New JLA artist Brett Booth immediately shows us what he can do with a grimly powerful cover. Inside he gamely illustrates writer James Robinson’s latest whirlwind tour of the DC Universe, producing some memorable images. Chief among them is the dark god Syththunu, an HR Giger Alien by way of HP Lovecraft, though the French villain Bete-Noire is also rendered as an intimidating force. Other characters who show up this issue include the Shade, the Shadow Thief, Nightshade … notice a theme? Yes, it’s characters who wield darkness, all being corrupted by Eclipso, newly reunited with longtime host Bruce Gordon.
Apart from a splash and a single panel including two of the members, the JLA don’t appear this issue. We’re with Gordon and Eclipso all the way, as the dark god enacts his latest plan against mankind. And I didn’t miss the heroes one bit, so engrossing is Robinson’s latest storyline.
I say ‘latest’ but there are elements here that were set up months ago; I think it’s safe to say that Robinson is on form now, telling the type of longform story that made Starman such a success. Having his favourite, the Shade, on hand helps, of course, but Robinson’s also world-building, as he did in Starman. He’s not only bringing a classic character back to greatness, in the shape of Eclipso, he’s including such obscurities as Mexican heroine Acratas from the Planet DC event and someone I’ve never heard of, Daniel-Crow-Brings-Darkness, a male Raven from Canada.
With a couple of bonus story pages, this $2.99 item also has room for a history lesson, Eclipso 101, and a cameo by Dr Midnite, who could be in trouble. Robinson’s script is first rate, while Booth injects a refreshing energy into the series. His characters, inked by the extremely able Norm Rapmund, just ooze strength and malevolence – I can’t wait to see what he does with the good guys. Adding to the visual feast are the colours of Andrew Dalhouse, whose Diablo Island scenes are especially strong, and letterer Rob Leigh, whose work is ever outstanding.
Eclipso Rising: Part One, Shadow Warriors is a new beginning for the JLA – if you’re a lapsed reader, I’d advise giving the book another try. With a revivified writer, a new art teams that gels brilliantly and one of DC’s best baddies, you’ll likely be glad you did.