From exploring the vast, beauty of the DCU to encountering a ship full of living nightmares. Such is the journey that Justin Jordan has decided to lead us on over the last several issues, climaxing with this one. We open seeing what became of Quaros, the Guardian recently lost to the group and now being frantically sought. When his fellow Guardians, along with Carol Ferris, finally get a lead on him, it leads them to a massive ship that seems to be a laboratory in space. And it’s not the kind of lab with any kind of strict precautions on the treatment of subjects, sentient or otherwise, this is some dark stuff that makes ordinary vivisection look like a booster shot. The tonal shift of this issue is somewhat surprising and a little bit terrifying, we’re suddenly dealing with some Cronenberg/Giger-esque body horror imagery and I have absolutely NO idea where it’s going or why it’s happening, which only heightens the fear.
All this gut-churning horror wouldn’t mean much without a great artistic team behind it, and this book’s got that. Brad Walker’s pencils give these nightmares form and shape while Andrew Hennessy, with Scott Hanna, calcify them into stark, terrifying reality and Wil Quintana’s colors bring them to what passes for life aboard this ship. There are a great many scenes that happen before they find this spacebourne nightmare, and those scenes are just as lovingly crafted, with Carol’s frustration about having to follow these Guardians while they search out their kinsman and neglect finding Kyle is palpable, and I love the small things they do to communicate her frustration. I’m also a big fan of when any ring user/Guardian takes off and leaves a trail. Not sure why, I just love the effect and what it communicates visually.
The art is generally great in this book, but there are some panels where the characters don’t look quite as they should. Carol’s face has a tendency to change features somewhat, whether they drift or get smushed.
I love this as a turn for this book to take: the horror episodes of Star Trek were actually some of my favorites, both in the original run and ESPECIALLY in Next Generation. Space itself is a dark, strangling nightmare so inserting a truly malevolent, depraved force into it only adds to its innate sense of dread and terror. We get a great reveal at the end, but things are far from solved nor are they anywhere near okay. This issue teases out whatever’s going on brilliantly and I’m actually dreading whatever comes next, and I mean that in the best possible way.