The Great Teen Titans/Outsiders Deep Dive Part 1 – Graduation Day & Secret Files 2003

When Teen Titans by Geoff Johns and The Outsiders by Judd Winick launched in 2003, I’d been reading comics for about a decade. I still loved them, but my reading habits had changed, mostly because I was in college and diving into my to-read pile Scrooge McDuck-style when I’d come home on breaks. I still read Wizard when I could, but my actual exposure to comics was very different than it had been.

And then at some point in my junior or senior year, I discovered that a nearby hobby shop sold comics. I can’t remember if I found this out myself or if this one girl I knew mentioned it, but I started buying a few books here and there. I stuck to ones that I knew I wasn’t getting in my pull box. I think the two I started reading were Runaways and Outsiders. Not bad choices, if I do say so myself. Continue reading The Great Teen Titans/Outsiders Deep Dive Part 1 – Graduation Day & Secret Files 2003

Books Of Justice Trade Post: Second Coming & When Worlds Collide

justice league of america second coming Justice League Of America: Second Coming (DC)
Written by Dwayne McDuffie , drawn by Ed Benes with Alan Goldman, Doug Mahnke, Darick Robertson, Ian Churchill & Ivan Reis
Collects Justice League Of America #22-26

Naturally, after reading Brad Meltzer’s two-book run on Justice League Of America and then Dwayne McDuffie’s first two, I moved right along into his last two. While The Injustice League and Sanctuary read like truncated tales, Second Coming actually felt like a full story that McDuffie wanted to tell that didn’t get interrupted by a larger DCU event.

As I said before, while Grant Morrison’s JLA deals with macro issues showing why the world needs the team, the Meltzer-into-McDuffie one seems more focused on why the team members need each other. While trying to fix Red Tornado again, Amazo shows back up and starts causing trouble for the team. Of course, they’re dealing with their interpersonal relationships which, like the threat itself, exist because this team exists. It’s a cool, organic process that does something a little different than I’m most used to when thinking of blockbuster JLA teams.

The trade ends with a crazier story than I remembered from my first reading. Vixen wants to get to the bottom of her new, wonky powers, so most of the team goes to Animal Man’s house. While there, a trickster god brings them into his dimension where he tells Vixen and Buddy about their true secret origins (if you can believe the god of lies) and also builds an alternate version of the Justice League by changing a few details here and there when it comes to hero origins. I’m a big fan of alternate reality stories, so this was right in my wheelhouse. I remembered this story being more confusing when it was coming out monthly, but felt it flowed a lot better with all the pieces in hand.

Art wise, this book is a little all over the place. Ed Benes is the main artist, but he’s still kind of in flux. The first issue of the collection has inks that are way too dark and heavy, but those back off as the issues progress. Alan Goldman came in and did a pretty great fill in and then you’ve got the cavalcade of killer artists from Doug Mahnke to Ian Churchill coming in to do a few pages here and there on one of the issues. All in all, both the art and story felt really pretty organic, not just for the few issues in this collection, but for the whole JLoA run to this point.

justice league of america when worlds collide Justice League Of America: When Worlds Collide (DC)
Written by Dwayne McDuffie, drawn by Ed Benes with Jose Luis, Shane Davis, Rags Morales, Ardian Syaf & Eddy Barrows
Justice League Of America #27, 28, 30-34

The word I keep thinking of when trying to describe When Worlds Collide is: bonkers. This trade is all over the place. First, you’ve got a two part story dealing with the Milestone characters trying to steal something from the Justice League. This was around the time when those heroes and villains were first being integrated into the DCU, but not being very well explained. All of a sudden, we’re just supposed to accept that an entire comic book universe was shrunk down to one town, Dakota, and had always been in the DCU? Huh? Well, after adding to some of that confusion, McDuffie actually does explain what happened towards the end of this book and his run on the series. I don’t think I ever actually read all these issues when they came out because it was around the time I got laid off from Wizard and lost access to every comic ever, so it was a big question mark in my head until I finished this trade.

