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The ’90s Revisited: Green Lantern #69 – Underworld Unleashed!

90s_revisited

green_lantern_0069Bargains

Writer: Ron Marz
Pencils: Paul Pelletier
Inks: Romeo Tanghal
Colors: Linda Medley
Letters: Albert De Guzman
Associate Editor: Eddie Berganza
Editor: Kevin Dooley
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: December 1995
Cover Price: $1.75

This month, a number of blogs and podcasts have joined together to present #BestEventEver 2018, covering the 1995 event Underworld Unleashed! Beyond my own posts, please check out these other blogs and podcasts for in-depth coverage of the various issues that were part of the event…and join in on further peeks at and discussions of the event on Twitter by joining at hashtags #BestEventEver and #UnderworldReUnleashed!

ITG  |  Resurrections: An Adam Warlock/Thanos Podcast  |  Relatively Geeky Podcast Network  |  The Retroist  |  Chris is on Infinite Earths  |  Cosmic Treadmill  |  The Pop Culture Palace  |  Rolled Spine’s Diana Prince: Wonder Woman Podcast  |  The Idol-Head of Diabolu  |  Justice’s First Dawn  |  Justice Trek: The Podcast


Particularly coming off of Green Lantern #68, this issue definitely feels like I missed something!

…Which, of course…I did! But we’ll get back to that shortly!

The issue opens on Green Lantern–Kyle–returning home quite battered and beaten. He finds Donna Troy–Darkstar–waiting, and she quickly helps him to a couch and begins to tend to his wounds, as he recounts the story of how he wound up in this condition: namely, some big guy named Neron. When tempting Kyle didn’t work, Neron beat the hero within an inch of his life. After some friendly banter, the two prepare to head out to gather other heroes to face Neron. Meanwhile, a couple of police officers notice a light coming from an alley…upon investigation, they find Purgatory (the guy Neron bargained with in #68 and granted power beyond the human’s control, in exchange for destroying Green Lantern). As Purgatory has (thus far) failed to destroy Green Lantern, Neron shows up to threaten his pawn if he doesn’t get results soon. Before Kyle and Donna can leave, Purgatory bursts in, and Kyle engages him in fighting, saying he can hold him off while Donna gets the rest of the building’s residents out to safety. So while Kyle fights, Donna gets all of Kyle’s neighbors out safely. Kyle and Purgatory BOTH regret the attempted help that set things on this path, but Kyle realizes maybe he can win the fight by giving MORE of his GL energy…which first seems to overload Purgatory and revert him to normal…but then he disappears in a green flame, as Neron apparently has claimed him for again failing his end of their bargain. After confirming everyone’s safe and seeming to ignore Donna in the presence of his attractive, toweled neighbor, Kyle flies off to the Justice League satellite to let them know about Neron (though they already know).

As of this typing, I’ve not yet actually read the main Underworld Unleashed mini itself, as I wanted to approach the tie-in issues strictly as tie-ins, intentionally withOUT the context of the main series. How do they read if one is just reading the regular ongoing series without buying into some event mini-series?

From one issue to the next, this feels a bit choppy, and definitely that I missed something. And editor’s notes direct me as a reader to the Underworld Unleashed mini-series, which I feel I can "assume" picks Kyle up from #68 of his series, advances things, and then he stumbles off to come back into his own series here in #69. As a comics reader and understanding that sort of flow, it makes sense logically, though does leave me wondering at Donna not being part of things. The fact that Neron makes an appearance here, "re-igniting" Purgatory into action, combined with Kyle relating to Donna what he’d faced makes this feel much more like an actual TIE-IN to the event, worthy and justified in carrying the event logo on the cover…where the previous issue (especially by comparison) would seem to have been served better not as a tie-in itself but as a reflection of what actual continuity in a shared universe looks like, where events from something big going on in one part of the comics universe can ripple outward and impact other characters and their stories without having those stories themselves actually moving the event’s story forward.

