Posts Tagged ‘Doug Mahnke

02
Jul
10

Recent Comics Roundup: Brightest Day with extra Green

Okay, gang, how about another roundup of recent comic book releases. I’ll give you my usual slate of Brightest Day comics, then tomorrow I’ll get into some other recent books, including a few Heroic Age comics and the big Wonder Woman #600 that all the kids are talking about. Let’s get to it.

Green Lantern Corps #49: In part two of “Revolt of the Alpha-Lanterns,” Boodikka and John Stewart undertake a mission to planet Grenda, home of the robot Lantern Stel, who has gone incommunicado. Shortly after his arrival, though, John finds himself under attack by an unexpected source, and Kyle Rayner, Ganthet, and Soranik Natu go out to rescue the rescue mission. We also get a glimpse of the fallout from Deadman’s battle with the Anti-Monitor in Brightest Day #3, as it seems to be playing into this storyline. Ever since the Alpha-Lanterns were introduced, there’s been something distinctly creepy about them, and this issue seems to be pulling the curtain back a bit on them. We’re getting to see some of what they’re really up to, and while we still may not quite know why they’re behaving this way, the fact that they are is disturbing enough. Tony Bedard does still have room for character beats, though. The recent return of Kyle’s late ex-girlfriend, Jade, is causing trouble in his current relationship with Soranik. We also really get to see what makes John Stewart tick in this issue. I’m very happy that he’s joined the cast of this book full-time, as in just two issues he’s gotten more exposure than he did in the past 25 issues of the core Green Lantern title. Ardian Syaf gets to play with a lot of redesigns this issue, and he does a fine job. He’s rapidly rising up the ranks of DC’s bests artists, and this is one of DC’s best comics.

Rating: 8/10

Green Arrow #1: Hey, look, it’s a Green Arrow #1! It must be at least two, three months since we had one of those. At the beginning of Brightest Day, the devastated Star City became the site of an enormous star-shaped forest. Oliver Queen, now unmasked and disgraced as Green Arrow due to his murder of Prometheus (in Justice League: Cry For Justice), has taken to living in the forest, where he has become far more literal a modern Robin Hood than ever before. Not surprisingly, this issue is a lot of set-up. We find out where Ollie has been and what he’s been doing  since we last saw him, and we see what’s been happening to the power structure in what’s left of Star City. At the end of the issue, we see once again just how this title seems to be keyed in to Brightest Day, with a nice little reveal. While I’m still not sold that this revamp of the character justified yet another first issue for Green Arrow, I really do like what J.T. Krul is doing with him. He’s got a very good feel for Ollie, for who he is, for what he’s doing. Diogenes Neves’ artwork is strong, and interestingly enough seems to work better in the forest than in the city. Mauro Cascioli does a flat-out fantastic cover, one that really knocks my socks off. It’s not a knockout first issue, but it’s a strong one.

Rating: 7/10

Justice League: Generation Lost #4

The four JLI members who remember Max Lord, along with the new Blue Beetle, find themselves in Russia, unwillingly drawn into a conflict between a rogue Rocket Red and an entire squad of the armored Russian warriors. The new Rocket Red, a terrorist dedicated to the restoration of the Socialist rule, finds an unexpected ally in the former Justice League, and it’s Booster Gold of all people who starts to piece together what’s going on. Like many of the characters who returned from the dead, this issue we start to see that Maxwell Lord’s powers aren’t exactly like they were before his death. I find this particular mystery very interesting, and I’ve very much enjoyed watching it play out in several of the Brightest Day-branded titles. The reluctance of this group to form a team is also a really interesting way to play things. Judd Winick’s Power Girl last week didn’t impress me much, but his collaboration with Keith Giffen has been quite strong since this book launched. I’m enjoying the story, the mystery, and seeing these characters together again, which is what you want whenever this particular band is brought back together.