So, there’s this bonkers story about all these heroes you’ve either never heard of and don’t know or have heard of and don’t know why they’re around. Then a whole issue is skipped over. After that, Hawkman asks the team for help in fighting Shadow Thief. After that, there’s an issue where Black Canary’s talking to all these different people about why the League is basically over with next to no explanation as to what went on to cause all this. Finally, a team consisting of Dr. Light, Firestorm, John Stewart, Vixen and Zatana runs up against Starbreaker. This last story also brings in a few more Milestone characters (and explains why they’re here now) as well as the Batman from the alternate universe in the previous volume. Again, bonkers.

The real problem with this book is that there’s zero context or explanation for what’s going on in the greater DC Universe at the time. This was around Final Crisis which lead to the death of Martian Manhunter, the temporal displacement and apparent death of Batman, Superman heading off to live on New Krypton and Wonder Woman disappearing for some reason. Some of these things are mentioned in the book, but a simple text explanation would have been greatly appreciated.

That lack of interest in catching a reader up really bothered me while reading this book and the next one which also picked up after some pretty huge out-of-book events. There’s this assumption that you already know everything that’s going on in the entire world of these characters. Heck, even if you did read everything when these issues were coming out and owned the trades, it’s incredibly likely that you won’t a few years down the line when you want to give them a re-read (which, you know, is the point of friggin trades!). To keep new readers abreast of what’s going on around these stories, there needs to be a small amount of explanation for what the heck the characters are referring to. This is an incredibly easy comic related problem to fix, so someone needs to get on it!

New 52 Volume 1 Trade Post: Teen Titans, Superboy, Supergirl & Aquaman

teen titans vol 1 its our right to fightTeen Titans Volume 1: It’s Our Right To Fight (DC)
Written by Scott Lobdell, drawn by Brett Booth
Collects New 52 Teen Titans #1-7

I’m gonna try something a little different with this trade post: more books with shorter reviews. Let’s see how that works. As I mentioned when I read a bunch of the New 52 #1 issues, this book was one of my favorites. To me, the whole point of relaunching your entire universe is to offer readers something completely new. Some of the New 52 books don’t bother doing much of that from what I’ve seen, but Scott Lobdell does something really cool here. Instead of playing Batman’s sidekick, Tim Drake is running around as Red Robin in an attempt to save superpowered kids from N.O.W.H.E.R.E. This leads him to joining forces with fellow young costumed heroes like Wonder Girl (don’t call her Wonder Girl), Kid Flash, Bunker and Skitter. What I really like about this book is that Lobdell really just throws you into the story and doesn’t slow down too much, but still offers enough information to enjoy.

The whole book revolves around a series of mysteries large and small that continue to draw me in issue after issue. Why is the non-powered Drake so interested in helping super-kids? Why does Wonder Girl dislike being called Wonder Girl so much? Who is N.O.W.H.E.R.E. and what is their game? What’s the deal with these new characters? What’s going to happen with Superboy?

All of the above makes this a very 90s feeling book, but I don’t mean that in a negative way. People dump on the 90s a lot, but there was a lot of newness being explored in those books without getting too far wrapped around itself. And, even though this is technically a “putting the team together” story, it’s done in a less traditional way and it revolves around a less traditional team, so I don’t mind as much. Also in the 90s vein, I love Brett Booth’s art in this book. He’s got a huge amount of detail and never skimps when it comes to either background or characters. That kind of detail is fantastic and not always easy to nail.

superboy vol 1 incubationSuperboy Volume 1: Incubation (DC)
Written by Scott Lobdell, drawn by R.B. Silva
Collects New 52 Superboy #1-7

I was less into Lobdell’s Superboy, though I’m not sure if I can exactly put my finger on why. It’s a completely different kind of story. While Teen Titans is an on-the-run, putting-things-together-as-we-go kind of thing featuring an aloof clone created in an attempt to make their own Superman who’s trying to figure out who he wants to be and what he wants to do with his newfound life and power.

