The global tags headache

August 30, 2010

I’ve got some important information for you concerning WordPress’ global tag system. At the bottom of each of my posts, there is a link which ostensibly tells the reader which category the post was filed under, such as Reviews, Commentary, et cetera. However, these links do not point to the appropriate categories! It was brought to my attention that they actually point to global tags. That means that clicking “Reviews” at the bottom of a post does not display all of my posts in that category, but instead it brings up a list of other WordPress blogs that use the word “reviews” as a tag! This does not help the reader at all, nor does it help me, the author. With those misleading links, the only way to display a particular category is to use the link in the sidebar. This can be very confusing, but unfortunately, the only way to remove these global tags is to make the blog invisible to search engines by changing its security settings. This is a completely unacceptable solution, as search engines are how the blog receives a lot of its traffic! I’ve also been told that switching to the iNove theme allows one to hide global tags, but that also hides the category links as well, making it a moot point.

So, for the time being, we’ll just have to suffer with the global tags. I’ve added this information to the brand new Help page, in hopes that readers will be slightly less confused. I’ll continue to research this situation, and hopefully I can find a satisfactory solution at some point in the future.

Justice League of America (Vol. 2) #48

August 27, 2010

Release Date: August 25, 2010
Cover Date: October 2010

Story: James Robinson
Pencils: Mark Bagley
Inks: Rob Hunter and Norm Rapmund
Cover: Mark Bagley and Jesus Merino
1:10 White Lantern Variant Cover: Ryan Sook, Fernando Pasarin, and Joel Gomez

Fighting Alan Scott and the Jade/Obsidian hybrid is proving to be too much for the JLA and JSA. Back on Earth, Mr. Terrific has Supergirl and Power Girl rapidly assemble a device which will allow them to nullify the Starheart’s influence long enough to travel to the moon to join the battle. Doctor Fate tries to separate Jade and Obsidian with a spell, and they do split…but not because of the magic. Jade becomes a White Lantern, and has a vision telling her to “balance the darkness.” Immediately following this, she is told that her mission is accomplished, and her life returned. Obsidian wants to merge with her again, but Kyle Rayner takes him far away from the fight. Batman theorizes that the Starheart is actually afraid of Jade, since it could never control her. She siphons off part of its power, enabling Alan Scott to finally regain control and return to normal. However, Jade and Obsidian must stay far away from one another for the foreseeable future, lest they merge into the hybrid again.

Overall, the conclusion to “The Dark Things” felt rushed. The Power Girl and Supergirl subplot seemed tacked on and pointless, as they didn’t contribute much to the final battle. Jade separated from her brother due to her nature as a White Lantern, which again had no relevance to the other superheroes present. I think we all knew she’d save the day and rescue her father, but her solution to drain the Starheart herself seemed like something she would’ve done in the first place. Jade has always been aware of the fact that the Starheart is where her powers come from.

Weirder still is that Jade’s mission was considered accomplished before she actually did anything. She was tasked with balancing the darkness, but the Entity is the one that split her off from her brother by activating her White Lantern powers. When she siphoned energy from the Starheart, that was still well after the Entity considered her mission complete. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Strangely enough, Eclipso did not appear, except in Jade’s vision. So what was his importance? Maybe Eclipso will show up further down the line, but if that’s the case…why bother showing him to Jade now, if her work was done?

Since the story left a lot to be desired, let’s talk about the artwork. The splash page art of Alan regaining his role as Green Lantern was phenomenal. This issue also completes the five-piece cover; I’m really hoping it will be reproduced as a poster or other high quality image, minus the logos and other cover text.

One last thing, and it’s rather curious: Alan Scott was referred to as “the most powerful human alive.” I’m honestly surprised that a line like that got past DC editorial. You’d think they’d want to apply that description to someone like Hal Jordan, as he’s the publisher’s golden boy du jour. But there it is, clear as day: no human is more powerful than Alan Scott, and that’s now DC Universe canon. That ought to fan the flames of a lot of nerd debates.

“The Dark Things” was a decent story, but it’s ending was a bit too quick as I said, and its connections to Brightest Day and the White Lanterns seemed to fall apart somewhere. Still, it was worth a read for Alan Scott fans, and that’s exactly which is exactly why I reviewed this story in the first place.

