Brett Booth’s art is at once more tight and more animated than what this title has contained of late. Booth’s characters have a cleaner line about them than Bagley’s did. Many of Booth’s figures, however, have the same body type, with stunning pectoral muscles and bulging thighs. Some of the backgrounds are more backdrop than background, but the line on Booth’s drawings is so clean that the story flows nicely regardless. The two styles – Bagley and Booth – are disparate enough that this issue feels like the brand new start that it truly should be. To Bagley’s credit, however, this is the first issue of Booth’s run and it is a twenty-two page story.
Booth’s first page prominently displays the original JLA and also delivers a select collection of characters from the League’s historical line-ups. That single page gave me a bit of a jones for a return of many of those characters to the roster, including Vibe, if only to see Booth draw them a bit more.
Robinson sums up what has happened before with that page and a few others, without crippling this story, while simultaneously providing the reader with a complete update on both the League and Eclipso. In doing so, however, he quickly and completely makes this issue an Eclipso spotlight issue. Booth seizes that and makes Eclipso completely his own, which falls somewhere between Bart Sears, Jim Lee, and Ian Churchill. The end result is a slick look to Eclipso that includes a number of stitches, buckles, holsters, hilts, and pouches. This isn’t the same almost goofy look that Eclipso sported for so very long. Rather, this is a streamlined Eclipso set to effect a massive change on the DC Universe.
This incarnation of Eclipso can “hear” the thoughts of Bruce Gordon, in a manner not unlike the relationship between Ronnie Raymond to Jason Rusch or Martin Stein the Firestorm matrix. This certainly helps build his story for the reader, pushing it along through dialog rather than what would have certainly been a mind-numbing villainous monolog. It’s a nice twist to the Eclipso being, and I look forward to seeing how Robinson plays that up as this tale moves along.
One of the locations the tale moves along to is Opal City, where Robinson’s darling, Shade, waits to be pressed into service with Eclipso. It’s a surprisingly logical move, one that I do not believe has been leveraged before, and it works well. Once Shade is recruited, Eclipso sets his sights on other shadowy denizens of the DCU. Seasoned readers are sure to guess who some of those are, but Robinson makes the journey extremely enjoyable, reveling in the DC Universe as he has along the entirety of his run on this book. Along the way, Robinson adds to the sandbox, giving us an introduction to a new character that I’m certain we’ll see a bit more of once this tale is complete. The final page, the last recruit, caught me a bit by surprise, but it certainly adds a nice wrinkle to the story.
Hopefully Booth can maintain the timing of the book that Bagley established, and if quality keeps at this level, this era of the JLA could be one that is looked back to with fond memories.