This week marks the 10th anniversary of the DC weekly series 52. The celebration started Monday with the release of episode 1 of the Podicus Wrecks podcast. During which, I spend 50 minutes discussing the stories within 52 and some thoughts on the series. The rest of the week, I will be posting more detailed recaps of each of these stories. On Tuesday, I recapped The Rise and Fall of Black Adam. Wednesday’s story was The Science Squad and World War 3. Yesterday’s story was Lost in Space. Today’s story is The Everyman Project, featuring Steel and Lex Luthor.
John Henry Irons, Steel, is helping clean up after the battle in Infinite Crisis, and things become tense with his niece when he demands that she focus more on life around her, and less on being part of a super team. Irons helps identify a body that looks like Lex Luthor, but he realizes it’s a doppelganger. Luthor arrives to blame all of his villainous actions on this other him.
At his home, Irons begins hallucinating, feels sick, and a metal alloy starts to encase him. Natasha thinks John voluntarily took the serum and storms off. Lex Luthor establishes a program known as the Everyman Project. The purpose of this program is to grant super powers to anyone that wants them, if they are genetically compatible.
Even though a large crowd has gathered for the Everyman Project, Luthor selects Natasha first, knowing it will anger John. Steel confronts Luthor about what he’s done, and demands him to release Natasha. Natasha shows up, and ends up beating up Steel in a confrontation. Later on, Kala tells Steel that with Luthor’s supergene, if he can activate it on his own, then he probably has a way to deactivate it.
Luthor personally selects a few Everyman Project participants to become members of the reformed Infinity, Inc. During their first big fight with Blockbuster, they are able to take Blockbuster down. The Titans show up and there’s a conversation about who’s taking Blockbuster in. During this time, Blockbuster escapes. Eliza, code name Trajectory, who Natasha convinces Luthor to allow to rejoin the team, chases after him. She catches him, but Luthor presses a button next to her name, and she no longer has any powers. Blockbuster kills her.
At the funeral, Steel tries to talk to Natasha, but she yells at him. Beast Boy offers him the Titans’ help. It is revealed that Luthor started the Everyman Project because he wanted to possess powers himself, in this post-Superman world. However, Lex was one of the few candidates whose genes were not compatible.
During a Thanksgiving Day parade, Infinity, Inc. introduce a new member with the name Jade. This upsets the deceased Jade’s brother Obsidian, and he attacks Infinity, Inc. Alan Scot, his dad, is able to calm him down before things get out of hand. Back in his lab, Steel’s steel skin starts peeling off, and he realizes the serum has an expiration date.
Luthor is given the news that someone who’s body was rejecting the Everyman serum, has now genetically adapted to accept the serum and can live. Luthor tells his scientist to harvest the kid’s organs. With the help of Oracle, Steel is able to create a diversion to get Natasha alone. He shows her that his metal skin went away on its own, and asks her to think about how a slow Blockbuster was able to kill Trajectory.
On New Year’s Eve, Luthor again receives a notice that he’s not compatible with the serum. Not only that, but he’s unable to get the identity of Supernova from Clark Kent. However, Luthor still suspects that it is Superman, and he’s just taunting him. A large number of Everyman participants were on the streets and in the sky for the New Year’s Eve celebration. At midnight, Luthor presses a button on a remote that instantly shut off many of their abilities. No longer able to fly, some heroes began falling out of the sky to their deaths. The new Infinity, Inc., unaffected by the power cancellation, tries to help out, but the streets were chaotic.
Luthor tells Infinity, Inc, that they’ve found a marker in the DNA that explains how so many lost their powers spontaneously. But the good news is that no one in Infinity, Inc. tested positive for that marker. Natasha confides in Jake, her partner, that she thinks Luthor is responsible for the power loss, and asks for his help in finding evidence. They follow Dr. Laughlin in his lab, only to have him blow up his lab. Mercy is able to retrieve some documents.
Natasha is trying to figure out what Luthor is up to in the procedure lab, when Jake says he needs to show here something. What he shows her is Jake’s dead body with some limbs missing. It turns out that Hannibal, who can shape shift into beings that he has tasted, has been posing as Jake. She attacks him, but Luthor shows up, turns off her powers, and begins to attack her. Luthor now has powers, after finding documentation that stated Dr. Laughlin had been lying to him about him not being compatible with the serum.
Luthor contacts Steel, and tells him that he is holding Natasha hostage. Steel puts on his old suit, contacts the Titans, and they storm Lexcorp Tower. The Titans handle Infinity, Inc. while Steel goes after Luthor. Luthor has the upper hand until Natasha is able to use Steel’s hammer and figures out a way to turn off Luthor’s metagene. With Luthor de-powered, Steel is able to defeat him. Before being arrested, Luthor tries to have Hannibal go in his place, but Steel sees through this trick, and Luthor is taken to jail.
This story is all about working hard and earning what you want. Natasha was impatient and tried to take the easy path to being a hero. But being a hero isn’t easy. You have to work for it. You have to earn it. There are no shortcuts without consequences. Anyone offering you what amounts to a get rich quick scheme has some selfish reason for doing it. They wouldn’t give you this opportunity of a lifetime if they didn’t stand to gain something as well.
But Steel isn’t completely blameless in all of this. His stubbornness helped to drive Natasha to Luthor. In life, it often is not enough to simply be right. It doesn’t matter how right you are if no one is listening to you. If you truly want to be a leader, then you have to find a way no matter what to get through to those that should be following you. A little bit of empathy could go a long way. Had Steel just worked harder to gain Natasha’s understanding, then she wouldn’t have been put in the situation she was in.
Of course, then they wouldn’t have had someone in on the inside, and then may not have known what was going on with Luthor….but that’s not the point. The point is that you should work towards what you want. Whether that is putting time in to earn your spot, or working to find a way to gain someone’s trust and understanding.