by Keith Giffen, J.M. Dematteis (Writers), Scott Kolins (Artist), Mike Atiyeh (Colorist)
The Story: Larfleeze receives the anger of those that were trapped within his ring as Stargrave continues his sad life as being the plaything of things much more powerful than him.
The Review: I can respect a good many things when reading a comic. When I review an issue, I usually try to see the intents that the creative team wants to convey to the readers. Is the point of this issue to advance the story, show a battle of wits between two or more characters? Each scenes have a certain purpose behind them and trying to see what it accomplish is part of the point, as expectations always play a part in the readers appreciation of the whole thing. While I read an issue, I always try to see if the creative team did try something original or if they went ahead and did succeed in setting a consistent tone throughout. Ambition and consistency are two things I can generally be content about when it is achieved.
However, there are always some exceptions to those rule, this time represented by Keith Giffen and J.M. Dematteis on Larfleeze. In this month’s issue, there are many things that works really well, with a consistent humorous tone, plenty of action and some new concepts thrown in. It is even heavily cosmic, which is something that should win me over. However, there are also a good deal of things that, despite all those elements, work against the comic in itself.
The first one is perhaps the pacing in itself, as this issue is a bit jumbled at times. There are two fronts covered in this issue, the first one being Larfleeze fighting the resurrected orange lanterns, while the other one is dedicated to Stargrave and the Wanderer. While their scene do progress on their own, there is a certain disconnection between the two that break the flow just a bit. There is also the fact that these scenes, altogether, needs to get from point A to point B, yet does seem to take a while before actually reaching it. This results in a bit of padding here and there, with more of the same as the action gets packing on Larfleeze’s side while Stargrave complains on his own.
Of course, a lot of the padding is made a lot more tolerable with the humor that both writers injects in the dialogue and some of the concepts. To this issue’s credits, a lot of the humor work here, as the personality of its greedy protagonist does give plenty of opportunity for jokes and silly replies to the aggressive behaviour of his assailants. On Stargrave’s part of the issue, Giffen and Dematteis fiddle around a bit with some of the higher functions of cosmic beings, giving a much funnier take on those incredibly long-lived and powerful beings. Not all of the jokes are instant classics, mind you, but there are quite a few lines that are chuckle-worthy here.
What also make those long running points a bit more fun is the action, which is rendered in the scenes featuring Larfleeze himself. While the fight against the previously captive orange lanterns gets perhaps a bit repetitive at times, there are enough moments where both writers escalate things to make it enjoyable nonetheless. The destruction, the power and the motivations that fuels this particular battle makes it worthwhile on its own, despite the fact that it does take a good chunk of the issue. The concepts are sound, but the execution could be a bit better.
From an artistic point of view, the execution is great, though, as Scott Kolins is able to bring a lot more focus in his usually chaotic style. While there are always a great many number of elements and details in the background, Kolins concentrate his effort on the action and the characters, putting them to the forefront for great effect. The action is also quite kinetic, with the impact and the scope of the orange lanterns and their powers rendered quite well on the page. On Stargrave’s side of the equation, he is capable of putting a rather different kind of tone, as it is much calmer, showing the width of space along with a planet designed in a manner not dissimilar to steam punk. With this, he is able to strike a balance without one scene overwhelming the other as it creates an effect that allows for this scene to work artistically despite it not working so well in terms of pacing.
This balance, however, can be attributed to Mike Atiyeh, the colorist of this issue. While the color orange is to be expected majorly in this issue, Atiyeh makes sure that it does not end up being too invasive in terms of colorization. There is a rich diversity in some scenes, like the one with Stargrave and the Wanderer in space, or in some key scenes during the big fight. Still, the major color to be found here is orange, as expected, yet there is a smart use of this overbearing color as the backgrounds always serve as a contrast to the heavy use of the orange energy, which allows it to have a huge presence without becoming simply sickening. It isn’t the best of colorization, yet Mike Atiyeh does surprisingly well considering some of the limitations he has to work with.
The Conclusion: There may be some problems in terms of pacing along with some very minor one concerning the executions of some concepts, yet Giffen and Dematteis does give readers a fun and exciting issue nonetheless along with some strong work by Kolins and Attiyeh. Flawed, but entertaining nonetheless.
-Hugo Robberts Larivière