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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: Batman #416

90s_revisited

batman_0416White Gold and Truth

Writer: Jim Starlin
Penciler: Jim Aparo
Inker: Mike DeCarlo
Letterer: Agustin Mas
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Editor: Denny O’Neil
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: February, 1988
Cover Price: 75 Cents

[ I wrote this up weeks ago, but never got around to editing and posting my text until now. Fellow blogger Chris Sheehan of Chris is on Infinite Earths covered this issue as well, a couple weeks after I wrote my text; you can find his (far more detailed) coverage here from early November of this year. ]

I’m sure I’ve read this issue in the past…though that was probably in the earlier days of my reading comics–like 1992 or so. I’m pretty certain I recall this issue being part of a 3-pack available at a department store (Hills?) as it’s a "back issue" even from that time, yet a random one I read early on. But it’s a much different thing reading it again now, all these years later.

To be perhaps over-simple in summarizing the issue: Robin (Jason Todd) is shown to be reckless, but rescued by Nightwing. Nightwing and Batman later have words, and then Nightwing helps Robin, with Batman’s hidden approval.

I would have already read A Lonely Place of Dying, and new that this Nightwing guy was "the original Robin" and that "the Robin who died" was Jason Todd, and as a back issue, here was an issue that had the two teaming up. Getting the Dick/Bruce confrontation here–and learning that they haven’t talked in 18 months–surprised me on this reading. Firstly, for having a specific timeframe given, and secondly that I didn’t remember it. Knowing what I do nowadays, but still having a blind spot from this period, I would guess that this is "the" issue that detailed the split and/or retconned things to Dick having been shot and ordered off the job, hence striking out on his own with the Teen Titans and becoming Nightwing instead of Robin. (Much the way #408 retconned Jason’s background to having been found stealing tires off the Batmobile). I would guess this is the Batman title’s explanation of things, whether or not it exactly fits with whatever was going on in the Teen Titans book at the time, and with the ripples/ramifications still being situated post-Crisis.

While the cover is kinda generic and not all that appealing to me, it’s definitely memorable…at least to me, given it was (as I remember) one of my earlier "back issues" long before bargain bins became such a thing for me as they have been the past decade or so. The interior art is "classic" to me, and more than once I had to remind myself I was NOT reading A Death in the Family. Part of me is partially amazed to realize this is the same creative team that DID do that story, even though it’s almost a year’s worth of issues off from this one…back in an age where it did not seem like creative teams shifted every several issues. Whining about that aside…I love the art here, as it clearly conveys the story, does everything I’d expect it to…and stirs up the nostalgia as well.

Story-wise, I felt like even here there was a bit of setup for Death in the Family, though it’s likely a bit of "reaching" on my part. Or in another way of looking at it…having the same creative team allowed for more internal consistency for the title both in characterization as well as visualization. Most often, I think of Starlin as doing Thanos/Warlock stuff, with the Infinity Gauntlet and all over at Marvel…but I think it’s safe to say that he’s also one of my favorite Batman writers!

This issue works quite well for me as a one-off, though I’m obviously a bit biased in nostalgia and remembering this…it’s a one-off for this READING but I’m hardly any sort of new reader or such, which makes this in its own way "just another issue" that I happened to read that I can partially contextualize without other issues. Yet we have a beginning, middle, and end…and though this certainly is not the final issue of the series, we do NOT have a cliffhanger or "To Be Continued…" We just get this as an episode that introduces us to the current Robin, the former Robin, contextualizes both, confronts Batman, and we get a bit of development with all the relationships, seeing that they all have different "history" with each other without (as a reader) absolutely having to KNOW the history.

All in all, this is good, solid issue…and one I would definitely recommend if you find it in a bargain bin! It’s certainly worth a quarter, and if the condition is good, I’d even say go up to $1 on it for the reading experience. The potential we see here gets really developed years later in the Dick/Tim dynamic…and we see the start of that here, had Jason lived.

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