There are many delicious and delightful incidents in this week's comics, but this post will focus on only one: Booster Gold's visit to Rip Hunter's lab in 52 Week 6.
There are a lot of visual elements and possible clues in Dr. Hunter's lab and I thought some of our readers would appreciate a little help deciphering some of them. I know I would!!!
The Video Screens
Not much mystery here: five historical periods / incidents are portrayed. President Lincoln with General Grant in the field during the Civil War (the U.S. one, not Marvel's). The arrest photo of Ethel Rosenberg, who along with her husband was convicted and excuted as a communist spy. The voyage of Columbus. Pop singer Elvis Presley. The Boston Tea Party. A dinosaur, which in DC could be from just about any point in history; personally I like to think of it as the robot dinosaur that Batman & Robin fought on Dinosaur Island, even though it's not.
The Broken Bubble
That's a damaged Time Sphere (a.k.a. Time Bubble), DC's most traditional method of Time Travel. The Legion used one; Rip Hunter used one; heck, even Ma and Pa Kent used one. The Kents were much hipper than people give them credit for.
The Clocks and the Lock
None of the other machinery seems recognizable or significant, except for the many clocks, all of which show approximately 11:55. It's uncertain from context whether the clocks are stopped at that point or whether that's simply the time that Booster arrives. A clock at 5 to 12 is one the famous symbols associated with Alan Moore's Watchmen, and its countdown to destruction. That could be a coincidence ... but I don't think there are a lot of coincidences in 52.
Skeets points out that the time lock on the door is set for midnight Jan. 1, 52 BC. This seems to be one of the series' many gratuitous "52" references, as that date is of no historical significance. The closest date of historical significance is the murder of Public Clodius Pulcher by his bitter political enemy Titus Annius Milo. I never liked Clodius.
In the numbered pages 51, 53, 54, 55, and 56, conspicuous by its absence is, of course, page 52.
One sheet has the address "520 Kane St."; that's the address that the Question and Montoya were staking out, where their little run in with the monster occurred. It's my personal belief that this will somehow relate to Kathy Kane, the new Batwoman.
The "Named Papers" all seem to relate to characters whose relationship with continuity is questionable...
The "Infinity Inc." paper refers to a short-lived superhero group of JSA legacies who had a series in the 1980s, many of whose members are still familiar to readers today (e.g., Obsidian, Jade r.i.p, Atom-Smasher, Mr. Bones).
"Casey the Cop" was a humor feature in early DC comics (first appearing under that name in All-Funny Comics #3 1944), including Detective Comics, Batman, Action, and Adventure.
"Silverblade" was a 12 issue miniseries started in 1987 by Cary Bates and Gene Colan about a movie swashbuckler come to life.
The "Sun Devils" was a 12 issue space opera miniseries from 1984-85, which was Dan Jurgens' first assignment at DC. At the time in had no apparent character or plot connections to the rest of the DCU, but Jurgens later made a passing attempt to link it in "The Last Sun Devil" (Superman #86, Feb. 1994).
"Spanner's Galaxy" was another DC out-of-continuity space opera miniseries (6 issues) from 1984-85, by Nicola Cuti and Tom Mandrake.
This is where the real action is.
"TIME IS BROKEN". Dr. Hunter seems concerned about discontinuities and incongruities in the timeline; that's consistent with the prevalence of notes in his labs about elements of DC publishing history that have a questionable relationship with the DCU proper. This phrase also tells us that Rip isn't a Heroclix player, or he would have said "Time is borken."
"Dead by lead?" Lead, ingested in certain quantities, is poisonous to humans. But in the DCU, this is most likely to refer to the fact that natives of the planet Daxam (who gain similar powers to Kryptonians under a yellow sun) are hyperallergic to lead and even the trace amounts in most atmospheres will kill them. This "allergy" was discovered during the Dominator-led attack on earth (in the "Invasion!" crossover event). From our perspective it goes back to the first appearance of Mon-El, whom Superboy mistook for his brother. Things like that used to happen to Superboy and Superboy a lot in the Silver Age. Like, monthly. Anyway, Mon-El (correct me if I'm wrong) has been conspicuously absent from the current Legion of Super-Heroes.
This could be a reference to Mon-El's absence, particularly when combined with two other clues on the board: "I'm not kryptonite" and "It hurts to breathe". I have no other speculation on those two clues and the nearby "2,000 years from now" only confuses the matter, because we know nothing of the DCU 2000 years into the future (although it might be an intentionally confusing way of referring to 2000 years into the past -- but that seems unlikely).
"Further time is different." I have no particular insight here except the obvious: Rip seems to be commenting that either the future is not what it's supposed to be, or the very nature of time has changed ... or both.
