Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Coming in from the Racial Snowstorm (52 #38, Cover Date 1/24/07)


Main Heroes: Renee Montoya, Will Magnus
Minor Heroes: The Question, Steel, Natasha Irons, Dr. Midnite

Main Villians: Chang Tzu
Minor Villains: The Mad Scientists


The majority of this week's installment revolves around Renee's desperate attempt to get Charlie back to Nanda Parbat before he dies. This involves lots of pulling of a sled through the Himalayan wilderness and low moaning from Charlie. semi-cryptic discussion of butterflies, and a last second reprieve as Nanda Parbat is revealed from the midsts of the white wasteland.

In other news, Chang Tzu reveals that the scientists have recreated the four horesemen of the apocolypse using the "Revelation of Apokalips", a blueprint provided in the Bible of Crime. War, Death, and Pestilence are introduced, but Famine seems to have ridden out earlier.

Also, Steel and Dr. Midnite briefly examine an Everyman corpse, and consider how wise it is to storm Luthor's facility. They are interrupted by Natasha, who has come to her senses and is now working for the good guys from the inside.


After answering the burning "Who is Supernova" mystery last week -- it turns out that he was secretly Basil Exposition from Austin Powers -- things settled down to a more leisurely pace in Week 38. Of the 20 pages of story (not including the "Origins of Red Tornado"), 13 pages take place wondering in the white wasteland with Montoya, 5 are in Oolong Island with the scientists, and only 2 are with Steel in Metropolis. (No word from space, Ralph, or Skeets this week).

And speaking of coming in from the White Wastelands, I have been impressed with all the rehabilitations of racist stereotypes so far this year. I talked about Ebony before, but, really, if I were going to guess the "least likely to be rehabilitated", it would have to have been the evil Emperor "Egg Fu" (pictured above in all of his non-P.C. glory in his original "Wonder Woman" days.) Now renamed Chang Tzu, I have almost completely forgotten that he was previously named after a menu item from Peking Duck House, despite still being shaped like one of its ingredients.

Chang Tzu, by the way, far from being "One from Column A", was a Taoist philosopher, most famous for stating, "I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man." This ties in very well with Charlie's rantings about butterflies on the Himalayan pages, and I wonder whether or not it was intentional.

I think everyone reading "52" has a favorite thread, and are disappointed when it doesn't appear. For me, the Chang Tzu quote reminds me of my favorite character thread who was absent this week -- Ralph Dibney. The "Helmet of Fate" mini is making me think less and less that Ralph is "really" wandering around with the Helmet. That leaves me to think he is either complete insane, or -- what I think is more likely -- that he's having a Jacob's Ladder/ Donnie Darko moment.

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Anonymous Loren said...

Wow, you are good. I never thought about linking Charlie's references to butterflies with the famous Chang Tzu quote. It's too coincidental for it not to be on purpose.

As for Ralphie, I miss him, too. Although, I'm still wondering if his path continues on with Fate. The first Helmet of Fate special, which I oddly enjoyed, takes place during 52. So, it is conceivable that these stories are all from ONE YEAR LATER to launch something with Ralph in it. Whatever the case might be, I'm hoping he makes it out of 52 alive. And, frankly, I still want to see him as the Elongated Man. But, give his journey, I wouldn't be upset by him becoming Fate, either.

5:10 PM  
Blogger Ragtime said...

Hi Loren,

The reason I thought it might be a coincidence was that they use the butterfly metaphor so differently. Charlie's butterfly references seemed to refer to the nature of change -- the caterpillar to butterfly thing.

The Chang Tzu quote doesn't rely on it being a butterfly, or a creature that changes. It would have worked just as well if he dreamed he was an elephant.

I will have to look at my Detective Chimp again tomorrow, but I remember getting the impression from the beginning that the Helmet flew around the universe for a year before crashing back down onto DC's head again, and that it was now a half-helmet. That doesn't jibe with Ralph's helmet-quest.

Also, while not proof of anything in the new multiversal sense, the solicits for the new Dr. Fate series don't talk about Ralph.

8:51 PM  

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