The story for this issue works well for me, and really is another strong issue in and of itself. Though I feel I’ve missed stuff, I would consciously expect that of pretty much any single-issue comic I’d read in isolation, as it’s not the only comic to exist. We get to see forward development of Kyle here as he’s continued to learn about his powers, what he can and can’t do, the nature of willpower, and self-recognizes the impact things have had on him as he’s now TWICE had to resist the temptation to have Alex artificially brought back (and it feels odd that a simple image of a closed refrigerator conveys so much!). We have a quasi-complete "episode" in this issue, with Purgatory bursting onto the scene…that gets us to "the fight" or main conflict, while Donna "meets" the neighbors (which gives readers a bit of a sense of others immediately, directly impacted by threats on Kyle and his own apartment). Fight/defeat Purgatory, save all the neighbors: a two-pronged conflict/goal of the issue, with both technically accomplished in this issue. That those are contained within sequences showing this to be a chapter in something larger serves that side of things well, keeping the ongoing narrative of this title moving as well as keeping Kyle moving through the crossover and likely at least prodding readers to look to other issues for additional story on top of this title. I like it, myself…but the structure and approach won’t be for everyone.

Visually, I like the issue overall. It’s recognizably Green Lantern, specifically Kyle, and definitely "feels" like a ’90s comics, especially something to the character design for Purgatory…and even Neron himself. I do not particularly appreciate the cover, though, as it shows Kyle engulfed in green flame–presumably to suggest, in this case, Neron’s–cradling the battered, broken body of Donna–Darkstar. Yet, within the issue, it’s Kyle that’s been beaten badly, and Donna who faces HIS battered body. From the cover alone I’d expect this issue to contain a fight with Neron that leaves Donna in bad shape–not because she’s a woman, but because Neron would hurt Kyle. Of course, the misleading nature could be a play on the actuality–reversing the roles–or it might be something not specifically referenced here that I’d better understand after reading the main Underworld Unleashed event mini. Whatever the case, I’m good with the art in and of itself.

On the whole, as a more-than-20-years-old comic from the 1990s and not being anything particularly "key," I would consider this a bargain-bin sort of issue…not bad to get from a bargain bin, but certainly nothing to pay any premium price for. Based on what I know on a larger "meta" level for this title and the characters (more than two decades later) I think this issue probably works best as part of a run of these early/first couple years of Kyle as GL, making the best of the surfeit of ’90s crossovers and events. Given Kyle does not himself face Neron in this issue, and the Justice League already knows things are going on…this issue doesn’t seem essential to the event itself, though it expands on and shows what Kyle is up to in addition to his appearance in the event mini itself.


Again, please check out these other sites for additional, more in-depth coverage of the various other issues–including the main event mini itself–for Underworld Unleashed!

green_lantern_0069_blogtrailer

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The ’90s Revisited: Green Lantern #68 – Underworld Unleashed!

green_lantern_0068Hellfire & Ice

Writer: Ron Marz
Pencils: Paul Pelletier
Inks: Romeo Tanghal
Colors: Linda Medley
Letters: Albert De Guzman
Associate Editor: Eddie Berganza
Editor: Kevin Dooley
Cover Date: November 1995
Cover Price: $1.75

This month, a number of blogs and podcasts have joined together to present #BestEventEver 2018, covering the 1995 event Underworld Unleashed! Beyond my own posts, please check out these other blogs and podcasts for in-depth coverage of the various issues that were part of the event…and join in on further peeks at and discussions of the event on Twitter by joining at hashtags #BestEventEver and #UnderworldReUnleashed!

ITG  |  Resurrections: An Adam Warlock/Thanos Podcast  |  Relatively Geeky Podcast Network  |  The Retroist  |  Chris is on Infinite Earths  |  Cosmic Treadmill  |  The Pop Culture Palace  |  Rolled Spine’s Diana Prince: Wonder Woman Podcast  |  The Idol-Head of Diabolu  |  Justice’s First Dawn  |  Justice Trek: The Podcast


I vaguely remember Underworld Unleashed at the time. I’d been around for Eclipso: The Darkness Within, Bloodlines, and Zero Hour…but I don’t remember getting into this event…I didn’t go out of my way to get the main series or any tie-ins, and at least as of this writing, only recall knowing whatever was in Wizard Magazine or other such promotional stuff about the event, outside of where it touched on stuff I was already buying, such as Luthor’s “return” to full health. This was going on at the same time as The Trial of Superman, which I WAS following in the Superman titles, but was at a time where I was headed toward getting out of comics for the most part for a year or so.

