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Zero Hour Revisited – Green Lantern #55

90srevisited_zerohour

green_lantern_0055Assault & Battery

Story: Ron Marz
Pencils: Daryl Banks, Derec Aucoin, Craig Hamilton
Inks: Romeo Tanghal, Craig Hamilton, Ray Snyder
Colors: Steve Mattsson
Letters: Albert DeGuzman
Assists: Eddie Berganza
Editor: Kevin Dooley
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

This is a pretty simple issue. Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner) is getting his butt handed to him in a fight with Major Force. Of course, it’s Major Force that deserves the beatdown–he killed Kyle’s girlfriend and stuffed her remains in a refrigerator…but that’s more a story and topic for some other post. As the hero takes a beating, refusing to give up his ring to the villain, it looks like it’s all over…but then MF wants one final answer from Kyle regarding a chunk of green rock found in the alley where he got his ring. This turns out to be the key to recharging Kyle’s ring, and he quickly defeats the villain…before the battle is cut short by the intervention of the LA Special Crimes Unit. Refusing to stick around for questioning, Kyle flies off. Waiting at his apartment, though, is another man who’d been known as Green Lantern–Alan Scott. Scott fills Kyle in on the basic background of the former Green Lantern Corps. As Kyle processes what he’s just learned, Superman and Metron show up to recruit him.

As tie-in issues go, thus far I’ve far preferred the Batman issue, feeling like it actually took place in the midst of the unfolding event. The Flash issue only just barely–at its end–touched the event, and now basically the same thing for this Green Lantern issue. I’d actually consider this almost a "Red Skies" tie in–that is, you DON’T actually need to read this to get anything extra, really, pertaining to the Zero Hour event. Having the context allows for a bit of empathy later in that story from what I recall, but for right this moment, I’m a bit disappointed by how un-connected this issue was.

I read this issue back when it first came out–after Green Lantern’s involvement in Reign of the Supermen and learning of new goings-on with the title, I jumped in with #50 (Hal’s villainous turn) and then followed the title from Kyle’s FULL premiere in #51 (which was functionally a #1, but in an age when titles didn’t get rebooted just because someone blinked)…so I was getting this issue anyway, it just happened to be part of Zero Hour.

The art isn’t bad, though there are a few more names involved with the art than I’m used to…whatever the case, if I didn’t see the list in the credits I don’t think I would have actually noticed…I just kinda flew through the issue, consciously trying to remember other details from this early, early part of Kyle’s run to contextualize. Story-wise, this is essentially a #5 issue, so Kyle is still being established, and there’s no real feel for him quite yet…so this works well, tossing the rookie hero into things as part of his initial journey.

As the issue of Green Lantern that this is, it’s worthwhile, and definitely a meaningful issue in the early development of Kyle…but as a Zero Hour issue, it’s tangential and really not needed (though I recall the #0 issue of the title being VERY tightly tied to the events of Zero Hour!).

The ’90s Revisited: Green Lantern #81

greenlantern0081nFuneral for a Hero

Writer: Ron Marz
Pencils: Darryl Banks
Inks: Romeo Tanghal
Color: Pamela Rambo
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Associate Editor: Eddie Berganza
Editor: Kevin Dooley
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: December 1996
Cover Price: $1.75

“That was a good issue.” That was my initial thought on closing this, the first time I’ve ever read the issue. Oh, there were some odd bits here and there, but the oddity largely comes from my present knowledge of stuff in 2016 contrasting with reading a book that’s some 19+ years old.

This issue gives us the funeral of Hal Jordan. Though this is functionally #31 of Kyle’s series, and he was introduced to “replace” Hal in the title…until now, Hal had not actually been dead. He’d first simply become Parallax, destroyed the Corps and then been “not on Earth.” He returned in Zero Hour trying to re-write reality, to fix things…and was stopped. I recall (though not in much conscious detail) the #0 issue of Green Lantern…of Hal and Kyle interacting, and I believe the then-destruction of Oa, and I think I’d figured Hal was out of the picture. He then came back in The Final Night, where he sacrificed himself to save Earth and re-ignite the sun…which brings us to this issue.