Rating: 7/10

Green Lantern #55: Lobo is back, and he’s on Earth to collect the bounty on Atrocitus. As the White Lantern still seems to want Atrocitus around, Hal Jordan finds himself in the odd position of defending the Red Lantern, along with Carol Ferris and Sinestro, from the last Czarnian. There’s a ton of action this issue, and Doug Mahnke does a great job of laying it out. The inks on this issue, though, are a little looser than I would like. Aside from the fight scenes, Geoff Johns also delves into the mystery of the strange being that seems determined to capture the Entities that embody the seven Corps. This has been a very strong element in this title, once that’s helped to propel the story forward since Brightest Day began. We also get a back-up story illustrated by Shawn Davis, the origin of the Red Lantern Dex-Starr. What exactly could take a cat from Earth and turn him into a brutal member of the rage-filled Red Lantern Corps? It’s a sad story, no surprise, and the last panel will break the heart of pretty much any cat-lover. Despite myself, I can’t help but hope that Johns returns to this story at some point and gives Dex-Starr the chance for a little payback.

Rating: 8/10

The Flash #3: Another Geoff Johns comic (the guy writes a lot of them, doesn’t he?) returns to the resurrected Captain Boomerang. Boomerang is back in prison, where he’s been given the “assignment” to break out before his fellow Rogues will consider accepting him back into the fold. Barry Allen, meanwhile, is being pursued by the Renegades – Rogue-based cops from the 25th century – who are accusing him of the murder of one of their own… a murder that hasn’t happened yet. This is a damn ominous issue. Not only is Captain Boomerang shaping up to be much more of a threat than he’s been in the past, but Johns briefly brushes up against just why Barry could be driven to kill Mirror Monarch. Here’s a hint. Barry has killed before. Anybody remember what it was that drove him to it the first time? Two more things to love about this issue. First, Johns has brought back the old-school “Flash Facts,” with the help of artist Scott Kolins, giving us both actual science (how a Boomerang works) and some “Secret Files”-style in-world info, in this case about Captain Boomerang himself. The other thing to love is the art of Francis Manapul. I don’t know if it’s an improvement in his style or the colors of Brian Buccellato (or a combination of the two), but his style on this book is so far ahead of his work on Legion of Super-Heroes just a few years ago that you couldn’t tell it was the same artist. It’s fantastic.

Rating: 9/10

Justice League of America #46: After a two-issue prologue, the JLA/JSA crossover “The Dark Things” begins in earnest this issue. The Starheart has taken over Green Lantern Alan Scott, and the power is spreading across the Earth, causing magic- or elemental-based heroes and villains to lose control and wreak havoc on the world. The Justice League and Justice Society spring into action to shut down the elementals, while the newly-returned Jade tries to use her altered powers to try to figure out what’s happened to her absent father and brother. James Robinson does good work balancing the two groups of characters and exploring some of the new relationships that this team is afforded – Congorilla and Jesse Quick, Nightwing and Supergirl… characters that we haven’t seen together very much, but work well together. Mark Bagley juggles a ton of characters this issue and he’s got a good feel for most of them. The young League looks great, the older JSA not as much, and that’s just a consequence of his style. He’s always done young characters very well. In the back-up story, Pow Rodrix illustrates the tale of two JLA members that don’t appear to be on the current team. Cyborg has helped develop a new technology that may prevent Red Tornado from ever having his body destroyed again, but when Red Tornado loses control, that’s a pretty big problem. The story isn’t clear as to whether Tornado’s loss of control is related to the Starheart in the main story, but I rather hope it is, as it will give the second story a bit more weight.

Rating: 7/10

Tomorrow, some comics that have nothing to do with Brightest Day.

26
Feb
10

Blackest Night February Roundup

We’re headed into the home stretch, friends. As of this writing,  I think there are only three Blackest Night issues left unreleased. Of course after that we’re heading into Brightest Day, so… well, anyway, we’re closing in on the end. But bfore we get there, I’m going to hit you guys with my reviews of all the chapters released in the last three weeks.

