Books Of Oa: Green Lantern Sector 2814 Volume 1

Green_Lantern_Sector_2814_vol_01 Green Lantern: Sector 2814 Vol. 1 (DC)
Written by Len Wein, drawn by Dave Gibbons
Collects Green Lantern #172-176, 178-181

As regular UM readers will know, I’m kind of in love with the idea of space cops patrolling the galaxy and keeping people safe. I’ve mostly written about Geof Johns’ run here on the site, but I actually got my start back when Hal Jordan went nuts and the young gun known as Kyle Rayner took over for him. As such, my experience with Hal Jordan before the mid 90s was slim. I resented that all the old comic readers wanted to seem him return and thought he was boring (because, like them, he was old).

But, this is a pretty interesting character, if you’re into dudes who struggle with balancing duty with their own impetuous nature. Those are the traits on display in Len Wein and Dave Gibbons’ first combined arc which started by asking whether Hal would be able to return to earth. Apparently, before this book, he was told to stay away for a full year and finally got the go-ahead to head back to see his gal Carol Ferris and, well, that’s about it. He only really seems to care about his work friends and her in this particular arc.

In addition to rekindling things with his special lady, Hal found himself tangling with the likes of future Suicide Squad member Javelin, The Shark, Demolition Team, Predator (who would later show up in my beloved Extreme Justice) and even the Guardians! What’s that you say? Yup, Ha gets bent out of shape when he’s called to go save an entire planet while Ferris Air is under attack. Apparently that’s a bad thing in his mind, but to the casual, non-10-year-old observer, it just makes perfect sense. At the end of the day, he winds up quitting the GL Corps. WHAT?! Yup, to be continued in Sector 2814 Volume 2 (which I don’t have, so we’ll see how long it takes for a review of that one).

While I don’t know if I’ll ever feel super in line with Hal Jordan’s way of thinking, I still really enjoyed this book. It felt like a solid return to some of the goofy Silver Age stuff I’ve read but never really written about because I think it’s pretty silly. Wein and Gibbons take that and put it all through a more modern prism which feels real, honest and adult. I especially found myself marveling over Gibbons’ work. He’s an artist who everyone knows from Watchmen, but I have very little experience with aside from that. Here he gets to play superhero and it looks great. It also looks super bright thanks to colors by Anthony Tollin. This might be one of the brightest, most enjoyable reading experiences of my comic book reading career. All of that earns this book a place on my shelf and an eye towards future volumes.

Trade Post: Bloody Mary & Tom Strong Volume 1

bloody mary gart ennis tpb Bloody Mary (Helix/Vertigo/DC)
Written by Garth Ennis, drawn by Carlos Ezquerra
Collects Bloody Mary #1-4, Bloody Mary: Lady Liberty #1-4

Garth Ennis is one of those comic creators who has earned a life-time pass as far as I’m concerned. His work on Preacher (my reviews of which you can read here, here and here) resulted in one of my favorite works of fiction ever. I’ve read plenty of his other stuff from the myriad of World War II-inspired tales to things like Punisher: Welcome Back Frank and The Authority: Kev. While most of those other books don’t match Preacher (probably because that book now stands on such a pedestal in my mind) they’re all enjoyable.

When I saw a copy of his Bloody Mary trade on a fellow Sequential Swapper’s page, I was quick to try and get my hands on it. We were able to work something out and I eventually got to reading it fairly recently. Packed with the usual Ennis dark humor and bloody violence, the two miniseries’ featured in the collection follow the adventures of a super soldier by the name of Bloody Mary who fights on the side of the US and Britain in their longrunning war with Europe in the year 2012. As you might expect from a Garth Ennis comic, neither side is particularly angelic and just about everyone has severe emotional and psychological problems, but that doesn’t stop them from having a sense of humor about all the terrible things going on around them.