Green Lantern #68 opens on a woman out for a jog being surprised at snow…before being turned into her ice, and her body shattered. We then move to find Green Lantern Kyle Rayner in action fighting rioters in the village. He’s joined by Darkstar, and everyone seems to be wondering at all hell breaking loose. We also find that Kyle and Donna were on a date, which Kyle convinces her they can resume with the rioters dealt with. Elsewhere, Neron meets with Paul Christian–a man who apparently had his ability to walk restored by Kyle’s GL powers. Neron offers Paul a chance to have more power than ever and not have to worry about willpower or accidents, all for just a small price. Meanwhile, Kyle and Donna find Central Park in a very unseasonable state of snow cover…which turns out to be the doing of Freeze (better known as Mister Freeze)…except that he’s brought about the cold and displaying powers far beyond some lame Batman villain in a cold-suit. He reveals that he’s been granted his heart’s desire, become cold itself, and exacts vengeance as his dark lord’s bidding. Our heroic couple can’t catch a break, as they’re still trying to deal with Freeze when Purgatory shows up, bringing some fire to an icy situation. Creative use of his ring grants Kyle a breather–and though Purgatory gets away, Freeze is stopped and seems to revert to “normal.” Despite this, Kyle’s pretty sure things are not actually over.

Other than knowing THAT this is a tie-in to the Underworld Unleashed event, I don’t think I really felt like it felt like a tie-in so much as an incidental thing. Neron could be just some villain powering up other villains; I don’t get a sense here of any particulars to a plan or agenda on his part other than “stirring the pot” a bit. We see him interacting with Paul which gives us the fact of and an example of him powering folks up in exchange for serving him; though I don’t know Paul Christian or Purgatory from anyone else…I do know Mr. Freeze from Batman stuff, but seeing him acting without some sort of cold-suit, being a literal Mr. Freeze, shows off the sort of “upgrades” villains are getting.

I like the art in this issue quite a bit. It’s both good in and of itself and familiar to me. I like the character designs, and followed things quite well without hassle or confusion from visuals.

I read this issue with no context of the main event series, and it’s a solid piece without any of that context. Neron works as “just some villain” and we get to see “things going to hell” as a “red skies” sort of crossover bit presumably reflecting a general theme coming from the event series. Otherwise, we have Green Lantern dealing with unexpected threats while trying to have a simple date. I can’t help but think of the phrasing “villain of the week” such as for a tv show…but in some ways, to me, that’s my thought going into the tie-ins; that the event series Underworld Unleashed has the main story, and then tie-ins simply get to show us various heroes facing powered-up villain(s)-of-the-issue, even “swapping villains” and facing ones outside their usual rogues galleries.

I did expect–I think–to see Mr. Freeze making his deal with Neron within this issue and for the issue to solely focus on him…so I was a bit disappointed that we didn’t see his deal and “lost” pages to Neron dealing with Paul, and then Paul as Purgatory taking up some on-panel time.

All in all, though…this was a nice, full issue still pretty “early” in the “Kyle Era”–this is essentially “only” #18 of Kyle’s time as Green Lantern, and his 19th issue as such (out of some 130ish if I recall correctly). As a reader, one is pretty much thrown into things…there’s context to pick up on the interrupted date, and Paul having interacted with Kyle before…but there’s no concrete “previously page” and one kinda sinks-or-swims in following the story. It seems like a very workable “next issue” of the series, the next chapter of the ongoing, unfolding story of Kyle as Green Lantern. But unless you’re looking for it specifically as part of Underworld Unleashed, it does not seem like any particularly great jumping-in point nor something to seek out singularly in complete isolation if you don’t already know Kyle and stuff with Donna and whatnot from this period. 25 cents, 50 cents…it’s worth it; and seems worth it to me as part of the larger event.

I enjoyed this quick foray into “early Kyle” and am interested to read the main event series myself for more context, as well as to get into the next issue for further stuff with Kyle tying into the event.


Again, please check out these other sites for additional, more in-depth coverage of the various other issues–including the main event mini itself–for Underworld Unleashed!

green_lantern_0068_blogtrailer

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: Eclipso #1

90s_revisited

eclipso_0001The Count

Plotter/Breakdown Artist: Keith Giffen
Penciller: Bart Sears
Scripter: Robert Loren Fleming
Inkers: Ray Kryssing, Mark Pennington
Letters: Gaspar
Colorist: Tom McCraw
Assistant Editor: Eddie Berganza
Editors: Michael Eury, KC Carlson
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: November, 1992
Cover Price: $1.25

Though I was aware of The Joker and probably Catwoman and the Penguin, as well as Lex Luthor, Bizarro, and Mr. Mxyzptlk to name a few comic book villains…MY first wide-spread, "universe"-threatening villain was Eclipso.

Yeah.

See, I was introduced to comics in 1988, began "collecting" comics myself in 1989, and was just starting to "get back into" comics in the summer of 1992. While hanging out one day, a friend shared with me a couple new comics he’d gotten–including "a" Superman #1. With Superman: The Man of Steel Annual #1, I was introduced to Eclipso, and the Eclipso: The Darkness Within story that was taking place in the various annuals that summer.

