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The ’90s Revisited: Green Lantern #64

90s_revisited

green_lantern_0064Parallax View: The Resurrection of Hal Jordan, Part 2

Writer: Ron Marz
Pencils: Darryl Banks & Mark Bright
Inks: Romeo Tanghal & Mike Decarlo
Color: Steve Mattsson
Letters: Albert De Guzman
Associate Editor: Eddie Berganza
Editor: Kevin Dooley
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: July 1995
Cover Price: $1.75

We pick up where the previous issue left off, albeit with a different visual angle, double-size (double-page spread) shot at that, and shift in speaker. The previous issue ended with Hal standing over Kyle’s battered body, interrupted from delivering a final blow by Green Arrow calling to him, and showing that this gathering of heroes is here to stop him. Now, in this issue, we "pick up" with Ganthet berating Hal, and then revealing the gathering of heroes he’s brought to oppose him. Sure, it’s a dramatic sorta scene, and worked perfectly well picking up this issue to read a day or so after the previous. But looking at the two issues back to back/side by side, it seems rather glaring. But as said before…this is from a time when collected volumes were not common, but individual issues were by no means written/designed/intended for the trade: they were intended to be single issues, and treated as such.

Hal seems to have won, Kyle on the ground before him, the battle between the two occurring in #63. Kyle still gets a sucker punch in, spurring the others to action. Hal–as Parallax–proceeds to take down Flash, Hawkman, Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, and Green Arrow. In the midst of this, Ganthet pulls his disappearing act again, realizing he forgot someone. As Hal finally gets "his" ring off of Kyle’s finger and his appearance changes to his old Green Lantern costume, Ganthet reappears with the missing hero–Superman. He and Hal slug it out, before Hal gets the upper hand. With all the heroes unconscious before him, Ganthet lectures Hal on his "achievement." Hal, in turn, fires back about how the Guardians failed him, and the universe. Kyle’s gotten back up, and whacks Hal in the back of the head with a pipe, and the two have their own exchange–Kyle’s outpowered, outmatched, has no chance…but fights anyway. "I know you can beat me, but I can’t give up. That’s not what a hero would do. That’s not what a Green Lantern would do." Hal has a change of heart, and gives the ring back to Kyle, accepting that he–Hal–is not Green Lantern anymore, and it’s time for him to be something else. When Hal turns to Ganthet to inquire about the status between the two of them, Ganthet declares "Still, this must be ended." He dissolves into green energy that flows into Hal’s Parallax armor, and Parallax takes off. Flashing forward, the recovered heroes find Kyle leaning against a car overlooking the site of the battle, brooding over what’s happened. At Superman’s encouragement and Green Arrow’s affirmation, Kyle slips the ring back on, transforming into his Green Lantern costume, as Superman declares "…because now more than ever, you ARE Green Lantern." The scene shifts to a kid mourning his missing dog, when Green Lantern Hal Jordan shows up with the dog, flashing a heroic smile and receiving the genuine gratitude of the boy and his dog. We then zoom out from the scene to see that it’s playing out in Hal’s mind, as he’s trapped in some alien landscape–or perhaps within his own mind, a personal hell to torment him with what he once was and can never be again.

Throughout this story–both this issue and the previous–I caught a ring of Superboy-Prime in Hal’s voice, talking about how he just wanted to fix things, just wanted to make things better, or for things to just go back to the way they were. Of course, that’s 2018-me, going on a decade after Superboy-Prime, while this story was published a decade before Superboy-Prime.

In some ways, this two part story has felt somewhat surfacey, as it can be boiled down to Hal showing up, demanding Kyle’s ring and the two fighting over it, the other heroes show up and also fight Hal over it, then Hal suddenly changes his mind, merges with Ganthet’s energy and leaves, with Kyle yet again having the torch passed to him, yet again declaring him to be the one, true Green Lantern.

