Now that DC has a few weekly experiments under their belt, ranging from awful to excellent to groundbreaking, I think it’s important to remember the series that re-started* the trend. 52 came out of Infinite Crisis with a lot of energy and uncertainty, and turned out to something of a revelation.
Backed by writers Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka and Mark Waid contributing with numerous artists, 52 was a year look at the DC universe absent of the trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.
Over the course of the year, the book would end up being a lot of things, from a space epic to a time travel story to a murder mystery to a journey story to a metafictional commentary and more, but most importantly, it was fun and gave something for readers to really sink their teeth into every Wednesday.
Since the writers collaborated, it’s difficult to discern each writer’s contribution to the overall narrative, but there are enough elements at play to give readers some clues to who wrote what. It’s clear the Question’s story was written by Rucka and Morrison’s fingerprints appear to be on certain parts of Animal Man’s story. That said, as much fun as it is to figure out who wrote what, it’s not important in the end.
The art, as a whole, is serviceable. Considering the schedule and the behind the scenes stuff we know now but didn’t know then, it’s amazing the project maintained its schedule to the end. I’d argue that, when it comes to the art, Keith Giffen probably deserves most of the credit for keeping things moving and establishing an artistic consistency for the book.
While I usually single out a page from the book I’m looking at for the week, I want to point out a specific panel instead. The panel on the right comes from issue #10 of the series.
I know a lot of people don’t like the idea of a married Superman – and I’ve seen some comic book writers make arguments about the limitations it imposes on the character – but I’d argue that the inability for the marriage to work more often then not stems from the inability of the writer, not the concept itself. Sure, the love “triangle” between Superman, Clark Kent and Lois Lane has a lot of possibilities, but so does the marriage, and I think that almost 20 years later, we still haven’t come close to what can be done with the idea.
That said, what I love about the aforementioned panel is how it establishes a certain level of honesty and history that’s usually missing from the characters being together. Here, Clark, who has been without his powers for a couple of months, has to be reminded by Lois that he’s about to pick up a hot pot. It’s such a throwaway panel, but it says more and does more for their relationship than entire stories devoted to their marriage. It makes them real and reveals a certain level of compatibility that is usually not expressed in their stories together. Most importantly, it shows us that their marriage exists between the panels.
This is showing us how they’re right for one another, instead of the usual telling.
And it does wonders.