I think one of the reasons I wasn’t as taken with the series is because it feels a lot more “monster of the week.” Superboy wakes up and they send him after King Shark, then they send him after another villain. When he’s talking to the woman who gets revealed as Fairchild (originally from Gen 13) and Ravager or is out in the world trying to figure out if he’s good or bad, those are much more interesting moments for me. Still, I like that this and Teen Titans lead up to a bigger story called “The Culling” that I look forward to reading eventually. He’s an interesting character with a lot in there to check out.

On the art side of things, I don’t know if Silva’s style is really the kind of thing I dig. It’s cartoony and stylized which I like, but at times it feels a little too un-detailed, like you’re just looking at shapes strung together without as much physical continuity.

supergirl vol 1 last daughter of kryptonSupergirl Volume 1: Last Daughter Of Krypton (DC)
Written by Michael Green & Mike Johnson, drawn by Mahmud Asrar & Bill Reinhold
Collects New 52 Supergirl #1-7

I have an interesting history with Supergirl. I dug Peter David’s book, but never really read it on the regular (though I do want to go back and read the whole run in order). Then, when they brought a new version of Superman’s cousin into continuity, I was not into it because I was still a continuity nut at the time and wanted Kal-El to be the only Kryptonian around. I liked how they came up with interesting ways to have a Superboy and Supergirl in the 90s and didn’t want to see that change. Anyway, the idea of Superman’s cousin coming to Earth is one I eventually came to accept, but now that we’re dealing with an all new continuity (and I don’t care nearly as much about the details as I used to) I’m cool with it.

And I think Green and Johnson do a good job with this story. The whole thing is a fish out of water tale with Kara landing on Earth thinking she’s going to protect her younger cousin Kal, who is now Superman. It’s a lot to deal with for a girl who was kind of aimless on Krypton, especially because she doen’st speak the language.

Unlike Superboy, this book is much more of a journey story with Supergirl interacting with different characters offering her different pieces of information to help her figure out exactly what’s going on with her, ultimately leading to another planet. By the end of the journey presented in this trade Kara has a bit of an understanding as to what she wants to do with her weird new life. A life wonderfully drawn by Mahmud Asrar (for the most part) who has a cool kind of indie style that captures Kara’s fragility and strength while also balancing giant robots, monsters and pretty girls. After reading this book I decided that The Big Bang Theory‘s Kaley Cuoco should play Supergirl. Someone make that happen.

aquaman vol 1 the trenchAquaman Volume 1: The Trench (DC)
Written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Ivan Reis with Joe Prado
Collects Aquaman #1-6

Unlike Supergirl, I had a much deeper relationship with Aquaman (also written by Peter David come to think of it). His lengthy run on that book is pretty much the be all, end all for me as far as that character is concerned. Still, when I heard that Geoff Johns, writer of some of my all time favorite comics (JSA, Green Lantern), was tackling the character I was definitely interested. And you  know what, he does a great job which I’m sure is a shock to no one.

The New 52 version of Aquaman doesn’t seem all that different from the original, a much simpler, more streamlined version. He’s new to the surface world which is good timing considering a race of hyper violent humanoid fish creatures have risen from the depths to kidnap, eat and kill people. While that adventure is an interesting one, I really liked some of the book’s other elements. The waitress being surprised that Aquaman wants fish and chips made me chuckle, then you’ve got the whole issue of Aquaman in the desert which was a great idea. There’s also a lot going on with Atlantis and Mera that makes me curious about what’s coming up. And, man, Ivan Reis kills this art. He’ detailed like book, but with a darker edge that fits the book both thematically and environmentally.

Overall, I lucked out with this crop of New 52 backs. Each one took a different approach to introducing these new versions of old characters. It’s interesting to take a closer look at that aspect of the storytelling and analyze which ones I like better than others. I look forward to reading the second volumes of all of these books…eventually and if I can get my hands on them.

