Green Lantern #38 – Comic Review

In a comic focusing on Hal Jordan’s return to Earth, The Green Lantern tries to find solace in habits from the past, but has to face the truth: Earth has moved on, and he needs to build a new identity beyond being a pilot and a leader of the Green lanter Corp. Green Lantern #38 offers:

  • Artwork that foreshadows the storytelling.
  • Themes of Golden age thinking and change.
  • A character driven comic, focusing on the need for identity, and moving on.

Gold Light in the comic represents the past remembered in a happy light. Hal tries to return to Earth, and revisit his past. Guy Gardner stands in the way, blocking the sun’s light, which foreshadows the outcome of Hal’s home visit.

At the beginning, a large scale space shows off a new dawn over planet Earth. Guy Gardner surprises Hal, blocking his view of new sunrise. This foreshadows the rest of the story: Gardner, and other characters, are blocking Hal’s bright return home. The gold colour of the sun’s light is there for a reason. Gold light is a often used to represent happy, past times. The gold light suffuses the comic.

One continuity point – blue skies turn to night within 20 to 30 minutes after Hal enters the Air Force bar he choses to visit. Sunset in the sky as Jordan enters would add to time’s passage here.

Despite trying to return, Hal Jordan does not fit in with Earth. He has changed. Hal is encouraged to move on from the past, and find a new identity.

Hal Jordan can’t get a word in. He slowly comes to a conclusion after a drink and catch-up with Barry and Guy – He has changed. He does not fit in with his old friends. He can’t connect with Carol Ferris they way he did before. He came to Earth to fit back into old habits and feel connection and stability.

Unfortunately, Earth has moved on, and like it or not, he has moved on.

In the past, Hal has been a character that resists change. His story arcs in previous DC comics have taken him in cycles from deep space, and back to Earth. In this short side story, Hal Jordan changes into a new person. Who he is he now? The question is not answered entirely in this issue. His status as a pilot and a “Space Cop” are brought up in opposition in each other. This is the starting point for the next step in his career – a search for identity based on this foundation.

Barry Allen is portrayed as slightly naive, but well meaning in this comic. Guy Gardner is arrogant and overbearing. The two leave little room for Hal to share his thoughts.

This comic is an interesting character story – Green Lantern faces a responsibility that has been waiting underneath his galactic duties. He has to face change, and not retreat into golden age thinking, building a new identity.

The golden light that suffuses the comic book promotes the golden age thinking here. Hal wants to leave responsibility for a night and go back to a time in his past when he had safety and security.

This type of Golden Age thinking does not work for him here. Instead, old friends force their way in with their own stories. This leaves no room for Hal to reminisce. He’s forced to confront the one remaining responsibility left after his duties as a Green Lantern and Pilot are moved aside: his identity.

It’s an interesting character story. Hal can’t ignore the fact that his role is changing him, and his experiences have changed him. There’s a theme of change here: the guardians of the universe comment that the eons old centre of the corp is gone. Hal’s equally essential connection to Earth through his friends, and through Carol Ferris, are also disconnected. Carol has grown into a different character. The final result: Hal Jordan has to face change, and not retreat into golden age thinking.

Green Lantern #38 is published by DC Comics ($2.99 USD). Robert Venditti (W.) Admira Wijaya (P.) Andrew Dalhouse (C.) Dave Sharpe (L.) Cover artwork by Billy Tan and Alex Sinclair.

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Batman #36 – Comic Review

Batman #36 marks part two of a new story. After Death of the Family, Endgame stars the Joker in his second story since DC’s New 52 began.
What Batman #36 offers:

  • Bright colours and detailed artwork with forced perspective.
  • A showdown between Batman and Superman
  • Science information
  • Duality Themes

Artwork for the comic uses bright colour, darkness, and forced perspective effectively. Superman and Batman are brought into each others contrasting worlds. Dualities appear in the artwork – things that are opposite and contrast are brought together.

