I was very impressed with the ongoing storylines in the the second collection of DC Comic's weekly series 52. Each of the five principle characters returned — Renee Montoya, Booster Gold, Black Adam, Steel, and Ralph Dibny — and I felt each of their plots progressed in an unexpected way, from Booster’s death to Renee and the Question’s friendship with, rather than animosity toward, Black Adam and Isis. 52 continues to surprise and delight, and the third volume can’t come soon enough.
My favorite plot within 52 remains the adventures of the time-lost superhero Booster Gold’s, and it’s unfortunate he gets such a short shrift this time around. My second favorite, fortunately, is the crime-noir story of Renee and the Question, and as I mentioned above, I liked how this plot defied my expectations in this volume — it would be easy to make Black Adam the bad guy and Renee the good guy, but instead we find them working for common causes here. Though I had soured on the seemingly generic fight between Steel and Lex Luthor in the last volume, I thought the writers did a great job tying Lex Luthor's Everyman project into the legacy of former super-team Infinity, Inc., giving this plot a larger connection to the DC Universe.
In the comments that follow each chapter of 52, writer Keith Giffen talks quite a bit about fellow contributor Grant Morrison writing the scenes with the character Lobo, who Giffen created. This was my least favorite plot this time around; while I appreciate how Lobo and other cosmic heroes give the reader a tour of the alien aspects of the DC Universe, the plot didn’t have much to do with the characters themselves, more so than just moving them from point A to point B. Lobo has apparently found religion, though on some pages he still seemed to be his old bawdy self (as when he rips off Starfire’s shirt), and then on other pages professes to have changed. This is further confused by the appearance of the Legion of Super-Heroes’ Emerald Eye which somehow factors in; maybe this will all make more sense next volume when the heroes confront whomever Lobo stole the Eye from.
The second 52 volume shows a larger swath of the DC Universe beginning to emerge after the DC Comics crossover Infinite Crisis. Green Arrow pursues his mayoral candidacy while the JLA re-forms; this trade also offers cameos by one incarnation of the Teen Titans, the Shadowpact, and Checkmate. Though much of what's shown here is covered in other DC Comics titles, these bits are still welcome; we didn’t necessarily, for instance, learn anything new by seeing Green Lantern ask Mr. Terrific to join Checkmate, but it’s a moving scene nonetheless. I’m eager for more of this as 52 continues. Of course, the Phil Jimenez-penned Martian Manhunter sequence steals the show, as J’onn mourns the fallen members of the Justice League.
This edition of 52 felt slower than the first, without quite as many intriguing twists. The richness of the DCU and the strength of its heritage was more apparent, however, and this makes the second volume a welcome addition overall.