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From the Hoss’ Mouth 04/18/07

This week I throw you a knuckle ball… or is that a changeup.  Either way this is a big week for DC Comics. The culmination of the year long Black Adam story is finally here in the pages of 52 and DC roles out not one, but four side issues dealing with this story.  At the expense of all other comics this week, I bring you reviews for 52 Week 50 and all four parts of the World War III story which is an event within an event, which itself is an event.  Sometimes I go a little crazy like that during these big event weeks. Enjoy!

Full Review:

52 Week 50
Writers: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, & Mark Waid
Art: Breakdowns by Keith Griffen, Pencils by Justiniano

52 is currently DC’s biggest selling book and also one of their best in terms of quality.  A giant collaborative effort utilizing some of DC’s best writers and artists in a large scale series that could only be termed experimental in relation to its monthly brethren.  Weekly comics may not have started with 52, but the thought of putting one out at a time when both major companies are crippled with chronically late books seemed like an insane idea.  Until DC pulled it off.   Initially the story was to tell the tale of the missing year between Infinite Crisis and One Year Later.  Instead, we got a grand attempt to take the finest of underdeveloped characters and raise them to the status of legends.

Week 50 of 52 is the end of the Black Adam story which with possible exception of Booster’s story is the longest running and most involved.  In the weeks leading up to this issue we’ve witnessed Black Adam find a family, find peace, and redeem himself.  Unfortunately a global effort was undertaken to rob Adam of his most dear and to push his sanity so far that Adam loses control in the only way a god can.

As we saw recently Black Adam destroyed a whole country and killed everyone including the civilians.  Now he’s going after the rest of the world (although really his beef lies with China) and the only thing that stands in his way is the combined might of earth’s entire superhero community.  This issue is huge in scope.  It’s an entire issue of war.  Adam will smash, break necks, and kill in gruesome fashions (see the additional WWIII books to get a feel of just how graphically disturbing he can get). There are huge splash pages showcasing tons of heroes including the JSA, future JLA’ers, Doom Patrol, Outsiders, Teen Titans, Infinity Inc., Seven Soldiers, Great Ten, Marvel Family, and pretty much everyone except the big three.  Black Adam’s story is tragic and truly heart wrenching yet with a man who has abused his power to this degree I truly enjoyed watching the hero community come together to bring him to justice.  This book has enough big action elements in it to satisfy everyone and more then makes up for the slow start the series had.  What really brings it all together though is that this issue, with the exception of a small Dr. Morrow segment at the end, is entirely devoted to the big fight.  Unlike past issues of 52 which skipped around from story to story, this issue delivers the big finale all at once.  It’s also very nice to see that in this issue DC brought out a big gun in one of their exclusive artists, Justiniano, who draws one very mean opening sequence.  His details get lost in the smaller panels but in the big dynamic action shots he truly excels and being the huge fanboy that I am, there’s nothing I like more than shots of larger than life bad guys versus huge groups of heroes rushing to save the day.  Those are the type of pages that keep my nerd blood flowing.  Also the ending to this story was perfect.  There was simply no better way to end it and having read the OYL Shadowpact and Trials of Shazam, I was pleased to see that it all fell perfectly in place with what we’ve been shown so far.  Plus I just gotta say how I love that it leaves the door wide open for more great stories to be told later.  For those who haven’t read it yet or who may reread it, be sure to keep your eye on Atom Smasher and Booster.  In particular Booster who manages to pop up at least a couple times in the World War III addendum books.

Speaking of which, there are an additional four books just devoted to this one issue of 52.  They’re all called World War III and consist of four parts (check out Quick Reviews below).  Basically they’re a miniseries all done at once and the recommended reading order is 52 FIRST, WWIII parts 1-4 SECOND.  The additional WWIII stories aren’t that necessary and for those unfamiliar with the One Year Later jumping on points they might be just a tad confusing.  So I recommend you grab only 52 Week 50 if you’re short on cash or just not familiar enough with the goings on of the DCU right now as the addendum stories are very continuity heavy.  You can always Wiki any questions you might have and then go grab the WWIII follow-ups later.

Back to 52 Week 50.  The fighting is great, the splashes huge, the pacing is excellent.  This is the most exciting issue of 52 yet and without a doubt the best ending of any of the stories so far.  With still two issues left and the conclusion of Booster’s story to look forward to, DC can already count me as a satisfied customer.  Countdown here I come!

Verdict: Highest possible recommendation, great issue. Also one incredible cover too.

Quick Reviews:

Overview: All four quick reviews this week will focus on the World War III mini which is a four part story that showcases Martian Manhunter, whose mind melding with Black Adam causes him to question his past actions as well as his own perceived humanity.  He then goes on a quest to regain these lost elements by viewing the members of the DCU who conveniently have been untouched by the events of 52.  

World War III Part One: A Call To Arms – This issue sets the stage.  J’onn takes on Black Adam and meets with disastrous results.  Normally I’d think J’onn could hang with Adam easily, but seeing as how Adam’s gone all sorts of crazy and doesn’t hesitate to hold back, it seems the Martian is at a bit of a disadvantage.  This issue also sets the course for how the story will play out.  WWIII is pretty much just small scene after small scene of side stories, highlighting all the differences in DC’s sandbox when they started the One Year Later arcs.  Issue one shows how Father Time got his new body in time for the Freedom Fighters mini.  The first time Jason Todd impersonates Nightwing (still with no reasoning behind it).  Plus we’re told about the Firestorm/Cyborg separation.  It also gives the first details on the Martian Manhunter’s change in persona that happened in his ridiculously bad mini.  Thank god they’ve managed to get back to the status quo with him now.

Verdict: Lots of gore here and neat battle sequences, plus I don’t believe I’ve ever seen anyone get their face ripped off before.  The side stories are a bit weak for this one, but the crazy fights make up for it.