There’s more depth to be had, though, if one looks for it; if not to the story itself, then at the "meta" level," as the creative team (and editorial) try to plug the various "holes" in stuff and further solidify both in-story and out that Kyle Rayner IS Green Lantern. PERIOD. Dialogue also tries to soften over the sharper edges of what Hal has done–and completely avoids outright specifying Zero Hour. And as the issue closes, it would seem to show a guilty, penitent Hal Jordan, longing solely for the innocent, heroic days of his past–not the tainted thing that he’s become. A step toward "redemption," perhaps…redemption that, mid-1995, was still almost a decade off.

This issue has two pencilers and two inkers…something that, in the reading, I would not have noticed. It’s only now as I write this that it dawned on me that Mark Bright and Mike Decarlo probably did the 3-page Hal "epilogue" the issue closed with, which (in a mix of memory and reasonable logic) I believe worked on the pre-Emerald Twilight issues of this book, so would be a fitting way to "send Hal off" here.

For the main part of the issue, the art is the same, familiar and consistent look from the previous issue, and fitting my memory of the mid-’90s DC characters’ appearances. I really liked the art overall, and seeing the characters in this style…and especially the designs for both Parallax and Kyle. Full-page and double-page spreads are a "tainted thing" with me in 2018, the way they seem vastly over-used as shorthand "filler" for overpriced single-issues. But here, from 1995, they’re effective and accentuate parts of the story–coming back in from a cliffhanger a month’s publication earlier, and to end on what’s intended as a high note, and generally to show the enormity of things…even though THIS battle between Hal and a bunch of heroes does not span a 5-week line-wide multiple-dozens-of-issues crossover.

All in all, I’m surprised at myself for not being consciously aware of or remembering this story, and for never having read it before. I’m glad that I have, now, and it leaves me all the more interested in revisiting the early Kyle era of the title; whether I’ll actually get to that soon or not is another story.

I’d definitely recommend this issue if you find it with the previous issue, to have the two-issue "official" arc; particularly if you come across it in a bargain bin. I suspect these issues will be in a second Kyle-centric trade, and may already be out…though they’ll then blend in as part of the trade, rather than stand out as single issues the way these two did to me.

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The ’90s Revisited: Green Lantern #63

90s_revisited

green_lantern_0063Parallax View: The Resurrection of Hal Jordan, Part 1

Writer: Ron Marz
Pencils: Darryl Banks
Inks: Romeo Tanghal
Color: Steve Mattsson
Letters: Albert De Guzman
Associate Editor: Eddie Berganza
Editor: Kevin Dooley
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: June 1995
Cover Price: $1.75

This issue is billed on its cover as being “part one of two,” but from the start it feels like a part two, a middle chapter.

We open on a battered and angry Kyle Rayner, surprised Ganthet, and calm-looking older-Hal Jordan who has apparently just walked in the door. I can guess that the previous issue ended with a cliffhanger like “–YOU?!?” and Hal stating “Yes, I’m here to reclaim my ring!” or such. Hal’s here and he wants Kyle’s ring–that he–Hal–considers his own ring. Ganthet gets in Hal’s face about how he destroyed the Guardians and all they had built, while Kyle tells him “No.” There’s some posturing and such–and contextually I piece together that part of the previous issue was apparently Ganthet showing up to take the ring himself. Then we get to the fighting. Ganthet disappears, and Hal lays into Kyle. While the two fight–interspersed in our seeing it–Ganthet visits a number of other heroes. Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Black Canary (who is then left behind after revealing she no longer has her sonic scream), Flash, Hawkman, and Green Arrow. By the end, Kyle’s even worse off…but now looks to be answering to an iteration of the Justice League!

The story is not bad, really–but as said above, this feels like a middle chapter, the first being whatever I missed with #62. We get the three characters “discussing” stuff prior to leaping into a fight, then the fight itself, with a sort of “subplot” of Ganthet gathering the other heroes, and then the “new” situation of Kyle in bad shape and the others ready to take on Parallax.

