Green Lantern #0

It’s not that I stay away from the big event/publicized comics because I’m an elitist or anything. Unfortunately, a lot of these don’t involve characters that I’m really into or books. So being that I’m not that big of a fan of Geoff Johns or that big into the Green Lanterns anymore, why did I purchase Green Lantern #0?

Well, as much as I try not to, I like being part of the in-crowd and no what’s going on. And this is being pushed like a big deal, I didn’t want to be left out. That, and I’ve really been enjoying Doug Mahnke’s art of late.

What I liked about this is how different Simon Baz’s back story is. He’s grown up as a Muslim during an unfortunately Islamaphobic time period. As an adult, his life is pretty crappy; he’s laid off from the auto industry. Then one night, things get crazy. While on what is a pretty regular heist, he gets framed as a terrorist, driving around in a cargo van filled with explosives. And making matters, worse a Green Lantern ring has selected him to be the new host. Baz does what anyone in a comic book would do in that situation; run for his life. What he doesn’t realize is that the United States military and intelligence communities are after him, as well as the Justice League.

This isn’t the most original plot (low-level criminal is framed for doing something much worse and is on the run to prove themselves innocent and later become a hero) but it’s really well executed. Other than his costume, the only thing I’m bothered by is why he carries a handgun, but as the panel above shows, his Green Lantern ring might not be that powerful and he felt he needed some extra protection.

Remembering Michael Clarke Duncan

Actor Michael Clarke Duncan passed away at the age of 54 this weekend. For a lot of people, he will always be remembered for his role in The Green Mile. But as a comic book fan, I would say that my favorite part of his career was his work as Wilson Fisk in Dardevil.

When it was announced that he would be playing the role of the Kingpin, there was a lot of fanboy concern about why they would change the race of the character. That wasn’t an issue for me. What I was more concerned about was how anyone could bring this immensely massive–in both size and emotional presence–to life.

 

And Michael did just that. His take on the Marvel Universe’s biggest crime lord was extremely menacing and sophisticated at the same time. His portrayal became what Kingpin was in my mind, more so than the original. It’s a lot like Mark Hammill’s Joker or Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine…they’ve become the voice of the character when I read it. With all the talk of a Daredevil relaunch, I would have loved for them to keep Duncan on board and taken it into that retro/grimy direction.

Outside of his work as the Kingpin, Michael was in a bunch of other comic book related projects. He was in the Sin City movie and voiced everyone’s favorite poozer Kilowog in Green LanternYou can look at his full career here.

 

SDCC 2012 Exclusives: DC Collectibles Green Lantern Action Figure 2-Pack

DC Collectibles (the former DC Direct) has this set of 3.75″ action figures as a San Diego Comic Con exclusive. But what’s more interesting than that is that this is part of a new line of convention-exclusive action figures.

This new line of figures can only be bought at conventions, which I don’t know how I feel about. I think they look really cool, mostly because they are the same scale as the Marvel Universe line. This finally gives me the opportunity to integrate DC’s finest alongside their Marvel counterparts, GI Joe and even Star Wars.

But, since this will be a super limited line, it will be pretty hard to collect. That I’m not too fond of. I’m sure people will be scalping these on eBay and at finer comic book stores everywhere.

That said, I do think that Kilowog and Kyle Rayner look awesome. I like that the line is starting with two lesser known characters, appearing to wear their standard, non-New 52 costumes.

They’re retailing this set at $25, which to me is a price point that just puts it out of consideration. However, if they release a Booster Gold and Blue Beetle set all bets are off. You can find out more about the line here.

Guy Gardner: Warrior #0

Later this year DC will be launching zero issues this September, but that isn’t the first time the publisher did that. After the Zero Hour crossover ended, the publisher spent October 1994 launching zero issues of established and new titles. They changed some characters and other continuity problems, some changes completely put the book on a new direction. Guy Gardner: Warrior #0 was one of those books.

At this point, Guy’s life was pretty miserable. His life had become filled with failure at that point. He had been kicked out of the Green Lantern Corps, lost his Yellow Lantern Ring, had some really odd body armor, and even attempted to be a non powered super hero.

And poor Guy didn’t think his life couldn’t get any weirder.

Guy finds out that he descends from a race of alien warriors from the planet Vuldar. The benefit of being a Vuldarian/Human hybrid is that he can shape shift his body into all kinds of weapons and other things, kind of like Random from X-Factor.

Now having new-found powers and a desire to use them, this revamp of Guy Gardner gave series writer a lot of wiggle room and resulted in some fun comics.

Guy got to keep his fun new powers for a few years, until Parallax erased his Vuldarian from his DNA, leaving him just an ordinary human again. That’s one way to erase continuity!

Wardrobe Dysfunction: Alan Scott, Green Lantern of Earth-2

With all the Alan Scott news and commentary, this installment of Wardrobe Dysfunction looks at the original Green Lantern. The character was created by Martin Nodell and debuted in All-American Comics #16. Would you believe that in 82 years of comic book appearances, this Green Lantern really hasn’t any costume changes?

