“Eclipso Rising, Part Five: The Destined and the Dying”
Begins with a one-page prologue that I'm not sure what it has to do with the rest of the story. Probably just not following it closely enough. It does feature Lydea Mallor of Talok VIII – an interesting shoutout to DC continuity – Legion of Super-Heroes' Shadow Lass, Lydea herself part of the old 1990s L.E.G.I.O.N. series … one of the other Talok planets is where Mikaal Tomas the blue Starman in the JLA is from, and I do seem to recall that being a point in an issue a couple back ….
Anyway, the Earth is experiencing devastation due to the splitting of the moon (last issue) – and on the sundering moon the Justice League is going directly up against Eclipso and his thralls in the Emerald City. Here it gets a bit confusing. At least this time the League isn't just standing around talking like last time … at least for the whole issue. No they do so intermittently in a series of discontinuous flashbacks that I can't quite put in any logical narrative order (seriously – at one point it seems to branch off in two separate directions!) - but the gist is that Batman (Dick Grayson) and Obsidian have figured out that Shade is not held in thrall by Eclipso in quite the same way as all the others, so Congorilla (who is also big game hunter Congo Bill) shoots a bullet from one of Blue Lantern Saint Walker's ring constructs into Shade's brain as a carrier for the Atom (who at times looks vaguely Asian – did the artist think he was drawing Ryan Choi, R.I.P.?) and Starman so they can do something to break the control. Meanwhile, as a feint, the rest attack as if to free the captive angel Zauriel while the real attack is by Donna Troy, directly on Eclipso himself. The reason, according to Saint Walker, is that somehow the almost infinite load of grief and sorrow that Donna carries with her can be marshalled into a power of light that can overcome the darkness. It doesn't work – on the last page, Eclipso literally slashes Donna's silver lasso to pieces and then brutally impales her on a broadsword. “Now, who's next?”
So – Donna Troy appears to be dead – again. It's happened before. Depending on her rather fluid backstory, maybe a well-nigh infinite number of times. I really didn't see it coming, however. Not that I expect it to “stick” - or would have expected it to stick were this continuity to … er … continue. But there has been no indication that there will be any Donna Troy in the DcnU or any “Wonder Girl” except a blonde that I'm sure (maybe even announced as) Cassie Sandsmark (in the solicit for Teen Titans #1). Even so, the way this death was carried out I'd be surprised if that's all there is to it even within this story arc. Or maybe this is meant to be a departure from the normal “epic” death in comics or any other heroic literature – just a quick, meaningless, ineffectual casualty of battle as most are in the “real world.” But then there's the tone of the first few editorial lines of the letter column: “Whew, what an issue! We can't believe our Donna is dead. Again. Sigh. She just has the worst luck, doesn't she?” Might as well just say it ain't gonna stick. And they point toward Flashpoint where “[m]aybe she'll fare better ….” Just have to wait and see.
One thing I do like about James Robinson: He brings in all kinds of DC lore and backstory – even a decades-old issue of The Brave and the Bold which had Atom taking a journey into the brain of Bruce Wayne Batman to give it a kickstart when he was essentially brain dead. He also (I guess it's the artist following his directions) brings in all kinds of obscure characters – I refer to Lydea Mallor and her connections above; there's also the hot chrome-skinned Bulletwoman from Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers of Victory; and a bunch of others I can't even name. Of course he plays a lot with his JSA and Starman characters – e.g. the Shade as well as Mikaal Tomas – but he also keeps very clear that this is a distinct Batman from Bruce Wayne. That leads to probably the funniest line in the book: He's outlined his plan for Atom and Starman to invade the Shade's brain, but it won't be by the normal method. Atom is delighted: “No swimming through a sea of snot, tears, or earwax? Guys, I love this Batman.”
The art by Daniel Sampere, Miguel Sepulveda, and Wayne Faucher (but solicited as by Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund – at least they did change the cover copy to reflect reality this time) is pretty good overall. One thing I must comment on, however – this has annoyed me with the way Donna's been drawn from the beginning of her appearances in Justice League – doubtless longer, and not unique to her, just for some reason more apparent. It's front and center on the cover this time – really, what woman would go into battle wearing a top like that, with the V-neck cut down practically to her navel? Yeah, it's comics and I don't mean to be a prude – and I know that the overendowed heroines skimpily dressed is pretty much de rigeur – but Donna always looks like she's going to fall out of her costume at any minute and breasts will then be flopping all around. It's made more ridiculous by the fact that, for all artists' skills (generally) it also usually doesn't look remotely realistic. I'm not talking about the fact that women's costumes often look more like what appears in the body-paint section of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition than real fabric of any kind. Using the cover again (but there are more extreme instances inside) look at the inconsistent width of the sections coming down from Donna's neck across her breasts. The part that's facing the viewer is unrealistically narrow, not much more than a strap (gotta show as much cleavage and outside as possible!), while the cup that's “covering” the breast that's more in profile looks like it's twice as wide! The artists really need to work on getting their perspectives right. They also need to work on consistency from panel to panel – Donna evidently has time between pages 6 and 7 to run off and change into a new costume because in two poses from almost the same angle (from behind and to the right of her) on the former page her costume has two over-the-shoulder straps coming straight down her back, on the latter page it's now a halter top with no such straps! Uhhh... What's the job of an editor? Is it to say, “Oh well, it doesn't matter – fanboy's too dumb to notice anyway?”
Actually, I did enjoy this issue as I generally have all of Robinson's run on Justice League of America. I don't think he's been announced for anything in the DCnU, but there is a long-rumored Shade series he's supposed to be working on. I wonder how that will fit into DC's plans for the future - especially as it plays out of his renowned Starman series that right now is in a sort of limbo as to its status in DCnU continuity along with all the old Earth-2/JSA/"legacy" characters. Hopefully it's not been scuttled.