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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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.

Earth 2 #23 – Comics Review

The team of heroes assembled by Green Lantern and Batman are under attack from new monsters brought from Apokolips. Red Tornado has finally reunited with Superman, and the battle for Earth 2 expands. The new Kryptonian Val Zod also expand, adding to his powers and confidence.

What Earth 2 #23 offers:

  • Fiery and energetic artwork that captures emotion and action.
  • The return of Green Lantern, and a powerful moment for Lois Lane: the new Red Tornado.
  • A theme of Guardianship – the comic shows off a key part of being a superhero: acting as a guardian.

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Green Lantern #28, Red Lanterns #28 – Comic Review

What Green Lantern #28 and Red Lanterns #28 offer

A pair of sci-fi comics that explore the cosmic, deeper parts of the DC universe. Some of the panels might by useful for students and teachers exploring prejudice themes in graphic novels. Green Lantern #28 and Red Lanterns #28 offer:

  • Themes of intolerance, racism, and difference
  • Cooperation themes
    Great sci-fi settings and artwork.

Detailed Sci-fi planets, plus lush and colourful art.

Two planets feature in both comics. Each strikes a different tone in their setting. Green Lantern presents a growing garden world – trees, woodland animals, birds, flowing streams.  The Green Lantern Corps defend law and order in the universe. It’s fitting they have a home planet filled with life and light. Thousands of aliens walk around on the green fields of planet Mogo. The emerald green power battery – the source of a Green Lanter’s power – stands on the horizon against a forest background. It’s a in interesting clash of mechanical and natural shapes.

This comic is about clashes and contrasts. A barren, dessert planet appears that is the polar opposite of Mogo. The Red Lanterns home base has a grey skies, and flat, rocky plains stretching to the horizon. It’s name is Ysmault. Nothing grows here.

Costume designs are colourful. Space scenes look suitably vast. there are some good moments between characters. Artwork of characters such as Ice, Hal Jordan, and Guy Gardner gives away a lot of information about their personality.

Clashes between Guy Gardner, Ice, Hal Jordan, and Supergirl feature in this issue.

Supergirl has recently joined the Red Lanterns, and after donning the ruby red ring, and a ruddy costume, she’s aggressive, and uncontrollable. It takes the combined efforts of the Green Lanterns and Red Lanterns to subdue her. She calms down. The teamwork pays off. The cooperation between the two clashing teams stands up as another example of the teamwork and cooperation themes found in the twin comic books.

By far the two most interesting character moments are between Guy Gardner and Ice, and then Gardner and the the current Green Lander leader, Hal Jordan.

Gardner is a character struggling with rehabilitaiton, and anger control. This comes across clearly when he tries to rekindle a relationship with Ice, a former partner:

Who is Ice? A former member of the Justice League International, Ice – AKA Tora Olafsdotter – has the power to snap freeze objects, and control ice.

“I need a reason to keep it together” Gardner says.

Ice replies: “The idea of being your sole link to sanity is less than appealing to me”

Later Gardner and Jordan have a conversation that delves into the sci-fi and lore of the comic book. At one point, Gardner says “Just because you don’t understand the reds[Red Lanterns] doesn’t make them evil. Gardner is not simply a character rehabilitation himself. He is standing up for the misunderstood.

Themes include racism, and difference. Cooperation and teamwork are valued.

Early in the Red Lanterns half of the comic book, a scene that takes place in the skies above Paris plays out. Guy Gardner stops a villain called Shadow thief from assaulting his comrades in the Red Lantern Corps. Shadow thief comments that Earth is for humans, not aliens. Gardner states that she is being intolerant, and a “little” racist. The comic books do play with ideas of intolerance and difference, with hints of racism, that tie into the cooperation and teamwork values.

It’s only be working together that Gardner and Jordon are able to stop Supergirl’s rampage.

Ice rejects Gardner’s offer of a new romance – she dose not want to be his link to sanity. The comic makes a comment about dependency. Relationships where one partner needs the other to stay in control of their extreme emotions are shown in a negative light. Possibly, a comment about dependency.

Green Lantern #28 and Red Lanterns #28 are published by DC comics in a special flipbook edition. ($2.99 USD).

Red Lantern Creative Team: Charles Soule (W.) Alessandro Vitti (A.) Gabe Eltaeb (C.) Dave Sharpe (L.)

Green Lantern Creative Team: Robert Venditti (W.) Billy Tan (P.) Rob Hunter (I.) Alex Sinclair (C.)

Justice League #26 – Comics Review

What Justice League #26 Offers

Several origin stories tie into DC Comics Forever Evil event. The theme the comic explores is the origin of evil. Crime and criminal behaviour is evil, according to this comic, and origin stories of the several key villains explore a question: whether evil emmerges from within us, or from outside us, in the social environment. There is a high standard of art throughout.

Cast

The new, electronic villain called The Grid narrates the story. The Grid’s role in the narrative is straightforward. Machine’s don’t feel emotion. This artificial intelligence examines the origins of each Crime Syndicate member. It’s goal is to feel an emotion by reacting to the violent content.

