‘Ghost in the Darkness’ is a fill-in prior to the new creative team coming on board, but if we’re going to have guest creators, I’m always glad to see writer-artist Jerry Ordway help out. The All-Star Squadron and Infinity Inc artist here revives the latter team for a flashback and it’s great to see them again. Ordway focuses on two of their alumni here, Atom Smasher and Obsidian.
Atom Smasher presents no problem, as his Geoff Johns-created character arc looks to be a straightforward redemption deal, but Obsidian? Bit of mess, truth be told. Having been a useful supporting cast member in Manhunter he was transplanted here and given the invisible man role of JSA security sentinel, consigned to his shadows with little to say or do. This issue Todd is chattier, but his role remains muddle-headed – having detected a menace at JSA headquarters, rather than brief the team to tackle it, he splits the membership inside and out and plays the part of ambiguous drone, interpreting his duties over literally.
Thankfully, Obsidian’s bid to avert trouble comes to nought and a villain unseen since the Second World War (pretend you never saw him in Allan Heinberg’s Wonder Woman relaunch a few years back) shows up. That leads to a fun cliffhanger that guarantees I’ll be back next month.
Ordway’s script and pencils aren’t flashy, but as his badly underrated Power of Shazam and Superman work shows, he really knows how to tell a comic story. Characters are sketched economically, situations quickly presented. There’s plenty of action and even more fun dialogue (the banter between Atom Smasher, Cyclone and Stargirl is lovely, though my favourite moment here has Wildcat quoting Ghostbusters). And he even allows Power Girl a moment of leadership.
Big kudos to Ordway for having Atom Smasher share a drink with old pal Mr Bones, though I refuse to believe the spymaster would threaten visiting barkeep Bibbo with his cyanide touch. And Jerry the penciller needs to speak to Jerry the writer about drawing someone Stargirl refers to as Asian, as Asian – yes, the villain of the peace is from the East, but at this point she hasn’t seen him and means a white, brown-haired chap. Other than that art snafu, it’s a big congrats to Ordway and inker Bob Wiacek for a good-looking issue. I look forward to the conclusion.