Kyle Rayner was MY Green Lantern for the longest time. I came to the ongoing series when Hal Jordan went nuts and an LA dude got the most powerful weapon in the cosmos dropped in his palm in a back alley while wearing a Nine Inch Nails T-shirt. I was on board instantly and have loved that character ever since. So, when I was perusing the library’s Green Lantern offerings and saw they had a copy of the DC/Dark Horse Green Lanterns Versus Aliens crossover, it was the easiest of requests to make. Continue reading Books Of Oa: Green Lantern Versus Aliens
First and foremost, I have to say that Doug Mahnke should be the biggest artist in the biz. The fact that he isn’t boggles this long time reader’s mind. He has such a knack for creating big, bold figures that seem iconic while also having a style that’s all his own. I love that about him and have since my days reading his run on Superman: Man of Steel and later JLA. A book like Green Lantern is perfect for him because he gets to draw those classic characters while also rendering big crazy monsters like Atrocitus, Larfleez and various members of the Sinestro Corps while also getting to play with a rainbow’s worth of constructs.
So, I guess I should talk about the book itself. After the events of Blackest Night, there’s a whole lot of lanterns running around, including several still found on earth like GL Hal Jordan, Star Sapphire Carol Ferris, Red Lantern Atrocitus, Blue Lantern Saint Walker, Sinestro and even Orange Lantern Larfleez. And, it’s a good thing because a mysterious figure is trying to round up all the emotion entities like Parallax and Ion to start some intergalactic shiz. Throw in Indigo and you’ve got a pretty impressive line-up of folks trying to stop that from happening. We also see what I believe is the first mention of Guy Gardner’s secret pact with Atrocitus and Ganthet that spurs GL, GLC and Green Lantern Emerald Warriors on between Blackest Night and the upcoming War of the Green Lanterns (upcoming for me, I mean).
In the meantime, as everyone figures out what’s going on, there are some awesome scenes for your reading enjoyment and most of them are made all the better for Mahnke’s involvement. You’ve got Larfleez approaching Lex Luthor again, Hector Hammond getting involved with the orange lantern, Sinestro trying to lift the white lantern that’s still on earth and–best of all–the appearance of Lobo who throws down with Hal, Sinestro and Carol. I’ve always been a fan of Lobo’s look and no one should ever draw him again after Mahnke absolutely murdered his interpretation.
Overall, I found this to be a fun collection that mixes the big, overarching stories that Geoff Johns is known for and also a lot of the smaller moments that might not mean as much to the larger story, but still tickled my DC fanboy fancy. It also includes the back-up story origin of Red Lantern Dex-Star which nearly brought me to tears the first time I read it. I actually skipped it in this collection because I’ve become even more of a softy since I first read it way back when. Kids will do that to you, I guess.
GREEN LANTERN CORPS: TO BE A LANTERN (DC)
Written by Dave Gibbons, drawn by Patrick Gleason & Dave Gibbons
Collects Green Lantern Corps #1-6 (Aug. 2006-Jan. 2007 cover dates)
After all the craziness of Rebirth, Recharge and Infinite Crisis, the Green Lantern Corps got their own ongoing series for the first time ever (well, the second volume of GL got renamed GLC at some point, but does that really count?). This volume kicks off after DC’s One Year Later jump and we’re shown some of the changes that took place between Recharge and now, but unlike a lot of other OYL books, the year gap wasn’t much of a mystery. Basically, Guy Gardner staid on planet because his shore leave got suspended for a year at the end of Recharge, they helped rebuild Oa, train rookies and protect the galaxy. Pretty standard stuff. Oh, and they also built a huge Lantern-shaped shell around all of Oa and made it even harder for the Guardians to be seen by anyone other than Salaak. From a chronological perspective, it seems as though the stories in this volume take place before the ones in Revenge Of The Green Lanterns because we don’t see any of the Lost Lanterns on Oa at this time.
Gibbons handles this book like your basic cop show, which makes so much sense it’s a wonder that no one else thought of it before. The main storylines in this volume include Guy wanting his shore leave, Soranik Natu dealing first with fear and later with being hated on her home planet and some troubles between Vath and Isamot, especially when Isamot starts failing to show up on missions. These stories aren’t drawn out over six issues like a lot of books, but each come to their own resolution at varying times. There’s also a murder mystery going on with Soranik’s partner Myrrt which winds up being a familiar story if you watch procedural with any regularity, but I totally didn’t see it coming the first time around which goes to show how well Gibbons handles these characters and the larger concept of the Green Lantern Corps.