Visually, this issue is a real treat. It’s a very familiar-looking take on Kyle, and Hal, and even Ganthet…and the other heroes look quite familiar as well, perfectly within what I recall of them from the 1990s; fitting with whatever “house style” there may have been; none of them look wonky or “off” to me, which is a definite credit to the visual team!

Overall, for jumping into this issue cold–not having read the previous issue, not having read the next–and being pretty sure I’ve never read this issue before, period–this was a solid read, and I look forward to getting into the next issue. It also has me quite interested in revisiting this entire run, catching up on stuff I did read back in 1994/1995, stuff I missed, and stuff that I know came later in the series.

I think I would definitely recommend this, with the caveat that you’d want to get #62 as well, and the “2nd” chapter in #64. While I note that this feels like a “middle chapter,” that may also simply be that this is from a time when comics would stand alone simply as “the next chapter” in an ongoing story, with subplots and story elements carrying along, written FOR the single issue and not designed to have every 6 issues be a single complete-ish story.

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The ’90s Revisited: Adventures of Superman #472

90s_revisited

adventures_of_superman_0472Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite Part Two: Clark Kent–Man of Steel!

Story: Dan Jurgens
Layouts: Dan Jurgens
Finishes: Art Thibert
Letters: Albert De Guzman
Colors: Glenn Whitmore
Associate Editor: Jon Peterson
Editor: Mike Carlin
Published by: DC Comics
Cover: Dan Jurgens, Art Thibert
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: November 1990
Cover Price: $0.75

This is another very nostalgic issue for me…from the cover on in!

We open on Superman hanging upside-down, tangled in a rope, while a hulking behemoth–Mammoth–postures about being the one to take him out. Flashback to the day’s start–a visit with Emil Hamilton as well as (separately) Lois and her family, where Clark learned that they’re indebted to Lex Luthor for Mrs. Lane’s survival. In the present, Superman bluffs his way out of being squished by Mammoth, and barely survives the SCU’s attempt to take the villain down…which leaves Superman to play a harrowing game of "chicken" with the rampaging brute–essentially staring him down without powers. After making his way home and reflecting on the day, Clark realizes his days as a hero may be done, unless he can get some help…and places a phone call.

While I’d read a handful of issues prior–and this issue itself is some 20 issues after my first of the title–this is still one of my "earliest" Superman comics that I owned, in my "initial run" with comics. And though I didn’t know it at the time, this is largely by one of my all-time favorite creators–Dan Jurgens! It’s reasonable for me to assume that this early issue was quite influential–as well as other issues he was on–in both setting him as one of my favorites, and "imprinting" his take on the character as a sort of "default" or such in my mind.

That said, nostalgia certainly swings my opinion of the visuals very much into the positive…though I’d say they’re quite good anyway. It’s not hard to follow the story, everyone looks recognizable…and something TO the art, I felt like I could SEE Superman’s physical vulnerability here. Sure, he’s in-costume, but I "bought" that he’s powerless.

The story is very solid as well, advancing the overall story of this arc while functioning nicely as its own issue…complete with a fairly obvious (to me) formulaic structures (starting on action, flashing back to earlier, catching up to present and resolving that initial high point, then giving us a bit of drama to end on). We get to see Clark as himself and as Superman; we have a villain; we have interaction and story advancement of supporting characters/subplots. Superman literally in a bind against a villain, surviving, and ready for whatever the next step of his adventure is.

All those years ago, this was the sole issue of the story that I had and read: I came in on Chapter 2, never having read the first chapter, nor getting to read the latter chapters until some time after the fact; in their initial run, I didn’t even know about the "event" within the "event" that ended this arc until some time much later. And I was not put off by getting an isolated chapter of a larger story.

