out, the merging of the 5 and the 2 in 52 creates a symbol that resembles Ω (omega, the last letter of the Greek alphabet). Darkseid is the wielder of the Omega Force and fires omega beams from his eyes.

    It seems to me that what Adam Strange, Starfire, and Animal Man were supposed to have seen was not the creation of the multiverse but either one of Darkseid’s schemes or the “anti-life equation” that Darkseid has long sought.


  • Additionally, given the rebirth of The OMAC Project during Infinite Crisis, it would have been interesting to have seen Grant Morrison work Kirby’s original OMAC into 52 since the number 52 is printed in no less than ten different places on the cover of OMAC #6 in a story that is partially set in subway station #52.

    Morrison actually seems to have worked elements of Kirby’s OMAC #6 into the first issue of The Manhattan Guardian from his Seven Soldiers project. It would have been interesting to see Morrison connect Kirby’s OMAC into Darkseid’s plot, but it was a possibility that was passed up along with the possibility of raising this series to more than merely “entertaining.”
Finally, I’m also a bit irritated that 52 didn’t reveal such things as how Hawkgirl returned from a 50-foot woman to a petite size four fury in spandex, what happened when Firestorm and Cyborg merged, what happened to Alan Scott’s eye, what happened to Adam Strange’s eyes, et cetera.

Yes, I enjoyed this series—which is something I could not say about Infinite Crisis. However, 52 could have been so much more than it was had they allowed the Kirby concepts to conclude the story. Countdown could have then been the countdown to the return of the multiverse—still bringing us to where we will be a year from now, but more honestly from a literary perspective.

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