Books Of Oa: Blackest Night, Blackest Night Green Lantern & Blackest Night Green Lantern Corps

BLACKEST NIGHT (DC)
Written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Ivan Reis
Collects Blackest Night #0-8, Blackest Night Director’s Cut #1
Here’s the thing about events. Even when it makes sense for the events of the event to have an effect on the greater universe (zombies infesting the universe, the government wants to register superheros) that doesn’t always mean it works out from a story perspective to tie into the greater universe. For instance, Blackest Night brought the dead back to life in nearly every DC comic book of the time, but that didn’t really mean anything. Even the ones who had a way to get rid of the Black Lanterns didn’t play into the greater story (for the most part) so what’s the point? There were also a ton of tie-in miniseries showing what Blackest Night did to people like Batman or Superman. Some of these stories seemed to be spawned from brief moments in the greater story (like what happens to poor Damage) but others wound up being pointless (Wonder Woman spent time in a stasis field imagining three issues worth of nonsense). The only reason I bring all this is up is to preface this review by saying that I didn’t bother with any of that stuff on this second reading of Blackest Night. I know the tie-ins really bogged the greater story down for a lot of people which is pretty much a rookie move as far as I’m concerned, but what are you gonna do? I was really looking forward to sitting down and reading this story in a pretty short period of time.

I kicked around the idea of reading each of these three books on their own, but I wound up following this list I found online: Green Lantern #43, Blackest Night #0, BN #1, GLC #39, GL #44, BN #2, GL #45, GLC #40, BN #3, GL #46, GLC #41, GL #47, BN #4, GLC #42, GL #48, BN #5, GLC #43, GL #49, BN #6, GLC #44, GL #50, GL #51, GLC #45, BN #7, GLC #46, GL #52, BN #8 and GLC #47. Bouncing around from book to book was kind of a pain in the ass, but I think it really helped with the story. As it turns out the Green Lantern issues tie in very heavily with Blackest Night while Green Lantern Corps deals with the rising of the dead in space (the main story takes place mostly on Earth). While I think the GLC stuff can be read closer together if you feel the need, I’d probably stick to this reading order next time around too.

BLACKEST NIGHT: GREEN LANTERN (DC)
Written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Doug Mahnke, Ed Benes and Marcos Marz
Collects Green Lantern #43-52
So, to run down the basics of the story, the Black Lantern rings spread across the universe attaching themselves to the fingers of dead people, many of whom have a special connection to Earth-bound superheroes and Green Lantern Corps members. As someone puts it at some point in the series (I didn’t take notes, but I remember the deets pretty well, it was either Flash or Atom) the ring wears the corpse instead of the other way around. It can access their memories and use them to make their victims feel one of the emotions on the spectrum. The more they feel the brighter their auras get and once they’re bright or charged enough, the Black Lantern grabs their heart and consumes it. The first time I read all this, I had several questions. Why are they only going after heroes? Why is so much of the story based on Earth? What is the deal with these freaking Black Lanterns? All gets explained by the end.

The story centers around, of course, Hal Jordan and his pal and Johns favorite Barry Allen but also brings all of the other Lantern corps into play in a gigantic war at the very end that results in the deputization of several heroes and a few villains into the different corps. It’s cool on a fan boy level and makes sense on a larger level. Lex Luthor WOULD get a greed-based ring, Scarecrow (who we saw almost get a Sinestro Corps ring earlier in the series) WOULD get a fear-based ring. It’s all great.

As it turns out, the reason all this stuff happens on Earth is because it acts as a shell for something called The Entity which started all life in the universe (which we get treated to during the story, along with the birth of all the emotions on the spectrum). A lot of these details and explanations were hard for me to keep track of when these issues were coming out. Like I’ve said before, I would try and read them so voraciously, that I’m sure I missed elements and even forgot some of the questions I had. I was also distracted by the various deaths throughout the series, many of which were made better by the fact that 12 heroes and villains were able to rise from the dead without the use of the Black Lantern ring.