Opening pages of the comic are surprisingly bright and colourful despite the dark storytelling. Themes of dualities run through the comicbook. Things that contrast are brought together. Superman and Batman, Joker and Batman, light and Dark, day and night. Superman flies down into Batman’s dark world – a detailed, dark theatre, and then an underground tunnel. Superman than drags Batman into his world – a bright, clear, blue sky.

Artwork for the Joker’s return has excellent forced perspective, showing small details close to the front of the panel. In this case, flies caught in webs. Later, the links of a chain are shown in similar forced perspective. Webs and chains foreshadow that The Batman has entered a trap. The Joker has indeed set a paralysis trap for Batman. Artwork for these scenes are atmospheric.

Conflict between Superman and Batman results in a showdown between Superman’s abilities versus Batman’s intellect and fortune. The winner is neither of them. The Joker’s re-appearance shows off several hidden meanings: His name, and his choice of clothing specifically.

This opening battle between Superman and Batman showcases Superman’s boundless abilities, and The Batman’s intellect and fortune. The winner, Batman comments, is neither of them. In order for Superman to win, he must become an unstoppable force, ejecting the moral core that makes up his character.

Superman can tear down all of Batman’s defences, with significant collateral damage and no mercy for bystanders.

For Batman, winning would mean depletion of his armory, weapons, and finances, and further forcing himself into isolation – having to live with killing Superman, who is traditionally a good friend.

Joker’s new approach to Batman mirrors his behaviour in the last Joker story. Last time, he describes his actions as a comedy. This time, a tragedy. This is a new step for the character. His clothing choices and his disguises all show off double meanings.

He choses to hide in plain sight as a character called “Eric Border”. Impersonating an Arkham doctor is made simple with the Joker’s new face, surgically attached at some point between stories. There’s an explanation of the hidden meanings behind the name. Eric means “eternal ruler”, and Border is a homphone of “Bourder”, which is an archaic word for “Jester”.

Joker’s black clothes are suitable for a funeral. This is a marked difference from Death of the Family where he wore a mechanics overalls. The clothing choice matches his goals: first trying to “repair” Batman’s life by removing the Bat Family, and now funeral clothes for killing Gotham and the Batman.

Friends are turned into enemies, expanding on a duality theme. The Joker sees himself as a friend to the the Batman, and now, changes himself into an enemy. Scientific information also appears.

Duality themes run through the comic. Contrasting pairs of characters are brought together. Bright colours contrast with Shadows. Superman shifts from a friend into a terrible foe. He becomes both friend and enemy.

The Joker sees himself as a friend who cares about the Batman. Now, he has contempt for the Dark Knight. In his new plan, he sees himself as a true enemy. The Joker’s alias, Eric Border, was also
a friend disguised as a villain, two people at once. Again, friend turned enemy.

Scientific information also appears. Chemistry concepts that Batman and Joker mention include:

  • Nuclear fission versus nuclear Fusion
  • Butadiene-based rubber
  • Magnetised filaments
  • Quinolone – to treat toxins
  • Afamelanotide

Batman #36 is published by DC Comics ($3.99 USD). Scott Snyder (W.) Greg Capullo (P.) Danny Miki (I.) FCO Plascencia (C.) Steve Wands (L.) Cover Artwork by Capullo, Miki, and Plascencia.

Green Lantern #34 – Comic Review

A new opponent for Hal Jordan has the power to convert emotions into energy. Simon Baz has also brought Hal Jordan a surprise. Green Lantern #34 offers:

  • Strong Inking in the opening artwork
  • Great colour choices
  • An interesting villain, who’s narration shows off the effects of fear
  • Ideas about consumption of resources

Inking for shadows and lines of action is particularly strong in the opening of the comic. The orange skies in these early scenes also contrast effectively with Hal Jordan’s Green uniform.

Ink shadows, and lines of motion are strong, and effectively enhance the opening pages of the comic. They make for defined, sharp, and fun artwork. They eye can follow the fight between Aga and Hal Jordan easily. The surface of this alien world where the two fight has vegetation, but with an orange sky. Washes of the colour contrast effectively with Hal’s shimmering emerald uniform.

