Imagine five of the greatest writers ever assembled collaborating on a year long series each leading different subplots and characters to write about within the larger context of this massive epic. That, was the series 52.
Before all this New 52 nonsense, Geoff Johns (Green Lantern: Rebirth, Flash Point) Grant Morrison (Batman Incorporated, Final Crisis) Greg Rucka(The OMAC Project, Wolverine) Mark Waid (Kingdom Come, Irredeemable) and Keith Giffen ( wrote this series about a myriad of DC characters, some of which were old characters and concepts brought back into the mainstream DC Multiverse and others still relatively new were expounded on and given fresh life in the wake of a company wide revamping of its catalogue of characters, origins, and story arcs.
There are so many incredible stories and plots that its hard to review the whole book but I’ll be taking an in-depth look at four different characters throughout the series and their incredible stories.
1. Ralph Dibny as the Elongated Man
Ralph Dibny, formerly the Elongated Man almost commits suicide after dealing with the loss of his wife at the hands of another hero’s deranged psychotic wife just prior to this series. Her gravestone is then vandalized with an inverted Superman symbol meaning resurrection in Kryptonian. Superboy another recent death in the DC Universe motivates a cult to raise him from the dead, with Dibny in tow believing they may also be able to bring back his wife.
After Dibny attempts to raise his wife from the grave during the cult’s ceremony, his effigy of Sue Dibny burns and calls out to him causing him to have a psychotic breakdown for several weeks. Nearly two months later, Dibny investigates the death of Doctor Fate and is given an opportunity to be reunited with his wife if he makes certain sacrifices and begins his training in ancient sorcery. This causes him to go as far as taking vengeance on Jean Loring, his wife’s murderer while the Spectre inhabits his body.
Dibny almost commits Loring to live in the last seconds of Sue Dibny’s life in a loop for all eternity before giving up claiming he isn’t strong enough to punish his wife’s killer in that way.
The last scene we see him, is in Dr. Fate’s tower where he begins the resurrection spell to bring his wife back. Dibny then shoots the helmet of Fate and Felix Faust a dark magician escapes the confines of the Helm of Fate, confessing he was going to use Dibny’s soul in exchange for freedom from a powerful demon named Neron.
Dibny then casually explains he has been aware of Faust’s presence for several weeks and that the binding spell he cast before summoning his wife was to imprison Faust. Neron emerges and hastily kills Dibny before realizing the spell has also bound him to the tower, as a result of Dibny’s death, for all eternity.
Even as a lesser character, Ralph Dibny goes through so many highs and lows in this series its hard to follow at points but is certainly one of the more rewarding conclusions, showing once again as others have time and time before, audiences are more willing to read a story about a character with growth that is a second or even a third stringer, it helps that we don’t know much about them unlike characters like Batman and Superman who we are subjected to in as many as 13 titles at once occasionally.