Supergirl (Vol. 6) #33

July 21, 2014

(Note: I’m skipping the Gen13 epilogue in this issue, as it’s not relevant to the rest of the plot.)

Release Date: July 16, 2014
Cover Date: September 2014

Story: Tony Bedard
Pencils: Jeff Johnson and Emanuela Lupacchino
Inks: Scott Hanna and Ray McCarthy
Cover: Jeff Johnson and Cam Smith

As Supergirl desperately fights Worldkiller-1 as she’s weakening due to Kryptonite poisoning, the pair land in an occupied area. The armor bonds to a human instead, but the host is too fragile, and quickly burns out. Kara’s horrified, and the armor pledges to continue using up humans if she will not submit. The Kryptonite in the air’s making her feel worse and worse, and then she realizes that’s her ace in the hole. She allows Worldkiller-1 to bond with her, then uses her Red Lantern ring to drag them both to the sun. She’s recharged there, but it’s not enough…so she yanks off the red ring. The armor tosses her dying body into the star and crushes the ring, deciding to find Superman instead, but the solar power revitalizes Supergirl and allows her to destroy the armor. No longer a Red Lantern, Kara vows to help the remaining Diasporans and finally make a life for herself on Earth.

“Red Daughter of Krypton” concludes in spectacular fashion. I don’t think anyone realized just how good this story would be! Despite the constant crossing over with Red Lanterns (and Action Comics [Vol. 2], albeit briefly), the story never felt like an “event.” Looking back on the whole thing, it just felt like a realistic character arc, and that’s the mark of a good story indeed.

Using the sun to save Kara’s life was great; the ring did warn of instant death, but she’s a Kryptonian. They’re hardier beings by default, and beyond that, you don’t die immediately if your heart stops. Besides, it was implied that the sun didn’t just restore her to life, it also supercharged her somehow. I assume that’ll be explored a bit in future Supergirl issues. As for her leaving the Red Lantern Corps, Guy Gardner and crew are aware of the problem, but hopefully their investigation thereof will be brief. (I imagine Guy will be shocked that she successfully removed a red ring without the help of a Blue Lantern!)

I’ve gone on and on about Emanuela Lupacchino’s amazing artwork., and having Jeff Johnson assist was a good choice. His style is recognizable but not too much of a departure from Lupacchino’s work, so the pages flowed from one to another at a rapid clip. The breakneck pace of the story was great to read, bringing everything to a satisfying conclusion for both the issue and the entire “Red Daughter” saga.

I’ll miss Red Lantern Kara, but I do appreciate that her time with a red ring wasn’t driven into the ground. Kudos to the Supergirl and Red Lanterns creative teams for doing such a great job on this story!

Green Lantern: New Guardians #33

July 18, 2014

Release Date: July 16, 2014
Cover Date: September 2014

Story: Justin Jordan
Pencils: Brad Walker and Diogenes Neves
Inks: Andrew Hennessy and Marc Deering
Cover: Jeremy Roberts

Kyle Rayner saves a Psion abductee, and rejoins Carol Ferris onboard the massive ship. She’s overjoyed to see him again, sealing the deal with a kiss, but they’ve got other things to worry about. As they explore the ship, seeing countless horrific experiments, the Templar Guardians are being tortured by the Psions. They reveal themselves as a Guardian experiment from long in the past, and they are merely trying to improve themselves to make themselves worthy of their creators. Kyle and Carol are mortified when they find Quaros’ dissected remains, and they realized that the Psions were allowing them to see all of this. Kyle demands that this little psychological test come to and end, and the Psions appear to deal with the interlopers.

Carol smooching Kyle undoubtedly made Hal Jordan fanboys scream out in rage, but I really don’t give a shit. First of all, get over it. Second, we all know it won’t last. This is likely just setup for a future pointless conflict between Hal and Kyle, where they’ll fight it out, then join forces against some larger threat, blah blah blah, then Carol goes back to Hal. Typical comics.

Moving on to subjects that actually matter, we discover that the Psions are the result of past Guardian experimentation, just as they were pre-Flashpoint. However, since Geoff Johns had retconned the Guardians to be pure evil throughout their history, their Psion project was more likely conducted out of malevolence than scientific curiosity. Still, the basic origin is the same, and it works perfectly with this story, as we see the Psions explaining their desires to the captive Templar Guardians.

At its core, though, this is a solid science fiction horror story. Again, New Guardians excels at telling shorter tales that don’t require a ton of Lanternverse knowledge; like the best stories, it would work well without all of the Lantern trappings. The tweaks within to make it fit with Kyle and friends makes it all the better.