Both stories — which were published in the mid-90s by DC’s short-lived sci-fi tinged imprint Helix — work really well in their allotted four issue stories which can be a nice change if you’re used to huge, overarching comic stories. It’s nice to see a writer and artist get in there, do their thing and walk away with four rad issues of art and story. Speaking of which, Carlos Ezquerra is pretty much the perfect artist for this book. He’d done plenty of dystopian war torn futures from his days working on 2000 AD. In fact, I’d say that, even though Mary herself is American and Ennis is Irish, the look and feel of Bloody Mary reminds me of what few British comics I’ve read and seen from the lates 70s/early 80s, but in a way that doesn’t feel old or tired. I’m not sure if this was their first pairing, but Ennis and Ezquerra would go on to work together plenty of times and now I kind of want to back and read some of those WWII stories.

tom strong volume 1 Tom Strong Volume 1 (America’s Best Comics/WildStorm/DC)
Written by Alan Moore, drawn by Chris Sprouse with Art Adams, Gary Frank, Dave Gibbons & Jerry Ordway
Collects Tom Strong #1-7

By the time Alan Moore launched America’s Best Comics through WildStorm  back in 1999 I’d probably read Watchmen, but it was still a little over my head. So, I wasn’t as crazy excited about ABC as I should have been. I’ve written extensively about League of Extraordinary Gentlemen here and here as well as Top 10, but the two glaring omissions in my ABC reading have been Tom Strong and Promethea. I’ve attempted to read both of these books at different times in my comic reading career and even have the very first issue of Tom Strong signed by Chris Sprouse (as well as a sketch of Tom that Sprouse very nicely did for me around the time of the book’s launch). And yet, neither clicked for whatever reasons.

Well, recently, again while perusing Sequential Swap, I saw the first volume of Tom Strong up for trade and decided to give it a read. Man am I glad I did. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, Tom Strong is a kind of Doc Savage type character whose scientist dad decided to move to an island in 1899 when Strong’s mom was still pregnant with him. Tom was born into a pressurized containment unit where he was taught by his parents and their robot Pneuman but never had skin to skin interaction with them until the day an earthquake hit, his parents were killed and Tom emerged to be raised by the island’s natives, a group who had mastered their own sciences. Tom strong eventually married their princess Dhalua, became a renowned adventurer and had a daughter named Tesla.

Much like Bloody Mary, I enjoyed how these issues mostly did their own thing while also adding to the growing mythology of Tom Strong. And that’s really the beauty of this particular Alan Moore comic book, you get the feeling that this entire world exists in his head and he’s giving you exactly what details you require when you need them to not only keep you invested in the story, but also to show you how deep that well goes. Each issue is basically a self-contained story that also includes a back-up story, usually informing the formerl. I loved the storytelling on display which could be enjoyed both for the adventure itself, but also as a way of watching a writer convey story and worldbuilding to the reader without ever getting heavy-handed or boring.

Speaking of never boring, the art in this book is masterful. Sprouse’s style is absolutely perfect for the big, bold heroics that go along with the core of Tom Strong as a character and a comic book. His lines are so clean and clear that you always know exactly what’s going on which is even more impressive when you think about how dense Moore’s scripts can be. Adding to the visual fun is a host of beloved artists who offered their talents to the back ups. Art Adams and Gary Frank are two of my absolute favorites so seeing them do some stories was great. You also get to see Jerry Ordway and Dave Gibbons do their thing.

tom strong sketch chris sprouseThe crazy thing about this book is that it kind of felt like Alan Moore was using some of his crazy snake god magic on me through its pages as a way of inspiring creativity. There was something about the time and place and experience of reading this book that I’ve never experience before. As I read each issue, I was further driven to sit down and write my own stuff. I was literally reading the issue while also thinking about my own story which seemed to be growing at a much more rapid pace than usual and then putting the book down, flipping my laptop open and typing ideas like a madman. I don’t know if I was just inspired by the creativity on the page or what, but it was a really great experience.

