The cover: The Infinity Man explodes from Mother Box, held high by the five members of the Forever People. This is a great introduction to the title character (who has top, but smaller, billing in the title). He looks tough and ready for action. The energy exploding out of Mother Box makes him look, appropriately, like a god. There’s no credit given for his image, but it looks like Keith Giffen to me. The colors are done by Hi-Fi and they did a spectacular job on the power bursting from that box. A lot of work went into all the many shades of orange to give this image depth. A solid cover. Overall grade: A
The story: Dual credit is given to Keith Giffen and Dan Didio for this issue’s story “The Man, the Myth, the Legend.” I don’t know who is responsible for what, but this is really good. No, really good. The book opens with the five Forever People on the ground after summoning the power of Mother Box last month. They don’t know what happened–they’ve lost the time. Behind them a series of monitors come on showing the Infinite Man, who has a message for them. He’s there to help stop the oppression that the two brothers of Apokolips and New Genesis bring. But time is short, he has been holding a villain and wants to see if they can heal him. His baddie is set loose, exploding from the monitors and the fivesome has to “heal” him. Things don’t go well. As fun as this fight was, it was Pages 12 – 15 that sent me into the stratosphere. Part of my love of the original New Gods comics was the cosmic level of the stories; they always were epic, and I don’t use that word lightly here. It was a cosmic soap opera that engulfed the universe and all time. This issue has one character dipping her toe into that world and it was brilliant in the teasing of things to come. This book no longer is just the exploits of five super powered beings on Earth, but how they will fit into others’ fates. But this isn’t the only cool part. There’s a two page sequence on New Genesis where someone is definitely not acting in character. The book closes with a splash page that may have just cut a few members from the title team. I was so glad I picked this book up. Cosmic storylines have finally returned to the New 52. Overall grade: A+
The art: I wasn’t going to pick up this series again after the previous issue. I loved a lot of the first issue because Keith Giffen drew it. He wasn’t the artist on the second issue, and I know that’s why I wasn’t thrilled with it. When I saw this issue I knew Giffen probably wouldn’t be drawing it, but I wanted to know if the art was the same as last month or better. Uh, yeah, it got much better. Jim Starlin does the pencils. Jim-freakin‘-Starlin. If you don’t know who Mr. Starlin is, let me put it this way: When Jim Starlin writes or draws anything you should get it because it’s going to be vastly superior to anything else you read that week, month, or, possibly, year. Not reading Previews, this was an unbelievably welcome surprise to me and I clutched this book for purchase instantly. The last time Starlin did these characters was for The Death of the New Gods a few years ago, and I’m glad he’s back at this birth. Inking him is Rob Hunter whose skills are a welcome addition to any book because he’s able to capture the penciler’s work without superimposing his own style over theirs. The opening splash is a nice shot of the unconscious heroes from a high point of view. When the Infinity Man appears the angle of the panel is tilted to make him enormous among these “Gods.” The villain’s entrance is gorgeous and the battle glorious. Punches are thrown in fantastic fashion. I was more than satisfied with the visuals and then Pages 12 – 15 hit that glorious cosmic sequence. Starlin’s middle name should be “Cosmic.” I can think of no other artist on Earth who does this better. The two pages on New Genesis were also incredible. I don’t know how long this pair will be on this book, but it is worthy of the word epic. Overall grade: A+
The colors: The bar for color has been immeasurably raised by the work of Hi-Fi. Their work on several books is consistently stellar and this just adds fuel to their considerable catalog of credits. Metal, on walls or costumes, is often a dull, sometimes shiny, surface in comics, but in this book it’s wonderfully reflective. Look at the shine coming off the characters’ costumes on Page 2. It doesn’t have to be to tell the readers that the heroes’ clothes are protective, but it’s a detail that makes this reality all the more believable. When the Infinity Man appears look at the reflection on Bear. Again, a great touch. The dialogue from the villain receives its own unique color which is a great way to make this character even more alien. Page 10 illustrates how yellow and orange can be two dynamic colors in tandem. This book looks great. Overall grade: A+
The letters: Rounding out the heavy hitters is the work of Travis Lanham on the letters. He creates dialogue, Infinity Man speech, villain speech, sound effects, and a cosmic character’s speech. I love when letterers give aliens or powrful characters their own unique font when they speak because it makes the character all the more impressive. I wish this would spread to all comics. Overall grade: A+
The final line: Cosmic has returned to comics. If you’re a youngster, this is a taste of what the good stuff was. If you’re a geezer, what a welcome return to storytelling this is. The universe has expanded, and it may not be a good thing for these characters. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!”, he reviewed comics for TrekWeb, and he currently reviews Trek comics at TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for two years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.