Scott Kolins earned a fan for life in me with his artwork on Flash -- nay, even just with his artwork on Flash #178, where Kolin's two-page spread of destruction made me recognize Gorilla Grodd as a viable villain for the first time ever. Kolins brings much of that same behemoth energy to writing and drawing Solomon Grundy; this mad monster mashup doesn't add up to more, in the end, than a rather loose and inconsequential Blackest Night tie-in, but there's a great amount of fun to be had nonetheless.
Watching Solomon Grundy stomp around the DC Universe, often illuminated by the glow of Green Lantern Alan Scott's green ring, I imagined this must be the appeal of the Incredible Hulk's more rampaging moments. In a nutshell, Solomon Grundy follows the swamp monster from battle extraordinaire to battle extraordinaire with some of DC Comics biggest bruisers. Those looking for deep insights into international politics or ruminations on the nature of superhero storytelling can go elsewhere -- Solomon Grundy is all about the action, with occasional breaks for flashback scenes of nightmarish Victorian demon possessions.
This isn't usually what I favor -- the dark comedic violence of Final Crisis Aftermath: Run! didn't amuse me, and the horror-filled Infinite Crisis Aftermath: The Spectre turned my stomach. Kollins achieves just the right tone of bizarre (and even guest-star Bizarro-type) horror humor, however, with art increasingly reminiscent of Doug Mahnke's Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein (and Frank's here, too), just slightly more cartoony. Kolins throws at Grundy not only Bizarro and Frankenstein, but also the Demon, Killer Croc, Amazo, really everyone short of Lobo; what results is such a fun rampage that one can't help but sit back, enjoy, and duck under the occasional piece of flying debris.
Kolins strings together these battles with a vague storyline in which Grundy's human form Cyrus Gold can free himself if he finds his own murderer and the weapon they used. Why Gold gets the opportunity now (besides proximity to Blackest Night) is never quite clear, nor is it clear how the Phantom Stranger finds out about it all. The identity of who killed Gold comes out in the end, but Kolins leaves vague the exact demon involved in Gold's resurrection, preserving perhaps incidental ties to Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers.
Solomon Grundy is hardly a villain that needs explanation. Even as I appreciated how Kolins carefully acknowledges a number of Grundy's previous appearances, I've no great expectation that anything Kolins establishes here about Grundy will necessarily be referenced in Grundy's future stories. There's a cogent mystery in the book, and if the reader cares to take the time to reorganize Gold's out-of-synch flashbacks, there's a bit about how Gold sought out his long-lost mother and helped murder his sister's abusive husband, but none of it amounts to much -- again, the book simply goes out on a lead-in to Blackest Night note. The real delight of the book is in the mayhem, and the reader ought not expect much more than that.
I'd mention one other strong aspect about Solomon Grundy, however, is Kolins's use of Alan Scott. In various modern age portrayals, Scott has come off as super-serious (often in comparison to the more friendly Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick) and a dabbler in the supernatural. Both of those elements are in play here, as Scott spends most of the book denouncing Gold's attempt at redemption even as the Phantom Stranger draws Scott further into the journey. Scott suffers some personal injury about halfway through the book, and the strength he subsequently shows is significant; I don't know that I'd invite Alan Scott over for a party, but Kolins certainly demonstrates this Green Lantern is not one to be messed with.
Be not fooled -- Solomon Grundy is Blackest Night bait of the worst kind, an eight-chapter story that changes really nothing in the DC Universe and is highly unlikely ever to be touched upon again. That said, this story is also a whole lot of fun, and Kolins artwork looks as good here, if not better, than ever before. If you're looking for a fun, light read, nothing wrong with this book for that purpose.
[Contains full covers, "Faces of Evil" story co-written by Geoff Johns]
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