52 was a weekly comic book series published from May 2006 until May 2007. It takes place during the missing year between Infinite Crisis and One Year Later. The series involves rebuilding the DC Universe after the Crisis, in all of its corners, and mainly features protagonists who usually act as supporting characters, because Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were all out of commission for various reasons during this time. It examines a full year in the life of the characters before catching up to the regular publications in One Year Later.
The Question came to Gotham City investigating the city's connections to the crime cartel, Intergang. He hired former police detective, Renée Montoya, to assist him and the two joined forces to bring Intergang down. Their investigation led them to the penthouse of one of Renée's former lovers, Kathy Kane. Kane had recently adopted the costumed identity of Batwoman.
The Question and Montoya followed Intergang's trail to the sovereign nation of Kahndaq. Montoya even stopped a suicide bomber from killing massive amounts of people, and thus earned the respect of Kahndaq’s monarch, Black Adam.
En route back to the United States, the Question fell deathly ill. He was in the final stages of a destructive Cancer that was ravaging his body. Montoya knew of a mystical land in the Himilayan Mountains called Nanda Parbat. According to legend, nothing can die while it resides within the enchanted city. She struggled to bring the Question to Nanda Parbat, but she was too late. The illness finally overtook him and he passed away just as they arrived at their destination.
Montoya remained in Nanda Parbat for several weeks, where she trained her mind and body under the tutelage of Kung Fu master, Richard Dragon. At the end of her trial, she honored the Question's memory by taking up his name and motif.
Montoya returned to Gotham City where she discovered that Intergang had kidnapped Kathy Kane, and were using her as part of a human sacrifice in their crime cult. Montoya rescued Kane (who was injured greatly) and Manheim was killed during the fight.
The Everyman Project
Following the scandal that robbed him of his presidency, Lex Luthor engaged in an ambitious plan to reassert himself in Metropolis' power structure. He established a program known as the Everyman Project – a program that granted super powers to whomever desired them (provided that they were genetically compatible to receive the process.
The Everyman Project proved wildly popular, and hundreds of people from across the country applied. One of the initiates in the program was Natasha Irons, the niece of John Henry Irons (Steel). Steel himself, became an unwilling recipient of the Everyman process, as Luthor injected him with a serum that turned his flesh into living metal.
Luthor even personally selected Everyman Project beneficiaries to become members of the revitalized Infinity, Inc. Natasha Irons joined Infinity, Inc. and took the name Starlight.
Luthor's true motives behind the Everyman Project were much more selfish. In a world that no longer had a Superman, he wanted to possess powers himself. Ironically, Lex was one of the few candidates whose genes were not compatible. He forced his science staff to conduct test after test, demanding them to find a way to give him the power he craved.
Luthor's great gift to the world came with a tremendous price however. Not only did he possess the means to grant normal humans super powers, but he also possessed the means to turn them off. On New Year's Eve, a massive parade was held in downtown Metropolis. Dozens of Everyman beneficiaries crowded the streets and the sky. At the stroke of midnight, Luthor pressed a button on a remote control that instantly shut off everyone's new abilities. Without the power of flight, heroes began falling out of the sky to their deaths. The new Infinity, Inc., unaffected by the power cancellation, tried to help out, but the streets were chaos. The press labeled the catastrophe "The Rain of the Supermen".
Shortly thereafter, Luthor finally acquired the means to give himself the same powers as Superman. He fought against Steel in the Lexcorp penthouse and managed to impale him with his own kinetic hammer. Natasha Irons by this point, had learned about Lex's true motives and turned against him. She used the same technology that Lex used to cancel everyone's powers against him, enabling her Uncle John the chance to bring Luthor down for good. Luthor was arrested and taken to prison.
Mystery in Space
Following the events of the Rann/Thanagar War, a Zeta-Beam accident left Adam Strange, Animal Man and Starfire stranded in the outer reaches of space. Working together to find a way home, the three encountered various alien menaces including, Devilance the Pursuer, the Emerald Eye of Ekron and a merciless killer named Lady Styx.
They also came upon the Czarnian bounty hunter, Lobo, who had since turned to religion, and served as the Archbishop of the church of the Triplefold Fish God. Lobo assisted them in their fight against Ekron and Lady Styx – a fight that ultimately proved fatal to Animal Man. Lobo administered the last rites, and Strange and Starfire solemnly continued towards Earth.
What they didn't realize though, was that Animal Man mimicked the properties of a nearby life form, which allowed him to return to the land of the living. He met a group of aliens who examined him, enhancing his powers, so that he could even tap into the properties of a Sun-Eater. Using a Sun-Eater's instinctual gift for navigation, Animal Man was able to instantly teleport himself home.
