So, there I was innocently reading my way through the 52 Omnibus edition, catching up on all of those issues I missed while the comic was coming out.
An anthropomorphic alligator just straight up eats Amon, Black Adam's obnoxious brother in law and Captain Marvel Junior analogue! I was completely blind-sided! Where in the holy hell did that come from. I thought that weepy, sad-sack alligator was a third-rate Mr Talky Tawny rip-off. In hindsight I should've known due to his distinct lack of cravat-fedora ensemble.
I'm not ashamed to admit I was pretty rattled. I mean I'm not a big fan of gore soaked ultra-violence, but I'm no squeamish priss either. C'mon in this one book I've already been through sleazy cowboy bad guys getting torn in half, over-enthusiastic tween Infinitors getting their heads bopped off and naked Steel! I can take it y'know - just not when it creeps up on me like that.
So I shook it off and started into Week 44....
Holy shit! My eyes! What in the name of Geoff Johns are you trying to do to me?
I'm only four pages in and already we've already a nice tasty close-up of Amon's mutilated corpse, Mr. Scaly Waily (or whatever his name is) complaining about the stringy texture of Black Marvel flesh and Black Adam meting out revenge by way of the dental check-up from hell:
I don't know about you but 52 Week 44 hit me like a kidney punch. What happens to the Black Marvels in this issue is just brutal!
The interesting thing is, up until this point I didn't think I liked, or even remotely cared about, the Black Marvels. Their story has been winding it's way through 52 since the very beginning. From Black Adam as a geo-political Freddy Kruger, to him hooking up with and giving powers to mouthy but smoking hot Khandaqi chica Isis, to them extending their 'family' to include that annoying little prick Amon and his eventually treacherous, but normally droopy reptilian pal.
It's a testament to how good a job Morrison, Giffen, Johns and co weaved their web that instead of being glad to see Amon and his pious, mushy, cheer-leading sister go - this issue and the downfall of Black Adam's new rose-tinted family hits like a shotgun blast.
I mean the fight between Adam, Isis and Intergang's 'Four Horsemen Of The Ill Defined Religion Of Crime' is pretty good as far as super-slugfests go. I mean Adam shoots up the place with a Jesse Ventura mini-gun that he holds like a bazooka -which is awesome...
I Ain't Got Time To Bleed
...but the fight is merely a prelude. It's when Isis falls victim to pestilence that things get real. It's horrible and surprisingly, it's pretty heart-wrenching. Before you know it you're kinda feeling bad for the guy who only a few issue before was tearing dudes in half. It's a pretty impressive feat writing wise - and it really catches you unaware:
Honey, I Don't Feel So Good.
Another thing that stood out about this issue is that this violent and horrific attack on the Black Adam family is a product of the mad scientist convention on Oolong Island. Those scenes with T.O. Morrow, Doctor Magnus, Doctor Sivana, Baron Bug and the boys have been some of the most light-hearted and enjoyable throughout the whole series.
The idea that Sivana's cackling, Egg Fu's bad temper and Baron Bug's constantly malfunctioning nuclear cockroaches could have resulted in these bullet spitting, gross death-germ spewing, scythe swinging and ...um...scaly, bitey ambominations gives that whole storyline a darker, grimier, creepier spin:
Four Horsemen....um Zero Actual Horses
If you haven't already read it in issues as it was coming out I can't recommend the 52 Omnibus edition enough (although when making your purchase I recommend you lift with your legs - it's one big hefty slab of comic books!). It's got the odd clunky moment here and there but all in all it's one hell of a ride!
You won't be disappointed...
...except when you learn Baron Bug's Beserker Cricketron didn't get a spot as one of the Horsemen.
Dude was robbed.