By Gail Simone, Dale Eaglesham,Tom Derenick, and Jason Wright
It’s the second issue of the second arc (of Simone’s second iteration of this team). Kind of a fun coincidence. While the first arc of this team sputtered for several reasons, this arc kicked off with an excellent first issue. The quality is still present here. For this arc, Simone is focusing on her creation Black Alice and the magical prowess she possesses. This choice has given Simone a chance to play with a slew of characters from the “dark” corner of DC’s universe. Moreover, she also brings in Aquaman to play a role in this chapter. While these cameos are always interesting, Aquaman’s presence is not the core of this story.
Simone’s script explores Black Alice’s powers, which seem to have progressed and become much more substantial than anybody knew. While at times, we see some darkness (or should I say “Black”ness) from our protagonist, Simone uses Big Shot to explore the human side of Black Alice. In truth, this chapter (and the entire series), inspects the humanity of our team of misfits. This chapter highlights this through Big Shot’s dialogue, which is always cleverly penned by Simone. Later, the plot toys with the idea of the classic misdirection. We get two different tales of what must be done to protect the world from the worst-case magical scenario. Of course, the team seems to have fallen for the trap and chosen the wrong direction. This is the weak part of the story, as it dabbles in more traditional super heroics. Despite this, the early portion of this chapter outshines the minor hiccup of the latter half. More inspection into the dark powers of Black Alice; less plot convenience and overdone story tropes.
Through Alice’s dark powers, the art team soars. Eaglesham and Derenick’s pencils mesh quite well together. Usually in instances of multiple artists, books seem disjointed. The miss-mashed art pulls the reader out of the story. That’s not the case here. Both artists’ styles work well in tandem. Derenick’s pages havea slightly grittier nature to them, while Eaglesham’s pencils are more smooth and almost cartoony. But these differences are only slight and never a detraction. They provide a great sense of action and energy to the page, all of which is heightened by Wright’s colors. In one page, where we see Black Alice drawing from quite a bevy of well-known DC magical characters, Wright’s colors make the page shine. It’s likely one of the prettier pages you might have seen in quite a while. He imbues deep, almost cosmic looking, purples with earthy greens and browns that are closely associated with Swamp Thing.
The entire creative team is tackling quite a task here, mixing the magical side of DC Comics with the superhero side. Early in the New 52, this was attempted quite often and usually these attempts were met with less than stellar results. So far, Simone and the art team are doing quite well. While this arc still has a long ways to go, the early chapters have properly put the wheels of in motion for an intriguing finish. The art is top-notch as is the dialogue, snarky as ever, and the plot from Simone.