Keith Giffen, J.M. Dematteis (Writers), Scott Kolins (Artist) Mike Attiyeh (Colorist)
The Story: Stargrave laments a bit with other minions and servants as the two cosmic powerhouse they serve duke it out.
The Review: I did not exactly high expectations out of this title. I have to admit that even though the titular character had been impressive in his first appearances and the fact that both Keith Giffen and J.M. Dematteis were writing this, I had some real doubts about the potential quality, or lack of, about this title. With that in mind, I gave the writing duo a chance and was left actually impressed with the first issue, as it advanced the character a bit, was funny at times and actually gave us answers about Larfleeze, providing us readers with some actual information about his past and the like. With that positive first taste of what was to come in the series, I was left optimistic about a title that may yet fulfill a certain cosmic longing I had.
How foolish of me. This may sound really harsh of me, yet this issue was exactly what I was dreading the first issue could have been: unfunny, unfocused and at times chaotic, though not in a nice way. There is a lot going on in the issue, so to speak, yet not everything is told in ways that seems interesting or even well-paced, which does not leave much of an impact once all is said and done.
One of the bigger problem, I think, comes not from the ideas but rather their executions. In ways, putting a huge battle between two cosmic big-shots, then putting it in the background in order for the readers to see the point-of-view and general views of life from their minions is actually clever. To put a huge event and let the angle that covers it being centered on the little people could have been used to great comedic gold, instead, we get a huge ton of exposition with a repetitive pattern of dialogue/fight that just doesn’t add up. It reduces the gravitas around the battle and make the interactions between the servant rather heavy on the exposition and the repetitive jokes.
Speaking of repeated jokes, I have to say that one of the worst aspect of the issue had to be the humor. Now, comedy is incredibly relative to whom is experiencing it, yet a lot of the jokes here aren’t set up quite correctly. A good number of times, the humor is either centered on the fact that the characters are complaining about their lot in life, or the fact that they never seem to ever get out of this cycle that they have built for themselves. In some ways, this could work, but what is erratic would be the fact that these jokes are basically the same all the time. There are so many ways we can see Stargrave being miserable about Larfleeze or by his job, as he complains about his employers, his hemorroids and the short end of the stick he seems to always receive.
With such ineffectual humor, it’s a pity that the writers couldn’t focus a bit more on the plot, or at least balance the two aspects in a better way. The fact that Larfleeze is battling a godlike being that hunted everything out of existence from another universe is something that could be developed in expansive ways, yet the plot takes second place to the humor here. The fact that the issue barely feature Larfleeze also does hurt, as the character had been shown in surprising ways in the first issue, which is sad to see in a series that could very well become something unique in DC’s line of comics.
What also hurt the title, unfortunately, would be the art of Scott Kolins. In many ways, this artist can be hit or miss, as he seems to thrive under certain conditions, while he can be jumbled and chaotic under others. It’s a shame to see here that he’s more in the latter in this title, as he struggle with all the details and poses he injects in his panels, making some of them unreadable or just plain ugly. He seems to have trouble with perspective and scales at other times, which makes some of the characters seems bigger, smaller or too far when really it seems they are just right next to the focused character in some panels. The first issue had been stronger, so it’s disappointing to see such a descent in quality.
The colorization doesn’t fare much better, as many of the panels become a bit too chaotic, following the trend of the script and the art. One of the worst effect comes from Laord of the Hunt and his dog, who have a special colorization technique which renders them in a way that feels alien to the general space around them. It’s a neat effect, one that works really well, yet also tend to be far too different from the rest, which create a really diverting contrast, one that does not enhance the rest by comparison, but rather alienate it. The colorization, just like the rest, cannot focus on a single element as it fumbles through the issue.
The Conclusion: While I can appreciate some of the concepts and what it is trying to do, the repetitive and shallow humor, the lack of clear balance between the jokes and plot, the chaotic and unfocused art and the heavy dialogue which slows down the whole book makes for a rather dissatisfying read.
Hugo Robberts Larivière