"The four horsemen will end her rain?" Assuming that Rip doesn't have a spelling problem, this is a pun on "reign". But who "she" is and why she can be said to have a "rain" is beyond my imagining. The Four Horsemen is a bibical reference associated with the apocalypse, the end of all things.
This is the first of the Three Incomprehensible Clues; the second is "He won't smell it", which might be a reference to the olfactory powers of Animal Man. The third is "the reach the reach the reach"; your guess on that one is as good as mine, since I don't have one.
"Find the last 'El' ". Ordinarly, this would be a reference to Clark Kent (Kal-El). However, "last" is double underlined, and there is a possibly related clued on the second half of the chalkboard: "What happened to the son of Superman?" From Rip's viewpoint, is the "El" line supposed to continue into the future and is the son of Superman the missing link in the chain?
"The Tornado is in pieces." Surely a reference to the most recent destruction of the Red Tornado, part of whom is lodged in Mal Duncan's chest. Is that the meaning of the "sonic disruption" reference? No. No, that must refer to inappropriate absence of the incomparable Vibe from the current DCU. Yes. Yes, that's it. Vibe will return.
"Time Masters> Time Servants". Not much clue there, except that "Time Master" was always Rip Hunter's "title". Perhaps time in the DCU is not so easy to master as it once was, eh?
"The Scarab is eternal?" and "Where is the Curry heir?" are pretty clearly references to the new Blue Beetle and Aquaman series. As for "Man of Steel", I suspect that John Henry Irons may have been infected with Luthor's new salable metagene, and may wind up more akin to Colossus than Iron Man before everything's done. Have we seen him in OYL yet...?
"Who is Super Nova?" is one of the mysteries of 52. I suspect this Super Nova will turn out to be the real Booster Gold and the one we are currently followed is a leftover from a future that no longer exists, which is why Rip Hunter suspects that the temporal incongruities are "all his fault". It's important to remember that Booster Gold's significance is twofold. Within the DCU, he is the only character (I can think of), other than Bart Allen, who is from the future. Metatextually, Booster Gold is the first new character of the post-Crisis DCU and therefore a symbol of the destruction of the multiverse.
"Who is Diana Prince?" is a witty turn on the "who is Donna Troy?" trope and hinges on the return of Wonder Woman's secret identity (buy WW#1, people!).
"Don't ask the Question. It lies." That's rather disturbing. As a character, the Question is about the search for truth. But why refer to the character as "it"? That's creepy, unless there's an actual "question" that Hunter is refering to. Except of course questions cannot lie, since they make no assertions of truth. Hmmmm.
"Im Mortal Savage" refers to the newfound mortality of Vandal Savage being played out in JSA Confidential, which may be inconsistent with Hunter's understanding of the future.
"The Secret Five" refers, I'm assuming to depletion in the ranks of the Secret Six, so dramatically about to be filled by the Mad Hatter.
"The old gods are dead, the new gods want what's left." On the surface, it would seem to refer to the withdrawal of the Olympian gods from this plane and the currently missing "new gods" of Kirby's Fourth World, who, like crazy loud relations, will surely show up when it is least desirable.
"Where is the Batman?" could be a simple reference to Bruce's absence from the scene during his trip with Dick and Tim. Or could it be a reference to his absence from the days of the JSA? We did just see "Batman's ghost" in JSA, after all. "Who is the Batwoman?" Well, if you don't know that by now, you're probably not reading this blog.
"Te versus (Au +Pb)" Now, that's juicy. Te is the symbol for Tellurium: Element 52. Au and PB are elements 79 and 82, but it's probably not their numbers that are signficiant. Au is Gold and Pb is Lead. This might refer to the now inoperative Metal Men of Doc Magnus. But given the rest of the board, I'm leaning toward some connection to Booster GOLD and the "dead by lead?" clue.
Oh, and exposure to Tellurium will give you "garlic breath"; could that be the "He won't smell it" reference?
"Someone is monitoring. They see us. They see me." Well. I suppose there's a new "Monitor" in town.
"I'm supposed to be dead?" Yes, Rip, you are; you died in your own miniseries in the early 1990s, I think.
"The Lazarus Pit RISES." I don't care what this means, as long as it doesn't mean the return of Ra's Al Ghul. Yawn.
"Khimaera lives again" I'll assume this is a mistransliteration of the Greek word rendered as "Chimera" in Latin, the hybrid monster defeated by Bellerophon. I'm hoping it's a new name for ... the Composite Superman!
"World War III" and "When am I?" Rip's obviously worried about where things are headed and his current placement in things. But I wonder ... perhaps he isn't worried that WWIII is coming. Perhaps he's worried that it ISN'T. WWIII was a part of pre-Crisis fact in the DCU, after all..
"OTHERS?" Hm. Other people who realize history is askew?