For the most part, he’s how he’s picture above from the cover of his first appearance. He wore a red collared shirt and green slacks. Depending on the fashion trends and the artist drawing him at the time, sometimes the outfit was more form-fitting. His boots are always red, with some sort of gold accents. As for his cape, it’s usually two toned; the interior light green and the outside a dark grey, sometimes purple-ish. That was mostly to avoid having a whole black patch due to the printing at the time.

As far as his age, Alan Scott would get aged and de-aged from time to time, going back and forth from being a late 30s something to being an old man.

During the mid 1990s, Alan Scott started using the codename Sentinel and got a more modern look. It was a green and red body suit. The logo in the center changed from time to time, as he used the Green Lantern Corps insignia (as he was an honorary member), his classic old lantern, and even a star design (it turned out his power ring drew power from a cosmic force known as the Starheart and not the Oan Power Battery). He kept this look until the Justice Society had a revamp shortly after, and went back to his classic costume.

And as a trivia note, the woman in the background of the picture is Harlequin, a villain who based her life on Alan’s then wife Molly. Ultimately it was her goal to kill Molly and take her place as Alan’s wife.

The next new look for Alan was designed by Jim Ross for the alternate future story Kingdom Come. It was emerald knight armor.

Which brings us to his new look, which combines elements of the emerald armor with the standard Green Lantern costume. The color scheme is a lot simpler, just black and green. Alan looks now closer to being a member of the Green Lantern Corps then ever before.

DC Reveals That Green Lantern Is Gay–well, kind of…

DC Comics has had comic readers–and the mainstream media–on a bit of a gay witch hunt to find out which of the newly relaunched characters was going to be revealed as gay. It turns out that it is Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern.

In some ways, changing his sexual preference was a safe choice.

They made Green Lantern, a franchise character, gay.

But not the Green Lantern that you know. They took  the one in the book Earth-2, which brings back DC’s old concept of multiple earths, this one which features the revamped Golden Age DC characters. It’s a big fish in a smaller tank in the aquarium basically.

Publicity wise, the only way to get attention for introducing a new LGBT character is to redefine an existing one’s orientation. If it’s a new character, unfortunately, it is much harder to get attention. Did you hear about Bunker and the other new LGBT characters in DC’s New 52 relaunch?

I didn’t think so either.

But then there’s also more confusion to the casual/non-comics reading audience. Which is the Green Lantern? There was a similar problem with last summer’s Green Lantern movie. Thanks to the awesome use of John Stewart in the Dini/Timm Justice League, there’s a whole generation that is predominately aware of him and were confused by the white guy playing Hal Jordan in the movie. Now everyone is re-aware of Hal, and on the news they see that Green Lantern is now a blonde dude named Alan.

There’s also another ripple effect with this character change for Alan Scott, partly also effected by the changed of the New 52 relaunch. Scott was married at least twice to women; one of these unions producing two children–the super heroes Jade and Obsidian,  who was gay. Before this revelation, they didn’t exist and I wonder if this will be addressed.

Personally, I think this is a great idea. This is the most relevant the character has been since his original hay-day–the 1940s. I hope writer James Robinson goes all out with the character…have him be a bigger part of the Justice Society than any of the Big Three (Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman). Allan Scott has always been an interesting character and I’m glad they’re finally doing something with him again. Earth-2 #1 debuts on comic book stands on June 6.

Justice League #8

Justice League isn’t a title that I plan on regularly reading, but I was intrigued with the eighth issue featuring Green Arrow. For the most part, I’ve enjoyed the current portrayal of the character and as a lifelong Oliver Quinn I wanted to check this out.

Geoff Johns put it together mostly as a stand alone issue, with Green Arrow trying desperately to win the affection of the other Justice Leaguers. With the exception of Green Lantern, no one wants anything to do with him. Arrow tries his best to tag along and assist, much to everyone’s disdain.

This was a really fun issue to read. Unfortunately all of Green Arrow’s tagging along doesn’t get him a seat at the big kid’s table. The book does end with Steve Trevor, the government’s liaison to the team, offering him an opportunity to join another team. Please let it be Justice League International…

If I regularly rated things with starts, I would say this gets ****. It’s a good read. The story is self contained, but still fits into the greater continuity of the series. Pick this up.

Green Lantern Toys At McDonalds!

I would have so loved this when I was a kid. McDonalds’ next set of Happy Meal toys feature Hal Jordan and some of the other characters from Green Lantern: The Animated SeriesThere’s a bunch of Hals, a Kilowog and even a Red Lantern who I can’t identify.

Green Lantern airs on the Cartoon Network. There is a new episode this Saturday at 10 am. Combine that with a bowl of Lucky Charms and you have a pretty accurate idea of how I’m spending Saturday morning.

