Red Lanterns #34

August 29, 2014

Release Date: August 27, 2014
Cover Date: October 2014

Story: Charles Soule
Art: Alessandro Vitti and Jim Calafiore
Cover: Stephen Segovia

As the new Red Lanterns overrun Guy Gardner and crew, he leaves Supergirl to deal with them on Earth while he heads to Ysmault, knowing Atrocitus will follow him. On Styge Prime, it’s revealed that Skallox was secretly spying on Atrocitus for Guy, and he returns to Ysmault as well. There, the battle is finally joined, resulting in the deaths of Skallox, the Judge, and many more, possibly including Dex-Starr. At the end, Guy’s tired of this crap, and offers up his ring to Atrocitus. However, Guy has much more rage in his heart, and all Red Lantern rings return to him. Overloaded with power, he uses it to recharge the Blood Lake and Central Power Battery, then gives up leadership of the Red Lantern Corps to Rankorr, Bleez and the others. They can watch Sector 2814…Guy will stay on Earth.

Red Lanterns ties off many long-running story threads with his issue, and in fine form. The highlight of the book was Guy denying that he stole Atrocitus’ ring; the latter just couldn’t keep it. Guy ditching it and then having the ring choose him instead of Atrocitus only proves that point. Guy somehow having more rage than everyone on Ysmault was cheesy, but it was a quick means to an end to rebuild the Red Lanterns’ home base. Those panels of the countless power rings flowing into Guy did look cool, though. Props to Alessandro Vitti and Jim Calafiore for that! Their art was solid throughout, as would be expect given their tenure on the book.

Red Lanterns #34 added some shock value with the “deaths” of Skallox, the Judge, and others. (In quotes because you know they’ll be back; this is comics.) Of course, how the rest of the Red Lanterns as well as the hundreds of human recruits didn’t die due to the removal of their red power rings is conveniently ignored, despite the fact that Guy himself nearly dies when he takes off his own ring. That’s a pretty big plot hole, and I doubt it’ll be addressed.

With Guy’s long battle with Atrocitus finally at its end, Red Lanterns had completely wrapped up all of its long-running storylines, and we can move on into new territory. Of course, that means a double dose of crossover event nonsense, but maybe after that we’ll get some new, solid tales.

Green Lantern: New Guardians #34

August 22, 2014

Release Date: August 20, 2014
Cover Date: October 2014

Story: Justin Jordan
Pencils: Brad Walker and Rodney Buchemi
Inks: Andrew Hennessy, Rob Hunter, and Rodney Buchemi
Cover: Brad Walker and Andrew Hennessy

Kyle Rayner and Carol Ferris continue to fight off the Psions, but their leader The High has a Mother Box which it uses to absorb their constructs. Meanwhile, Quaros is shockingly still alive despite his dissection, and he uses his abilities to hack into the Psions’ systems and organize a counteroffensive with his Guardian brethren. He frees them, then helps Carol free the Psions’ other experiments. The battle’s a full-scale slugfest now, but Quaros will put a stop to the Psions’ plans once and for all: he sends Kyle, Carol, and the other Guardians away in a bubble construct, then self-destructs the Psion ship. He and the other gruesome experiments are finally free of their pain, and unbeknownst to the Lanterns, the Mother Box is left floating in the void.

A solid ending to the Psion arc, though there was an annoying tease for the next Lanternverse “event” (the Mother Box will certainly tie into the upcoming “Godhead” story), which already has me rolling my eyes. Unlike the other Lantern books, Green Lantern: New Guardians has been nicely avoiding that crossover crap since “Lights Out” last year, but I guess good things never last.

But enough of that! Let’s refocus on issue #34 here. While the Kyle/Carol/Psion banter did get a little annoying at times, the dialogue between all parties was very good. Especially notable was Kyle’s talk with The High, explaining that he won’t be converted to their cause, and no matter what they’re trying to do to imitate their creators, it’s still wrong. (Fun fact: The High was previously a WildStorm Universe character, completely unrelated to the Psions.)

We thought Quaros was dead…but I guess he got better. Seriously, though, it makes sense that he was still clinging to life; Guardians are notoriously hard to kill, and it stands to reason that the Psions wouldn’t just leave a corpse there. If Quaros was hooked up to all of that machinery, it must’ve been to study him while he was still alive. His agony, however, is truly cringe-inducing, and I don’t blame him one bit for sacrificing himself along with the other poor captives to take out the Psions.

