Books Of Oa: Rann-Thanagar War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trade Post: JSA Strange Adventuers, Wildstorm After The Fall & Hardware The Man In The Machine

JSA STRANGE ADVENTURES (DC)
Written by Kevin J. Anderson, drawn by Barry Kitson
Collects JSA Strange Adventures #1-6
I’ve been a big fan of the JSA concept for years. I love the idea of legacy characters still kicking around in modern times offering a sense of connection to the past that can only be done in fiction when dealing with magical beings who have various elements keeping them alive for decades after they should be dead (especially when you consider how often they put themselves in danger). While I’ve read every regular issue of JSA since Geoff Johns launched the book back in 1999, but I skipped or missed a lot of the JSA minis that have come out since then. I was pretty excited about Strange Adventures because it presents a JSA story from back when they were first a team as opposed to them being the old soldiers they are today. I was looking forward to seeing the tale told from a different perspective and, while the book does offer another perspective through the eyes of Johnny Thunder, I didn’t really like this book.

My main problem is that the book didn’t feel very original. The overarching plot involves a super powered genius coming to the world and telling them he’ll fix all these problems if Green Lantern and Starman give up their power sources. When the heroes don’t, the guy turns bad and starts wreaking havoc, but only after regular people get upset with GL and Starman. There’s nothing very original there, that’s the plot of several pieces of science fiction from Twilight Zone episodes to movies. It’s boring and it was so obvious, I thought that Anderson might be messing with the constraints of that kind of story, but that didn’t happen. The only part of the story that I found really interesting was Johnny Thunder’s interactions with a pulp writer and his desire to become a writer himself. I can obviously relate to that and I love fiction that involves writing and creating in one way or another, but even that part of the story didn’t feel entirely original as Johnny Thunder has been portrayed as the newbie who wishes he could really do something before. All in all, Strange Adventures wasn’t a bad comic to read, it just wasn’t a particularly original one. Kitson’s art sure was pretty though.

WILDSTORM: AFTER THE FALL (WildStorm)
Written by Christos Gage and Russell Uttley, drawn by Trevor Hairsine, Brandon Badeaux, Ivan Reis, Mike McKone, Pete Woods, Phil Noto, Ben Oliver, Chris Sprouse, Wes Craig, Shawn Moll and John Paul Leon
Collects several WildStorm back-up stories
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of the WildStorm universe. I think it was pretty ballsy when they decided to basically destroy their Earth with the Number of the Beast miniseries and continue on with a post apocalyptic setting that has lead to a huge battle with some alien badasses, the combination of nearly ever super powered being still kicking around into one big team and then, more recently, splitting that group up into a space-faring one and one still left on Earth (Authority and WildCats respectively). Right after the big WorldStorm event that relaunched several books to varying degrees of success. In addition to kicking off new books, WildStorm also included back-up stories involving the company’s rich history of characters. All of those short stories have been collected in this After The Fall trade.

I’ve kept up on WildStorm comics for a while now, but when this happened, I wasn’t reading the back-up stories because I didn’t think I could keep up with all of them, so I’m glad they collected them all in one place. The overarching story here involves John Lynch getting the members of Team 7 back together to kill Sleeper and WildCat villain TAO. The whole thing’s very inside baseball and probably not very accessible to new readers, but I had a great time reading about characters like Deathblow, Christie Blaze and Cybernary. My only problem withe the book is that the whole thing builds up to something that doesn’t happen in this book. The TAO fight takes place eventually in, I believe, WildCats, but that means After The Fall kind of feels like the second Pirates Of The Caribbean movie in that, it’s fun in and of itself, but it’s basically a stepping stone for something else. The amazing stable of artists certainly helps the book and it’s awesome to see guys like Noto and Leon work on these characters I love.

HARDWARE: THE MAN IN THE MACHINE (Milestone/DC)
Written by Dwayne McDuffie, drawn by Denys Cowan and JJ Birch
Collects Hardware #1-8
Back in 1993 I was 10 and Milestone launched, a comic company that seemed focused on bringing more comics starring non-white heroes to the racks. I couldn’t afford to buy a bunch of extra books, but I was really intrigued by books like Hardware, Static and Icon and, by the time the inevitable World’s Collide crossover between the Milestone Universe and the DCU came the next year, I bought as many of the issues as I could. There was always something about the look of the books that I found very intriguing. At the time I didn’t really follow artists or even really realize they used different styles, but the kind of muted presentation of the books, especially hardware which looked painted to me, drew my interest. Jump ahead 17 years later and here I sit with a collection of the first 8 issues of Hardware. The collection really captures the art the way I remember it and the stories kept me entertained throughout the whole thing.

