Shining Knight and the Holy Grail
The Good: The cover is very nice, Mike Choi has a good simplistic approach to cvoer design that works better than Tony Daniel's increasingly crowded and complex covers. Not that Daniel's covers were bad. But there's such an effective use of empty space on the cover that makes it a powerful image.
This issue shows you exactly what a good time to use two artists is. It works it in a way that although it's obvious there's two artists, not only is there a perfectly valid reason, but the styles compliment each other well. Each art style works well for the scenes its portraying. Diogenes Neves' art is still ap erfect choice for the mideival setting, and Mike Choi's art has a perfect dreamlike quality to it without being too abstract, though using more free-flowing panel layouts.
Ok, this was good, it addressed my main complaint with each passing issue of this series. The main plot was so hectic and chaotic, it crammed all our characters together with little development or distinction, and no room to relax and take a breath. This issue gives us PLENTY of room to breathe, with a HUGE focus on Shining Knight. We get a ton of development for him/her, and it works incredibly well, even tying into the main story. Now we need some of this for those 3 characters I have no idea about, and I guess Vandal Savage for new readers, and arguably Etrigan/Jason Blood and Madame Xanadu, although they kind of got the first issue.
The whole huge subplot revealed with the Holy Grail is full of some immense depth and a great sense of scale. It made me feel so small in the grand cosmic scale, but it was a good thing. All the white space makes things feel sort of calmingly empty.
Vandal Savage's knowledge of character's names hilariously represents most readers'. He mentiones Jason Blood and Madame Xanadu, but is mostly in a fog about the rest. (He was talking TO Shining Knight, so leaving him/her out doesn't count.)
The Bad: Not much of the main story is resolved.
In Conclusion: 5/5
Can Shining Knight have his or her own series now? That would actually be pretty awesome. Not to say that this team book is bad by any means at all, just that this issue really invested interest in Shining Knight for me. Now I'm REALLY pumped to go out and pick up the Shining Knight Seven Soldiers miniseries...... WAIT A SECOND. Etrigan, Madame Xanadu, Shining Knight, Vandal Savage, horsewoman, barbarian chick, arab guy..... Is that SEVEN soldiers? Hmmm...... That's possibly really brilliant if intentional. Regardless, this issue is EXACTLY what this series needed. It was a great spark that reignited my interest after the previous issue started to really dillute it. Plus it showed you when it's acceptable to use multiple artists, AND how to do that RIGHT.