Adventure Comics #7: After taking a month “off” from Blackest Night to take care of that pesky main plot of the series, the shadow of the Black Lanterns falls on this title again. The heroes of the DC Universe who have come back from the dead are returned to that state, turned into Black Lanterns, and Nekron’s sense of irony pits Superboy against the girl he loves, Wonder Girl. Cassie and Krypto try to hold off the Black Lantern Superboy, while we readers ride along in Conner Kent’s head. Conner’s still conscious, you see, watching as the Black Lantern ring forces him to try to kill those closest to him.

Tony Bedard is only on Adventure Comics for this one issue, but he does a fine job of it. He really gets into Conner’s head (no pun intended) and gets across the anguish one would feel in his situation. There’s a nice callback to the story that brought Conner back, Legion of Three Worlds, as well.

Travis Moore does really great work on the artwork. I like his work with these characters, and I’d be very happy to see him get his hands on the Teen Titans one of these days. Conner, Cassie and Krypto all look really good in this book, as good as they read. This isn’t the most essential of the Blackest Night crossovers, but it’s one of the most fun.

Rating: 8/10

Blackest Night: The Flash #3: Finishing up Barry Allen’s miniseries, this issue we see as he and Wally confront the Black Lantern forms of some old friends and enemies, including Kid Flash. Geoff Johns works in some good moments for the Flash Family here, setting up relationships and plotlines that no doubt will continue to play off when he relaunches Barry’s ongoing series in a couple of months.

The Barry stuff isn’t quite as strong, however, as the great scenes with the Rogues. Owen Mercer, the young Captain Boomerang, has been seduced by the idea of a second chance with his dead father. The things he’s willing to do to placate daddy, however, go too far. You’ve got to love a villain with a moral code, no matter how twisted that code is, and this issue really plays it well.

Scott Kolins does his usual good work. I love the cover of this issue, with Barry in his resplendent Blue Lantern gear. But as with the story, the Rogues stuff is even better. There are some horrors to draw in this issue, and he does them well.

When this miniseries launched, I was afraid it wouldn’t have much of a story of its own, but would instead just fill in the blanks the way the Blackest Night: Wonder Woman series did. Fortunately, it worked out well. Although there were some between-the-pages bits here, the through-line of Barry facing his demons was fairly solid, and the Rogues’ plot was great. Johns has always done great work making B-list villains into A-list stars, and that’s what this miniseries did for us too.

Rating: 7/10

Green Lantern #51: Following up on issue #50, Hal Jordan has once again taken on the power of Parallax, this time willingly, to bring down the Black Lantern-possessed Spectre. Hal and the rest of the New Guardians have combine their might against the spirit of God’s vengeance turned into a power-mad monster.

The confrontation itself is good, but it’s rather reminiscent of the story Johns wrote back in Green Lantern: Rebirth that showed Hal breaking free of both the Spectre and Parallax for good. Doug Mahnke, fortunately, draws a fantastic interpretation of that battle.

The other good moments are those that don’t hearken back to that earlier comic — a confrontation between Lex Luthor and Larfleeze over the power of the Orange Lantern is really good, and I can definitely imagine it building up into a long-lasting rivalry between the two of them. There’s also a very ominous moment that I imagine is intended to set up some things either for Brightest Day or other future Green Lantern stories.

Not the best issue to date, but still a strong one.

Rating: 7/10

Green Lantern Corps #45: Guy Gardner, the newest Red Lantern, was instrumental in taking apart the Black Lanterns that were invading Oa. Now, though, still gripped by Red Rage, Guy’s comrades in the Green Lantern Corps — along with an Indigo Lantern and a Star Sapphire for good measure — have to try to snap him out of it before the rage consumes him forever.

This issue is all Guy’s, and if there was ever any doubt that Peter Tomasi was the right man to compose the upcoming Guy-centric ongoing Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, this book should do away with that. He’s got the character down and he knows how to paint his relationships with the rest of the Corps. It’s a great story and it really shows that he’s in good hands.

Patrick Gleason still does good work on the pencils. While perhaps not s flashy as Ivan Reis or Doug Mahnke, Gleason’s work on this book has been solid, and his assorted alien and Lantern designs click together well. The contrasting colors really help make the pages leap out at you.

A really good chapter of one of DC’s best comics.

