Sunday Review – 52: The Companion

I was quite the comic book skeptic five years ago when DC Comics announced their grandiose plan of a year long weekly series called 52. C and D level characters were never my thing as I usually stuck to the main titles like Detective Comics, Justice League of America and Action Comics, but I am well aware of Who is Who in the DC Universe, so I’m not that out of touch. I think a lot of people were in agreement with me wondering how DC was going to pull it off by keeping on schedule and keeping the story compelling without Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.

I’m very happy to say that they pulled it off without a hitch, well perhaps the World War III mini series during week 50 was a hitch, but a small one at that. I ended up buying every issue and eagerly awaited these newfound characters week to week in their own soap opera-esque adventure. DC also added in some nice bonus features to this maxi-series; first in week’s #2-11 with Donna Troy guiding us through History of the DC Universe and then weeks 12-51 with 2-pages spreads of updated Secret Origins showcasing both Heroes and Villains.

Of course DC has collected 52 in a nice set of four trade paperbacks; 304 pages, $19.00 each, and you probably have read it in one form or another, but you may not know is that DC published 52:The Companion, a collection of Best Of and Origin stories of the main characters of 52. The work of some of the greatest writers and artists are highlighted here including Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Steve Ditko, Alex Toth, Walt Simonson, and Greg Rucka. This book is a must have.

Here is a complete rundown of what is included:

  • Superman: The Man of Steel #97, Feb. 2000, featuring Steel
  • Detective Comics #350, Apr. 1966, featuring Elongated Man
  • Secret Origins #35, Dec. 1988, featuring Booster Gold
  • Rip Hunter: Time Master #6, Jan. 1962, featuring Rip Hunter
  • Gotham Central #40, Apr. 2006, featuring Renee Montoya
  • Mysterious Suspense #1, Oct. 1968, featuring The Question
  • Animal Man #16, Oct. 1989, featuring Animal Man
  • Strange Adventures #226, Oct. 1970, featuring Adam Strange
  • Metal Men #45, Apr. 1976, featuring The Metal Men
  • JSA #43-44, Feb./Mar. 2003, featuring Black Adam

Now if the above list sounds good, the book only gets better with the very nice introduction and running commentary for each story from Mark Waid. He not only describes what makes these characters pertinent to the 52 series, but why these particular stories were chosen for this volume. Probably the most interesting inclusion is Strange Adventures #226 with Adam Strange by Murphy Anderson and Gardner Fox. This is not your typical comic book as it is written mostly in prose with just one or two illustrations per page. Waid points out that it has never been reprinted until this volume, so any fan of  Silver Age Science Fiction comics will want to check it out.

Events come and go every year and with it there are these types of tie-in collected editions to look forward too. DC Comics, and the others, should consider themselves lucky that they have a vault filled with past treasures – and they should share those treasures on a regular basis.  It gives the reader the background they need with new found characters and teams and their current perils. Could we see a Flashpoint: The Companion? Perhaps. Trades like 52: The Companion is a great way to relive the past and perhaps, you may just have a new favorite other then one of the Big 7.

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