BLACKEST NIGHT: GREEN LANTERN CORPS (DC)
Written by Peter J. Tomasi, drawn by Patrick Gleason
Collects Green Lantern Corps #39-47
There’s lots of geekiness in these books that I enjoyed as well. John Stewart deals with the death of Xanshi, the planet he was supposed to watch, Flash telling Mera and The Atom they’re the new Wonder Woman and Superman, the fact that some fairly low level characters got to be the major players, that Nekron explained how every resurrected superhero was really a way for him to weaken this reality allowing him to make his move on Earth and the Entity (he basically wants to kill all life) and that kick off issue with Black Hand is creepily amazing. The splash pages in this book are worth writing home about too, especially towards the end. Seeing Hal working with Sinestro, Carol Ferris as a Star Sapphire and Atrocitus was also a really fun dynamic too.

I have friends who had lots of problems with this story, though I’m not sure if they’ve read everything together and still have their complaints. After finishing it this second time around in a much shorter time period than the first go around, I’m really impressed with the greater story, especially how it intertwined itself with Green Lantern. I’m sure you could read Blackest Night without reading Green Lantern, but it would be nowhere near a complete story.

Well, this will be the last Books Of Oa for a while. I’ve got a few other in mind that I’ll get to and have a plan to get some of my Kyle Rayner era comics bound in the near future, so I’m sure I’ll write about those in due time. Right now I’m looking forward to reading some less dense comics, but have had an awesome time going back and reading six years worth of comics.

Books Of Oa: Rage Of The Red Lanterns & Agent Orange

GREEN LANTERN: RAGE OF THE RED LANTERNS (DC)
Written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Shane Davis & Ivan Reis
Collects Final Crisis: Rage Of The Red Lanterns #1 & Green Lantern #36-38
Okay, I know I said in my reviews of the Alpha Lanterns story line (which is also collected in this book) and the Secret Origins trade that I don’t like when comics are split up and not collected in actual order, but I’ve got to say that this one works out pretty well. As I mentioned in the Secret Origins review, that entire story takes place in the past with absolutely no mention of what’s going on in the present, so jumping from the end of issue #28–which turned Lost Lantern Laira into a Red Lantern–right to the poorly themed Final Crisis one-shot (which only briefly mentions what’s going on on Earth with the death of a god) and then into #36 because that’s basically the chronological story (in the DCU, not the real world). That’s a lot of parentheticals.

Anyway, the actual Rage Of The Red Lanterns story actually kicks off with the one-shot which is still rad, even if it probably never needed to be tied into Final Crisis. For whatever it’s worth, I love Final Crisis, but think it was a great story by one guy that got turned into an event, though it probably shouldn’t have been. So, FC: ROTRL turns out to be a kind of origin story for Atrocitus, the head of the Red Lanterns and denizen of Ysmault, the planet visited by Abin Sur in “Tyger” (see the above link). We learn that Atrocitus’ entire sector died thanks to something the Guardians did (we’ll find out more about this later), Sinestro is being escorted by a group of GLs to his home planet of Korugar for execution, Hal visits Earth and chats with Cowgirl, Ash finds the Anti-Monitor’s helm, the Controllers make an appearance a, Dex-Star makes his first (I think) and we get our first look of a Blue Lantern. It’s a LOT going on in one issue. The rest of the story has the Red Lanterns keeping Sinestro prisoner on Ysmault, Hal visiting Odym the base planet of Ganthet and Sayd’s Blue Lanterns and there’s a mini war of the light as Hal tries to save Sinestro from the Red Lanterns while the Sinestro Corps members have the exact idea in mind. Hal finds himself sporting the red ring after Sinestro kills Laira which only goes away when Saint Walker places a blue ring on his finger as well.