Rating: 8/10

Green Arrow #30: Or “Black Lantern Green Arrow” if you prefer, this is the first issue of this series after the title has dropped the and Black Canary, which I’ve got to admit, bums me out. At least it doesn’t sound like they’re divorcing them or anything, but I just like the idea of them sharing a title together.

Anyway, J.T. Krul — who you may remember did some kick-ass work on the Titans tie-ins to this event — takes over the Green Arrow title beginning with this issue, and if this is any indication of his run, I’m on it with him. Like the Adventure Comics issue, in this issue we see Green Arrow transformed into a Black Lantern and forced to watch as his body goes around doing and saying horrible things to the people he loves, trying to wring their emotions out so he can do what Black Lanterns do and consume their hearts. As dark as this series has been overall, this may be one of the darkest chapters yet.

It’s also one of the best.

The emotions Krul evokes throughout this issue are powerful, deep, and spot-on the right way to pick away at the hearts of Green Arrow’s extended family. He pushes all the right buttons and turns what could have been a totally superfluous crossover into a masterpiece of character examination. Diogenes Neves steps up with the artwork, too, drawing an almost gothic tale that is a flawless match with the best of the crossovers in this event. Krul has won me over, getting me to the point where if his name is on the book, I’ll at least buy an issue to see where he’s going.

Rating: 10/10

Blackest Night: JSA #3: The last spin-off series comes to a close as the Justice Society members face the demons of their loved ones. Power Girl battles Superman of Earth-2, Jessie Quick races against her late father Johnny, and meanwhile Mr. Terrific puts that big brain of his to use looking for a way to stop the Black Lanterns entirely.

The confrontations in this issue are really strong. Although Power Girl was Superman’s cousin, the relationship between them was that of a father and daughter (as opposed to the more “big brother/little sister” relationship between our Superman and Supergirl). Add to that the actual father/daughter pairing of Johnny and Jessie, and you have two wonderfully deep, rich relationships for the Black Lanterns to pick apart.In both cases, you know the women are too smart to fall for the Lanterns’ ploy, but you can understand why they would want to believe their fathers have returned. It’s good stuff.

The Mr. Terrific scenes aren’t quite as good. You have Michael Holt (one of my favorite JSA characters by the way) gathering up some of the JSA’s magic-users to try to create a spell to drive out the Black Lanterns. The result is like one of those scenes in Star Trek where everything is resolved in the last five minutes when Scotty reroutes the power couplings through the Jeffries Tubes into the Dilithium Warp Hinkymadooky and someone looks at the screen and says, “Whew. That worked.” It’s a weak note to end on, which is a shame, because there’s a lot of good stuff in this issue.

Rating: 7/10

Blackest Night #7: The main event returns after January’s hiatus, with Black Hand and Nekron finally revealing their ultimate goal. One of the greatest secrets of the Guardians of the Universe is revealed, and a source of incredible power is uncovered… but who will wield it?

The reveal in this issue isn’t actually that big a surprise. It’s something I’ve been expecting for some time. But just who takes the initiative in this issue is a surprise, and an intriguing one. I’ve got no doubt that Geoff Johns has a brilliant plan in place for this. I love the “Charge of the Light Brigade” scene, I love the explanation behind the Guardians’ biggest secret, and I already intend to order the t-shirt that will inevitably be released to coincide with this issue. I just flat-out loved it.

And I’m gonna get spoilery in a minute, so if you haven’t read the issue yet, stop reading this after the rating.

Rating: 9/10

Okay, spoilery time. To absolutely nobody’s shock, this issue reveals the power of the White Lanterns, the force of light that invaded the universe and drove out the Black millions of years ago. And it’s interesting to see that Sinestro is the one who lurches forward and takes the power. (Even more interesting that, when Sinestro steps up, the avatar he creates is wearing his old Green Lantern uniform rather than his Sinestro Corps duds.)