White Lantern variant covers

August 25, 2010

You may have noticed that many DC books lately have had a White Lantern variant cover. Beautifully illustrated by Ryan Sook, these covers each feature one of the twelve returnees as a White Lantern, but they also fit together in order to form a larger image. (Though it’s a waste of Sook’s talent to stick him only on cover duty; he needs a monthly book!)

(Click for fullsize image on the DC Comics Source Blog)

The variant covers are printed in a 1:10 ratio to the normal covers, and appear on the following books (linked titles lead to my reviews):

This combined image has the Green Lantern fandom in a frenzy. Aside from the White Lanterns, the image also features Nekron, the Entity, and the other embodiments of emotion, seemingly in the order in which they first manifested themselves. At the very beginning of this “timeline” is Nekron, followed by the hand seen by Krona in the classic Green Lantern: Ganthet’s Tale (and used as a symbol of the beginning of the universe ever since), and then the Entity as it invades the dark universe. The other seven entities follow it, again in proper order, with the mysterious figure (seen in recent issues of Green Lantern [Vol. 4]) at the end. Lastly, and this just may be an art error…none of the White Lanterns are wearing their power rings, except for Deadman.

What does it all mean? Obviously, Brightest Day‘s connection to the entities is critical. The mysterious figure has been capturing them, and he (or she?) coined the phrase “brightest day.” I’ve also heard comparisons to the Sistine Chapel, due to the characters’ layout. Regardless, I’m hoping for a poster or lithograph of the combined covers when all is said and done. It’s a truly stunning piece.

Brightest Day #8

August 23, 2010

Release Date: August 18, 2010
Cover Date: Late October 2010

Story: Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi
Pencils: Patrick Gleason, Ivan Reis, and Ardian Syaf
Inks: Vicente Cifuentes, Rebecca Buchman, Mark Irwin, and Ivan Reis
Cover: David Finch and Scott Williams
1:10 White Lantern Variant Cover: Ryan Sook, Fernando Pasarin, and Joel Gomez

Boston Brand tells his ring to locate Hal Jordan, as he figures the Green Lantern will be able to help him find a successor. Dove grabs on as Brand teleports away, leaving a confused Hawk alone by the White Lantern power battery. The Martian Manhunter learns from Miss Martian that the monster he’s tracking is a Green Martian, not a White one as he originally suspected. Hawkman is shown that Hawkworld is a halfway point between Earth and Thanagar, and he is also being revered as a healer due to his White Lantern vision. Meanwhile, Hawkgirl’s got problems of her own in Hath-Set’s captivity. She learns to her horror that the mysterious queen of Hawkworld is Shrike, her mother! Finally, the Martian Manhunter homes in on a telepathic anomaly that may be his quarry, and it brings him to Star City.

This issue doesn’t meet the high standards set by Brightest Day #7…but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. #7 was a really high point in the story, so there’s really nowhere else to go but down for a bit, and I’m okay with that. We can’t expect a mindblowing issue every two weeks; we’re back to the slow burn now, and as long as it doesn’t drag out until the end of the series, we should be just fine.

Did anyone else catch the Lost reference in this issue, when Hawkman and Tonrarr entered the foot of that massive statue in order to get answers? I guess Jacob wasn’t home. Anyway, the revelation that humans and hawk crossbreeds conquered Thanagar hundreds of millennia ago was pretty cool, and it helps to explain why there’s two vastly different types of Thanagarian species: the winged humanoids, and the reptilian natives.

I dig the “painted” look on David Finch’s cover, though Hawkgirl’s exotic dancer pose looks absolutely ridiculous. That and the pointless high heels make this look like any number of shitty early 1990s comics covers. Finch is better than that.

Brand may be hunting down Hal Jordan, but Hal’s certainly got his hands full lately. I’m guessing that Hal will just give Brand some sagelike advice, and that ultimately, Brand will have to find the new guardian of life on his own. (I still think it’ll be Don Hall.)