We also see Guy’s shore leave on a funky little planet, but it doesn’t go so well because Bolphunga shows up once again to give him trouble. Being awesome, Guy doesn’t have too much trouble with him, though Salaak does wind up saving the day. It’s nice to see that multi-armed weirdo actually doing something aside from being snide and citing rules.
From a larger story perspective, the books has some interesting moments. Of course, we see the new Oa which doesn’t wind up lasting too long if memory serves. We also see the city on Thanagar that Kyle and Kilowog helped create in Rann-Thanagar War, which was a nice pick-up. Literally the biggest thing introduced from this perspective, though, is the living city of Ranx which will come into play during Sinestro Corps War. We’re also reintroduced to the Children of the White Lobe. This little baby-looking bastards are pure evil, sport psychic powers of some kind and love to explode. They were first mentioned in Alan Moore’s short story “Tygers” from Tales Of The Green Lantern Corps Annual #2 (1986) which also introduced the idea of Ysmault, Sodam Yat. Geoff Johns and company were clearly fans of this story and used many of the elements to build towards Sinestro Corps War and Blackest Night (check it out in my all time favorite trade DC Universe: The Stories Of Alan Moore). Oh, we also saw a bunch of yellow bugs on Mogo, but I can’t remember if those have anything to do with Sinestro or they’re just fireflies.
Something I noticed while reading GLC is that it really felt like Gibbons was more focused on building new stories, adventures and villains for the Corps to face while Johns’ Green Lantern was more concerned with digging up old bones and making them work. I think that might have been why some non-Hal fans liked GLC more than GL, because it wasn’t all retreads, but a lot of brand new elements. Sure, there’s some references, but they seem more subtle (well, aside from Bolphunga, another Alan Moore creation). I’m having a great time re-reading these books and am honestly very excited to read Sinestro Corps War in a few sittings, which is something I don’t believe I’ve ever had the pleasure of doing before.
GREEN LANTERN CORPS RECHARGE (DC)
Written by Geoff Johns & Dave Gibbons, drawn by Patrick Gleason
Collects Green Lantern Corps Recharge #1-5
After Geoff Johns brought Hal Jordan back in Green Lantern: Rebirth and he got his own book again, the first few issues of which are collected in Green Lantern: No Fear, we got to see how the Green Lantern Corps got pieced back together in a little miniseries called Green Lantern Corps Recharge.While Hal became the star of the regular GL comic, pretty much everyone else appeared in Recharge and then, after that, the Green Lantern Corps ongoing series which makes it the home of existing Lanterns like Kyle Rayner, Guy Gardner, Salaak, Mogo, Stel, Brik and Kilowog along with newbies like Soranik Natu, Vath Sarn, Green Man and Isamot Kol. When the book first came out I liked it because it had Corps members, but didn’t like it because I wanted to see the adventures of more familiar Green Lanterns. I didn’t care as much about these rookies, but this time around, I really enjoyed seeing where these now-important characters came from .
Like Rann-Thanagar War, which featured Kyle and Kilowog in supporting roles, Recharge has a lot of different characters fighting a lot of different battles in different locals, but Gibbons and Johns do another great job of keeping everything fast paced and interesting.
A lot of the groundwork for the Corps, it’s rules and who does what was established in this book. Instead of one GL per space sector, of which there are 3600, the Lanterns will be working with partners. Lanterns who were still alive when the Corps was previously destroyed were all sent rings, so of whom returned, while other rings went out to people able to overcome great fear. Kilowog is tasked with training the rookies who really do have to overcome fear in order to make their rings work on yellow. They also have to pass in order to get their actual Green Lantern symbol, which is essentially their badge. Guy is also assigned to train the troops which he’s none too pleased about, saying to Kyle that he’s not a teacher, but, for the record, he was at least a substitute teacher as seen in the pages of Detention Comics #1. Anyway, before long, various Lanterns head off on various missions, all of which wind up being connected thanks to a web of portals set up by the Spider Guild. There’s also a group of bounty hunters consisting of Kyle and John Stewart villain Fatality, Bolphunga from Alan Moore’s “Mogo Doesn’t Socialize” and then Dal, Quade and Burll, characters I don’t remember.
The series also reminds readers how important Mogo is to the GLC. He not only produces the rings, but he also provides Lanterns with a kind of therapy. This time around, Kyle gets treated by having visions of his girlfriend Alex, the woman who was infamously murdered and stuffed into a refrigerator by Major Force in Kyle’s early days of being the universe’s only GL. This is a plot element that gets picked up in later series’ including Kyle’s own Ion maxi which picks up after Infinite Crisis’s One Year Later jump.
