By: J.T. Krul (writer), Fabrizio Fiorentino & Alejandro Giraldo (artists), Kyle Ritter (colorist)

The Story: Dang it, I thought you said you would never let go!

The Review: You probably have noticed in my reviews that I tend to spend a great deal of time talking up the written features of a comic, with only a perfunctory paragraph on art.  This is in no way meant to demean the artist’s contributions to a comic, but as a writer, I view the script as king.  If you have a weak script, it won’t matter what kind of visuals you put in.  It can be the most beautiful-looking thing in the world, but it won’t have much meaning beyond prettiness.

Krul has had a fairly diverse set of artists who’ve worked on his scripts, some of whom I’ve panned (Claude St. Aubin), and others upon whom I can’t lavish enough praise and respect (Nicola Scott).  But none of them, even the often faultless Scott, have managed to overcome what I view as Krul’s weaknesses as a writer.  You can paint a leaky roof like the Sistine Chapel, but it’ll still leak—and the damp will damage the painting anyway.

It’s become almost a mean habit of mine to call out Krul’s choice of dialogue, but as it stands, he still can’t produce an issue that isn’t riddled with pointlessly melodramatic lines, like Wonder Woman musing, “Are we defending ourselves from the Atlanteans?  Fighting for our survival?  Or are both sides racing together, side-by-side, toward the abyss?  Blinded by rageDoomed.”  As a rule, monologues have a place in fiction, but overblown, unsubtle, cheesy ramblings have the effect of making me ever so slightly nauseated.

It also occurs to me that Krul hasn’t yet learned how to use his plot beats to best effect.  He tends to throw in a lot of dramatic events that may illicit a momentary spike of interest, but rarely work together to service a story.  Despite the grisly deaths of several important characters and a couple dramatic moments, your interest by the end of the issue can hardly be described as anything other than waning.  You simple don’t care about the characters enough to worry about their fates.

And so Kent Nelson’s and John Grayson’s final words to Boston Brand, grim as they are (Kent: “…I can see right through you.”), fail to evoke much more than a shrug.  We all know Boston will come through in the end somehow—why else would Krul take such pains to paint him early on as such an irredeemable jag?  Besides making Brand totally unsympathetic to us, the strategy is just eye-rollingly predictable.

Terrific art might have been able to patch over the script’s flaws to deliver a middling effect overall, but Fiorentino and Giraldo are poore replacements for Mikel Janin.  Not only does their work look generally stiff and clumsy, they also reek of a rushed sloppiness, literally using shapeless, genderless body figures (the kind intermediate art students draw as anatomy/pose exercises) to flesh out the crowds.  Though they strive for dynamism with their “shadow-figure” movements, their sense of motion often lacks logic.  Good example: spoiler alert—Dick’s mom falls toward the ground facefirst, yet lands flat on her back, knee up, body seemingly undamaged except for a bit of blood trickling out her mouth.  Can any forensics expert or acrobat explain this to me?

Conclusion: Underwhelming writing and poor art make me think it’s wisest for me to lower my expectations even further for the conclusion of this series.

Grade: D

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Why John Grayson asks Boston of all the circus people who are obviously more “family” to take care of Dick, I have no idea.  The delirious effects of blood loss, possibly.