For those of you who might not know, the idea behind Hardware is that this super smart kid named Curtis got a benefactor in the form of a rich dude who put him through college, gave him unlimited resources in his lab, but considered the kid, now an adult, to be little more than property with a clause in his contract saying that if he quit, he couldn’t work for anyone else. After doing some digging Curtis discovers that his benefactor is actually a pretty bad dude, so he builds a high tech suit with plenty of add-on weapons (kind of like Centurions) that he uses to quash the bad guy’s criminal enterprises. It’s a fairly basic superhero concept, but I was surprised to find that Hardware actually kills some of the bad guy’s peons, something that he actually comes to question towards the end of the trade.

Overall, I really liked this book. Cowan’s art is fantastic especially when he gets to draw some of the crazier weapons and whatnot. McDuffie’s writing was pretty fun, but there were definitely some moments where I was completely confused, like in #3 when the book opens with Hardware killing the bad guy, then appearing in his girl’s place. I had no idea what that was about. For the most part, I liked the whole presentation and how they started to slowly build a big superhero universe. I hope DC continues to put out these Milestone books (I’ve got the Static one in my to-read party), especially the World’s Collide story. There’s a lot of goodness here.

The Book of Oa: Sinestro Corps War

2008-09-19
2:22:10 am

Wow, I completely suck for not posting in so long, hopefully this long-ish post will make up for it. This one’s for you Farooq.

I recently reread the entire Sinestro Corps War saga in the three hardcovers that DC has put out (Vol. 1, 2 and Tales of the Sinestro Corps) and dammit all if this isn’t one of the best comic book stories of all time. Geoff Johns helmed this epic with the help of fellow GL writers Dave Gibbons, Pete Tomasi and Ron Marz while artists like Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason and others drew the heck out of it.

GREEN LANTERN: THE SINESTRO CORPS WAR VOL. ONE

Johns and Gibbons both seeded elements of this tale in both Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps, but this is where all that craziness goes on, starting with one of my favorite one shots of all time the Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps War one-shot which shows the Sinestro Corps waging war on the Green Lantern home world of Oa. There’s even a super patient Yellow Lantern who hid in an asteroid field just so that he could bust out and snipe the crap out of some GLs. There’s a real sense of “how the heck are the going to get out of this?” But before all that, the GL that will always have a soft place in my heart, Kyle Rayner, gets sucked the Qward where he gets infected with Parallax, the embodiment of fear (oh yeah, whereas the GLs represent willpower, the YLs represent fear on the emotional spectrum).

But the craziness doesn’t stop there (and neither does the issue). As the Sinestros slaughter the GLs (who can’t kill anyone with their rings) we find out that Superboy Prime (yeah, I called him SuperBOY Prime and I’m not gonna stop) and Cyborg Superman are on Sinestro’s side. And, as readers of GL will remember, Cyborg’s actually in charge of the Manhunters, the Guardians’ first crack at a police force (though robotic instead of “human”). But that’s not the biggest kicker. That boot belongs to the fact that their guardian is actually the Anti-Monitor. Now, they don’t really get into an explanation as to how the heck AM is still alive after Crisis on Infinite Earths, but they do mention something like “When the universe redid itself, we found him.” Hey, it’s good enough for me.

Okay, that’s the end of the first issue. Personally, I think the set up for all of this, which was inspired by Alan Moore’s BRILLIANT “Darkest Night” story which you can find in one of my favorite trades of all time: DC Universe:The Stories of Alan Moore. Bringing back Cyborg as leader of the Manhunters and incorporating Superboy Prime (who was involved with Countdown, but seriously, who was reading that?) just made so much sense. I love when creators actually do something with older characters that have been forgotten that were important at one time (like Prime was prior to Infinite Crisis).

And Ethan Van Sciver’s can’t be ignored. Like with Green Lantern: Rebirth, Ethan just kills it. He also continues one of my favorite elements of Geoff and Ethan’s reboot: the different ways the the GLs use their rings. Kilowog and Guy are like forces of nature, Kyle’s very artistic and John Stewart, the engineer that he is, designs all of his constructs from all their parts. Additionally, you’ve got nine splash pages and spreads that blow my mind, especially the spread of the Yellow Lanterns on Qward. Just sick.

Okay, so it’s not all one issue. After fending off the SC’s first attack, the Guardians decide to destroy the Blackest Night chapter of the Book of Oa which carries the prophecy of how the Corps will fall, causing a rift between Ganthet and Sayd and the other Guardians. Ganthet and Sayd appear to Hal Jordan via his ring and tell him he needs to be the leader of the Corps again, Hal doesn’t know how the others will take that, but he doesn’t really have time to think about it as the Parallax being (who was reinserted into the main battery) grabs Hal, Guy (my second favorite GL) and John Stewart to Qward where Hal rumbles with the Parallax-possessed Kyle.