Honoring Our Armed Services On Veterans Day and Remembrance Day

DSC_0050Today in the United States we honor the men and women who have served in our armed forces through Veterans Day. Up north in Canada (and in many parts of the Commonwealth of Nations) they honor members of their armed forces who died in the line of duty with Remembrance Day.

With these brave men and women being our real world heroes, its no secret that our fictional heroes show the same level of courage, bravery and selflessness that our armed forces do every day.

That said, its no surprise that comics creators have looked to our servicemen as inspiration for the basis of several characters, going back to Captain America being a product of and serving in World War II. Some characters, like Flash Thompson, are defined by their actions in combat. He’s a paraplegic due to injuries suffered during the Iraq War, but he still wants to protect his country by volunteering to be a host of Venom. Granted they don’t bond with an alien symbiote, but many of our veterans choose to still serve our country after suffering from serious wounds.

DC has its share of proudly serving military heroes, two of which are Green Lanterns. Hal Jordan was an Air Force pilot and John Stewart was a Marines sniper. Captain Atom is always depicted as being in the Air force.

Anyway, this is enough about our fictitious military heroes. Go out and support our veterans. Vote for politicians who stand up for veterans services. When you see vets collecting for charities, donate what you can. But most of all, thank them.

Politics of Super Heroes

Today, like millions of others across the United States, I’m heading out to my local polling station for Election Day. What if super heroes could Let’s look at the political leanings of our favorite super heroes. Information about the labels used in this article are courtesy of the Pew Institute’s political typology study.

We’ll start our examination with Superman, the first super hero. Ultimately, he’s guided by what he feels is right and wrong, so I think he would be extremely moderate when it comes to the ballot. He always wants to do the right thing, so I can see him reading and making charts comparing the candidates. The main factor in his decision is if it is the right thing to do.

Batman is firmly on the conservative side of the political spectrum. His advanced interrogation techniques, warrant-less investigations and physicality would drive the ACLU nuts! Not to mention the fact that he likes spying on people for no reason (the whole Brother Eye story) and secretly collecting databases on his friends’ weaknesses (in case he ever has to, well, kill them), Batman is a firm believer in national security over personal rights. When he takes the mask off, Bruce Wayne is a billionaire industrialist, so obviously he would be pro-business. Not to mention that he inherited everything through investments, so I would imagine he’s happy with the way the capital gains taxes are as is.

Captain America is the ultimate populist hero, so like Superman, he would be a moderate independent. He would never publicly endorse a candidate. Cap feels that feels that he is the self-appointed guardian of the American dream, so he would vote against anyone who threatened that. At times he might skew a little liberal economically; he’s a product of the New Deal you know! Captain America is also a strong advocate in civil liberties, as his defense of them was a big part of the Civil War event. For more insight into his political beliefs, look no further than Captain America #250, where he mulls running for president.

If you’re looking for a super progressive/liberal type super hero, look no further than Mr. Fantastic. One of the–if not the–world’s foremost scientists, he would absolutely go nuts listening to someone argue why creationism must be included in education. In the current Future Foundation book, he’s empowered a global task force of the world’s greatest minds to fix problems before they get out of hand. He’s an advocate of being a world citizen and thinking globally.

His Fantastic Four teammate the Thing is a bit more conservative than him. Thing takes pride in being a self-made man. What would annoy a 500 pound rock monster of a man? High taxes and ridiculous government spending. You try explaining to him why his tax dollars are needed to build a bridge to nowhere!

So what would everyone’s favorite Green Lantern political type be? Obviously Hal Jordan is too busy with his super hero business and personal life to vote. I would bet money that he probably isn’t even registered to vote. Well, he was registered to vote at one point, but that was probably so he could hit on some girl who worked in the city election office. At least that’s what post Green Lantern: Reborn wants us to think.

Meanwhile, Hal’s BFF Green Arrow is a well-known super liberal super hero. He is a strong advocate for pretty much all of the traditional liberal causes (just remember the Hard Traveling Heroes stories if you don’t believe me).  If he were a real person, he would probably pal around with other progressive billionaires like George Soros and Warren Buffet.

Hawkman is Green Arrow’s longtime political counterpoint in the Justice League. This winged super hero has been portrayed as being a super conservative over the years. He proudly supports the death penalty, is socially conservative and believes that people themselves are accountable for their personal success. No soup for you unless you work for it!

I think that it is universally accepted that Professor X is a card-carrying liberal. He’s a civil rights icon and a strong advocate against discrimination. He would be the first in line to stand up for Affirmative Action.

But Charles Xavier can never run for office, and it’s not because he’s a mutant. It’s because of his immigration scandal. You know the one I’m talking about; look to the right.He brought Colossus, Storm and Nightcrawler into the country 36 years ago with student visas–and they’re still here! Plus, bringing a known criminal illegally into the country in Wolverine?