It’s kind of shocking how much is crammed into four issues. I say that as a compliment. A lot of comics feel too padded and lack action, but there’s so much world-building and a bevy of poignant character moments, that, had I bought these issues as they came out in monthlies, I think I’d be pretty happy with my purchase. The problem with reading comics that way–as I did at Wizard when the issues were originally coming out–is that it’s really difficult to absorb all that stuff. GL comics were a hot commodity while I was there, so you had to kind of burn through the issue so you could pass it off to whoever had dibs next. I think that’s why a lot of my memories of these comics are fuzzy and why I’m having so much fun reading these issues again altogether now.

GREEN LANTERN: AGENT ORANGE (DC)
Written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Philip Tan, Eddy Barrows, Ivan Reis, Rafael Albuquerque & Doug Mahnke
Collects Green Lantern #38-42, Blackest Night #0
Most of the action in Agent Orange takes place on a planet called Okaara which not only houses the orange light and it’s greedy bearer Larfleeze, but also was the place that Fatality trained to become the great warrior who traveled through space to kill Green Lanterns. I failed to mention in the Rage review that the Star Sapphire’s had rehabilitated her. That comes into play here as she confronts John Stewart and talks to him about love. It’s great to see John actually get a bit of the spotlight after being widely neglected since Rebirth. Meanwhile, Hal continues on his galactic tour that keeps putting new rings on his fingers. He’s got the blue one at the beginning of the story. Since the blue energy feeds off of hope (and also can’t do much but fly without a Green Lantern in close proximity), Hal needs to figure out what he actually hopes for in life to get it off his hand. It’s a pretty interesting mystery that gets pretty close to “JUST TELL ME ALREADY” territory, but didn’t quite get there for me. I was always interested, then something cool would happen and I would focus on that, then the question about hope would pop up and I’d be reminded of it again. Fun stuff.

Also fun and interesting is the big war between Green and Orange on the surface of the planet while Larfleeze tells Hal that he accidentally stole Parallax from someone which put him and his gang on the Guardians’ radar. In an attempt to escape, they wound up on Okaara where Larfleeze and one of his boys found the orange lantern. The Guardians said he could keep the lantern if he stayed in his sector as long as he never left. Larfleeze sees the Guardians as having broken the pact which brings things closer to the Blackest Night. Oh, at the very end, we see Ash and Saarek finally discovering the Black Lantern. CRAZY!

In addition to the action packed story, the collection also includes some of Philip Tan’s Orange Lantern character sketches–I didn’t remember liking his art very much the first time around, but this time around I really liked the textured elements it had–as well as a one of those Origins & Omens back-ups DC made everyone do at the time, the origin of Orange Lantern Glomulus and Secret Files-like run downs of all the Lanterns. I really appreciate them putting the extra effort into a book that felt thin, but still had five packed issues.

These being the last two trades leading up to Blackest Night, I figured it’d be a good place to talk about a few things that have been on my mind. First off, and this is something that’s always bothered me, I don’t understand how Hal Jordan can be in the Air Force and NEVER BE ON EARTH. I know some higher ups know his secret identity, but the military is all about accountability and it seems counter-intuitive to have someone as part of that organization that can’t be around. Maybe it’s that I don’t understand the Air Force as much as, say, the Army, but it just doesn’t sit right with me. Why he’s not still just a test pilot, I don’t know.

A few more quick complaints. For as much as Johns and company have paid attention to past Green Lantern continuity from the Alan Moore short stories to Kyle Rayner’s adventures, it confuses me that he has the Guardians talking like they’ve been around for millennia when they had actually been killed and either resurrected or recreated by Kyle Rayner. I don’t perfectly remember how they explained that back then, but it gives me a geeky twinge every time Scar says she’s been in the universe forever. It also seems like the Guardians are just making stupid decisions and are far too susceptible to Scar’s machinations. This is more going on in Green Lantern Corps, but it bugs me. I get that they’re anti-emotion, but them being so easily swayed seems a little ridic.