There’s also a quick aside in the GLC book where Sinestro visits his homeworld of Korugar, the planet that he ruled with an iron fist when he was a GL (which is exactly what he got banished for) to meet Soranik Natu, the current GL from Korugar. Though it seems like kind of a throwaway issue, it’s not because we get more insight into Sinestro’s motives. He’s actually challenging the GLs with his Corps in order to make the GLs more effective. The big storypoint in this issue is that GL partners-but-not-really Stel (a robot) and Green Man realize that the Sinestro Corps is leading an attack against Mogo, the living planet GL. Holy crap!

From here on out the story is split between Hal fighting Kyle, trying to free him from Parallax, the Lost Lanterns joining in and the other GLs fighting on Mogo. But we also find out why Cyborg’s involved in all this: he wants to die and the Anti Monitor claims he can make it happen. We also get a creepy page of Superboy Prime sitting on the moon just waiting and watchign Earth. More on that later. The moments where Hal’s trying to help Kyle are really great to me because I actually started reading GL when Hal went crazy and destroyed the Corps and Kyle was the one and only. There’s something really cool about the two characters that a lot of fans never thought they’d see together (and definitely not on the same side) in reversed roles: Kyle’s the bad guy and Hal’s trying to help him. I also really like the Lost Lanterns because I really liked those guys and it makes me feel better about watching Hal’s exploits when I know that he didn’t really kill the only other GLs I knew about.

Of course, the Lost Lanterns don’t really see it that way as most of them still hold a grudge against Hal who they’re now forced to work with as they run for their lives on Qward as their batteries run out of juice and they try to find Guy and John.

Now we move on to the crazy fight on Mogo as the GLs defend him against an evil living city with a mad on for Guy (even though he’s nowhere near Mogo) full of 100 Yellow Lanterns which starts off with just Stel and Green Man standing between Mogo and the Sinestro Corps. Of course, Kilowog and company join up with them and put up a heck of a fight. The living city is actually pretty hilarious as it continues to whine about Guy Gardner, demanding his presence and death. There’s a whole lot of craziness going on, most of which I don’t want to get into, but the Sinestro Corps is basically trying to kill Mogo because he figures out where the rings go to after a Lantern dies. He’s also the soul of the GLC and, of course, the biggest member.

Another subplot I forgot to mention is that the Guardians tasked Arisia with keeping Sodom Yat safe. They’re not sure why he’s important, but anyone who read Alan Moore’s story knows that Sodom will be the savior of the GLC. Awesome! There’s also a big fight between Kilowog and his opposite member in the SC Arkillo, a weird toothy monster. They duke it out pretty bad, but they don’t finish until later.

The last issue of the first hardcover ends with Guy and John free, Hal sucking energy out of yellow lanterns, Ganthet and Sayd getting banished from the Guardians, the Anti-Monitor killing Lost Lantern Ke’Haan (Jack Chance got killed in an earlier issue) and the kicker of the Guardians telling the GLC about the first of the new ten laws: they can kill memebrs of the Sinestro Corps. There’s a lot I like about this issue. Of course, John and Guy getting back in the game is awesome. Also, Hal conquering the yellow lanterns is rad because it proves that he’s over the fear that poisoned him. The deaths of these characters also really got me. I’m not sure if it’s because of the older GL stories I’ve read or because Geoff had made them such interesting characters or if I just freaking love Green Lanterns so much that the death of any recognizable one gets me. I’m a softy that way. Finally, the first new rule makes a lot of sense. I mean, the Green Lanterns are cops, they should be able to ice the bad guys when necessary. Of course, there’s more to it than that as we’ll find out later on.

GREEN LANTERN: THE SINESTRO CORPS WAR VOL. TWO

So this book starts with the Green Lanterns saving Mogo in a cool way that, again, would take a while to explain and seeing as how this is already a pretty long post, I’ll skip it, but add that it was really cool (living planets who are GLs are always cool). From there we find out that the Yellow Lanterns actual target is Earth, the base of them multiverse. I’ve probably used the word “craziness” more than I should, but this is when the sh!t really hits the fan (it’s all kinds of craziness).

Oh man, I haven’t mentioned the other artists. Ivan Reis and Patrick Gleason do amazing jobs with the big splash pages and smaller moments. My facorite Reis spread in the whole series is the one in GL #24 as Superboy Prime leads Sinestro, Cyborg and a legion of Yellow Lanterns over the moon with a huge yellow Warworld behind them. I get chills. You could do a whole poster book out of Sinestro Corps War and I would cover my walls with it.

Okay, so the war has hit Earth in full force which means the superheroes we (at least I) all know and love get involved in the war. But before he can get into it, Hal’s got to save his brother’s family from Kyle-Parallax who actually switches to a crazy yellow version of his costume (this story has great costumes). But you just can’t keep my favorite lantern dawn as he finally fights his way out of Parallax’s grasp and shirks the fear-thing.