Lex Luthor seems to skew towards being a staunch conservative. I’m not saying that staunch conservatives are super villains; just look at the facts. Aside from wanting to get rid of Superman and occasional thoughts of world domination, Luthor has been one hell of a business man. The DCU is dominated by LexCorp and its various subsidiaries, and as its owner/CEO, Lex would totally support any candidate who championed less government regulation over the business and finance sectors.

So what kind of political views would the Punisher have? Anarchistic tendencies aside, its anyone’s guess. He would agree to a certain extent with libertarians that the government is too large and ineffective, and that people should have more control over their lives. That works for him; he thinks the legal system is corrupt and spends his days hunting down criminals. Plus they don’t believe in gun control, and the right to carry a concealed Uzi or M-16 is something that is near and dear to his heart. But as soon as they start saying that things like drugs and prostitution shouldn’t considered crimes anymore, you lose him.

Spider-Man’s whole “with great power comes great responsibility” mantra leads me to believe that he would be pretty mad about the country’s current financial boondoggle. Spidey would agree with the Occupy Wall Street crowd’s view that many big businesses have been abusing their financial power. He would probably skew liberal on many social issues, especially education. As a product of New York’s public schools, and later a teacher there, he sees the importance of having a well run public school system.

Iron Man’s family has made its fortune as a military contractor and through inheritance and investment. Fiscally and defense, he is very conservative. But in some ways, he’s also very liberal. The employees at Stark Enterprises are treated extremely well. He’s a big supporter of global welfare and the environment, even if it’s against his business interests. Plus, championing the Super Hero Registration Act to create a new government agency to administer super heroes nationwide only gives the federal government more power. I don’t think you can pigeonhole Tony Stark to a certain ideology.

Green Lantern: Brightest Day

Green Lantern! Other Lanterns! Oh my.

Green Lantern: Brightest Day–with story by Geoff Johns and art by Doug Mahnke–kind of sets the status quo for ringwielding super heroes after the Blackest Knight debachle. The heads of the six families lantern groups team up for a few adventures, mostly them putting a stop to the rogue cosmic entities that power their appropriate emotional spectrum power.

That said, I enjoyed the characters and their concepts more than the story itself. It read like a video game, with repetitive challenges and plot elements. But the characters themselves are interesting. I like Larfleeze, the super greedy Orange Lantern and his obsession with material objects. And Atrocitus was pretty bad ass as the rage guy.

For me, there were really two interesting parts of this collection. Everyone’s favorite space biker/bounty hunter Lobo pays a visit, trying to collect on Atrocitus. Little did the other lanterns who came to Atrocitus’ aid know that this was a scheme to make them like him more (just like playground politics). The one interesting plotline that’s propably never going to return is that Lobo gets a Red Lantern ring.

But the most memorable story was the origin of the Red Lantern cat Dex-Starr whose story of rage is due to the kitty not being able to stop the murder of his owner. Frown. Poor little guy.

So should you read this?

I would say its passable. Althoguh Mahnke’s art is stellar, this book just kind of plodded along and really didn’t do anything for me, save for some Lobo and cat relatd hijinx.

Green Lantern: Emerald Twilight

How tough is Hal Jordan in Emerald Twilight? Not only did he take out the whole Green Lantern Corps, but he took their rings as well!

Please don’t confuse my indifferent thoughts on the Green Lantern movie with my love of the character. Hal Jordan has always been one of my favorite characters, and Emerald Twilight was one of his best stories.

It was the 1990s and comic book buying was in full swing. DC Comics was feeding this frenzy, with huge event comics where the beloved super heroes would die or be forced out of action, like when Superman died or Batman had his back broken. The trick, marketing wise, was that someone new would pick up their mantle. That’s how we got the four temporary Supermen and the crazy Jean Paul Valley Batman. It even happened for Wonder Woman, as the scarlet haired Artemis took the title from Diana. So it was bound to happen to Green Lantern.

Hal’s story was different. Everyone else was replaced, as they fell in battle to someone. What happened to poor old Hal was that he went insane. As part of the “Reign of the Supermen” story, Hal’s hometown of Coast City was destroyed as part of a diabolical plot by the Cyborg Superman and Mongul. There were no survivors, and Hal was saying he was disappointed in himself for not being able to help anyone is an extreme understatement.

So Hal visits the ruins of Coast City and uses his power ring to recreate the city as it once was. Very poignant is the moment when he talks to the energy recreation of his recently deceased father, and then the ring craps out. A Guardian comes down to yell at him for violating Rule #1,234 (where you can’t use your ring for personal gain). A pissed off Hal beats him up and recharges his ring and is hell-bent on getting to Oa. If he recharges himself with the main power battery, he might be able to recreate Coast City permanently.

If the Guardians were mad that he just wanted to make a hologram version of Coast City, think of how much they would want to stop him from bringing the real one back. So they send out every Green Lantern, and even Sinestro, out to stop him. Unfortunately for them, Hal is a complete bad ass, stopping (and killing) them all. Hal absorbs the power battery and runs off into space, and a Nine Inch Nails clad Kyle Rayner winds up with the one surviving Green Lantern ring.

