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52 Volume Four by Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid and Keith Giffin

1/8/2010. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy 52 Volume Four in the USA - or Buy 52 Volume Four in the UK

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pub: DC Comics. 427 page graphic novel softcover. Price: $19.99 (US), $23.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-4012--1486-9.

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This was a rather interesting volume to get into. Whereas the earlier volumes were more evenly fragmented to keep you up to speed with various events, this time an issue was devoted to completing a thread in a more methodical manner so there was less distractions from the other sub-plots. Writer Greg Rucka admits in the extras section that the realisation that they would be wrapping up the story threads meant there was an extra awareness not to have them all end at the same time which is quite understandable. Then again, logistically, if they do such an undertaking again, it might be worth considering ending some sub-plots much earlier if they want to demonstrate a year in the DC Universe.

So, how much can I reveal here. There are a lot of fatalities and even some resurrections and even though the book is over three years-old now and those familiar with the DC Universe know which ones, I'm sure there are readers who are picking up these four volumes who aren't. It did make me wonder if Ralph Dibney isn't being lined up to be a real Gentleman Ghost. It's no wonder, super-heroes don't believe death is forever.

Considering back in the 1980s with the 'Crisis On Infinite Earths', it was felt that there was a need to cut the alternative Earths back, the result of one aspect of this story in bringing them back again seems an odd choice. More so, in that those characters that were brought to Earth-1 are still staying there. As I'm a little behind on what happens next on the multiverse scale here, I'll have to reserve judgement on that as there's more books to come.

In many respects, Earth-1 is still in as much of a mess as it was before the year started. A lot of the villains have been incarcerated now and some of the more dangerous ones, dead in their tracks so to speak. Would it have been any different had the big three, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, been around, I'll leave you to speculate. The four writers involved didn't cheat too much, even when they were playing around with time, and a lot of it was done to see if the readers were on their toes with events. Considering what happened to Adam Strange, it might pay for the first Green Lantern, Alan Scott, to make a little visit to Rann.

Reading the extras from the writers and layout artist Keith Giffen, it's apparent that they were all nervous as to whether it would be completed successfully. Although it did look a little like some jumps were made occasionally, it didn't interfere with the overall experience. If you're new to the near current DC Universe then you shouldn't have too big a problem with working out what is going on and to who. A reasonably successful experiment.

GF Willmetts

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