Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #10

May 30, 2011

Release Date: May 25, 2011
Cover Date: July 2011

Story: Peter Tomasi
Pencils: Fernando Pasarin
Inks: Cam Smith, Keith Champagne, Andy Owens, Sean Parsons, Jack Purcell, and Jay Leisten
Cover: Miguel Sepulveda
1:10 Variant Cover: Clayton Crain

The destruction of Mogo causes a psychic feedback wave that temporarily incapacitates Krona, the possessed Guardians, and the corrupted Green Lantern Corps, enabling Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner to break free. Meanwhile, Kyle Rayner and John Stewart argue amongst the ruins of Mogo about whether the planet’s destruction was warranted. They teleport back to Oa to help Hal and Guy, who have rescued Ganthet and retrieved the Book of the Black. The group mounts their assault on the Central Power Battery, with Hal and Guy also wielding the orange and violet rings, respectively. The Corps wakes up to attack them, and it’s up to Guy to finish the job. He manages to break Parallax out of the Battery, freeing the Corps from Krona’s control. The four Earth Lanterns ditch the extra colors and stick with the green, and the Corps braces for the final battle with Krona.

This issue was good, with the high points being Kyle rightfully chewing out John for his lack of compassion, and Guy channeling the red and violet rings to crack open the Central Power Battery. Aside from admitting what he loved and hated the most, Guy showed some selfishness by declaring that no one could ever take the Corps away from him. Maybe he should’ve worn the orange ring? (More on that later.)

Fernando Pasarin’s artwork is consistent and solid, and he’s proving to be quite adept at illustrating large groups. I spent a lot of time poring over his wide shots of the Corps, spotting familiar faces like Vath Sarn, Amanita, and Soranik Natu. On that note, you may have noticed that the last page has Chaselon among the Corps. This is an error, as not only was Chaselon turned into an Alpha Lantern in Green Lantern (Vol. 4) #26, he was also killed by Black Lanterns in Green Lantern Corps (Vol. 2) #42. Oops!

Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #10 did seem a bit rushed, however, especially towards the end. Some rather important plots were glossed over, ignored, or just plain didn’t make sense.

First of all, why is the Central Power Battery so damned hard to access all of a sudden? Plenty of past Green Lantern comics have featured characters simply walking or flying into the damned thing. There’s no evidence that Krona put any kind of shield or other protection around it, either, so why would our heroes try to drill through the shell instead of just going after Parallax through the Battery’s lens, where the entity is plainly visible?

I get that Guy was wielding the two “extremes” of the emotional spectrum, and his actions were reflective of this. However, Hal didn’t show any change whatsoever when wearing the orange ring, even though he specifically warned the other Earth Lanterns that none of them — himself included! — should try to use it because it would overwhelm them. Furthermore, Hal’s use of the orange ring was pointless; Guy ended up doing all of the work to remove Parallax.

Finally, I think the rescue of the Corps just happened too damned fast. It literally happened within a page or two. I don’t think was a last minute editorial decision to wrap the storyline up, as the “War of the Green Lanterns” releases have been very carefully planned to dovetail with many other event storylines going on across the DC Universe, but it still feels off.

“War of the Green Lanterns” is set to “conclude” in Green Lantern (Vol. 4) #67 at the end of June. Why the quotes? Because the story won’t truly end there. There’s the aftermath in subsequent issues of Green Lantern Corps (Vol. 2) and Emerald Warriors, as well as the eponymous War of the Green Lanterns: Aftermath miniseries. (And, of course, it will lead directly into the next Green Lantern event, whatever the hell that is.) I’ve got a feeling that very few of the important questions will be answered, but I’ll save that for my inevitable “War of the Green Lanterns” wrapup post sometime in July or August.

Green Lantern Corps (Vol. 2) #60

May 27, 2011

Release Date: May 25, 2011
Cover Date: July 2011

Story: Tony Bedard
Pencils: Tyler Kirkham
Inks: Matt “Batt” Banning
Cover: Tyler Kirkham and Matt “Batt” Banning
1:10 Variant Cover: Clayton Crain

Kyle Rayner and John Stewart arrive on Mogo to try to stop the outflux of power rings. They fly towards the sentient planet’s core, and are attacked every step of the way by other Lanterns and their own fears. Kyle discovers that he can cure the corrupted Lanterns with his blue ring, and tries the same trick on Mogo. Unfortunately, Mogo is still somewhat compromised by the Black Lantern energy he absorbed a while back, rendering Kyle’s efforts ineffective. Krona taunts John from afar, and the former Marine tries one last desperate gambit. He channels the residual power of death, becoming a partial Black Lantern. In orbit, John creates a massive rifle construct and fires it directly into Mogo’s core, killing the living planet.