KEEP OR DUMP: As you might already be able to tell by the reviews, I’ll be keeping both of these books in my collection because I enjoyed the reading experiences so much. When it comes to Bloody Mary, I’m sure I’ll want to return to this book both to experience this story again and also to  get a quick dose of Ennis that doesn’t involve reading a much larger run on a series like Preacher, Hitman or Punisher. Regarding Tom Strong, I’m keeping it and also doing my best to track down the other trades even though I know Moore doesn’t write the last two or three. I look forward to acquiring them and eventually reading the whole run altogether.

Books Of Oa: Sinestro Corps War Vol. 1 & 2, Tales Of The Sinestro Corps

GREEN LANTERN: THE SINESTRO CORPS WAR VOLUME 1 (DC)
Written by Geoff Johns & Dave Gibbons, drawn by Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason & Angel Unzeta
Collects Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps Special #1, Green Lantern #21-23 & Green Lantern Corps #14-15.
Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps Special was easily my favorite comic book of 2007. It was all just so crazy and well plotted out, plus the art by Ethan Van Sciver might be his best ever. After so much build up we finally got to see how big the Sinestro Corps really was (pretty huge and FULL of uggos), the deaths of some visually recognizable GLs (the big headed guy and the diamond-looking one), Kyle Rayner getting zapped to Qward and bonded with Parallax and the reveal that Superboy Prime and the Anti-Monitor are on Sinestro’s side. But, my favorite piece from the story involves Sinestro Corps member Bedovian who has literally been floating in space for years just to get into the right orbit around Oa to start sharp shooting GLs. There’s something about that element that really speaks to me, I think because it shows not only that Sinestro has been working on a very long term plan, but also that Johns has been as well.

That first chapter really sets the tone for the rest of the series by putting the Green Lanterns on the defensive and basically on their asses. The Guardians are still wrestling with the secret chapter of the Book of Oa and the Blackest Night prophecy, but that doesn’t sit well with Ganthet and Sayd who start branching out on their own going so far as to contact Hal Jordan on the sly to tell him where Kyle is and informing him that he will be a great leader of the Corps once again. If you’re unfamiliar with this collection, it bounces back and forth between issues of Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps. The GL issues focus mainly on Hal, Kyle, Guy Gardner and John Stewart in their battle on Qward while GLC deals with pretty much all the other Lanterns fighting Yellow Lanterns in space and ultimately on Mogo. Oh, we also see Sinestro appearing on his home planet of Korugar where he talks to Soranik Natu. That will be important later. Also, Salaak tasks Arisia with watching out for rookie Sodam Yat because of his involvement in the Blackest Night prophecy.

The bouncing back and forth is not as seamless as it could have been between the issue transitions, but I love how this story was crafted. At the time, Sinestro Corps War was a surprise hit for DC. You can tell because the story was contained solely in the two existing books and spilled over very little into other books. Even the inclusion of the one-shots in the Tales Of The Sinestro Corps which all came out towards the end of the story’s run seem like last minute follow ups, but more on that later. Compare all that to Blackest Night which went through the two main books, it’s own miniseries, a series of minis starring major chacaters and teams AND tie-in issues in regular ongoing books. SCW had one tie-in and it was in Blue Beetle. Strange.

GREEN LANTERN: THE SINESTRO CORPS WAR VOLUME 2 (DC)
Written by Geoff Johns, Dave Gibbons & Peter Tomasi, drawn by Patrick Gleason, Angel Unuzeta, Ivan Reis, Pascal Alixe, Dustin Nguyen, Jamal Igle & Ethan Van Sciver
Collects Green Lantern #24-25, Green Lantern Corps #16-19
After spending the first volume of the story with the GLs of Earth fighting on Qward and the rest of the GLs fighting the sentient city Ranx, Sinestro Corps Members and the Children of the White Lobe on Mogo (remember we saw Ranx in Green Lantern Corps: To Be A Lantern where he had a run-in with Guy Gardner), the second volume brings everything to Earth where the real action is taking place. The Guardians assume Sinestro and his Corps are attacking Earth because it was revealed to be the seat of the multiverse after 52. There’s a lot of elements in this story that hearken back to Infinite Crisis especially the inclusion of Anti-Monitor and Superboy Prime.

