If last issue was the prologue, then here we have chapter one. This is clearly going to be a drawn out genesis story for each hero, but that isn’t a problem as James Robinson is going to great lengths to define the world his characters populate. Although it is obvious that the whole story will read better in trade, it doesn’t mean that this issue doesn’t entertain.
This is very much Jay Garrick’s book. Of course, Alan Scott is here and we get appearances from other characters that will have their part to play later. But for the majority of the book this is very much an exercise in establishing not only Jay’s origin story, but also his powers and personality. Although how he obtains his powers isn’t particularly interesting, it is in his revelation whilst using them that works. To have a man who has conceded to be a failure given such tremendous power and then to literally find an untapped joy in it really does wonders to make Jay relatable. His little jaunt around rooftops, city streets and continents is well-staged with Robinson really getting inside the character’s head. To be fair, this is also not an original take on how people react when they get super powers, but Robinson has such a grasp of where he wants to take Jay that his joy will be hard to not get behind. Jay’s story is well-paced and constructed which make it easily the most instantly gratifying aspect of the issue.
Moving away from Jay we do get some other moments that deliver the “wow” factor. It may be a brief cameo, but the fully armored winged lady will have new and old fans to see her explored more. Also in the books opening moments it delivers not only great fan service (two Mister Terrifics!) but also some intriguing possibilities as Earth 2’s smartest man attacks his counterpart. To have Mister Terrific come on board this book after his ill-fated solo series is a boon for the character. This will be a high profile book no doubt about it. Add to these two moments the constant overheard news feeds and TV screens depicting certain events and there is a sense of a larger world that is a credit to Robinson’s script. Also eagle eyed fans will see some nice nods to old favorites within the issues backgrounds.
Alan Scott, the man in the center of both a fictional and real life media spotlight gets some decent moments. People can argue about DC’s decision until the cows come home, but the most important thing is if it actually works. Robinson goes to great lengths to establish Scott’s standing within the book and for the most part he succeeds. He isn’t given as much page time as Jay or even that much of an exciting story to begin with, but what Alan gets is characterization. It is succinct in its delivery as Robinson demonstrates a focus in his dialogue that allows the character to emote without becoming whimsical or wet in regards to his relationship. At the end of the day Alan’s time spent with Sam is reminiscent of Clark Kent coming back to meet Lois Lane after a long journey into space. Robinson nails the tone of their relationship and although the cynical among us will have something to say about the marriage proposal it actually fits in quite well as the moment before the cliffhanger.
Now Robinson’s script is only half the reason this issue works so well, the other being Nicola Scott’s art. Her visual style really does wonders for the book; it looks modern but infused with a sense of a classic superhero tale. The layouts aren’t fascinating or flashy, but they are well thought out and give a real sense of pace to the proceedings. She really knows how to frame a page to create the right impression. Take the splash page of our winged lady, enshrouded in sunshine. She is both an exotic presence and a mystery waiting to be revealed, Scott manages to easily deliver the importance that moment has in the narrative. But it isn’t all about the big grand splash pages; Scott excels in presenting well-rounded and emotive characters. Be it Alan and Sam’s scenes where love is in the air or the sinister frown of Terry Sloan, each character really is brought to life. None more so than Jay, who is a visual feast for the eyes. Starting with the minimalistic but effective look of Mercury as he begins to crack, to the full on lightning filled panels of Jay in motion Scott hits it out of the park with Jay Garrick’s scenes. The sense of motion is the key here as he does parkour and saves people from killer rats. Scott keeps the sense of momentum up so when he does stop, the results seem utterly justified. His helmet is a bit silly, but the rest of his redesign looks fresh, but keeps elements of speedsters past.
So, what we get is a true starting point for Jay Garrick and Alan Scott. Robinson’s script is quick to establish both characters. Jay is easily identifiable and relatable as the main protagonist; with his everyman given great power angle the most entertaining part of the book. But that is only if you look at the book at face value, as Alan is also well rounded as the loved up millionaire about to head into a life changing experience. Both characters act as the anchor for a series that is about both character and world building, which looks great thanks to Nicola Scott’s pencils. This is definitely a title you should keep your eye on.