As such…this is a good issue as a random one-off: there’s plenty of "continuity" that it draws from and sets up, and the ending hints at stuff to come, and we have no resolution to Superman’s powers, but we still get a story in this issue. It’s a "middle chapter" without feeling like it’s wholly incomplete, unlike many contemporary comics.

The only "complaint" I’d have is that the cover is a BIT misleading–it pertains to the story within in that we see Superman in trouble with his rope-and-grapple gear, but not falling helplessly toward a street. Still, as covers go, it’s a great piece–eye-catching and conveys the "heart" of the situation–without being context-lessly generic, "iconic," or vague. Best of all, this IS the cover. It is THE cover. No variants, no collector’s editions, no enhanced editions. To my knowledge, it’s this issue, or the collected edition.

I’d definitely recommend this as a simple, fun-ish read if you can snag it for under $1, and certainly worthwhile if you can snag the whole story!

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Zero Hour Revisited – Guy Gardner: Warrior #24

guy_gardner_warrior_0024Killing Time!

Story: Beau Smith
Pencils: Mitch Byrd, Phil Jimenez, Howard Porter, Mike Parobeck
Layouts: Jackson Guice
Inks and Finishes: Dan Davis
Colors: Stuart Chaifetz
Letters: Albert De Guzman
Edits: Eddie Berganza
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.95

I expected a lot of this issue, and unfortunately found myself rather disappointed. Guy, Steel, Batgirl, and Supergirl face Extant, and are thrown through time, bouncing from dinosaurs to Guy’s own past with a woman he’d loved but who died in Coast City.

Reading this issue as an isolated thing, it just didn’t do much for me. Now, I’m a fan of Guy, and have read at least a couple issues of his series before (including, I think, some sort of Year One story and a followup to Emerald Twilight–so with this, that’s probably at least 10 issues of this series I’ve read). I’m familiar with the character from the Eclipso: The Darkness Within annuals (his appearance in the Adventures of Superman one where he first has the yellow ring) and his being part of the Justice League at the time (Death of Superman stuff), and have gotten a lot more familiar with the character in the 20+ years since.

But this issue just felt like it was all over the place…and all I can REALLY tell is that Guy’s new getup is just that–new–he’s still learning what it (and he himself) can do. That these characters are fighting Extant in this issue, that they’re bouncing around through time–that certainly makes this a nice tie-in to Zero Hour, one that truly deserves that banner on the cover, and serves as a RELEVANT tie-in. So even being all over the place, its "fun factor" is there a bit…though I don’t know that I’d particularly recommend it in and of itself.

Visually, I noticed a mix of art styles–PARTICULARLY toward the end when the visuals went toward something resembling Batman: The Animated Series and Darwyn Cooke…it was not until I keyed out the credits for this post that I realized there were FOUR different pencilers. I’m not sure if it helped having Guice doing layouts or not…except that despite multiple artists it at least kept panels to one vision so nothing was overly "out there" or varying drastically from the others. None of the art singly was bad, but it was a bit jarring going from grittier to simplicity reminiscent of Cooke. Not knowing any behind the scenes stuff regarding this specific issue, I can’t comment on that–but I do definitely appreciate what I know now about comics in general in 2016–where I can "assume" that this issue was running late and so the art was divided up to make sure the issue would be done on time as it is a Zero Hour issue and thus HAD TO be out during Zero Hour, which only lasted one month. And with this ending on the blank pages, that sticks it as intended for the last week of the month…where even a SINGLE WEEK slip would put it out of sync with the event itself.

I don’t care for the cover–I kinda consciously "know" that’s supposed to be Extant’s face…but with the fire effect, just the face looks like this is some other villain or a fire-entity or like some X-Men character or something…show me the image without the Zero Hour banner and I would not at all think "Extant" OR "Zero Hour."

Ultimately, this is (along with Batman #511) probably the closest-tied issue to Zero Hour, making it one that you’d definitely want to read with the main series if you’re going for an all-in experience on the reading. By itself, I would not recommend it AS some destination-issue or to seek out as a single issue. As part of Zero Hour or as part of reading the title in general, I think it fits quite well.