Justice Society of America (Vol. 3) #42

August 20, 2010

Release Date: August 18, 2010
Cover Date: October 2010

Story: James Robinson
Pencils: Mark Bagley
Inks: Norm Rapmund
Cover: Mark Bagley and Jesus Merino
1:10 White Lantern Variant Cover: Ryan Sook, Fernando Pasarin, and Joel Gomez

Jade’s none too pleased with Kyle Rayner’s orders to stop Alan Scott by any means necessary, even if it means killing him. Before Kyle can talk her down, Obsidian appeals to her as a brother, and the two end up merging into a much more powerful form that begins laying waste to the assembled heroes. Doctor Mid-Nite manages to rescue Starman, but the alien hero is dying from the loss of his chest gem. Flash, Wildcat, and Faust are bound before the gloating Alan Scott, but Faust correctly surmises that Alan is only a construct, and Doctor Fate is necessary to keep the heroes captive. Doctor Mid-Nite sneaks up behind Doctor Fate and removes his helmet, breaking the Starheart’s control over him. This frees the captives, and allows the Flash to retrieve Starman’s gem. On Earth, Power Girl and Supergirl were fighting what they thought was the real Alan, but it was just a construct as well. Mr. Terrific recalls them to base, while the newly freed Doctor Fate knocks out Jade/Obsidian. What appears to be the real Alan then shows up, eager to battle the heroes.

The good news is that much of this issue was spent in battle sequences, which gave Mark Bagley a chance once more to show off his skill in drawing multiple characters in dynamic situations. As for character interaction and development, the back-and-forth between Jade, Kyle, and Donna was pretty good, and Faust seeing through Alan’s facade was even better. Faust may be a snarky punk at times, but there’s still no denying that he can back up his claims with skill. James Robinson really knows how to write characters that sync with one another; just look at the scene where Starman’s gem is retrieved. Perfect teamwork from seasoned heroes!

We can safely assume that Jade and Obsidian will be separated in next week’s Justice League of America (Vol. 3) #48, which concludes “The Dark Things.” Jade’s White Lantern mission makes it clear that she needs to balance the darkness; her merger with Obsidian certainly qualifies. Once they separate, I’m guessing that Obsidian will save Alan and the other heroes in some way. An Eclipso appearance is likely, as well; after all, he was seen during Jade’s vision in Brightest Day #7, and I posited that Eclipso may be the one pulling the Starheart’s strings.

Green Lantern Corps (Vol. 2) #51

August 19, 2010

Release Date: August 18, 2010
Cover Date: October 2010

Story: Tony Bedard
Pencils: Ardian Syaf
Inks: Vicente Cifuentes
Cover: Ardian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes
1:10 White Lantern Variant Cover: Ryan Sook, Fernando Pasarin, and Joel Gomez

Cyborg Superman tells Ganthet to reverse the Alpha Lantern conversion process, having one of the Alphas commit suicide to force him along. Ganthet wasn’t around when the Alphas were originally built, so he’s having plenty of trouble. Below the surface of Grenda, Kyle Rayner, John Stewart, and Soranik Natu make contact with the native Grendans, and urge them to rise up against their slavemaster. Kyle calls in a friend for backup, knowing full well that using his ring will allow the Alphas to lock on to their position. With the last of their rings’ juice, the three Green Lanterns form a giant construct of Stel, and use it to whip up the Grendan masses. Boodikka shows up to stop the trio, but before she can defeat them, Hannu arrives and beats the living shit out of her. This breaks Boodikka free of Cyborg Superman’s control, and as she lays critically damaged, she recharges the Green Lanterns’ rings. Meanwhile, on Qward, the Weaponer who recovered the white energy net plans to use it to get revenge on Sinestro.

“Revolt of the Alpha Lanterns” reaches its penultimate chapter, with some more character development alongside the fighting. We find that Cyborg Superman became an Alpha Lantern so that the process could then be reversed, he’d be rendered mortal, and could finally die. That seems like a bit of twisted logic, if you ask me. How does he know that reversing the process won’t just turn him back into “regular” Cyborg Superman again?

The fight scene between Hannu and Boodikka was the real peak of this issue…if you could even call it a fight, considering how one-sided it was. Boodikka may as well have been trying to stop a tsunami with an umbrella. Even though Hannu was a fellow “Lost Lantern” like Boodikka, he still takes his Corps oath seriously enough to put a stop to her when she’s a threat. The fact that he cracked her internal power battery with a single punch to the back just shows how much of a goddamned tank Hannu really is.

Will Boodikka die? I’m thinking not, as she was considered dead once before (after Hal Jordan’s rampage in Green Lantern [Vol. 3] #49). Even though her battery was breached, I don’t think we’ll see the kind of thermonuclear explosion we saw when the same thing happened to Chaselon in Green Lantern Corps (Vol. 2) #42. Ganthet’s still around, so I’m predicting a quick fix that should get her back to Oa for more permanent repairs.