Oh dear, Mogo’s dead! Yeah, I’m sure that will last. This is comics, people. Mogo will be back, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s resurrected or rebuilt somehow by the end of this crossover. (If not, I give it five years maximum.)

The blue rings continue to become more and more powerful; they can cure Red Lantern infection, calm down Larfleeze, supercharge Green Lantern rings, and now they can knock out Parallax’s control. I wonder what effect they have on indigo and violet rings? I think the blue rings’ power may be downplayed a bit in future issues, because at the rate they’re going, they far outclass any of the others.

I also liked that Mogo’s method of dealing with the Black Lanterns in the past had dire consequences. I’m glad we didn’t see any actual Black Lanterns down there, but the residual energy left over made perfect sense. What didn’t make much sense, though, is John deciding to outright kill Mogo as a solution. Why? Because John was wearing an Indigo Tribe ring. His actions were by no means compassionate; if anything, they were dispassionate, which is a completely different animal. And for that matter, why is he not mind-controlled like the other members of the Tribe? He’s even got Indigo-1’s ring, and we know what she was like without it.

Many unfair comparisons have been made between John’s killing of Mogo and the destruction of the planet Xanshi (way back in Cosmic Odyssey #2). This is a common error; see, John did not destroy Xanshi. It was destroyed as a result of his overconfidence, sure, but that’s not nearly the same as actively and directly destroying it. I just thought I’d clear up that common misconception. Plus, Xanshi was just a planet, while Mogo was sentient; we’re really talking apples and oranges here.

On to artwork! The splash page of John struggling under the weight of Mogo is a clear homage to the classic portrayal of Atlas holding the Earth on his shoulders, and Tyler Kirkham did a fine job revamping it.

I also noticed a few familiar faces in Kirkham’s art, but maybe I’m just seeing things. Some of the alien Lanterns he drew seemed to be patterned after other comic book characters. For example, three Lanterns remind me of some Robert Kirkman creations. First up, the Astounding Wolf-Man, from the comic of the same name:

Next, Allen the Alien from Invincible:

This one’s a stretch, but the shape of this guy’s face reminds me of Robot, also from Invincible:

Beyond the Kirkmanverse, this chick reminds me of Daredevil‘s Typhoid Mary:

Last but not least, a Lantern that just looks damned familiar, but I can’t quite place my finger on it:

Any ideas? Maybe I’m crazy, but whatever. I just wanted to get my random thoughts out there. Monday morning, “War of the Green Lanterns” continues in my review of Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #10!

Green Lantern (Vol. 4) #66

May 26, 2011

Release Date: May 25, 2011
Cover Date: July 2011

Story: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Doug Mahnke
Inks: Keith Champagne, Christian Alamy, Mark Irwin, and Tom Nguyen
Cover: Miguel Sepulveda
1:10 Variant Cover: Clayton Crain

Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner try to fight off the possessed Guardians, but their rings are slowly corrupting them. Krona has had enough, however, and knocks them both out. Meanwhile, inside the Book of the Black, Sinestro regains his sense of self and searches for Lyssa Drak. He passes through the visions of the other Corps representatives, and comes upon a past version of Indigo-1, a savage woman imprisoned by Abin Sur. As he escapes, he’s confronted by Krona, who closes the book and tells Sinestro that he’s no longer needed. Krona then reveals his ultimate plot: he’s going to turn Hal and Guy into Guardians, and they will rule the Green Lantern Corps alongside him.

An interesting mix of good and bad in this issue. We’ll talk about the good stuff first. The fight scenes were decent, but not altogether unexpected. We knew Hal and Guy couldn’t take down Krona or remove Parallax so easily. What was much more interesting was Sinestro’s journey through the Book of the Black.

Sinestro’s vision of Indigo-1 lends further credence to my theory that the indigo light actually controls people, rather than seeking out those naturally compassionate. She seemed like quite the hardcore bitch, and she was dangerous enough that Abin Sur sought to imprison her. Munk is also seen in the background during these scenes, so we can assume that this facility is housing many more of the future Indigo Tribe.

