Comic Fodder

A Look Back at DC's "52", Part 3

This was going to be one, long post. But to keep both you guys sane, and to keep me sane, we're going to cut it a bit short on this post. So, welcome back for Part 2. Here's a link to Part 1. And, if you've got a few minutes, it'd be swell if you read Part 2.



Booster Gold/ Supernova/ Rip Hunter/ Skeets/ 52


Readers who have been following this series (which I suspect are me, myself and I. Thanks, split personality!) might be surprised to learn that despite many of my criticisms, I not only enjoyed 52, but I respected the heck out of the production team that put it together. So hopefully you’ll understand when I mention the fact that I plan to buy the 52 Trade Collection as each installment is released.

Part of why I want to pick up the trades is that the story of 52 is so sprawling, I couldn’t go back and review a lot of smaller details in stories like the Booster Gold character arc oafter a few months had passed and I had bagged, boarded and boxed my comics. Example: I’d really like to go back and re-read issue 1, go back to the portions where Skeets is acting up and re-read the chalkboard when Booster enters Rip Hunter’s lab. No doubt all of that actually worked as it was supposed to, but after reading 52 issues of the series with however many storylines, while simultaneously reading a stack of other DC titles, smaller details get away from me as a reader.

Despite my inability to keep up with details, the Booster Gold story worked darn well.

Booster’s descent into money-grubbing and irresponsibility in the wake of Ted Kord’s death initially seemed to be a bit of a stretch, but still seemed true to the core of Booster’s character. However, it all had the look of a well worn moral fable that just didn’t need re-telling. Played a bit for laughs, Booster’s endorsement adorned uniform and storyline seemed destined to lead to a colorful but pat moral about the true nature of heroism not being found in endorsements, yadda yadda.

Booster began investigating some oddities, including at the destroyed lab of time-researcher, Rip Hunter. Booster found only wreckage and odd scribblings across Hunter’s chalk boards that many supposed would come up as plot points during 52. A quick Google search now suggests that only a portion of the events described occurred in the series, and more will likely occur either in Countdown or other DC series. Fortunately, the board was never designed to provide clues to the conclusions of 52, and as the issue was safely stowed in a long-box well before the conclusion of the series, this reader didn’t mind very much that the chalkboard played very little into the actual events of the story.

The insertion of the Supernova character early on reinforced the “been there, done that” feeling creeping into the story as it was easy to assume that this faceless new hero was the sort of wolf in sheep’s clothing that tends to pervade superhero comics when a rival superhero appears in town. As a stand-alone tale, it’s likely that few would have continued to follow a series.

With the winds of the other storylines at their back and the hopes high that readers would continue with 52, the writers were given the luxury to play with reader’s anticipation of recurring storylines, but rather than fulfilling lowered expectations, pulled off a terrific time-travel story and re-defining moment for Booster as someone other than the money-chasing charlatan.

The reveal of Booster as Supernova was the kind of deus ex machina that only a time travel story could allow (and the resulting explosion into “Mad Ideas” territory), which did readers the favor of keeping the surprise identity of Supernova a genuine surprise, as well as giving Booster the credit he deserves to be able to use some imagination to out-maneuver even the most diabolical of spectacle-wearing mind worms.

Including the brief and seemingly disappointing appearance of Booster’s ancestor mid-way through the series, Booster’s arc seemed to best reflect the potential for a year-long story and showed the savvy of the writers in anticipating (and manipulating) the expectations of readers who’ve seen it all before. Plus, we might get a permanent Supernova on our hands, depending upon how they want to deal with the whole “Phantom Zone” aspect of the Supernova suit and/ or time travel.




The All New, All Different Multiverse

Thanks, Dan Didio, for giving up the conclusion of the series somewhere around week 40. You’re sort of like the dad who, upon meeting a girl upon whom I might have been crushing in high school would have said, “Oh, this is that girl you talk about all the time.” One can almost picture a red faced Mark Waid fuming and swearing he will never speak to Dad again as he storms off to the woods to break sticks.

The big reveal of a new Multiverse wasn’t necessarily given away by Didio in his DC Nation column. Months prior Justice League of America #0 had more than hinted at the existence of at least one more Earth. And where one finds another Earth on a different vibrational frequency, there are bound to be more up and down the dial.

Further, the existence of the many Monitors in their Monitor Club House as far back as the Brave New World one-shot had sort of given the whole thing away. Add in a dash of the Ion limited series and Kyle’s cross-dimensional voyages, and readers who’ve been keeping tabs might have assumed a Multiverse was more or less the state of the DCU in the wake of Infinite Crisis (I know I did).

Booster and Rip Hunter’s mad dash from the Mister Mind super-butterfly was, in some ways, patently absurd. How, with Time Travel on their side, Rip and Booster were unable to take out Mr. Mind before any of this was an issue is a question best not pondered too long. And the creation of a new multi-verse at the hands of a single entity raises some serious questions about conservation of energy and other physics questions. Not even Darkseid had managed to swing anything quite as exciting as eating time and space.

No matter the path, the end results of a new and varied Multiverse are, no doubt, a bit daunting to many readers. Instead of embracing the idea of speculative universes within the DCU, many readers reject the idea as somehow too complicated for their palate, a complaint I’ve never fully understood. Had Marvel not bought into a Multiverse concept with the launch of the Ultimate Universe, Squadron Supreme, Marvel Zombies, etc… the complaint might make a bit more sense. Let alone the various DC “Elseworlds” stories and other modes of dimension hopping

Hopefully the new worlds of the DCU will offer exciting opportunities for expansion and new stories which haven’t been available to DC editorial in years. Readers can reconcile the seemingly at-odd’s takes on characters such as Captain Marvel, have their Earth-2 Superman, and find room for Majestic and Superman to meet once again.



Skeets

On a closing note, I’m glad to see Skeets will have an opportunity to live again alongside Booster. I don’t think the rumored upcoming Booster series would be the same without his football shaped valet.


NEXT TIME: Unresolved questions! Countdown! Possibly someone will read this far down! Gold star for you!



That's it for this part of the post. We'll be back in a few days with Part 4.

In the meantime, let's start the discussion. What did you like? What will you miss? What was your favorite story arc?

What did I get wrong? Did I completely misinterpret something? Come on, I can take it.

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Ryan is your resident reviewer of DC Comics. He keeps his comics and himself in Austin, Texas. He likes Superman.
ryan@filmfodder.com