I always enjoyed this story and completely sided with Hal. If you don’t feel sorry for him, then your just a plain old meanie. Hal as an all-powerful “screw you I’m doing what I want to do” was such a cool concept. And it gave Kyle the chance to be his own character with Hal pretty much out of the picture.

Who likes glow-in-the-dark covers? This guy!

What I didn’t like is how they retconned the whole Hal as Parallax story in Green Lantern: Rebirth. Long story short, Parallax is the living embodiment of fear (and is a big yellow bug) who took over Hal as part of a plan with Sinestro to take out the Green Lantern Corps. God forbid they leave the coolest Hal Jordan story alone. Sigh.

I’ll end this on a happy note. I loved the cover to Green Lantern #50, where Hal emerged as Parallax. He looked so bad ass, and the cover glows in the dark. That might be one of my favorite gimmick covers ever. Hey, it was the 1990s.

30 Things I Like About Comics—#3 Hard Traveling Heroes

Writer Dennis O’Neil and artist Neal Adams’ stories of Green Lantern and Green Arrow traveling across America in the early 1970s are some of the best work from DC to come out of that decade. The premise was very simple. Green Arrow, who had recently lost his personal fortune, had become a modern-day Robin Hood, defending the poor and the less fortunate from crime both gang related and white-collar.

He urges Green Lantern, who usually fights off space invaders and super villains, to come with him and fight the real evils that are facing America–poverty, racism, sexism, drug abuse and more. Green Lantern was hesitant to do such a thing.

An encounter with an elderly black man only reiterates the importance of helping the common man to Green Lantern. The old man asked Green Lantern the following:

“I been readin’ about you…How you work for the blue skins.. And how on a planet someplace you helped out the orange skins…And you done considerable for the purple skins! Only there’s skins you never bothered with–! The black skins! I want to know… How come?! Answer me that, Mr. Green Lantern!”

And thus, the “hard traveling heroes” were born. While they go on their journey, it is not just Green Lantern who reaches an epiphany. Green Arrow finds our that his sidekick Speedy is a heroin addict. For all of his work in protecting the community, he failed to keep his own house in order. After some arguing and going after the dealer, Speedy winds up quitting cold turkey.

The scenes where he is going through withdrawal are pretty horrific. Between that and the graphic scenes of drug use, this really makes you want to avoid getting involved with drugs. This storyline was very well received in the mainstream world, as the New York Times publicly applauded it as comic books had grown up.

unfortunately, this was only a short run and lasted only 14 issues. The pair have gone on to be the best of friends in DC comics. In the 1990s, Hal Jordan’s replacement Kyle Rayner and Oliver Quinn’s son Connor Hawke get to go on their own adventures together much as their predecessors did.

 

 

Super Hero Fun At The Jersey Shore!

Green Lantern and Sinestro prizes

Nothing says summer fun like Green Lantern and Sinestro plush!

As part of the Fourth of July festivities, my girlfriend and I went to Jenkinson’s Boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ. There is lots of fun to be had at the Jersey Shore, even if you are me and would rather read comics than go out clubbing with the Situation.

Green Lantern Skill Claw

That confused, classy lady with the Kate Spade handbag is not only a master of the skill claw but my girlfriend.

The boardwalk amusement games were filled with stuffed animals, Sponge Bobs, and flocks of Angry Birds. But things got comic-y really quickly. There were giant stuffed Green Lanterns everywhere.

There was even a skill crane filled with plush Hal Jordans and Sinestros. I can see lots of kids begging their parents for another dollar so they can win a stuffed Green Lantern. Who I feel bad for is the child who winds up getting Sinestro–in a Green Lantern suit no less. He or she would probably have that same sad, defeated look that Ralphie had that Christmas morning when he was forced to put on the bunny suit. Me, on the other hand, unsuccessfully attempted to win a Sinestro to impress my lady friend. She was more interested in hitting up the 1990s Addams Family movie themed pinball machine in the back.

Stuffed Thor!

Who has two thumbs and a stuffed Thor? This guy.

So after some ice cream, I decided to challenge her to a game of air hockey. Even though I started the game pucks-a-blazing like the Sedin twins, she did her very best Tim Thomas impression, crushing my hopes of winning like the Boston Bruins broke the collective heart of the city of Vancouver.

So to make me feel better, the girlfriend vowed to win me a prize by the end of the evening. Without fail I wound up getting this really cool stuffed Thor.

Now that’s cool :)

Looking for something to read at the beach?

I was asked to put together some recommended comics that are suitable for an adult audience.  Here is a list I put together, including four based on recent superhero movies and four that have nothing to do with super heroes.

If you went to the movie theater this summer, chances are you’ve seen that Hollywood has been making movies based on comic books! Comic books (or their more sophisticated cousin the graphic novel) are not just for kids. In fact, most comic books are written for adults! Not only that, but story wise there is much more to comics then just super heroes!