We also saw brief snippets of the former lives of Atrocitus, Saint Walker, and Larfleeze. The former two were events we’d already seen in past issues, like Walker’s family and Atrocitus mortally wounding Abin Sur. With Larfleeze, however, we learned a tiny bit more about his history; he was clearly a slave, fighting over scraps in the mines as a child. That could go a long way towards explaining why he became a greedy thief, even before the orange light claimed him.

Now, this issue’s lesser qualities. I still maintain that the possessed Guardians look ridiculous, and they seem to be very low-powered. When Ganthet was possessed by Parallax during Green Lantern: Rebirth #3-6, five of the most powerful Green Lanterns were barely a match for it. And yet, Hal and Guy are now able to hold their own against five of these things at once? I know Krona’s controlling the Guardians and the entities they’re bonded with, but why would he limit their effectiveness?

Krona’s insidious plan to turn Green Lanterns into Guardians and control them is just…dumb, not to mention counterintuitive to his goals of leadership. Aside from the fact that he already controls the Corps, more Guardians means more superpowered beings who could turn against you. Let’s hope there’s more to it than that, as Krona’s scheme is laughable even by comic book supervillain standards.

Tomorrow, my review of the next part of “War of the Green Lanterns” in Green Lantern Corps (Vol. 2) #60.

Green Lantern: Willworld

May 23, 2011

Cover Date: July 2001

Story: J. M. DeMatteis
Art: Seth Fisher
Cover: Seth Fisher

A stranger is traveling through the Land of the Odd, with no idea who he really is. Dressed as a cowboy with a green eyemask and sporting a strange ring, the stranger interacts with the diverse populace, but he’s the only one who notices that they’re all different. At one point, a group of green-uniformed creatures wearing similar masks is seen floating in bubbles, but not even the stranger can identify them. He remembers that his name is “Hal,” and he tries to fly an antique plane up to the bubbles, but fails. Hal also needs to rescue someone named Mairwand from the insidious Head-Quarters, and arranges to break in with the help of Odd’s ruler, Kat’aa Peelar. By becoming a Head himself, Hal infiltrates the complex, but he’s seemingly killed by the Head Head. Hal dreams of more strange beings in green uniforms, and when he awakens, he’s being “repaired” in the Machineworks. He escapes and uses his ring to travel towards Nowhere Land, but is attacked by monsters in an oasis. With a burst of willpower, Hal quotes the Green Lantern Oath and breaks free in uniform, but still doesn’t know what any of it means. He finds himself in Nowhere Land, where an assault of images threatens to shatter his mind. Mairwand calls from a nearby house, and once Hal arrives, he recognizes the place as his own from long ago. Mairwand was a prince he pretended to be as a little boy, but as Hal remembers, the forces of evil come crashing through and head towards Odd to remake it in their own image. Hal follows them, and wonders why so many of his memories and dreams have been taking shape, and finally figures everything out. It’s all part of a training exercise ordered by the Guardians, wherein Hal entered the Central Power Battery and created Willworld as a final test in order to master his power ring. Hal believes he passed the test, but the forces of evil attacking the Land of Odd are his unconscious mind. Hal defeats them by absorbing Willworld back into himself, and emerges from the Battery victorious. Fellow Green Lantern Sinestro, however, is not impressed.

If you’re looking for classic superhero action with clearly defined heroes and villains, you might as well quit reading. However, if like me you love character-driven stories, then Willworld is right up your alley. It’s a deep philosophical tale, and J. M. DeMatteis knows that stuff like the back of his hand. His highly underrated run on The Spectre (Vol. 4) serves to underline how skillfully DeMatteis can meld the superhero and fantasy genres. DeMatteis was writing that book while he penned Willworld, as a matter of fact, enabling him to delve even deeper into Hal Jordan’s head. Aside from crafting an entire world based on fragments of memories and emotions, Willworld really lays bare what makes up a superhero’s psyche.

The real selling point here, though, is the stunning artwork of Seth Fisher. His intricately detailed work is reminiscent of Geof Darrow, and the sheer amount of weird shit in Willworld is result of either genius or madness. Or perhaps a bit of both. Regardless, Willworld is a veritable feast for the eyes, and every time you read it, you’re bound to discover something new. For example, did you notice that Hal gets more and more of his costume back as he slowly remembers who he really is?

