Thursday, July 31, 2008

green machine

Today I'm going to talk about all things green since our topic is Green Lantern or to be more precise the new relaunched GREEN LANTERN series and what happens after the REVENGE OF THE GREEN LANTERNS storyline.

I had done a post about that which I just re - read in preparation for today's post and I have to say that I covered more ground than I thought. Nevertheless there are still some things I have to adress in this post that sings the praise of Green Lantern.

First I want to say that it's nice to see that DC learned from it's past mistakes. This time they listened to what I wrote and kept the team of Ivan Reis and Oclair Albert together. After announcing the new Power Girl series by Amanda Connor they seem to follow my advice more often. Okay, my last entry about the Green Lantern series was about the REVENGE OF THE GREEN LANTERN and a lot has happened since then. As is the case with many good artists Ivan Reis could not do all the issues so after the four part WANTED : HAL JORDAN story he took a break and Daniel Acuna did the art on the three part Star Sapphire story that followed.


Now the REVENGE story was one of the few cases in which the ONE YEAR LATER thing really worked. Nevertheless it didn't really go into too much detail. That was covered in the WANTED story as well as the seeds of what would later become THE SINIESTRO CORPS WAR. I don't want to spoil too much but there is one thing I have to mention. I always found it stupid that Hal never wore the ring when he flew - with a plane. His reasoning in the comic was that if he wore the ring he wouldn't be as reckless.

Which might have been a good thing if you are a test pilot. I wouldn't know about that. My motto was always to avoid unnecessary risks. But Hal isn't a test pilot anymore. Now he's a regular pilot and you never know what can happen - or when a power ring can come in handy. So of course what I always predicted happens : Hal Jordan screws up and his comrades have to pay for it. Because he did fly without the ring.

Aside from Ivan Reis' usual awesome art my favorite part of the story is Green Arrow's comment on the whole mess : You should have worn the ring. Recklessness is a nice thing when you're flying solo and like to live dangerous but it's not so funny when someone else has to suffer because of it.

I have to say that when DC announced the return of Hal Jordan I was skeptical. Of course I couldn't wait to see the Kyle Rayner fans getting a taste of their own medicine. But after all the trouble they had gone through I feared another debacle. Because let's face it : there was nothing wrong with Green Lantern to begin with. There are always writers who think that it's the most daring idea to turn the main character evil and introduce a new hero who has to start from scratch. Well, let me tell you that's one of the oldest and most boring ideas in comics. It's practically been done to death and I'm surprised that it is still used in today's comic market. Nevertheless DC was convinced that was the best way to save the decline of the Green Lantern franchise. But why was it in trouble in the first place ?


I always liked the Green Lantern series because ( as with most good series ) it has a simple concept : mind over matter. The main character has a magic ring that can do anything he wants. As long as he can imagine it and his will is strong enough to make it happen. The power of the mind is an incredible thing and if you just look to the real world it's sometimes unbelievable what people can achieve through sheer force of will. So in the world of Green Lantern that concept of will to power was cranked up to eleven.

In the beginnig there were just a few Green Lanterns all of which received their orders from mysterious beings only known as " the guardians " and nobody knew who they were or where their home planet was. I don't know why that was changed in later issues. Maybe the idea of a intergalactic peacekeeping corps that just handed out all powerful energy rings without many instructions besides " Beware of the yellow ! " seemed a little odd. Maybe they thought this would give impressionable young readers the wrong ideas. Whatever was the cause the little blue smurfs along with the home planet of OA was introduced into DC history and many great concepts like the whole Green Lantern Corps, the book of Oa, the Manhunters, the main power battery were introduced. The stories began to weave a rich history of the green lanterns and the lore of the guardians.

Now some say that was one of the main problems. There are some readers who begin to panic whenever they encounter a comic book that already has a long history behind it and instantly begin to shout : Vade retro continuity. Which is not the same. But nevertheless it is a fact that with one green lantern for every space sector there were a hell of a lot. And DC didn't always use the potential of that concept. In the GREEN LANTERN QUARTERLY they told a few stories of the lesser known lanterns but mostly the unsung heroes of the corps didn't have a great part in the stories.

They mainly concentrated on the three and a half green lanterns of earth ( Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Guy Gardner and Gnort ) and other mainstays like Arisia, Katma Tui or Tomar Re. Hal Jordan had just returned as the main green lantern of earth but it seemed that was just another part of the endless cicle of Hal leaving earth and coming back again. DC had the impression that they were just repeating themselves and so they opted for a drastic idea : turn over the whole chessboard.


When Ron Marz entered the book his order was to give the book a new direction. So he turned Hal Jordan into the evil PARALLAX, got rid of the Green Lantern Corps and only left one person to continue the legacy : Kyle Rayner. Now I never was a big fan of the new direction. In fact : the issue Kyle Rayner was in as Green Lantern I was out. I don't know how many new readers DC gained with Kyle but I know that it lost a hell of a lot of it's old readers. Because there was nothing wrong with the books to begin with. It's true that the sales had been lagging but mostly because it needed more good stories with good art. Nevertheless it seems that a new generation was excited to experience the first steps of a new hero. To me Kyle always failed as the new kid on the block because he just blundered around aimlessly. Forgotten were the days of green lantern boot camp and it was all back to the days of just handing out rings in the hopes the recruit doesn't kill himself with it. And it's not so as Kyle ever took his responsibility serious : he mostly stayed on earth, never tried to find out his limitations, never trained and never sought advice from the remaining lanterns.....of which some lived just in his backyard. The most he ever did was ask other heroes how to be a hero. But that was the most he ever did.

