Every time I give this book some credit, it pushes the limit, maxes out the credit, and forgets to adhere to the restrictions and uphold its responsibilities, like some Wall Street investor on a bender with Uncle Sam’s money lining his pocket. Then I feel like a damn fool for spending the money to bring this book home. What’s even worse is I can’t just give it away as I don’t want other people getting the wrong impression that this book is a true sample of what today’s comics have to offer. Of course, it is a sample of what is offered, but it’s a bad one.
While DC has seemingly found a recipe for success in marketing villains as a readable commodity (“Suicide Squad” and “Secret Six” both immediately spring to mind), this book stumbles over its own lack of imagination a number of times. Wallace has taken previously strong and moderately intriguing characters and completely discarded their characterizations, histories, and personalities in favor of something that fits the mold of this story. This story, however, slips from that mold and meanders all over the place, including a painful retconning of Deathstroke’s origin that negates (or certainly threatens to negate, complete with a ransom note clipped from magazines) what has been established for the character to this point. The character trapped in the habitrail in this book isn’t one of the greatest warriors in the DC Universe. It’s some whiner wearing a Deathstroke disguise. Heck, that’d be a lot more interesting than what gets printed here.
Fiorentino’s art continues to shine in spots and befuddle in others. In one scene Ray Palmer and Dick Grayson are having a conversation when a suit of armor just appears for Dick to lash out at and hit. Sure, it’s a good looking suit of armor, but where was it in the previous panels? Things like this make me think Fiorentino doesn’t do much to set the story up in the panels around the characters, choosing to pour his craft into the characters themselves. Sometimes the characters look great, intricately detailed, and worthy of publication, but in other spots the characters look like anatomy lessons of how not to draw torn from the sketchbook of a freshman “Drawing I” student who is being pushed forward as the bad example in the class. For every good looking suit of armor in this book, there is a panel where Isis’ breasts look like softballs stuffed under her tunic. Fiorentino’s got some talent, but that talent is not prominent enough in the story that hits these pages. Like a sports team that rises (or sinks) to the level of his opponent, Fiorentino’s art is matching the story offered up for this book.
I’m not sure why a title like this is given the opportunity to continue on, spewing forth a story that corrodes the comic book landscape, while other titles like “Doom Patrol” and “Freedom Fighters” — which have more intricately plotted out stories, more coherent artwork, and more compelling characters — are targeted for cancellation. If I have to find a silver lining in this book, I suppose it is the fact that Isis has returned. Of course, the longer she remains in this title, the less thankful I may be for that. That one character alone is not enough for me to continue to lose money on this title. After all, I can get 2/3 of a gallon of gas for the same price, which is just enough fuel for me to go to the comic shop and back home without any future issues of this book.