by Matthew Sturges & Bill Willingham (writers), Russ Braun (pencils & inks), Jose Marzan Jr. (inks), Andrew Pepoy (inks & balance), Daniel Vozzo (colors), and Todd Klein (letters)

The Story: Jack Frost battles the sorcerer while Jack Horner discovers his fate and the true nature of his condition.

What’s Good: Since he first appeared, I’ve always found Jack Frost a fairly bland character, a problem that seems to be fairly irresolvable.  That said, this is a surprisingly strong outing for him.  His banter with the sorcerer really is fairly funny at times and did bring me a couple of smiles.  It is fairly enjoyable to see how Frost’s inexperience as a hero also affects his ability to converse mid-battle.  Also, while it may be a little baffling to see Jack Frost as an exponent for modern lingo, his colloquial language also brings the laughs as it clashes with the sorcerer’s by-the-numbers fantasy villain dialogue.

Despite the bevy of inkers, this month is also a strong outing for Russ Braun.  His dragon looks great while retaining a sense of comedy through all, and his depictions of Brak the monster continue to be weirdly adorable.  Braun’s work alone gives the furry beast a lot more character than he otherwise might have.  As always, Braun’s work on his characters’ faces is also a joy.

What’s Not So Good: While this was a stronger issue for Frost, I still left the book feeling Frost to be a bland character incapable of carrying, or frankly deserving, an ongoing series.  He’s still little more than a standard character archetype, and a fairly uninspired one at that.  He’s the young, male hero.  That’s it.  Nowhere is this reflected better than in the internal monologue contained within this issue.  Usually, I love internal monologues as a means of getting to know characters better, yet here, Frost’s narration is a snore.  It’s little more than a paint-by-numbers recounting of the action, which is pretty indicative of the blandness of the character.  Worse still, there are far more of these narrating captions than need be.  Did we really need to have Frost retell the entire arc’s plot, in some detail, at the start of this issue?  It’s unnecessary, and it’s yawn-inducing.

It also doesn’t help that “the Sorcerer” is about as clichéd and uninspired a villain as I’ve ever seen in a comic book.  If that’s the kind of short-term villain Jack Frost’s book is going to be getting, it’s going to be a bad book indeed.  Seriously, the guy doesn’t even have a name.  He’s just “the sorcerer.”  That about sums him up, unfortunately.

Then there’s the scenes involving “Jack Dragon.”  This is nothing short of a complete catastrophe.  In fact, it’s insulting and borders on being a slap to the face of long-time Jack readers in just how poorly the whole thing is wrapped up.  Putting aside how wrong, and dispiriting, it is to remove the character for which the series is named, only to replace him with a much blander protagonist, the manner in which this done is just sloppy.

Jack’s banishment from his own series is abrupt and underwhelming.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen something this anti-climactic in a comic in a very long time.   Sturges apparently thinks removing the character in this manner is humorous, when it’s closer to nauseating and rage-inducing.  Even worse is just how ridiculously convenient and sudden the explanation for Jack’s transformation and consequent doom is.  It’s also unimaginative and lazy in the utmost.

But wait, didn’t we get the explanation for Jack’s transformation already?  All that stuff Gary (and DC’s solicitations) said about it being artist Tony Akins’ doing?  Yeah, apparently that just never happened.

Conclusion: Having been on-board since issue one, I’m sad to say that I’m done with this series.

Grade: D –

-Alex Evans

Grade

Conclusion