Green Lantern: New Guardians #30

April 18, 2014

Release Date: April 16, 2014
Cover Date: June 2014

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

The Godkillers are doing their damnedest to destroy X’Hal, and their combined might is even enough to hold off White Lantern Kyle Rayner and the Templar Guardians. It’s their strange weapons that are the trick; they even threaten to kill all of X’Hal’s followers across the cosmos if she does not destroy herself. Of course, this sends the goddess into a violent rage. Carol Ferris knows they can’t hold out forever, and when Kala is killed, Kyle succumbs to his own anger. Carol’s able to talk him down, and she has a new plan: she has Kyle use the violet and indigo light to teleport away every Godkiller across the universe, minus their armor and weapons. The extreme effort nearly kills Kyle in the process. The Guardians are very concerned, as Kyle and his ring simply should not be capable of such feats. Kyle is becoming something else entirely, and it’s time he discovered just what that was. Meanwhile, the Godkillers have ended up on the former Blue Lantern world of Elpis, and they begin to use the Central Power Battery’s shards to make new weapons.

A solid issue, and a fine conclusion to the Godkiller storyarc. Lots of neat things to be found here, like X’Hal completly blowing off the Godkillers’ threat to kill all of her followers, Kyle’s superpowers (more on that later), and the Templar Guardians once showing how different they are from their evil (ugh) predecessors by actively intervening in galactic affairs. In fact, it’s notable that they proudly refer to themsvels as the Guardians of the Universe now.

Kyle building himself a Red Lantern armor construct was great, though it was accompanied by a dialogue error, in which Carol claimed that it was the result of “the ring feeding off X’Hal’s rage.” That makes no sense. Power rings don’t “feed” off of anything, and Kyle accesses the emotional spectrum directly. He technically doesn’t even need a ring, which becomes more apparent later in the story. I don’t think this was a retcon, just a mistake. Simple as that.

Speaking of Kyle’s growing abilities, even the new Guardians are confused as to what they are and what his ring can do. They mentioning that he’s becoming something else, possibly along the lines of a god; this has been hinted at throughout Kyle’s tenure as a White Lantern, especially since his return from beyond the Source Wall; it’s also been mentioned that Kyle saw some new threats beyond the Wall, and that the universe isn’t ready for them yet. I guess we’ll find out more details in the upcoming Green Lantern: New Guardians Annual #2, which I didn’t even know existed until now. Good news, as long as it’s better than the crappy last one. And I really hope it’s not more entity-possession bullshit. I’ve been happy with the new direction of Green Lantern: New Guardians. and I don’t want it to end any time soon!

Let’s finish up with some talk about this issue’s great artwork. Brad Walker was joined by Diogenes Neves, and the two artists’ work meshed seamlessly. Every panel looked sharp, and even though the fight scenes were loaded with explosions, energy discharges, and other “screen-filling” effects, it was never boring. I dug the two-page spread showing Kyle’s mass teleport, too; the little details were what mattered, like the views of the different worlds and the two symbols within Kyle’s eyes. Good stuff.

Well, the annual’s coming in two weeks…let’s see what the next stage of Kyle’s journey will be.

Green Lantern Corps (Vol. 3) #30

April 11, 2014

Release Date: April 9, 2014
Cover Date: June 2014

Story: Van Jensen
Pencils: Scott Kolins and Chris Batista
Inks: Scott Kolins, LeBeau Underwood, and Marc Deering
Cover: Bernard Chang
Mad Variant Cover: Ward Sutton

Von Daggle gives John Stewart and the Corps a history lesson on Durlans, while Mogo uses his own powers to flush out the spies. They’re all captured save for one, but Daggle advises that interrogation is useless; the Durlans will die before they give up any information. He also tells John exactly why the Durlans hate the Corps so much; hundreds of years ago, the Corps tried to contain them on Durla itself, leading to a massive war which destroyed the planet’s surface and killed off nearly the entire population, leaving the Ancients to experiment and clone themselves a new race of Durlans and begin their plans of revenge. Meanwhile, back on present-day Durla, the Ancients suit up to make war upon the Corps.

Green Lantern Corps (Vol. 3) #30 introduces some massive retcons to the Durlan race, in that their default form is the tentacle-faced one we’ve seen since this story arc began. The usual humanoids with yellow-orange skin and antennae that we were used to over the past few decades of stories is merely the form of the first race they wiped out and replaced. At the same time, it establishes the Durlan majority as a malevolent, conquering race. I’m not sure how I feel about this, as I generally do not like big changes to many past events like that…but of course, maybe it’s not a retcon. Y’know, “New 52″ and all that. At least now the Durlans’ anger towards the Corps makes sense. However, this issue states that the Green Lantern Corps is only a few centuries old, rather than existing for millions (or billions) of years. I’m assuming that was just an error, and not a retcon.

