Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I've Got 52 Problems but a Bitch Ain't One (Volume Two)

One of my biggest complaints about the technique used in 52 is that for a comic that takes place in real time, some stories just disappear for weeks without there seeming to be any time passage. Which is, in a way, more realistic as things shouldn't be constantly on the go, because who lives that sort of life? Oh wait, superheroes do. But, then again, if Ultimate Peter Parker was a real kid and the first hundred issues of that series really was JUST a year in his life, he would probably kill himself, so maybe not having these people have such hectic lifestyles is a good thing.

Then again, there's a seven week gap between when the trio of space-heroes (more on them soon) escape from that New God trapper guy and then show up again to escape from the planet. Are we to believe the New God guy didn't do something? Hell, that entire plot is stretched out waaaaaaaaaaaay too much when you look at it in real time.

The ironic thing is that Countdown's big problem from the issues I've seen is that while it doesn't take place in real time, they feel the need to cram every story into every issue. That's a weekly series where devoting an entire issue to one or two stories would work, while it doesn't always in 52.

But anyway . . .

Today, I'm supposed to look at volume two of 52, but I'll discuss volume one as well as most of my problems with the series in general from yesterday still apply in volume two--and while I do love Phil Jimenez's work, it stands out like a sore thumb here and only serves to make the rest of the art look like shit.

So, the plots. Let's address them one at a time:

Booster Gold Sucks Ass

Basic synopsis: Booster Gold tries to be a hero, his sidekick Skeets fucks up, he's shown to be a selfish fraud, is shown up by a new hero called Supernova, falls hard and then dies. Skeets it turns out is evil and he kills Booster's ancestor because he's evil.

If there is a "main story" for 52, this would be the strongest contender, I think, but that's also based on the fact that I know how the series ends. But, beyond purely plot reasons, is it worthy of being called the "main story" of 52?

No. Booster's story in these two volumes doesn't actually progress much. That's definitely purposeful in the sense that Booster isn't supposed to learn from his mistakes or become a better person (especially since this is only half of the story), but it's also strangely stagnant. This is an arc I have a hard time seeing taking place over this long a time period. What we see here is six months and, really, it seems like a month's worth of activity. That is a subjective view, though. We don't see Booster do many heroic acts nor much of his downfall. Because of the nature of the series, we hit the important beats, but skip over the small moments (for the most part) that would give this story more meaning and depth.

The two exceptions are Booster's encounters with Fire and Ralph, especially the former as its only purpose is to develop Booster's character and show what he spends his time doing when he's not out trying to play hero and sell ad space on his costume. The encounter with Ralph does that, but also segues into Booster's public shaming and fall.

The Supernova subplot is interesting, but not really, because you never get the sense that the character actally matters. He's a plot device--which is the risk with a mysterious character like this. We know nothing about him, he only shows up to advance other characters' stories and that's it. It's hard not to perceive him as a plot device. The sad thing is that the design of the character is fantastic and I would have preferred he turn out to be entirely new and become part of the DCU in his own right.

And Skeets being evil is kind of cool, I'll admit.

Irons V. Luthor

Steel once claimed to be Superman; therefore, he and Lex Luthor are enemies. I love that logic. And this storyline is one of the ones that interests me the most, because it's a great idea: Lex Luthor finds a way to turn people into superheroes and looks like a great guy to the public, while the heroes all know he's a douchebag doing it for his own gain.

Playing Irons against his niece is great, because it's another example of the brilliance of Lex Luthor as a character: he is a supervillain who doesn't act like a supervillain. He fights the heroes on completely different terms and he wins more often than not. Anytime I see him in that awful green and purple suit or actually fighting, I cringe, because it's so fucking typical. This is the guy who became president just to fuck with Superman, he does not resort to brawling like a common thug.

There is a big whole in this story (although is may be rectified) is that if this is a year where Clark Kent is just Clark Kent, he should be in there, being the Spider Jerusalem to Luthor's Smiler (which still bugs me about Lex as president, by the way). Obviously not the exact same, but that is how he can fight Lex on Lex's terms. That's the beauty of that relationship, because Lex ony thinks of Superman as the superhero, never realising that Clark Kent is there to counter him in that non-traditional sense. It's how Morrison approached the "Rock of Ages" arc in JLA where it's Bruce Wayne's skills that take down Luthor, not Batman's.

But I digress.

The idea of anyone getting superpowers and using them is really well done--and Luthor creating his own superteam is a classic way for him to give Superman and the rest the finger.

Why Should I Care about Renee Montoya????

As I said yesterday, the Montoya/Question storyline does nothing for me. I don't care. They're fighting Intergang, yay. They stop a suicide bombing, yay. They introduce a new Batwoman who Montoya used to sleep with, yay. None of it grabs me.

Lost in Space

This storyline sucked me in more than I expected. Actually, I expected to hate this story as it's three characters I'm not that interested in (okay, I do love Animal Man like everyone else who's read Morrison's run) in space where they encounter Lobo who I really don't care about. Not much there initially, but, somehow, it turned out to be really engaging.

And yet there's very little character development here. We have Animal Man, Starfire and Adam Strange on a planet, trapped. They have to get off. They find out there's a bounty on their heads when Devilance the Pursuer, a New God, captures them. They escape, use his weapon to power their ship and are then rescused by Lobo, who has found religion. That's actually pretty cool.

This storyline is actual the most minor one, I'd say, as it gets ignored a lot. Like I said earlier, there's a seven week gap where these characters don't show up at all. Most of the time, this plot gets skimmed over until Lobo shows up and then more emphasis is given--although, still, little development. But, it works.

Ralph Dibny, PI

This story is interesting in that the first half interested me, but the second half didn't. The first half, as Ralph uncovers what the cult of Kon-El or whatever wants with him and his dead wife, culminating in his attempt to bring her back to life is excellent. We see a desperate, depressed man gain a new purpose, given hope and then left a wreck.

Only to have him become the new Dr. Fate maybe? Yawn.

Aaaaaaaaaand my roommate is watching Boston Legal on DVD and I want to join him, so I'll finish this up tomorrow. Until then.