Thursday, September 20, 2007

52 Problems, Etc. (Volume 2.714285714285, etc.)

Okay, so I'm a horrible blogger, you've got me. I quit in the middle of the post to watch a DVD of a TV show I've already seen. However, in my defence, I offer two words:

Denny Crane.

I've still got two plots from 52's first two volumes to look at plus maybe a few words on various minor bits that technically tie into the main plots but are still worth noting.

Evil Genius, Inc.

Another plot that didn't do much for me until it got going was the whole Will Magnus visiting Professor Morrow in prison, which lead into mad scientists all being kidnapped. My lack of interest could be that I've never given a second thought to the Metal Men. Wow, robots made out of a specific metal, colour me don't-give-a-fuck. I did like that Magnus visited Morrow, though--and that the fact he did it once a month allowed for this story to only show up every four issues without people wondering where it went. A smart little technique that worked with the format of the series.

When Magnus is finally kidnapped, I wish they had had the room to push his mental breakdown further and have it more drawn out. I love the part where he accuses his kidnappers of trying to unhinge him and they respond that they only want MAD scientists. Given more room to breathe, this plot could have been far more interesting.

Where volume two ends, we're not entirely sure what's going on, just that the scientists are on an island and given the freedom to do as they will--well, and the funny as hell scene where a woman scientist arrives. That scene is made by the exchange between Magnus and Morrow where Morrow says he knew a woman once, Magnus responds "...and?" and Morrow goes "...I just knew one, once..." I love it.

Really, this is a story that could have carried a series. The first four issues detailing the kidnappings and Magnus' breakdown and then just a monthly book of mad scientists doing fucked up shit on an island. I would buy that.

August General in Iron on Black Adam: "Wwwhhhhhhhhhhhh-PSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHH!"

Black Adam's arc over just these two volumes is interesting as he goes from extreme, Authority-esque ruler of a nation to an attempt to be Captain Marvel basically--which works now that Captain Marvel is the new Shazam wizard. Again, only half of the larger arc, but an interesting one.

However, one question does come up: is this story a subtle commentary one how women--and, more specifically, marriage--change men?

We have Black Adam, fucking asshole who shows little mercy for evil scum, bent on creating a world that works who then meets a girl, gives her magical powers and is talked into being nicer and friendlier and giving up his coalition of Asian superheroes. What's even more surprising is how quickly it all happens. In, what, three or four months, his entire attitude and outlook changes. All of which is purposeful because they need to set up Black Adam as the patriarch of his own little family so it can be taken away and he can go even further than before.


Is it also a commentary on women?

It sure seems like it, because it does read like one of those overnight transformations we've all seen where a buddy meets a girl and, suddenly, he's an entirely different guy. August General in Iron says that when Black Adam quits the coalition (well, he says something more like "What the hell? YOU started this whole thing and now that you're married, you're quitting? PUSSY!").

I'm not sure how I read this, though. Is it sexist or simply reporting something that DOES happen? Or is it more a romantic take where it's about how family and love can change a person for the better? While Black Adam's buddies are all "You changed! You used to be cool!" he's in a loving relationship, which could very well be an improvement from who he was before.

My only complaint is that, come on, did they have to make Isis' little brother paralysed to DIRECTLY copy Captain Marvel, Jr.? They couldn't have had him seriously wounded in ANY OTHER WAY? It's just a little bit too cutesy for me. Another injury would have had the same parallelism, but not been so fucking obvious.

Please God Tell Me That's NOT the Justice League!

A few thoughts on other bits:

* one of my favourite parts of the second volume is Mark Waid's inclusion of the script for the Justice League issue where he makes a note that asks Grant about Bulleteer.

* that, and just how shitty that League is.

* The part where Alan Scott gets Mr. Terrific to join the new Checkmate confused the fuck out of me. It wasn't until halfway through when I realised who these guys were. And, even then, why I should care.

* The Martian Manhunter as a presidential aide is an awesome idea. THAT should have been the new series. Leave it to DC to ignore the awesome, mature, complex idea in favour of something typical and lame. (*cough*lexaspresident*cough*)

* Hey, the heroes who came back from space kind of disappeared, didn't they?

And that does it for this round. I'll continue when I get volume three--whenever that is.