The issue’s storytelling was enhanced by Brad Walker and Rodney Buchemi’s creepy art. I don’t think I’m familiar with Buchemi’s work prior to this, but both artists’ styles fused to create a truly grim scene within the Psions’ massive spacecraft. Their masterful use of light and shadow turned the comic into a science fiction horror movie, evoking memories of classic films like Alien.

The Mother Box tease nonwithstanding, the story is over and done with. It wasn’t designed as a prelude, or an ongoing mystery, or an event, or anything like that. It was a shorter tale rarely found in modern comics, executed very well, and that’s why New Guardians continues to be the best Lantern book month after month.

Green Lantern Corps (Vol. 3) #34

August 15, 2014

Release Date: August 13, 2014
Cover Date: October 2014

Story: Van Jensen
Art: Bernard Chang
Cover: Trevor McCarthy
Variant Cover: Mike McKone

John Stewart threatens the Fatality imposter, demanding to know where the real Yrra is. He doesn’t get much for answers, but Von Daggle helps him out. John takes off alone, while Hal Jordan has Daggle deal with the villains who helped out during the war against the Durlans. John tracks down Fatality at an old prison facility; she’s killed the other beasts incarcerated there, but she also mercilessly attacks John on sight! She blames him for the destruction of her planet and people, but also reveales that she never loved him. The Star Sapphire ring did all that, and she was brainwashed by the Zamarons. Fatality lets John live just this once, declaring that he and the Star Sapphires are now her mortal enemies. John screams out in frustration, his constructs destroying the facility.

I’ve got mixed feelings about this issue. The pacing, dialogue, and art was great, but Fatality was retconned back to her former Green Lantern-hating self. Don’t get me wrong, I love the original Fatality concept, but the way in which the retcon played out was dumb. Blaming it all on the Star Sapphires, and using the violet power ring as a brainwashing tool? I just found that to be a cheesy copout. I wouldn’t put something like that past the Zamarons, sure, but it seems to serve no real purpose in the story other than to screw over John again. And here’s something else: how is she mad at John for the destruction of Xanshi, since Cosmic Odyssey never happened in the “New 52″? We need a little more background information on whatever Xanshi’s rebooted history is. (Nice to know that Fatality’s classic costume still exists, though.)

At least there’s some good stuff in Green Lantern Corps (Vol. 3) #34. The art was absolutely fantastic. Bernard Chang really pulled out all of the stops, with his signature monotone panels (props to colorist Marcelo Maiolo) and even a few “sketch” panels that really added to the emotional punch. Chang even made the crappy new designs for Evil Star look decent!

A solid issue in itself, but I’m personally displeased with the Fatality retcon. Your mileage may vary. Maybe we’ll find out that this is all a trick as well, as I don’t see Fatality going back to hunting Green Lanterns, but I’m not getting my hopes up. Even her plan to fight the Star Sapphires rings hollow. If the Zamarons were able to easily subdue her the first time, why would this time be any different?

Green Lantern (Vol. 5) #34

August 8, 2014

Release Date: August 6, 2014
Cover Date: October 2014

Story: Robert Venditti
Pencils: Billy Tan and Martin Coccolo
Inks: Rob Hunter
Cover: Billy Tan
Variant Cover: Craig Rousseau

Hal Jordan hunts down the escaped Agarushnawokliag, an empathic leech. The little bastard feeds on “emotions” like willpower, but Hal’s able to overcome Aga and bring him back to Mogo for incarceration. While he’s there, he’s surprised by the presence of Simon Baz, who has a surprise for him: Kilowog had him bring Hal’s family to Mogo for a visit, since Hal himself can’t leave. While Kilowog gives the kids a tour, Hal shares a beer with his brother Jim. At the edge of the universe, a boom tube opens, and Highfather steps out. Someone’s been meddling with the Source, and he’d like to find out who and take possession of the Life Equation.

This issue handily explains why there where no Green Lanterns around during Atrocitus’ assault on Earth, and Simon bringing along Hal’s family made perfect sense. In fact, the best part of this issue was the talk between Hal and Jim. Let’s be fair, Hal’s brief fight against yet another foe tied to the emotional spectrum was just fluff. The real meat of the story was the comparison between Hal’s life and that of his brother. I loved that each of them envied the other, and they hashed it out in a way that the reader could relate to. The characters were much more lifelike that way, instead of just the usual fight scenes and snappy remarks. The art carried the weight of these scenes expertly, and even though it was on a faraway world, you could easily imagine two real-world brothers having a similar conversation in a backyard.

