The 52 Steps: Week Forty-Nine

Sat, April 14th, 2007 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Justin Eger, Guest Contributor

"I have a particle wave ray gun and a bipolar disorder!" - Dr. Will Magnus

"52" Week Forty-Nine
Week Forty-Nine

Previously in 52...
The Question and Nightwing found Batwoman and saved Gotham from Intergang, though the cost may have been the Batwoman's life.

This Week's Key Players
Black Adam is in there.

Guest Appearances
The madmen of Oolong Island, the Great Ten, the Justice Society of America, Atom Smasher, Will Magnus, the Metal Men and a few Infinity Inc. punks.

The siege of Oolong Island begins, as the JSA attempts to retrieve Black Adam from the mad scientists that have taken control of him. Unfortunately, the siege is stopped by the Great Ten, who claim Oolong Island as sovereign territory of China. Any further acts of aggression would thus be considered an act of war, and all attempts to retrieve Black Adam would be met with "ultimate" force.

This sparks a note of recognition in Alan Scott, who confronts the Chinese on the fact that Chang Tzu / Egg-fu is actually a member of the Great Ten, and the declaration of war isn't a matter of Black Adam's capture, it's a matter of covering up that allegiance and finishing off Black Adam, who was never supposed to survive the attack of the Four Horsemen.

Let's go inside the island bunker for a moment, where the scientists decide that it's every weirdo for themselves. Will Magnus and his mini-Metal men hold off Chang and do a little damage inside the bunker, only to be stopped (temporarily) by T.O. Morrow. As a bargaining chip, Magnus offers Morrow a way out on board Dr. Sivana's omni-bot, floating out in orbit. Morrow accepts the offer, and he escapes, while Magnus goes back to holding his own against all the crazies, eventually using a "Lead" bullet to take down Chang.

As for Sivana, he decides to make a run for it, taking with him all the research he developed to torture the Adam family members. The only real problem is that he doesn't have the remote teleporter he needs to get to the omni-bot. Hmm, wonder where that could have gotten to? There's little time to figure it out for sure, as the JSA and the Great Ten raid the fortress together, bypassing the shields thanks to a little extra help from Dr. Magnus, with Atom Smasher scooping up Sivana and demanding the location of Black Adam.

Smasher frees Adam, begging to know that Adam wasn't the one who did all that damage in bilaya, that he wasn't the one who killed an entire nation. Adam simply states his need for justice for his family, declaring war as he rockets out of the structure and off into next week.

Meanwhile, the remnants of Infinity Inc. think they're pretty tough, and they decide all they need is a chance to prove to the old men on the JSA that they're ready to be heroes.

Be careful what you wish for.

Back-up Feature
The Origin of the Justice Society of America, with Mark Waid and Don Kramer.

Justin's Thoughts and Concerns

  • "Ultimate force?" Can anyone define "ultimate force?" Is that like, super-duper-tough force?

  • JSA versus the Great Ten? Place your bets!

  • Where-oh-where is Veronica Cale these last few weeks?

  • Glad we didn't see the Plutonium Man activated, though the giant smashed egg was kinda gross. I doubt that comes out of the carpet easily.

  • Morrow with an omni-bot is just bad news. Not a good decision on the part of Magnus, though, really, he didn't actually have his pills.

  • Silly me for wondering where Lead was during all the commotion. He's right where he was needed.

  • I guess we can expect a few more Infinity Inc. bodies before it's all said and done.

  • Wait a second... was that Chinese telepath feeding Alan Scott that information?

    Crisis Continuity With Brian Eason
    Considering the matter of the latest issue of "52" and placing characters and events in context, I came to a conclusion: it might not have been so smart to concentrate on the Metal Men and Black Adam so early on. While writing the history of the JSA would be a product close to my heart, it would be a massive undertaking. Instead, it occurred to me that the history of Albert (Atom Smasher) Rothstein would be more manageable and relevant to the issue at hand.

    Story continues below

    Albert Rothstein made his first appearance in the pages of "All-Star Squadron" #25 (September, 1983). Albert was the godson of Al Pratt, the Golden Age Atom and the grandson of the supervillain Cyclotron. Albert has the ability to control the molecular structure of his body, allowing him to change his size and density. He is also possessed with superhuman strength. In "Infinity Inc." #1 (March, 1984), Albert followed his godfather, becoming the superhero Nuklon. Albert, along with several other relatives and sidekicks of the Justice Society, formed Infinity Inc., after being tuned down for membership by the JSA. Years later, after the dissolution of Infinity Inc., Albert joined the JSA under the guise of Atom Smasher. The Atom Smasher costume was very similar to that of Al Pratt's original Atom costume.

    When Albert's mother was murdered in a plane crash caused by agents of Kobra, Al became obsessed with gaining vengeance against Kobra. Albert, with the help of the New God Metron, traveled back in time and replaced his mother with the supervillain Extant. While Albert succeeded in saving his mother's life, he had willingly murdered the villain.

    When Black Adam joined the JSA, he and Albert developed a fast friendship. This new found relationship led Atom Smasher to grow frustrated with the morality he had once embraced. When Kobra blackmailed the US government into releasing him, Black Adam and Atom Smasher quit the JSA. Together the pair set about settling scores for each other. Albert killed the dictator of Black Adam's home country, Khandaq. Black Adam, in turn, killed Kobra. With the elimination of the Khandaqi leadership, Albert led a team of metahumans into the country and overthrew the remaining government. Albert also fought his JSA teammates in Khandaq before an uneasy truce was met. It was decided that Black Adam and his allies could rule Khandaq, if they agreed to never leave the country. Albert remained in Khandaq, but began to wonder at Adam's motives.

    Atom Smasher died in battle against the Spectre in "Justice Society of America" #75 (2006). Rothstein perished in "JSA" #75 while fighting against the Spectre, but Adam, calling upon Shazam's lightning, revived Albert. Afterward, Rothstein was tried for his actions in Khandaq. He plead guilty to all charges. During his time in jail, Albert encountered Amanda Waller, founder of Task Force X. As a result, in the pages of "52" Albert was seen assembling a new Suicide Squad for Task Force X and Amanda Waller.

    We haven't seen what has become of Atom Smasher in the OYL world. With Damage, the grandson of Al Pratt, in the new Justice Society title, it is possible that Albert will make a return to those pages, but it is even more likely that we will see his return when Steel and his niece Natasha reform Infinity Inc. in September 2007.

    Looking Ahead
    World. War. Three. Nothing else to worry about right now, though look for some sort of coverage of that event next week, as well as your regular "52" goodness.

    Panel of the Week

    To hell with the regular Metal Men... The Mini-Metal Men deserve their own book!

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