World War III: A Call to Arms

The story too big to fit in the pages of 52 begins here in World War III: A Call to Arms.

I thought maybe I could use my gimmick of clever segues to recap a series defined by its rigidly linear approach to storytelling. However, the miniseries jumps back in time to Day 5 of Week 45, declaring a non-linear approach to the war story from page 1. Martian Manhunter has decided to bring the fight to Black Adam. Black Adam makes pretty short work of the moldable moldy man, utilizing the very same lightning that would be his undoing in the pages of 52 as well as J’onzz’s own telepathy to dispatch any threat he might bring.

Which leads us to day 1 of week 50 (actually it doesn’t lead us to that, since jump pretty far ahead), which happen even before the events of this week’s issue of 52. The world is reacting to the Black Adam rampage, and it’s apparently causing terror and disorder in regions far removed from the danger.

In an undisclosed location in the Atlantic, some Clockwork Orange-looking guy, apparently known as Father Time (I have never seen these guys before in my life) tries to stop Adam, but everybody in this posse gets their heads bashed in or faces ripped off. I’m not sure of Father Time’s abilities, but apparently one of them is to transform from a bald black man into a haired white man upon having his face ripped off.

Black Adam’s frustration with America’s attack prompts him to pick up an aircraft carrier and throw it to the United States. I’m not sure what kind of spiral Adam put on that carrier, but it takes long enough for a handful of goons in New York City to take advantage of the anticipatory panic and organize some heists. This introduces us to Nightwing. At first I thought we were seeing the edgy man whore OYL Dick Grayson, but it soon becomes apparent that this is the edgy for-profit vigilante OYL Jason Todd in Dick’s clothes.

This leads us to an exchange I couldn’t possibly care less about between Firestorm and Firehawk. Apparently, the kid who is now Firestorm has to kiss Firehawk in order to become the flame-headed superhero, thus rendering her nothing more than a floating head. Maybe I have to know more about Firestorm in order to understand this, but the problem is, I’ve never EVER cared enough about Firestorm to want to know more, and this cameo made me want to pursue further Firestorm knowledge even less. So this segment just totally bombed with me. He eventually got rid of the aircraft carrier, but we also wasted about 2 pages so he could shoot, miss, and take a nap on a rooftop.

This deluge of dullness leads us to a rapid-fire peek into the rest of the world, in which we see Father Time already in a hospital bed “due to molt any day now” (seriously, how long was that aircraft carrier flying through the air? Long enough to get Father Time – again a bald black man – to a hospital where he’s already partially recovered and being visited by the Bride of Frankenstein), the Great Pyramids badly damaged, Adam throwing punches, Sub Diegans suddenly drowning, Donna Troy looking at some Wonder Woman armor on the ground, the Doom Patrol manning up, Batgirl getting a pep-talk, Harvey Dent apparently just now – 50 weeks after being put on duty – deciding it’s “time to put bat’s training to the test,” Jason Todd taking the money and running, the battle spreading, bodies rotting and bleeding…

Which leads us to three pages of the giant mess of awareness that has turned the Martian Manhunter into a paralyzed fetus in space in a condition he’s been in for the past five weeks.

In case it’s not already evident, I was really let down by this book. Here’s what you need to know: Black Adam’s reign of terror has sent social shockwaves around the world. The DC B-team is doing their best to stop him. A few folks, including Firestorm and Jason “Nightwing” Todd, have stepped up to fill the void left by the absent Big Three. Martian Manhunter has been knocked out of commission after his attempt to take down Adam by himself. I can’t really say where that leaves us, since the story already ended in the pages of 52.

And while I opened this book hoping for something larger than life, I think I just ended up getting something unbelievable. That’s not what I was anticipating. As the rest of the Legion continues embedded in World War III, let’s hope they enjoy it more than I have so far.