Upon second reading, this second volume is now my favorite of the two. Not only do you get to see the GLC finally defeating Ranx, but the Guardians also reveal the first of ten new laws they’ve written for the book of Oa: Green Lanterns can now kill. We also see the defeat of Parallax, which Sayd and Ganthet split up and put in Hal, Kyle, John and Guy’s lanterns. Of course, that’s not all. We get more information about Sodam Yat and his past on Daxam, we see him throw down with the bratty Superboy Prime, we see Earth’s heroes get involved in the fight and, of course, we get to see the good guys defeat the bad guys. And in the end? Johns and company reveal the rest of the Lantern colors in one form or another including Ganthet and Sayd starting the Blue Lanterns based on Hope and the Black Lantern lantern.

A story like this really relies on its villains and I think they were handled masterfully in this story for the most part. Sinestro reveals that he still believes in the order the Green Lantern Cops can and should enforce in the universe. Even his Sinestro Corp oath talks about order, but he thinks that sentients will only respond to fear instead of any of the other emotions, which is why he orchestrated this entire thing to allow GLs to kill and thus instill more fear in the cosmos. He still wants to be the greatest Green Lantern. Cyborg Superman also reveals that all he wants to do is die. He’s allied himself with beings he hopes are powerful enough to end it all for him. Then there’s Superboy Prime who might be incredibly annoying, but in an understandable way. This kid gave up his regular life and his entire world to come help Superman save the universe in Crisis On Infinite Crisis. Did he get any thanks? Nope, instead he had to watch as the heroes he worshiped got broken, died or got gritty.  Sure he sounds like a message board troll at times, but I think he’s got an interesting point of view. The only one I don’t understand is the Anti-Monitor. He doesn’t really do much in the story, but more than that I don’t understand his role as the Sinestro Corps’ Guardian. For the GLs, the Guardians came together to create the Central Power Battery which gathered all the willpower int he universe. As far as I can tell from this story, though, Sinestro did that himself, so what does the Anti-Monitor do aside from bring power and look scary?

GREEN LANTERN: TALES OF THE SINESTRO CORPS (DC)
Written by Geoff Johns, Ron Marz, Alan Burnett & Sterling Gates, drawn by Dave Gibbons, Adriana Melo, Patrick Blaine, Pete Woods, Jerry Ordway, Michel Lacombe & Joe Prado
Collects Green Lantern #18-20 and Sinestro Corps Special #1 (back-ups), Tales Of The Sinestro Corps: Parallax #1, Cyborg Superman #1, Superman-Prime #1, Ion #1 and Green Lantern/Sinestro Corps Secret Files #1
I’m not the biggest fan of Tales Of The Sinestro Corps as a collection. Sure, I’m glad DC decided to collect the back-up stories about some of that Corps’ members along with the Secret Files, but I wish the Tales one-shots would have been integrated into the larger collections. I think the whole story could have been told in one huge omnibus or two larger hardcovers (like the Blackest Night collections wound up). While I like having everything collected, I don’t really like having to bounce between books to read the story in a chronological order. For what it’s worth, I read I read Parallax before getting into Volume 2, Cyborg before GL #24, Prime before GLC #18 and Ion after finishing Volume 2.

I’d like the issues put where they belong chronologically because, unlike a lot of the issues thrown together for Blackest Night, these issues are actually somewhat important. If you’ve got no idea who Cyborg Superman or Superboy Prime (I refuse to call him Superman Prime), those one-shots are great infodumps that completely catch you up on what’s going on with those characters. Meanwhile, the Parallax and Ion issues are great Kyle-centric issues written by his creator Ron Marz which act as pretty great book ends for this series, especially Ion where we discover that Kyle’s no longer Ion but now a fellow member of the Honor Guard with Guy. Both issues also pick up threads left over from the Ion 12-issue series (reviewed here).

