This series is always a treat every month, though this issue was a bit much to handle all at once. Amazingly enough, it's not the just about FIVE waring factions mixed together into a ridiculous battle, but actually all the other plot points that really overwhelm this time.
I can definitely see some people not enjoying it as much, but I had to appreciate the unique style this issue used to let the insanely huge battle occur while leaving enough space for the plethora of plot points colliding. It's actually kind of fascinating, after setting up such a colossal battle, this issue makes sure to focus solely on the main cast, the characters who have been the true driving force of this series, and their place in this whirlwind of war. Tiny panels depicting the full chaos of the epic battle litter the pages, letting you know the chaos is still all around; but for the most part we're seeing what the main characters are doing. I found this kind of brilliant, but I can definitely see how not everyone would agree.
Shining Knight is still the Shining Knight I ADORE as a character, but he lets everyone else take the spotlight this time, and I can easily live with that. I LOVED his few scenes in this issue as much as any, but I understand with a cast like this not every issue can let him be the best. And while everyone in the cast gets their moment to shine in Cornell's finale, it's actually Merlin and Arthur who really get the big spotlight. Merlin has spent pretty much this entire series as a MacGuffin, but the payoff has arrived... I just have mixed feelings about what it means. I've been intrigued by the Stormwatch/Demon Knights connections that have been weaved into the series, but personally I feel like this issue treaded too much into full Stormwatch territory. I mean, they basically became the official first incarnation of Stormwatch in this issue, and I feel like its too soon. And then they instantly go their separate ways? How are they going to be Stormwatch if they're separated? And how much of their respective journeys are we going to see? Can we get a series about 30 years of Shining Knight and Exoristos searching for the Holy Grail and protecting the Black Diamond? I would buy the hell out of that hands down. But in the meantime I have my concerns over this series becoming a full 'Stormwatch of the Past.' Not to mention the revelation that Merlin is Adam One. I kind of saw this coming considering the two of them shared the same aging pattern, but I was hoping I was wrong. Merlin fascinates me, but Adam One kind of bores and annoys me.
In Conclusion: 4/5
This issue still had Bernard Chang's awesome artwork, and all the same excellent characterization of the full compelling cast, but Cornell was forced to shove in quite a lot of plot points into one issue, leaving this feeling... surprisingly not super rushed, but a bit overwhelming. Robert Venditti has a LOT to live up to when he takes over this series, because Cornell's been giving us one epic hell of a ride, literally through hell and back. Also Shining Knight is one of the greatest things to happen in the New 52.