After Raven had taken up the offer of shaping the world to her liking we are introduced to a whole new reality where the Church of Blood has found a new messiah and their power has become omnipresent. Tim Drake is dropped into the world as the only one to retain memories of what used to be and we follow him as he meets the resistance and attempts to show these old allies and foes the light.
In my previous review I talked about how there was a lot of entertainment to be found in the action packed pages of the first issue but that I was very curious to see whether the story would either continue to deliver constant action or seriously explore the implications of its premise. It seems that with this second part Cavan Scott has decided to focus on the action. While there is an exploration of loss in the characters who are fighting against an incredibly oppressive militaristic world the exploration of these emotions remains quite surface level to make way for the action. I am genuinely moved by the characters who have lost so much and their motivations do constantly justify their actions which is great.
This also means that since the emotions of the characters are surface level, the fight scenes are allowed to just exist and chain themselves one after the other without having to wonder about the intricacies of the world that was created by Raven. Thankfully the dialogue is fully aware of this (and honestly props for not shoving in a pointless outside narrator!) and tightly delivers explanations of everything without ever being heavy handed and uses the classic fish out of water trope to make the exposition feel more natural. This story is very entertaining and emotionally grounded enough to make you care about the characters while the premise serves as more of a red herring than an actual essential piece of the puzzle.
Since the premise isn’t really explored that much there isn’t a whole lot to chew on and you can just jump in and enjoy yourself. So while I can’t talk too long about the story I can definitely recommend it especially if you’re already interested in the art of the first issue, an art that is constantly displaying the action with new and interesting panel compositions on almost every page! I love the fact that Lucas Meyer has added such gory scenes and drawn some genuinely unsettling blood creatures which thrive on his realist art style. The transformed world where Raven rules has become incredibly claustrophobic.
Everyone is either a follower or a detractor and this is reflected in the way that each panel where the resistance fighters are present barely shows us the world and sticks close to their figures. The few moments where we are allowed to zoom out are at abandoned places where the protagonists are more at ease or the complete opposite where the villains are showing their dominance of the terrain. The dominance of this new church clings to the usual idolatry of statues and background stained glasses but sometimes erupts into the panel with monstrous blood magic. I may be reading too much into it but intentional or not I love the effects these panels produce and am excited to see how the world is warped by this duality of abandoned safe spaces versus the dire consequences of Raven’s conquest.
My favorite aspect of Tony Aviña’s coloring has got to be the way that everyone’s powers overpower the page or panel they’re channeled in and from the beacon of whiteness these beautiful flashy colors just spread with incredible intensity. I love the pages where the Church’s red or Jinxy’s purple are dominating the page but when the comic isn’t showcasing people’s powers the colors are usually quite dark and have light shadow work that lets an atmosphere of hopelessness and loss imbue the page.
Given that the panel composition is so versatile I can imagine how difficult it is to fit each character’s speech balloon but Carlos M. Mangual handles this perfectly. The comic is supposed to be action packed while the dialogue helps with the essentials so the fact that each speech balloon lets the art take the main stage is exactly what’s needed. The restraint is interesting for me though because Mangual is also working on the lettering of Multiversity Teen Justice where the sound effects and dialogue are way more stylized and really reflect the characters. I’m not sure if I appreciate the lack of unique dialogue in this issue because I do really love those extra touches that Mangual can bring to the table. The fact that the sound effects are of course stylized to the characters in this issue (like in MTJ) makes me inclined to think that this would still work really well for the speech balloons too.
- An action packed comic with little to no wasted space sounds easy to jump into
- Realistic characters in a gory gallery of fantastic fight scenes excites you
- You’re down to shut your brain, enjoy the pain and relate to some serious losses
If you’re not looking for anything that digs deep into its own world then this second comic promises to be part of a 10/10 mini-series with incredible art to boot! I think that the fish out of water premise is also a great way to have conveyed this story to us because we can’t actually know more than the bare minimum. The level of mistrust also made this particular issue all about running around and avoiding most of Tim’s questions so who knows if we’re about to get the full package of action and character exploration? A big problem for me so far though is that these kinds of stories do tend to fade away from memory after reading them because they rely a lot on classic tropes and flashy aesthetics without really exploring that much of their intricate premise but who knows? I’m optimistic!
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.