World War III Part Two: The Valiant – In the second book, amongst the myriad of shots we see the Supergirl separation that leads to her LoSH appearance, Donna garbed in her Wonder Woman outfit, and the beginnings of the Dweller to be – Aquaman story (which was just all around kind of lame).  We also get a more detailed look at Harvey Dent’s role as protector of Gotham and I gotta say he does a bang up job against a much stronger opponent.  The first inkling of Slade’s corruption of Batgirl begins here too.  Deathstroke should just visit a home for runaway girls at this point.  I’ve never seen a bad guy more interested in corrupting teenage girls, but here he is again doing his thing.  On the Black Adam front, he doesn’t rip any faces off this issue (man was that a gruesome scene) but he does take down the entire Doom Patrol. Meanwhile Martian Manhunter continues to ponder his existence.

Verdict: With the exception of Aquaman’s story, this batch of side stories is a little stronger.  The Batgirl should have been a little more detailed, but I’m hoping the Teen Titans book will fill it in.  On the other hand I liked how the zeta beam is responsible for Kara’s time warping.  On the downside, the action’s more toned down this issue.

World War III Part Three: Hell is for Heroes – Getting closer to the big ultimate showdown.  Part three centers on the Teen Titans, this particular roster consists of Offspring, Hawk, Dove, Young Frankenstein, Terra, Zatara, Raven, and is lead by Beast Boy.  The youngsters take on Black Adam by themselves and as expected meet with disaster.  The Titans, although they put up a decent fight, get hit the hardest in this mini and lose two of their interim members to Black Adam, the deaths of both are pretty damn terrifying.  As far as side story fill-ins, Waller pays the Bronze Tiger a visit to set up a new Suicide Squad which I really liked because those particular OYL later issues of Checkmate were very good.  Also J’onn checks in on Manhunter (Kate Spencer, not himself) as she starts her own agency. Finally J’onn uncovers some demons from his past and sets things right in his personal life by destroying his secret life and past identity as detective John Jones. 

Verdict: Mainly a Titans issue, but with less side stories.  The side stories that are here are good and fit in to current continuity nicely.  The Black Adam/Titans battle is really something cool and after Beast Boy’s colossal failure as leader it’s all too easy to see why he leaves for the Doom Patrol afterwards.  A cut above the first two issues.

World War III Part Four: United We Stand – The big showdown issue.  Of all the World War III books this one does the best job of tying-in to 52 Week 50 and as such is my recommend WWIII book for those of you not wishing to envelop yourselves in the whole saga.  Just like 52 Week 50, this one is a lot of action and goes in to a lot more detail regarding the big Black Adam battle in China.  Here we get to see Black Adam further annihilate the Great Ten as well as watch the Martian Manhunter finally get in on the action.  There’s a whole lot of great action sequences here just like in Week 50 and the continuity driven side stories are kept to a minimum making this issue also the most accessible to new readers.  This one brings conclusion to J’onn’s story and how it plays into the very end of the Black Adam fight, which is a great little detail. 

Verdict: The best and most accessible of the World War III books.  If you’re just in it for the big brawl then I recommend adding this one to your stack at the checkout.

World War III as a whole – I’ve already touched on some of these aspects but I feel it’s important to reiterate a few.  When looking at the story in it’s entirety I really enjoyed World War III.  I think for the most part DC rather seamlessly filled in the gaps of its modern continuity.  I find it a bit odd that all these grand changes and events happened within the span of a week but it’s not such a big deal that I’m unable to suspend my disbelief.  The series is pricey for a one week purchase and when you include 52 Week 50 it costs a total of $12.50 to get all of it.  Also as I’ve mentioned before it’s very continuity heavy.  I feel that those of you unfamiliar with the One Year Later arcs will have difficulty understanding the importance of these flashback side stories which is why I recommend first checking out a few of the OYL trades at your library if you really want to get your money’s worth out of this series.  Otherwise if you don’t wish to invest so heavily in it, just go grab Week 50 of 52 and maybe Book Four of WWIII.  Those are the ones that have the most payoff and aren’t as bogged down in continuity for those of you who have only a basic understanding of 52 and OYL’s plotting. 

Trade Off:
By Pendragon Concepts


Robin’s personal life is in turmoil. His father & girlfriend have both just been murdered. To adjust to his loss, he moves to Bludhaven, to deal with things on his own, and to take over for Nightwing. While down there he finds out that Blockbuster, who was thought be killed by Nightwing himself is very much alive. Or is he? As Robin looks further into this mystery, he is physical outmatched. He’s is saved by Batgirl, who was sent by Batman to check on him. Resentful at first, Robin soon realizes that a combination of his detective skills and Batgirl’s fighting skills, may them a match for Bludhaven’s underworld. But when they are both captured & force to fight against each other, anything can happen.

This trade paperback collects Robin # 132 & 133 and Batgirl # 58 & 59. Written by Bill Willingham & Andersen Gabrych and drawn by Damion Scott, Ale Graza, and Jesse Delperdang. This TPB shows the lives of Batman’s junior partners Robin & Batgirl. They both have loss & show how each of them deal with as well how they deal with each other’s methods.


Willingham & Gabrych’s stories are good. Wilingham is definitely on his game with this one. Showing the growth of Robin despite his personal tragedies.
Gabrych does a good job with the Batgirl story. Really gets in her head.

Did a monkey draw this dreck?
Scott’s artwork is horrible. It looks like a monkey drew this crap. It’s way to cartoonish that it sucks. And there’s Graza & Delperdang’s. Robin looks like the freaking Titans cartoon version. It totally sucks.
Piece of crap.

This is not a great collection. I would avoid this one at all cost. Save your money.

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