The Weaponer subplot is moving along slowly, but that’s likely going to be the next big story once “Revolt of the Alpha Lanterns” finishes up with the next issue. Obviously, the white energy net is connected to the events of Brightest Day, but the big question is…why is the net seemingly permanent? Power ring constructs usually fade after the creator is done with them. Otherwise, it takes constant concentration to maintain them, and that’s something Boston Brand is certainly lacking right now.

Whoever the mysterious figure is that’s been hunting for the entities in the pages of Green Lantern (Vol. 4), I think he may have been using Cyborg Superman and the Alphas as nothing more than a distraction. Since the figure has some connection to Ganthet, that may also be his weakness. If the figure keeps Ganthet occupied by sending his lackeys after him, then his plans can continue without interference.

Blackest Night Power Ring Spectrum PVC Ring Set

August 18, 2010

“Embody the entire emotional spectrum of Blackest Night with this special light-up ring set from DC Direct! Featuring designs that are authentic to the comic, each of these eight wearable, adjustable plastic rings (one each in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, plus black) instantly lights up with a long-lasting LED bulb when slipped on a finger. A light can be turned off manually to preserve the battery. (Batteries can also be changed by using a special key included with the set.) This set will also include the ninth, new, WHITE LANTERN POWER RING at no extra cost! Packaged in a deluxe window box, the rings make a beautiful display when they are not being worn.”

The Blackest Night Power Ring Spectrum PVC Ring Set (cripes, that’s a mouthful) was released last week at an MSRP of $59.99. As you can see, they come in a nice display box if you don’t feel like wearing them.

You know, I originally wasn’t going to buy these. After all, they’re just light-up versions of the promotional rings distributed during Blackest Night, and sixty bucks is a lot of money for some plastic trinkets. What changed my mind? A few things. One, I find power ring collectibles hard to resist. Secondly, light-up rings are surprisingly hard to find at such a low price. You’re looking at approximately $6.67 each, when custom lit rings often go for nearly eight times that much. In that case, the high price isn’t so high anymore, is it?

But enough justification. Let’s take a look at the rings themselves! Like the promotional rings before them, these rings feature a split back so that they’ll fit varying finger sizes. The face is now a separate piece, and the various Corps symbols are also cast in a translucent resin with the detail lines painted over it. The rings’ faces are also bit thicker than the promo versions, as well. This is to accommodate the CR 927 lithium battery and LED assembly.

Light-up Black Lantern ring on the left, original promotional ring on the right. RISE!

On the back of the face, inside the ring, is the light switch. When it’s turned on, the ring will light up when worn.

Here’s the key that you use to turn the light function on and off. It’s the same one that will be included with the miniature desktop lanterns announced at San Diego Comic-Con last month.

However, you’ll notice that it looks completely different than the key pictured on the back of the box.

Personally, I like the original key style a lot better! I can only wonder why the powers-that-be changed their minds.

Want to know what the rings’ innards look like? They’re easily removed, in case you need to change the battery. Twisting the ring’s face counterclockwise will allow to you remove it, and the light assembly just pops right out. (Note: The instructions say to twist the face clockwise, not counterclockwise. This is wrong. You risk damaging the ring if you twist it clockwise! I found this out the hard way.)

That tiny yellow piece is the LED, and it’s pretty bright by itself. Fear not, the plastic may look yellow, but all of the rings’ LEDs produce white light. The color effect is handled by the translucent resin face. The two metal tabs on the side of the assembly comprise the switch, and to be honest, it’s rather shitty. Switching the ring on lines up those the tabs, and wearing the ring squishes them together. This is not a very reliable circuit, and you might see some flickering if your finger isn’t large enough to depress the switch button entirely and hold it there. I’m likely going to modify these rings with a microswitch or something similar, so it’ll be more reliable.

The rings aren’t too bright when lit, but they still look nice. Its hard to accurately convey their brightness with a photo, but I’ll try anyway.

Actually, when lit, the rings looks almost exactly like they do in DC’s official photo for the set. How’s that for truth in advertising?

The only problem with these rings is the poor quality switch. While some users may never have a problem, the very design of the switch contacts is flawed. But, as I said, it shouldn’t be tough to modify, and I imagine I’m not the only fan who’s had that idea. This minor nit aside, the set still looks great, and is a pretty good deal for the price. At the end of the day, this ring set is a fine piece to add to your Green Lantern collection.


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