Zero Hour Revisited – Team Titans #24

90srevisited_zerohour

team_titans_0024All Good Things…

Writers: Jeffrey Jensen & Phil Jimenez
Penciller: Nigel Tully
Inkers: Andrew Pepoy, Rus Sever, Dan Davis
Letterer: Albert De Guzman
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Assistant Editor: Chris Eades
Editor: Rob Simpson
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.95

This is another issue I’d never read before, and really had very little expectation going in. It’s also one that didn’t truly engage me…other than Garth (Aqualad), I don’t even know who any of the characters are. I know the NAME Terra but not the character (despite knowing OF Titans history, they remain yet a blind spot in my comics experience). So while I could literally, physically "follow" the story, page after page…this was much as I’d imagine tuning into a semi-popular tv show’s final episode without ever having seen prior episodes and only having commercials to go on for the past.

Given that this really is not at all intended as any kind of jumping-on point (it’s actually the end point, kinda-sorta-maybe-somewhat wrapping things up) and seems to dovetail into Zero Hour itself (with the final, ultimate payoff coming in that and not even in this 24th issue of its own run!), this is yet another tie-in that does not seem relevant nor important to Zero Hour. It fleshes stuff out for me a bit in that it’s more content I’ve now read, but does not change any of my understanding or identification with any of the characters and such.

The writing is satisfactory for my experience…but not having read any prior issues, not being familiar with the characters and story, recognizing the intent is not to have someone jump in cold, etc. I cannot really judge it and really have nothing to compare it to. I got what I "expected" out of this, I guess.

Visually I wasn’t blown away by the art. It’s a bit "off" from what I expected, but really not bad. As with the writing, I don’t have much of anything to compare it to, so it really just IS.

Ultimately…I’m really only glad to have read this for the sake of having read it; checking off another box in my read-through of everything I can find directly involved in Zero Hour. Unless you’re reading this series itself, all you need to know about the Team Titans seems to be played out in Zero Hour itself and if you try to go on this issue alone, you won’t really have much more context with the issue than without.

Zero Hour Revisited – Adventures of Superman #516

90srevisited_zerohour

adventures_of_superman0516The Hero of Metropolis

Writer: Karl Kesel
Guest Penciller: Peter Krause
Inker: Jackson Guice
Colorist: Glenn Whitmore
Letterer: Albert De Guzman
Assistant Editor: Chris Duffy
Associate Editor: Frank Pittarese
Editor: Mike Carlin
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

This is one of those quasi-forgotten issues–one where I remember in broadest strokes the events but it’d been so long since reading it that it was a lot like reading a new comic.

Amidst all the other time-stuff going on, Superman finds himself in an alternate timeline, with many similarities but some rather disconcerting differences. Of course, some of these are things he picks up on as he goes along–realizing, for example, that here, Lois doesn’t even know him, period–let alone know his identity or have feelings for him. And despite the familiarity of Superman, this world’s hero is the Alpha Centurian–a character we’ve apparently seen before but this was the first meeting between him and Superman personally. By issue’s end the situation is revealed and the two are allies, off to dive back into the whole saving-all-of-time-and-space thing.

I think when I saw Alpha Centurian in a previous issue of Zero Hour itself, I assumed he’d already been introduced…my mind just didn’t parse out the details or question anything. And yet, I knew this was where the character comes into the Superman stuff–"that issue with his name on the cover over top of Superman’s." I suppose not having looked ahead to the covers, conscious memory failed me and all that.

Anyway, this is another solid issue that plays firmly into the stuff that Zero Hour is about–that is, Time is mucked up and allows for a bunch of anomalies and parallels and alternates and the like. In this case, we get a new Superman ally…one that (as I recall) becomes a recurring member of the supporting cast for a time–much as a one-season character can be close and important for a single season of a tv show.