Adam Strange and Starfire meanwhile crash-landed on the planet, Mogo. Fortunately, Mogo was a living planet, and was also a representative of the Green Lantern Corps. A Green Lantern named Opto309V brought them back the planet Rann, and from there, Starfire was able to acquire transportation back to Earth.
Ralph Dibny and the Cult of Conner
Following the death of his wife, Sue Dibny, Ralph Dibny stopped drinking his Gingold serum, and retired his Elongated Man hero identity. He came upon a mystical artifact known as the Wishing Gun. Lapsing into suicidal depression, Ralph wished to be with Sue again.
He received word that his wife's gravestone at Elysium Cemetery had been de-faced. Investigating the matter, he discovered an inverted Superman symbol spray-painted upon the stone. He tracked the vandals to a group called the Cult of Conner. The Cult observed Kryptonian traditions and named themselves for the fallen super-hero Conner Kent. Counted among their number was the Teen Titan, Cassandra Sandsmark.
Ralph learned that the Cult had discovered a Kryptonian rite of resurrection. They disinterred the remains of Sue Dibny and used her in part of a mystic ritual. Ralph didn't truly believe that such a thing could work, but he remained with the Cult for a brief period just to be sure. The resurrection ritual did not bring adequate results, and Ralph was alone once again.
He began investigating new leads into the matter and learned about Whisper A’Daire and her Intergang crime-cult. This brought him into contact with the unfettered Helmet of Fate. The Helmet promised Ralph the chance to be with his wife again, but doing so required collecting several mystical artifacts including the Silver Wheel of Nyorlath.
Ralph followed the Helmet's instructions and collected the various relics. He brought them back to Fate's Tower in Salem, Massachusetts where he prepared to conduct another ritual. Instead, he actually cast a binding spell, trapping himself and the helmet inside the Tower.
It was at this moment that the true essence of Fate revealed itself. The warlock Felix Faust had been spiritually residing within the helmet and guiding Ralph along. Being a detective however, Ralph knew for quite some time that Felix had been pulling his strings and had prepared for it. After beating him to the floor, Ralph questioned Faust as to why he had been trying to manipulate him. Faust confessed that his soul was in service to the demon, Neron, and he could only be free of him if he offered up a pure soul in exchange for his own.
Neron appeared inside the tower to collect his prize, but Ralph only taunted him. Using Ralph's wedding band as a projectile weapon, Neron fired it like a bullet, killing Dibny. Ralph Dibny had the last laugh however. He was the only one who could cancel the binding spell inside the tower. Now, Neron was trapped inside along with Faust.
The Rise and Fall of Black Adam
As leader of the sovereign nation of Kahndaq, Black Adam held to a more violent code of ethics than the rest of civilized society. He believed in bringing justice to the world, but also preached a zero-tolerance policy towards those who would stand in his way. In a brutal display of power, Black Adam made an example of the villain Terra-Man by tearing him in half above the press corps in front of the Kahndaqi embassy.
Adam's violence was tempered however when he met Adrianna Tomaz, an Egyptian woman he had rescued from Intergang slavers. Adam and Adrianna fell in love, and he bequeathed to her a portion of his power, transforming her into Isis. He also bestowed power upon Isis' crippled brother, Amon, transforming him into the teen hero, Osiris.
Adam and Isis were married, and his oldest adversary, Captain Marvel, even officiated at the wedding. This was the birth of the Black Marvel Family. Isis always managed to find a way to soothe her husband's temper, and he strove to honor his commitment to her by showing compassion towards his subjects.
A short time later, Osiris befriended a genetically engineered talking crocodile, which he named Sobek. He brought Sobek to Kahndaq with him, where he lived at the presidential palace.
To show the world that the Black Marvel Family could be trusted, Black Adam, Isis and Osiris engaged upon a goodwill tour of the United States and even participated in fundraising dinners and holiday parades. Osiris himself sought to gain new friends within the ranks of the Teen Titans.
Not everyone was receptive to the Black Marvel's presence however. Amanda Waller revived a new version of the Suicide Squad and even employed Adam's old colleague, Atom-Smasher, to take them down. The two teams fought one another, and during the melee, Osiris accidentally killed the Squad member known as the Persuader. Now reviled by the entire country, the Black Marvel Family returned to Kahndaq.
It soon became apparent that Sobek was actually much more than what he appeared to be. Sobek was actually Yurrd the Unknown, one of the Four Horsemen of Apocalypse. The Horsemen were four monstrous entities genetically created on Oolong Island by Chang Tzu’s Science Squad. Sobek turned against the Marvels and killed Osiris. The other three Horsemen came to Kahndaq and began razing the country. During the battle, Isis lost her own life.
