by Keith Giffen, J.M. Dematteis (Writers), Scott Kolins (Artist), Mike Atiyeh (Colorist)

The Story: Larfleeze learns a good deal about his connection to the orange energy, while Stargarve is unfortunately still in the clutches of the Wanderer.

The Review: There are times when a reader tries a book, hoping to like it. Of course, everyone getting a specific issue always hope to fall in love with it, yet there are always time when a creator, artist or character is right there, tempting some to buy it even though they aren’t completely sure if the book will deliver.

Larfleeze is a book I really want to like. It has both Keith Giffen and J.M. Dematteis as scribes, Scott Kolins on art and it stars a character that I rather like. Hell, it even features cosmic themes and humor, two things that I really enjoy. The recipe is there for me to simply savor it and let something different be a part of my pull list.

However, it seems it’s not meant to be, as despite the fact that everything is there for me to like, there are several problems that plague this title just enough so it never really reach the potential it does have as a cosmic comedy or as an exploration of just who Larfleeze is in terms of importance to the larger DC cosmos.

The bigger problem here is a lack of direction, with many things happening, yet no larger narrative to hold everything together neatly. There are hints in this issue and in previous ones that there might be something coming that could become an actual conflict for the character and the universe, yet so far it’s more akin to the ”Larfleeze and Stargrave crazy shenanigans show” more than anything else, which squander the potential of the book.

An area where this weakness is particularly obvious and affecting is in the pacing, with many scenes being much longer than they need to be. The scene in which Larfleeze finally understands the reach of his powers is rather fun and fine, yet it goes on forever as the way he thinks about dealing with the other orange lanterns seems unending. While both Giffen and Dematteis does try to insert a certain amount of characterization and humor in some of the longer scenes, it never amounts to much as the point is already made several times over.

The fact that Larfleeze gets drunk on power is funny on the first page it occurs, yet it soon becomes tedious after a while, which unfortunately plague a lot of the humor found in the book. The general forgetfulness of the Wanderer, the incapacity of Stargrave to find peace, Larfleeze general clueless attitude and so forth are gags that were there for several issues now and they are starting to get a bit old, as they aren’t always used in brand new situations to the maximum of their capacity.

Not everything is bad here, thankfully, as there are moments that are genuinely funny and actually ripe with potential for future development and hilarity. The strange consciousness inside Larfleeze, taking the form of his mother, or the appearance of the council of tens and all the concepts attached to them are actually really interesting, adding a certain gravitas and some ambiguity to the book that could bloom into something a bit more substantial.

Another positive worthy of being mentioned is the art of Scott Kolins, who seems at home in this book. His backgrounds, his cosmic scenery and the many elements and details inserted into them works very well with his chaotic approach to such visuals, with the depths of space and the mind of Larfleeze being especially nice to look at. The alien designs of the characters, the emotions on display and the sheer madness of some of the concepts on display are all well-rendered on each pages and panels. Where it is a bit weaker is in the panel layout, though, with some very large panels and a more than generous use of whole pages instead of smaller panels to tell the story. It is used fairly well sometimes, but not in a general way, which does not help with the general pacing of the issue at all unfortunately.

The colorization of Mike Atiyeh is another positive to this issue, with a good handle on colors despite the obvious hyperbole on orange. Putting an emphasis on balance in most pages, Atiyeh manage to put enough of a presence on certain details and on the backgrounds to make it so the orange color doesn’t overwhelm the readers, an effort that pays off most of the time. Concentrating on colder and darker colors to display the void of spaces and the alien setting in which the story is told, there is enough diversity to appreciate the visuals of Kolins fairly well. There are times when the orange color gets a bit all over the place, though, which does have its place considering this colors invades the book when Larfleeze makes his brilliant comeback, which makes this coloring decision a result of the script more than anything. Atiyeh is fully able to collaborate and it shows in this issue.

The Conclusion
: An uneven book to say the least. The pacing is strange and far-fetched, the humor feels a bit repetitive and forced, yet there are genuine new ideas and a rather strong artistic direction thanks to Scott Kolins and Mike Atiyeh that makes this book a bit more than a mess. Readable, yet it could certainly be a bit tighter in its direction and its humor.

Grade: C+

Hugo Robberts Larivière