The three part “The Second Coming” arc comes to an explosive conclusion as the team faces off against the newer, deadlier Amazo in a story that highlights writer Dwayne McDuffie’s strengths and his weaknesses as he continues to find his rhythm on this title.
As far as action goes, this issue has it all — explosions, bloodied noses, a grueling hand to hand sequence between Amazo and Wonder Woman, and collateral damage galore. The scenes are packed with exquisite details by artist Allan Goldman that manage to convey both terrifying danger and moments of hope and heroism at the same time. Amazo’s defeat is truly a team effort, as it takes a scheming Batman and Steel, canary cries, trick arrows, magic maces, backwards spells, and the sheer power of Wonder Woman, who stands toe to toe with an enemy that just shredded most of the League, to trap the deadly android in orbit around a red sun, where its copied elements of Superman’s physiology should keep it from regenerating and returning for another round for some time.
Where McDuffie gets it right is in his utilization of traditionally lesser used characters, while at the same time allowing for innovative uses of their powers. A stand-out example from this issue is when Zatanna, having had her mouth removed with a taste of her own medicine when Amazo mimicked her powers last issue, uses her own blood to write a spell on the ground to get back into the action. Black Canary, made Chairperson of the League by Meltzer, had been criticized by many fans as to her seeming lack of credentials, her role in Birds of Prey notwithstanding. However, McDuffie is doing a good job of showing that she more than has what it takes as she uses her cry to temporarily take off Amazo’s head.
He also does a good job of focusing on the teamwork aspect of the book. Gone are the days it seems when the rest of the League gets a few shots in only to have one of the big guns do the mop up duty. McDuffie likes to spotlight different characters, the likes of which typically got lost in the shadows of heroes like Superman and Batman in times past, and has at long last given Red Tornado a body again. As a result, we don’t have to see the self-deprecating computer image of recent months.
However, where McDuffie lacks is in maintaining a proper balance in the action in terms of the utilization of the entire roster. While he gives some more prominence to those characters whose turn in the spotlight has been long overdo as opposed to using those who have perhaps been used too much, the latter are often somewhat relegated to wallflowers. Superman and Batman, two-thirds of the Trinity, appeared in barely more than a dozen pages in the last two issues combined, with Superman only making appearances to be a punching bag, an all too common role during McDuffie’s run for the Man of Steel.
McDuffie’s run has been uneven at best, but to his defense, it has been somewhat lacking in rhythm due to other DC events such as Salvation Run breaking up the run. With a new arc set to kick off finally resolving the issues of Vixen’s powers, we will see if McDuffie can find that balance between the overuse of some of the big names like Superman and Batman that were prominent in Morrison’s turn on the book, and what we have seen thus far in the current run. He’s starting to get the hang of it, but he’s not quite there just yet.
Overall, the issue had enough action to make any Michael Bay fan excited, and featured a mostly strong script by McDuffie, with crisp art by Goldman, and provided a nice setup for the upcoming adventure. For the action, and the Wonder Woman vs. Amazo bout alone, the book earns a 3 ½ out of 5 star rating.
-Charles J. Baserap