Green Lantern: New Guardians #4

December 30, 2011

Release Date: December 28, 2011
Cover Date: February 2012

Story: Tony Bedard
Pencils: Tyler Kirkham and Harvey Tolibao
Inks: Matt “Batt” Banning
Cover: Tyler Kirkham and Matt “Batt” Banning

Larfleeze and Sayd attack the Guardians, and Kyle Rayner rallies the other Corps representatives to help. Ganthet tries to get through to Kyle, but the veteran Green Lantern senses it’s a trap. He’s proven correct, as the group teleports to Okaara and Sayd tells him what really happened with the stolen rings. Someone tried to steal Larfleeze’s ring, but he was able to resist it. The same unknown force stole the other rings and sent them after Kyle, so Larfleeze sent Glomulus along to get answers. Sayd herself ventured to the center of the galaxy, where a supermassive white hole disgorged a gigantic structure from another universe. The space station is the size of a star system, and somewhere inside, the ring thief awaits.

The revelation of a new villain for Kyle and crew to fight is a welcome change from the recycled villains we’ve dealt with over the past few years in the Green Lantern series, and I’m hoping this one won’t be completely tied to the emotional spectrum like all of the others. Perhaps their new foe just wants power, plain and simple? He (or she) could be some being who wants to wield all of those rings like the goddamned Mandarin, caring little for any of that emotional nonsense. Now that would be cool to see!

Kyle apparently has some residual energy from the other six Corps left in him, as he knocks down Ganthet with their combined powers. Ganthet once again stated that Kyle is unique for some reason, and I’m sure this plot point will be extrapolated upon as the series progresses. Let’s just hope it’s not something stupid.

The mystery villain’s star system base (the Orrery) is cool in concept, but the art for it looks cheesy. It looks like those crappy motorized solar system models we used to build in elementary school! Perhaps that was the point, but the visuals just failed to deliver the desired impact as a result. If we had seen a glimpse of the mystery villain, at least, that might have improved things a bit.

The highlight of this issue was that Larfleeze has finally returned as a serious threat, just as I’d hoped. He and Sayd beat the piss out of the Guardians, and as his Guardian was the one who discovered the oncoming threat, the Orange Lantern is large and in charge. For someone obsessed with material gain, Larfleeze showed remarkable foresight and intelligence. We need more of this!

Other cool moments included Arkillo’s healing due to Saint Walker, and the attempted healing of Bleez. The latter is a bit confusing, though, as she’s already regained her senses in the pages of Red Lanterns. However, if this story takes place before her rebirth at the hands of Atrocitus, then how do you explain her constant presence on Ysmault in Red Lanterns? She’s never been missing.

Green Lantern: New Guardians #4 was good, with only a few stumbles that the next issue can hopefully recover from. I’ll leave you with a blatant art error that I’m sure everyone else has laughed at: the cover. Larfleeze is holding an indigo power battery, but the Indigo Tribe use staves as their power sources, not lantern-shaped batteries like the other Corps. In fact, Munk is clearly wielding his staff in the background!

Well, red is a Christmas color…

December 25, 2011

“Have a merry Christmas, or face my rage!”

Green Lantern Corps (Vol. 3) #4

December 22, 2011

Release Date: December 21, 2011
Cover Date: February 2012

Story: Peter Tomasi
Pencils: Fernando Pasarin
Inks: Scott Hanna
Cover: Andy Kubert

The Green Lanterns are no match for their mysterious enemies, and even though John tries to surrender, the villains feel that they need to be taught a lesson. To prove their point, one of them kills a sloppily-dressed Green Lantern in cold blood. The captive Lanterns are teleported elsewhere, while Guy Gardner interrogates a prisoner back on Oa. Martian Manhunter arrives on behalf of Stormwatch, and discovers that the enemies are known as Keepers, and they were responsible for taking care of Green Lantern power batteries stored in the pocket dimension. Something’s really pissed them off, though, and they’re coming for the Central Power Battery.

This issue would’ve been a lot better except for a few stutters. The biggest quirk is that Green Lanterns were ordered to no longer use the pocket dimension to store their personal batteries…except that we saw Sinestro yank a battery out of the pocket dimension in Green Lantern (Vol. 5) #3.