Here are some great books that were the basis for some of this summer’s biggest movies, as well as some of the most popular graphic novels on the shelves!

Thor and Loki: Blood Brothers
written by Rob Rodi
art by Esad Ribic

This cautionary tale shows family dynamics of the godlike brothers Loki and Thor from this summer’s blockbuster. Showing their lives infancy to adulthood, Loki is constantly reminded of his inferiority in comparison to his brother Thor, as well as not being able cope with the utter disdain his father Odin has for him. These strained relationships show give a glimpse on how a lifetime of sadness and self-doubt created a rift between the brothers.

We3
written by Grant Morrison
art by Frank Quitely

After three beloved pets are abducted and forced to become military weapons, all they want to do is return to their human families. When they find out they are going to be “decomissioned” (destroyed), they set out on a perilous journey to survive. Morrison created three extremely sympathetic characters, that remind you of your childhood pets. The book may have limited dialogue, but Quitely’s innovative page design and stunning artwork will fully capture your imagination.

Green Lantern/Green Arrow
written by Dennis O’Neil
art by Neal Adams

Green Lantern made his movie screen debut this summer, but this story from 1970 is his most compelling adventure. With his more socially conscious friend Green Arrow at his side, the typically space faring but somewhat naive Green Lantern goes on a cross-country journey of self exploration through Vietnam War-era America. Along the way, the pair encounter racism and bigotry, drug abuse, sexism and discrimination, and corruption; all subjects not typically shown in comics at that point.

Pride of Baghdad
written by Brian K. Vaughan
art by Niko Henrichon

Based on a true story, this graphic novel shows the life of four lions trying to survive their escape from a war-torn Baghdad Zoo in the early 2000. Much to the chagrin of the other animals, Zill feels that his pride can only survive by leaving the gutted zoo.  By humanizing all of the zoo animals, a story is an examination of the role off family and the cost of freedom.

FablesFables
written Bill Willingham
with various artists
Did you ever wonder what it would be like if your favorite fairy tale characters were real? Willingham explores this topic in the Fables series. The fairy tale characters you grow up with live amongst in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, dealing with real world situations like the nasty divorce of Snow White and Prince Charming due to his infidelity, the now human Big Bad Wolf trying to redeem himself for the transgressions of his youth, and even the strained father-and-son relationship of Gepetto and Pinocchio. Each part of the series is different in subject matter, falling into genres like crime, mystery, romance and even political suspense.

Magneto: Testament
written by Greg Pak
art by Carmine Di Giandomenico

As seen in  X-Men: First Class, the superhuman Magneto is a Holocaust survivor and this book tells the story of how he–then a teenager named Max Eisenhardt–loses his family and barely survives. All elements of super heroics are stripped from the character, leaving a compelling narrative. The art is moody and dark, creating a sense of drama and sorrow. The book also features a powerful short story by comics legends Neal Adams and Joe Kubert, chronicling the life of Auschwitz prisoner Dina Babbitt, whose artistic talents were exploited by Josef Mengele in exchange for him guaranteeing her and her mother’s safety.

Captain America
by Ed Brubaker
art by Steve Epting

This ongoing series chronicles the most recent adventures of Captain America, from the return of his long assumed dead sidekick, to him facing and overcoming his own mortality. Filled with espionage and mystery, as well as dealing with themes of personal loss and adapting to an ever-changing world, Brubaker creates an intriguing take on one of America’s most iconic characters.

The Walking Dead
by Robert Kirkman
art by Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard

Zombies have taken the spot of vampires as America’s favorite supernatural creature. This series is less about monsters and horror, as it revolves around small town sheriff Rick Grimes and the community he protects, trying to find a way to survive in a post apocalyptic world. This has been adapted to a popular television series on AMC.

These and other great comics can be found at your friendly neighborhood comic book shop. Don’t know where you can find one? Go here or call 1-888-COMIC-BOOK. If you can’t find one, try your local library or one of the fine book retailers in your town or online.

So let’s talk about the new Justice League

Justice League of America in 2011 by Jim LeeThis new picture of the new Justice League by Jim Lee has been circulating around today. The lineup has been known for some time now, but this is a better look at their modified character designs.

Aquaman looks the same as ever and so does Flash and Green Lantern. The one big thing on all these costumes is all the piping that makes it look like they’re wearing some sort of armor. That reminds me of how the DCU characters looked in the Mortal Kombat vs. DC game a few years back.

The big three seem to have the most changes. Wonder Woman is still wearing something similar to her recent revamp, except this new look has no yellow or the jacket. She’s also back to her more traditional style books as opposed to the 1980s stirrup biker pants. Also note the lack of American flag motifs, which I wonder (haha!) was a conscious effort to broaden her global appeal.