Okay, that’s all the complaints. I really dig the book otherwise and a lot of these are quibbles to be honest. I absolutely love how much thought Johns and his peeps have put into the different lanterns. All of this makes so much sense (aside from willpower being an emotion, or the fulcrum of the emotional spectrum in actuality). Of course the greed-based Lantern won’t let any of the rings go! Of course rage literally consumes the bearer! Of course love can be used as an excuse, well, anything! It’s all great in my book.

One of the things I wanted to really examine with this re-read project was to get an idea of Hal Jordan as a character. I think I’ve got that, but it more comes from how he interacts with his own corps and members of the others and much less from the Earth-bound stuff they seemed more interested in in the beginning of the book. Let’s be straight, it doesn’t make sense for a space cop to hang out too much on Earth. I get that Earth is important and it makes sense for Hal to stop home every now and then, but with Carol about to become Star Sapphire again, why not just let them be together flying around space and kicking ass? That’s what I’d do with the character and leave his Earth-based adventures up to the JLA. But hey, who cares what I say?

Books Of Oa: “The Alpha Lanterns,” “Tyger” & Secret Origin

“THE ALPHA LANTERNS” (DC)
Written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Mike McKone
Green Lantern #26-28 in Green Lantern Rage Of The Red Lanterns
Anyone who bothers to read anything I write about comic book collections knows that my biggest pet peeves is collecting issues in a strange order (ie, skipping issues). That’s exactly what DC did with the Rage Of The Red Lanterns book which collects two stories that, while they are related, have a nearly 10-issue span between them. The first story is a three-parter called “The Alpha Lanterns” which is the first story in the regular GL book immediately following Sinestro Corps War. It also takes place chronologically before Green Lantern Corps Ring Quest because Alpha Lanterns make an appearance in that book. The idea is that, after introducing the first new law in the Book of Oa, which is that Green Lanterns can kill members of the Sinestro Corps, they’ve developed a new faction of the Corps called Alpha Lanterns which are essentially a combination of Manhunters and GLs (they don’t seem to have any emotion any longer). This story is told in a way that I don’t think suits it very well because we actually see Lanterns Green Man, Kraken, Chaselon, Varix and Boodikka as Alpha Lanterns in the first few pages of the first issue. That really kills some of the emotion of the story because, as it turns out we see that those guys get offered the chance to become Alpha Lanterns, John Stewart also did. Of course, we know he doesn’t accept, because we already saw that he didn’t.

Anyway, the other, meatier part of the story involves the Lost Lanterns–who we first saw make a triumphant return in Revenge Of The Green Lanterns and who saw members like Jack Chance and Ke-Haan perish in the war against Sinestro’s Corps–losing two more members of their unusual group, Boodikka to the Alpha Lanterns and Laira because she murdered Sinestro Corps member Amon Sur. He had gone to Ke-Haan’s home planet and murdered his family then waited for the Lost Lanterns to arrive with the corpse. He talked some shit and then surrendered, but Laira straight up killed him. She goes on trial and gets stripped of her mantle as GL, but is “saved” by a Red Lantern ring from Atrocitus who somehow freed himself from his prison on Ysmault and killed Qull who originally told Abin Sur the prophecy of the Blackest Night. We also get a glimpse of Scar, the Guardian attacked by the Anti-Monitor in Sinestro Corps War, tasking GL Ash with finding the Anti-Monitor’s corpse.

A lot goes on in these three issues, including Hal meeting up with Cowgirl again, but really it’s more of a Corps story than a Hal story. In fact, he’s kind of just there to narrate and act is the intro to the story. John Stewart actually gets the spotlight for a while too, which is good to see considering he’s had nearly no role in the Green Lantern universe since Rebirth. We even get a look at a Sinestro Corps ring trying to get on Scarecrow’s finger, which is pretty rad and a nice precursor to Blackest Night. Oh, by the way, I absolutely love seeing Mike McKone draw Green Lanterns and wish he had spent more than three issues on that book.

