Jim Starlin was once synonymous with “cosmic comic book brilliance” as he handled Marvel cosmic characters like Captain Marvel, Adam Warlock, and the Silver Surfer, while creating others like Thanos, Drax the Destroyer, and Gamorra. His work with those characters is still hailed as some of the best in the cosmic subgenre of superhero comics, which is why his work with DC’s space characters has been so disappointing in its banality, muddled plots, and utter lack of drama.
To add even more disappointment, his collaborator on “Thanos Quest,” and the “Infinity Trilogy,” Ron Lim, has also been churning out art that’s a pale shadow of his past work with Starlin. It’s sketchy and looks rushed, only managing to hint at some of his former skill in odd panels here and there. In some spots, his larger panels do shine, but his panel-to-panel storytelling is not what it once was.
Starlin’s scripting abilities aren’t what they once were either, as this issue has the group of random cosmic heroes (and Animal Man) facing the forces of Thanagar, Synnar, and Lady Styx in one final blow-out that carries no weight or dramatic meaning despite a very strong build-up last issue. I guess last issue’s build-up was the actual climax of the series and the fight is just the wrap-up, which sounds wrong, doesn’t it?
Never mind odd inconsistencies like the issue beginning with Hawkman narrating that the Thanagarian forces seem to be slower and less effective than usual, probably as a result of the influence of Synnar, but, then, on the following page, Adam Strange narrates that he’s never seen them fight more viciously. So, has Starlin lost it or is Adam Strange just a total wimp?
Starlin does hit one nice moment with Animal Man getting injured again, which seems like a shot at editorial for, no doubt, forcing the character into the mix despite there being no reason for his presence beyond his adventures in “52” with Captain Comet and Starfire. Otherwise, he’s seemed out of place and utterly ineffective, but at least Starlin recognizes it.
Unlike every other character in this book, each of which is pathetic and hopeless in his or her own way. Starlin has proven he can deliver strong writing, but seems to be lacking a central character or two that really speaks to him like a Warlock or Thanos. Without one character at the heart of his writing, it falls flat and it’s obvious after eight issues that none of DC’s cosmic heroes really appeal to him in a strong way.
I would say that the best thing about this issue is that this series is over, but with “Strange Adventures” on the horizon, neither DC nor Starlin have gotten the message that it’s not that no one cares, it’s that anyone who did care has simply stopped.