“Curse of The Kingbutcher”: Part 1
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Andy MacDonald
Warning: Minor Spoilers Ahead!
I honestly have very mixed feelings for Justice League of America #10. The main gripe I have with issue #10 is the disappointing drop in quality in the artwork. There were, at times, where I thought the characters, in particular, looked thinly drawn. The sub-par coloring certainly didn’t help enhance the already bland character and environmental designs. The artwork for the environments looked messy and resemble more like a bundle of squiggly lines rather than buildings. The artwork on the whole could’ve had a bit more refinement.
My opinion for the artwork in the Justice League of America series have fluctuated with each issue I review. In some issues, the artwork would genuinely astound me, but most of the time, it would lose its visual appeal. Issue #10 has, admittedly, the lowest visual quality I’ve seen in the series yet.
Let’s move on to the story now. The “Curse of the Kingbutcher” story arc begins with a middle aged man named Christopher Kaminski awakening at night. He then proclaims to have been cured of some pain. In a swirl of luminous light, the eponymous Kingbutcher appears. The panel featuring the Kingbutcher’s arrival was arguably one of the few instances where I thought the art style was at its best. The lighting effects spiraling around the Kingbutcher looked remarkable, while also evoking a sense of danger. The exact image can be seen below.
The Kingbutcher then proceeds to extract this blue phoenix-esque apparition from Kaminski’s body, and subsequently bisects it. Sounds gruesome, yes? Don’t worry it doesn’t look nowhere near as gruesome as it sounds. After performing this display of mysticism, The Kingbutcher disappears.
The Justice League of America are in conflict with Batman over his handling of Makson in the previous story arc. The Ray in particular is very conflicted with Batman. The Ray has dedicated himself to helping people and thus would always try to see the goodness in everyone. Steve Orlando once again did a fine job of fleshing out these characters. The character dynamic and conflict between the JLA’s team members made for some engaging drama. The team soon catch news of a series of strange events happening in The Ray’s hometown of Vanity. Apparently someone has been stealing the dreams – yes, dreams – of Vanity’s citizens.
The Justice League of America arrive in Vanity, and unsurprisingly the Kingbutcher appears before them. The whole team engages in a fierce fight with the Kingbutcher. I’ll stop it there, because I don’t want to spoil too much.
Frankly, this issue had me scratching my head the whole way through, in a metaphorical sense. I felt this was more of a Ray-centred story. There’s nothing wrong with that. He has great characterisation and his powers are a spectacle to behold on page, but it just felt like the story arc is fully centred around him. The main antagonist, the Kingbutcher, bears a connection to The Ray. Both settings are directly related to The Ray. For a Ray newcomer like myself, I found it hard to grasp the story.
The whole story execution felt disjointed. I never understood the Kingbutcher’s motivations nor why he was committing these acts against Vanity’s citizens.
Overall, Justice League of America #10 is a slightly underwhelming addition to the series. While the team dynamics were certainly engaging, the story didn’t do a good job of explaining of what is actually happening. Aside from the great lighting effects, the artwork had a palpable drop in quality.
Images courtesy of DC Entertainment