Get to the end of that crossover, and I remember an ad for Eclipso and Valor–two series "spinning out" from the "event."

Nearly twenty-five years later, I’ve finally READ Eclipso’s first issue!

I don’t know what I was expecting, exactly–perhaps some extension of The Darkness Within, but with newer or lesser-known characters, given the "big event" was over with. Perhaps I expected some loose-knit "team" to have been assembled, perhaps Bruce Gordon gathering folks together to go after Eclipso. What I GOT, though, was a story of Eclipso possessing an outcast and slaughtering a village, essentially reminding himself that he was capable of this, particularly when not hampered by super-heroes. Later while checking out the slaughter, a black diamond is found and taken–with the hopes that its value will make up for the loss of the village and prevent some Count from shooting the messenger. Of course, this being Eclipso and that a black diamond…well, Eclipso feeds on the Count’s anger and possesses him…and slaughters the Count’s household. When the police arrive to investigate this…Eclipso is ready. The black diamond is flipped to a sergeant who is goaded to anger…and thus Eclipso has another minion with whom to continue to kill. And for him…it’s a good day to be a villain.

While we have a narrative story here, the issue is particularly interesting to me as the issue is "hosted" by Eclipso himself, essentially venting to the reader about stuff and showing off to the reader–as he’s got no one else to do it with. He shows us where he came from, what he’s capable of, and lets us in on a bit of his thinking and reasoning and plans for the future…namely, he’s learned from recently-transpired events and is trying a different means of getting whatever he wants.

Story-wise, I really dug this issue. As said, it took me nearly 25 years to get around to reading this, and where I’d expect it to be a letdown for so many years of NOT being disappointed by it to actually read the thing…I really enjoyed this quite a bit, in what it is. Not for the slaughter and casual taking of lives, but as a first issue about a villain that sets him up for his own series. This isn’t making the villain into an anti-hero…it’s the villain BEING a villain. He doesn’t even need a super-hero to fight to do nasty stuff, to be vile and dark and all that. He’s just that regardless of a bright foil. And having the character talking to the reader, aware of us following him through these pages…it’s like a dark take on the usually-lighter way I think many think of for Deadpool, She-Hulk, or Harley Quinn. Plus there’s the nostalgia of the notion of the "hosts" of the House of Secrets books, and here’s Eclipso "hosting" his own book. I later realized that it makes sense, too…the character first appeared IN House of Secrets!

Visually, I really liked this issue. This is Eclipso as I think of the character by default…perhaps because this issue has Bart Sears as the artist, and I believe he was the artist on the bookend Eclipso: The Darkness Within #s 1-2, which adds a great consistency from that mini-series/event into this ongoing series.

Story and writing, I think I really enjoyed that there were no heroes here. It gives room for the Eclipso character to be shown–if not at his WORST–then at his default. And bad as that is, it at least hints at how bad he can be if he’s actually worked up or challenged.

For years, I’ve thought that an Eclipso: The Darkness Within omnibus would be fantastic. Now I’m even more convinced of that…but adding to it the wish for an Eclipso omnibus for this series, and perhaps other appearances through the years. It’s also interesting to note that this was a first issue of a brand-new series, spinning out of an EVENT, with high-end talent creatively…yet it is a standard-sized, standard-priced single-cover first issue. No variants, no fancy gimmicks, no extra-pages to lure someone in or jack up the price…it’s just a comic, that happens to be a #1, that gives a good start to a new series coming off an event.

I won’t say this is by any means a "happy" issue…but it stands alone quite well, and is worth snagging if you can get it for $1 or less, just to read this issue, regardless of anything else read of the character…provided you’re interested in Eclipso. As for me…this has me psyched to read the rest of the series, as well as increased interest in finally going through my Showcase Presents volume and perhaps hunting down some other Eclipso issues.