Hal’s hair changes length between the first and second act of the comic – it’s now shorter around the back and sides. About a blade 2 length. He may have had time for a hair cut on the way back to Mogo.

While the scuffle with Aga, a new villain, is interesting, the core of the comic book is the conversation between Hal Jordan and his brother.

Aga is an interesting villain. He absorbs emotions, and converts that emotion into mass. Essentially, he’s an energy converter. The Green Lantern comic book has established the rule that emotion is energy – power rings convert emotion into physical, light energy. It’s plausible that Aga’s physiology converts emotions into metabolic energy.

Without discipline, his body’s ability can be undermined. When he encounters fear, that emotion drains his energy, and shrinks him down. A good message here.

The core of the comic introduces Hal’s brother into deep space. Simon Baz – another human and Green Lantern corps member – has transported his family from California on Earth to Mogo, which is the planet where the Green Lantern corps are based.

They have a great conversation over drinks – strong, Khundish Ale, which is sold in packs of 5.

Aga’s story arc makes a comment about the effects of fear. There is a statement about the consumption of resources in this comic book. The final pages allude to a new story arc with more answers.

While Aga’s short story arc in this issue shows that physical size can not protect someone from the debilitating effects of fear, there’s an overt statement about consumption of resources in this comic book.

Hal Jordan is stressed. Using will power to fire energy from his ring comes at a cost. Apparently, the universe has a finite amount of emotional energy, which the Green Lanterns burn up regularly with their emerald light.

Hal’s brother gives Hal some enlightenment – he says “life is consumption. We breathe, we eat, we build houses from trees.” The question is what we do with the resources we use.

The message here seems to be conservation of resources. The answer is still unclear. The conclusion of the comic seems to point out that the the problem of energy in the universe running out is not as simple as Hal Jordan thinks.

Green Lantern #34 is published by DC Comics ($3.99 USD). Robert Venditti (W.) Billy Tan, Rob Hunter, and Martin Coccolo (A.) Alex Sinclair (C.) Dave Sharpe (L.) Cover artwork by Billy Tan and Alex Sinclair.

Batman #33 – Comic Review

Batman #33 marks the end of Zero Year, which has chronicled the Batman’s first year in Gotham City. The last battle in the Ridder’s war of the mind takes place here. If Batman cannot solve twelve riddles, a squadron of jets will destroy the centre of Gotham City. The clock is ticking. Batman #33 offers:

  • Tension filled artwork
  • A great value discussion: Zero year represents a personal struggle against pain
  • A suitable comic for students studying perseverance, resilience, and symbols of strength in comics.
  • A worth story to celebrate 75 years of Batman comics

A series of very close shots build tension in the early pages. The Riddler’s exotic and toxic green colours dominate this comic. Black pages also appear, which are important to Bruce Wayne’s backstory.

Scenes in this comic relies on very close shots at dramatic points to punctuate the story arc. Particularly when the ending approaches. This restricts what the reader can see, and adds to the tension. It is not until the end of the comic that the comic pages allow the artwork to flow widely across the page.

Green dominates the comic book. It’s the Riddler’s influence. Early on in the story, the Riddler plays a game with Batman. The colour of his green suit seems to flood the panels, saturating the air with neon green light, and even warping the colour of his eyes. Scenes where Commissioner Gordon stands outside in the bright afternoon sunlight contrast with their variety of colours.

It’s also worth noting the blackout. Two pages of the story are blacked out. They only have a small amount of dialog. They tie into Bruce Wayne’s backstory, which sets up the comic’s values.

Without his guardians – Commissioner Gordon, Lucius Fox, and Alfred – the Batman would be unable to confront the Riddler.

In a long speech delivered close to the finale, Bruce Wayne comments that zero represents nothingness. All throughout his conflict with Edward Nygma – The Green Suited Riddler – The double meanings of seemingly everyday and ordinary objects, names, and places has become clear many times.

Through Bruce’s complete backstory, the value of zero becomes more clear.

Lucius Fox and Commissioner James Gordon are heroic, and Alfred is a lifesaver to the Batman. There is no way that any of the Riddler’s plans could be foiled without these three men supporting Bruce. They are his guardians, and have a lot to teach him.