Kyle has created a cathedral construct for all the mourners, in part of the crater that was once Coast City. We see the arrival of Jon Stewart and Donna Troy, and Donna’s reunion with Dick Grayson; she officially introduces Dick to Kyle. We see there are quite a number of individuals gathered–some heroes, some villains, some not even “invited.” (But that’s life, innit?) Superman speaks, followed by Guy Gardner and Jon Stewart (former GLs both), then Dinah Lance (Black Canary) on behalf of Oliver Queen (deceased at this point in continuity). The Flash (Wally West) speaks, followed by Carol Ferris…and the service concludes with Kyle. Next, the mourners move outside, where the memorial “eternal” flame for Coast City is magically transformed into a GREEN flame (Hal now reunited with the city he so loved) by the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott. Finally, Swamp Thing causes a massive growth of plant life in the crater…transforming the lifeless, desolate pit into a massive green space to honor the fallen hero…while Kyle erects a statue construct of Hall at the heart of it.

While many might say that you need to have constant action, constant “big stuff” happening, huge events, every issue must be merely a chapter in an ongoing story…I myself am very much a huge fan of self-contained one-shots…and of quiet, personal stories. A couple of my favorite X-Men comics involve the characters at home, just being themselves and interacting…not saving the world or facing some catastrophic event or the latest apocalyptic villain. This issue is like that. No huge action-event. No action-stars. No villain crashing the party and making trouble. This is not part 1 of some epilogue mini-SERIES to examine the death of Hal. This is not a “bridge” issue shepherding us from the last event right into the next.

This is a quiet, moving story where we get to see a number of DC characters interacting as themselves, in context of a loss. Perhaps there should be mention that the WORLD has just nearly ended, but there’s not even that–this isn’t “just” a follow-up to The Final Night…this is simply a story of people coming together to mourn the death of a man whose life had–in some way–touched all of theirs. And I suppose the way I’m going on and on like this ought to “say” enough in itself, outside of these words I’m typing.

For me–having grown up through the ’90s, having been quite immersed in DC‘s continuity (if only on the Superman side) through much of this period, being “aware of” if not directly following every title–this is an instant classic. I paid $3.99 to buy this from a back-issue bin; no bargain-bin or quarter-bin…just a “full priced back issue” in this case. The $3.99–just over double original cover price–makes this issue a “match” for any current 2016 issue…yet to me, the quality far exceeds most anything I’ve read recently from DC.

To say the least…the writing for this issue is great, and my sole complaint would be what feels like a tacked-on bit from Batman for the sake of a pretty bow on the situation, quite opposite of how Batman would be portrayed through later years until Infinite Crisis nearly a decade after this.

Banks‘ art is fantastic as well…I have no complaints on the visuals, and to me the only way characters seem slightly “off” visually I think is that they look almost “too human.” There’s a deep authenticity to me here, between the visuals and story combined…as any comic book should be! And unlike contemporary comics that seem full of silent or near-wordless 2-page spreads…this issue has an example of where something like that is truly justified…giving us a huge, powerful moment…whose silence echoes loudly as we see the interior of the cathedral, the pews full of mourners, Kyle and Donna moving through.

greenlantern0081cThe copy of this issue that I bought has a $1.75 cover price…which honestly surprised me, as I’d thought all DC books were $1.95 or so at this point. Based on the barcode on the cover and no “Direct Edition” text, I can only assume this is a true “newsstand edition” copy…and perhaps these editions were slightly cheaper than the comic shop editions. (I do recall the X-books having a similar thing with a cheaper lower-paper-quality edition and then the more expensive, high-quality-paper “deluxe edition”). This would be yet another difference with contemporary comics…as in 2016 I have observed the “newsstand” editions being seemingly-arbitrarily priced at $1 more than normal.

All said…this was a great issue, and very much worth my $4, putting virtually any current comic to shame, value-wise by comparison. And it only took me some 16+ years to get around to paying a “premium price” to acquire and get to read this issue.

Convergence – Week of April 15th, 2015

Convergence–the two-month “event” that covers for the absence of the “regular” DC books while the editorial offices are transferred from the East coast to the West–is officially in full swing. This week’s releases were the #2 issue of the core mini and a bunch of #1s for tie-in 2-issue minis.

Rather than try to cover stuff singly, I decided continue like last week and just do one huge post for the Convergence stuff I bought this week. We’ll see how coming weeks go, in this regard.

Convergence #2

convergence002This week got the price down…now that we’re done with the "special" #0 issue and oversized #1, the "core" of this event drops to $3.99…which is rather steep for yet being a $1 DROP in cover price. This issue gives us more detail on the Earth-2 refugees and presumably backstory to cover the events of Earth 2: World’s End for those who didn’t read that series. We also see the Flashpoint Batman (Thomas Wayne) meet his son from the pre-Flashpoint world and the two make a plan for dealing with their situation. The others from Earth-2 make a stand against Telos that unfortunately doesn’t work out all that well…and then a new ally shows up.

