My reaction to this volume was generally, enh. It certainly wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t exciting either. In the aftermath of the last volume, Oliver is more than a little wary and protective of his various children and pseudo-children. He’s questioning whether he did right to bring Roy into this life, what it means that Conner chose this life, and actively discouraging Mia from getting anywhere near the superhero life. However, life doesn’t stop just because you’re debating your life choices. Someone has erected a force field around Star City that prevents anyone from getting in (and watching Superman try is amusing) and stops anyone from getting out. To make matters worse apparently the force field comes equipped with it’s own fiery (literally) vigilantes who are there to interpret and enforce the letter of the law. While that does stop the looting–because as soon as you so much as jaywalk you have fire breathing demons coming after you–it isn’t really a positive. The story is a metaphor for Oliver’s life. You can’t build walls to keep people from making mistakes or living their lives, you have to let them make their own choices good and bad. In the end Oliver realizes that and both allows and needs Mia to contribute to the fight.
By far the best part of the volume is the first, separate, storyline in which Roy and Conner go out on the town for a night of fun. Conner takes Roy to a bookstore. Roy takes Conner to a strip club. Wacky almost-sibling hijinks ensue. I’m always fascinated by the interstices in the superhero life – the moments when they aren’t being superheroes, when they’re just two guys who are related but don’t know each other very well hang out.
I am, as ever, impressed with Phil Hester’s artwork. In enjoy the economy of his style and the balance of physical and emotional depth that he gives these characters.