It’s always great to see Chris Batista illustrating Green Lantern again. While he handled the present day stuff, Larfleeze artist Scott Kolins drew the flashback sequences, and the two artists’ very different styles made the issue fun to read. Batista’s bold linework on Mogo looked great, whether it was Durlans skulking through the forest or John and his heroic Lantern force moving in to arrest them. Kolins’ fluid action style really suited the scenes of the Durlans’ brutal past. More importantly, the art from both illustrators followed and supported the story to a tee.

The “Uprising” crossover officially starts next month with Green Lantern (Vol. 5) #31, and will drag through that book and Corps. Let’s hope it gets properly wrapped up at the end; like I’ve said many times before, the story’s been decent, but it’s gone on for far too long. I’m getting bored.

Green Lantern (Vol. 5) #30

April 4, 2014

Release Date: April 2, 2014
Cover Date: June 2014

Story: Robert Venditti
Art: Martin Coccolo
Cover: Billy Tan
Mad Variant: Richard Williams

With a heavy heart, Hal Jordan holds a funeral for fallen Green Lanterns on Mogo. In particular, he singles out the heroic sacrifice of Kyle Rayner, telling the assembled Corps that they all have to strive harder to live up to his example. Afterwards, Hal, Salaak, Kilowog, and Two-Six head to a spaceport to deal with a Khund warship. Since it’s neutral ground, Hal and the Khund captain have to settle things like men. After sharing a drink in the port’s bar, the two find that they actually respect each other; it’s a shame they’re enemies. Once the fight begins, Hal is clearly outmatched by the larger and stronger warrior, and of course his power ring is off limits. Hal uses his wits instead, using the Khund captain’s size against him, eventually impaling his foe on his own blade. The other Khund warriors rob the corpse, much to Hal’s horror. They chastise him for imposing his own morality and laws up a culture he doesn’t understand. Back on Mogo, Mukmuk locates the Durlan spy he’s been tracking, and murders him in cold blood. When other Corpsmen arrive on the scene, however, Mukmuk lies and tells him the Durlan attacked first.

First and foremost: the Kyle funeral scene. Aside from the excellent new design for the Green Lantern Corps crypt (much better than floating contructs; though the tombstones could use some emblems or other reliefs), it was a fine sequence that encapsulates everything good about the Corps, shows Hal admitting his own faults and showing just how solid a leader he really is, mistakes and all, and of course reiterating the fact that Kyle was one of the best, if not the best, Green Lanterns in history. Sure, that last bit probably drove some Hal fanboys nuts to hear Kyle spoken of in such lofty terms, but fuck ‘em: it’s been more than twenty years. Get over it. Anyway, it’s going to be interesting when Kyle makes his eventual return to the Corps, scaring the shit out of everyone.

I really loved Martin Coccolo’s art in this issue, as it had a “sketched” look, where the colors seemed to be laid over the pencils without any harsh inks. The new crypt looking stunningly serene and beautiful, and it was well contrasted with the seedy spaceport bar and the brutal fight between Hal and the Khund. Coccolo’s renderings of the alien Lanterns looked great, too, especially Kilowog; he drew him in a very Joe Staton-esque style, and I’m a big fan of that.

Back to the story. The fight between Hal and Khund was very clich√© when it comes to science fiction and fantasy — I half expected Hal to tear his shirt and build a rudimentary cannon — but it still worked out great. The same goes for the bar scene prior to the slugfest, which was arguably more important. Mutual respect amongst ones enemies? That’s someone we’ve seen before, too (Robert Venditti is clearly a fan of the original Star Trek), but it’s a development we need to see more often. It makes the tale much more interesting than just the usual good guys and bad guys.

I also liked the Green Lanterns being rightfully shut down by the Khunds’ defense of their own culture. The Corps are self-imposed agents of order, but honestly, who are they to judge someone else’s traditions and customs? Again, these shades of gray make things more rich and exciting to read, rather than simple, perfect heroes and evil, evil villains.

I’ve said that I’m sick of the Durlan plot running through Green Lantern, and with the “Uprising” event/crossover/whatever starting soon, we still won’t be done with it for a few more months at least. Fortunately, Green Lantern (Vol. 5) #30 was a nice diversion, as it managed to tell its own stories without being mired in the ongoing arc.