Superman and Batman really look like they bought their costumes together. They’ve both dropped wearing underwear on the outside, and Superman seems to be sporting a utility belt of some sort. Maybe its so he can carry his allergy medicine; I’ve heard pollen is just as bad as kryptonite.

And poor Cyborg, well, he looks like he’s wearing Lex Luthor armor. Sorry dude.

The other interesting thing is that in that picture is that there seem to be other JLA types on either side. In the blue panel, its Deadman, Atom, Element Woman (thank Bleeding Cool for identifying who it was; I had no idea) and Firestorm. For those who don’t know, Element Woman is a new character, pretty much a female version of Elemento, who debuted in the Flashpoint miniseries. I guess she survives it.

On the right, a red panel consisting of Green Arrow (you would thin that him being a life-long liberal would put him on the blue/left side ;)), Black Canaray, Hawkman and Mera, Aquaman’s wife.

I wonder what the significance of these two groups are; maybe something with the new guard vs. the old guard. Who knows.

Because You Can’t Have Enough Green Lantern Posts…

I think I’m still on some sort of post Green Lantern kick, because I keep wanting to write about related things. This clip from the wonderful Batman: The Brave and the Bold series from Cartoon Network.

In it we see G’nort Esplanade G’neesmacher trying to remember his Green Lantern oath. He debuted in the Justice League International books back in the late 1980s. When I got into those books, he became one of my favorite characters, mostly because he seemed so dimwittedly lovable.

Yes, G’nort is a bit of an idiot. But at his heart, he’s a loyal friend and brave. The way he interacts with Guy Gardner is a thing of beauty. Guy is so the alpha dog in their relationship and somewhat abusive, but he really is G’norts best friend, and therefore G’nort always puts up with him.

In his more recent appearances, he’s a bit depressed. His homeworld was destroyed during the Rann-Thangar war, and he is deservedly sad. G’nort hasn’t been seen in a while, and I hope he resurfaces in the new post-Flashpoint Justice League International.

Green Lantern: The Beverage

Lipton Brisk: Mango-Dragon Fruit Green Tea with Green Lantern Label

One of my favorite lunchbreak activities is walking to 7-11 to get one of their 99¢ Lipton iced teas. I usually stick to the raspberry or regular, but after seeing Green Lantern roughly sixteen hours ago I went with this.

Mango-Dragon Fruit green tea sounds like its something out of a comic book. The bottle is green and bright, wrapped in a cool Green Lantern label. But the drink, well, it tastes like something out of a comic book.

This taste…I cannot describe it. It’s kinda fruity, kinda sugary, kinda chemically. After drinking the whole thing, I still have no idea what I can compare it to.

Pretty bottle aside, I don’t think I will be getting this again.

Green Lantern bottle labelThe label is pretty cool, featuring all the primary Green Lanterns in the film. Although one wonders why Tomar-Re is wearing a tube top. The art is by Kenneth Rocafort, whose cover art on Madame Mirage I admired. He’s also doing the new Red Hood & the Outlaw series that debuts this fall.

Green Lantern: After

So about this Green Lantern movie….

Last night (or should I say early this morning) I went and saw it. The movie was pretty much how I expected it to be…not great, but no terrible.

It was average. Out of this summer’s super hero films, Thor is still the best, but this is a strong second, tied with X-Men: First Class.

What I liked:

Ryan Reynolds did a decent job as Hal Jordan. Hal was a smart ass, which worked well for Reynolds, especially when you consider the roles he usually plays. They hit home the fact that although he is a bit of a screw up, his heart is in the right place.

The special effects (especially the 3D heavy scenes) were amazing on the big screen. The aliens and energy constructs are visually stunning. I can see why the film was so expensive, reportedly costing in the ballpark of $300 million.

Speaking of visuals, Parallax wasn’t a bug but more of a giant evil amoeba type thing. The revision of him being a former Guardian (who was corrupted by trying to absorbing the power of fear from the yellow power battery) that went rogue made much more sense.

They also did a good job of tying Hal in with Carol Ferris and Hector Hammond, with the three of them having been childhood friends (how convenient!) due to their family’s involvement with military aviation. Hector was jealous of Hal being popular, being involved with Carol, and that his father liked Hal. When Hector gets infected by Parallax, it only made sense that he went after Hal.

Amanda Waller! It was great to see that a minor character in the DCU was given a fair amount of screen time. Angela Bassett played the underground government operative who was responsible for the secret alien research facility. I wonder if she is going to play a role in the DC films like how Nick Fury and Agent Coulson have been tying the Avengers films together.

What I didn’t like:

The movie felt like it had scenes missing. Early on, Hal goes to his nephew’s birthday where they introduce his family briefly, but it really doesn’t do much to advance the plot. The Hal/Carol relationship was never explored. By the end of the film, it wasn’t clear if they were dating or just friends (another Reynolds reference!) Hal’s Green Lantern combat training was brief, making you wonder how he was able to defeat Parallax, the biggest threat the Green Lanterns ever faced. It makes me wonder if scenes were cut from the theatrical version, like what happened to Daredevil. The extended version of that film is significantly better, and I wonder if Green Lantern has suffered from bad editing.

