The 52 Steps: Week Twenty-Two

"I don't want to be crazy again." - Dr. Will Magnus

Week Twenty-Two

Previously in 52...

Youth ruled the day, as the Teen Titans met the new Infinity, Inc., who lost one of their own, thanks to their sponsor, and Ralph Dibny went on the highway to hell with Dr. Fate's helmet.

This Week's Key Players

Steel. Seriously, that's it, and he's barely there. What the hell?

Guest appearances

Lex Luthor, Supernova, The Metal Men (sort of), Dr. Will Magnus, and some big hunky Native American bound to be the Super-Chief.


Week Double Deuce looks a little rough for Mr. Double El, Lex Luthor. As everything kicks off, we meet with Lex as he receives a report on the mysterious Supernova, whom his lackeys feel sure is Connor Kent, especially following the conversation with Wonder Girl a few weeks back. The lackey seems to find further proof in the fact that Supernova was being watched with an orbital camera, and when he saw it, took care of it. The problem: Connor doesn't have hyper-vision.

So long Dr. Lackey. Unemployment line, here you come. Lex, though, is determined that Supernova is just Superman in a new disguise, solely to torment him, especially when he sees Supernova striking such a powerful pose outside his office window.

Jump to Day Three, as Lex visits another of his pet doctors to undergo some testing. The final result: Metagene therapy is not compatible with Lex Luthor's DNA. Sucks to be him.

Lastly, jump ahead to Day Five, where Lex is in the middle of a grand opening celebration for some new business and political school of his. Unfortunately, the party is crashed by a man claiming to know the truth about Luthor's gene therapy and the way he can turn it on and off as he sees fit. The only one to listen is Steel, who attended the party incognito and left with Lex's accuser.

But at least Lex wasn't the only guy to have a rough week. For Jon Standing Bear, it looks like he's destined to become the new Super-Chief (see Brian's report below). However, he decided to kill his grandfather to secure his right to the power, since his grandfather saw him not as a good choice, but as the only choice left to fill the role.

But the award for worst week standing goes to our good friend Dr. Will Magnus, who ends his week discussing the events of the last few months with his revitalized pal, Mercury. Unfortunately, there isn't a whole lot of time to talk, as one of Magnus' contacts fills him in that he's most likely being stalked by something called Shade just in time for him to be attacked by robots that look just like his Metal Men, only lacking any personality. The appendage-less Mercury makes a valiant effort to aid his creator, who books it out the front door, only to be attacked by a giant robot intent on either his capture or complete destruction.

In the back, Mark Waid and Ivan Reis present the origin of Green Lantern Hal Jordan.

Justin's Thoughts and Concerns

Dear God, where do I start?

  • Bang goes Connor as Supernova, I suppose. Still, Superman powers can still mean Superman clone, just not the one we think.
  • Just where can I subscribe to Metahuman Journal, or is it only a Fastback Bus perk?
  • Check the back of Jon's bus. "Silverblade Returns 10-13-06." I hope this is fact and not just a gag on the part of the writers (though it is a fantastic one if it is).
  • Yes, Hannibal Tabu, you're right, that end page robot look like a Sentinel on loan from Marvel.

Crisis Continuity with Brian Eason

Last week as I was finishing "52" I looked at the bison mask and wondered aloud, "Could that be Super-Chief?" Yup. Heh, we're having some fun now. I have nothing more to say than I couldn't be happier if I had a chance to write up Bwana-Beast.

Super-Chief was introduced in the waning days of DC's western comics. Super-Chief was created by Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino and appeared in only three issues of "All Star Western" in 1960 (117-119).

"In the years before white man set foot on this continent, he was the greatest warrior and mightiest hunter of the Wolf Clan of the Nations. His name, Flying Stag, was honored and revered by his people."

We learn from these opening lines that Super-Chief is one of DC's earliest "Westerns" and is set sometime in the late 1400s and since Flying Stag is an "Iroquois warrior of the Wolf Clan," then it's not technically a "Western" at all. At any rate, the Supreme Chief (or Royaneh) of the Indian nations dies and Flying Stag is sent to take part in a contest to find a new Supreme Chief. Flying Stag's fellow competitors conspire to trap him in a pit to prevent him from winning the contest. Flying Stag prays to the Manitou (the Great Spirit). He prays for help for his tribe and promises to sacrifice the role of Supreme Chief by not competing in the contest.

Out of the heavens, the voice of the Manitou declares that Flying Stag will serve him and that "Your strength shall be a thousand times that of the bear - your speed greater than the swiftest deer - your leaping prowess beyond that of the wolf! ... From this moment on you shall be called Saganowahna - Super-Chief! A chief above all others, even above Royaneh's. And yet, so that you may aid your people, you must go to the Council House and enter the contest for Royaneh of the Nations. Yet because you have sacrificed personal glory, you shall not compete as Flying Stag - but as Super-Chief."

Super-Chief flies from the pit, finds a chunk of a meteor and makes an amulet that he wears around his neck. Every time the rock glowed, Flying Stag was granted superpowers powers for one hour. Flying Stag was guided to a buffalo killed by lightning. From its hide he made his horned mask, leggings and moccasins. Now dressed as Super-Chief, Flying Stag wins the contest and saves the tribes from the evil rivals that had trapped him in the pit.

In a brilliant piece of secret identity stuff, when Flying Stag gets back to his village he learns that his betrothed, White Fawn, is forbidden by her father to marry him because of he failed to participate in the contest, instead, her father says she must marry Super-Chief. (Even Superman didn't have arranged marriages to mess him up that badly!) In the next two issues, Super-Chief also got his own version of Jimmy Olsen, White Fawn's brother Lightfoot.

Along comes the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" and Super-Chief lands in 1985. Firebrand (similarly displaced from the 1940s) sees Super-Chief flying towards the Space Shuttle. In true heroic fashion the slug it out and Firebrand learns that the Ultra-Humanite is in the shuttle and that Super-Chief was trying to stop him. The Humanite is defeated and Super-Chief returns to his own time.

In "Swamp Thing" #85 (1989) we learn that exposure to the meteorite amulet made Super-Chief very long lived (around 400 years) and that Super-Chief had basically become catatonic and he is in the custody of famed gunfighter Bat Lash. Even with his dementia, Super-Chief still had his powers and used his super-strength to smash a crystal creature, helping to save the day.

The final (up until now) appearance of Super-Chief was in 1997 in the "Adventure of Superman" Annual #9. A young Native-American finds the meteorite amulet and attempts to make the town of Dry Gulch into a gambling resort. The Energy powered Superman (dressed in Cowboy duds) fights the new (villainous) Super-Chief and defeats him, ending his threat of his coercion and government sanctioned gambling forever!

Yeah, here's hoping we forget that last one. At any rate, I smell Grant Morrison all over this revival, but since it looks like he took out grampa with a pillow this may not be the heroic return I was hoping for.


Anyone concerned about what Shade might be hunting Dr. Magnus best check out "Battle for Bludhaven" and "Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters," as Shade is actually S.H.A.D.E., the Super Human Advanced Defense Executive. Looks like the feds weren't playing around with the doc. God, I love this part of the book.

Panel of the Week

C'mon, vogue… strike a pose… or whatever… Lex, man, you need some valium, dude.

Don't forget…

Submissions for our very own "Fill in the Blank" contest from Week 17 are coming due. Check the archive for a full list of rules and a chance to get yourself some cool prizes.


Lex Luthor Is Convinced At Least One DC Hero Has Broken Bad

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