I even enjoyed Fisher’s simplistic take on the Green Lantern power ring. Sure, there’s no symbol or anything; but in the world Hal created, why would there be? It’s meant to be as nondescript as Hal himself is at first, and only over time does he truly realize what it is. That said, a Willworld ring would be a unique addition to any fan’s collection. (C’mon, sculptors: get on that.)

Sadly, Fisher died in 2006, and it’s a shame such a tremendous talent was lost to tragedy at such a young age. (You can read more about his life and work on Flowering Nose.) Green Lantern: Willworld is a beautiful part of Fisher’s legacy, and the story belongs in every fan’s library.

Green Lantern: Willworld is being reissued this week with a different cover as a DC Comics Presents edition. This is a bit odd, as the ol’ Hal-entering-the-Battery twist certainly does not fit into modern continuity at all. (There’s quite a few stories like that, actually.) Still, the new release can be found at the dirt-cheap price of $7.99. Considering that the original hardcover went for $19.99, this is a goddamned steal, and you’re a fool if you don’t pick this up. If nothing else, it’s a fine tribute to Fisher’s memory.

Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn #6

May 18, 2011

Cover Date: May 1990

Story: Keith Giffen and Gerard Jones
Pencils: M. D. Bright
Inks: Romeo Tanghal
Cover: M. D. Bright and Romeo Tanghal

With the fluid Tchk-Tchkii overwhelming the Corps and siphoning power from Oa itself, Hal Jordan tries one last desperate move: harnessing the energies of the Central Power Battery to use against the menace. His plan is successful, and while the Corps returns the blob to its homeworld, Hal awakens to a grilling by the Guardians. Still, they see his potential, and Hal is officially made Green Lantern of Sector 2814. He returns home and turns himself in to face his drunk driving charges, and after serving a bit of jail time, Hal gets his job back at Ferris Aircraft.

More unorthodox thinking from Hal Jordan saves the day. In case you hadn’t noticed, this ends up being a hallmark of his career, and it’s captured beautifully here. Not only that, Hal admits to being afraid, and uses his fear to his advantage. I love the unintentional Iron Man reference, too, when Hal blasts the Tchk-Tchkii using his chest emblem:

Some fans may have been angered by the fact that their hero spent time in the pokey, but I think it adds to his character. Hal may be imperfect, but he’s also going to take responsibility for his failures as well as his successes. That sets him above most. All in all, Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn #6 wraps up the miniseries quite well, and sets the stage for all of Hal’s adventures to come.

This miniseries may be over, but Emerald Dawn doesn’t quite end here. A month after this issue hit the stands, Green Lantern (Vol. 3) would launch, also written by Gerard Jones. A year later, the Emerald Dawn creative team would reunite to produce Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn II, which details even more of Hal’s early career as well as the fall of Sinestro.

Of course, as far as canon is concerned, this is all meaningless. Emerald Dawn and its sequel were completely retconned away as Hal’s origin story was retold again in 2008’s Green Lantern (Vol. 4) #29-35. That story, naturally titled “Secret Origin,” just doesn’t hold a candle to Emerald Dawn. Instead of event bullshit, Emerald Dawn just featured fantastic character development, a unique villain, and fleshing out Hal’s origin without altering everything that came before just to fit an upcoming crossover.

Legion doesn’t even exist anymore in modern continuity, and that sucks; I always found them to be an interesting adversary. And did you know that the Green Lantern film was all set to include a lot of material from Emerald Dawn, including Legion? It was changed much later to use Parallax as the main antagonist instead. This was done for two reasons: one, Parallax currently appears in the Green Lantern comics, and two, Geoff Johns is a hardliner at making the Green Lantern universe his, as well as much of the DC Universe in general. If he didn’t have a hand in creating it, then it’s not important. Whether you see that as positive or negative I’ll leave up to you.

I maintain that Emerald Dawn is the premiere Hal Jordan origin story. Put the Green Lantern: Secret Origin trade paperback down, and pick up Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn instead. You’ll be glad you did.

Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn #5

May 17, 2011

Cover Date: April 1990

Story: Keith Giffen and Gerard Jones
Pencils: M. D. Bright
Inks: Romeo Tanghal
Cover: M. D. Bright and Romeo Tanghal

Legion tears through the Green Lantern Corps like paper, but when it gets to the slumbering Guardians, defensive devices restrain it as they awaken. Legion can’t be held for long, though, so Hal Jordan tries a crazy idea. He yanks Legion away from the Citadel, covers it in mud so that his ring will affect it, and finally beats the villain down. The defeated Legion explains that the Tchk-Tchkii are dying, and the last of them imbued their essences into this suit of armor. Hal refuses to kill them, and slices the Legion armor open. Bad idea: the sludgy form of the Tchk-Tchkii remnant grows exponentially, and threatens the Guardians once more.

