A magical soup is spewing into Earth’s weather systems, threatening disasters while changing the powers of superheroes.
That’s the elevator pitch for the first issue of DC’s latest event, the launchpad for several new series and directions.
Behind the enchanted storm is the Devil Nezha, and while he’s almost a spent force this issue, his eternal rival King Fire Bull aims to stop a hotchpotch of heroes from setting things right.
Leading the good guys is Robin Damian Wayne, recently manipulated by Nezha and out for rehabilitation and revenge.
He splits his heroes into two groups: Zatanna, Power Girl, Mary Marvel, Blue Devil and Cyborg will storm the Tower of Fate and grab magical artefacts stolen by Nezha, so Black Alice can reverse the mystical polarity. Batman, Blue Devil, Talia Al-Ghul and Supergirl will find the weakened Nezha and, hopefully, recruit him to help against King Fire Bull.
One hero, though, isn’t assigned to either group by Damian.
Charming. I suspect Monkey Prince Marcus will prove vital down the line due to his being connected to the Chinese pantheon from which Nezha and co spring. Already this issue the empathetic new hero has a useful chat with magical wild card Black Alice.
This bookend to the event does a decent job of laying out the threat to the world – heroes of science and sorcery are equally at risk. The only note I’d give Mark Waid is to remember to show, don’t tell – I’m thinking of this panel
A dramatic moment showing Supergirl’s powers on the fritz would’ve been useful to illustrate the problems caused by the ‘worldwide megastorm of pure magical energy’.
Otherwise, it’s applause all round for Waid’s presentation of Supergirl, as he continues the excellent work from her recent role in World’s Finest, showing her as an experienced, smart, sassy heroine.
It’s great to see the long-neglected Blue Devil in here, even if he is a tad grumpier than classic Dan Cassidy, and I look forward to seeing how Cyborg fits into the ad hoc team, Waid is bound to do better by him than the recent hideousness that was Teen Titans Academy. I wonder if Power Girl’s presence will lead to her upcoming spot in Action Comics… and I really want her to have significant interaction with otherworldly twin Supergirl. Also, Waid having artist Riccardo Federici – who drew a nice chunk of the recent Superman: Warworld Saga – depict Zatanna in her classic suit has me optimistic we’ll get a good depiction.
Powers going awry and/or changing is something we’ve seen previously courtesy of the fantastic Invasion crossover, but that was decades ago, it could be fun seeing how this latest shot at the idea lands. I am looking forward to moving on from battles with the likes of King Fire Bull, who seems like a pretty generic demon.
Mind, he does look a scary soul as presented by Federici and colourist Brad Anderson. While I’m generally into sharper, cleaner superhero art, the murky, muted tones work for this story. The big moments – such as a new look for one of our stars – are very effective, while most of the emotional beats work.
Steve Wands is one of my favourite letterers and he does great work throughout, the only exception being a confusing few balloons from Poison Ivy…
In the West we read left to right, but this speech starts at top right – move that pointer to the right-most bubble and we’re fine.
I bought Lazarus Planet: Alpha digitally and have a question for physical folk – where does the (underwhelming) two-page map appear? In my version it’s between story page 23 and 24.
Surely it should be at the end of the story, before the back-up? And a wee ‘tut’ for s typo in there.
Back-up? Yep, writer Gene Luen Yang and illustrator Billy Tan provide a lead-in to Monkey Prince #10. It’s a tale of his father, the Monkey King, and the Devil Nezha when he was less devilish.
It’s a decent read, and great-looking- probably the best work I’ve seen from Tan, here coloured by the talented Sebastian Cheng – but I’d rather the ten pages had gone to the lead story. I’m not a big fan of the twee tone of the Monkey myths.
I’m not mad keen on the cover by David Marquez and Alejandro Sanchez – Power Girl is too skinny, Cyborg looks grey-faced, Batman is apparently riding Monkey Prince, Poison Ivy is unrecognisable and Robin looks even worse in his current grey jester outfit than he does inside. I do like the logo colour, though I’m a tad tired of the flatness of most of DC’s new mastheads. Ah well, you can’t win them all.
The Lazarus Planet story continues in various one-shots and series until April, which is surprising as this was sold as a two-month mini-event – heck, Lazarus Planet: Omega #1 shows up in February. Best not to worry about it and hope for an explosion of good comics.