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The 52 Steps: Week 46

by  in Comic News Comment
The 52 Steps: Week 46

“Feel free to cackle hysterically, gentlemen!” – T.O. Morrow

“52” Week Forty-Six

Week Forty-Six

Previously in 52…

Black Adam laid waste to the neighboring country of Bilaya, where Death had been hiding. With Death destroyed, Adam set his sights on Oolong Island.

This Week’s Key Players

Black Adam. Steel also appears briefly.

Guest Appearances

The gang on Oolong Island, including Will Magnus, T.O. Morrow and Veronica Cale, among others, Natasha Irons, Clark Kent, Lex Luthor, Alan Scott, Wildcat, Jay Garrick and Atom Smasher.

Highlights

Black Adam is a force of nature at this point, as he butchers all of the islands defenses. And when you look at the fact that the island’s defenses have been made up of, quite literally, all the mad genius in the world concentrated in one spot, hell, that’s saying something. Adam is a bad man.

On the island itself the mad scientists seem on the verge of tearing each other apart, everyone running in their own direction: Dr. Cale kidnaps Dr. Magnus for some hot lovin’ before she exit’s the island to face Adam’s wrath (only to be ignored by the angered Marvel), Morrow is busy bidding on the Red Tornado on eBay… the list foes on. However, as Adam breeches the defenses, the combined force of the madmen, adding to the mix a quick invention from Morrow (who won his bidding, by the way) and coaching from I.Q. drops Black Adam, leaving him in the clutches of the inhabitants of Oolong Island.

Back in Metropolis, we get to see Clark Kent covering the arrest of Lex Luthor by John Henry and Natasha Irons. Only it’s not Luthor. A quick thinking Clark leads Steel to a lead-shielded room, where the real Luthor is hiding. Now, it’s really off to jail for both him and his shape-changing lackey.

Finally, in Bilaya, the remnants of the JSA seek out any survivors following Adam’s escapades last week, all to no avail. No one has survived. However, the team is joined by Atom Smasher, who wants to help the group find Black Adam.

Back-up feature

“The Origin of Batman,” with Mark Waid and Andy Kubert.

Justin’s Thoughts and Concerns

  • Does anyone seriously not know the origin of Batman? Was this even necessary?
  • I smell trouble: Adam in the clutches of people who enjoy brainwashing on a regular basis is never a good sign.
  • Why would you wear a mask made of a giant clock? And why is it set at 2:50? Because that equals 52! (read it, not like a clock, but from left to right. 50,2.)
  • Oh, how will Luthor get out of this one? No mismatched doppelganger from Earth-Two to blame this time.

    Crisis Continuity With Brian Eason Returns!

    Oolong. It’s a tea, it’s the rabbit that ruled the Internet and, if you read DC Comic’s “52,” it’s an island full of crazy people. To put a finer point on it, it’s an island full of crazy scientists. Since these folks first appeared in “52,” I have had friends (and my 12 year old daughter Katie) ask me, “Who are all these people?” Well, since they just beat the heck out of Black Adam, I think that I owe them a round of introductions. Let’s start with the lesser lights and move up to the real movers and shakers, shall we?

    Dr. Tyme – The craziest of this nest of crazies has to be the fellow with a clock-shaped helmet, Dr. Time. This Doom Patrol villain premiered in ‘Doom Patrol’ #92 (1964) in the story “The Sinister Secret of Dr. Tyme” with the face of a clock. He is obviously a mad-man with his ravings about the cancellation of his favorite TV show, but this mad doctor carries a gun that can slow down time, allowing him to move at super-speed or to slow his opponents to a crawl. It’s also worth noting that in issue #2 of “52,” one of T.O. Morrow’s news clippings noted that Dr. Tyme had stolen 52 seconds. Tyme later mentions this himself in “52” #39.

    Baron Bug – There are no good-guy Barons; it’s a law, look it up. Baron Bug made his first appearance in the pages of “House of Mystery” #163 (1966). At the time, “House of Mystery” was the vehicle for “Dial ‘H’ for Hero” which featured young Robby Reed and his mysterious H-Dial that would transform Robbie into a random super-hero for one hour at a time. In this almost forgettable tale, the Baron is using giant insects to commit crimes all over town until he runs afoul of Robbie in the guise of King Coil, the robot hero. Robbie captures the Baron and he languishes in obscurity with Dr. Tyme until his recent appearances in “52.”

    Dr. Cyclops – “The Villain with the Doomsday Stare” was another “Dial ‘H’ for Hero” villain and he harassed poor Robbie Reed for the first (and only) time in “House of Mystery” #164 (1967). Cyclops used his (I kid you not) “super-powered spectacles” to commit crimes until he was defeated by Robbie Reed in the form of the hero Robbie Robot. It is interesting to note that Robbie also assumed the form of a hero named Supernova in this issue; he bears no resemblance to the Supernova in “52.”

    Dr. Rigoro Mortis – Would you believe that Dr. Rigoro Mortis and the Super-Hood first appeared in “House of Mystery” #165 (1967)? Yep, another villain that had to fight Robbie Reed and his H-Dial. The criminal doctor created the Super-Hood robot to set traps for the veritable army of superheroes that had been appearing in Littleville, ignorant of the fact that they were all Robbie Reed.

    Dr. Death – This is, in fact, not the Doom Patrol villain of the same name, but rather an old Batman foe that has grown crazier with age. Dr. Death first appeared in “Detective Comics” #29 (1939). For those keeping score, that would be Batman’s third appearance in Detective. This makes Dr. Death one of the original psychos of the DC Universe. In his original appearance, Doctor Death was used deadly gases to extort money from the richest members of Gotham society and was accompanied by his Indian manservant, Jabah. The Doctor made his Earth One appearance in “Batman” #345 and “Detective Comics” #512 (1982), where he appeared as a paraplegic and is assisted by his manservant Togo. Death’s weapon of choice was still lethal gas. Dr. Death appeared in his most recent incarnation in “Batgirl” #42-44 (2003) as a terrorist using biological weapons. He is now shown as a small, bald man in a lab coat and an oxygen mask. Guess the bio-toxins finally got to him.