Overall, Recharge works really well as a way to reintroduce readers to the very concept of the Corps while showing exactly how cool Green Lanterns can be, how tough you have to be to actually become one and what you have to go through to stay one. Only the best and brightest make it through and that’s something that Johns and Gibbons convey without smashing you over the head with it. And man oh man, Patrick Gleason is one of the perfect artists for a book like this one. A big part of the reason the book works so well is that he draws everything so epically, but also handles the smaller more personal moments so well. His figures look like actors which is something that not every artist nails. All in all, this is my favorite GL book so far!
A few weeks ago I was offered the opportunity to interview Diary Of A Wimpy Kid author and artist Jeff Kinney for MTV Geek. I jumped at the opportunity, but knew I’d have to do some research because, even though I had heard great things about the series, I had never read any of the Wimpy Kid books. I remembered seeing them at Marshall’s for a pretty good price, so I drove over and was able to pick up the first, third and fourth books. But, since the interview was that night and I’m not the fastest reader in the world, I only had time to read the first and fourth book. Luckily I was able to fly through the books, which are a combination of journal entries and one-panel gags from the perspective of recent middle school student Greg Heffley. Many times throughout the first book I found myself laughing out loud both because the jokes are really well crafted, but also because there were so many elements I could relate too.
The thing about Greg is that he’s kind of an arrogant jerk, but he’s still appealing because you kind of write it off as a young kid not really understanding how people or the world works. Plus, Greg has his fair share of Charlie Brown-esque moments where things just don’t work out for him, which creates a wave of disbelief at his actions followed by feeling kind of sorry for him that really keeps the books going. The specific aspects from the first volume that I could relate to revolved around Halloween. Not only do Greg and his more child-like friend Rowley have a plan to run all over town getting the best candy (we used to do that), but there’s also a scene where they plan this incredibly ellaborate haunted house with blood lakes and death traps, but can only actually make one tunnel of terror that’s not really all that scary.
You might be thinking that these books are aimed squarely at kids or, more specifically, geeky kids, but the great thing about Greg is that he doesn’t know that he’s maybe a little weird. He thinks he’s a cool kid who just hasn’t had the chance to show the world (which, to him, is his school and immediate family) everything he can do. There’s something to respect about that. The book also works for adults because, as Kinney told me in the interview, it was actually originally intended for adults and was changed to be aimed at kids towards the end of the process. From a writing level, even though it’s from Greg’s perspective, there’s a lot of humor to be found in Greg’s vision of the world compared to the real world we know as adults. I would imagine there’s plenty in there for kids to relate to, but the jokes often work on multiple levels.
After reading the first and fourth books, I wanted to continue with the series, but couldn’t find the second book on the cheap until the weekend before last when I stumbled upon it. Soon after, I found myself reading 2, 3 and eventually 5 which I was sent a review copy of after doing the interview. I really can’t recommend these books enough to younger and older readers alike. From Greg’s relationship with his parents and his family to his disdain for most of his fellow classmates and middle school in general, there’s really something here for everyone in a very broad sense. I also think that if you grew up in the 70s and 80s, there’s a lot going on here that you can related to. I remember going over to my friend’s house because he always got new video games while I usually waited for the price to go down. I remember going to church and hoping certain girls I didn’t even know would be there just because they were pretty. I remember making up comic strips with stupid jokes and games that could have resulted in some pretty serious injury but thankfully never did. I remember being terrified of teenagers for no real reason. I remember wondering what my first boy/girl party would be like. I might not have been as much of a jerk as Greg (that might depend on which of my grade school classmates you ask, there was a time where I wasn’t the nicest person around) and wasn’t as outgoing as him, but these books were just packed with moments I found myself grinning and full-on laughing at.
The only negative aspect of the books I can see is that kids today might not be able to relate to them as much as I do. I say this knowing that most of the books have ended up on the New York Times Bestseller List, been turned into two major motion pictures and spawned a balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade this year, but the way the kids act sometimes reminds me more of my childhood than the one of seen of the younger generation. Do parents still let their kids run around by themselves on Halloween? Do kids still run around their neighborhoods playing games? Do schools still do lock ins? I honestly don’t know, though I’ll be personally dining out in a few years. I hope I’m completely wrong about this, but I have my suspicions.
Talking to Kinney was a lot of fun. He turned out to be a really down to earth guy who seemed to not believe how well he’d done since the 2007 premiere of Wimpy Kid. He actually turned the questions around on me when I mentioned that I journaled from 7th grade all the way to the early days of college where I eventually ran out of time. I’ve been thinking about starting it back up, but Kinney mentioned something interesting, saying that you wind up spending more time writing about life than living it. Either way, I love the books and hope to pass them along to a younger read to borrow. I think they’d be a pretty good gateway into comics for a lot of kids and also potentially a way to get them writing in a diary or journal. Anyway, if you see the books around, do give them a shot, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.