Overall, I can’t say that this is a perfect comic book crossover. The best ones around feel and seem seamless when it comes to reading from issue to issue (I’m thinking of X-Men: Messiah Complex and Death of Superman for example). It should feel like a movie cutting back and forth between two scenes of action all by the same director, but there are enough differences and odd bits that make it feel like two different films smooshed together, though possibly by two directors who studied under the same master. I’ve still got questions about how things worked, but all in all I still really enjoy the series. The villains are solid, we get great moments for our heroes (Yat fighting Superboy Prime, Hal and Kyle in a depowered fist fight with Sinestro) and the continued expansion of the emotional spectrum and the Lanterns related to them. I think a lot of people expected the end of Sinestro Corps War to definitevly end that story, but like Bedovian, Johns has huge, long term plans that will continue to involve most of the major players in this book which reminds me of the old school 70s and 80s Marvel comics that flow one into another. Great stuff!

Books Of Oa: Green Lantern Wanted Hal Jordan & Green Lantern Corps The Dark Side Of Green

GREEN LANTERN: WANTED HAL JORDAN (DC)
Written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Ivan Reis & Daniel Acuna
Collects Green Lantern #14-20
I fully intended to do these Books Of Oa posts on a more regular basis, but got a little caught up with the holidays and all that. So, I’m going to double up for this week and hopefully get back on track. So, let’s jump right into it. Wanted is essentially split into two parts. They break down in a story sense, but also a kind of thematic sense: stuff that’s trying to clear up One Year Later and stuff that builds towards the bigger Green Lantern story. Picking up right after the previous volume Revenge Of The Green Lanterns, we finally find out what happened to Hal and his fellow co-pilots during the year jump which was essentially them crashing their plans and becoming POWs. Then, in the modern time, Cowgirl, one of the pilots, flies off to attack the terrorists who tortured them, but it’s up to Hal as GL to save her and bring her back. This pits him against the new Global Guardians and new Rocket Reds who happen to be mind controlled by one of a group of bounty hunters after him lead by Amon Sur, the son of Abin Sur, the person who held Hal’s ring before him. Amon’s hacked off at Hal and the GLC because he thinks the ring should be his to wield. This is the stuff that matters to the bigger story, not so much the Global Guardians stuff which really felt like it was going to go somewhere when it came out, but that wasn’t the case. I don’t believe they’ve been mentioned ever again, though the Rocket Red have been, especially in the pages of Justice League: Generation Lost. When these issues were coming out, they were very confusing. This time around, they tie in to the larger story, but it definitely feels like a dropped ball or one of the many times when Johns introduced/reintroduced a character/characters but never really explained much about them (see Teen Titans for more examples).

The other part of the story involves the Star Sapphire returning to Earth, first inhabiting Carol Ferris and then Cowgirl because Hal has the hots for her. This is your pretty standard Star Sapphire story until Carol starts talking about Sinestro, a coming war and the creation of a pink ring at the very end, with the Zamarons swearing to collect one of each color lantern (or something). As it turns out, the Zamarons absorb love like the Green Lanterns absorb willpower from the universe or the Sinestro Corps does fear. We see a lot of this in flashbacks along with flashbacks between Hal and Carol so it’s a good history lesson as well. Being a nerd I noticed a few continuity errors while reading, specifically when it came to flashbacks showing the Guardians and Zamarons. For one thing, female Guardians didn’t exist until after Kyle Rayner recreated them when he had the Ion power the first time. There were never male Zamarons. Also, if memory serves, the Guardians didn’t have names until the late 80s/early 90s which wasn’t a good sign for them, but Ganthet is referred to by name at some point.

Johns does a good job of weaving the two stories together, even having John Stewart posing for months as one of the bounty hunters who was after him. If memory serves, John hadn’t really been seen much since Rebirth. A lot of groundwork is laid for Sinestro Corps War (we see Qwardians enslaved on their own planet and Arkillo sending yellow rings out to bring trainees back to him, curiously, he’s wearing a purple and black suit instead of yellow and black) and even Blackest Night here, but all the OYL stuff just feels tacked on and not followed through on. I’ve noticed a bit of a pattern for Johns’ early arcs on this book, they usually involve Hal dealing with his regular life before running off to deal with some cosmic disturbance. That’s what you’d expect from a space cop, but it sometimes feels like we’re left hanging when we’re trying to learn more about Hal or his life. After this, he spends a good deal of time fighting in SCW which I’ll hopefully get to reviewing next week.

