The 52 Steps: Week Forty-Eight

Sat, April 7th, 2007 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Justin Eger, Guest Contributor

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"This time it's different." - The Question

"52," Week Forty-Eight
Week Forty-Eight

Previously in 52...
On a whirlwind tour of the DCU, we got to see Kate Kane kidnapped, Renee's return to Gotham, the groundwork for the new Infinity, Inc., Animal Man's future and some appearances by Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin, all of whom were in Nanda Parbat for a little emotional healing.

This Week's Key Players
Renee Montoya is our shining star this week, though Black Adam makes a brief appearance.

Guest Appearances
Nightwing and Intergang mostly, along with Batwoman. The inhabitants of Oolong Island also appear briefly. Alan Scott and Wildcat are back there, too.

Highlights
As the week opens, we get to see a few different views of the hunt for Batwoman, as Nightwing and Montoya start laying waste to anyone and anything left in Gotham that might lead them to Intergang, manimals and other general beasties beware. During their route through town, they come across an interesting looking device, which is essentially a drill strapped to a bomb. Unfortunately, their investigation is interrupted by a few more manimals, sent by Intergang's Mannheim to help kick the prophecy laid forth in the Book of Crime into high gear.

Renee and Nightwing are warriors to the last, though they are being severely overpowered by the Intergang mutants. Even Renee's Apokalyptian gun fails to even the odds against these brutes, and the bomb is sent into motion. However, the two are aided by Mr. Abbott, who has defected from Intergang and offers to use his werewolf abilities to help the heroes stop Mannheim.

As stated though, Mannheim's drill-bomb was activated and it wasn't the only one. All across the city, the drills dig into the ground and gout hellfire into the sky, the plan to raze Gotham at the moment Mannheim sacrifices the twice named daughter of Cain, Batwoman. Now, it's three against the odds, and Renee orders Nightwing and Abbott to travel the city and disarm the bombs, reasoning that Abbott is the only one who knows how, and that Nightwing is the only one fast enough. That said, it's up to Renee to save Batwoman, but the only way to do it is to become her true self. Popping open the special belt buckle given to her by Aristotle Rodor, Renee dons a pseudoderm mask and triggers the binary gas release.

Renee Montoya is no more. Now, there is only The Question.

As the Question makes a raid on Intergang's headquarters, she confronts Mannheim and his freaks at the moment of sacrifice, battling her way towards Batwoman, only to see Mannheim stab her in the chest. The fight between the Question and Mannheim is short and brutal, and just when the question thinks she has failed, Batwoman removes the dagger from her chest and fatally stabs Mannheim in the back. As the former lovers are reunited under their new masks, the fires of Gotham are put out.

Oh, and the guys out on Oolong Island decided to put Black Adam, the ultimate weapon, up on for bids in front of the world.

Back-up Feature
The Origin of the Birds of Prey with Mark Waid and Nicola Scott.

Justin's Thoughts and Concerns

  • Wow. That was a tight issue.

  • Was that creeped out snake that attacked The Question actually supposed to be Whisper A'Daire? Yuck.

  • Wouldn't you be surprised if Kate / Batwoman died? I would be.

  • As much as I was digging the Book of Crime, stuff, the prayers to the shiv and the gat were a little much for me this month.

  • Nice to see someone remember that Binary Gas can change clothing color, too. I swear, Vic didn't have an actual color change the last ten years.

  • Dude, I know you can get all sorts of stuff on eBay, but an enraged, cancerously-powered ruler of a nation? Man, I'd totally bid, like, $50 bucks for that.

Crisis Continuity With Brian Eason
In last week's Crisis Continuity, we covered the Silver, Bronze and Modern Age history of the Batwoman and I promised that this week I would, due to a premonition, cover the history of Rene Montoya on the outside chance that she would figure heavily in the latest issue. Good guess, huh?

Typically, when I do one of these pieces, I like to cite the first appearance of the character. In this case, I found it a bit muddled. In 1992, "Batman: The Animated Series" premiered and in the episode "Pretty Poison" (September 14th, 1992) we find the first TV appearance of Officer Montoya. While her first appearance in print is "Batman" #475 (May 1992), credit for creating Rene Montoya goes to Paul Dini, who was the writer of the TV series. Development of the character was for the TV series, but was adapted to the comics and saw print first due to the longer lead time in creating a TV episode. Rene is in a rarefied group of characters (like Harley Quinn) that was created for TV and then made the transition to comics.

