The Chicago story is really the most obvious victim at this point. I say that, even though we actually get answers to some outstanding questions in this issue. We learn that everyone has to evacuate the camps because a meteor hit Lake Michigan and the resulting tidal wave will level the city. We also seemingly confirm that Barbara Gordon was killed last issue, though, in the superhero genre, never say die. But, the rest of the story is just a jumble of action and confusion at this point. John Constantine and his team suddenly intervene to save Dick and his son from the rioters. John says that he doesn't like people threatening kids, but you've got to wonder why he didn't feel so strongly about the Grayson kid's welfare in time to save his mom in the previous issue. Plus, the team puts on an impressive show of magic, making you wonder why they couldn't heal or resurrect her, given that they were on hand for her death. Is it because John's magic is fading as we learn here? Maybe, but that revelation just feel like too much to process, when we already have enough problems to address. (In fact, I'm not really sure that Constantine and his team are adding anything to this story.) To make matters worse, Dick abandons his son to Constantine and his team for some reason. Is it because he refuses to leave Babs' body? Maybe, but, Jesus, dude, pull yourself together for your kid. Just don't hand him to the nearest bunch of traveling magicians. Dick pledges to find his son again, but what chance does a non-superhero have against a tidal wave? How does he possibly expect to survive? I get that Dick is grieving, but it's hard to understand anything that he does here.
On Apokolips, Mister Miracle confronts Darkseid, spouting a series of questions that might make sense if I knew more about the characters. I don't, so I was totally lost. He eventually disavows Darkseid as his father and uses Mr. Terrific's Boom Tubes to destroy the Mobius Chamber where Darkseid was seemingly meditating. However, we learn that it was somehow his prison, though we don't know who imprisoned him. This sequence makes sense for a narrative perspective, in the sense that Action A logically sets up Action B, but we fly through it so quickly that it doesn't have any real impact, despite the future of Earth 2 seemingly hanging on it. Plus, you can tell that the authors want us to feel Miracle's pain as he seemingly discovers that he's not Darkseid's son, but they rely on you knowing the characters' history to feel those feelings. Not knowing it, I just wondered how anyone could love Darkseid. Wouldn't a seeming good guy like Mister Miracle be happy that Darkseid wasn't his father?
We also rush through the Geneva scenes, even though they really could have exactly the sort of emotional impact that this series is starting to lack. Clark and Lois are reunited, and Clark seemingly reveals that Desaad may have also resurrected Bruce and Diana. These moments should be big deals. But, we get no rest for the weary, because we move right onto a mutated Helena attacking the group. We're supposed to be excited about Kara's upcoming clash with Helena, but it all happens too quickly to process. I don't think Thomas even gets in a word here, despite discovering that his son may still be alive and that his granddaughter is now some sort of mutated agent of Apokolips.
Also, Sam dies? Maybe? Again?
I'm not saying that this issue is terrible, but it's just that we've gotten to the point where we're rushing through so many of the sub-plots that it feel like the authors are just checking boxes, moving us as efficiently as possible from Point A to Point B. One of the challenge of the main series has always been the fact that the authors have struggled to focus on specific characters long enough for us to have an emotional connection to them. We've probably gotten the most insight into Alan, given the fact that he was the focus of the first few issues, and Thomas, given that the annual was dedicated exclusively to him. I've always hoped that, after the war with Apokolips, we'd settle down a bit and get to spend some time with Jay, Kendra, etc. This issue is way too far on the other side of that spectrum, and I hope the authors give us at least an issue or two to catch our breaths and maybe focus on one or two stories only. Otherwise, it's starting to feel like reading a history textbook about the end of some other world.
** (two of five stars)