The comic values facing pain, rather than becoming numb to the world. Zero year becomes a symbol of the battle for identity and personal strength against pain. Batman becomes a symbol of strength.

A major secret in Batman’s past is revealed. The pain he went through after the murder of his parents reached a point so intense, he voluntarily sought electroshock therapy. His plan was to be rebooted. Like an appliance, the brain runs on electricity. Bruce almost went through with the therapy to reboot himself. To delete himself, and the pain as well.

He decided to remain Bruce Wayne at the last moment, and find the reason to keep fighting and living. Before he could articulate what he wanted, Bruce states he knew he needed something important: he called it the “crazy thing that keeps me from going crazy”. Many years later, the Batman arrived.

This is a story about identity, and symbols. The Riddler’s attempt to deprive Gotham city of light and technology – resetting it back to zero – is defeat. Batman’s fight across zero year symbolises the fight for identity and personal strength against giving up, and defeat, in the face of pain. The Batman became Bruce Wayne’s reason to keep going – a symbol of strength he could use to protect Gotham City.

It’s a fitting anniversary story to celebrate 75 years of Batman comics.

Batman #33 is published by DC Comics ($4.99 USD). Scott Snyder (W.) Greg Capullo (P.) Danny Miki (I.) FCO Plascencia (C.) Dezi Sienty (L.) Cover artwork by Capullo, Miki, and Plascencia.

All New X-men #29 – Comic Review

The battle between the future Brotherhood and X-men reaches a conclusion, but a large part of this comic puts together a discussion about good and evil. All New X-men #29 offers:

  • Artwork with great action, and strong colour
  • Good  moments for several main characters
  • A good and evil discussion: the comic raises ideas about the difference between good and evil

Force, movement, and lines of action are clearly visible from scenes with X-23, who slashes through the air. Bright purple and red colour dominate this comic.

One pivotal strike from X-23 shows off a powerful, downward line of action. Xavier can’t stand up to her assault. She cuts through the air with claws that leave trails. It’s easy to follow the action from panel to panel with these movements.

Psychic power explodes throughout this comic book. Xavier Jr.’s power is light blue, and icy. Jean Grey, in full flight, unleashes purple light. Pages of this comic are filled with it. When the light is not purple, it’s dark shades of red. This colour represents anger. In this case, It’s X-23’s rage. She was attacked and left in the snow. She’s angry. Raze, like Xavier, catches up with her in these scenes.

Emma Frost receives some development, while Cyclops leads the team, taking charge of the X-men’s ethical decisions. Deadpool also has some good moments.

Emma Frost has a scene with excellent dialogue. She talks to Jean Grey about the events of Battle of the Atom, specifically, about Xorn, and what happens to Grey if she continues to live her life in the present, never returning to the moment in the past she and the other X-men left.

Deadpool has a few hilarious moments. Iceman is less animated than he has been in previous issues.

Scott Summers also has a moment of good dialogue, and lays down a value for the X-men to follow. Cyclops leads the team, which impresses, considering his character has been running since the events of Avengers Vs X-Men. A moment towards the end of the issue references Avengers Vs X-Men. Summers recollects his actions under the power of the phoenix force.

The comic brings an interesting value discussion to light. It draws a line between good and evil – the X-men, and the Brotherhood – The X-men consistently state that there are lines they will not cross, which separate them from their enemies.

A large part of this comic puts together a discussion about good and evil. The comic’s values line up with big, broad statements about good and evil summarised by quotes from philosophers like Nietzsche:

“He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

When the psychic Stepford cuckoos confront Xavier alongside Jean Grey, they comment that Xavier is a reminder of what happens when they “let themselves slip”. Abuse of their talents leads to becoming like Xavier. Later, Molly Hayes tries to attack a defeated Raze. Beast tells her “Don’t be them”. Later, when facing the wounded Xavier, Scott Summers states “Today, your lesson is to be better than your enemies”.

When faced with a defeated Brotherhood, the X-men will not respond using their enemies methods. The comic has that value: a distinction between good and evil.