At long last, we get our first full look at Hal the hero, rather than Hal the rookie. Other than the fact that he properly made a shitload of constructs here (made possible by his grueling training under Kilowog), Hal’s out-of-the-box thinking allowed him to defeat Legion, while the rest of the Corps was resorting to standard military maneuvers that were getting them killed. This kind of approach served Hal well for the rest of his career, and countless other Lanterns learned from his example.

The Guardians appeared…and they didn’t do shit, except partially admonish Hal for acting without their prior approval. If you think the Guardians are dicks in the current comics, good lawd, you need to read some of the older stuff. The current Guardians are warm and fuzzy compared to the icy bastards they were decades ago.

This issue also features an appearance by another famous Green Lantern villain: Sinestro. However, he’s still a Green Lantern here, and he’s never referred to by name. For the most part, he just hangs out in the background, but he does save Hal from getting flattened at one point. Sinestro’s appearance does constitute a minor retcon, as when the character first showed up in Green Lantern (Vol. 2) #7, he had already been thrown out of the Corps and hadn’t yet met Hal.

Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn #5 is probably the best example of classic Green Lantern action we’ve seen so far, but that’s not a knock against the strong character development in the past four issues. This is just the icing on the cake.

Tomorrow…the grand finale!

Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn #4

May 16, 2011

Cover Date: March 1990

Story: Keith Giffen and Gerard Jones
Pencils: M. D. Bright
Inks: Romeo Tanghal
Cover: M. D. Bright and Romeo Tanghal

Hal Jordan miraculously survives the nuclear explosion, and takes off to find other Green Lanterns. Legion has survived, as well, and secretly tails him. Hal meets Tomar-Re, who brings him to Oa and elaborates upon the Green Lantern Corps and the Guardians of the Universe. They join up with Salaak, and visit the Book of Oa, where they learn a bit about a race called the Tchk-Tchkii. Hal’s not sure how that ties into Legion, but he’s got more pressing concerns: he’s been assigned a trainer named Kilowog, who mercilessly teaches the rookie Green Lantern the ropes. After a few weeks, however, things take a turn for the worse: Legion has breached Oa’s defenses!

You may notice right away that the presence of Kilowog is a retcon. Originally, Hal did not meet Kilowog until Green Lantern Corps #201, but reimagining him as the Corps’ drill sergeant here makes much more sense, given his strong personality. (It also really doesn’t invalidate much of the Corps storyline from that time period, anyway.)

The standout scene in this issue is when Tomar-Re explains to Hal that no Green Lantern is perfect. In fact, they’ve all got flaws, often severe, but that makes them all the more effective as peacekeepers. More importantly, though, is what it imparts about Hal to us, the audience: he may be heir to a powerful weapon, but he’s still human. I know I sound like a broken record for constantly bringing that up, but I really can’t impress upon you enough how critical it is, or how much it enhances the storytelling. Green Lantern stories pre-Rebirth excelled at making the humanity of our heroes just as important as the rings they wielded, if not more so. And as for the alien Green Lanterns? Their character, histories, and ideologies beyond the rings was also just as important. It’s something missing from modern tales, and sorely missed.

Speaking of the alien Green Lanterns, we get to see a few others besides than Tomar-Re, Salaak, Kilowog, and a red chick who looks exactly like Katma Tui. (It’s not her, though.) Most are background players who are very indistinct…but then there’s this one, who looks like a Kid ‘n Play wannabe.

What the fuck?

Did you catch Hal checking out the red girl’s ass? He’s only been among aliens for a few hours, at most, but it’s amusing to see that he’s got his priorities in order (though they’re a bit racist and sexist).

While all of the art in this issue was good, the final shot of Legion triumphant, standing atop the Central Power Battery as if it’s a beast he’s slain, is a perfect cliffhanger.

A wider, more detailed version of this scene is used for the cover of the next issue, and it looks even better!

You’ll notice that we have not yet seen the Guardians in the flesh, nor do we know why Legion speaks in first-person plural. Fear not, answers are coming!


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