Last week’s outing concluded with Max Lord in full control of most of the League, the original #skwad beaten, and Lobo short one head. As the curtain rises on JLVSS #5, the USA is at Lord’s feet, with only Batman and a rag-tag band of scoundrels standing in the gap.

Worth it for the “bastich” alone

This event has been a mixed bag, but at its best, it’s been a pretty good time. Last week’s installment reclaimed the lighthearted fun that launched the series, and thankfully, Williamson continues milking his more hilarious cast of characters in this latest installment. To the surprise of no one at all, Lobo bounces back from his minor head injury, and his response is as priceless as it is predictable:

Batman will never be my favorite character for Williamson, and he’s the weak link once again, but thankfully, he doesn’t get as much to say as he has in the past. Instead, we get quite a bit to laugh about courtesy of Lobo, Digger, and Harley, and some effective story development from Waller and Lord. Eclipso’s hold on Max is strong, and the situation feels appropriately dire by the end. My only concern is that, with one issue to go, we won’t have enough time to wrap things up satisfactorily. If the forces of good prevail as we all assume they will, Eclipso will likely feel like a disappointingly straightforward threat.

Looks good for a bit, but degrades

I’ve been a fan of Rocha’s work since the great three-part Tom Taylor story in Batman/Superman, and I was thrilled to see his name on the schedule for JLVSS. Unfortunately, he’s matched with four inkers, and the results are all over the place. Some of the pages look very much in-form, and I can only assume that they were inked by Leisten, who’s worked with Rocha in some of the other books I’ve read. But other pages ranged from a little off to downright ugly, and it’s a shame. Eclipso’s big visual reveal gets completely undermined by how poorly his face and body are finished (though, to be fair, it isn’t Rocha’s best page in the book, either):

This just highlights what—for me—is the biggest disappointment of the Rebirth era: the undervaluing of artwork. With a few exceptions, most of the books in the line lack a consistent visual identity. Even ones with strong rotations—like Green Arrow—often mix artists within single arcs.

It’s somewhat understandable that we would see different art teams on each installment of a weekly series like JLVSS. But the level of quality has dropped dramatically since the second issue, and I have a hard time accepting an approach to comics-making that says we should be excited about books in which the artwork clearly receives less consideration than it should.

Recommended if…

  • You aren’t distracted by artistic inconsistencies.
  • You thought last week’s issue was a lot of fun and you want more.
  • “Bastich” is a funny word.

Overall

While I have serious problems with how different this book can look from page to page (thanks to its four inkers), the story is the best blend of laughs, awesomeness, and gravity that we’ve yet seen from this event. We’ll see next week if Williamson can wrap things up without making Eclipso look cheap, but for now, JLVSS is on a high note, and that’s good enough for me.

SCORE: 7/10