Short-Lived Happy Endings
What's with all these ill-fitting covers with some of the more offbeat DC series' lately? I feel like I've been talking about them a lot the past few days, and recall most of those same series' having off covers the month before as well. This issue's cover isn't too bad, but like last issue it doesn't fit whatsoever. The text kind of works, but the image implies a heavy focus on Terra, and a potentially traitorous one; but nothing even close to that really happens.
Art duties are split down the middle this issue between new series regular Ig Guara and former Demon Knights artist Diogenes Neves. Whatever Neves does, whether it's the inker or something varied in the style, the art barely seems to change when the transition happened. I should be able to complain about the obnoxiousness of multiple artists... but I honestly can't in this case, Neves took a lot of care to make sure his art damn near indistinguishable from Guara's. And it worked, the art feels perfectly consistent.
This issue tackled a problem I've long had with this series. I find it impossible to believe that Ridge is anything but a 30-40 year old british man... and yet we find out here he's easily the youngest member of the team. The writers kind of create a solution here, where it's implied the psychological torture and brainwashing and subsequent memory loss all but erased his childlike innocence and personality. And I kind of buy it with that explanation, as well as the somewhat forced but emotionally deep revelation that his RIdge form only dissipates when he no longer feels 'in danger.' It creates this sense that Harvest forced him to feel a subconscious fear constantly, and that even with the new team it's taken him this long to truly let go and feel comfortable.
The newfound joy and trust Ridge expresses is the beginning of an almost sickeningly sweet deluge of happiness. Loose ends are tied up, and emotional trauma is cleaned up with varied levels of efficiency. Beast Boy and Terra's romantic tension had almost hit the point of exasperation, and it was actually quite heartwarming to see them finally hook up, everyone around them had seen it long ago, and Terra was tired of waiting for a shy Beast Boy to make the move they both knew they both wanted.
Things hit the point of forced when Niles Caulder uses some pretty contrived methods to science-magically bring Lightning back to life. It appears they sewed the seeds for it before, but the way the scene goes down it feels like a painfully forced wrap up in the face of upcoming cancellation. But it also makes things feel, just, too sparkly and happy and upbeat. It was getting to the point where I just wanted to vomit rainbows everything was far too idealistic. But that was Nelson setting up a finale that turns all that happiness on it's head, as the mood whiplashes into a nightmare, and the happiness swings from feeling sickeningly sweet, to feeling like he wanted to lull is into that false sense of peace and joy so he the emotional wounding would be all the worse.
In Conclusion: 4/5
I'm now on the side that thinks it's a shame this series is getting cancelled, because Michael Alan Nelson has really been getting things back on track by putting the focus on where things work, the character interactions. The teenage angst has all but melted away, and now these characters feel more like real people than angst-machines. The art was great, the heartwarming moments were mostly potent, and the dark almost cathartic ending really punches you right in the freshly warmed heart.