Driven with extreme rage, Black Adam killed all four Horsemen, then sought to avenge the deaths of Isis and Osiris. He learned that the Horsemen had dealings with the nation of Bialya, so Black Adam attacked the country, killing millions of people. This one-man crusade of vengeance precipitated an event that would become known as World War III.
World War III
The true significance of "52" is known to but a few. After the events of Infinite Crisis, the remaining Earths created by Alexander Luthor collapsed back together, combining historical remnants to form one New Earth. However, the single universe was too small to contain the energy inside it and it began replicating - into 52 identical Universes, a new Multiverse. At the time of its re-creation, only the Monitors and the Guardians of the Universe were aware of the new Multiverse.
Shortly thereafter, Clark Kent, bereft of his Kryptonian abilities, retired his heroic alter ego, preferring instead to fight injustice from his position as an investigative journalist. To fill the void left in Metropolis, Booster Gold took it upon himself to become the city's new champion. With his robotic ally, Skeets, Booster Gold had access to historical documents from the 25th century. Using this information, he knew when and where certain disasters were scheduled to take place, and took measures to counter them. To his surprise however, the information that Skeets provided proved to be inaccurate. This resulted in several near-disasters, and it wasn't long before Booster Gold was looked upon as nothing more than a money-grubbing opportunist.
A short while later, Booster encountered the time traveling adventurer, Rip Hunter. Rip knew that Booster was important to the future of not only Earth, but the Multiverse as well. He informed Booster that Skeets' metal frame had been appropriated by a Venusian mind-worm known as Mister Mind. In order to prepare a strategy against him, they needed to come up with a plan to avoid Mister Mind's omnipresent scrutiny. To that end, Booster Gold faked his own death battling a creature known as a Ballostro. He left behind the physical remains of his own body from the future as evidence to throw off Mister Mind.
From there, Booster assumed a new identity – that of the hero, Supernova. Supernova continued to secretly work alongside Rip Hunter, amassing advanced technology from a variety of sources. They set up an ad-hoc base of operations at the Kryptonian bottle city of Kandor in Superman's Fortress of Solitude.
Mister Mind meanwhile, continued to evolve inside of Skeets' shell. After a fifty-two week gestation period, he emerged and revealed himself fully to Rip and Supernova. By this point, Booster returned to using the name Booster Gold, passing the identity of Supernova to his 21st century ancestor, Daniel Carter.
Mister Mind's new form required the energy of the Multiverse to sustain itself. He first invaded the dimensional realm known as the Phantom Zone, consuming its barriers (and thereby freeing dozens of Kryptonians). Afterwards, Mister Mind set out to find new realities with which to replenish himself.
During their efforts to stop the vastly powerful Mister Mind from destroying every universe, Hunter described Mind's efforts as "eating years and events from this universe's history -- altering the Earth with every flap of his wings". This resulted in the Earths changing, becoming different from New Earth in varying degrees.
Hunter's plan to defeat Mister Mind rested with Booster, Supernova, and Skeets. By fortifying Skeets' shell with Sivana's invention, Suspendium, they managed to imprison Mr. Mind in Skeets. Booster threw Skeets through an opening in time while Supernova ensured that it ended up in the correct time: Week 0 Day 0. Mister Mind's devolved form was found (again) by Doctor Sivana, who imprisoned him. Hunter used the 52 seconds of missing time to bind Mister Mind forever, condemned to live within that loop.
- August General in Iron
- Batwoman (Kathy Kane)
- Bug Baron
- Fury (Erik Storn)
- Ghost Fox Killer
- Immortal Man in Darkness
- Isis (Adrianna Tomaz)
- Jade (Nicki Jones)
- Lady Styx
- Nuklon (Gerome McKenna)
- Osiris (Amon Tomaz)
- Persuader (Cole Parker)
- Seven Deadly Brothers
- Shaolin Robot
- Skyman (Jacob Colby)
- Socialist Red Guardsman
- Veronica Cale
- Young Frankenstein
- Zachary Zatara
- Bruno Manheim
- Chang Tzu
- Elongated Man
- Immortal Man in Darkness
- Isis (Adrianna Tomaz)
- Osiris (Amon Tomaz)
- Persuader (Cole Parker)
- Question (Vic Sage)
- Shaolin Robot
- Skyman (Jacob Colby)
- Terra Man
Issues in event are unknown.
Items: None known.
Vehicles: None known.
Weapons: None known.
- In 2007, DC began reprinting the entire 52 series in a series of trade paperbacks.
- In 2007, DC Direct released a line of action figures for the 52 series. Included in the set were: Animal Man, Batwoman, Booster Gold (w/Skeets), Isis and Supernova.