Archive | April, 2012

A new start for the Green Lantern Corps…..

30 Apr

I have spent the last few years trying to rebuild a large comic book collection I sold for a pittance when I had my child.  Recently, I discovered an online comic shop and I recently received my second order from them.  In it, there was a gem of a series I had all but forgotten in DC’s reboot and retconned laden history.  So for those who care, I recommend you read the first ten or so issues of the third Green Lantern series.

The series debuted in an odd time in DC’s and Green Lantern’s history.  In DC, like most other companies, the focus was on maturing with the readership.  Most companies unwisely bought into the grim and gritty mindset for mature concepts.  DC launched Vertigo.  In spite of this concept though one of DC’s most popular titles at the time was my all time favorite series, Justice League International (America and Europe), which eschewed this dark era.

For Green Lantern, it was a time of rebuilding (which should sound familiar to fans of the characters).  The previous series had come to a conclusion with the destruction of the main power battery.  The Corps had disbanded.  The Guardians had left the universe, due in part to a need to grow, after the revelation of several mistakes had shaken the Corps’ faith in them.  Earth, specifically, was home to the remaining Lanterns, John, Guy, and the greatest Lantern, Hal.

The three characters all were developing a lot also.  John’s wife had been murdered a few years (real time) before and a moment of weakness led to his inadvertently dooming a planet.  Guy was the current big name Lantern.  This was Guy at his most arrogant, whom I personally love, but I realize it is an acquired taste.  My favorite comic character of all time, Hal, was changing the most though, in a way.

For years, Hal had been the typical DC Silver Age hero.  Always did and said the right thing.  By the 70s, though, DC had begun the maturing process.  Hal was made to question all he stood for.  The series became a critical, if not financial, success.  The concept of Hal questioning his motivations and the Guardians though was an almost fatal problem.  Over time, different authors came in and would have Hal give up the ring for one reason or other.  By the time Gerard Jones took over, Hal was a perennial whiner.

Gerard took that idea and ran with it.  Hal became almost a symbol of America.  Through the 40s, 50s, and 60s, America was the good guy.  Towards the end of the 60s though and into the 70s, we were forced to question leadership.  Who had killed Kennedy and why?  Why were in a war in an Asian country that most couldn’t locate?  How could a president resign, in disgrace?  Finally, by the time I was a child, the 80s and 90s, America was busy trying to regain a lost sense of heroism and nobility.  Hal, during my childhood, was doing the same thing.  His goal was to fix the problems of his past and move on with life.

Maybe the series was a little mundane at times.  Hal spent half of an issue gathering fruit and the issue before, it was crabs.  But Gerard found ways to intersperse Green Lantern troubles with Hal’s spiraling life.  By the end of the first storyline, Hal realized he needed to be Hal AND Green Lantern, not one or the other (a lesson Geoff Johns may need to remember).  Throughout the rest of the series, he continued to struggle with trusting his leaders, the Guardians.  He continued fighting with Guy.  And he continued trying to live both lives to the fullest.

The concept worked.  Today’s Green Lantern fans often think of the current titles as Green Lantern’s high water mark in popularity.  Three Green Lantern titles and an auxiliary title.  But, during the early 90s, there were the same number of titles actually.  By issue 20 of the main series, Hal was the star of the Green Lantern book.  Guy and John quickly gained titles devoted to their exploits and there was a quarterly title devoted to the Corps.  I believe it was a veritable golden age of Green Lantern concepts.

Unfortunately, it all came crashing down in one of the most controversial comic book stories ever.  During the height of the grim and gritty era, the editor of the series decided a totally new direction was needed.  With stories plotted and begun, Gerard was canned and replaced by a popular Marvel author, who rebranded the upcoming “Emerald Twilight” storyline.  The Corps were destroyed, the Guardians killed, Guy and John were depowered, and Hal was driven insane.  It took several years for DC to realize the error of their ways.

I truly regret this also.  Over the years, bits and pieces of the original E.T. storyline have leaked out.  What has been revealed sounded like an amazing, and ambitious story.  Hal would discover the Guardians killed his father, because they knew he would grow to become the ultimate Green Lantern.  Meanwhile, a new group of Guardians would appear and claim those that Hal was following were fakes.  The new Guardians would make Sinestro the centerpiece of the Green Lantern Corps and a new harsher brand of justice would sweep the galaxy.  Hal would have to lead a collection of Green Lanterns and human heroes in a “Green Lantern War,” to restore the real Guardians, who were responsible for his father’s murder.  In the end, he would leave the Corps, gaining immense powers from merging with the power battery, like he frequently did during this time period, and became a universal hero.  A new human Lantern would be chosen.

