The 52 Steps: Week Fifty-One

First ever tie! "They were his colors." - Robin, or "Can we keep her?" - Cliff Baker

Week Fifty-One

Previously in 52

World War Three. How could you forget?

This Week's Key Players

Animal Man, Adam Strange, Starfire and Booster Gold.

Guest Appearances

Darn near everyone, again, including Rip Hunter, some Green Lanterns, Lobo, the Big Three in civilian garb, the Teen Titans and more.


The week begins by picking up where we last saw Buddy Baker about a month ago, or, more accurately, Buddy's wife, Ellen. Returning from a date with some poser, Ellen informs him that she's not even close to being over Buddy. Cue the awesomely timed arrival, as Animal Man makes it home to his wife and kids.

Later in the week, to celebrate Buddy's return, the Baker's invite a few friends over, but joining them are some intergalactic bounty hunters. Though the hunters are bent on getting some cold hard cash for Animal Man's corpse, Starfire arrives to smack the crap out of them, only to collapse just after meeting Ellen, leaving her still unaware that Buddy survived their shared ordeal in space.

But there was one more hero out there on the edge of the galaxy, and Adam Strange gets a warm homecoming, too. After flying across space blind and fending off the hordes of Lady Styx, Adam gets to come home to Rann with the aid of a few Green Lanterns. With the aid of his father-in-law, Sardath, Adam gets a new pair of eyes, genetically copied from his daughter, who, with her mother, welcome back the hero. In the meantime, the Lanterns decide to help clean up the remnants of the bad guys out in space.

But, again, there was one other person out there with the spacefarers. The Main Man, Lobo, returns to the Fish God, prepared to present the Emerald Eye to his holiness. As it turns out, the Eye happens to be the only thing that can kill the Fish God, which inspires Lobo to return to his old, old ways…

Back on Earth, a number of heroes reunite at the statue of Conner Kent in Metropolis, saluting their fallen friend and getting ready to take on the world again after the events of this past year. Clark Kent, Diana Prince and Bruce Wayne are all present, and, though things have been hard, the world starts to get back to normal after the troubles of last week's world war.

However, there is one last bit of business to wrap up this week, as Rip Hunter and Booster Gold bait Skeets into a trap with the help of Red Tornado's head and Dr. T.O. Morrow. The arriving villain plans to steal the map Red Tornado made of "The 52" before he was destroyed, but the heroes attempt to stop him, only to find out that it's never been Skeets they've been fighting.

It's Mr. Mind, the worm that went missing way back at the beginning of the year. Unfortunately, the revelation catches the heroes off guard, and they jump time in an effort to fix things once more.

Back-up Feature

"The Origin of the JLA," from Mark Waid and Ivan Reis.

Justin's Thoughts and Concerns

  • As promised on the cover, the Mystery in Space revealed. "The 52" are the 52 worlds of the multiverse, restored from the first Crisis.
  • Also, 52 weeks of gestation for Mister Mind. Nasty.
  • Also (again) we still need a little wrap up to the missing 52 seconds… wait, the suspendium Mr. Mind used. Found it!
  • Nice to see a happy ending to Buddy's Odyssey, and to Adam's, as well.
  • Didn't expect to see Lobo again, though, really, I shouldn't have been surprised.
  • Those bounty hunters look a little like Apokalyptian guys to me.
  • Man, Cliff Baker is funny.
  • How does Starfire's costume actually work, anyway? That looks like it has no support at all.

Crisis Continuity With Brian Eason

As "52" draws to a close, I can finally answer the question that has been posed to me the most often since I started writing the CRISIS CONTINUITY: "What about Rip Hunter?" I was tempted to bring up the Time Master when he first appeared, but as (pardon the pun) time went on, I knew that Rip would play a major part in the 52 end-game.

The Time Master first appeared in "Showcase" #20 (May 1959), written by Jack Miller and penciled by Ruben Moreira. Ripley "Rip" Hunter was a time traveler who used his Time Sphere to move through history. The exact origins of the Time Sphere were not provided, but we were to assume that Rip was the inventor. Rip was joined by his friend Jeff Smith, girlfriend, Bonnie Baxter, and Bonnie's brother, Corky. Smart readers will note that this was a quartet with a Scientist and his girlfriend, her kid brother and the scientist's bruiser of a buddy *cough*fantasticfour*cough*. All kidding aside, this sort of foursome became the template for adventure teams of all stripes including the Fantastic Four and the Sea Devils, just to name a couple.

Rip and his crew appeared in a total of 4 issues of "Showcase" before moving on to "Rip Hunter, Time Master" #1 (1961) where they had a series of pretty typical adventures for 29 issues. The series came to a halt in 1965 in the face of the superhero genre's resurgence. It should be noted that the crew started wearing green and red uniforms in 1963 to make them as identifiable as their more colorful counterparts.

With 1985's "Crisis on Infinite Earths," Rip (like so many characters) got a second chance, when Dr. Ripley Hunter was called upon to save Booster Gold from a deadly disease that was only treatable with 25th Century science. "Time Masters" #1 (February 1990) reintroduced the team from the 1960s and gave them a new focus: the defeat of the immortal villain, Vandal Savage and his illuminati. The mini-series ran for 8 issues and was well received, but the planned sequel never got beyond the development stage.

We would next see our hero when Rip's time-traveling attracts the attention of a group of fellow time travelers called the Linear Men. The Linear Men invited Rip to join them. Simply calling himself "Hunter", Rip became involved with a series of time travel events. The first was the DC Universe event "Armageddon 2001" (1991). During this event Rip was physically changed, his hair had gone from blonde to white and the stresses of time travel had required a cybernetic replacement for (at minimum) one of his eyes. Rip was a tertiary character in the "Armageddon" event, appearing merely as a member of the Linear Men.

Rip's next appearance was just prior to the "Zero Hour" event of 1994, when Waverider (one of the Linear Men) accidentally evolved the villain Monarch (from "Armageddon 2001") into Extant. Hunter looked into the future and saw Monarch's death, but time was altered and Extant's actions lead to another death and rebirth of the universe (not unlike "Crisis").

In 1998, DC published "The Kingdom" by writer Mark Waid. "The Kingdom" was a companion piece to Mark Waid and Alex Ross's hugely successful "Kingdom Come." In the series, Waid established the concept of Hypertime. Hypertime was explained as small divergences in the history of the DC Universe as a way to explain away any possible continuity errors, down to and including coloring mistakes. In "The Kingdom" series, Rip appears at the birth of Superman and Wonder Woman's son. At the same point, the villain, Gog, traveled back in time, killing earlier versions of Superman in an attempt to create a paradox. Yet, the attacks have no effect on the timeline. After Gog is defeated, Rip tells Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman that he has been working with the child as an adult, Jonathan Kent. The existence of Hypertime was explained and, because all temporal events were relative, the Linear Men no longer had a purpose.

Since "The Kingdom" storyline, Rip has appeared here an there and it has been revealed that "Rip Hunter" is in fact an alias and that his name, date of birth, and place of origin have been hidden to prevent his enemies from killing Hunter before he can become a threat. Further hints at a history indicate that Rip may be much more than he appears to be. Some of these revelations may finally be given in the final issue of "52."

Looking Ahead

Jump on over to "Justice Society of America" #5 for some further proof that the multiverse is back in gear, as the Legion of Super-Heroes show up in a memorial to their time with a young Clark Kent in space, a time that was lost in the "first Crisis," as Superman called it, but that has since been restored.

Panel of the Week

Odd how happy a second-rater like Buddy Baker has made me this year.


Bendis Teases Possible Legion of Super-Heroes Announcement This Week

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