Larfleeze #9

March 31, 2014

Release Date: March 26, 2014
Cover Date: May 2014

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

During the family council meeting of the House of Tuath-Dan, Ardora has brought forth Larfleeze for the others to punish. Of course, it horribly backfires, and Larfleeze beats their asses, destroys their citadel, and even kidnaps and kills Xum, their leader. The rest sift through the wreckage, and the Wanderer sadly informs Stargrave that since Larfleeze defeated her in combat, she’s honor-bound to marry him. Meanwhile, back on the planet of Sorrow, a Green Lantern has finally responded to the natives’ beacon…but it’s G’Nort.

This damned thing was almost painful to read. Larfleeze beating the council was a foregone conclusion. His flagrant stupidity at trying to extract Xum’s power by drilling into his head was eye-rolling at best. Every time Stargrave opens his mouth now, you just want him dead. And the random marriage subplot? Where the hell did that come from? Stupid, and it’s obvious that it won’t pan out.

This is all very bad, and just when you thought Larfleeze couldn’t get any worse…the powers-that-be throw in G’nort, one of the worst Green Lanterns ever created. Even his crappy gritty reboot in the pages of Guy Gardner: Collateral Damage was laughably terrible, and that’s since been retconned away in the “New 52.” His presence drags down everything, and Larfleeze was awful enough without his scenery chewing.

All of which brings me to a final, very important point. As a testament to the shittiness of this book, the credits page reads that:

“Nine issues in, and Keith Giffen, J. M. DeMatteis & Scott Kolins still haven’t been fired! But keep your hopes up, folks; we’re working on it!”

The creators sound incredibly arrogant, and thus, it was their undoing. Perfect timing, assholes: before this issue even hit the stands, it was announced that Larfleeze has been canceled due to poor sales, and will be ending with issue #12. Good riddance. The final three issues can’t come and go fast enough.

I think the only reason the series is even going twelve issues is because of the writers’ legendary status within comicdom. Giffen and DeMatteis have written some excellent stuff over the decades (though I personally don’t like as much of Giffen’s work as most fanboys), but much of their recent output has just been terrible. If anyone else was writing Larfleeze, it would’ve been dumped by issue #6.

Red Lanterns #29

March 28, 2014

Release Date: March 26, 2014
Cover Date: May 2014

Story: Charles Soule
Art: Alessandro Vitti
Cover: Stephen Jorge Segovia

Guy Gardner’s not keen on Supergirl’s new status as a Red Lantern, though Skallox and Zilius Zox love their new team member. The group heads to Earth, where Guy sends Supergirl on a fake mission while he secretly meets with Superman to discuss the problem. Supergirl of course sees right through that nonsense, and confronts the both of them. Supergirl just wants people to let her make her own decisions, but when she finds out that Red Lantern rings are permanent, she’s not pleased. After some fisticuffs, she still wants Superman and Guy to leave her be, and Superman’s inclined to agree. He’s heard nothing but bad things about Red Lanterns from Hal Jordan, but he’s going to give Guy the benefit of the doubt. However, as this is a family matter…Superman makes it clear that Guy better not screw this up. The Red Lanterns return to Ysmault, where they find a crater containing a battered and broken Bleez, who croaks out a single word: “Atrocitus.”

Another solid issue that follows up on the events of the Green Lantern (Vol. 5) #28 / Red Lanterns #28 double issue. (And by extension, Supergirl [Vol. 6] #28-29, but I won’t be reviewing them here.) There was only a bit of superhero action in this issue, and none of it was the usual hero-versus-villain crap. Supergirl got to blow up some heavy weaponry, as well as decking her cousin with a cargo ship. What’s important is that those fit the moment, rather than being action sequences just shoehorned in.

I found myself really liking the whole “Red Daughter of Krypton” story. Supergirl becoming a Red Lantern was obviously a marketing gimmick in the real world, but in the confines of the DC Universe, it actually works. Her pain over the loss of Krypton, being treated as a child by her cousin and other heroes, her struggle to fit in amongst humans…all of it developed into a deep rage that made her a natural target for a Red Lantern ring. Good stuff.

More great artwork from Alessandro Vitti! While his illustrations throughout the issue were good, I loved this panel in particular:

(Click for fullsize image)

Not just because of Superman’s speech, but because of the simple and effective graphic design. Primarily black and red, with just a hint of white and yellow. (The gradient background is incidental.) Those simple, bold colors speak more than superdetailed artwork, and it fits right into the scene.

The best thing about Red Lanterns #29 is that it wrapped up the Supergirl arc. Sure, she’s still in the Corps, and they can explore that further…but the circumstances of her introduction, and whether she has a place among them has been settled. As you know, I’m a big fan of stories actually ending. The final scene featuring Bleez’s return connects things back to the Atrocitus subplot that’s been brewing for a while; it would’ve been nice to see this issue as a standalone wrapup, but I guess that’s asking for too much.


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