Having said that, it just wouldn’t be a modern comic book, especially Green Lantern, without a few eye-rolling moments of stupidity. The most glaring error is that there’s nine colors in the emotional spectrum, not seven, and some of them aren’t goddamned emotions no matter how many times DC Comics claims otherwise. Also — and I guess this doesn’t count as an “error,” though it’s no less dumb — the emotional reservoir concept is further explained here. Not only does it somehow maintain the existence of the universe, but it’s directly stated that every time a being feels anything, it comes from that reservoir, not from the being themselves. Are you sad about something? No, you’re really not; you’re just channeling eldritch energy that predates the universe. This means that all lifeforms in the DC Universe, including humans, are vastly different than those from any other publisher in that they technically do not feel anything. This is utterly preposterous. Say what you will about the fanboy wars, but at least Marvel Comics characters can literally feel for themselves!

Finally, with the reveal a short while ago of the DC Multiverse map, we see that Apokolips and New Genesis are now their own separate universes (seemingly containing only their respective planets). Fair enough. But, the Source Wall is now located at the edge of the Multiverse itself, beyond the Bleed and all of the various Earth-#s and other universes. So…how did the various Lanterns get to the Source Wall during “Lights Out,” when it’s clearly shown that they just traveled through regular space? That’s a huge error that makes the entire story impossible, and worse, renders the whole emotional reservoir concept impossible. However, this isn’t the fault of the Lanternverse creative teams, but rather that of The Multiversity writer Grant Morrison and the DC editorial staff. I only mention it here because it’s directly relevant to the Lanternverse, and stories therein past, present, and future. I know I’m alone in this, but I’ve got a feeling that the whole thing, Multiversity and otherwise, is going to be a massive clusterfuck. I know DC doesn’t give a shit about continuity anymore, but this is ridiculous!

But I digress. Other than a moment or two of brain-seizing craptitude, Green Lantern (Vol. 5) #34 was good. Like I’ve always said, those character moments like Hal and Jim’s talk are what really make a comic book story shine. We need more of those, and less event bullshit.

I’d also like a pony.

Red Lanterns Annual #1

August 4, 2014

Release Date: July 30, 2014
Cover Date: September 2014

Story: Charles Soule
Art: Miguel Sepulveda
Cover: Miguel Sepulveda

Atrocitus and his crew set their sights on Earth. After destroying many precious landmarks, the Red Lanterns use the humans’ rage to recruit scores of them into the Corps. Guy Gardner’s group arrives too late, and the battle is joined. Bleez retrieves some surprising allies, and in orbit of Styge Prime, Zilius Zox prepares to destroy Atrocitus’ new base and blood lake. Rankorr comes to his senses and mortally wounds Zox, and it’s revealed he’s been controlled by a snakelike parasite. He manages to break free and kill it, but it’s too late for Zox. Rankorr takes off, and Zox crashes the Kalavar into the lake. Back on Earth, Supergirl joins the battle, and Bleez attempts to use her blood magic to control some of the new Red Lanterns, but Atrocitus’ new followers far outnumber them.

The Red Lanterns want to fuck with Baltimore? Atrocitus is lucky Omar didn’t plug him from the street. Anyway, most of this issue was a massive battle, but there were some pretty cool story twists. Bleez enlisting the Kormoraki was a great little throwback, and the issue even featured a cheesy “One Punch” reference. Please. Even with a red ring, Guy would still get his clock cleaned by Batman. It was good to see Bats in the issue, anyway; it’s a bit suspect that the Red Lanterns could show up and trash parts of the planet without any other superheroes intervening. Was the Justice League asleep?

Miguel Sepulveda’s art has never looked better. The Red Lanterns may be angry, but Sepulveda managed to convey a lot more emotion with his illustrations. The scenes of mass destruction and such all looked great, too. I love the new red ring design, with the dark, crackling insignia on the face. The same scheme has been applied to the Red Lantern uniforms, and it’s a marked improvement. Speaking of costumes, Atrocitus ditched his priest robes pretty quick. He’s back to his Darkseid-wannabe armor, but I guess that suits him better.

It remains to be seen how hundreds of humans will have their Red Lantern rings removed without killing them. Those things purge your blood, even in the “New 52.” Can’t live without that! Supergirl’s explanation of how she ditched her ring was vastly oversimplified (in the interest of time, of course), but it ends up being that simple for everyone else…that’s horribly lame. Guess we’ll find out next month.

