Last month’s issue #1 was pretty good, and especially Mora and Bonvillain’s art was incredible. The writing rambled a little bit, though, even if it was solid for the most part. Either way, the creative team can take the story in several directions after their first issue, so hopefully it will stay good. Let’s have a look!
Mora and Bonvillain are doing it again! This book is beautiful. The character designs are as great as ever. The action sequences are designed carefully, although I wouldn’t mind if they were a bit looser and less filled with details here and there. I admire Mora’s ability to create a lot of detail, but it can be distracting at times. That said, he always finds a focus for each of his panels, and the action flows well throughout the majority of this comic. Especially character interactions and facial expressions are a real joy. The characters all move and behave in their own unique ways, and the facial expressions are always teeming with character. Bonvillain’s colors are bright and layered and vibrant. The colors and inks blend very well, and there’s a strong sense of unity in the artwork. Clearly these artists have been working together for some time now; they got that synergy going on!
What I like about the art in particular is that Mora doesn’t just use his regular art style. There’s a passage about ancient China, and Mora changes up his style slightly, using a looser, more fantastical aesthetic for these panels. It’s different enough from his regular style that they’re easy to tell apart, but they still match quite well. While Mora is a unique artist in his own right, his ability to use these different styles in the same book and make them work together reminds me of JH Williams III’s artwork. It would be cool to see Mora experiment a bit more with different art styles in the same issue (if it fits the story that’s being told), and I’m curious about Mora’s range in general. At this point I’m wondering if there’s anything that he can’t draw? Honestly, this comic is worth it for the artwork alone!
Yet, as fantastic as Mora and Bonvillain’s art is, and as much as I enjoy Mora’s different styles, I don’t fully enjoy the first half of the comic. The reason for this is that there is a lot of exposition to get through. Like in the first issue, the exposition isn’t executed too well. While it’s fun to see Mora draw these scenes and to see different Doom Patrol members taking turns explaining all this back story, it once again just feels like Waid is communicating all this information to his readers, rather than the characters interacting with each other naturally. Now, the information that we get is very important and relevant, because it essentially details the origin story of this arc’s main villain, but I think there are more entertaining ways to get this stuff across. Exposition, when done in this way, feels cold and factual and it stops the comic dead in its tracks.
The second half is much more fun, because it’s all about forward momentum and action. We see Batman and Superman teaming up to defeat Felix Faust, while Robin and Supergirl go off on their own quest. Having these two adventures run parallel to each other is a great idea, because it makes for a much more dynamic and engaging read. However, had the aforementioned exposition taken up less time, I think these adventures—which are the real meat of the story—could have been fleshed out more. I am digging the character work, though, as Waid creates an interesting contrast between both team-ups. Where Batman and Superman are true Super Friends, Robin and Supergirl are not getting along so well, which implies shared history that we’ve yet to see unfold.
Other than that, I think the interaction between Batman and Caulder works, to an extent, where they are trying to outsmart each other while discussing the mission. What I don’t think works as well is having Superman literally spell this out to Robin. Regardless, brief character moments like these do make for a much more interesting reading experience.
Furthermore, Caulder patches up Superman pretty quickly at the start of this issue. While I appreciate that we aren’t dwelling on the Infected Superman plot, because that will wear out its welcome, I do think that, at the same time, Superman’s problems are resolved too quickly and too easily.
But hey, for all its shortcomings, we finally get to see a little Bat-Smile, something that’s been missing from DC publications for far too long. And it’s this emphasis on optimism and friendship that elevates this book, especially in a day and age where everything, for some stupid reason, has to be as grimdark as possible.
- You like fun, upbeat adventure comics.
- Mora and Bonvillain are your artistic heroes!
- You don’t mind a little bit of exposition when the art is this good.
Overall: The second issue of this series is strong and fun, but it’s not as good as I think it could be. The comic rambles a little bit, and perhaps the creative team put a bit too much in one issue. But the artwork is beautiful, and when the writing works, it works!
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.