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The Hidden Language of 52

The miniseries 52: more than it appears. Oh yes. Yes indeed.

Among the godfathers of the project is Grant Morrison. Morrison, a man who loves to tie his works into larger ideas, such as the tarot card links to the Arkham Asylum graphic novel, or the Kabbalah/Mystic Spiral parallels in his Seven Soldiers of Victory maxiseries (a theory forwarded here).

Do you think that in the giant miniseries 52 he would simply abandon such methods?

Of course not.

The significance of the number fifty-two is manifold, but I believe the most obvious connection is the correct one: the standard Anglo-American deck of cards.

Stay with me. I’m going somewhere with this.

Each character in the miniseries represents a single card in the deck, and reflects the values connoted by that card. Take series star Booster Gold. A cursory examination of the character would lead one to believe that Booster, with his mercenary outlook and general foolishness, is clearly the Jack (formerly known as the “knave”) of diamonds. Diamonds=money, knave=dumbass.

You could think that…but you’d be wrong.

According to the Rouen deck, the Knave of Diamonds is Ogier, a knight of Charlemagne; according to the Parisian deck, he is Hector of Troy. Hector, the last hero of a dying city, is clearly not Booster. Ogier, a man whose name is silly, could indeed stand in for Booster Gold, another man with a silly name, but the Ogier of legend is a Dane. Booster is clearly not Danish, as his speech is free of that cool “o” with a slash through it, a telltale sign of Danitude.

So what card does he represent? What aspect of humanity is Michael Jon “Booster” Gold? Without question, he is the Ace of Clubs. Duh. The numerological significance of the number one fits Booster–it symbolizes the individual, the aggressor. Booster, stripped of his friend and his ties to the superhero fraternity, is truly a man alone. The club? The club is not a weapon of war, but rather the abstraction of an acorn. What is the acorn, but an oak waiting to be born? Who is Booster Gold, if not the individualist who is unready, the seed ready to become the mighty oak, albeit a mighty oak in yellow ski goggles? He is the One, the Solitary, both the highest and the lowest, the key to a royal flush or a really good blackjack hand.

Then we have his companion, the robot Skeets. Skeets is clearly the nine of diamonds. Hell, he just looks like the nine of diamonds, doesn’t he? As we all know, the nine symbolizes…

(SFX: deet deet!)

Wait, wait. Hold on. Time for meds. Doot dee doo…


(HJ rereads the first four issues of 52)

Uh…heh…never mind.


But I stand by my theory that the series ‘Mazing Man was all an elaboration on the deeper allegorical meanings of Connect Four.

“Pretty sneaky, sis.”

Pretty sneaky, indeed.


Booster could be Hector, because I think, as someone who is currently reading The Iliad to his daughter and therefore has it fresh in his mind, Hector is kind of a dick and a coward. So Booster could be Hector.

(Yes, I’m plugging my own blog in the comments. Does that make me a bad person desperate for attention? So be it.)

Interesting theory, though, until the meds kicked in. Makes me think of my theory about the Flying Monkeys in The Wizard of Oz representing primitive man’s desire to fly (because they’re monkeys, get it, so it’s primitive man … oh, forget it). Of course, I didn’t need meds to stop thinking like that, I needed “meds” to start thinking like that.

You really had me going for a while there, Harvey. Shame you had to pop some meds

I’ll say this: I’ll be surprised if we don’t get some kind of deck-of-cards tie-in before this series is done. And I thought so before reading this column. Royal Flush Gang, perhaps? DC representatives have said in a couple of places that the number 52 has several meanings in this series and, as anyone who’s been following [i](Supergirl and the) Legion of Super-Heroes[/i] knows, one of those meanings has something to do with the Dominators.

moose n squirrel

June 7, 2006 at 7:22 am

I think it would be pretty lame for “52” to actually mean something more within the context of the story. I mean, it just ends up sounding stupid. “It’s called FIFTY-TWO!… and it lasts for FIFTY TWO weeks!… and FIFTY-TWO seconds of the year are missing!… and our heroes must save FIFTY-TWO people from FIFTY-TWO robots armed with FIFTY-TWO exploding packs of cards (which have FIFTY-TWO apiece!) and are lead by the villainous Fifty-Two-themed villain, FIFTY-TWO!”

The title of the series isn’t some mystery. It’s a play on “24,” in that it takes place over 52 weeks in “real time.” You don’t need to find a further justification for that title, and any attempt to do so seems more awkward because it comes after the fact. DC wanted a weekly series that would run for a year before the writers of that series decided to sprinkle “clever” references to the number into the plot itself.

Jerkwater isn’t implying the lame type of number tie-in you’re talking about, Moos n Squirrel, but tie-ins to the number’s mystical and archaic significance through character similarities. Just sayin.

Gosh I miss ‘Mazing Man.


How awesome was it that the latest issue of 52 actually DID make reference to the number “52”!

awesome as in “awesome,” or awesome as in “pretty frickin stupid?” i’d vote the latter.

Awesome in that, right when we’re discussing the topic – it actually shows up!

moose n squirrel

June 8, 2006 at 5:43 pm

“Jerkwater isn’t implying the lame type of number tie-in you’re talking about, Moos n Squirrel”

Maybe, but with the lame number references they’re already putting in the book, I really don’t need to see them spray title references around any more than they’ve already decided to, cloaked in numerology or not. I mean, really, what sensible excuse is there for having the Red Tornado’s last words be the title of the book? Did he die plugging his own final appearance in some Morrisonian metafictive fit? The very least he could do is plug a book the reader wouldn’t have already bought yet: “Hey, folks! Check out Supergirl and the Legion – I hear Waid and Kitson are doing some incredible woooOOOH NOOOOO AIIIIEEEEEE! [explodes]”

But hey, maybe it’s just me. Maybe they should end every episode of “24” like this, too! “Dammit, Mr. President! There’s a bomb out there and I need to find – wait… Twenty-Four! TWEEEENTY-FOOOOOOUR! [explodes]”

It’s even worse than the first month of “One Year Later” where everyone in every book kept saying “Man, what a year THAT was, huh?” *nudge,nudge, wink wink*

Wait, people are complaining about the story being metatextual? People are complaining about getting more story?

I don’t get it at all.

I think the most obvious connection to the number 52 is not a deck of cards but rather the number of weeks in a year, particularly given that “52” covers a missing year before the craptastic “ONE YEAR LATER.” Your card idea, while fun, is simply ridiculous, the more so in light of the fact that no two people ever have or ever will interpret a card the same way.

Yes, that’s true. Which is why this is a gag column.

Well, you guys do know that the number of cards in the deck is based on the weeks of the year, right? The suits are the four seasons, and the number of cards in each suit refers to the number of months in a lunar year….

And yes, I realize this post is one year later, but I just had to….

One year – or 52 weeks? ;)

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