52 – Week 50 & World War III #1-4
Writer: Johns, Morrison, Rucka, Waid
Breakdowns: Keith Giffen
Cover: JG Jones & Alex Sinclair
Inks: Walden Wong
Colours: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Ken Lopez
Writer: Keith Champagne (1&2), John Ostrander (3&4)
Pencils: Pat Olliffe (1), Andy Smith (2), Tom Derenick (3), Jack Jadson (4)
Cover: Ethan Van Sciver & Moose Baumann
Inks: Drew Geraci (1), Ray Snyder (3), Norm Rapmund (3), Rodney Ramos (4)
Letters: Ken Lopez (1), Travis Lanham (2&4), Pat Brosseau (3)
The Long of It
About five months ago, I reviewed 52 #28. It made my eyes bleed, my soul ache, and my colon prolapse. It was that confused, and that bad. Shortly afterwards however, I noticed a significant improvement in quality as we moved towards the key moments in the story of 52. I have therefore sat and patiently waited for an appropriate time to review 52 again, and give its due credit. And when I heard that #50 would coincide with the four issues that make up World War III, I thought that this would be the time. And while I was doing it, I thought â€œwhy not combine it with a review of World War III?â€ I mean, they’re telling the same story aren’t they? They should be working in tandem, so they should be reviewed in tandem.
And you know what? I enjoyed 52. I really did. I thought it started well, with the battle between Black Adam and Captain Marvel, and carried the story solidly throughout. And as to World War III? Ummmâ€¦ well. Not so much. First, I have a confession to make. I didn’t sort out the order of the World War III books before picking them up to read them. I read #1, then #4, and then had to go back and read #2&3. And I needn’t have bothered. I learnt bugger all in Issues 2&3 that I didn’t get from 1&4. And I got all of it better in 52.
Six writers and fifteen artists. For one story. A word instantly springs to mind to describe a situation like this â€“ clusterf*ck. How can you manage to tell a cohesive story if your creative team is so fractured? You can’t.
To be honest I think the problem all comes down to the same fault that spoiled the early stages of 52. Too many cooks. Do we need that many people to be involved? Really? Just look at what the books are trying to achieve here, and then look at the creative team. We are telling the story of one, seemingly month-long fight with one man, Black Adam. And yet in the five books we have six writers, and an even greater number doing breakdowns, pencils, inks and cover art. Six writers and fifteen artists. For one story. A word instantly springs to mind to describe a situation like this â€“ clusterf*ck. How can you manage to tell a cohesive story if your creative team is so fractured? You can’t.
So why did we need this 4-issue mini-series to accompany 52? The answer is that we didn’t. If they had told a bigger story to accompany the issue, then maybe, MAYBE it would have been worthwhile. But we actually saw more happen in the one issue of 52 than we did in the entire mini-series. Because we actually saw the thought processes of the Chinese heroes that led to them allowing the American heroes to cross their border. And more importantly, we saw what happened to Black Adam at the end. These are the things that mattered in the tale.
We actually saw more happen in the one issue of 52 than we did in the entire mini-series.
What did we see in World War III that we didn’t get in 52? A lot of meaningless shite, and a bit of semi-meaningful shite that was handled badly. The only things that mattered at all were the deaths of Terra and Young Frankenstein, and they made those deaths so insignificant as to be worthless. Oh, and the transformation of Martian Manhunter. But we’ve all grown so accustomed to his new look that we’d forgotten we needed to be told how it happened at all. It was so anti-climactic. And what else did we see? Jason Todd wearing a Nightwing costume and beating up criminals to steal their ill-gotten gains. And that led toâ€¦.. nothing. Same with the epic discussion between Firestorm and Firehawk. In the end, they did nothing. And as for the endless panels of Martian Manhunter sitting about doing bugger all – WHY?!
So this review is coming down to a pat on the back for 52, and a kick in the nuts for World War III. He giveth with one hand, and taketh away with the other. But that seems to be how 52 has been handled on the whole. For everything good they do, there seems to be something really awful attached to it. For every Oolong Island and Black Adam, there’s been a ridiculous space story and a stupid death for Ralph Dibney. So much potential, and yet so much drivel alongside it. I can’t review this artistically, because as a project it’s impossible to take a view on so many different styles together (other than to just say â€œconfusedâ€).
But at least the core series was good this week. And we’re finally getting to see more of Booster Gold, just as we see the end of Black Adam (at least for the time being). Giveth and taketh away.