The art for this issue isn’t that bad, though I don’t believe I’m familiar with the penciler or inker. The art got stuff across, and nothing stood out in a negative way enough to be memorable to me. The story, though, borders on formulaic, boring, and generic despite having a lot of potential. I’ve yet to get around to actually reading the entirety of Flashpoint but I have read the core story and the Batman mini so I appreciate the presence of Thomas Wayne here as well as his meeting with a pre-Flashpoint (judging from the costume) Bruce.

That the story so far seems largely a framework for a lot of punching and has yet to really involve characters I’m really looking to see more of is a definite turnoff. To me, Flashpoint was always self-contained as a single event rather than serving as an "era" or particular period of comics. And seeing the Earth-2 characters as New 52 characters…this just doesn’t do much FOR me.

I’m tempted to jump off for now on this core series…maybe it’ll read better as a single whole in collected format. At $2.99 an issue I’d be more inclined to suck it up and keep up…but the $3.99 (as always) very quickly wears thin on me.

Convergence: Batman Shadow of the Bat #1

convergence_batmanshadowofthebat001This issue got my attention by its title alone. Batman: Shadow of the Bat was the first Bat-title I was able to get from #1 back in the day and followed for a good chunk of its early run, returning at its end with No Man’s Land. I wasn’t thrilled at the notion of Azrael’s presence, but if I had any doubt on picking the issue up…the cover absolutely sucked me in. Despite being relatively generic in a sense, the coloring and the title logo make this easily one of my favorite comic covers of 2015 so far.

The story sees Jean-Paul Valley and a still-healing Bruce Wayne both trying to work undercover to find out how a new (to us) villain is going to hit the city’s food supply. The two work together while yet at odds with one another’s methodology, and when the dome drops find themselves quickly facing a couple of Wetworks agents that promise to make their already rough day even worse.

The art on the issue is good overall with an almost quasi-painted look at points. Some panels are just ugly–at least the villain’s appearance–but that’s presumably intentional. On the whole, though this definitely looks and feels much like an issue of the old Shadow of the Bat title. As with the other #1s I’ve read so far we have the tie-in to the first issue of Convergence with Telos’ speech…which is starting to feel a bit repetitive to me despite whatever positive I had to say of its inclusion previously. I suppose I somewhat expected a staggered timeline and not getting that is something I’ll have to soon decide if I’m ok with.

Convergence: Superman Man of Steel #1

convergence_supermanmanofsteel001I’d intended to pick this one up on title alone…to go with Superman and the forthcoming Adventures of Superman and Action Comics, to have a couple months of picking up "all 4" classically-titled Superman books. While I enjoy the Steel character I was decidedly disappointed at the cover logo showing this is actually a Steel book with a missing Superman.

With Superman missing from THIS Metropolis, and all super-powers being nulled out, Steel’s in a position of being one of the most powerful individuals in the city. Having taught his nephew and niece how to repair HIS armor, the two had secretly created Steel armor of their own. When some rogue Lexcorp battlesuits show up, Steel takes them on single-handedly…just before the dome drops and the Gen13 kids show up. Despite Steel’s orders, his kids join the battle (as does the re-powered Parasite), and by issue’s end Steel’s very fate is in question.

I’m not as familiar as I’d prefer to be with Steel…I have most of his 50-issue series but have yet to read more than a handful of issues…I’m most familiar with the character from Reign of the Supermen and guest appearances in the main Superman books…and probably much longer once he was no longer Steel and was simply around as a non-suited supporting character in the books in the 2000s. As such, I don’t have much attachment here…certainly not as much as I’d like.

The art works well enough for me, as does the story (in and of itself) but I’m not too keen on the Gen13 kids nor of this being a Steel issue vs. a Zero Hour-era Superman. While I’m curious as to Steel’s fate I’m not certain I care enough to follow into the next issue. If I do it’ll likely be more on the "principle" of this being "only" 2 issues and my OCD not justifying having bought HALF the series only to leave the other out.

Convergence: Green Lantern/Parallax #1

convergence_greenlanternparallax001I have fond memories of the early Kyle Rayner days. The numbering had even worked out at the time for the first year or so–issue #50 of Green Lantern was Hal’s final issue, and Kyle was the full star in #51…essentially a #1. I remember the first few issues–particularly what happened to his girlfriend, and then his #0 issue post-Zero Hour with Hal.