“TYGERS” (DC)
Written by Alan Moore, drawn by Kevin O’Neill
Originally printed in Tales Of The Green Lantern Corps Annual #2, collected in DC Universe: The Stories Of Alan Moore
Before getting any further into the Green Lantern epic that has been churning for years, I figured it would be a good time to re-read Alan Moore’s “Tygers” which was the first story to mentioned Blackest Night, Sodam Yat, Ranx the sentient city, the Children of the White Lobe, Ysmault and Qull. The story shows Hal Jordan’s GL predecessor Abin Sur attempting to save a downed spacecraft on the planet Ysmault which holds a much of demons. He winds up talking to Qull, a big freaky demon looking thing that looks like he came out of Sandman who winds up telling him the prophecy of the Blackest Night which you can read in the page to the right.

Of course, Geoff Johns has greatly added to the events of this story, but I think it’s important to actually read the original for yourself. I’ve got the DC Universe trade, but I believe it’s also reprinted in Tales Of The Green Lantern Corps Vol. 2 (though, really it should have been included in one of the actual trades considering how much has been built on its foundation).

It’s a cool little story that meant almost nothing the first time I read it aside from showing why Abin Sur was driving a space ship when he crashed on Earth instead of using his ring. Now it’s a big huge deal that everyone should check out at least once.

GREEN LANTERN: SECRET ORIGIN (DC)
Written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Ivan Reis
Collects Green Lantern #29-35
The reason I made sure to read “Tygers” again aside from wanting to refresh my memory of the details was to see how Johns’ new take on the story differed from the original. I don’t mean that in the sense of the glasses pushing nerd who wants to call out discrepancies between comics printed over two decades apart from one another, but just out of curiosity to see what he added. And, considering Johns rewrote the history of Hal Jordan in Secret Origin to include Atrocitus (who did not actually appear in “Tygers” nor any previous tellings of the fall of Abin Sur) I’m glad I did. What really surprised me was how Johns seemed to rewrite himself, but more on that in a bit.

This story is told completely in Hal Jordan’s past. I remember when this story was first announced I was not interested whatsoever. I wasn’t interested in Hal or seeing yet another explanation of his past, I wanted to see more alien ass kicking or maybe the reveal of another Lantern or two. But, upon reading this book again, I actually enjoyed it for the most part. My biggest problem with the book is reading panels and scenes that I’ve already read before! I appreciate Johns wanting to keep his stories tight and go back and refer to moments he hinted at in previous stories, but do I really need to read pages worth of material over again? No. I can give it a bit of a pass because, when reading these books on a monthly basis, there’s a much larger time gap between mentions than when reading them in rapid succession in trade form.

So, we get to see Hal feeling bad about his dad dying and Hal feeling bad because his mom was dying and refused to see him because he was in the Air Force (why didn’t he just lie to her instead of going through all the steps he did?). Then Abin Sur crashes while transporting Atrocitus to Earth in an attempt to find the source of “the black” that will presumably spawn the Blackest Night prophecy. Atrocitus gets free to roam the Earth a bit. We see Hal training on Oa and also Ganthet contacting Sinestro to ask him to go hang out with Hal even though it breaks one of the edicts about GLs staying in their own sectors. We get a better look at his early animosity towards the Ferris family and a better understanding of his lack of fear, but the big story finds Hal and Sinestro fighting Atrocitus on Earth right after the big red guy finds the kid who will become Black Hand and accidentally provides him with that ray gun thing he used as a weapon for a while.

I’m still not sure whether spending seven issues on an origin story was the best use of space for the ongoing Green Lantern comic book, but reading it now is an enjoyable experience. I’m not sure yet how well this fits in with Hal’s past because I’ve never read any of that stuff, though I’ve got a book coming to me that will hopefully remedy that. It is fun to see Hal’s questioning nature go up against the Guardians and the early days of Ganthet separating himself from the rest of his blue brethren. Overall, I dig the story and think it was necessary, though I wish it wasn’t so repetitive of previously seen moments.

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!