The big question, though, is exactly what power does the White Lantern have? In describing the Entity that powers the White, Ganthet describes it as “the living light bestowed upon this universe that triggered existence itself.” We’ve also seen a hell of a lot of heroes die during the course of this story, and furthermore, there are a lot of dead ones we expect may well come back (the cover to the upcoming Brightest Day #1 being perhaps the best evidence of that). So, probably for the last time in this Blackest Night run, I’m putting out a theory. The power of the White Lantern is the power of life itself. And when we see a Black Lantern washed in the White Light, we’re going to see that Lantern brought back from the dead. Like, for real brought back, not just reanimated. This is how we’re going to get Aquaman back, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, and several others… both those who died during this series and those who have been dead for a while.

Of course, if you’re a Black Lantern that has already been destroyed thanks to the combination of other Lantern lights, you’re already off the board, so no resurrection for you.

Sorry, Ralph and Sue.

01
Feb
10

What I’m Reading: Still More Blackest Night

It’s been a couple of weeks, so I’m back with a few more Blackest Night reviews for you guys. Although there was no issue of the miniseries proper in the month of January, that doesn’t mean nothing happened. We’ve got a few more “dead” series back from the grave, a few more spin-off miniseries, and a few more crossovers — including a couple of big ones. So let’s do it, again, roughly in order of release…

Blackest Night: The Flash #2

The Rogues, expecting their dead teammates (and, in some cases, predecessors) to come gunning for them, decide they’re going to go on the offensive, heading to Iron Heights penitentiary to hunt down the dead villains. Meanwhile, Wally and Barry — now complete with his new Blue Lantern ring — begin facing off against their own Black Lanterns, including Kid Flash, Professor Zoom, and the once-benevolent ape named Solovar. This issue is a bit of a mixed bag for me. The Rogues stuff is great, which is no surprise, as Geoff Johns has been taking lame villains and making them bad-ass ever since his original Flash run years ago. The fact that many of these characters have any sort of personality at all is directly attributable to him. And amazingly, while he hasn’t turned them into heroes, he’s somehow made villains you want to root for, especially in these circumstances. Villain-themed books rarely work. The only exceptions I can think of, Suicide Squad and Secret Six, work because the writers don’t try to turn them into heroes. (Thunderbolts, on the other hand, worked precisely because the writers turned them into heroes). But if Johns were to take on the Rogues for an ongoing, or even a series of miniseries, I really think it could work. The scenes with the Flashes aren’t bad, but much like Blackest Night: Wonder Woman, I get the impression that these pages merely fill in the blanks between pages of the main series rather than tell an independent story. That brings down my enjoyment of this book. But only a little.

Rating: 7/10

Green Lantern Corps #44

Kyle Rayner died, then came back to life thanks to his lover Soranik Natu and the intercession of a member of the Star Sapphires. During the brief period he was dead, however, his partner Guy Gardner went wild with rage, shifting from Green Lantern to Red. Kyle wants to rip the Red off Guy’s hand, but the rest of the Corps realizes something important. The power-mad Guy Gardner is the only thing proving effective against the Black Lanterns invading Oa. Peter Tomasi has worked in a heck of a lot of great stuff into this issue. You’ve got the moral dilemma about what to do with Guy, excellent character moments for Kyle and the rest of the Corps (including Mogo, one of the coolest GLs ever), and a ton of great action scenes, including full- and double-page spreads by Patrick Gleason, doing some of his finest work on this series to date. The last few pages bring us to a cliffhanger almost as engaging as Kyle’s “death” a few issues ago. Sometimes this book gets lost in the shadow of its parent title, but consistently, Green Lantern Corps has provided some of the best science fiction comics we’ve seen in many years.

