Pantheon #2

I didn’t decide to read “Pantheon” because of celebrity co-creator Michael Chiklis, no matter how entertaining he was in “The Shield.” For me, the main attraction was writer Marc Andreyko, whose work on books like “Manhunter” and “The Lost” over the years has entertained me. After a slightly jumbled first issue, though, I was starting to worry.

The plus side is that “Pantheon” #2 increases greatly in terms of a script. The plot, involving Greek gods returning to the world, is one we’ve seen before. But now that we’re starting to see that story actually play out (instead of a mixture of dirty bombs, oil drilling, magic boxes, and shoot outs with federal agents), it’s already starting to look more interesting. Andreyko places the different reborn gods (and associates) into places all across the planet, even though it looks like some of them may have already been back even before “Pantheon” kicked off. So many series along these lines end up being Western-centric, and it’s nice to early on see that’s not the case.

More importantly, Hamilton and Zeus start interacting with one another in this issue, and the combination of the skeptical Hamilton and the arrogant Zeus has potential. It’s not entirely believable that the two would stick together all the way to New York, but for now I’m willing to let that slide. The odd thing is that as the action shifts, “Pantheon” at least temporarily leaves behind some of the big differences between our world and the future setting of “Pantheon.” We still don’t know exactly what happened to Miami to leave it in ruins, for example, which had been one of the few things in the first issue to catch my eye. It’s also not clear what the difference between the gods in hiding and the ones presumably released from the box (if they are even gods), and how they’re all still at large in the world, but I’m going to guess later issues will touch on that. On the plus side, Andreyko doesn’t limit himself to just the most famous Olympian gods; demi-gods, monsters, and even simply gifted individuals from Greek mythology also make an appearance here, and hopefully that is a sign of a wide ranging pantheon of characters to come.

I’m less than enamored with Stephen Molnar’s art, which is shockingly stiff and static. Motion is certainly one of the hardest things to capture in sequential art, and unfortunately it’s something that Molnar doesn’t ever quite nail. The individual figures aren’t bad (I do wish Moose Baumann would use a slightly less day-glo blue for Zeus’s eyes, though), but scenes of someone running, or trying to stop a truck, come across looking fake.

“Pantheon” is showing some signs of improvement, but my biggest complaint is that it still feels slow. With a slightly faster pace I think some of the other problems might not be as noticeable, and as said before, it’s a real improvement over the first issue. Andreyko’s delivered the goods in the past, and I’ll take a look at the third issue based on how much he’s already improved things. But for now, it’s not at the level I was hoping it would be.

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