The story was bolstered by solid artwork courtesy of New Guardians stalwarts Brad Walker and Diogenes Neves. Some of the Psions’ experiments look beyond disgusting and barely make sense, and that added to the sheer horror of the book. The icing on the cake was the stark image of the dead Quaros, especially with his extracted brain mounted right over the hole in his head. Eesh. Rounding out the issue was plenty of expressive character art, showcaing our Lanterns’ tiny presence among the ship and its monstrous inhabitants, Carol’s feelings towards Kyle, and the latter’s fury over what happened to Quaros and the others.

“True” Green Lantern fans regularly give New Guardians short shrift, but that’s a shame, as it’s consitently been the best of the bunch since last summer. If big events and the same old stories are your thing, then by all means, skip New Guardians and stick with the “safer” Lantern books, but New Guardians deserves a second look by science fiction fans of all stripes.

Green Lantern Corps (Vol. 3) #33

July 11, 2014

Release Date: July 9, 2014
Cover Date: September 2014

Story: Van Jensen
Art: Bernard Chang
Cover: Francis Portela
Batman 75th Variant: Sean Chen

John Stewart and Fatality relax on the shores of Zezzen, but it doesn’t last; it’s not the real Fatality at all, but a Durlan named Verrat Din. It consumes a Zezzite, gaining its power and shifting its form to that of a Daxamite. John barely has time to send a warning message to Hal Jordan before Verrat kicks his ass and heads for Mogo. The Corps barely manage to hold Verrat off, as the Durlan kills a few members and heads for the sciencells. Von Daggle’s there, and Mogo has released spores have destroyed the captives’ ability to shapeshift. Verrat is enraged, but Mogo plays its trump card: it moves further away from Zezzen’s yellow sun, draining the Durlan’s power. The Corps capture the last renegade, and while John is angry that he let the fake Fatality trick him, he vows to find the real one. Meanwhile, the mysterious Shadow Empire plans to take down the Green Lantern Corps.

First and foremost: that last page sucked. Why? Because it sets up yet another event, and it’s yet another war against a shadowy force (no pun intended). While “Uprising” wasn’t bad, it was just the latest in an unending series of increasingly similar battles, and that crappy trend shows no signs of abating. Corps, and Green Lantern as a whole, can do better.

But enough of that. The “Uprising” finale was still pretty good. Bernard Chang’s stylistic renderings of Verrat Din were graat, making the Durlan seems larger than life and a true threat without going overboard. My one head-scratching moment with the art: why are the sciencells suddenely out in the open? That makes no sense at all. In the past, they’ve always been buried rather deep, both on Oa and Mogo. In fact, when the Durlans were imprisoned in Green Lantern (Vol. 5) #33, they were underground! Oops.

At first, I thought Daggle and Mogo had offed the Durlans, but we later see they’re just reduced to quivering piles of jelly, so to speak. That’s practically a fate worse than death for the likes of them, but it’s better story-wise that turning Mogo into a mass murderer. That planet’s got enough blood on its proverbial hands without making things worse.

The brutal deaths of some Lanterns in this issue was unexpected, but I guess it makes sense given the powerful enemy they faced. I bet Stel will be back, though. Robots can be rebuilt. And Oliversity will probably be resurrected through some arcane comic book means, anyway. Nobody stays dead.

I’m hoping that the search for Fatality will take a little while and give us a cool story. I don’t want to see that Shadow Empire shit for quite some time, but I doubt we’ll be that lucky. Enough with the “Corps War” stuff already.

Team Kyle

July 7, 2014

Here’s something that’s long been in the works. Before I digress into the particulars, I’ll come right out and say it: Hal Jordan is no longer my favorite Green Lantern.

Kyle Rayner is.

aaaand there goes most of my readership. For those of you that are still sticking around, let’s continue.

I’ve been a big Kyle fan since day one, but this change in allegiance, as it were, has its genesis in the atrocious Green Lantern: Rebirth. Kyle got kicked around a bit in that book, but it wasn’t too bad. However, during and after “The Sinestro Corps War,” writer Geoff Johns and editor Dan DiDio seemed to go out of their way to shit on the character, constantly denigrating him, altering and even retconning away his achievements. Cripes, DiDio even dumped on Kyle to elevate Hal in a DC Nation editorial column! I hated that, and along with plenty of other awful retcons to the Lanternverse in general, it led me to quit reading Green Lantern comics for years.

