Now that we’re at the third issue of Multiversity: Teen Justice I can confidently say that the story and art are continuing to go in opposite directions. While each issue has the art improving more and more, the story is slowly starting to wither and head straight towards mediocrity. Troy has gone missing this issue and we get a chance to see Raven working with the rest of the team while Aquagirl does some investigating of her own. While I should be excited to see how their stories unfold, I’m finding myself only wanting to pay attention to the art while nodding along to the rest. Let’s find out why.
When I reviewed the previous issue of Multiversity: Teen Justice I said that the cracks were starting to show in the story. This issue has the cracks become the story. What I mean is that everytime we receive a new piece of information it’s like the writers are making sure that we don’t think about it. Either new plot points are spoon fed to us as the characters just come to understand everything that is going on or the story starts throwing the characters into new situations and sort of shrugs its shoulders at bothering to explain it. One example of this comes from the fact that Raven has lost Troy to what he believes to be the Church of Blood. Raven suddenly switches his tune and affirms that the church of blood has been replaced by something else even though no one has told him otherwise. That could’ve been a good point to have the other characters inform Raven about what they witnessed in Zambia but they don’t even bring up Zambia this entire issue!
Another example would definitely be from Aquagirl’s storyline which is riddled with inconsistencies. Last issue Aquagirl separated herself from the Teen Justice League in order to uncover a mystery with the Justice Guild but now we’re supposed to just assume that she would have been separated from the Justice Guild as well before getting to the Sapphire planet? While she’s been left alone to discover what’s going on and figure out why everything’s gone, the plot decides to take control of her narration and remove almost any of the actual inner monologue we could care about to simply observe what is happening around her. Every moment that she spends, completely alone, where we could have lots of moments to figure out where she actually stands between the two groups she’s a part of, we are instead just told exactly what she sees and/or is about to do. I even laughed a little when I saw her talking about her motivation to be with the people that she “actually loves” because the whole point of her arc so far has been to show that she isn’t really fitting into the Teen Justice League. Finally, we have her rejoin the Teen Justice League and the story is like “oh well, looks like we still got a lot to uncover but still, pretty convenient that they’re all together now right?”. Which is why I think the story has become intensely mediocre because it dangles a mystery to pursue and fills almost every explanation with insane amounts of convenience.
So the story seems to have derailed into serviceable food for thought but I should assure y’all that Aquagirl is by no means indicative of the quality of character writing within this comic. Even though it’s disappointing that Aquagirl is given her own solo story for it to be pretty much worthless in terms of character building, the team dynamic that the Teen Justice League has when they’re (almost) all together is still riveting! There’s something about the way that these characters interact with each other that really allows Ivan Cohen and Danny Lore to keep their characters both consistent and constantly bouncing off each other. Each hero does for the most part have very distinct personalities and feel like they’re having a fluid conversation (for the most part). The dialogue uses a lot of punctuation and bold letters to create the conversational tone that allows each hero to be themselves. Kid Quick is constantly interrupting people, Raven tries to soften the blow of his words as if he’s carrying the weight of his lineage in each sentence. Robin reflects so much of Batman’s craziness as she takes control of cameras and orders around everyone.
Before I jump into commending the art I just wanted to get some nitpicks out of the way in this two for one special where I complain about the overuse of ellipses and the underuse of Gigi as a character, so fun! I do think the dialogue in this issue serves a very conversational tone but sometimes that conversation feels really awkward and in the worst moments hides some pretty important chunks of information. So the ellipses becomes a double edged sword where it can clearly show us that Raven is having a hard time saying some seriously messed up things and in other cases the ellipses just feels heavy handed in hiding random chunks of sentences. As for Gigi, who appears for like one panel in this issue. I just want to say that I take back my wish from the previous issue review. If the writers are hinting to the fact that Gigi will once again be at the right place at the right time to help the Justice League my only question is why bother? There’s nothing for us to grab onto here, Gigi has been unexceptional in every way and apart from her colorful hair she does nothing to stand out.
Despite needing to rant about some nitpicks here and there, by far my biggest reason for being so disappointed in this issue is simply because the art absolutely rocks! It’s gorgeous in every way and yet I can’t even recommend continuing the story unless you have an absolute obsession with the art. The art can only take you so far but man I would’ve been so happy to be the same reviewer I was for the first issue of Multiversity: Teen Justice where I could wax poetic about the art and story working together. I could’ve filled this whole review with praise for the art but it just wouldn’t be fair to ignore the glaring issues that this mini-series is struggling to get over.
My God has the art stepped up its game though. Marco Failla in the first two issues had already improved on his own but somehow Luciano Vecchio has taken that as a sign to be even bolder and more expansive with the world he was handed. There are pages here packed with visual eye-candy as Vecchio treats us to a deluge of details. There are fight scenes that break through their panels, the powers zipping through the page and colliding into each other as the characters constantly interact. We get a domineering palace plunged in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by torrents, lightning and enough sea creatures to rule the ocean with. Instead of the first two issues that tried to be more grounded and lighthearted this issue’s atmosphere is larger than life and makes the characters impose themselves onto the page rather than being confined in their neat little panels. This is a very different take on the atmosphere of the Multiversity: Teen Justice mini-series but since I don’t really care about the plot anymore I’m just glad the art is doing anything while the bravado serves as the cherry on top.
As the characters transcend their panels the coloring by Enrica Eren Angilioni allows the eye to take the overload of information without a sweat and delights each attempt to follow the art with incredibly complex and beautiful colors. The brightness and range of the colors seem to increase and decrease like a yoyo, where Angilioni creates these darker pauses before flooding the page with colors so that we can really anchor ourselves into each unique space. Each page has its dominant, or competing dominant colors and they mix into each other as their hues bring forward a particular scene that is allowed to stand out.
These hues around the purple and green battle between Raven and Klarienne makes their pages feel filtered through one of those blue and red 3D glasses. The same dominant purple shines through the darkness of Raven’s hood. A hood that is always obscuring the top of his head in this comic as a nice extra detail. And the moment the Teen Justice League arrive we are once again witness to how mystical they make the colors of the scenery around them. Later on the colors mix with the darkness of the universe and pour out stunning swimming pools where the different lanterns’ history swirls together in hues of an entire rainbow inhabited by action and superheroes.
Every aspect of the art has improved since the last issue. Even the personalized lettering by Carlos M. Mangual has crept into many more speech bubbles than the previous issues and has made each meandering monologue look incredibly pleasing and personal to that character. While the lettering has more personality than certain main characters it also amplifies the fluid conversational style of the comic and makes the writing less of a hurdle to witnessing the incredible art of this comic.
- The art, colors and lettering have you obsessed and wanting to see how it could possibly get more ambitious
- A handful of unique superheroes coming together is an immediate draw
- Gigi never intrigued you to begin with
The plots are really letting me down here. Not only do they do the bare minimum to explain what’s going on but at its worst the writing feels like all it’s doing is wasting time explaining the obvious or reminding you not to think too much about the story. No matter how much the art might have improved if the story doesn’t pick up from here then I will continue to be checking out each page in detail while barely acknowledging the reason for why I’m able to see this in the first place. I hope that the story does pick up and that every character is treated with the same attention to detail that the best characters get. Whether its Aquagirl, Gigi or the villains I didn’t even bother talking about, there are so many balls in the air and it’s only impressive if each one manages to not come crashing to the ground.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.