The ’90s Revisited: Guy Gardner #14

90s_revisited

guy_gardner_0014Yesterday’s Sins 4 of 4: Guys and Draals

Writer: Chuck Dixon
Penciller: Joe Staton
Inker: Terry Beatty
Letterer: Albert DeGuzman
Colorist: Anthony Tollin
Asst. Editor: Eddie Berganza
Editor: Kevin Dooley
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: November 1993
Cover Price: $1.25

We open on narration from Guy talking about his opponent–his decidedly duplicitous Draal duplicate. He and some fellow Draal prisoners–Green Lanterns–are acting on an escape attempt, but find themselves facing the newly powered-up evil duplicate of Guy Gardner! As the battle rages, Guy-Prime recognizes a notice from his stolen ring…it’s about to run out of power. This leaves the dupe on even terms with the original, and Guy lays into it. He’s eventually taken down by the Draal, who realize they still need more from him, and so once more, Guy faces the brain-drain Xanagryph critter. Flashback-wise, we pick up with Guy in the hospital with his older brother Mace–who’s been shot. His parents are there, lamenting their favorite son. While there, they learn that Mace wasn’t "on the job" when he was shot–he’s dirty, and even if he lives, he will no longer be a cop. Soon after, when he does wake up (and learns he’ll never walk again, let alone have a career as a cop) he kills himself. This sends the parents into a downward spiral that Guy can’t do anything about…so Guy gets out. He graduates from college, works with disadvantaged kids, and even winds up involved with the Green Lantern Corps. Injuries end that for a time, but then a great Crisis led the Guardians to heal him, and Guy does become a Green Lantern, becomes a part of the Justice League, and gets to be an actual super-hero! Eventually the Guardians take his ring, though, and he winds up seeking out the yellow ring that once belonged to Sinestro, and currently gives him his powers. Back in the present, the Draals are mostly defeated, the prisoners control the ship…but the Evil Guy is on Earth, and Guy himself isn’t presently sure how to defeat it…but knows that going to face it will also force him to face his past in-person.

As is so often the case, there’s loads of potential built to, so much expectation I can build up based on the opening chapters, that it’s rare for a conclusion to be truly satisfactory anymore. And that applies here to this 24-year-old story as well. Some part of me was hoping the conclusion would be more memorable, more DEFINITIVE, more CONCLUSION-Y. Instead, the issue basically ends on a cliffhanger, as well as a note to check out an issue of Justice League, to boot! And that’s rather annoying for an issue billed as "4 of 4."

BUT.

But, this issue is #14 of an ONGOING SERIES. This is NOT the final/fourth issue of a four-issue MINI-series. This is the latest monthly issue of a monthly series. So of COURSE it’s not gonna be close-the-book, total finale, that’s all that’s wrote, absolutely concluding possible events. So this actually does well for itself: we get conclusion on the IMMEDIATE story: the Draal are defeated, Guy is no longer their prisoner, they’re no longer using the creature to access his memories…we’re done with the flashbacks and such with the present day being like a framing device. Story-wise, we’re good…some of my expectation is SURELY from subconsciously latching onto the YEAR ONE, even though I’d consciously noted that to begin with as being tacked on and NOT applicable here in the way it was with other stories.

And this issue is definitely a success in that, even all these years later, re-reading it right now, I want to read that Justice League issue. I want to track down and read Guy Gardner #15. And isn’t that a sign of a good comic? That a reader wants to read the next issue? That there’s enough story hook, enough investment in the character(s) to want to know what happens next? I mean…I have the long-view; I know what comes shortly when the title gets re-branded, and Zero Hour, and then stuff a few years later with Our Worlds At War, and a craptastic story in one of the Superman titles not long after, and then Green Lantern: Rebirth, and the whole Johns run and New 52 and all that. It’s been 24 years. But I don’t REMEMBER #15. I don’t remember that Justice League issue (a bit of deja vu so I’m sure I knew OF it). And I want to read those, even though they might not have any singular significance at present.

Dixon finishes giving us some key "backstory" of Guy, fleshing the character out and enriching who he is, why he is, and so on. Whether it’s the "brand new as of 1993" detail I think it is or not, this being Guy’s first solo series, and being relatively fresh off Crisis on Infinite Earths and his being "just another member" of the Justice League title, it makes sense to me that this’d be where a lot of this was either inserted into his mythology, or fleshed out and expanded from basic, broad details.

Staton‘s art continues with consistency, and nothing stands out as wonky or weird to me about human anatomy, everyone continues to be recognizable and familiar, and I have no trouble following the action. It’s just good art.

So ultimately, as a concluding chapter of a specific story within an ongoing series, I think this does quite well. It wraps up key points of the main story, but opens the door on stuff to come, having set stuff up and contextualized and built more drama for the main character to deal with. And though I only "signed on" to read a four-issue arc–had no intention of "caring" to go beyond this arc–I want to read more.