Next, it’s made clear that the Keepers’ weapons only work for them, just like power rings only work for those specifically chosen. This is also wrong: as we’ve seen in various Green Lantern comics over the past few years, anyone can wield any ring as long as they feel the proper emotion. During “War of the Green Lanterns” in particular, the four Earth Green Lanterns slipped other rings on and off without any trouble.

Then there’s silly stuff like the Star Treaty of Av-Eneg. Oh wow, it’s “Geneva” spelled backwards, like the Geneva Conventions. Yeah, we get it. Sheesh.

On to more fun things. The design of the Keepers looks great, and vaguely reminiscent of the Sinestro Corps member Slushh. The skeleton beneath a clear skin motif is nothing new, but the bits of musculature and the not-quite-human facial features set them apart.

It seems like the Keepers are being set up as a race that was used and abused by the Guardians, then simply forgotten once their usefulness came to an end. (Due to “Emerald Twilight,” maybe?) Or, perhaps the very act of no longer storing the power batteries in the pocket dimension is beginning to do serious damage to the Keepers’ home. Either way, it’s making for an excellent story, hiccups nonwithstanding.

Green Lantern Corps (Vol. 3) #4 is also our first taste of other “New 52″ retcons and reboots actually affecting the Green Lantern books. Guy Gardner has no clue who the Martian Manhunter is, and his memory of their meeting is erased at its conclusion. This is a bit of a shame, as the past friendship between Guy and J’onn was always cool. I’ve also got a feeling that the Guardians were well aware of J’onn’s “intrusion,” and likely permitted it. They’re almost certainly aware of Stormwatch’s existence, since they work towards the same goals (albeit on a universal scale).

Things are moving along at a fine pace, and I can’t wait to see what the next issue brings. The Keepers are great antagonists, and there’s sure to be a lot more to them than just former custodians pissed at their old employers.

Green Lantern 3-D

December 19, 2011

Cover Date: December 1998

Story: Ron Marz
Pencils: Georges Jeanty
Inks: Dexter Vines and John Lowe
3D Effects: Ray Zone
Cover: Georges Jeanty and John Lowe

Kyle Rayner teaches Jade how to recharge her newly acquired power ring, but the two are ambushed by Doctor Light. The villain drags Kyle into his power battery, and Jade follows. They find a recreation of Oa and the Green Lantern Corps inside, but Light attacks before they can dig deeper. Kyle soon figures out that Hal Jordan must’ve come here before he did and created this world. Since it’s all energy, Light’s absorbing it and becoming obscenely powerful. Fortunately, Kyle’s able to convince the Corps of their nature as constructs, and they all team up to overload Light. Kyle and Jade escape as the inner world goes to hell, leaving Light trapped inside.

I already talked about the live-action film’s 3D effects, so why not yank out a comic book from 1998 that goes for the same approach? And yes, the title is officially spelled “3-D,” not the more commonly accepted “3D.” The three-dimensional effects are limited to the scenes inside the battery, and they actually look pretty good, though this does come at a bit of a price. Reading the issue with the included 3D glasses on mutes some of the colors. Reading the issue without them exposes the extra linework necessary for 3D, leaving the images jumbled and messy in the glasses’ absence. The whole thing gives the interior of Kyle’s battery an otherworldly feel…which is precisely the point. Regardless, it’s Georges Jeanty art, so you know it still looks gorgeous in every panel.

The basics of Green Lantern history are explained through natural dialogue, rather than static text or flashbacks. Even more is shown with the virtual Oa; there’s a lot of love for the classic Corps on display, right down to the marching jacket uniform on Salaak.

Doctor Light was a fine choice of villain, given his ability to effortlessly control Green Lantern constructs. I liked the updated incarnation of Doctor Light seen throughout the 1990s, even with that Firestorm ripoff headpiece. He was always a joke in the olden days, but after being killed and resurrected a few times Doctor Light was much more dangerous. Despite this, you almost felt sorry for the villain as he was trapped in the hellish prison of the battery at the tale’s conclusion.

This version of Doctor Light was quietly forgotten during Identity Crisis, where they turned the Silver Age dope into a goddamned rapist. I guess it worked well for the story, but it did reek a bit of exploitation. He got killed yet again during Final Crisis, and who knows what Doctor Light’s status is in the rebooted DC Universe. I’ll take a goofy light-themed villain over a shoehorned sex offender any day.