At this point, 20+ years after the fact, this issue having a "guest penciller" means little to me, particularly for this specific title. The art’s just the art–neither phenomenal nor bad. It works for the issue, gets everything across, and I’m perfectly fine with that. The story itself is cool, revisiting this "moment" in the history of the Superman story and seeing (again) the first meeting (officially) between the two characters and being thus able to cast my mind back to that summer and the following year or so as this Alpha Centurian was a recurring cast member NOT from Reign of the Supermen, yet I was there "from the beginning."

Superman is front-and-center in Zero Hour itself, so his having time for not just one "side story" but multiples is a bit of a stretch in general…but then, he’d had four ongoing series at this point, all of them tying into Zero Hour (given especially the ongoing/weekly nature of the four Super-books). This was a pleasant read, if not terribly contributative to the ongoing Zero Hour saga. Other than being a sort of first-appearance/first-meeting, it’s not singularly stand-out in a way that screams "go out and read this to thank me later" or anything. Still, if you find it in a bargain bin, it’s worthwhile.

Zero Hour Revisited – Hawkman #13

90srevisited_zerohour

hawkman_0013Godspawn (Conclusion): Into the Dark Aether

Script: William Messner-Loebs
Pencils: Steve Lieber
Inks: Curt Shoultz
Letters: De Guzman
Colors: Webb
Editors: Archie Goodwin & Jim Spivey
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.95

I’ve long been aware of this incarnation of Hawkman, but have yet to consciously have read any issues of Hawkworld, or this series prior to the Zero Hour tie in in this issue. I clearly recall the “merging” of the “numerous versions” of Hawkman into a singular entity, and then eventually the (Geoff Johns, I believe) Return of Hawkman story…and read a few issues of the series around Infinite Crisis. Outside of that, this is all new to me.

But I enjoyed this issue, even as I cruised through it mostly clueless…kinda recognizing some names, even if not spellings, and my imagination ran a bit wild with it (settled somewhat by scanning a Wikipedia article for some clarification on this “present” version of Hawkman). That I was interested enough to do “research” speaks volumes, as I tend to prefer NOT to “have to” in reading comics. But this being a 22-year-old comic and all, I can make the exception.

The story basically involves the current Hawkman preparing for facing a god-entity and eventually facing it, before being merged with other Hawk entities in a fashion a bit different than the scene we got in Zero Hour itself. Details didn’t stick with me, and I’m ignorant enough of supporting characters and context to do any significant/proper recap. Suffice it to say that for being admittedly “lost” I still enjoyed the issue, anticipating what it had to be leading to.

Along with tying into Zero Hour directly, this is also a concluding chapter of a multi-part story Godspawn; seemingly capping off stuff prior in readiness for the post-Zero Hour status quo.

I’m not all that familiar with the art team–off the top of my head, I’m not truly at all familiar–but I enjoyed this issue’s visuals. Nothing stood out in a negative way or threw me off…I was just reading this to read it, so all the art had to do was NOT SUCK…and it exceeded my expectations as such. This is another issue read only and specifically because of tying into Zero Hour…and that definitely piques my curiosity and interest toward (eventually, hopefully, someday) reading the series at length.

This doesn’t really seem like any one-off issue…so while it’s not a horrible read if you’re trying to read the “complete” Zero Hour, the parts that truly matter to the Event are covered in the core book, leaving this as an issue to be read to expand, or if you’re already reading this run or at LEAST are reading more than just the one issue.

I’m definitely glad I never paid full price for this, though it was not a waste of time to read. Since it expands on events touched on in Zero Hour, I definitely rank this up there as one of the “better” tie-ins. This also sticks out as a bit of an oddity from 22 years later when there’d be an entire 3-6 issue “bannered” tie-in mini-series to get things across, rather than just this issue amidst already ongoing continuity. A solid issue, worthwhile, but not worth going overly out of one’s way to acquire or read just on its own.

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