by Keith Giffen, J.M Dematteis (Writers), Scott Kolins (Artist), Mike Atiyeh (Colorist)
The Story: Stargrave tries to get away from the Wanderer and her crazy antics as Larfleeze unfortunately gets used as a slave.
The Review: I can certainly appreciate a book that tries. When writers are actually throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks, it can lead to either a boring or just plain chaotic read, but there will always be moments when something really great is set before the readers. Not everything works, of course, but trying is always a nice thing to see. Trying, however, is not a synonym of succeeding.
There are many things that just don’t really work in this book despite how Giffen and Dematteis tries to entertain those who bought the book. Humor, a bit of action, some cosmic development here and there, there’s simply a lot of elements that could mix together to create a satisfying read, yet it never really does attain that state.
One of the main problem would be a lack of direction, which is currently plaguing the book. With this issue still dividing its focus on both Stargrave and Larfleeze, the book tries to set up some narratives and idea that could lead to a bigger and more cohesive structure, yet both writers never seem to hint at how or why yet. While Stargrave is once more the butt of the jokes here as his unlucky temperament makes him a victim of all the most dangerous circumstances, many of the story elements simply pass him by. While The Wanderer and her visit to meet her sister hints at a much grander plot, they aren’t fully shown, nor connected to any of the protagonists yet, making them a bit unsatisfying.
Larfleeze, unfortunately, does not fare better in most of his scenes, as while the scene of torture does establish a bit more of his character, it does not entertain much. Seeing previous captives constantly arguing about what to do now that they are free while they bring the pain to the main Orange Lantern isn’t exactly fun, as their dialogue soon become tedious and repetitive. There’s only so many ways that they can say they hate Larfleeze and want to start over in a couple of pages until it becomes cyclical.
The same could sadly be said about the humor, who seems to copy the same jokes over and over issues along issues. Stargrave being victimized, The Wanderer’s constantly forgetting important details, Larfleeze being belittled, it becomes a bit stale after a few times. Of course, not all jokes fall flat on their face here, but a vast majority of them goes in familiar territory for those that have been following the book since its inception.
Not everything is bad, though, with a very specific scene featuring Larfleeze that is not only surprising, but also very well thought-out is the one where he starts to remember a bit more of his past. Using some of the concepts of the character wisely, Giffen and Dematteis give a certain spin on a part of his origins that not only make sense, but is rather brilliant considering what we know of the character. Bringing up his natural greed and self-absorbed persona along with what he actually wish he was, Larfleeze actually becomes a much more interesting lead thanks to this very last scene in the book. If both writers could actually manage to bring more scenes like this one to this book, it would end up being a much more pleasant read.
Another saving grace is the art of Scott Kolins, who is able to bring out many of the quirks of the script rather aptly to the pages. The steam punk-inspired world, the depths of space, the alien landscapes along with the numerous and strange character designs are all brought quite well in each panels. Keeping his trademark of bringing too many elements and details in each panel in check, Kolins is able to focus on what’s important, be it the characters or their expressions. The emotions on the character’s face and poses are actually rendered-aptly, bringing the pain, stupefaction and all those other reactions to each characters in a way that makes them clear, even with those that have limited facial features. Some of Kolins strength aren’t in showcase here, but what he does get to show is very competent indeed.
Mike Atiyeh, on his part, is competent enough, bringing enough contrasts to let some of the better scenes be appreciated. However, while it is rather obvious that orange is heavily featured in such a book, there are indeed scenes where it becomes a bit too invasive, being so preeminent that other colors pale in comparison. This leads to several elements being either minor or absent to the eyes of the readers, which doesn’t help the work of Scott Kolins. Not all scenes are plagued thus, though, as some of the scenes on the steam punk planets and the last one with the surprising twist are actually much better and much more subdued, which helps quite a lot. It’s uneven, but overall it’s not bad.
The Conclusion: While the art is pretty good and there are some nice ideas thrown, there are too many elements that simply don’t work, making for an uneven read that doesn’t really satisfy in the best of ways. Not the best issue this series has seen.
-Hugo Robberts Larivière