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.

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.

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…


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