By: Keith Giffen (Writer), Tom Raney, Phil Winslade, Scott Kolins (Artists), Andrew Dalhouse (Colorist)

The Story: A crazed Blue Beetle tries to kill Jediah Caul as we get properly introduced to Captain K’rot. In the backup, Larfleeze gets in a bar to meet people who can help him get his treasure back.

The Review: This series, so far, is a test of endurance. Sure, the previous issues were nice, but this is definitely the kind of book that will get a whole lot better in the long run, provided Keith Giffen gets some more traction with the characters and the setting he has created. Most of what we have seen is the presentation of several pieces of the puzzle, very small parts of a much larger story that will, without a doubt, unfold after a couple of issues. Sadly, some of these pieces are somewhat lacking.

One of those pieces, as indicated in the cover and that has been the subject of interviews and much controversy, is Captain K’rot himself, the gritty, sci-fi reworking of a beloved cartoon character. Making the comparison of the previous fun-loving superhero to this newer version is actually quite surprising, as it would akin to compare day and night. The previous version was bright, colorful and cheery, while this one is sully, cynical and somewhat disrespectful of his companions. Now, from what is said in the issue itself, there seems to be unexplained reasons as to why he turned that way and there are some bits with him that are genuinely funny, yet the character does not feel right so far.  Considering Giffen had stated in interviews that he would be the ‘’breakout’’ character of the series, I sure do hope K’rot will turn out to be more than a funny jerk with eloquence that he has been shown as in this issue and the previous one.

Another piece that is lacking is the rest of the cast so far. True, we have been properly introduced to Jediah Caul and most people know about Jaime Reyes, the Blue Beetle, yet there are other players here that are desperate for some background of some sort. We know close to nothing about Ilda, the sort of detective that is with her, Star Hawkins, Stealth and some of the other players in the story. There are some characters that seem ripe for development, some that could end up being great characters that could make people want to follow the series, yet they are shown to us, not explained. When there is one or a couple of mysterious characters in an ensemble or team book, it provides a sense of intrigue that can make people want to know more about the character, inviting them to continue reading to get to know more about them. However, when more than half of the cast are said mysterious characters, it starts to get a bit annoying.

It may seem that I am bashing that series to the ground now, but there is plenty here to enjoy as well. Some of the characters here are still interesting, like Jaime and Jediah, who are both in a situation they wish they could out of, yet they each cope with this in a different way. The ‘’Hunted’’ game and the way it is presented to us via the participants, the citizens and the small messages and information pages are still really well-made and presented to us in novel ways. There are also several developments in the story that are genuinely intriguing and ripe with potential. There is a lot of good here, but unfortunately the series has not properly started yet it seems.

In the backup with Larfleeze, we get a somewhat traditional rogue meeting in a bar, with plenty of action and funny quips that have been the tradition in this backup. The sad thing about this, though, is that Larfleeze seems to be close to a secondary character in this month’s backup feature, with more attention given to the people accompanying him. This is somewhat a smart, yet dumb choice, as too much Larfleeze would destroy a part of his charm, yet the backup is still named after him, so it seems we do not get much out of him here. Sure, he gets his funny lines, his greediness and a small fight scene, yet it does not seem quite enough for this scene-stealing character.

Another thing that was less scene-stealing and more scene-building was Tom Raney’s art, which has been the staple of the main feature in the first two issues. With his dynamic style, his aliens and his technology, he could easily make this title better simply by making it look good. Sadly, half of the main feature is drawn by Phil Winslade, who is by no mean a bad artist, but he follows directly after Raney. The problem here is that their style does not mix really well, as Winslade has a much more minimalistic approach to facial expressions. To make a comparison, K’rot, when drawn by Raney, has big and detailed eyes, while Winslade draw them as small as pinpricks. What makes this disappointing is the fact that their styles simply don’t match each other, creating a disconcerting contrast that kill the artistic feel of the main feature. Thankfully, we have Scott Kolins on the backup, who manages to lower his busy style with the bar scene, choosing instead to focus on the characters rather than the mostly occupied background and surroundings. His poses are great, his characters are alien enough and, to his credit, he can draw orange constructs really well.

The Conclusion: The moving plot and some of the characters save this issue from being a total loss with the large cast of unexplained characters and the drastic change in artistic style. The Larfleeze backup does help the whole thing as well thanks to the funny script and Scott Kolins art.

Grade: C+

Hugo Robberts Larivière