Hal’s Green Lantern uniform looked ridiculous on screen, with the sinewy-Photoshopped look. And the mask…well, even they made jokes about how lame it was during the film.

The most offensive part of the film to me was the lack of acknowledging the creators of Green Lantern. No mention of Martin Nodell and Bill Finger, who started the whole shebang with Alan Scott. The same goes for John Broom and Gil Kane, who created Hal Jordan, the lead character of the movie, as well as many of the concepts of the movie (Sinestro, the Guardians, TOMAR RE!)

This movie felt a lot like Star Wars, with the whole struggle between will and fear seeming to rehash a lot of the Force and dark side themes. The Guardians’ citadel really reminded me of the Jedi council scenes in Phantom Menace and Revenge of the Sith, down to Hal pulling an Anakin and saying that they need to follow his plans.

So as I was getting ready to leave the theater, content with the film I saw. What it lacked in story, it made up for in visuals. My brother reminded me that there is a bonus scene during the credits. Then I saw something that made me shake my head in anger.

At one point in the film, Sinestro suggested creating a yellow fear-powered ring to user against Parallax. In this bonus clip, it has Sinestro replacing his green ring with a yellow one, with his costume transforming in to the yellow/black one from the recent comics. The switch from Sinestro from green to yellow made no sense.

In the comics, Sinestro’s turn came from a hatred/jealousy of Hal. This film addressed that, as Sinestro was not keen on him joining the corps and disagreed with his plan to handle the Parallax situation. But at the end of the film, you would assume that Sinestro had grown to respect Hal.

Not only did he save Hal at the end of the film, but Sinestro praised him in front of the whole corps. If they were buddy-buddy by the end, why would he do something like that?

WHY?

And in an unintentional bit of comedy, Bleeding Cool reported that the brief slide at the end of the film that directed the audience to pick up Green Lantern comics at your local comics shop, they had the wrong web address. Hearing about this gave me a slight chuckle, but I can empathize with them, since I’ve made that mistake before.

Should you see it?

Well, the film was not as bad as it could have been. It certainly could have been better. It’s a decent enough film to warrant going out to the theater, so I’ll say yes.

Hopefully, if there’s a sequel it will be better.

Green Lantern: Before

So in approximately eight hours, I’ll be heading out to the movie theater to check out the Green Lantern film at its midnight showing, mostly because this is the most convenient time in my schedule.

I wanted to get my thoughts out before I saw the film, kind of predicting how I think it will come across. Following the film, expect a second post, reviewing it and seeing if my expecations were met.

How do I feel about this film? To be honest, I’m a little skeptical.

It’s not in the fanboy or comics geek way, complaining about some reinterpretation of the characters, a costume change or that the writers will never do justice to the source material. There are three things that trouble me.

Here they are in convenient list form:

  1. Ryan Reynolds is no Hal Jordan. For full disclosure, I like Reynolds’ comedy films a lot. He was awesome in Smoking Aces. Reynolds best roles are the ones where he can be a wise cracking smart-ass. Hal starts out self-absorbed, but has to accept his new responsibility. I’m worried the character is going to be constantly cracking jokes ala Spider-Man, which would have been a much better role for Reynolds.
  2. Too many special effects! I understand that 99% of the members of the Green Lantern corps are aliens, and shouldn’t resemble humans. With them all being computer generated, along with all the lighting effects to make the rings and their energy trails, the backgrounds, and even Reynolds’ super suit (to borrow a great term from The Incredibles) seems like overkill. When that much of your movie is done on the computer, why didn’t you just make it completely animated? It’s a problem I had with the recent Star Wars films; I wound up being completely detached from the digital characters and disconnected from the story. I wonder if this heavy reliance on effects its going to detract from this film.
  3. Worst villains ever. They’re launching a trilogy with Hector Hammond as the lead villain. WHY? If this is to be an action movie which should have super-cool visuals, then why did they choose a super-smart, telekinetic with limited mobility to be the main antagonist. Hammond is like MODOK, except not at all cool. That’s the best they could come up with? REALLY? I understand not using Sinestro at this point. They want this to be a series of films, and to make his villainous turn mean something they have to build to him leaving the corps. That I’m perfectly cool with. Why didn’t they just introduce the Red Lanterns and have a feud with them? Anything but that. And while we’re talking about it, I was really annoyed by Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern: Rebirth, where they undid the whole Parallax story where Hal going nuts and becoming extremely bitter, by having him taken over by a big yellow energy bug. Thanks to a spoiler called the Green Lantern toy line, we know that the big yellow cockroach is in the film. LAME!

Gripes aside, I am looking forward to the film as a technical accomplishment, and I’m sure it will be excellent and well worth seeing it in 3D.

P.S.  The Muppets parody above is very well-played. Great job, Muppet Studios!