But I digress.

Green Lantern 3-D may have been a gimmick, but it managed to make the gimmick work within the confines of a good story. It’s definitely worth tracking down, and even if you find a used copy without the 3D glasses, any standard red/blue pair will work just fine.

Green Lantern (Vol. 5) #4

December 16, 2011

Release Date: December 14, 2011
Cover Date: February 2012

Story: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Doug Mahnke
Inks: Christian Alamy and Keith Champagne
Cover: Doug Mahnke and Keith Champagne
Variant Cover: Francis Manapul

Hal Jordan’s transit to Qward is terminated by the Sinestro Corps Central Power Battery, and he’s dumped at the feet of other Sinestro Corpsmen. He’s thrown in a power-draining prison, where his ring is leached dry. Sinestro is captured and tortured by his former Corps, but they cannot remove his Green Lantern ring, which they believe to be the source of his erratic behavior. Sinestro is thrown into a cell, too, but it already contains other captured Korugarians. Arsona is among them, and she berates Sinestro for leading them to ruin. Hal is in the next cell, and he convinced Sinestro to create temporary rings for the other prisoners. However, once they’ve got their new rings, they swear vengeance on Sinestro.

As I suspected, Hal was on his way to Qward…but seeing him spit right back out kind of fell flat. As such, his disintegration in the last issue was nothing more than a shock tactic. Seeing both Hal and Sinestro tossed in the slammer was interesting, though, and Hal in particular was absolutely powerless to do anything about it. This continues the huge shift in the way Hal’s been portrayed since 2004; giving heroes flaws generally makes them much more compelling to read. The only downside is that Hal is suddenly whiny and foolish. He’s acting like a spoiled child with no ability to accomplish anything on his own, and that’s just awful. Kyle Rayner was capable of much better than this when was a damned rookie Green Lantern!

While the story was good overall, there were a few strange moments. For example, Sinestro had an awfully hard time creating those extra rings. This is most odd; Hal and Kyle were able to copy rings effortlessly during and after the “Emerald Knights” storyline (Green Lantern [Vol. 3] #101-106). Those were standard Green Lanterns Corps rings, too, not weakened constructs like Sinestro was making. And why was Sinestro puking them up? That made no sense at all.

This issue also proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that anyone can wear a power ring. You don’t even need to feel the appropriate emotions anymore! Just slip the ring on, and you’re good to go. There were kids as Green Lanterns on the final page, for crying out loud. I pine for the days when a ring wielder was someone special.

So…Sinestro used to be a cop? That’s the strong implication from Arsona, anyway. She clearly served alongside him in some capacity, and she’s a law enforcement officer herself, so it’s easy to connect the dots. This is, of course, another retcon; it was previously established that Sinestro was an anthropologist previous to career as a Green Lantern in 1999’s Secret Origins of Super-Villains 80-Page Giant. I prefer that previous history to this new one; with Sinestro as a cop, that means his corruption started before he had a Green Lantern ring. It made more sense that the immense power he received as a Green Lantern slowly pushed him over the edge. I do like that Arsona seems to be nothing more than a former colleague, rather than a romantic interest. Hopefully it stays that way!

We still have no idea why the Green Lantern ring chose Sinestro, nor why it cannot be removed. Hopefully those questions will be answered satisfactorily by the end of this arc.

Green Lantern Annual #4

December 12, 2011

Cover Date: October 1995

Story: Ron Marz and Kevin Ferrera
Pencils: Tom Grindberg and Joe Phillips
Inks: Bill Anderson, John Lowe, and Dexter Vines
Cover: Joe Phillips and Dexter Vines

Parallax steals the power batteries from Alan Scott and Guy Gardner, and tries to drain power from them. At the same time, Kyle Rayner decides to go out on patrol after a long day of work at his drafting table. When he charges his ring, though, he ends up in Hal Jordan’s body, and vice versa! Not only that, each is stuck in the other’s past: Hal has Alexandra DeWitt climbing all over him, and Kyle has to deal with the Invisible Destroyer. After solving these short-term problems, as it were, the two fly off to think, neither knowing what’s happening to the other. Hal ends up saving Alex from Major Force, and Kyle learns more about Hal’s past at Ferris Aircraft. When the pair simultaneously recharge via their batteries again, though, they’re put back into their proper bodies in the present day. Parallax talks with Kyle at Alex’s graveside, now more understanding of the trials Kyle has faced. Hal still vows to make things right, and Kyle knows that with his new appreciation of Hal’s history, he’ll be ready for the disgraced hero.