Rating: 8/10

The Phantom Stranger #42

One of the “back from the dead” titles, this issue of Phantom Stranger could almost serve equally well as a resurrected issue of The Spectre, Deadman, or even Shadowpact. Flipping back a few months, we saw the Spectre’s human host, Crispus Allen, transformed into a Black Lantern. The real downside here? That means you’ve got a Black Lantern with the power of God’s spirit of vengeance. Here we see the Phantom Stranger lead the charge to save him as he invades the city of Nanda Parbat. Tomasi is back, this time with some beautiful artwork by Ardian Syaf to boot. If you’re looking for a spotlight on the Phantom Stranger, this issue will probably disappoint, but if you want a sort of overview of the DC Universe’s most powerful magic users in this time of crisis, this issue really does fit the bill. The issue even gives us a glimpse of the “possible” origins of the Stranger, as revealed years ago in an issue of Secret Origins, while still providing us no solid clues that confirm of invalidate any of them. I rather doubt DC will ever give us the firm truth behind the Stranger, and to be honest, I hope they don’t. He’s the sort of character that works best shrouded in mystery.

Rating: 7/10

Starman #81

Writer James Robinson returned to the series that shot him to comic book stardom with this issue. Of course, the Starman that starred in this series is retired and living peacefully in San Diego, and Robinson had no intention of pulling Jack Knight out of retirement. But when Jack’s dead brother, David, returns as a Black Lantern, somebody is going to have to step up. That someone, as it turns out, is the Shade, a golden age villain who became a much more complex and entertaining character under Robinson’s pen. The Shade moves to protect Opal City from David Knight, and in the process proves just how much life is left in this franchise. Even with Jack out of the picture, the Shade and the O’Dares of Opal City are wonderful, fascinating characters. While you still couldn’t go so far as to classify the Shade as a hero, he’s certainly not the villain he once was. This was without a doubt the best of the “back from the dead” comics that DC released in January, and it has me hoping like hell that Robinson does return to the Shade in some way — a miniseries, a part in an ensemble title… dare I hope an ongoing? It would make me deliriously happy, and I know I wouldn’t be alone.

Rating: 10/10

The Atom and Hawkman #46

This issue focuses more on the Atom than the (current Black Lantern) Hawkman, but as the two of these heroes used to share a book, it seems fitting that they share the billing here as well. The Atom, like the Flash, has been deputized as a Lantern. In the Atom’s case, he’s Indigo. While most of the others were pretty obvious (Barry in Hope Blue, Lex Luthor in Avarice Orange and so on), the Atom in the Indigo light of Compassion needed a bit of justification. Geoff Johns really pulls it off with this issue. As the Atom faces the dead form of his best friend, he’s forced down memory lane, remembering all the tragedy his ex-wife Jean (also a Black Lantern) forced upon him during their life together, how it led to one tragedy after another… and ultimately, how he still managed to feel for her. A lot of characterization is in how that character is portrayed. Johns managed to take everything that’s happened to the Atom — and more important, how he reacted to everything that happened to him — and used it to explain why he was chosen for the Indigo Lanterns without contradicting a thing. It’s one of the things that makes him such a fantastic writer. Out of all the “Back From the Dead” comics, this is the one most pertinent to the ongoing tale of Blackest Night — and it’s a can’t-miss book to boot.

Rating: 9/10

Green Lantern #50

It’s probably a coincidence that the 50th issue (traditionally a spot reserved for an anniversary special) of Green Lantern fell during the Blackest Night crossover, but Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke make full use of the extra pages they’re granted this month. Picking up moments after the conclusion of Blackest Night #6, Hal and the New Guardians join up with the deputy Lanterns to face the Black Lantern scourge. As they do battle, the Black Lantern Spectre returns, and he’s gunning for Hal. Realizing the power of the being he faces, Hal Jordan understands the only horrific way he could stand a chance of victory — he will once again have to take on the power of the dark entity that once turned him into a madman, the Yellow Lantern entity called Parallax. Except for Barry and the Atom in their respective spin-offs, this issue is the only time we’ve really gotten to see the Deputy Lanterns in action yet, and it’s really great stuff. The Sinestro Scarecrow is creepier than ever, and the moments between Atrocitous and Mera, Hal and Carol Ferris, are fantastic. I’ve only got one real beef with this issue, but it’s one I’ve had to voice time and again. If you’re going to do a last-page reveal, why do you spoil it on the bloody cover?