One popular culture references is a quote from the Angel. When asking Laura out on a date to a Bob Evans restaurant, Warren quotes a Superman movie saying “Well, I’ll do most of the flying”

All New X-men #29 is published by Marvel Comics. ($3.99 USD). Brian Michael Bendis (W.) Stuart Immonen (A.) Wade Von Grawbadger (I.) Marte Gracia with Jason Keith (C.) VC’s Cory Petit (L.) Cover Artwork by Immonen, Grawbadger, and Gracia.

All New X-men #28 – Comic Review

The X-men face another catastrophe from the future. Building more layers onto an already complex time travel story, however, creates confusion. All New X-men #28 offers:

  • Artwork filled with detail
  • Time Travel exploration
  • Exploration of Psychic powers and their effects
  • Collected into a graphic novel, All New X-men would tell a sweeping time travel story

Capturing fine details, the comic sets effective scenes, and employs good character body language. Both quiet scenes and loud scenes have a sense of silence and volume respectively. Colour choices are strong here.

In the distant future, Dr. Hank McCoy ruffles his blue fur. He hangs from the ceiling of his quiet laboratory, scrawling chalk notes across a blackboard. The attention to detail here is strong. Easter eggs from X-men history are dotted within the complex notes.

The artwork establishes McCoy’s impossible puzzle. He brought young X-men from the past into the present day. Now, in an alternate future he created after those events, he cannot solve the problem. The young X-men were not returned to the moment in time they left, and reality broke as a result.

In a powerful flash forward to the future, The X-men and the brotherhood featured in Battle of the Atom clash. In two pages, a large scale artwork depicts older, wiser X-men facing off against an upstart brotherhood. Pale blue and purple energies glow, while swords shine through the air.

Dialogue centres around two brothers: Xavier junior, and Raze. Xavier’s struggle to make the X-men understand how badly his father, Charles Xavier, was treated forms the key conflict of the comic book.

There are some hilarious comments in the dialogue featured across the opening scenes. Old Beast, in the far future, meets young Xavier Junior and Raze – founders of the new, upstart brotherhood. These young men are in fact brothers. Their mother is the blue, shape-shifting Mystique. Their fathers are Charles Xavier and Wolverine respectively.

Xavier meeting with young Jean Grey presents a chance to bring out his backstory. It’s a major point of conflict. His father died fostering the X-men despite all the efforts Charles Xavier delivered in growing, expanding, and safeguarding the X-men. He references the events of  Avengers Vs. X-men. His rage grows when he outlines to Jean exactly how frustrated he is that his father’s legacy, house, and fortune where not retained or cared for by the X-men.

His Brother Raze is plainly a terrible person. It comes across in the artworks depiction of his body language, and the word choice that creates his character voice.

Exploring layers upon layers of time travel, the question this raises is how far can space, time, and the history of the Marvel Universe be pushed?

The comic overflows with time travel mechanics. And layering more time travel atop the already teetering stack of time travel events in All New X-men creates confusion. There are not many deep themes here. Moreover, the comic explores the effects of psychic powers, and time travel.

The artwork is rich in colour and detail. Character’s speak in their own unique voices. Threats from an alternate future are interesting. The time travel mechanics however, are confusing.

Xavier Junior and Raze decide to travel back in time to initially confront the X-men: if they fail to reach their goal, they will send a message to themselves moments before they left, which allows them to build a new plan, and try again.

This causes a paradox: how can they travel back and try a different approach if they now no longer went into the past initially, failed to reach their goal, and sent a message to their future selves?

The paradox that emerges pushes an already strained timeline. Is this pushing too hard on space and time in the Marvel Universe?

Two popular culture references appear. When asked who his father is, Raze states it is “Batman”. When examining his timeline for gaps, Dr.McCoy mentions the Age of Apocalypse, and the Age of Ultron in.

All New X-men #21 is published by Marvel Comics. ($3.99 USD). Brian Michael Bendis (W.) Stuart Immonen (A.) Wade Von Grawbadger (I.) Marte Gracia (C.) VC’s Cory Petit (L.) Cover Artwork by Immonen, Grawbadger, and Gracia.

