The 52 Steps: Week Eighteen

Sat, September 9th, 2006 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Justin Eger, Guest Contributor

"Then our pilgrimage begins." - The Helm of Nabu

"52" Week Eighteen
Week Eighteen

Previously in 52...
The space-faring trio got a little help from a man named Lobo. Say wha'?

This Week's Key Players
Ralph Dibny, Renee Montoya, The Question, Black Adam and Booster's corpse.

Guest appearances
Lots and lots, including the Shadowpact, most of the Croatoans, Clark Kent, Isis and a few others.

Highlights
There we go… back to lots of bang for your three bucks.

The week begins as members of the Croatoans visit the House of Mystery only to discover their comrade Tim Trench bearing the Helm of Nabu, though it seems it's destroyed him in the process, turning him to water. Calling in the aid of former member Ralph Dibny, the quest to discover how Tim came upon the helm begins. Ralph tells Detective Chimp to call in the big guns, getting the aid of the Shadowpact. One spell from The Enchantress later, Ralph and the helm start having a deep, meaningful discussion about the Tenth Age of Magic and the costs of calling upon forces greater than yourself. The result: the helm convinces Ralph that he should walk the path of the Helm, guiding him to his heart's fondest desire. The only concern: no one else heard the conversation, and the assembled Shadowpact worry for Ralph has he goes on his pilgrimage with the helm in hand.

Across the ocean, Black Adam and Isis bestow great honors upon Charles Victor Szasz for his aid in stopping the bombing scheduled for the day of the royal wedding. However, his partner in heroism, Renee Montoya, is a no show, off on a bender with a pretty little Kahndaqi girl. Adam, enraged at the perceived insult, confronts her, only to realize that she's running from the thought of how she stopped the bombing, hoping for release, whether it be through sex or suicide at Adam's hands. Following this realization, Vic turns everyone to the real matter at hand: stopping Intergang.

Lastly, with one more jump back across the pond, Cincinnati, Ohio plays host to Booster Gold's funeral, with a handful of cheap superheroes playing pallbearer in a city that Booster never visited. Clark Kent and Skeets consider the meaninglessness of Booster's death and the state of his funeral, only to have Skeets discover what could possibly be an ancestor of Booster Gold's alive and well in our own time.

Backstory this week is the history of Mr. No-Face himself, The Question, Courtesy of Mark Waid and Joe Bennett.

Justin's Thoughts and Concerns

  • If there's anyone out there who wants to name the pallbearers for Booster's funeral, go nuts. I only recognize Beefeater, and I feel dirty for even getting that far.

  • Odd that Booster's ancestor also looks to have some hero-worship going on.

  • Ralph with the Helm of Nabu? Cool (but do we still call it the Helm of Nabu? Helm of Fate? Anyone?)

  • Was the appearance by the Shadowpact even remotely necessary?

  • Maybe it's a rule that we have to have Renee nearly naked and in bed with a strange woman ever so many weeks.

  • 'Bout time we started getting some answers about the Tenth Age of Magic.

  • Wonder what's up with the waiters at Raplh's restaurant. Don't get many monkeys, or something more sinister?

  • Folks, let's stand up and take notice: Joe Bennett should be doing a regular monthly Question book, and it should happen soon.

Crisis Continuity with Brian Eason
Oh goodie. I finally get to write about one of my favorites: Doctor Fate. Fate is one of those legacy characters that Marvel fans generally hate and DC fans generally love. He's been around for over 60 years and at least 5 different people have called upon the power of Fate and with little (if any) retcons. So, here we go, the life and times of Doctor Fate.

Fate first appeared in 1940 in More Fun Comics #55. In All-Star Comics #3 (1940) Fate became a charter member of the Justice Society of America. Fate disappeared from the comics before the end of the 1940's.