Much of this has appeared, in bits and pieces.  Ron Marz kept the uber powerful Hal, even if he did make him a psycho.  And we “gained” a new Lantern of Earth, my least favorite Kyle.  When Hal returned to Green Lantern status in the 2000s, it was revealed that the Guardians had manipulated events, over the years, though not quite as grisly as Gerard had planned.  A harsher version of the Corps has come about.  Now, Green Lanterns can kill their enemies.  A Green Lantern War happened a few years ago.  And now, Sinestro is a Green Lantern again.

I say this all to say, Gerard’s run on the title was different.  It was about growing up.  It was about admitting your failures and mistakes and learning from them.  It was about a restoration to greatness that would have to be redone a decade later due to the arrogance of certain creators.  If you are a fan of the Green Lantern mythos and specifically Hal, Guy, or John, there is something for you in it.  Give it a try and I think you will like it.

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My favorite superheroes

25 Apr

Since Super-Friends, I have been a big fan of the superhero.  As a child, my first reading was Spiderman.  As I got older, I became a fan of DC.  To this day, DC is the company that gets my money.  Although many claim that DC’s characters are archetypes to Marvel’s more realistic (and thus better) characters, I disagree.  Yes, DC’s characters are more legendary but with DC’s decision to regularly update and retcon their characters I believe they are fascinating and fun.  I like the classics but I must confess I also like some of the more offbeat characters that DC has in its stable. 

1) Hal Jordan has always been my favorite character in comicdom.  He is one of DC’s classic heroes and has been handled with care at times and contempt at others.  Geoff Johns has returned Hal to greatness and made him one of DC’s number one characters.  That said, I wish he would move the character along some now.  From the Sinestro Corps to Blackest Night, I believe it was the book to read.  War of the Green Lanterns dropped it a lot.  That said, the new series has been very interesting, but like Geoff’s other books in the reboot, it has been slower paced than I want it to be. 

2) Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle, became my second favorite character during the JLI.  His hijinks with Booster Gold were fantastic, but I always preferred Ted.  And though Dan Jurgens’s follow up to the classic JLI wasn’t nearly as good, I appreciated the respect he treated Ted with. He’s Batman with a sense of humor. 

3) Superman is classic.  I can’t help but love him.  For years, I was bored to death by the concept of Superman.  But when I finally “got” him, it clicked.  Over the years, I have been a huge fan.  Unfortunately, if he isn’t written right, it’s  a waste of time to read Superman.  He should be number one, but it has been a long time since he has been. 

4) Hawkman is one of the greatest characters ever created.  That said, he also struggles with being written right.  I prefer the Carter Hall reincarnated prince version.  I enjoy the occasional look at his past lives.  Over the years of retcons though this simple character became a horrible mess.  And the new version seems to have missed the point.  And Liefield is taking over…..Ugh…..

5) Dr. Fate is another wonderful golden age character.  I love the old school Fate.  I even enjoyed Jared Stevens time as Fate.  Such a wonderful concept.  Kent Nelson is definitely my favorite version, followed closely by Hector Hall. 

6) Elongated Man and Sue Dibney belong together even on list of favorite characters.  The two were the best written couple in comics I always thought.  Personally, they made the JLE for me. 

7) Brainiac 5 is my all time favorite legionnaire.  There have been several different versions of him, like many of the different characters on this list.  I prefer the classic Brainiac 5, loved the reboot, and feel that his cartoon version was great in Superboy and the Legion.  I miss that show!

8) Wally West.  My Flash.  No offense to the other guys. 

9) G’Nort is the best alien Green Lantern ever.  Any character who spends his first appearance searching for the bathroom on a robot moon earns my vote. 

10) Booster Gold is another great JLI character.  I know Dan Jurgens created him, but he will always be the other half of the Blue and Gold to me.  Keith and J.M had skill.  I wish they would team back up. 

Best Things About the New 52

15 Apr

We are now several months in to DC’s massive undertaking.  A lot has went well and a lot has failed.  One of my favorite titles in the new DCU has ended, while another has gone on to critical acclaim.  What follows are some of the most exciting things to me about the new 52. 

