I was probably unfair to Nicola Scott when I reviewed this title last month and said she had didn't bring as much detail to the art as usual. Really what I meant was just that her characters felt generally less precise and expressive than they had in the past. But hey, I'm fairly new to this, and bound to put my foot in my mouth. It'll likely happen again.
Whether I was overly critical last time or not, this issue marked a definite return to A-game form from Scott. The very first page had broad action and incredibly minute detail, pulling us in immediately. And then page 2 was a highlight of the entire issue, with Kendra silhouetted up in the top left corner, showcasing he brand new wings, and the helm of Dr. Fate glowing brilliantly in the foreground and stealing the spotlight completely. It was a captivating opening, matched only by the conclusion. First and foremost, that two-page spread of Jay and Khalid exploring the M.C. Escher-esque Tower of Fate was dazzling right away with the level of care and attention Scott put into the tower's design. And she did a great job of showing the characters' movements through the complicated space without it ever being confusing or hard to follow. Having the tower laid out so impossibly would've made it easy to sacrifice narrative clarity, but Scott never does. And it leads our heroes straight to the Great Beast, another artistic highlight of the issue. I can't wait to get more of that ugly motherfucker next month, if only because he reminds me of Dungeons & Dragons.
I was also particularly fond of Alan Scott's scenes here, at least visually. His immense sadness and subsequent rage over Sam's death were rendered well, a bit subtly but still clear, like he wanted to mask his pain but was wholly unable to do so. He may be able to overcome great fear, but this new Green Lantern is powerless against grief, and in the end it forces him to begrudgingly seek out help. If it weren't for Nicola Scott's precise expressive work with Alan (it's vaguely obnoxious that they have the same last name), then his decision to ask Hawkgirl for assistance might not have held as much weight. As it is, that scene was one of the most satisfying moments of the issue, because we could feel how difficult yet necessary it was for Green Lantern to go through.
The Alan Scott section had the strongest writing from James Robinson, too, though even then it was not astounding. It's just that Robinson actually employed some selectivity and brevity in his storytelling for those scenes, unlike the rest of the issue. I'm not sure what it is about this title that makes Robinson such a lazy writer, but he has been consistently sub-par for several installments. Wotan's seemingly endless and entirely unnatural-sounding expository rant lead directly into Khalid making his own overly-wordy and needles explanation of his history with Nabu. It sucked up all the excitement that the opening two pages poured over the reader, and despite some action later on and the stronger Green Lantern pages, that feeling of fun, fast-paced adventure never returned with the same oomph as it had at the start.
I'm just not clear as to why Robinson feels all the dialogue info-dumps are necessary here. It's like he's in a rush to get all of his characters introduced, yet at the same time it is taking forever for Dr. Fate to show up in full. In the meantime, we still don't have the full story on The Atom, Fury, or even really Hawkgirl (though we gain some insight into her connection to Khalid here), all of whom are characters we met a while ago and have seen too little of since. So there's this bizarre disconnect where I feel like I have too much new information dumped on me this month, yet continue to have all the same questions and confusions as I did before I started the issue. Robinson needs to reign his story in, and fast, or some of the threads might slip through his fingers completely while he is needlessly and hurriedly thickening others.
Nicola Scott has definitely been carrying me through this series for a while now, with Robinson's decline in script quality beginning several issues ago and not yet climbing back up that I can tell. But for how long will Scott's work, which is basically just an elevated DC house style, be enough to keep me as a reader? Probably not going to be much longer, truth be told, unless Robinson can pick up any of the slack. But I absolutely MUST see Scott draw the Dr. Fate and Flash vs. The Great Beast battle, because it promises to be one of the most destructive and great-looking conflicts this series has ever had. So you've won me over for at least next month, Earth 2, but only because you're gorgeous, not because I feel invested in your narrative.