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.

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.



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?


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.