Worlds died and, for a change, worlds lived. I've finished reading 52, Volume 4, and I'd say that of the four volumes, this was my second favorite, just short of Volume 1 (with Volume 3 vying for the second spot, and Volume 2 in last place). In Volume 4 I think the team finally found the right balance between single-character stories and multi-hero adventures, done-in-one stories and cross-issue tales. 52 still struggled to find its footing even in the end, but I found the conclusion quite satisfying overall.
In the fourth volume, Steel rescues Natasha from Lex Luthor, though Luthor later makes plans to escape the charges. Sobek eats Osiris, revealing himself to be one of the Four Horsemen; Isis is killed in battle with the Horsemen and charges Black Adam to avenge her. Isis's death brings Renee Montoya to Kahndaq, and then to Gotham, where Bruno Manheim has kidnapped Batwoman; Renee becomes the Question and joins Nightwing to save Batwoman. Black Adam attacks Bialya and then Oolong Island, where he's captured by the mad scientists; the JSA rescues him, but his rampage brings about World War III. The space heroes are reunited with their families; Ralph Dibny is killed fighting Neron, but returns as a ghost with his wife, Sue. Booster Gold, Rip Hunter, and Skeets stop Mr. Mind from devouring the Multiverse.
Week 51, included in this volume, is one of my favorites of the series. Along with art by Joe Bennett, who I think really distinguished himself as the 52 artist in the series, issue 51 has a great mix of humor, sadness, character cameos, and short (but not choppy) scenes with a number of characters. Compare this issue, for instance, with week 40, which is almost entirely devoted to Steel and Luthor, and just feels too long.
52, in my opinion, worked better when treated as a mini-series, with numerous ongoing plotlines, rather than when treated like a monthly series with "issues." I know that DC Comics' next weekly series, Countdown, has been plagued by its problems, too, but it'll be interesting to see how the pacing matches up.