Batman #27 – Comic Review

What Batman #27 Offers

Batman #27 is a part of a large story: an episode of the current Batman story arc called “Zero Year”.

The comic book itself divides its pages between retelling the Batman’s origins, and introducing more perspectives on The Batman from characters such as Alfred, Commissioner Gordon, Barbara Gordon, and the Riddler.

These are valuable points of view. Particularly Alfred’s ideas.

Apart from a reflection on heroic symbols and their meaning, the comic entertains and continues a good story about The Batman. It’s a good comic for readers who are Batman fans or enjoy horror and crime, and superhero style stories.

The comic entertains. It has moments that are profound. Panels useful for older students appear. Teachers might draw on some of these for teaching vengeance and justice themes. Mostly, Batman #27 entertains though. This is not a flaw – the comic book entertains with a great story, cryptic riddles, and Batman references.

What Batman #27 offers:

  • A great super hero comic
  • Powerful and Detailed artwork
  • References to Batman comics history – The Dark Knight Returns graphic novel
  • Revenge and justice themes

Cast

The moment that Barbara Gordon – Batgirl – first saw the Dark Knight appears in this issue.

The Riddler threatens rather than jokes. Here he’s a mastermind. One step ahead of the The Batman, The Riddler executes his plans without wasting time. His character behaves like Ozymandias from Watchmen. There’s a sense of frustration – if only The Batman could find him, and stop this man in green and purple skyping insults and riddles.

Jim Gordon reflects on his early career in Gotham. Hounded by more experienced officers and mistreated. Ignored and shunned for being an honest cop in a room full of men up to the neck in bribes. He reflects on the ordeal the senior staff inflicted on him.

Art

Inside is a sequence of panels where Gotham’s streets bathe in sepia light.Later, The Batman sits on a wire in the rain. Behind him there is lightning. He’s a shadow. It’s a thrill to see this reference to The Dark Knight Returns.

At one point, The Batman is on the run from the police. The colours are toxic, and painful to look at. It’s not until Jim Gordon arrives to pull the Batman from Gotham river’s black water that the colours lose their toxic shades. They change to sombre tones of purple and orange. The water changes grey. What’s reinforced by this chameleon-like shift from harsh to warm colour is that The Batman can trust Jim Gordon.

Themes, Ethics, Values

Then Alfred reflects on his own experience with the Batman. He raises a great discussion about the power of symbols, and about the value of justice, hope, and inspiration over scars, darkness, and revenge.

He tell Bruce Wayne that in his experience, symbols of punishment and rage don’t last. The Batman needs to more than just punishment. Instead, Alfred cautions Bruce that everyone can see what he is doing. Some of those watching want to help. He needs to recognise this, and to understand that a symbol – a heroic symbol – inspires the best in people and lasts. It does not fall apart at the seams. It does not wither away and decay.

Batman #27 is published by DC Comics ($3.99 USD). Scott Snyder (W.) Greg Capullo (P.) Danny Miki (I.) FCO Plascencia (C.) Steve Wands (L.) Cover artwork by Capullo and Plascencia

I began this review stating the comic entertains the reader, and has only a few moments where themes of revenge and justice are discussed. After re-reading the comic book, a deeper meaning might be nested inside a story that entertains on the surface.

Reading a single issue, however, does not give enough detail in this case. Reading all of the “Zero year” issues, either as single comic books or collected into a graphic novel, will give a big-picture perspective. More meaning might emerge.

For example, there is the yellow moon references laced through Batman #27.

There are spoilers below, so read the list below with caution:

  • The comic opens in Tokyo, 1946. A woman in front of a yellow moon sings a song about “Pale, pale moonlight”
  • On the next page, Batman is caught in a spotlight the same colour and shape as the yellow moon on the previous page.
  • Towards the end of the comic, Batman picks up a yellow, military helmet with “Tokyo Moon” printed on it.

If there is a pattern to these cryptic clues, I can’t see it yet. If anyone has a theory or idea, please leave a comment.