Rating: 8/10

Blackest Night: JSA #2

The Justice Society is under siege by its fallen members from multiple worlds, but many of the Black Lanterns don’t seem to be out for blood. They’re seeking compassion, the love of their family members… and how could anybody begrudge them that? On the other hand, how could anybody trust them, either? The original superheroes were no slouches, and as this issue shows, if anything, death has made them more shrewd. James Robinson and Tony Bedard share the writing chores here, with the pencil work shared by Eddy Barrows and Marcos Marz. You can definitely tell that more than one artist worked on this book, which can be a little distracting during the more noticeable shifts. I imagine that the extra hands were needed to get this book done on time, which I’m okay with in principle, but when that happens it seems incumbent to try to match the artists’ styles, and that didn’t really happen here. It hurts the issue, but only a bit.

Rating: 7/10

27
Nov
09

What I’m Reading: Green Lantern #48

In deep space, Hal Jordan and the other light-bearers he’s drawn together are seeking out the last two they need to have the entire emotional spectrum united, but Atrocitus and Larfleeze will not prove to be as rational as Sinestro and Saint Walker. Alliances are forged, betrayals revealed and long-buried secrets come to light.

While I wouldn’t go so far as to call this an “origin issue,” we do learn an awful lot about the motivations of the Red Lanterns in this issue, Atrocitus in particular. While he may be incredibly dangerous, it’s not beyond reason to think his rage could be justified. As for Larfleeze… Larfleeze is funny. There were several times reading this issue where I legitimately laughed out loud. Geoff Johns is playing the character for laughs, and he’s telling a great story in the process. His part in all this is becoming clearer, the truth about him being peeled back at the same time as we learn about Atrocitus. We even get a tiny little  hint about the ultra-secretive Indigo Corps.

Doug Mahnke must be having a blast on this title. Since taking over at the outset of this storyline, he’s spent most of his time in space, working with the various Corps involved in the War of Light, with aliens and monsters, with super-cool energy effects and so forth. In the grand scheme of things, this book really is something of a calm before the storm for Blackest Night. It’s one last chance to pause and catch our breath before the stuff really hits the fan in issue #5 of the main title. But this is no doubt a necessary step, and it puts the characters right where we need them as we move into the second half of this event.

Rating: 8/10

30
Oct
09

What I’m Reading: Green Lantern #47

Green Lantern #47While his Justice League pals try to hold the line on Earth, Hal Jordan is in outer space hoping to find the allies he needs to destroy the threat of the Black Lanterns. An uneasy alliance has already formed between Green Lantern Hal, Indigo-1, Star Sapphire Carol Ferris, and Sinestro. Before they can move on to recruit Atrocitus, Saint Walter, or Larfleeze of the remaining Red, Blue, and Orange Lanterns respectively, an army of Black Lanterns overwhelms the battlefield, including one significant to both Hal and Sinestro — Abin Sur.

Surprisingly, the bad guys really are the stars of this issue. Hal isn’t riding the bench, but the real focus goes to Sinestro as he faces Abin sur and Abin’s sister, who also happens to be the mother of Sinestro’s daughter, Green Lantern Soranik Natu. Geoff Johns has really picked into Sinestro’s character and developed a more humanizing backstory than he’s ever had before. It’s what he does best.

Still not having much of a backstory, but not really needing one, is Atrocitus. The Red Lantern is forced to stop hostilities against the Greens when a wave of Blacks attacks him, thirsting for the rage in his heart. Again giving us nuggets of plot disguised as moments of cool, we see just what happens when a Black Lantern tries to consume the heart of a Red… and it’s a pretty big surprise.

This title continues to serve as the other half of the main Blackest Night comic. When this storyline is collected, if these issues aren’t in the collected edition with the core series, it’s going to be a big mistake. This is great stuff regardless, and it fits perfectly.

Rating: 8/10

02
Oct
09

What I’m Reading: Green Lantern #46

Green Lantern #46As I’ve come to expect from this title, Green Lantern #46 picks up right where Blackest Night #3 left off, with Hal being swept away as the rest of the Justice League faces off the Black Lantern League. Indigo brings him into deep space, where a heated battle between Sinestro and Star Sapphire Carol Ferris has been interrupted by the Black Lantern invasion. As Hal and Indigo-1 attempt to turn the tide of battle, John Stewart sees a spark of hope from the dead planet Xanshi.

