Years ago, in 2006, DC Comics published one of their most iconic limited comic series to date, The 52. It debuted on May 10, 2006, one week after the conclusion of the “Infinite Crisis” miniseries. The story followed a world in chaos after the multiverses convergence caused anarchy, confusion and disorientation across the known inhabited galaxies.
Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman are all missing when the planet seems to need them most and desperation urges the need for replacement heroes. During the aftermath of this latest crisis, Lex Luthor develops technology to trigger the meta-human gene in willing –– and eligible –– participants. He capitalizes on the sale of super powers.
As the year pushes to week 35, the City of Tomorrow is preparing for their annual New Years Eve celebration. Much like Times Square in New York City, thousands of patrons gather in Lexcorp Circle to ring in the new year as countless LexCorp made heroes flock above. All eagerly countdown their final seconds of 2006 as Superman’s illuminated emblem descended towards earth. Then, when the clock hits zero, Lex Luthor’s thumb hits a button and disaster struck.
In this archived article, Daily Planet star reporter Lois Lane tells of her horrific experience in the epicenter of the chaos. The article was published in the 52 Daily Planet Special, which was an online based news magazine that corresponded with DC Comic’s special event, 52, in 2006 and 2007. The article was originally printed in two separate parts.
By Lois Lane
They look up to the sky to see the symbol. It happens every year. Citizens of Metropolis flood the subways and buses toward Lexcorp Circle to pack themselves in like sardines, shoulder to shoulder, hermetically sealed inside their oversized, obnoxiously puffy coats, frustrated by the bad breath of the old man standing to their right and the loud banter of the drunk college kids attempting to start a mosh pit of sorts to their left. But when the countdown starts, it’s always the same. They forget their surrounding for ten seconds, form a smile of unknown origin, and they look up to the sky. And they see Superman’s symbol.
Or at least that’s what usually happens.
In the interest of complete honesty, I had no desire to be there. I’d like to think I’ve spent the majority of my life finding a way to stick out of the crowd, so when my editor assigned me to the puff piece of recording Lex Luthor’s latest stop on his goodwill tour, the “rocking” New Year’s Eve version of a paid advertisement for his makeshift superhero program, the Everyman Project, I have to admit I didn’t exactly achieve goose bumps at the prospect of jamming myself into a stalled person parade. Even though the general public is enthused with the project, I have my qualms. The idea of waiting in the cold for three hours without the slightest hope of finding a place to sit or access to a bathroom just didn’t seem to have the same appeal as it did when I was a little girl. I guess that’s the cynicism that comes with aging in the big city. But at least this year there were plenty of things to look at to take my mind off my numb fingers and my ever insistent bladder.
The air was literally swimming with teenagers. It was a fireworks display of spandex and Kevlar, an aquarium of naïve young human fish in the sky. These Everyman alumni were casually displaying abilities from the wildest imaginations, while wearing clothing that left little to anyone’s. “Heroes” by occupation, not by deed. A perfect representation of Modern America.
I was lucky enough to meet one of them, a fitting spokesman for his ilk, a hero worshiper turned functional homage, Booster Pack. After a brief introduction, Booster filled me in on his super origin. “I was always a big Booster Gold fan, even before people knew who he was. I was like the first,” said the young man, his blue and gold uniform barely visible under the barrage of Soder Cola and Stagg Industry logos. “People say he sold out, but I don’t care man, that guy was awesome. Like the surfer of the Justice League, you know? Took it easy, knew how the world worked.”
When I questioned him further about how exactly the world does indeed operate, Pack said, “It’s like, you get in, you take what you can, and you get out. You don’t let anyone get in your way. Step on who you have to.”
And with that, Booster Pack gave me a Tom Cruise smile and the old “wink and the gun” and took off into the sky in the direction of two scantly clad females more in his age bracket, puffing up his chest as he did so. But unfortunately, that wouldn’t be the last impression Booster Pack would leave on me.
After all, it was almost midnight.
People were counting backwards. It was almost that time. Almost New Year’s Day. They were looking up to the sky, a sky swarming with young “heroes”, poster children for a world proud of its manufactured music stars and fictional reality television. And through it all, if they squinted hard enough and looked past the drunk girl with the blue skin getting sick on the rooftop of a Wayne Enterprises building, or the man dressed in a giant turkey costume hitting on a squadron of uninterested blondes, or even past my new acquaintance and spokesman for the unoriginal, Booster Pack, they might just have been able to make out the “S” symbol, the sign of Superman, usually revered and applauded this time of year.
But a true Superman was nowhere in sight. And Metropolis was about to learn just what that meant.
The unison “three” sounded. Then “two”, then “one”. But there was no music. No strangers kissing, no Old Lang anything. It took a second before they even thought to scream. The sky was falling. The children were coming crashing down.
There was a woman standing next to me, who kept elbowing me all night, in some attempt to get me to move over a little, where to exactly, I’ll never know. We were packed in so close together, it was a challenge even to exhale fully without overturning the coffee of the man standing next to me. But when the Everyman victims starting falling, when their powers failed them simultaneously and they plunged down to the ground, I looked over at the woman by me. I’m not sure why. To gauge her reaction maybe, I don’t know. But I looked over at her, and she was still smiling. She hadn’t realized what was going on. And then suddenly, I was on the ground, and I couldn’t find her anywhere.
Something heavy had fallen from above me. Something had knocked me over a barricade into the police officers standing behind it. My ears were ringing and I was having a hard time seeing anything. Something was in my eyes. I wiped it off. It was blood. And it wasn’t mine.
I got to my feet somehow. I heard the cop next to me yell something in Spanish, and there were crashes all around. There was smoke, the ground was shaking. Things, people, were still falling from the air.
But I couldn’t move. At least, not of my own accord. I was being shoved. Like cattle frightened by lightning, the crowd flowed without consciousness, without intent. I was adrift with them, stumbling and tripping until I found myself pinned against a wall, and then knocked hard to the ground against an unfamiliar building behind me. But there was someone else down there with me. He was lying a few feet away on the broken sidewalk, people rushing over him as if he were merely an old coat put out with the garbage. I watched as his hand was crushed by a woman’s thick-heeled boot, as another man accidentally kicked the back of his head with his sneaker, knocking his face toward me. And I recognized the fallen boy. We’d just spoken less than five minutes ago. He was Booster Pack, but not anymore. Now he was just a child in a funny costume. And then I looked at him more closely, and I realized that wasn’t the case either. That figure on the ground, staring at me with blank eyes as the men and women of his city marched over his shattered body, he wasn’t anyone anymore. Just a lifeless, limp thing.
Suddenly there was a sharp pain at the base of my neck. And I couldn’t see anything.
I woke up in a hospital bed with my husband holding my hand. I was lucky, all I had was a concussion and a few bruises. Hundreds were dead, even more injured. There was no Superman to save us this time. And the Everymen were a thing of the past now.
No, in this new year, when the citizens of Metropolis look up to sky, there will be nothing there for them to see.
And I for one don’t know what to think about that.
As part of the Planet’s archival project, DailyPlanetDC.com collected and recreated every article from the 52 Daily Planet special. Read the entire slate by following the button bellow.