Despairing issue after despairing issue of death, destruction and futility have led us to this point: some manner of light at the end of the tunnel. The light is, as predicted, a green one as we see the return of Alan Scott in the beginning of the issue (and lest you think this is a spoiler, he’s on the cover). We also see Val, the mysterious Kryptonian, finally learning to accept the outside world and use his growing powers alongside Red Tornado, but they’re interrupted by an unfortunate interloper. Tom Taylor is doing a great job defining Val, we even get a last name that, perhaps, tells us more about him than anything prior regarding his possible parentage that’ll make his future even more unsure. It’s also an interesting change to see Lois in the role of both mentor and superhero as Red Tornado, and I like the compassionate, yet incredibly determined, role she takes with Val.
Nicola Scott returns again to pencil the book, and, by and large, everything looks great. The action has remains fluid and as animated as still images can be (which, it turns out, is very animated indeed), and we get a lot of great moment-to-moment pages with very dynamic panels. Trevor Scott handles inks and gives a great feeling of definition and weight to the proceedings and the participants therein. It’s often interesting to see pencils without inks and how much inking adds to a piece, and I think the Scotts are a great example of that. We also get colors from Pete Pantazis, giving the grim goings-on a bright, strangely juxtaposed feeling.
I said the art was mostly good, and that is true, but unfortunately there are a few panels here and there that look like they were rushed. The character’s facial features have morphed and changed fairly substantially, to the point that if they weren’t in costume (and the cast not so small), I’d be hard-pressed to recognize them. This only happens a few times, but is worth bringing up.
I expected Alan Scott to be something of a cavalry this issue, but he is, emphatically, not. We catch a glimpse of him in the first few pages, and then it’s back to our storyline already in progress. It’s also becoming clear that there are some incredibly faulty information chains in Darkseid’s forces: they only just learnt of the Arkham breakout AND that Aquawoman was back in play, despite her devastating an entire group of parademons some time ago. Superman is also ready to kill Sloan for information on the Kryptonian, only to dismiss him pages later, declaring Batman their true threat, something I truly hope does not come to pass or we really will have Superman and Batman in the driver’s seat of Earth 2.
Hero-worship of Batman and some character inconsistencies aside, I like the direction this book is going. We’re seeing the beginnings of hope returning to the title, though the forces of Darkseid STILL haven’t run up against anything even resembling a challenger or a foe capable of stopping them, so I’m actually hoping for a fairly pitched, lengthy last stand so the victory at least feels earned. This issue is a nice departure from the dour grimness of issue’s past, and if the series continues in this direction, I truly think it can right itself.