A comic.

*52 Dept: It’s now been two weeks in a row that we’ve gotten fun issues of this, so I guess I can half breathe a sigh of relief for things not completely tumbling off the tracks in anticipation of the finale. This week was also aided greatly by the presence of penciller Giuseppe Camuncoli, who seems to have made it through the obvious time constraints of 52 with his visual personality intact. In light of the ‘where are all the stories standing?’ nature of this issue, I’ll just look at them individually.

- Batwoman Forever: Ha! Thought they forgot about her, eh? Still, fun little tidbits about Intergang undergoing internal strife due to faulty interpretations of their crime-powered religious scripture aside, the real amusement here comes from the writing team’s willingness to tease at an old-fashioned ‘damsel in distress’ climax. It’s kind of interesting to me how the typical man-saves-woman nature of this stuff has been broken down to pure gender ‘costume’ rather than actual gender. Batwoman, with her shapely costume and her flowing locks and her high heeled boots, is captured, while Montoya, whose ‘superhero’ costume consists of measurably less frilly things like a pair of slacks and a thick sweater and an overcoat -- the whole persona freshly taken from a male hero, by the way -- is cast as the rescuer, along with poor clueless Nightwing. Don’t ask me if this is subversion or reinforcement - knowing 52, there’s probably further twists somewhere down the line.

- Animal Man is Back: What I liked most about the Animal Man bit this issue was that it was just straight-up Seven Soldiers, only stripped of subtext and with the yellow aliens standing in for the Seven Old Men. I’m surprised someone didn’t offer to sew Buddy a pair of striped underpants - of evolution. Ah, what the hell - there’s 50,000 or so people reading this comic who may not have heard it before. Also: Buddy runs into just about the most obvious plot wrinkle possible given his storyline, and I am completely ashamed that I didn’t see it coming at all.

- Coming Attractions: At this point the Steel plotline is only trundling around as an all-purpose gap-filling, spin-off promoting machine. I’m gradually getting more interested in the new Peter Milligan Infinity, Inc. series (drawn by Avatar house artist Max Fiumara!) - I always did think those bits of 52 were awfully X-Statix lite, and now they’ve gone and actually gotten the writer of X-Statix onboard. Points for effort, DC! Also good: Dr. Kala personally delivers another message - of love!!

- Oh, We Have Other Superheroes Too: Nanda Parbat is actually a superhero rehab clinic, right? Because all these characters showing up to dry their souls out is now officially past the point of comedy. Anyway, very little of the Wonder Woman or Batman material seems clear in any way to me, which isn’t so bad with Wonder Woman since I’m not reading that book, but I actually am reading Batman. And this is the second time Batman has been tried in 52. Did he need to go into recovery from his first issue of this?