This second issue of Robinson's return to Opal City is better than the first. Rather than spending a lot of time on exposition before an abrupt and obviously tricky ending, this time we get lots of action on various fronts as Shade and a new ally begin to pursue their antagonist from afar.
Not that Robinson isn't adept at eloquent verbiage, but the Shade is after all an assassin and killer; as poised and erudite as he is, we'd rather he spend his time pontificating as a sort of ongoing monologue in counterpoint to all his kicking of ass. He's Holmesian in that sense, and this issue lets far more of that sort of verve shine through. It's true as well for the other supporting players, Bobo Bennetti (a noirish brute with a good heart and one of Shade's few allies in Opal), and Will von Hammer, a tough detective from Germany who has been dispatched to acquire something of Shade's. Instead he informed Bobo when things didn't seem so up and up, and is now on the run as well. That's three cool protagonists for the price of one, and the antagonists ain't bad either.
We meet the first one as the third attempt to take out von Hammer, a skull-faced French spectre with powers related to Shade's. We don't see the second until the final page, and while he looks fairly standard issue badass (lots of tattoos, a Mohawk, a tail), it's a better cliffhanger than last issue's fake-out. Of course you don't kill the star in the premiere issue, and Shade survived being sliced into chunks by Deathstroke with aplomb. As he explains, fighting Slade to anything other than death is pointless, but killing him wouldn't reveal the true villain's hand.
Let's hope he's as intriguing as the immortal Shade himself, though that's not very likely. Starman readers know there's enough to this anti-hero to make his love affair with Opal City cop Hope O'Dare something worth fighting for, but that doesn't mean he hasn't had a very long time to make some very bad enemies. Robinson is much more at home here than he was putting the Justice League through the motions prior to October. Let's hope the mix of repartee and action with a mystical bent is a balance he can maintain.
He at least has a great partner in Cully Hamner, who really seems to enjoy the cinematic qualities (jump cuts, architecture, lots of windows to fly by, break through and shoot at, big guns) required of an Opal City anti-hero. The battles, whether mystical or mundane, are easy to follow and full of detail as to attire and facial expression. Hamner's black inks are more than enough to set the detective story-on-acid tone, but McCaig's colors respond to each change in locale, with blood-red accents in Opal, brown walls in Germany and shades of gray and blue when the two erstwhile allies meet atop a moonlit tower to assess their chances. I'd say they look pretty good from here.
Shawn Hill knows two things: comics and art history. Find his art at Cornekopia.net.