GREEN LANTERN CORPS: THE DARK SIDE OF GREEN (DC)
Written by Dave Gibbons & Keith Champagne, drawn by Patrick Gleason, Dave Gibbons & Tom Nguyen
Collects Green Lantern Corps #7-13
This collection of GLC issues is an interesting. It includes the story that the collection takes it’s name from which was written by Champgne and drawn by Gleason which introduces an established, but never seen subsection of the Corps dubbed the Corpse. It’s a black ops unit lead by a shapeshifting Durlan by the name of Von Daggle. Guy Gardner and a rookie butterfly-looking GL named R’amey have been sent by the Guardians to give Daggle a message. As it turns out, they’re his new recruits and they’re tasked with getting the rock that gave Captain Comet his powers off the Dominator planet, because one Dominator still pissed about the events depicted in the Invasion series has used it on himself to make him physically and psychically superior. It’s a pretty rad idea with lots of fun little easter eggs for continuity geeks. The bummer of the whole thing is that, even as cool as it is, I believe Geoff Johns has said this is basically a one-off story that will not be referenced again by him. That doesn’t mean that no one else will come along and once again revive the Corpse, but just think of how cool it would be if Daggle popped back up in the next big GL story line?

Once Gibbons is back to writing the book, we’re returned to his cop show-style writing where we get lots and lots of little segments, like Soranik trying to once again help people on her home planet of Korugar, Isamot Kol going to Mogo but leaving after being creeped out by Green Man, Guy Gardner getting accused of murder and the introduction of Bzzt, Mogo’s partner in the Corps who looks like a house fly. It turns out that most of these little stories lead to a larger conspiracy as it turns out that a yellow fungus has been invading Mogo along with many Corpsmen and women who have visited him for psychiatric help. I noticed the yellow things flying around people in the previous trade, but couldn’t remember if it was an overture to the Sinestro Corps, but as it turns out, it is. Mogo takes a pretty big hit at the end of the story, but he’ good for the most part. It’s not the worst thing that will happen to him. All of this leads right into Sinestro Corps War, which kicks off with a one-shot and uses Mogo along with a slew of other Lanterns in an all out war.

Books Of Oa: Green Lantern Corps To Be A Lantern

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.

Books Of Oa: Green Lantern Corps Recharge

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!

Books Of Oa: Rann-Thanagar War

RANN-THANAGAR WAR (DC)
Written by Dave Gibbons, drawn by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Joe Bennett
Collects Rann-Thanagar War #1-6
Rann-Thanagar War might seems like a strange book to include in the chronicles of the rejuvenated Green Lantern Corps, but GLs Kyle Rayner and Kilowog both played an important, though not main, role in this lead-in miniseries to 2005-2006’s Infinite Crisis which changed the shape of the DC Universe (in a few annoying places for at least this reader). At the time I was super excited about this book along with it’s brother and sister minis OMAC Project, Villains United and Day of Vengeance all of which I bought after being blown away by the Countdown to Infinite Crisis one-shot. I was in hook line and sinker and even liked Infinite Crisis when it came out (haven’t read it a second time, though the trade is on the way), but I was pretty disappointed that the series’ didn’t all really flow into Infinite Crisis as much as I hoped they would. In fact, the minis all lead to a series of one-shots that made the connection to the larger story.