As such I decided to pick this issue as one of my select few…for that ’90s nostalgia. So the premise of Kyle and Hal both being present was sorta interesting for that…and yet Hal being present doesn’t quite work for me with what I remember of his timeline, going essentially from Green Lantern #50 to Zero Hour to…where-ever.

Given the notion that it’s the power from internalizing the rings and main power battery from Oa that drove Hal mad, the power being cut off by the city being taken and domed, the guilt-ridden Hal turns himself in to be jailed…his only regular visitor being Kyle, who tries to convince him he’s needed. When the dome comes down as Telos kicks his fight-for-survival thing into motion, Kyle’s ring picks back up with the charge it had…though Hal’s "clarity" as Parallax returns along with HIS power. Parallax finds himself attacked, and quickly seeks out the source city to put an end to it.

I’ll be interested in seeing Hal/Parallax kick some butt…especially as I have zero emotional investment in Lady Qark and that city/world. I’m aware OF it but it’s from far enough before my time and outside my experience with pre-Crisis stuff. And for what this is, as a 2-issue series, I don’t have any particular misgivings about picking up the next issue to see how things wrap up.

I’d’ve been happier if this was simply a Green Lantern issue…having the more modern Parallax logo on the cover kinda spoils things as it’s a logo I don’t currently recall seeing til well after Zero Hour (either circa Final Night or the post-Rebirth era around the Sinestro Corps War).

Overall Thoughts This Week

Where last week I stuck with the Core Mini Plus Two, I allowed myself 3 issues this week. I seriously considered the Superboy and Supergirl issues as well, but wound up holding my ground on principle with the $3.99 price point and trying to keep my "double dipping" at a minimum as I suspect I will seek the entirety of Convergence in collected format when all’s said ‘n done.

As said above, I was disappointed that the Superman: Man of Steel issue was Steel-centric and that as a result I did not get to see "my" superman from the Zero Hour era (which could be argued was a different Superman than the pre-Flashpoint one).

I believe next week’s books are Crisis on Infinite Earths-era centric, and I look forward to the Adventures of Superman one WITH Supergirl, but not planning presently on much else…and may even pass on the core mini moving forward, as noted above. While I can justify limited double-dipping with the notion that I’ll have a handful of issues from any given volume on the tie-ins…I all but KNOW the core mini will be its own volume and thus a far more DIRECT double-dip.

Whatever excitement I had is definitely wearing thin only two weeks in, and broken record that I am…a lot of that is certainly to be blamed on the $3.99 price point of the entirety of the event.

Green Lantern Corps #50 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Green Lantern Corps #42 [Review]

Hungry Heart

Story & Words: Peter J. Tomasi
Penciller: Patrick Gleason
Inkers: Rebecca Buchman, Tom Nguyen
Colorists: Randy Mayor, Gabe Eltaeb
Letterer: Steve Wands
Editor: Adam Schlagman
Cover: Gleason, Buchman & Mayor and Buchman (variant by Greg Horn)
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue is mostly battle scenes, as we see the Green Lanterns (with help from the Indigo Tribe) defending Oa from the Black Lanterns. Killowog faces the Black Lanterns of recruits who try to stir up his guilt for failing to keep them alive. And the Black Lanterns reach 100% power…and prepare to Devour WILL. With things looking bleak, Kyle seizes on an idea that might just buy the defenders an edge–and sets his plan into motion. Unfortunately, an Alpha Lantern’s interference sends things in a less than desireable direction.

The ending of this issue was pretty much what I expected as the story progressed–from the moment the Alpha Lantern showed up, I had a sinking feeling…and the heroic action that resulted left me all the more sunk. The final page, seeing the body and the ring’s declaration that its Green Lantern was deceased and flying off…totally heart-breaking. Especially given WHO it was.

The action in this issue was so fast-paced that I hardly noticed the art. Where I did notice it, it didn’t seem all that bad. Gleason’s art seems much more well-suited for the alien characters; and even the cartooney aspect that usually bothers me so much didn’t really show through in this issue. The story was basically a straight-forward battle sequence followed by a fairly typical “heroic death” sequence. While significant in and of itself, it’s nothing special, and is rather formulaic in execution.

On the whole, a mostly average issue tending toward the better side for me as one who generally has not liked the visual style of the title’s artist. While the death at the end sucks, it fits in with the story, and provided me the biggest “Oh, crap!” moment since the end of Blackest Night #1. I must also applaud all involved for not letting this slip beforehand–I had no idea this was going to be the issue’s end when I bought the issue.

As usual, I certainly recommend this to anyone following the title anyway or Blackest Night as a whole.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 6/10
Whole: 6.5/10

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