Following her appearance in "Batman" #475 (1992), Officer Montoya becomes a recurring character in the Batman family of titles. In the course of a short few appearances, she is promoted to Homicide Detective and partnered with Harvey Bullock, and then later with Detective Crispus Allen.

Detective Montoya's prominence in the Batman titles escalated in the 1999 Batman crossover event called "No Man's Land." In this 80-part series, an earthquake strikes Gotham City and the Federal government declares Gotham a disaster area. After a timeline for evacuation is reached, the government cuts off all entry and exit from the city, declaring Gotham a lost cause. In the blasted landscape of Gotham's No Man's Land, Montoya forms an odd friendship with the villain Two-Face. Rene convinces the Harvey Dent half of Two-Face's personality to help her with relief efforts. In the course of the story Harvey begins to fall in love with the detective. This relationship is one of the strong points of the "No Man's Land" story arc and has ripples that reach well into the series that would make Detective Montoya famous: "Gotham Central."

In 2001, Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka collaborated on the "Officer Down" 7-part crossover in the Batman family of titles, and the authors decided to do an ongoing series based around the men and women of the Gotham City Police Department. "Gotham Central" premiered in December of 2002. In the "Half a Life" story arc ("Gotham Central" #6-10), Two-Face's friendship, love and obsession with Rene culminates when he outs her as a lesbian. In his twisted mind, Two-Face decides that the only way that Rene will love him is if she is given nowhere else to turn. Harvey begins to destroy the Detective's life by first outing her to the public by distributing photos of her kissing her girlfriend Daria. Up to this point, Montoya had hidden her lifestyle from her Catholic family and fellow cops. Then, Harvey frames Montoya for murder and kidnaps her in an attempt to make it look like an escape. In one of the more memorable moments from the series, Rene confronts Harvey (who has confessed his love), yelling: "Harvey, you outed me! I'm gay! I'm a dyke, a lesbian, I like girls! Didn't you look at the picture before you started sending it around?" Two-Face predictably goes even farther over the deep end and he and Montoya fight over Harvey's gun. The pair is saved by Batman, but for Rene, the damage is done and her personal life has become all too public, culminating with her family disowning her. This revelation also leads to alienating her from many of her fellow officers.

In the 2004 Batman crossover, "War Games," Detective Montoya and her partner Crispus Allen are involved with an incident where Allen shoots the Black Spider (a lesser-known Batman villain). A corrupt investigator named Jim Corrigan steals the bullet and (I kid you not) sells it on the Internet. Corrigan's sale of the bullet leads to a series of events resulting in the murder of Crispus Allen at the hands of Corrigan. Montoya tracks down Corrigan, but discovers that she cannot kill the corrupt cop. The next day, Rene Montoya quits the GCPD.

The next we see of Rene is in the pages of "52" where, the now-alcoholic runs into the faceless hero known as the Question. We are now 48 issues into Rene's new saga and she has taken the mantle of her friend and mentor, the Question. While I, for one, am sad to see Vic Sage go, I am happy to see that a character with such a rich history is being used to fill his shoes and to continue DC Comics' mastery of the legacy hero.

Looking Ahead
Now, there is an answer to just who called Vixen to that bar in Hub City back in "Justice League of America" a few months ago. Well, okay, maybe not totally, but if it was The Question and not the villains, then Renee Montoya was doing some recruiting. I hope someone jumps on that thread sometime soon.

This week, we got more about our Gotham during the missing year, but, as I recall, there still hasn't been an answer as to all the corruption and crime that Harvey Bullock discovered in Gotham. You know, the stuff that was brought up in the OYL "Batman" books, the stuff that got Jim Gordon back into the saddle as commissioner? The stuff that no one has touched since? C'mon, guys, we've got a new Question, so now let's get some answers.

Panel of the Week

I've got to agree with Brian. I'm crying at the loss of Vic Sage, but this still looks cool as hell.

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