But, enough of my personal history with these books, a little bit of history about the book. Though the series can be read on it’s own, it wouldn’t hurt to have read the 2004-2005 Adam Strange miniseries that Andy Diggle wrote and Pasqual Ferry drew. It was pretty awesome, though I don’t remember all of the details. Luckily–and shockingly depending on your experience–there’s actually a pretty damn solid recap page in the beginning that sums things up pretty well. The deal is that Rann (Adam Strange’s adoptive planet) got teleported out of its old orbit which put it smack up against Thanagar (the Hawkman planet). They’re enemies and both thought the other did this on purpose which spawned a war. Strange got in contact with the Hawks on Earth and brought them into the fight where they were joined by Kyle Rayner, Kilowog, Captain Comet, Vril Dox and L.E.G.I.O.N. and others, including Starfire’s evil sister Blackfire. As it actually turns out it’s not all of Thanagar intent on killed the Rannians, but actually a rogue faction within the society (I didn’t catch the real world parallels until this read), a group who worships death and the Thanagarian death god Onimar Synn. So, while the war’s raging, our heroes band together to fight on various fronts to try and stop the war.

As far as GL involvement goes, R-T W hits somewhere between Rebirth and Green Lantern Corps: Recharge, though the timing is a little strange to me. See, Kyle mentions the reverence which Captain Comet showed for him just because he was a GL in the first issue of Recharge. There’s even a span of time in which Kyle isn’t seen in the book, but he returns later which kind of fits in with his adventures in Recharge, but I assumed those adventures took a longer time with him hopping around the universe. Oh well. Anyway, the Guardians don’t want GLs involved in the war, but  is tasked with kicking some Khunds out of a space sector in which they are unwanted. Seeing as the Khunds are being hired by one side of the other, Kyle gets sucked into things with the aforementioned Captain Comet who’s kicking around with L.E.G.I.O.N. temporarily. He and Comet wind up back on Thanagar where they first throw down with Synn and then discover some living Thanagarians. Things are getting nuts when ‘Wog shows up to help out and also help terraform the planet to make it more livable. That’s pretty  much it until the book ends with Kyle and Kilowog joining back up with the rest of the crew.

It’s interesting to see Kyle not only fighting a death god like he would in Blackest Night with the rest of the universe, but also some actual zombies. I read every issue Kyle appeared in, but I can’t remember if he every fought zombies before that. As a story, I liked this one even more the second time around. Gibbons did a great job crafting a big huge story. It’s almost like he was trying out for Green Lantern Corps (though I’m sure the deal was already done by that point).

Of course, the story doesn’t end there and I’m not even talking about Infinite Crisis itself which has some definite and clear Green Lantern involvement, especially at the very end. But, what I’m really talking about is the Rann-Thanagar Special that came out after the mini finished and while IC was still going on. This one really tied the story into the overall Infinite Crisis mythology by saying that Superboy Prime pushed Rann and Thanagar into one another and caused all the destruction. The one-shot brings a few different storylines together. You’ve got the R-T War stuff but also the then-recently resurrected Donna Troy and her crew of people on her floating Greek city spaceship thing. The biggest piece of Green Lantern business that goes on in this issue is the death of Kyle’s longtime girlfriend and Alan Scott’s daughter Jade who Kyle had given some of his power to so that she could have powers again. As she passed, she gave Kyle his power back and he became Ion again which lead into, the 12-issue series of the same name written by longtime Kyle chronicler Ron Marz (review coming next week). We also see the Guardians call Kyle, with his augmented/increased power a catalyst for change and that he’s the first step in a new breed.

Like I said, my Infinite Crisis memories are a little sketchy and I don’t remember how the war against the space-hands works out as far as that series goes, but I do remember early issues of 52 dealing with many of these characters making their ways back to Earth to varying degrees of screwed-up ness (Alan Scott lost an eye, something happened to Jericho’s voice, etc.). I’ve got a lot more reading to do if I want to make sense of all this stuff again.

I’m pretty solid on the major GL series from here to just before Blackest Night, but I’ve also got to track down my pre-IC JLA issues to see how GL stuff plays into it. That book took such a massive decline in my mind that I think I’ve blocked a lot of the stories out. I know John Stewart was involved and Kyle gives his resignation in the first issue of Recharge, but there had to me a few adventures here and there that I’m missing. I’ll get to them, I promise! Post-OYL, I’m good to go.