You might think that it would hurt a six-issue miniseries if the second issue was drawn by fill-in artists who weren’t nearly as good as the artist on issue #1. And you’d be right.
Andre Coelho and Eduardo Pansica may be fine artists, but they don’t capture the stoic splendor and the sleek coolness the way CrissCross did in the first issue. I don’t know why he’s already off the series, or if he’s coming back to work on future issues, but the loss of CrissCross strips away the core charm of this comic. It’s like what happened with the “Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle” series a few years back, and that series — as central as it ended up being to “Final Crisis” — never ended up feeling like a cohesive whole.
And part of the problem is that not only don’t Coelho and Pansica draw in a style similar to CrissCross, but they ham everything up with too-expressive poses and flamboyant gestures. It’s the same problem the most recent issue of “The Incredible Hercules” suffered from. When you’re drawing a comic that has a sense of humor about itself, that winks at the audience with its writing, you don’t need to actually show the characters winking to the audience. You don’t need to over-exaggerate every movement of characters who are already self-parodies. It destroys the tone if you do that. It undermines the humor and turns wit and satire into a second-rate Weird Al video.
It’s too bad the art veers toward ham-handedness, because Joe Casey continues to tell a cracklin’-with-energy story about the Super Young Team. Some critics have called this series “Intimates-lite,” but even if that were true (and I don’t think it is), then it’s “Intimates-lite in the DCU” which is a potentially interesting concept. Casey uses the sci-fi absurdity of the DC Universe — pocket dimensions devoted to Las Vegas-style debauchery, secret cabals and airborne toxins in the form of pop culture detritus, pathetic villains in their secret lairs — and sets these post-self-referential heroes loose in a world they never made! The Super Young Team members know they’re heroes, know they live in a media-saturated world, know they are icons of cool, and know they know it. Part of the fun of this series is seeing them find out how wrong they are about some of those things, and then seeing if they can rise above superficiality to become true heroes.
Their “Final Crisis” deeds didn’t do it quite yet, but the Super Young Team is only beginning to realize that.
Really, though, the fun of this series is that Joe Casey tries to keep everything zipping along at the speed of contemporary culture. Scenes begin and end briskly, and we jump from location to location with no time for reflection or introspection beyond the most superficial. But that fits these characters, that fits this comic, and if he had CrissCross back on the pencils and inks, it might look like a comic you wouldn’t want to miss.