Power Ring, Johnny Quick, and Atomica receive the most attention in this issue, however. They receive the most pages out of the entire comic; Power Ring – 8 pages, Johnny Quick and Atomica – 6 pages. What results is that their short stories within the larger narrative receive the most attention, and therefore the most development. It’s in their stories that the themes of the comic emerge. Power Ring also includes some science fiction horror.

Cyborg has some key moments, and Deathstorm is revealed as a scientist who threw away ethics to complete his research.

Art

Close-up images of characters drive the narrative forward, and show case strong artwork in this issue. Close to the conclusion of the comics, a character gives a a look of fierce defiance in their eyes. The sequence of panels leading up to this moment capture a set of emotions with the character body language. Despair and grief is suddenly supplanted by the defiance in the face of hurdles.

In another close-up, the artwork references the Hitchcock film Psycho. It’s a fleeting but powerful popular culture reference.

In contrast to the cool colours that surround the Justice League are bright and powerful. Apart from a wave of black ink, the colours surrounding the Crime Syndicate are anaemic and washed out. Green Lantern’s emerald green is replaced by Power Ring’s lime green. Johnny Quick has pale orange in place of The Flash’s traditional, fire engine reds.

Themes, Ethics, Values

Earlier issues of DC Comics Forever Evil event was about evil – Where foes evil come from? From outside us, or from within? Justice League #26 explores these questions through Atomica, Johnny Quick, and Power Ring’s origin stories.

A pop-culture comparison could be the musical Wicked, which also asks the question: “Are people born wicked, or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?” Just like the popular musical, this issue of Justice League #26 also has green light throughout the story.

Power Ring and his other colleagues in the Crime Syndicate led a variety of lives before they began to wear a costumes and commit crime with it. Power Ring was filled with anxiety, and liked to spy on people – a voyeur. Atomica and Johnny Quick were violent criminals who targeted police officers.

Power Ring is described as “Weak-willed”, and is a character who is too anxious to achieve his goals. When unlimited power in the form of a ring is offered to him, he takes it, and disregards any consequences. This short story, within the larger narrative of the comic, makes a statement that evil – defined as crime – comes from the combination of bad circumstances, low willpower, and complete disregard for consequences. Evil is opportunity, bad decisions, and certain personality traits: low willpower, no assertiveness.

Contrast this with Johnny Quick and Atomica; first, their costumes are opposing colours compared to Power Ring – bright reds clash with bright greens. Second, compared to Power Ring’s bad circumstances, Johnny and Atomica state that crime and murder are “What we [Quick and Atomica] are born to do”. They are sociopaths, with a lack of any connection to social norms.

They fit into the category of “Fantasy sociopaths” (Kotsko, 2012). Kotsko states that these sociopaths, who appear in pop-culture, have a social disconnection seen in real life sociopaths, but organised lives, with the ability to plan and achieve long term goals (2012).

These characters where born with a trait that led to them becoming criminals.

Compared to Power Ring, their evil – defined as criminal acts here – came from within.

I found, after comparing these stories, that I tended to sympathise with Power Ring far more than the unlikeable and violent Johnny Quick and Atomica – despite his questionable behaviour, seeing the results of bad circumstances makes him more slightly more sympathetic. The character development in this issue adds some momentum to the Forever Evil story arc.

Justice League #26 is Published by DC Comics ($3.99 USD). Geoff Johns (W.) Ivan Reis (P.) Joe Prado, Eber Ferreira, Rob Hunter, and Andy Lanning (I.) Rod Reis, Tomeu Morey and Tony Avina (C.) Nick J. Napolitano (L.). Cover image from Insidepulse.com

Works Consulted:

Kotso, Adam. (2012). Why We Love Sociopaths: A Guide to Late Capitalist Television. Zero Books: Hants, United Kingdom.

Earth 2 #18 – Comics Review

Earth 2 #18: The Dark Age

(This review contains spoilers for character reveals, but no spoilers for plot points.)

Floating in the air above a ruined, military prison, the Superman of Earth 2 has risen from the ashes, and begun to wage a war in the name of alien invaders. Deep in the prison, The Batman of Earth 2 begins a plot that might thwart the dark Superman’s plans. Several heroes are still missing in action, however, while the world building of Earth 2 continues at a fast pace.

I have also decided to include some new headings in this review, which I hope will be useful to readers. These headings are small points that explain additional information about specific comics, or comic books in general. Since I have had a few readers say that they are unfamiliar with comics, these points might help build familiarity. The first one is below:

What is Earth 2? A parallel Earth in a parallel universe where events happened differently to the mainstream, DC comics Earth, where Superman and The Batman are based. Parallel Earths are a key plot point of many comics, and of science fiction in popular culture (The television series Fringe for example).

Cover artwork for Earth 2 #17 by Ethan Van Sciver.

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Justice League of America #8 – Comics Review

Justice League of America #8: Paradise Lost

(This review includes spoilers for Issue #8 of Justice League of America)

Forever Evil continues across the DC universe, and it appears that balance might soon return to the DC universe – the Justice League of America could be about to rise from whatever fate they met at the hands of the Crime Syndicate.  Essential character developments are tied into the major plot point of this issue – the reveal about what happened to the Justice League at the end of Trinity war.

Cover art for Justice League of America #7 by Dough Mahnke

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