Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Belated 52 Wrap-up

It occurred to me as I overshot my one-year blogoversery that I negelected to post anything about the end of 52. Timely as ever, some final thoughts on the series that I've followed this past year.

Overall, I feel satisfied with the project. The execution got a little uneven at times, but as a whole, I appreciated the proceedings. It's rare to see as many creative talents working together in such an integrated fashion, especially given the diverse sensibilities of the writers involved. It spoke to a renewed commitment on DC's part to pull the disparate ends of their fictional universe together without the homogeneous grim and gritty "real-life" state that they've been stuck in for the last 20 odd years.

There were problems, chiefly the handling of World War III. That development seemed to sneak up on DC in that they suddenly felt the need to dump a last-minute, perfunctory miniseries on fans. I honestly don't think I would have bought the thing if all four issues weren't suddenly on the shelves that week. For me, at least, it didn't add anything to the issue of 52 it was expanding upon and to be honest, I felt a bit burned.

Some of the storylines held less appeal for me than others (I'm looking at you Steel), but the quick, round-robin style assured that something else would be coming along soon. Overall, given the complexity of moving parts, the thing read more like a novel.

I thought the conclusion, though telegraphed and spoiled for quite some time now, was particularly thrilling. The multiverse is back, with a nice unified reason for the variations between the 52 worlds. What this means is anyone's guess, but I'm comforted by the belief that somewhere, somewhen, Vic and Ted are still alive. The downside of that might be that the gloomy, Wagnerian Kingdom Come Earth is out there as well, probably sulking in its bedroom and playing goth music. (I wonder if Waid feels vindicated or ripped off for all the abuse he took over hypertime)

As I write this, I've read two issues of Countdown, 52's weekly-format successor. Not quite knocking my socks off, but I'll give it a few more weeks to change my mind. The stakes don't seem as great or urgent as the ones for 52 (finding out about the missing year). They're banking on the tension of the central question (countdown to what?), but that's a year away and I'm event-ed out right now, just as I was last year. Sometimes I ask "why comics?"... why couldn't it have been something less compulsive, like heroin?


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