52: Volume OneWriters: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Art Breakdowns: Keith Giffen
Publisher :DC Comics
Vitals: Trade Paperback - 295 pages - $19.99 Content: Violence
Introduction:In the wake of Infinite Crisis, Superman is left powerless, Batman goes on sabbatical to rediscover his motivations and further refine his skills, and Wonder Woman takes some time to do some soul-searching before returning to her heroic role. This sets the precedent for 52 and prompts DC’s description:
"Imagine a world without Superman, a Gotham City with no Batman; a universe where Wonder Woman is nowhere to be found. In a world without these icons, who will stand up for what’s right?
52: Volume One collects the first thirteen issues of this unprecedented comics event, including the first appearance of the new Batwoman which received national press attention, and a host of bonus material, including creator commentaries, breakdown sketches, character designs, script excerpts, a cover gallery, and much more."
52 is presented in a “real-time” format, where the events in each issue take place in that particular week, and follows several different, (sometimes loosely) connected storylines.
Review:Several storylines in 52 have made permanent changes to the DC Universe, or clarified the repercussions from Infinite Crisis. I followed all the stories with great interest throughout the year. Volume One of the collected series sets up the stories for the remainder of the year.
One of my favorite storylines was the Renee Montoya/The Question storyline, which followed their investigation of Intergang activities in Gotham. This storyline is presented in a detective noir format, but with Renee in the role of the “hard-boiled” detective typically held by a male. The authors weave humor into the cleverly gender-juxtaposed roles, as Charlie (The Question) and Renee commence their professional partnership.
The John Henry Irons (Steel) storyline takes a bit of a clichéd parent/child strained relationship as he struggles with niece, Natasha, and her desire to be a superhero. As is usually the case in these situations, communication is the issue, but not every relationship has the added influence of Lex Luthor’s devious plans contributing to the problems. Reading the story, you just want to tell Natasha to stop and listen to her uncle, or to tell John Henry to tell her what is going on. In some ways, the results are predictable, but still enjoyable, as Lex introduces the “Everyman Program” and gives Natasha opportunities that her uncle denied.
The first volume of the collected series has extras where the contributors write about their experiences in penning 52. It also has some sketches of the original art and costume designs, and a cover gallery at the back. At the same time, it loses some of the extras contained in the original comics that had an abbreviated history of the DC Universe and the origins of many heroes. I would have liked to have seen some better histories of the characters highlighted in the series in the extras, as they were never very well covered in the backup features of the original comics. Do the extras warrant going out and buying the collected version if you already have the comics? In my personal opinion, they do not.