Fortunately, by the time I came back into the fold during Blackest Night, Kyle had regained some semblance of respect, presumably because the powers-that-be finally realized that he has his fans, and they spend money on comics, too. Kyle’s new place in the DC Universe couldn’t hold a candle to his classic tenure as Hal’s successor, but it was better than the raw deal he got during “SCW,” and recent stories — including his own book, Green Lantern: New Guardians — have finally made his adventures exciting to read again.

I think somewhere in the back of my mind, Kyle’s been my favorite since about 1997 or so, and it just never kicked in. (Almost twenty years late is better than never, right?) I chalk it up to that tendency we all have to stubbornly stick with the past; I did grow up on Hal stories, after all. I don’t hate those classic tales now, I just enjoy Kyle’s adventures a lot more. It probably helped that in the late 1990s, I was studying towards my degree in art and graphic design, so I had a lot more in common with Kyle than Hal. Granted, I had no power ring or hot green girlfriend, but I could at least relate to the struggles of an artist and trying to meet deadlines. Kyle’s “everyman” qualities always made Green Lantern fun to read, whether he was fighting villains new and old, out saving the universe with the Justice League, or just talking with friends over coffee at Radu’s.

I’ve often maintained that Kyle’s starring role in Green Lantern (Vol. 3) #50-181, spanning late 1993 through 2004 leading right up to Rebirth, was the best the franchise has ever had. (It’s probably no coincidence that this span of time is my favorite comics era, period.) Sure, it had its ups and downs like any other book, but I’m talking about the era as a whole. In particular, Ron Marz’ run from #48-125 was absolutely stellar from start to finish. I’m even picking up the trade paperback collections from that era simply because they’re easier to pluck off the shelf and read than digging out the individual issues. (Since they all out of print, though, a few seem to command a ridiculous price on the secondary market; tracking those down could be a pain in the ass.)

Overall, that ten-year block of Kyle solo stories remains my favorite. I’ve read it many times, finding new things to enjoy with each successive reading. Aside from the usual space adventures, I find the Kyle-on-Earth stories as well as his tenure in the Justice League to be fascinating reading even after all of this time. Like I said, Kyle was the everyman Green Lantern back then rather than just another guy with a mood-powered ring, and he proved himself to be up to the task of being a hero in his own right as well as living up to the Corps’ legacy.

As you’ve previously read, I’ve been strongly considering ditching Rebirth and all of the revamped Lanternverse comics that followed it from my collection. “But wait!” you say, “Isn’t New Guardians included in there, too?!” Why, yes, it is. New Guardians started out great, got dragged through the mud during the atrocious “Wrath of the First Lantern” story, then shockingly became the best of the Lanternverse books shortly thereafter when it started featuring one- or two-issue science fiction stories rather than crossovers and events. I’ll get those new tales in trade paperback form (minus the awful “Wrath of the First Lantern” volume) eventually; DC Comics takes a long time to release trade paperbacks nowadays, as they want to push their hardcover collections for as long as possible. Personally, I refuse to pay extra for cardboard.

Anyway, modern Kyle is finally back to being a top-tier character, which is great. He’s a White Lantern rather than a green one at the moment, but we all know that can change. As with Hal’s return, it’s only a matter of time before Kyle becomes a Green Lantern once again. I look forward to that day, and until then, I’ve got loads of classic stories to enjoy time and time again.

Green Lantern (Vol. 5) #33

July 4, 2014

Release Date: July 2, 2014
Cover Date: September 2014

Story: Robert Venditti
Pencils: Billy Tan
Inks: Rob Hunter, Batt, and Jaime Mendoza
Cover: Billy Tan
Batman 75th Variant Cover: Ethan Van Sciver

Mogo speeds towards Zezzen, where the Durlans have just landed. Before the alien villains can tap into the energy sea, Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps touch down and erect a construct wall. While they physically hold the Durlans back, Mogo bombs the shit out of them from orbit using asteroids. Finally, Nol-Anj and the clanns surprise the Durlans, flanking them and bringing the battle to a swift close. By the time John Stewart, Fatality, and their crew shows up, the Durlans have been arrested. Hal oversees their incarceration in the sciencells, and one of the Ancients grumbles that he’ll still be around long after the Corps has faded. Hal laughs it off, but then gets an emergency message from John. Something else horrible is happening on Zezzen, but he’s cut off before he can offer any more details!