I also had mis-remembered the timing in part of this arc, and was thinking things were already a bit past Emerald Twilight somehow, not realizing that this is still a few issues before that point in the continuity, which also reminds me of another story in this title that I was AWARE OF but not certain if I actually read years ago or not (if I read it, I read it around the same time I read this, previously).

I think on the whole, I definitely would recommend this arc if you can find all four chapters to read in one go. It adds a lot to Guy’s character, makes him a lot more sympathetic and well-rounded as a character…it makes him likeable, so help me. Whatever the case…I enjoyed it, and I now have a couple other comics to seek out in the near future.

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The ’90s Revisited: Guy Gardner #13

90s_revisited

guy_gardner_0013Yesterday’s Sins 3 of 4: Inside Out/Outside In

Writer: Chuck Dixon
Penciller: Joe Staton
Inker: Terry Beatty
Letterer: Albert DeGuzman
Colorist: Anthony Tollin
Asst. Editor: Eddie Berganza
Editor: Kevin Dooley
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: October 1993
Cover Price: $1.25

This issue takes the introduction/cliffhanger of the previous issue and fast-forwards a bit. Or in tv terms, we come back from the commercial a bit further in. Adult Guy and Teen Guy are bustin’ heads at Scotty’s, and we come to realize that after popping into the car with Teen Guy, Adult Guy has come along with his younger self to save him from getting his butt kicked. Having taken care of that, Adult Guy moves on to explaining his plan–since he can stop the Draal’s memory-siphoning Xanagryph’s accessing his memories, perhaps he can at least exert an influence over what gets programmed into his double…like a codeword that’ll make it go nuts, revealing itself as NOT the true Guy Gardner. Adult Guy is ripped out of the memory before that can happen…busted! Of course, the Draal still aren’t done, but having disrupted Guy’s plan, they have another go at him–this time we see a still-older Guy who has just turned 18. He’s nabbed by the police…but instead of being given a slap on the wrist or taken to jail, his older brother Mace–who has pulled his own life together–roughs Guy up a bit to set him back on a path for good. Guy gets a job, gets his high school equivalency, and even gets into college–where he redirects his anger at life into football. And at the height of his "glory," where he should have won his parents’ attention and praise at last…it turns out that Mace has been shot. Back "in the real world," Guy and the other Lanterns manage to execute their "plan B" escape plan…but the ‘element of surprise’ they’d counted on is turned on them as they meet…Guy Gardner!

The further I’ve gotten into this story, the more certain I am that I’ve read this before, and that the feeling is not merely deja vu. As of this issue, I feel like I AM re-reading something. And it is something I’m enjoying. I’m also realizing that whenever it was that I read this, it must’ve been at least early during the Johns run on Green Lantern, because I’m pretty sure this did "color" my view of Guy, and actually make the character likeable. For years, the character had been largely some caricature or 2-D ’90s roughcase, but either this story or at least this story’s influence carried into other stuff that made the character much more a well-rounded figure that could be identified with and understood–not just some jerk anti-hero or such.

At this third of four chapters, this definitely feels like a Dixon sort of story, fitting right in with Batman, Robin, Nightwing, etc. in getting details of a backstory that influences the character’s present and all that. While I can see DC having an issue at present with re-presenting certain comics headlined by Gerard Jones…I’d certainly love to see a modern collected edition of Dixon‘s Guy Gardner, or at least of this particular story! It could even be re-branded somehow to fit whatever status quo for present…but having the content brought back would be great.

I’m also somewhat amazed at the consistency–this is the THIRD ISSUE in a row with the same creative team! In 2017, I’d swear that’s practically unheard of! Maybe you keep the same writer on for a number of issues, perhaps an inker or letterer or colorist…but the entire team remaining the same for three issues? At this point, that just SCREAMS "high quality!" to me. That I’m enjoying this story as much as I have been adds to that as well. That said…not much else to say about the art except to reiterate that it’s clear, consistent, and recognizably the characters involved, with no wonky silliness or abstraction/experimentation/etc. Just forthright art that conveys the visual aspect of the story and doesn’t take me out of the story by anything weird.

As also said previously–while the first issue of this story seems a great jump-in point that one can do so "cold," as the third chapter of a 4-part story, I’d highly recommend starting with that first chapter, and not merely jumping in here. At the same time, this IS a ’90s comic…back when every issue COULD be someone’s first, and there’s a hint of context and such where even AS a third-of-four chapters, this is not MERELY a third chunk of pages that collectively make up some seamless whole–this is still a comic book, an issue, and reads as such…this is years before the serialized graphic novel.

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