"Welcome to Sundown Town: Nyctophobia"
Plot: The team is in disarray, with half the members injured, missing or defecting to an alternate team. Dr. Light, meanwhile, has a score to settle, and needs Firestorm's help to do it.
Comments: Ed Benes gives us a gorgeous vampiric cover, while inside Rags Morales treats us to the best art this title has seen in many months. The heroes are distinctive, and the cast, though divided, is still large, but he showcases each one as their turn comes to speak.
We also finally get some character showcasing for Dr. Light, after months where she was an inexplicably important plot device and little else. This issue she's still a plot device, but one that can talk. Her character is brittle, brusque and cold, but that's explicable at least in part due to her logical mind and scientific success. She's arrogant, but also capable and determined. She's not a character everyone will like, but her sense of duty and self-discipline make her one that can be respected.
Or they would, if she didn't keep getting attacked and manipulated by villains. Perhaps foolishly, she goes to see the Shadow Thief, a rather natural enemy for her, and she's not as prepared as she thinks. McDuffie and Morales make a great team in giving us a chilling confrontation with the demonic thief and the overwhelmed heroes. Their confidence is pulled out from under them, in such a dramatic way that the laughable Starbreaker almost comes off as scary.
I also like the internal politics of the team this issue, as with Hawkgirl and Red Arrow out of the picture, we get less dysfunctional love story and more discussion of strategies, duty and loyalty. Both Clark and John Stewart want Dinah to remain in charge for different reasons and Mari persists in finding out what John's are at least. John has insights into Dinah's rage and frustration that others didn't see. Everyone that didn't side with Hal in the "recent" (and as yet undepicted) split is anxious to keep the team going, and to improve it, though Dr. Light rightly clarifies that it's not a problem of power level they face.
No, it's one of leadership and direction. I fear this strong issue comes too little and too late in McDuffie's run, but I'm hoping at least its sequel (also with Morales on art, supposedly) will be as good. I'm counting my blessings at this point with this star-crossed title.
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