Sinestro #4

August 1, 2014

Release Date: July 23, 2014
Cover Date: September 2014

Story: Cullen Bunn
Art: Rags Morales
Cover: Rags Morales

Sinestro and his Corps fight off the Pale Vicars, but they seem to be immune to the yellow rings. They manage to “purge” Romat-Ru, but when they try it on Sinestro, he’s haunted by visions of Hal Jordan surpassing him at various points in his history. This only makes Sinestro mad, and the purging fails. The Vicars try to execute him instead, but are attacked by Soranik Natu. When they recalibrate their defenses to stop the Green Lantern, Sinestro sees his opening, and swiftly defeats and kills them. He then investigates the Paling ship, digging into their plans. His Lanterns destroy the ship, killing the hundreds of servants on board, but he keeps this last fact from Natu. Sinestro asks where she sent the rescued Korugarians…and he’s shocked to discover that Hal has them.

Maybe the silly Geoff Johns line on the cover set the tone, but this issue would’ve been a lot better if not for the inconsistencies. The Paling were great villains…until we found out that they could only repel one color of emotion at a time. They’re practically worthless now. Not only that, that’s the exact same way Black Lanterns and other modern Green Lantern foes were defeated! Repetition stinks. It also irritated me that willpower is still being treated as an emotion, when it is clearly not. Finally, Sinestro being upset at the visions of Hal has nothing to do with fear. That’s anger. The visions also seemed counterproductive, in that they were apparently designed to make Sinestro despair, which is a form of fear in itself. But the Paling are trying to purge emotion! What gives?

At least Rags Morales’ fantastic artwork made the issue fun to look at. Kudos to Jason Wright, too; his colors have the entire book a sketched look without seeming rushed or rough. All of the fine details still pop out! That’s some fine work.

Sinestro started out good, but I worry that it had a stinker this early on in its run. Then again, five Lanternverse titles is too many, so maybe this one’s destined for the chopping block sooner rather than later.

Red Lanterns #33

July 25, 2014

Release Date: July 23, 2014
Cover Date: September 2014

Story: Charles Soule
Art: Alessandro Vitti
Cover: Miguel Sepulveda

Guy Gardner meets up with John Stewart in a dive bar to vent, and the two bond over their recent crummy experiences. John decries anger as an empty, useless emotion, but Guy knows John needs to cut loose, too, so he arranges a good old-fashioned bar brawl. Meanwhile, back on Ysmault, the Red Lanterns are trying to find a cure for Rankorr as well as locate Atrocitus. Unbeknownst to the rest of the Corps, Skallox has secretly tracked down the former leader, who has set up camp on his homeworld of Styge Prime. Atrocitus has built a church there, complete with a new blood lake, and Skallox begs him to return to the flock. Atrocitus accepts this and channels the power of his group of Red Lanterns, causing hundreds of red power rings to burst forth from the lake.

Atrocitus becoming more of a preacher and continuing to add followers was neither unexpected nor special, and while the priestly vestments suit him, the costume design itself is a bit boring. Still, the real meat of this issue was the the talk between Guy and John. Both characters were absolutely right concerning their respective problems, and it was cool that the longtime friends really needed each other to blow off steam and gain strength for what lies ahead. From the first panel, I knew a slugfest was coming, and the fight didn’t disappoint. Very little usage of power rings, too; just fisticuffs and bottle smashing. Great stuff!

Alessandro Vitti returns as the artist, and while the pages looked good, the linework seemed a bit too heavy at times. Still, the knuckleduster in the bar was solid, as was the environments on Ysmault and Styge Prime. Skallox appeared both badass and meek, as the situation warranted. Zox didn’t get a lot of face time (get it?), but his design seemed slightly altered, too. That happens a lot with that character. He goes from Red Lantern Pac-Man to Littleface on the artists’ whims, but at least he’s still recognizable and unique.

The big war between Guy and Atrocitus’ factions is still brewing, but I hope we can get to it sooner rather than later. The problem is that I don’t see the two leaders ever coming to terms, and unless one of them is killed, they’re at an impasse. The obvious solution is to bring Guy back into the Green Lantern Corps somehow, but then Red Lanterns loses what turned the book around in the first place. I know it’s only a matter of time, but here’s hoping the powers-that-be can keep the book interesting for a while longer.


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