A lot of great action this issue. The five-way battle with Lanterns of Green, Yellow, Violet, Indigo and Black makes for an excellent backdrop for some intriguing character developments. Most surprising was just how much you find yourself actually rooting for Sinestro as he battles Mongul, the bloodthirsty warlord who has been attempting to wrest control of the Yellow power from him. In the Sinestro Corps War, he made for an excellent Big Bad. In this storyline he and Hal, as the cover proclaims, have become uneasy allies, and the relationship between the two is fascinating.

Doug Mahnke‘s artwork really works here. I love his interpretations of the various alien races we encounter, not to mention the begins so central to the power of the Star Sapphires (more on that later).

Like I’ve noted before the Green Lantern issues of this crossover seem to be almost indispensable to the main title. Not surprising, since this is the book that did the heavy lifting leading up to the event, and both are written by Geoff Johns. And as for how good the book is — that, too, isn’t surprising at all.

Rating: 8/10

SPOILER SECTION: I’m about to get into some of the more interesting (to me) tidbits of this issue, so if you’re trying to remain spoiler-free, stop reading now.

The biggest revelations we got this issue both involved the Star Sapphires, and the source of their power. Each of the colors has its own living embodiment, the entity that stands for their source of power. So far we’ve met two — Yellow is Parallax, Green is Ion. Back in Green Lantern #43 we discovered the name of the Violet entity is Predator. In this issue, we find that the Sapphires are actually holding Predator prisoner. The Lanterns embodying love are trying to keep their entity in check. Why?

Also of note, we discovered that the heart of the Violet Lantern was the crystallized remains of Khufu and Chay-Ara of Earth — the Egyptian lovers who died and were resurrected as the perpetual reincarnates we call Hawkman and Hawkgirl. Now this is interesting. IF you’re going to pick two people who embody love, you’d have a tough time picking someone better than Khufu and Chay-Ara. But we also know that the Black Lantern has the Anti-Monitor at its heart. Are all of the Lanterns powered by the remains of a being who embodies that color’s emotion? And if so, who is at the heart of the other six Lanterns?

Curiouser and curiouser…

27
Aug
09

What I’m Reading: Green Lantern #45

Green Lantern #45As in Green Lantern Corps #39, this issue pulls back to show us the greater War of Light that’s been raging between the various Corps as the Blackest Night begins across the universe. John Stewart, Hal Jordan’s partner in Sector 2814, finds himself facing the dead of the entire planet of Xanshi, a world he once failed to save from destruction. But John doesn’t get the focus this issue. Instead, we watch a fierce battle between the two people who probably know Hal Jordan the best — his arch-enemy Sinestro, and his once-lover Carol Ferris, who has once again joined the Star Sapphires. As the lights of Fear and Love do battle, interesting things are revealed about both combatants, including (potentially) the answer to the mystery of Green Lantern Soranik Natu’s mother.

There’s a lot of character stuff here, and while the larger story of the Black Lanterns isn’t significantly developed, the evolution of Sinestro and Carol is interesting to the old-school GL fans and probably vital to the future of this title. It’s a really strong fight scene, even if it’s on a smaller scale than the other Blackest Night tie-ins have delivered thus far.

We peek in on several of the other corps here as well. The Blue Lanterns are still at war with the Oranges, and the only thing protecting them from the Blacks is that apparently there aren’t any dead on their planet… which is actually a pretty interesting twist, now that I think about it. Meanwhile, Larfleeze gets a nasty surprise. He’s built up his Orange Corps by murdering sentients and co-opting their forms… so what happens when the dead begin to rise?

Geoff Johns tones it down a bit, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s been pretty high-octane since this story launched last month, and pulling back for character beats works. Doug Mahnke really gets to go cosmic for the first time this issue, and his art is wonderful. Blackest Night continues to impress.

Rating: 7/10




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