Greetings from the Odinson,
10 years ago, DC Comics gave us a year without Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman, but it was not a year without heroes.
The Odinson Celebrates the 10th Anniversary of 52 Weeks
First, how did the DCU get to this point?
Tales like Planet Heist, Truth or Dare, Lightning Strikes, Public Enemies, The Return of Donna Troy, and Countdown to Infinite Crisis warned that there was a disturbance in the Force. Then, things went from bad to worse. In Rann-Thanagar War, intergalactic warfare shifted the center of the universe causing universal upheaval. Then in Villains United, the Secret Six revealed that the super villain community was consolidating their power and rallying for a big coup. Day of Vengeance saw the last days of magic. The OMAC Project shed light on a conspiracy to bring down the DCU’s super hero community, a conspiracy whose origins originated from the mind of the Dark Knight Detective himself. And, Sacrifice exposed a weakness in the world’s greatest super hero, it forced another legend to take terrible measures so that weakness could not be exploited, and it ultimately tore a rift between DC’s Trinity that left the super hero community divided and at its weakest.
Enter: Infinite Crisis. In this moment, with the super hero community at its absolute weakest, the DCU had to face all these challenges and more as a group of legends from the past decided it was time to change the world. The DC Universe survived the greatest threat to its existence since the original Crisis on Infinite Earths. But, many wounds, both physical and emotional, were suffered, and DC’s Trinity decided it was time to take a step back and reevaluate their place in the world. So, how would DC fill the void left by its three greatest super heroes? Who would step up and stand on guard, and what could possibly go right in a year without Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman?
These are the questions that 52 Weeks answers.
Right off the bat, the Odinson applauds DC Comics for attempting a project as intriguing, innovative, and risky as 52 Weeks. The series would run for a designated 52 issues and each issue would come out, you guessed it, weekly. To insure that the issues came out on time without any break in the quality of the work, DC assembled an All-Star creative team to execute this bold new experiment. Master storytellers Geoff Johns (Green Lantern), Grant Morrison (JLA), Greg Rucka (Batwoman), and Mark Waid (The Flash) were joined by beloved writer/artist Keith Giffen (Justice League International), who provided breakdowns for the entire series, and they orchestrated a highly entertaining and highly underrated story.
52 Weeks explored the void left by DC’s Trinity from no less than seven distinct points of view. Booster Gold, the flamboyant, time-traveling super hero from the future, sought to exploit this opportunity for personal gain. Steel stepped up to keep Superman’s greatest adversary, Lex Luthor, in check during the Man of Steel’s absence, at least he tried with varying levels of success. Adam Strange, Starfire, Animal Man, and Lobo tried to pick up the pieces of a galaxy torn asunder by the ravages of war and yet another Crisis. Elongated Man, still reeling from the murder of his wife during Identity Crisis, comes into the possession of the Helmet of Fate, the last bastion of magic in the DCU. The Question seeks to aid a lost soul and in return may discover the ultimate answer he’s been seeking all along. And, Batwoman emerges as a solid and capable defender of Gotham City in the Dark Knight’s absence. All of these interlocking tales are well worth the read, but far and away the Odinson’s favorite part of 52 Weeks is the journey taken by Teth-Adam.
Originating from seeds planted in Geoff Johns’ JSA run, Captain Marvel’s erstwhile sparring partner Black Adam goes on a journey that turns this once upon a time villain-of-the-month into a truly fleshed out, complicated, and dramatically interesting character. From reestablishing his rule over his homeland and becoming a true hero of the people, to birthing a family of his own, to facing great tragedy, and ultimately falling from grace once again, Black Adam’s rise and fall within the pages of 52 Weeks and its supplement tale World War III ranks this character right up there with the greatest complicated and interesting hero/anti-hero/villain characters like Magneto and the Sub-Mariner.
With its eclectic cast of characters, mysteries and drama, and All-Star creative team, 52 Weeks had the potential to be a modern day Watchmen. Though it does deliver on many levels, it falls just short of making that All-Time greatness list. Once again, the Odinson applauds DC Comics for experimenting and trying new and innovative things. 52 Weeks led to other just as interesting experiments like One Year Later and some not so great experiments like Countdown.
Odinson Rating: 4 out of 5 Hammers.
In the end, 52 Weeks worked and succeeded in what it was trying to accomplish. It filled the void left behind by the absence of DC’s Trinity with exciting and interesting stories and shining light on characters that may have not necessarily been in the public eye before. 52 Weeks also proves that comic book companies can tell innovative and exciting stories without having to rely on over exploitive, shallow crossover events and universal reboots.
52 Weeks, it was a year without Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman, but it was not a year without heroes.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell