Binding Trade Post: Guy Gardner Warrior

guy gardner warrior 17 Guy Gardner: Warrior Volume 1 (DC)
Written by Beau Smith & Chuck Dixon, drawn by Mitch Byrd & others
Binding Order: Guy Gardner: Warrior #17-24, 0, 25-28, Green Lantern #60, GGW #29, Action Comics #709, GGW #30-31, Guy Gardner: Warrior Annual #1, Detention Comics #1 & Showcase ’96 #1

This one’s a little bit of a cheat because it’s not an actual trade that you can go out and buy, but a pair of hardcovers I had made through Houchen Bindery. I had gotten some extra cash for Christmas and my birthday that I put aside for a binding project and got to work amassing whichever books I was missing, having my parents bring out stacks from home and getting everything together. I soon focused in on two areas: the Kyle Rayner Green Lantern comics and Guy Gardner: Warrior, both books that had a huge impact on me in my formative comic-reading years that I continue to enjoy this day. I spent a good deal of time designing three different covers for the GL books, but decided to go with the more traditional, solid-colored covers for the Warrior books partially because I was tired of staring at computer screens and Photoshopping like crazy (something that proved very difficult with most of the GGW covers) and because I got a kick out of the idea of seeing my Guy Gardner comics covered in a way that makes them look like classy library books.

For a book that I love so much, I don’t actually remember why I picked up my first issue of Guy Gardner. I think I had read an adventure or two of his in random issues of Justice League I’d acquired along the way (this was before my massive post-Crisis JL collection idea), but wasn’t overly familiar with the character. Anyway, some time in 1994 I picked up Guy Gardner: Warrior #17, 18 or 19 and was instantly hooked. This was towards the end of Chuck Dixon’s run on the character where Guy — who was sporting Sinestro’s old yellow ring at the time and no longer a member of the Green Lantern Corps — was going through all kinds of costume changes from the leather-loving dude in the cover above to a ringless armor-wearer to the eventual morph meister he would soon become. These are all concepts that probably seem silly now, but were like crack to an 11 year old.

So, I’ve been a fan of the character going back nearly 20 years at this point and, aside from some of the Geoff Johns-era Green Lantern Corps, most people don’t seem to get the character. Many have the impression of Guy that he’s just a jerk with powers, but if you’ve read Dixon and Beau Smith’s run on the book, you know that it’s a lot deeper than all that. Sure, he’s kind of a jerk, but these writers also got to the underlying bedrock of the character, examining why he was a jerk and also showing all the ways that he’s so much more than that by getting into his relationship with his mom, dad, brother and on-and-off-again girlfriend Tora (better known as the superheroine and fellow Justice Leaguer Ice).

guy gardner binding

Smith has talked about how his run on the book came about in a two part post over on Westfield Comics’ blog, how it began life as a DCU-hopping adventure featuring Buck Wargo and the Monster Hunters and soon turned into that but with a sci-fi/fantasy element incorporating morphing abilities like the ones seen in the then-popular Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series. The books that I put in this volume feature Guy dealing with those new powers, questioning his origins in regards to the newly discovered Vuldarian DNA doing its thing inside him and also setting up his new life which includes funding from Wargo (a scientist-adventurer-millionaire) and a bar called Warriors that’s equal parts hero hangout and headquarters which happens to be the most long-lasting element of this run.

I decided to include a few crossovers like Green Lantern #60 and Action Comics #709, but also the first annual which was part of the Year One line that year. It’s an interesting take with some not so great art that shows how Vuldarians used to do their intergalactic policing back in the day. I also threw in the Detention Comics one-shot which features Guy substitute teaching as well as two other stories featuring Robin (Tim Drake) and Superboy and Showcase ’96 #1 which includes the first part of a two-parter featuring Guy teaming up with Steel where we learn that they used to play football at the same time. Fun stuff. The second half of that story kicks off the next book.

Guy Gardner Warrior 34 Guy Gardner: Warrior Volume 2 (DC)
Written by Beau Smith, drawn by Mitch Byrd, Marc Campos & others
Binding Order: Showcase ’96 #2, GGW #32, Justice League America #101, Hawkman #22, GGW #33, JLA #103, Hawkman #23, GGW #34-36, Darkstars #37, GGW #37-44, GGW Annual #2, & Mr. Miracle #7

Towards the end of the previous book Guy realizes his Vuldarian powers are going out of control because his peoples’ natural enemies the Tormocks have returned to the cosmos. In an effort to save himself and his planet from the impending invasion, Guy goes to the Justice League (who he’s pissed at for their shoddy treatment of him when Ice died fighting the Overmaster) and asks them for help. They agree to help him which launches into a seven part crossover called The Way Of The Warrior that also included Justice League America and Hawkman.

Unfortunately, this story is a bit of a slog because it felt like three different, yet concurring stories being told at the same time featuring some of the same characters, but not necessarily mattering so much to one another. The JLA are dealing with all their internal bickering while also facing off against some space bad guys while Hawkman returns to Thanagar for the first time in a long while. It’s all stuff that makes sense within the contexts of those books, but doesn’t really have much to do with Guy’s mission which eventually gets wrapped up so he can return home, but only after a few more issues where he appears in Darkstars and one where his clone attacks his pals at Warriors. Basically, it felt like it took way more time than it should have to return Guy to the setting and supporting cast that I find so enjoyable. Still, it’s cool seeing Guy fighting alongside fellow badasses like Lobo, Probert, Hawkman and Wonder Woman, even if the latter two appear in guises that might not look familiar to modern readers.

The rest of the run focuses on those elements by doing the traditional superhero stuff and other fun stories like a superhero-filled Christmas party and the end of the book which accumulates most of the bad guys Guy’s faced during his time as Warrior and throws them at him all at once. He also deals with his mother moving in, a possible romance with Ice’s best friend Fire and Buck’s decision to turn Guy into both a cartoon and an action figure. While there were some plot lines that were left dangling as the series came to an end with #44, I still really enjoy what Smith did with his whole run and how he set Guy up to be a bit of a different kind of hero in the DCU. Of course, that didn’t really happen, but he tried.

My book ends with a Legends Of The Dead Earth annual that features tales of post-Guy Vuldarians throughout the galaxy long after the Earth has ceased to be. This one actually makes a really good bookend to the Guy Gardner: Warrior story that I hadn’t read before putting this book together because I never really understood what the point of LOTDE was. Finally, I included Mister Miracle #7 because I saw online that Guy appeared and he does, but it’s not really important to anything. Had this one costed more than a buck or two, I probably would have skipped it, but I was doing okay within my budget and had enough space, so there it is.

Back when I had the first 20-or-so issues of Peter David’s Aquaman bound I actually read through all the issues before sending them out which I actually regretted upon getting the books back from the bindery. I wanted to make sure I still liked the comic, but when I got the actual books in the mail — something that’s always super exciting — I knew I wasn’t going to dive right back in because I just read them a month or so ago. I’d actually read through this run back in college so I knew I still liked it and didn’t go through it again before mailing them off. This time I was able to carry the excitement of getting the package in the mail over to actually reading the books, which I probably did in about a week (subtracting the week we were in Disney and I didn’t have much time to read).

Books Of Oa: New 52 Green Lantern Sinestro & Green Lantern Corps Fearsome

Green Lantern Volume 1: Sinestro (DC)
Written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Doug Mahnke with Mike Choi
Collects Green Lantern #1-6

When I first heard about the New 52, the first two franchises I wondered about were Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern stuff and Grant Morrison’s Batman books. Not only were they two of the most popular series’ at the time, but they were also pretty longform works by some of the top talents in the biz. How would this reboot change them? Well, apparently they didn’t, not really. While this certainly offered a good deal of confusion to readers trying to figure out the differences between the two sets of continuity, it’s actually not such a big deal to a more casual trade reader like myself.

I should note that I don’t have and haven’t read the War of the Green Lantern story that, I believe, ended with the old universe, but from what I’ve read online and seen in this book, the connections are very strong, possibly the strongest between continuities as I didn’t find myself wondering about changed details or anything like that while reading this book which finds Sinestro back in the Green Lantern duds and Hal Jordan on the outs. So, while I don’t know the details behind these story (not continuity) based changes, I caught on pretty quickly and was along for the ride.

All of which brings me to the actual story which involves Sinestro creating a ring that he can control for Hal to use in order to help remove the Sinestro Corps from his home planet of Korugar. They head there, lose some power and allow the people to help them break free and win their own freedom. Meanwhile, Hal is also dealing with his relationship with Carol Ferris and the Guardians decide to create  the Third Army (after the Manhunters and the Green Lanterns). This is clearly the big overarching Green Lantern franchise story being built toward, but unlike some of the preWOTGL stories, these storiesdon’t feel like they’re only there to service the larger story and do a lot to both get new readers involved in what’s going on and also give plenty of service to long time fans (something that Johns has built his career on).

You know what makes all of the above even better? Doug Mahnke’s artwork. That guy was born to draw a book featuring not only a plethora of aliens but also all the constructs the imagination can create. I’ve been a fan of his since I first saw him on Man of Steel and on through the rest of his career. He is perfect on this book. As such, when you get to the last issue in the collection, it’s a pretty gigantic difference, one that doesn’t do anyone any favors. I’ve liked Mike Choi’s art on a lot of books, but it looks really sleight and faint here, which sometimes happens if pencils get colored without inking (no idea if that’s actually what happened here, but that’s what it reminds me of). Between that and the almost pastel coloring choices, you couldn’t genetically engineer an issue that looks more out of place after reading five issues featuring Mahnke’s dark, bold, bombastic pencils. Still, I’m a big fan of this trade because, if nothing else, it’s a return to form for Johns and the GL concepts I fell in love with post-Rebirth.

Green Lantern Corps Volume 1: Fearsome (DC)
Written by Peter Tomasi, drawn by Fenando Pasarin, Geraldo Borges & Claude St. Aubin
Collects Green Lantern Corps #1-7

The problem I had with the first issue of the new GLC when I read it months ago was that it felt like a rehash of stuff I’d already read. You’ve got Lanterns Guy Gardner and John Stewart realizing that they don’t have much of a place on Earth and moving to Oa, something Guy did in the previous GLC series with Kyle Rayner. You’ve also got a mysterious, seemingly Lantern-based force killing GLs in Sector Houses. It wasn’t the most thrilling thing to an old hat GL fan like myself, but then I remembered that these books are as much for people like me as new readers, if not more so the latter.

So, I tried reading this book with that in mind and I think it helped. It doesn’t reach that balance nearly as well as the Green Lantern volume, but this collection still offered an interesting and intense adventure that really looked like the GLs wouldn’t make their way out of (as much as you can expect something like that from a Big Two team book). Not only that, but we get introduced to a group of old warhorse GLs called Mean Machine and a guest appearance by Martian Manhunter of Stormwatch connecting this story more to the New 52 than the other.

The story also did something pretty interesting that explained an old trait of GLC members. Back in the day, they used to be able to reach into a pocket dimension, grab their lanterns and recharge. It’s something that’s been missing since the Kyle Rayner days and, honestly, I hadn’t thought about it in a while, so this was kind of a fun geek service thing. On the other hand, I can only imagine what it was like for new readers who have no idea what any of this refers to thought about it.

There was one story detail that still sticks in my craw. It’s a pretty big part of it, so I’ll let loose the SPOILER WARNING. At one point a small group of Lanterns gets captured by the bad guys and are being tortured for information. One of the rookies is just about to break so John Stewart frees himself just enough to snap that Lantern’s neck, killing him. It’s a super dark moment that I’m not sure if I like or not, especially having been a fan of Stewart’s for so long, but I guess it shows how much of a soldier he’s become. I was further confused by the fact that Stewart was able to cover up the murder considering he has a ring on his finger that can give a full report back to his superiors. It didn’t feel quite right on character level or a logic one, but maybe that’s the new world we’re dealing with (that’s got to be a great crutch to fall back on if you screw something up, isn’t it?).

After having read these books, I’m still in it when it comes to the Green Lantern books. I’m curious to check out the Red Lantern one and the New Guardians or whatever that other book with Kyle Rayner is is called. Plus, I have to admit, I’m curious to find out what the Guardians have up their sleeve with this whole Third Army thing. Color me interested.

The Box: Venom Lethal Protector #3, Brave & The Bold #157 & Adventures Of Superman #473

To be completely honest, this installment of The Box is a bit of a cheat. First off, I read a pair of terrible comics I literally have nothing to say about. I won’t say what they were, but they were both mid 90s Image books that did nothing for me. I don’t want these posts to be completely negative and I also want to have some fun, so those books went right into the recycle bin. I also actually specifically purchased the latter two books at a flea market, so they’re not as random as the other picks, but we’ll get back to that next week, I’m sure. Did I succeed at picking out good comics for myself to read? You’ll have to read (or scroll) on down to find out.

The one random comic from this post is Venom: Lethal Protector #3 (1993) written by David Micheline and drawn by Mark Bagley. Venom’s not a character I’ve ever really been into, but there was always something a little cool and dangerous about seeing these comics in the pages of Wizard or on comic stands when I was looking for the books I wanted.

This issue really has all the components you’d expect from a 90s comic starring Venom. He cracks wise while beating up on bad guys wearing a LOT of armor. There’s actually a solid story underneath all that with a guy trying to get revenge on Venom for his dead son.

Overall, it’s a fine story. I think it’s hard to take a book with so many spikes and pouches seriously these days, but that was the mode of the day. On the other hand, though, Bagley’s art doesn’t look as jagged and crazy as a lot of the popular artists of the day. He is just a damn solid, classic style artist that looks rad no matter what he’s drawing. I won’t be keeping this comic nor will I be tracking down the rest of the issues, but it was a fun read for a few minutes and now I’m ready for the next thing.

I chose this comic for one simple reason: I wanted to see how Jack Kirby’s Last Boy On Earth found his way to Gotham to team-up or tussle with Batman. Brave And The Bold #157 (1979) was written by Bob Haney with Jim Aparo artwork and unfortunately, it’s pretty boring. The story revolves around a new super powered enforcer on the scene and Batman trying to figure it out. However, since we know that Kamandi’s in the issue and doesn’t show upfor a while it’s not much of a surprise that it’s him.

The worst part though is that the scenes between Kamandi and Batman just aren’t that fun or interesting, I just kept thinking about how much cooler this issue could have been or how rad the team-up between the two of them was on the wonderful animated version of this comic from a year or two back. It also sounds like the BATB issue where Batman goes to Kamandi’s time was a lot more interesting.

I think even if I wasn’t comparing this issue to those other stories that I wanted, I still would have hoped for less Batman-talking-to-people and more Kamandi-punching-people. I’m just simple like that, I guess.

It was neat seeing Aparo draw Kamandi, though.

I grabbed this issue of Adventures Of Superman #473 from 1990) because it’s not part of the wonderful Man Of Steel trade series, it has Green Lanterns in it and that Dan Jurgens cover sure looked neat!  Written and drawn by Jurgens, the issue was great looking, but it was the kind of story I’ve read before. Basically Hal Jordan’s being held captive by a giant alien who crashed and remained underground for many years. He sens out a distress signal for Superman who winds up teaming with Guy Gardner. Unfortunately, this is also the version of Guy that really grates on me: the asshole loudmouth who never shuts up. I’m more a fan of the confident, but layered version Beau Smith wrote in Guy Gardner: Warrior.

So, while the main story felt like something else I’d read (another Superman story? something with the Fantastic Four?) I was actually more interested in what was going on back at the Daily Planet because this was right after Lois and Clark got engaged the first time. I came to Superman a few years after this when he was killed, but a lot of what was going on in issues from this time were referred to when I came on and even well after Supes returned.

While I wasn’t really ennamored with this issue, I will hold on to it. I kind of want to fill all the post Crisis Superman holes that exist between the existing trades and when I started collecting. Just thinking about that makes me a bit sleepy.

Books Of Oa: Green Lantern Emerald Warriors

Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors (DC)
Written by Peter J. Tomasi, drawn by Fernando Pasarin
Collects Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #1-7

After reading every post-Rebirth Green Lantern comic culminating in Blackest Night, I needed a bit of a Green Lantern break. Then, a week or two back I realized I had most of the books that followed and decided to give them a read. I should say that I only read a few random Brightest Day issues and have very little idea of what happened in that book, but from what I can tell by the Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps and Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors issues I read, it doesn’t really matter all that much. I should also say that I read these collections a bit out of order. It would have been best to read GL: Brightest Day first and then Emerald Warriors and the GLC books, but it’s not that big of a deal, I’ll explain as I go.

The reason I chose to read Emerald Warriors first is because I really enjoyed Tomasi’s run on GLC and because I’m a big Guy Gardner fan, so it seemed like a natural fit. Basically, Guy hears about some trouble in the unknown sectors which are pretty much what they sound like, areas not patrolled by GLs. He asks the Guardians about exploring these areas and they agree, deciding to send Kilowog and Arisia along as well. Meanwhile, Sodam Yat makes something of a come back as a kind of religious leader.

While the series seemed a little like a fresh start that still dealt with Tomasi’s elements from his GLC run that would stand on its own, giving some fan favorite GLs the spotlight, it turned out to be a big lead into War of the Green Lanterns which I have yet to read. See, Guy was actually working on prophecy that he saw and shared with Ganthet and Atrocitus. The three decided to work together in secret and this formed the backbone of all three GL books. The main threat is an alien named Zardor who has enslaved an army of psychics to help cloud the minds of Green Lanterns into thinking they’re fighting evil when they’re really fighting for him.

Normally I’d throw in a bit here about how I wish the whole series was collected in one volume, but as the few remaining issues of EW were part of the larger War of the GL storyline, it makes more sense for them to be collected in that order. This book isn’t really satisfying on its own, but it is a fun step towards the next big, huge GL story. I probably would have preferred letting each book do it’s own thing after Blackest Night, but what I’ve read of the in-between stuff, War is probably worth the build up. I hope.

Books Of Oa: Green Lantern Corps Emerald Eclipse

GREEN LANTERN CORPS: EMERALD ECLIPSE (DC)
Written by Peter J. Tomasi, drawn by Patrick Gleason
Collects Green Lantern Corps #33-39
Remember how when I talked about the previous volume of GLC called Sins Of The Star Sapphire that it felt like Tomasi didn’t quite have Dave Gibbons’ flair for treating this book like the cop show it had previously been? Well, that’s not the case with Eclipse which has a ridiculous number of huge moments packed into seven issue. This book contains Arisia and Yat defending Daxam from Mongul, Soranik and Kyle’s relationship moving along at a fast clip, Saarek meeting a Star Sapphire, a battle between Mongul and Arkillo (that’s a personal favorite), Scar engineering a breakout in the Sciencells, Sinestro revealing to Soranik that he is her father, Ash and Saarek finally meeting up on their quest to find the Anti-Monitor, Scar destroying Oa’s protective Lantern-shaped shell, Yat sacrificing himself in Daxam’s sun to save his home planet and Guy and Kyle trying to put a stop to the Alpha Lanterns killing the surviving rioters from the breakout. While reading this book, I was trying to remember when many of those events take place and was shocked how many take place in one episode. It’s like watching “The Puffy Shirt” episode of Seinfeld which not only had the infamous shirt, but also boasts the low-talker woman AND George trying to become a hand model. In my mind, those were all different episodes, but it turns out it’s all one!

Tomasi improved greatly in his ability to handle so many characters and so many rad moments. Patrick Gleason, who for some reason I didn’t realize has drawn most of this series, also seemed to jump a few levels in talent. The way he tackles the fight scenes look big and crazy and choreographed and scary. Next to Doug Mahnke, he’s my favorite artist for this property.

I guess I don’t have a lot more to say about this series other than I have been really enjoying it and, having jumped into reading the Blackest Night, Blackest Night: Green Lantern and Blackest Night: Green Lantern collections, am really impressed with how big and epic the whole thing feels. It’s not like everything that was going on in GLC–which is essentially a secondary book–stops, in fact it’s quite the opposite with things like the Sinestro/Mongul showdown taking place in the middle of the action. Also, for what it’s worth, I think Tomasi and Gibbons before him actually did more to open up a heck of a lot more characters to the reader than Johns did with Hal in Green Lantern. Instead of repeatedly showing young Hal thinking about his dad dying or the conflict with Sinestro, you get looks at Guy’s relationship with Ice, Kyle’s budding romance with Soranik, how different GLs deal with the deaths of their comrades. There’s a lot going on in this book and think it would actually make an insanely entertaining TV series, though it would need a pretty impressive budget. Someone get HBO on the phone!

Books Of Oa: Green Lantern Corps Sins Of The Star Sapphire

GREEN LANTERN CORPS: SINS OF THE STAR SAPPHIRE (DC)
Written by Peter J. Tomasi, drawn by Patrick Gleason & Luke Ross
Collects Green Lantern Corps #27-32
So after the Sinestro Corps War and Ring Quest, the Green Lantern Corps finds themselves at odds with even more Sinestro Corps members like Quintet and Kryb, but also on a mission to discover even more about the Star Sapphires who we hadn’t really seen much of since Green Lantern: Wanted. We start off by seeing the new Warrior’s bar and grill on Oa and also meet Green Lantern Saarek who can talk to the dead. Good thing he popped up because some ugly looking Sinestro Corps member has been killing the family members of GL rookies and sent their eyes to Oa. While that killer, actually a set of five brothers and sisters going by the Quintet, is being hunted down, Ice, Guy’s ex who is now back from the dead, hitched a ride to Oa and Scar asks Saarek to search for the Anti-Monitor’s corpse. She also asked Ash to do this over in the “Alpha Lanterns” story, though he’s not mentioned at all in this book. I believe they later show up working on it together.

Anyway, the rest of this trade deals with Mongul on his way to Daxam while inadvertently creating a new Red Lantern, Ice telling guy she wants some time on earth to rediscover herself, a group of GLs including Kyle and Saranik hunting down the baby stealing Sinestro Corps member Kryb and Yat, Arisia and Guy accompanying a few of the Guardians–including Scar–on a trip to Zamaron where the Zamarons basically tell the Guardians that they’re not going to back down in their attempt to bring and foster love in the universe. The third new law of the Book of Oa also goes out saying that love between GLs is forbidden, which, again, is strange timing because it turns out that, according to that newly minted Star Sapphire’s gem, that Kyle and Soranik are bound to fall in love.

The Kryb stuff is super creepy (hence the horror tag) and done very well, but I’ve noticed the biggest difference now that Tomasi is on the book instead of Dave Gibbons. Overall, I like Gibbons as a writer on this book better than Tomasi, though I do enjoy Tomasi’s run. The difference is that Gibbons was telling stories with lots and lots of different characters with elements that were leading towards bigger stories, but Tomasi’s stories all seem like they’re just servicing the greater story instead of being important on their own. It’s less NYPD Blue and more…I don’t know, CSI in that it focuses less on multiple stories and instead just one. I still dig the stories, but there’s a definitely difference.

A few things I found interesting while reading through this book before moving on. First off, I think the Kyle/Soranik relationship feels really shoehorned. When I was reading these books in single issues, I bought it a lot more because I figured I missed a few hints at it during SCW, but having just read that book, it seems pretty out-of-nowhere. The other thing that caught my attention is how different lanterns fill their rings the first time. We know that Yellow ones get put in a fear lodge and have to relive their own personal fears to fill the ring, but in this book we find that the Purple light actually takes the place of an emptiness in the bearer’s heart (I wonder if a man can be a Star Sapphire). Finally, it seems like GLs are super easy to kill lately, right? One of them gets smashed in Kryb’s back spine things. That seems a bit easy to me. I don’t remember them saying anywhere that the various lights have different effects on each other (aside from Blue and Green, but we’ll get to that in the next installment).

Books Of Oa: Green Lantern Corps Ring Quest

GREEN LANTERN CORPS: RING QUEST (DC)
Written by Peter Tomasi, drawn by Patrick Gleason & Carlos Magno
Collects Green Lantern Corps #19, 20, 23-26
Usually skipping issues in a trade paperback is a pet peeve of mine, but I think (much as I hate to admit it) that it works pretty well for this collection. See, issues #21 and 22 tell the story of Boodika after she becomes an Alpha Lantern, something I’ll cover in the next Books Of Oa. If memory serves, those two issues aren’t so great and definitely don’t fit into the larger story going on here, though I do hope they get collected at some point in some form. One other quick bit of housekeeping to mention is that the version of GLC #19 collected in this volume is the full issue unlike the edited excerpt you can find in Sinestro Corps War Volume 2. I assume they included what they did in that volume because it all had to do with the GLs dealing with the aftermath of the war while the bits they didn’t are all moving on type moments, like Guy meeting up with the newly undead Ice (his former girlfriend who died a while back).

Okay, so as I mentioned, this book picks up right after Sinestro Corps War which I reviewed yesterday. Also, as I mentioned, the first issue in this collection deals with how the different GLs deal with the end of the war/surviving. Kyle and Guy aren’t really sure what to do with themselves on Earth, Soranik helps wounded GLs, Kilowog heads to Oa for a dinner with his family, Iolande tries to balance being a queen with being a GL and, the best moment to me, Vath Sarn sits in a bar making constructs of every dead Lantern and taking a drink for him. I’m really growing to like that character and his rough soldier ways. Anyway, Kyle and Guy soon decided to move to Oa where they’ll open a new Warriors (the bar/restaurant Guy opened in Guy Gardner: Warrior which got destroyed in Rebirth).

All the good fun times come to an end pretty quickly when Kyle, Guy, Soranik, Stel, Iolande, Vath, Arisia, Sodam and Bzzt get tasked by the Guardians to track down Sinestro Corps rings in the Vega system which used to be off limits, but things are changing in the universe. As it happens, Mongul (Mongul Jr., to be exact) got his hands on a yellow ring in a manner pretty much like Hal got his from Abin Sur. Mongul’s been killing any nearby Yellow Lanterns who don’t want to follow him except a two-headed psycho called Duel who becomes his first lantern. Then, Mongul heads to the home planet of the Black Mercy which eventually attracts all the other GLs on the mission. There’s lots of craziness I don’t want to spoil and we get the history of both Mongul (quite concise) and the Black Mercy (including its involvement in No Fear). During all this the Guardians, including the one who got jacked up by the Anti-Monitor in SCW and who will soon be going by Scar, notice that the Pink Lanterns are starting to spread their light over the galaxy. It’s interesting, even though Mercy winds up trying on both sets of green and yellow bling at the end of the issue, she seems more apt to join either the Pink or Blue Lanterns. Her original intent was to help people by easing their pain, which could be considered an act of love, but she also gave hope. I wonder if she’ll come back eventually.

I kind of love seeing people try to explain old Alan Moore stories. I’m sure he never cared too much where the Mercies or Mongul came from, he just wanted to make up some characters and elements in order to tell the story (of course, I could be completely wrong on that one). Anyway, I think it’s interesting that, when Dave Gibbons wrote this book, it felt more like a cop show popping in and out of different cases worked on by different officers, but when Tomasi took over, everyone’s thrown together and treated more like a traditional superhero team. I still really liked this book and had fun with them throwing down with Mongul (he’s one of the toughest villains around). Another element I appreciate is that, at the end of SCW, the yellow rings didn’t just go away. Just like with WWII, there’s still Nazis running around being evil and they need to be rounded up. That’s kind of what GLC did for a while between big giant events. Fun 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!