What should have been the norm for this title is magnificently displayed in “Justice League of America’s Vibe” #5 as writer Sterling Gates and artist Pete Woods collaborate for their first complete issue together. Unfortunately, it’s also their second-to-last issue together as the next issue will be Woods’ final on this title for now.
The issue opens up with Vibe dodging his former A.R.G.U.S. employers through a street fair in Detroit with known fugitive (and A.R.G.U.S. escapee) Gypsy. As a fan of the old JLA Detroit, this setting and the character pairing had me locked in. Woods’ art sweetened the deal, but Sterling Gates upped the interest levels by bringing in Crowbar, a one-time foe of the 1980s Detroit version of the Justice League of America. Crowbar is sent in on the takedown with Amanda Waller’s Suicide Squad, which includes King Shark, Deadshot and Harley Quinn. The fight between the Squad and the duo of Vibe and Gypsy is entertaining, despite Gypsy being only slightly more than a plot device.
Which leads to my biggest gripe about this comic book: how did Gypsy not get eaten? Seriously. King Shark plays a nasty mental game with his would-be-meal that is alarmingly uncommon for a shark that has smelled blood of intended prey by not flat-out devouring Gypsy in a pair of panels. Using a standard of, say, six seconds per panel, King Shark has nearly an uninterrupted minute to scarf down Gypsy, who easily fits in one of his hands and wouldn’t prove to be more than a few bites. That decision makes King Shark less threatening as a villain, but more importantly raises the question of how great any threat is truly going to be in this title. Yes, it is a shared burden of blame for writer, artist and reader, one that could easily be explained away with comic book hyperbole, but it sticks in my craw a bit to see a victory like that snatched away from the jaws of defeat.
Other than the King Shark confrontation, the artwork for “Justice League of America’s Vibe” is topnotch. Woods’ drawings are more animated in this issue with depth and details inferred through use of minimal number of lines. Brad Anderson’s colors light up the effects and interactions throughout this issue. Woods has a nice knack for fitting full figures (or the majority of figures) in to panels without making the panels seem cramped or sacrificing any storytelling. Woods has performed admirably in helping this title keep a light-hearted tone despite the pressures these characters face.
Gates has made this book a fun read that is rarely predictable, but always enjoyable, regardless of artist. With Pete Woods drawing, “Justice League of America’s Vibe” #5 provides another look at the Circus, A.R.G.U.S.’s collection of dimensional refugees and Breachers. Vibe’s predicament sets up some action certain to erupt in this prison and I’m looking forward to it.