All of the DC Comics 1995 annuals fell under a “Year One” theme, where the present-day characters interacted with their past in some fashion. In Green Lantern’s case, they went with the ol’ Freaky Friday clich√© of having two opposing characters walk in mile in each other’s shoes. In 1995, Kyle hadn’t been Green Lantern for that long, and both he and Hal knew next to nothing about each other. Instead of yet more battles as they had in Green Lantern (Vol. 3) #0, #63 and #64, this gives them to opportunity to learn plenty without even crossing paths. Not only is this technique relatively rare in comics, it works as part of the continuing Green Lantern narrative as well as a standalone story.

Tom Grindberg’s art is always a pleasure; the switch to Joe Phillips’ pencils later on the issue was a little disconcerting, as his style is noticeably more cartoony. It still works, though, and it’s not bad art by any stretch. Phillips’ cover illustration looks great, too.

The story in Green Lantern Annual #4 does contain a black mark, though: no explanation is offered as to why the power batteries caused the body- and time-swaps. Given that it’s the linchpin of the story, a throwaway explanation at the very least would’ve been welcome. Perhaps Ganthet did it to heal the rift after “Parallax View”?

In conclusion, Green Lantern Annual #4 was a good story, albeit imperfect. If you can get over the confusing setup, it’s a great insight into the minds of both Kyle Rayner and Hal Jordan.

Red Lanterns #4

December 9, 2011

Release Date: December 7, 2011
Cover Date: February 2012

Story: Peter Milligan
Pencils: Ed Benes and Diego Bernard
Inks: Rob Hunter
Cover: Ed Benes and Rob Hunter

Atrocitus grows more distrustful of Bleez and a few other Red Lanterns, so he tosses Skallox, Ratchet, and Zilius Zox into the Blood Ocean to regain their sentience. Meanwhile, Atrocitus flies around to various planets to take out his frustrations on bad people. While on Earth, the cops finally catch up to John, who is trying to hide at his brother Ray’s house. In the Blood Ocean, the submerged Red Lanterns begin to remember their former lives, and the events that led them to wield red power rings. Finally, Atrocitus returns to Krona’s plinth, only to discover that the villain’s body is missing.

Atrocitus’ monologues just keep getting worse, and the whole vampiric motif just seemed cheesy. Using another Red Lantern’s blood in order to scan their thoughts was fine, but beating us over the head with symbolism was unnecessary. The snippets of the other Red Lanterns’ origins were pretty cool, but it would have been better to include a full origin for one of them rather than chopping them up to pad out this and future issues. Something important is definitely coming with Zilius Zox, though; he didn’t get any origin pages, and there’s one panel towards the end that very specifically zooms in on his face.

The Red Lanterns move closer and closer towards their Green Lantern: The Animated Series incarnations, but that doesn’t mean much unless something worthwhile is actually done with them. Okay, so Atrocitus gives sentience back to those three: what if they do rebel, as he fears? Atrocitus is a tough guy, but four Red Lanterns (including Bleez) pose a significant threat. This would be all well and good if said threat actually played out and had real consequences, but I’m not getting my hopes up; changing the status quo that radically would end the book. Atrocitus isn’t going anywhere. And more to the point…would these sentient Red Lanterns even bother to stick around anymore, now that they’ve got free will? They didn’t ask for those rings, mind you.

If Krona does turn out to be alive so soon after his death in Green Lantern (Vol. 4) #67, then my eyes will roll back into my skull. Instead, I’m hoping that the shadowy figure Atrocitus saw near Krona’s resting place just stole the body for some reason. Maybe they’ll put on a puppet show!

Red Lanterns feels like it’s treading water. Which each issue has had a few cool moments, overall, I’m feeling “get to the fucking point, already.” This is unacceptable given the creative talent behind this book.


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