In the 1960's with the revival of the Justice Society as the "Heroes of Earth-2," Doctor Fate was brought back along side his cohorts in a chain of annual team-ups with the silver-age Justice League of America. It was ironic that his lack of popularity in the 1940's was the key to his success with the fans in his silver-age appearance. The Silver-Age characters had their origins firmly planted in science, whereas Fate was mystical and, due to his early departure from the comics scene, he had no silver-age counterpart. These factors combined to make Fate unique. He became regular in the rotating JSA line-up that that appeared annually in JLA, gave him a two issue run in Showcase, a Walt Simonson illustrated solo in First Issue Special #9 and a starring role in the All-Star Comics revival of the 1970s.

It was not until Crisis on Infinite Earths that Fate would come fully to the forefront of DC continuity. After the Crisis Fate briefly joined the Justice League, he was also the central figure of a 4-issue series by J. M. DeMatteis and Keith Giffen. In the series, Kent Nelson finally died of old age and Fate's mantle was taken up by Eric and Linda Strauss who merged to become Fate. Nelson's body was reanimated by Nabu to help train the pair. Their adventures as Doctor Fate continued for two years in a regular series by DeMatteis and Shawn McManus. Then, Kent's wife Inza was resurrected to take on the role of Doctor Fate.

After this run, DC retired Doctor Fate and passed his mystic artifacts on to a mercenary soldier who carried the transformed Helmet and Amulet in the form of darts and a dagger. The adventures of Fate (no Doctor for this guy) lasted nearly 3 years and up to the beginning of the incredibly successful JSA series by author Geoff Johns. In the pages of JSA, Hector Hall (formerly the Silver Scarab and son of the Golden Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl) became the new Doctor Fate. Hector made his final bow in the Days of Vengeance.

Now for the fictional stuff.

Nabu was a Lord of Order who took the form of a Wizard in the court of Prince Khufu (Hawkman) in ancient Egypt. He was close friends with Teth-Adam (Black Adam), Khufu and Chay-Ara (Hawkgirl). Kent Nelson's father was an archaeologist who opened Nabu's tomb and was killed for his trouble. In a twisted sense of kindness, Nabu took the dead man's son as his student and taught him the ways of magic. Kent was also granted the Helmet and Amulet of Nabu.

Though it has changed over the years, it has been finally determined that Doctor Fate is, indeed, Nabu possessing and 'sharing' the human vessel that weilds the tools of Fate. The vessel and Nabu form a sort of gestalt being. As mentioned above, the beings who have made up Fate have been Kent Nelson, Eric and Linda Strauss, Inza Nelson (Kent's long-suffering wife) and finally Hector Hall.

Finally it appears that Timothy Trench attempted to take on the mantle of Fate and was melted for it (as we see in the latest issue of 52). As an Aside, Timothy Trench was a side-kick for Wonder Woman (Vol 1 #179-182) in the late 1960's and later (appearing a bit younger) in the pages of Detective Comics (460-461) in the mid 1970's. Finally Tim made an appears in Swamp Thing #162. Tim was a two fisted detective type in the mold of Mike Hammer or Sam Spade (which would explain his membership in the Detective "club" the Croatoans). Why Tim would want to risk this foolish attempt to gain supernatural power is beyond me, but is smells of a Grant Morrison plotline to me.

Predictions
A new Booster? Probably, but my eyes are still locked on Kahndaq as the royal family teams with Renee and Vic to go Intergangbusting.

The Daily Planet
Two new news items on www.52thecomic.com, including an interview with Detective Chimp and a mysterious transmission from space, causing scientists to wonder about golden knockers and interstellar freighters.

Panel of the Week

Does that scanner take costume measurements, too?

Don't Forget…
We're still accepting entries for the Week 17 Contest, which requires you to email me your name, where you live and the dialogue for all of the panel's that occurred in deep space last issue, where Starfire and Lobo say… stuff. What that stuff is, well, that's up to you to decide. Send your entries in, folks, and earn yourself some free swag!

Archives
Week Seventeen
Week Sixteen
Week Fifteen
Week Fourteen
Week Thirteen
Week Twelve
Week Eleven
Week Ten
Week Nine
Week Eight
Week Seven
Week Six
Week Five
Week Four
Week Three
Week Two
Week One

 
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