Ideally, a comic’s various parts all work well together. Story, pencils, inks, colors, lettering — when they’re all at a high level of quality, the end result is outstanding, with nothing grabbing all the attention (or dragging the other pieces down). Sadly, that’s not the case with “Klarion” #2, where one piece of the puzzle just doesn’t live up to its compatriots.
It’s been a joy to watch Trevor McCarthy’s art grow and refine over the years, to the point where I feel that he’s become someone to actively seek out in the comics industry. “Klarion” #2 follows on his work on titles like “Batwoman” and “Batman: Gates of Gotham,” where he’s pairing strong and attractive character designs with fun and clever page layouts. There are a lot of two-page spreads in “Klarion” #2, thanks to McCarthy’s ways of bringing the ideas in the comic across to the reader. For example, Klarion in the Moody Museum is designed as a floor plan where the rooms off of the main hallway are the individual panels. Elsewhere, when Klarion is training on ropes, the panel borders are curved and graceful, bringing to mind the activity that the layout’s panels are portraying. McCarthy’s page layouts are clever without being distracting.
As briefly mentioned already, the characters themselves work well too. Zell’s long, thick hair has a beautiful mind of its own as it moves around the panels, and whenever Klarion’s hiding his blue skin he still feels slightly alien thanks to how McCarthy draws his ears, hair, and expressions. Piper in particular looks great, with a strange and alien look that brings to mind some of the crazier character designs from “The Fifth Element.” This is a great looking comic from start to finish, and getting a monthly dose of McCarthy is a great thing.
With all that said, it’s a pity that Ann Nocenti’s script doesn’t live up to McCarthy’s abilities. This issue isn’t quite as jumbled at the previous month’s, but it still doesn’t work. Motivations are strangely absent, with characters leaping in and doing things for the sake of doing them. I’m not sure there’s a strong or compelling reason for Klarion hanging out at the Moody Museum or with any of these characters, and as per most Nocenti comics these days, it feels like half of the story exists more in her head than on the page. None of this holds together well, or really at all.
It’s disappointing that the story is limping forward; the idea of a “Klarion” series is good, and looking at the “Seven Soldiers: Klarion” mini-series from a few years ago is a reminder of how well it could work. If a stronger writer were on board with McCarthy, I’d think this was a real reason to celebrate. It’s such a shame, because the potential (and the art!) is there.