By: Paul Cornell (story), Diógenes Neves (pencils), Oclair Albert & Julio Ferreira (inks), Marcelo Maiolo (colors)

The Story: Shining Knight shows off her personal method of putting down a rabid canine.

The Review: Just recently it occurred to me that with this series, Cornell isn’t just telling a standalone tale that happens to adapt some familiar characters.  He’s basically giving you a whole slice of the DCU you’ve never tasted before, a period we know very little about except through anecdotes from immortals or time-traveling observations.  Cornell has an opportunity not only to create a world in his own vision, but to impact the entire present-day DCU as well.

For now, that might mean establishing mundane bits of history (i.e. the varying names given to the people of Cornwall), but as this issue progresses, you can see where Cornell can revise DC’s very legendarium, its mythological fabric, if you will.  Admittedly, I’m using some very inflated language here; it’s not as if any other title in the new 52 references Arthurian legend or medieval details with any regularity (the closest it ever came was when I, Vampire #7 mentioned some “great mystical warriors” who sealed Cain way).

But the fact that Cornell has this incredibly fertile ground for stories available to him, ground which DC hasn’t stirred all that often, means he can grow all sorts of ideas and concepts that can be of use to other writers.  Whatever curse has landed upon Camelot after its fall, whatever is the cause of Merlin’s death, whatever is the exact nature of Avalon—Cornell is free to imagine all of these in whatever direction he pleases, and his peers, if they’re smart, can show the effects once they catch up to the current state of the universe.

That seems enough pontificating for now.  How about the actual contents of this issue?  Well, Cornell is up to his old playful antics once again, throwing in not just a giant sea serpent in our team’s way, but a “pirate sea serpent!” as Savage exclaims, adding, “That is something I have never shouted before!”  For an immortal, that’s saying a lot.  Sadly, Cornell whisks us right through that little adventure, apparently eager to move on to the real quest at hand, so we don’t get much more out of the pirate crew, nor their sea serpent—who is named Molly.

Sadly, too, we don’t get to see much of the other dangers lying in wait on the ocean.  We only hear of them after the fact, from Xan and Jason’s worried conversation about how something must have “gone terribly wrong” if all these monsters have appeared on the way to Camelot.  I’m actually surprised Cornell doesn’t let the Knights linger on the sea for another issue so we can witness these horrors for ourselves.  Maybe with all the extra time we spent in Little Spring, he feels he can’t delay any longer in getting us to the epic parts of his story.

At least he’s not in so much of a hurry that he shirks the character work.  The Knights have really become a tight cast at last, each of them familiar enough with the others’ quirks to take them with some amusement (Ex wryly comments on Al Jabr’s tendency to over-explain, “You can never just say, ‘Yes, it’s terrible,’ can you?”).  Most interestingly, we get a chance to hang with Jason Blood for a while, and see that he has a pretty commanding presence.  With Xan hanging on his shoulder, foreign officers quickly growing intimidated by his bearing and manner, and the other Knights deferring to his judgment, he definitely has the potential to be a major player in his own right, not just the go-between for Etrigan.

Ah, to have Neves all to ourselves without any interference from Robson Rocha.  Neves’ sprightly penciling captures all sorts of delightful details, like the hanging bead of drool from Savage’s mouth as he dozes in the bar.  He may not have the most dramatic style, but Neves can draw pretty much anything Cornell thinks up and make it look totally convincing, whether you’re talking pirate ships on a sea serpent’s head, giant wolves, or zombie knights.

Conclusion: An issue full of significant events, but which somehow doesn’t feel all that eventful.  After getting accustomed to things happening over five or six issues, this uptick in pace feels rather rushed.

Grade: B

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Hm…Ex does know Sir Ystin is a woman (probably), right?  Whether or not she does, the fact she found Ystin’s slayage so “arousing!” may be the impetus for Shining Knight to admit her real gender, even if she happens to be for chicks herself.