1) Court of Owls

This is easily one of the most appreciated parts of the new DC.  Batman is always an easy sale and Scott Snyder’s Detective Comics was already blowing people away before the reboot happened.  Since he took over Batman though, the title has been all about the mythic Court of Owls.  A mysterious assassin called the Talon took Bruce to the edge of destruction before Bruce won out.  The most recent announcement that Dick Grayson’s family was potentially involved in the development of the Talons has me waiting with baited breath.  And as previously noted, I don’t typically read Batman comics although I love the character. 

2) “The Birth of the Villian” in Justice League has great potential.  Although Geoff Johns’s Justice League may not have set the world on fire like his run on Justice Society did, but it could do it.  And I love any archetype story.  The thought that a writer who had researched mythic cultures and superheroes is going to fall to the dark side has me highly interested.  I hope he kicks it in to high gear instead of the slow drawn out type story that he showed in the first storyline.  Hopefully, this is the one!

3) The sales numbers may not have been the ultimate success that DC had hoped for but the thought that Aquaman outsold all of Marvel titles the last two months thrills me to death.  I know X-men and Avengers will change the sales dynamics for the next few months but DC has several cards up its sleeves. 

4) The second batch of titles leads us into the multiverse.  I can’t wait to see Earth 2.  Personally, I was really hoping for classic Earth 2 but I love alternate realities.  Worlds’ Finest could also be a winner.  Paul Levitz is one of DC’s greatest authors and Power Girl and Huntress have a history together.  These two books will change how many things are seen. Meanwhile, I really don’t want to see Multiversity anytime soon.  So here hopes this replaces it.

The lack of diversity

8 Apr

It’s been a while since I updated my blog here.  So let me preface this by saying: I love DC comics.  I have since I was a little guy and now I am a happily married guy with three children who I continue indoctrinating into the DC universe. I understand the need for the DCnU, though like probably everybody else I would have done a LOT differently and a good bit very similarly.  I read a lot of the DCnU, including some titles I would never have imagined buying.  That said, I have one major issue with it (and several others).  There is a noticeable lack of diversity in the DCnU. 

Now, I don’t mean what most people mean when I suggest a lack of diversity.  There are several African-American characters, Asian characters, and Hispanic characters.  Going a step further, there is a book headlined by a lesbian character.  Diversity is all about.  What I mean, though, is there a definite lack of well adjusted characters with happy childhoods. 

Gone are most of the married characters in the DCU.  Elongated Man and Sue, my all time favorite married couple in comics, are gone and I wonder if they are dead or ever existed in the new DCU.  Hawkman and Hawkgirl, the one comic book movie I would love to write like no other, are also not married.  Whether Hawkgirl has existed or not is also up for grabs.  Hawkman seemed incredibly bitter about something before I dropped the book.  Good timing too because Rob Liefield is about to take over and that would just disappoint me to no end.  Aquaman is married and for once I am completely interested in his ongoing adventures. 

Fun characters are also missing in action. The aforementioned Ralph and Sue are missing.  Ted Kord, my second favorite character ever, has yet to show up.  Booster Gold leads a practically lifeless iteration of my all time favorite Justice League run over in Justice League International. 

Meanwhile, practically all of the heroes now has some painful moment dominating their lives.  Superman’s adopted parents are dead again.  I can deal with this because originally the Kents were dead before he became Superman.  But I was used to him having them around.  Also, Barry Allen, originally one of DC’s great “normal” heroes, is now an orphan without a wife or nephew, or pretty much anything else. 

Finally, the most recent example and in a way the most disappointing is the new Captain Marvel.  Marvel has always been a shining star at DC.  Yes, he was at times sickeningly sweet but that was part of the charm.  He was a rare orphan with a tragic past who overcame it and was very happy with his life.  Now, though, he is just another child with a foul attitude.  I don’t want to judge the final product based on one issue but currently I don’t get any real feeling of Captain Marvel from this Billy.  He needs to be a happy go lucky kid.  And while I am at it, though I like Gary Frank, his Sivana looks almost exactly like Lex Luthor.  I know two bald autocrats in one universe can be confusing, but Sivana is supposed to be a small, buck toothed little guy.  Makes a big difference.