YEAR TWO has a lot of pieces moving around, but the chapters tend to quickly address what happened with a previous group and then focus on moving forward with another set of characters. It's a good way to give the wide variety of characters proper focus, but now that everything has hit the fan, this chapter finds organic links to move us from group to group. It doesn't strike us with any particularly powerful developments (then again, it would be tough to top the way the last issue ended) and instead goes for a little bit of character and a lot of madness. Seriously, there's a lot of explosions, blasts, and all kinds of general chaos. We have Ganthet firing two blasts (one gets a double page spread and rightfully so), explosions and a vicious amount of heat vision. Oh, and there's a little something at the end that concludes this chapter on a thrilling note, but you don't expect me to spoil that, do you? Needless to say, the gloves are off and everyone and everything is unleashing.
All of this fighting and craziness gives artist Mike S. Miller and colorist J. Nanjan the chance to show us what these characters look like when they're livid and/or hurt. Aside from one bit with Barbara and Ganthet's "I'm unamused" face, there's a whole lot of frustration and rage stemming from these characters and it sells these brutal conflicts very well. Aside from one panel where Superman isn't looking at the Lantern he's gripping and prepared to punch (the angle has him looking to the side, not at his target), the art team made sure all of the action was every bit as intense as it should be. The green blasts and the toll they take on characters was savage and the panel of a certain someone being struck by an explosion did a fine job making us fully aware of the speed and force of the attack. And the final close-up really pulls you into a major match-up and allows you to appreciate how both of them feel in that very cinematic moment.
I know I should just accept the fact that Superman is now a super jerk, but I'm still left feeling a little taken aback whenever he does something drastic without even a moment of hesitation or showing any signs of internal conflict. So, when he gives a stern look and has no gripe dishing out a beyond lethal dose of heat vision, I can't help but think about how uncalled for it is. Maybe if Taylor had more room to address Superman's situation we'd be more understanding of his downward spiral, but in this volume, it just seems like we just need to accept the fact he's beyond redeeming (use innocents as cover? Sounds good!) and move on. But that's still a tad difficult for me, especially when there were still some signs of goodness lingering in him during the last volume.
Also, when Ganthet has no problem obliterating characters, it seems a little odd to have him spend several seconds telling Sinestro that he won't waste any more time with him instead of spending half that amount of time just eliminating him from existence with another blast or two. We could chalk it up to poor decision making or arrogance, but it came off like "I won't kill you because, well, you're playable in the game. So here's a verbal smackdown. Bye!" Lastly, Hal Jordan was a "terrible mistake"?! Personally, I think saying he's disappointed in Hal and what he's done is irredeemable may have been more appropriate.
While the last chapter thrived because it had so much heart, this one works because it's over-the-top madness. We're not just getting a glimpse or a tease or the big battle anymore -- we're being yanked right into it and getting a front row seat to the Michael Bay level of explosions and brawls. That said, the chapter isn't just shallow, popcorn entertainment. There's some good albeit short character beats thrown in there and I'm left wondering what this will mean for everyone when the dust settles. Sure, there's still plenty of physical conflicts that have to be resolved and, based on this book's history, it'll likely be a thrilling ride, but when a certain side has won and the other needs to lick its wounds, will the character dynamics be the same or will there be some drastic changes? Even though we know where everyone stands in several years from now (which is where the video game begins), this is a series that consistently manages to grab my interest and keeps me guessing. Yes, I'm very anxious to see what happens after this cliffhanger and witness more of the battles, but I'm especially anxious to see what'll go down as YEAR TWO wraps up the massive battle and shows us the aftermath.