By: Keith Giffen (Writer), Phil Winslade, Tom Raney, Scott Kolins (Artists), Chris Sotomayor, Andrew Dalhouse, John Kalisz (Colorists)
The Story: Jediah Caul and other players are moving toward the prized green lantern battery that belonged to him as a huge new player enters the story. On Larfleeze side, we get some more craziness with his simulacrum as we get to know who is behind this entire thievery.
The Review: With last month’s issue, I have to admit I had my doubts. While there were some new players introduced and some neat concepts being shown to us, it seemed like close to nothing was explained or moving in meaningful and interesting ways in the series so far after three issues. Having high hopes for this series, it seemed like my thirst for the cosmic excellence of Keith Giffen was never to be satiated with this latest effort on his part.
With this latest input in the more cosmic aspect of the DC universe, it seems like Giffen is going for surprises and further development, getting to a much more satisfying place in the span of an issue. Here, we get a bit more action and a newer mission statement for Caul, the main protagonist, one that is much more different than simply surviving in Tolerance for as long as he could. With the need to retrieve his confiscated lantern battery, we get some more activity from Jediah Caul than reactivity, something that is much more pleasing to read. Of course, there is also a new player in the story that leads to a huge climax that I will not dare reveal*, but it was thoroughly unexpected in the most delightful way, showing that Giffen had access to some of the bigger cosmic players as well.
Speaking of the players, there is a bigger emphasis on action and interaction in this issue as we get to know a good bit more about certain characters in ways that feels much more satisfying than in previous issues, chief among them being the controversial Captain K’rot. Even I had my reservations toward this more gritty and funny version of the more cartoonish character and they proved to be true when we were introduced to a rude, violent and seemingly abusive character in issue two and three. Sure, there were some funny moments with the character, but they were unfortunately drowned in the more unpleasant aspects of the character. Here, though, he is shown in much better light thanks to his interaction with Caul, showing that they indeed are friends and that the sour rabbit might be a tad more sympathetic than what we have seen so far. With this interaction, Giffen made me go from rather disliking the character to anticipating for more information about his relation with Caul. Another character that benefitted from this issue was Ilda, the robot accompanying the man who tells much of the information to Caul (my lack of naming him is more due to me forgetting his actual name, although the fact that he is kind of uninteresting so far does not help). Here, we see a bit of her sad state as being the servant of a man she seems to loathe and how she helps Caul after his little situation with K’rot. What was shown here was actually quite interesting, so I do hope we get to see her more further in the series.
What we do get to see more though would be the tandem of Phil Winslade and Tom Raney, as the first half is done by the former and the rest by the latter. While their art styles don’t exactly match up all that well, the choice of putting Winslade first makes for a much nicer transition as we get the meatier portion of the plot and the action to Raney, who does a wonderful job with those parts. Not that Winslade is bad or anything, but he seems to focus a lot more on the details in the background than on the characters themselves, making them look a little bit rough. Raney is quite the contrary, though, as he seems to focus a lot more on the characters, making them looks quite great while his backgrounds are a little bit lackluster in most panels. This issue also benefits from two different colorists, Chris Sotomayor and Andrew Dalhouse, who really both hit it out of the park with their use of big warm colors, going from one extreme to the other with the characters and the background.
All of this covers up the main feature, but it must not be forgotten that there is a backup featuring our favourite (and only) orange lantern: Larfleeze. While the latest chapter in this little story was fun but a little bit lackluster in the story department, it seems that this one follows the example of the main feature by giving us some meatier development this time around with the reveal of the culprit (which actually makes a lot of sense). Still, the main aspect of the backup is the humorous aspect of Larfleeze relation with his newly acquired butler, as the greedy being tries to get his stuff back while the butler is trying to settle things down after the seemingly not self-conscious Larfleeze reacts in hilarious ways to the action. It is a nice backup that does its job admirably in delivering humor and a small dose of action with this fan-favourite character.
The fact that it does a good job can be credited not only to Giffen, but to Scott Kolins as well, who gives us a pretty good rendition of the orange lantern and the more sci-fi surrounding of his adventures. His usually busy panels are very well used as the chaos of the battle in the space-bar get even stranger, while he gives us plenty of details on each character. In this, he is helped by John Kalisz who really accentuates the stronger aspects of the character and background thanks to his palette. Let’s just say that the orange construct and the more alien-like characters are bizarre and appealing a bit more thanks to the intensity and choice of colors by Kalisz.
The Conclusion: Thanks to a better grip on some of the characters and the potential of the whole storyline and cosmic setting, Keith Giffen manages to give us a good issue with both the main feature and the backup. With most artists giving us a strong showing, albeit not in the same consistent way, this title is getting much better as it seems to take advantage of what it could very well be.
Hugo Robberts Larivière
*Yes, I know that the cover itself kind of spoils the identity of said character. Still, it is a pretty cool plot twist.