Then, BAM, Ganthet and Sayd are there and trap Parallax in Kyle, Hal, John and Guy’s lanterns. There’s a great moment where all four Earth Lanterns light themselves up and they’re ready to rumble. The GLs who were fighting on Mogo finally get to Earth as lead by Kilowog Salaak who has a great bit of business where he tells everyone to fix the damage done to their uniforms. “Use the time to regenerate your uniforms. We’re CORPS. Be PROUD.” After reading that I pumped my fist and shout “[EXPLETIVE] YEAH!”

And it wasn’t the last time as Arkill and Kilowog face off AGAIN, this time it’s even more brutal. Oh, this is a great time to mention this, even though the GLs can now kill the YLs, it doesn’t mean that they all do. Some go crazy Rambo-style, which is all well and good, but others, like Kilowog, choose not to, using their rings in other ways to incapacitate their enemies.

Oh, remember that Sodom Yat guy I mentioned? Well, he became the new Ion, which is a Lantern that doesn’t need to wear a ring. He’s also extra powerful. Plus he’s from the planet Daxam which means he’s got Superman-level abilities. Well, he’s the dude that throws down with Prime. We get some history about Yat while Superboy pummels him, but our hero doesn’t give up, he keeps fighting until Prime almost kills him.

Which brings us to the last issue. Damn, it’s another beauty. In the middle of this huge war, we get a look at the other colors of the emotional spectrum and what they represent, drawn by Ethan while Ivan handles the rest of the art chores.

As far as conclusions go, this is one of the best as it keeps the insanity going to the very end as the insanity ramps up continuously. You’ve got the Anti Monitor and Prime wreaking havoc on Earth’s heroes and the GLs, Guy getting sick with Despotellis the living virus whose killed entire planets, the Guardians jumping in and fighting the Anti-Monitor, dozens and dozens of Yellow and Green Lantern deaths, Hal and Kyle throwing down with Sinestro, using Warworld to destroy Cyborg and Anti-Monitor, Anti-Monitor coming back only to get supposedly killed by Prime (he’s still pissed about AM killing his home world, go figure), one Guardian giving his life to destroy Prime and finally Hal and Kyle defeating Sinestro in a fair, no-ring fist fight. Whew, it’s crazy awesome and I’m tired just explaining it all.

But even THAT’S not the end as we got some more Van Sciver-drawn bits. We see Superboy waking up somewhere saying “Oh my gosh. It’s really back.” Sinestro in GL jail, proud of the changes he caused in the Corps. His goal was to get the GLs to actually instill fear and thus be all the more effective against the evils of the universe. THEN, we see Ganthet and Sayd become the Guardians or something for the Blue Lanterns which represent hope and they create the first blue ring. After that those damn Manhunters find Cyborg’s dead body and reboot it, resulting in a heartbreaking tear trickling down his face. And FINALLY, we see the Anti Monitor’s corpse landing somewhere and getting trapped inside the black lantern.

Jeez, I forgot there’s a-whole-nother GLC issue that acts as a prologue. This is mostly a clean up issue that stars the featured players of the GLC book, which you should definitely check out. I’m especially partial to the scene where Rannian GL Vath takes a shot for each of his fallen comrades which number more than 432. It’s a touching moment that shows how one warrior deals with the loss of so many of his friends and fellow soldiers.

As if that weren’t all there’s also an interview with the creators in the back accompanied by sketches from the artists. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m always in support of beefing up trades with extra stuff you couldn’t get in the single issues. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Oh jeez, I completely forgot a few things. First of all, Natu used a sentient smallpox GL to defeat the evil virus Sinestro Corpsman inside of Guy. I was actually pretty nervous during this whole scene because it wouldn’t have surprised me if Geoff killed off one of the big GLs (I’m really glad he didn’t).

Now, like I said in the very beginning I love this story. Some people say that Geoff doesn’t end stories well and I can’t agree with that, especially when it comes to TSCW. The War definitely ends, for now at least, while still leaving the threat out there. It’s like in Star Wars, just because Vader and Palpatine are dead, doesn’t mean the Empire just crumbles. You also get to see Sinestro in prison again, which seems to be exactly where he wants to be. There’s all kinds of other lead-ins to future stories as well. I know that Geoff has said the he considers Rebirth the first chapter of his GL epic, this is the middle and then there will be Blackest Night when that hits next year (I think). But that doesn’t mean the regular series post-TSCW is boring. Geoff and Co. have gone into further development of the characters as well as the emotional spectrum and the new lanterns. Personally, I can’t wait to see where the rest of the story goes and what happens with the Blackest Night.

Finally, I know there’s also a Tales of the Sinestro Corps book, which I also read, but that with be another review because I’m tired.

Whew.