The 52 Steps: Week Fourteen

"Tell me today's not Wednesday." - Renee Montoya

Week Fourteen

Previously in 52...

Ralph Dibny learned that the Cult of Conner might be more than show, but the revelation may have cost him his only chance at Sue's resurrection.

This Week's Key Players

Renee Montoya, The Question and Steel

Guest appearances

Black Adam and Isis are mentioned in passing, while Dr. Will Magnus and Mercury make an appearance.


Hot on the heels of the crisis that was Raplh Dibny's life last week, Week Fourteen starts at the end of the week, as paths begin to cross. The Question and Renee Montoya have flown to Kahndaq hot on the trail of Intergang's front company, an export group named Ridge Ferrick. Arriving on day six of the week, the dynamic duo vanished into the crowds of Kahndaq, stunned by the love shown to Black Adam, though the rest of the world thinks him a monster.

After 20 hours of rest to catch up from the jet lag, Renee and The Question go on the hunt after "Charlie," who provides some information gleaned from his good friend Artistotle Rodor. The trail leads them through many a back alley in Kahndaq, with the wolf-man Abbot tailing them the entire time. However, when they reach their destination, it seems that Abbot more accurately beat them to it, slaughtering everyone in the warehouse, bathing the place in blood. After a quick examination, Renee and The Question try to make a break for it, only to be arrested by the Kahndaq government.

Back home, Steel goes through some pains, finishing his niece's Steel armor as his doctor comes to visit. Her visit combines news of Natasha's new life as a Lex Luthor trademarked superhero, and she also expresses the home to reverse what has happened to Steel thanks to Luthor's gene-engineering. Steel, though, seems to be on his way to a black pit of despair.

The last part of our week in review visits with Dr. Will Magnus, inventor of the Metal Men, who just aren't working quite right anymore. Nonetheless, the government is willing to pay handsomely to dissect the metallic heroes, or, in lieu of payment, just taking them. Magnus ushers them off with a tidy "No thank you" and decides to pay a visit to Thomas Oscar Morrow. Lo and behold, though, Morrow has apparently escaped, leaving nothing behind but a simple note for Will, a note comprised entirely of machine code.

Will flashes back to an earlier conversation about artificial souls he'd had with Morrow, and as we last see him, he's begun working on Mercury of the Metal Men again, only this time, with Morrow's code, Mercury is back to being his old self, much to the delight of Magnus.

Back up alert! Metamorpho as done by Mark Waid and Eric Powell!

Justin's Thoughts and Concerns

  • Told you that conversation on artificial souls would come back to haunt us, didn't I?
  • The new Steel armor is quite impressive, though what it'll be used for is anyone's guess.
  • Will Magnus on Prozac? Could be dangerous. And what's up with his eyes? It might be a coloring mistake, but the whites of his eyes look really, really blue to me at one point.
  • What in the Hades is up with that "retirement home" where they kept Morrow? An armored ice cream truck and attacking dogs? Weird.
  • Renee made a bad comment in there about "I'm gonna hold his dead body in my hands." Not cool, writers. Way too much foreshadowing for me, especially being such a big Question fan.
  • And hoo-ray for the return of Aristotle and the Metal Men, by the way.
  • Last bit for Renee and Question: note the question mark shaped cloud of gas when Vic puts on the mask (seems like a reference to the classic Denny O' Neil days) and Renee's mention of the rhythms of a city, perhaps another reference to the most recent Question mini-series.
  • Oh, I forgot! Thank you, Renee, for mentioning Hub City, the land that DC forgot, and where The Question hung his hat for so long.
  • Rat problem?
  • No, no jokes about a man of steel always being hard, I promise.

Crisis Continuity with Brian Eason

The Metal Men have had a load of continuity and ret-cons because despite their less than stellar success, they are an inexplicable favorite with DC's writers... ah, who am I kidding, everyone loves them. Just for not very long. They're kind of a one trick pony. They started out as a scheduling mistake. In 1962, The Atom was appearing in "Showcase." He was given his own book and there was nothing planned for issue #37 of "Showcase." "Showcase" was just that, a showcase for new ideas to see if they could carry a book. So, Robert Kanigher knuckled down and scripted the first Metal Men story over a weekend. Ross Andru and Mike Esposito handled the art and they killed off the team in the first story because they figured there would never be a second. Someone up the chain thought they had a chance and asked for three more issues. Issue #38 showed Doc Magnus scavenging for the robots' parts (especially the responsometers that gave them personalities). Basically the Metal Men died at the end of each issue to be resurrected in the next - this went on for years.

Eventually, The Metal Men got their own bi-monthly in 1963 and went 41 issues (1970). The 1993 Metal Men mini-series (which now appears to thankfully be cast aside) had the responsometers somehow connected to the brain patterns of recently-dead humans (by way of explaining their human-like behavior). Doc was also killed and replaced with a robot with his personality called Veridium (I'm not sure what became of that storyline, but I'm glad it is gone).

Aristotle Rodor is a University professor in Hub City. Rodor created Pseudoderm, an artificial skin that could bond to wounded skin for medical and cosmetic purposes. The formula was flawed was toxic when applied to open wounds. Rodor learned that his partner and Pseudoderm's co-creator Arby Twain was attempting to sell it to Third World Nations. Rodor called his friend and former student Vic Sage. Vic went after Twain and used a mask of Psuedoderm to hide his face... yada yada... The Question was born.


Could Renee's words spell doom for The Question? Probably. Also spelling doom will surely be Morrow's machine code, which will almost certainly turn the Metal Men into destructo-bots before it's all said and done.

Panel of the Week

Heh, heh, she's disassembled. Get it? Dis-ass-embled? Oh, never mind. Who's idea was this shot, anyway?


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