“Uprising” practically ends with this issue, except for that last-minute reprieve. This fifth part of the story was really great. We got to see Hal at his finest, using solid tactical planning to fight the Durlans. Using Mogo as a damned orbital artillery station? Awesome! A little physics goes a long way. Watching Hal and his group determinedly holding back the immensely strong Durlans to both save the Zezzites and set them up for a pincer attack from the clanns was excellent. Billy Tan’s art made the massive battle scene flow nicely, and it was a fast-paced, exciting read. I was most pleased.

Believe it or not, the scenes I liked most in this issue were Hal talking to the young Zezzites. It was cool to see that the children didn’t understand what kind of lifeform Hal could even be, since they’re used to only seeing their own kind of energy beings. That’s some classic science fiction right there, and as I’ve said many times in the past, I love when concepts like that are applied to Green Lantern. That’s how you make it stand apart and above all of the other superhero riffraff!

I liked that those last few panels set up some great tension for the true finale in Green Lantern Corps (Vol. 3) #33 next week, but I really hope it doesn’t lead into another event. We shall soon find out…

Larfleeze #12

July 2, 2014

Release Date: June 25, 2014
Cover Date: August 2014

Story: Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis
Art: Scott Kolins
Cover: Tyler Kirkham

Larfleeze fights the House of Tuath-Dan to a standstill, and they agree to be exiled rather than face his wrath. He also saves the world of Sorrow, and discovers that he and G’nort are distantly related cousins. As they set off, Larfleeze forgets about Stargrave.

Yeah, that’s the gist of what happened, peppered with a lot of unnecessary explosions and yelling. But, at long last, our nightmare has come to an end. Even the “shocking” stuff like Larfleeze and G’nort being related can be swept under the rug; despite this being a “New 52″ in-universe book, so much clashes with continuity (like the GL rings acting with a wiseass personality, or being preprogrammed for specific users on Oa, etc) that it just doesn’t line up with anything else. As such, just forget it ever happened.

Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis have written fine works in their day, but this was the absolute low point. Scott Kolins’ artwork was completely wasted on this tripe. Let’s hope he moves on to bigger and better things once again.

Larfleeze was one of the few things I really liked about Geoff Johns’ heavy retconning of the Green Lantern mythos. But after all of this…the Orange Lantern needs to go away for at least a few years.

Sinestro #3

July 1, 2014

Release Date: June 25, 2014
Cover Date: August 2014

Story: Cullen Bunn
Art: Dale Eaglesham and Rags Morales
Cover: Dale Eaglesham

Some Yellow Lantern deserters are hiding in a backwater bar, but the Pale Vicars find them. Meanwhile, Sinestro and his group tend to the rescued Korugarians, but the freed aliens still hate Sinestro for the hell he put them through back when he was the tyrannical overlord of their world. Sinestro gives Soranik Natu a Green Lantern power battery so that she may recharge her ring, and offers her the choice to leave. She refuses, as she doesn’t want the rescued Korugarians left under Sinestro’s watch. She also tags along when they group rescues more of them from a slave auction. A massive battle ensues, though it’s one-sided; the Yellow Lanterns easily slaughter the slave owners and guards. Soranik protects the Korugarians, but then the Pale Vicars arrive to purify the Lanterns.

I liked the Korugarians’ lingering distrust of Sinestro despite the loss of their homeworld and all of the other crap they’d been through. Sinestro’s arrogance as a result is just icing on the cake. As for Soranik sticking around, I wasn’t keen on the idea at first, but now I like it more. If she’s there just to keep on eye on him and does not eventually join the Yellow Lanterns, I’m all for it.

Speaking of which, it’s interesting that the bearers of the fear rings are more than once specifically referred to as Yellow Lanterns. A few former members still call themselves “Sinestro Corps,” as do the Pale Vicars at one point, but it seems now that Sinestro’s former group is named by color, not by leader. Even with Sinestro in charge again, given the Corps’ new mission, this might make more sense.

Last but not least, I really hope the Pale Vicars don’t end up as another group that just brainwashes people into their ranks as the last page implied. We’ve had enough of that in comics, and with Lanternverse comics in particular. That’s exactly how the Red Lanterns and Indigo Tribe work, remember? Just because the Paling folks don’t wear power rings, that’s not too big of a difference.

Rags Morales assisting Dale Eaglesham with the artwork was a fine choice; not that Eaglesham needed any help, but their two styles are very similar, which helps the book’s flow. Sinestro is easily the best-looking Lantern book right now, and I hope that continues!


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