    Ira Quimby – I.Q., the chap with the great tan and the solar-powered brain, first appeared in “Mystery In Space” #87 (1963) as the leader of the I.Q. gang and ran afoul of the Silver-Age Hawk-Man. Ira was exposed to the Theta-Bean radiation of a rock that was transported to Earth by Adam Strange. The rock granted Quimby “genius-level planning ability,” and with it, he invented a lifting ray and ‘aero-shoes’ that allowed him the ability to fly. While I.Q. and his gang were apprehended by Hawk-Man, he returned a number of times to face Superman, the Metal Men, and the Justice League of America.

    Veronica Cale – Veronica Cale was a founding partner in Cale-Anderson Pharmaceuticals and is, apparently, a biochemist of some great ability. She first appeared in “Wonder Woman” #196 (2003) when Veronica began a vendetta against the Amazon Princess. Her animosity was bred out of resentment for Wonder Woman for finding acceptance in the “Patriarch’s World.” When Wonder Woman writes a study of Amazon philosophy called “Reflections,” Cale uses the book to turn the media against her. Cale was an excellent Lex Luthor-style foil for Princess Diana and would likely have continued until the ‘Infinite Crisis’ storyline diverted the focus of the comic.

    Chang Tzu (Egg Fu) – Chang Tzu, the king of the politically incorrect villains, first appeared in “Wonder Woman” #157 (1965) as a giant egg-shaped head with a fu-manchu mustache – did I mention that he was yellow, had slanted eyes and was Chinese? Yeah. The 1960s were like that. Egg Fu (and his decedent Egg Fu the Fifth) was a criminal mastermind that enacted a number of bizarre plans against the US government. These plans included turning Wonder Woman’s beau, Steve Trevor, into a human bomb and stealing American submarines and hiding them in a giant seashell. During the submarine affair, Wonder Woman is held prisoner by her magic lasso. Diana offers to dance for Egg Fu and performs a dance which cracks Egg Fu and allows her to escape with the submarine – you just can’t make this stuff up. The post-crisis appearance of Egg Fu found the Humpty Dumpty-like villain to be a super-computer under the command of Darkseid that would teleport the unwary to the planet Apokolips. The most recent incarnation has only appeared in the pages of “52” and we discover that Egg Fu is one of “Nine thousand and nine unmentionable names” by which Chang Tzu is known. Apparently the name is sufficiently “unmentionable” that he killed a guard for saying it.

    Dr. Sivana – Dr. Thaddeus Bodog Sivana is the little, bespeckled creep with the oversize, hairless cranium. He made his first (of many) appearances in “Whiz Comics” #2 (1940) as the perennial enemy of Captain Marvel. Sivana appeared in over half of the Golden-Age Marvel Family stories and was remembered best for his trademark phrase “Curses! Foiled again!” and for coining the term “Big Red Cheese” to refer to Captain Marvel. When DC comics acquired the Quality Comics library in 1972, the 20-year disappearance of the Marvel Family was blamed on Sivana trapping the heroes (and Sivana himself) in “a sphere of Suspendium.” As we discovered in recent issues of “52,” Sivana’s suspendium is “artificial time.” After the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” event, Sivana returned as Billy “Captain Marvel” Batson’s step-uncle. This ret-con was hardly relevant because in 1994, “The Power of Shazam” graphic novel finally locked in the more traditional continuity we have today. The Sivana of the new “Power of Shazam” series was more of a Lex Luthor type villain, being not only a world class scientist, but incredibly rich and powerful as well. After the title folded in 1999, Sivana was relegated to obscurity again until the OYL “Outsiders” storyline and “52.”

    Dr. T.O. Morrow – You save the best for last. Don’t let the ascot and the polo shirt fool you, Dr. T.O. Morrow is the baddest man in the room. Morrow first appeared “Flash” #143 (1964) as a scientist who had invented a “fourth dimensional grappler” which allowed him to reach into the future to steal technology that does not yet exist. This makes Morrow the master of Future Tech; there is no device, no weapon, that is out of his grasp. Fortunately, Morrow only commits crimes because he is bored. He also creates life when he is bored. Morrow created the heroic android the Red Tornado and, according to a conversation with Will Magnus, creator of the Metal Men, is one of only two people who have created a “machine soul” (the other being Magnus himself). Over the years, Dr. Morrow has fought Supergirl, the Atom and the entire Justice League. After the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” event, Dr. Morrow’s mind appeared to be damaged by all of his time traveling and as a result, he created another android, Tomorrow Woman, to infiltrate the JLA. Tomorrow Woman, like the Red Tornado, betrayed Morrow. Morrow was placed in Belle Reve prison. Most recently, Morrow attempted to travel to the past and create a “perfect future”; when this plan failed he attempted to kill his own mother to make himself an orphan, thinking that he would grow up stronger. The Golden-Aged Flash dissuaded Morrow of this idea and he surrendered to the JLA. Dr. Morrow was imprisoned where he waited until his prison break in the pages of “52.”

    And there we have it; the island of misfit villains.

    Looking Ahead

    World War III, I think, will be developed, as most historical wars are, out of a miscommunication. After all, we still have a few weeks before the event – what if the scientists brainwash Adam and turn him into a tool of Intergang? Imagine all the damage that they could do, and he would never even know. What a perfect way to turn the world against him…

    Panel of the Week

    Ah, freaky nerd lovin’.

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