Demon Poker Face
It's not Jae Lee, but this cover is still pretty excellent. The gentle shadowy reflection of The phantom Stranger and te Sons of Trigon as they look out across the lights of Las Vegas with flames on the horizon. Although I admire the limited color palate to emphasize the sort of 'film noir' tone The Stranger gives off here, it's kind of the opposite of the tone Las Vegas generally gives off.
The solicits and issue title, not to mention The Stranger himself in narration early on, all emphasize the significance of this issue's appearance of Lady Luck, who I had no idea was a DC character prior to the New 52. Except Lady Luck really serves very little purpose in this issue, which wouldn't be a problem had she not been hyped up so much. All she does is serve as the dealer for the Poker Game, not even saying a word or demonstrating any actual powers. And after some research, it seems like DC is using the New 52 to change some of their street level heroes into Cosmic Forces, like The Question and now Lady Luck, though Lady Luck hasn't appeared in forever.
Despite the problems with the lackluster role of Lady Luck, this was probably the first issue I really enjoyed. Gene Ha and Zander Cannon work MUCH better together as a Layout/Pencil team than Anderson and Tan. This issue didn't look like a visual mess, and was actually consistently great looking from beginning to end. The glowing eyes of all the mystical characters REALLY worked well with their piecing gazes, and the three sons of Trigon were beautifully demonic and properly varied.
In addition, the story was a lot smoother and more interesting. The Phantom Stranger's expressed some ridiculous levels of new powers lately, but during the poker game he appears to show off some even more ridiculous ones that he's never shown before, and there's a sense of subtlety to the presentation of them that keeps things tense, PERFECT in tone for a mystical poker game. The end of the issue provides a fantastic explanation that really helps demonstrate The Phantom Stranger's ingenuity and doesn' make him all-powerful. There is that odd continuing trend of The Phantom Stranger being more like 'The Phantom Betrayer,' but in context here it makes enough sense for me to overlook it this time.
In Conclusion: 4/5
The dialogue was clever and engaging, the artwork was consistent and excellent, and the story wasn't a total mess like the other six issues. This issue wasn't perfect, but it was a big improvement over what had come recently. The only other concern I have is one that I'm still not certain about due to this being one of the first of the issues this month I read. The last page of this issue all but confirms what's going to be on the other side of the foldout cover next month, and I haven't figured out if they're supposed to be a big surprise until you get there, or something you should be able to guess at right before. I'm leaning towards the former, so this would be a strike against that, but it's not a deal breaker.