Title: Las Cinco Esquinas
Writer: James Robinson
Art: Javier Pulido
Letters: Todd Klein
Colors: Hilary Sycamore
Cover Art: Tony Harris
Editor: Wil Moss
Publisher: DC Comics
With the Inquisitor cutting a bloody path through Spain, the Shade and La Sangre are joined by one of the local heroes, Montpellier, to try to hunt him down.
This isn’t really what I expected from James Robinson returning to the Shade. While there’s still plenty of cool weirdness (what with the vampires and all), it’s not as surreal as a lot of the previous Shade stories have been. It’s a more personal story, and a more straightforward one as well. None of these are bad things, it’s just a departure from what he’s done with the character in the past, and that may be turning off a few people.
One thing I really enjoy about the book is how he’s reaching out to some of the unexplored corners of the new DC Universe. With a few exceptions, most of the New 52 titles are still pretty America-centric, and I like seeing him go around Europe and show off some of the different characters that are in the DC toy box. I’d like to see more of Montpellier, and I’d read a whole miniseries of La Sangre by herself. (In fact, DC, if you’re reading, why not at least give her an arc in DC Universe Presents?)
Javier Pulido is really perfect for this story. His style isn’t like your typical superhero comic. It’s a little darker, a little more Mike Mignola-esque. That Hellboy vibe is perfectly suited for this title and the characters that we’re playing with here.
This halfway point helps show that the book is going into some different directions, but overall, I think that’s a good thing.
Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Ch-Ch-Changes Conclusion
Stuck in the body of Electro-Lass, what does a common construction worker do when his girlfriend is being held hostage and his best friend wants to marry him?
Writer: Will Pfeifer
Pencils: Leonard Kirk
Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger
Colors: JD Mettler
Letters: Ken Lopez
Editor: Peter Tomasi
Cover Art: John Van Fleet
Publisher: DC Comics
Trapped in the body of Electro-Lass after using (and promptly losing) the H-Device, the former burly construction worker goes through a roller-coaster in this issue. His best friend tells him he’s in love with him, his girlfriend is being held hostage by a couple of muggers he took out last issue, and he still can’t find the only thing that could give him his own body back.
This issue really shows off the sort of stories you can tell in a book like this with no regular cast, focusing instead on a concept that leaps from character to character. The way this story unfolds and concludes could probably never be done with a continuing character. It makes for an original read that really shouldn’t feel as original as it does.
Will Pfiefer doesn’t skimp on the major subplot of this title either, giving us a scene with the original device-wielder Robby Reed that promises to start tying together the various tales that this book has told since issue one.
It’s always a pleasure to see Leonard Kirk penciling a comic book, and it’s a shame that he doesn’t have a regular series at the moment. He’s one of the most underappreciated artists in comic books – he always has good characterization, dynamic poses and strong storytelling. It’s only due to a quirk of his own (which he freely admits) that he’s no longer penciling JSA. This book only whets my appetite and makes me want more. Together with Wade Von Grawbadger and JD Mettler, they do great work on a comic book bereft of supervillains and with only a few characters in spandex at all (although there are plenty of energy effects which are done very well).
This is a solid book that tells interesting superhero stories that you just couldn’t get anywhere else. The subplot with Robby promises to really kick things into high gear very soon – if you aren’t reading this title, why not? You’re just depriving yourself of one of the smartest superhero comic books out there.