Aside from Kyle's adventures in cluelessness Guy Gardner was turned into an alien / earthling halfbreed with the power to transform any part of his body into a weapon. Yeah, this power was stupid in the GUNFIRE series and it didn't get better by applying it to Guy. Meanwhile Hal was trying to fix the universe and the fallout from REIGN OF THE SUPERMAN which had turned him first mad and then evil in stories like ZERO HOUR. But the story of Hal Jordan was far from finished.


Hal Jordan's greatest hour was in the pages of the excellent FINAL NIGHT miniseries when he sacrificed himself to reignite our sun that had been depleted by the nefarious sun - eater which initially had been a villain from the Legion of Superheroes and responsible for the death of Ferro Lad in the Silver Age. Now the story of Hal Jordan could have ended there but the powers that be in the DC universe decided that such a selfless act should be rewarded and Hal became the host body for the Spectre, God's spirit of vengeance of earth. This way Hal had the possibility to atone for his sins and win his soul back.

Initially I wanted to post a clip right here that tells the whole story of Hal Jordan up to what happened in FINAL NIGHT in a few minutes. Sadly I couldn't find it on YouTube so here is a link.

Now I never read the SPECTRE series with Hal Jordan. Some say it's the worst DC ever wrote, some say it's not half bad others say it's some of the best stuff DC published. If I win the lottery some day I might find out but at the moment I can contain myself.

So Kyle had been the Green Lantern for ten years and he was finally beginning to act like it in the pages of JLA. He was one of the main characters in OBSIDIAN AGE on of the best league stories ever ( just read my post on it ) and it seems that he was here to stay. Well, that was all about to change when the next anniversary of Green Lantern came around and DC decided to bring Hal Jordan back.


Ever since the introduction of Kyle Rayner there were fans of Green Lantern who were not amused how DC used and abused Hal Jordan. There even was an organisation called HEAT who made it their mission to bring back Hal.

In fact their website is still online if you want to check it out. So DC published the GREEN LANTERN : REBIRTH miniseries which did not only piss off all the Kylehuggers and provide me with countless hours of fun reading their lamentations on the message boards. No, they didn't like to taste their own medicine. But as much fun as that was the main reason of the series was to bring back the Green Lantern Corps flying green chipmunks and all.

The REBIRTH series didn't deliver in my opinion and it is more in the category of HOUSE OF M or the COBALT BLUE story. Not so great in itself but needed for the greatness that comes later. Kind of a " You can't go there from here " thing. The new series was of to a slow start and when Carlos Pacheco left the book I thought that this was the end of it. But like I said that all changed when Ivan Reis came aboard and the book really took to the stars.


There are some changes that I don't like. The idea that the ring can now deal with yellow as long as the ringbearer doesn't show fear still sounds stupid to me. Just pick one thing or the other. Either it works against yellow or it doesn't. This whole " I want both " thing sounds way too feminine to me. Be a man ! Make a decision, dammit !

Other things are really pure genius. I just love the fact that they now have two lanterns in each space sector : a pro and a rookie.

Seems like DC learned something from this particular Clint Eastwood movie. And they also gave Mog, the green lantern planet, a purpose.

In the pages of the main title everything really went into overdrive when the SINIESTRO CORPS WAR started. Tying into the end of INFINITE CRISIS by incorporating Superboy Prime and the Antimonitor and bringing back evil cyborg Superman and his legion of Manhunters it was wildly sucessful - mainly because despite having various tie - ins you could still keep track without a scorecard. And the spin off series GREEN LANTERN CORPS acted as a complementary that told the stories that took place on the battlefield far away from the main characters of the GREEN LANTERN book. And after the end of the SINIESTRO CORPS WAR it still deals with the fallout and the fate of the yellow rings fighting MONGUL in the latest issues.

The green lanterns...not the rings.

Anyway, if you like science fiction space opera, high adrenaline super hero action, witty super hero dialogue and the best Guy Gardner in a long time you should check out this series. If you always liked the Green Lantern universe you will enjoy the book. And if you're new to all things powerful and green this is the perfect moment to jump aboard the big green bandwaggon.

Everything up to the SINIESTRO CORPS WAR is available in trades so you can pick the stories you like and immerse yourself in an exciting new galaxy. With SECRET ORIGINS promising to become another milestone in the rejuvenated green franchise ( as far as I can tell by the pages I have seen ) my fazit would be : this is a series well worth your money.

As usual, here´s a clip that has something to do with Green Lantern. It´s a fanmade trailer and - I´m cheating a bit since I´m writing this part 5 years in the future - so much better than the movie that followed later.

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest

Think green thoughts, my friend. Think green thoughts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really like when people are expressing their opinion and thought. So I like the way you are writing