Chapter two starts out with a flashback to Kala Lour, Gold Lantern’s, past. This sequence starts a trend that the book holds for the rest of the issue: nothing happening. This is the crux of my problems with this issue as a whole. When the plot is moving it becomes far easier to forgive little things like “Bendis Speak” (that odd ping-pong dialogue which sounds like a parody of a 40s noir) or someone being slightly out of character. When it’s stagnant these kinds of things tend to come to the surface.
For the moment I want to return to the opening scene, as there is definitely more to say beyond the lack of narrative motion it presents. We learn how Lour became a Gold Lantern here and I have to assume that this is included for people like me who didn’t read Bendis’ Legion of Super-Heroes run. The problem is, I don’t care. I can appreciate that the scene is set up to give us a look at the character’s nature and personality but this could be done much more effectively. We don’t need a flashback to understand that the character is a good person. In fact, by virtue of his being a Gold Lantern we already know he is 1) heroic and 2) saves innocents. Meaning the events shown in the flashback don’t truly reveal anything about his character that the reader can’t assume. I’d rather the scene had shown me something more specific about the character’s fundamental values. A scene like this would be acceptable if the book was called Gold Lantern but when it has to juggle all the other League and Legion characters at the same time, every scene needs to make the best use of it’s page space.
That brings me to my next point. What even is this book? Seriously. I have no Idea. The title on the cover says Justice League vs. the Legion of Super-Heroes. Where does the vs come in? There is absolutely no conflict between the two groups. Maybe Bendis is using the second connotation of the word? To compare? So it’s actually Justice League Compared to The Legion of Superheroes! Aha! CLEARLY, that makes perfect sense. Oh, Okay…so what about the subtitle found inside: The Gold Lantern Saga? Um…right. So maybe it’s just a secret Gold Lantern book with a title that will sell slapped on the front. He is the only character to get flashbacks and internal monologue boxes, after all. The problem here is if this is a secret Gold Lantern book, there are just far too many other characters filling the pages to effectively tell a story about him.
That problem goes double when the book is so decompressed. Issue one has a pretty good pace. It chugged along, introducing what seem to be all the main plot elements. We get fifteen pages of story and seven pages of flashback. Even if there is value to the flashbacks (and I do find some in the second) they don’t progress the plot. Of the other pages we are frequently treated to decompression at its finest. A full page devoted to a single joke, multiple pages of conversation that rehashes previous pages from the same book (to a different character though, so I guess that makes it important?). In the end, the plot moves forward about an inch. This is a six issue book, so pacing is very important. After a few more issues like this Bendis will be forced to cram all the plot into part six, which is not something I want to see.
I didn’t hate this issue, but at this point I’m starting to feel like I’m being excessively negative. I can’t say I loved it by any means, but there was enough there to enjoy that I don’t feel like my time was wasted. There’s a real bounce in the book’s step. I really can’t think of any other way to describe it. It just feels like it wants the reader to have fun. Equally it isn’t trying too hard. That results in some level of sincerity that a certain other Justice League event book was lacking. While the dialogue wasn’t my favorite there were a number of character interactions that I quite enjoyed as well. Here’s an example below…
Moving on to the art we have another mixed bag. Scott Godlewski draws a strong figure. The faces feel slightly lacking in detail at times but all in all I can’t complain. A large portion of the positive energy found in this series comes from the art. However, my main complaint is in the backgrounds which can be a bit sparse. At times this works to the book’s benefit as it avoids a messy page when there are large groups of characters, but in some of the shots with fewer characters is where the detail is missed.
The colors are a point that I’m still struggling to make my mind up on. I love the palate. It’s very rich and suits the book and characters. It certainly adds to some of the fun. On the other hand, there is a lack of depth in the work. Three dimensionality is often lost and this is where I struggle. Does the flattened look make the book more appealing as it calls back to an earlier era in comics (much like the tone of the writing already does) or is it hurting the line work and detracting from Godlewski? This is something I expect I won’t make my mind up on until the end.
- Gold Lantern Is one your favorite characters
- A lighter Justice League event as a counterpoint to the upcoming Dark Crisis is of interest
- You’re here because you’ve been enjoying Bendis’ run on Justice League
This isn’t a book I can recommend to just anyone. It isn’t strong enough to interest a casual reader and Its appeal is too specific to interest a decent chunk of heavier readers, given its characters of focus having small fan bases. It really is too early to say what direction it’s heading. And that seals it. I am happy that this is my first review. A story I wasn’t planning on reading before, that is shaping up to be a wild card. Perfect. Who wants to review a book with no surprises?
DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.