In June 2016, DC Comics kicked off the start of its Rebirth initiative. After a wave of criticism surrounding the way they have treated their characters’ rich histories since 2011’s New 52 relaunch, DC has decided to rebrand. They hope that by restoring their characters’ pasts, they will restore readers’ faith in them as well. Do they succeed? That’s what the Comics Beat managing editor Alex Lu, entertainment editor Kyle Pinion, and contributor Louie Hlad are here to discuss. Book by book. Panel by panel.
THIS WEEK: Louie shares his love of Green Lantern as he looks at Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #35.
Note: the reviews below contain **spoilers**. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdict.
Writer: Robert Venditti
Breakdowns: Tom Derenick
Penciller & Inker: Jack Herbert
Colorist: Jason Wright
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
I’ve read a lot of Green Lantern stories in my life. Like, a lot. And don’t look now, but Robert Venditti has been writing solid Green Lantern stories for over four years.
From my first issue, the Green Lantern mythos has always resonated with me. It’s a story about willpower and imagination. It’s about never giving up, even in the face of impossible odds. It’s high fantasy, sci-fi, and a police procedural all rolled together into a colorful joyride through the deepest reaches of outer space. I’ve never found a book more satisfying or with more potential to inspire and entertain, and this current run is no exception.
Inheriting the GL franchise is no small charge, but Venditti has shown a great feel for it. He has taken the story in some inspired new directions without sacrificing the heart of the book. Under his watch, we have seen the Sinestro Corps redeemed and Hal Jordan labeled a traitor. Larfleeze and Brainiac teamed up and Kyle met his son from the future. Guy got the tar beaten out of him and smiled the whole time like you know he would.
It can’t be easy to juggle so many characters in the same book. Hal Jordan may get top billing on the cover, but this is a cast of dozens. Venditti handles this embarrassment of riches gracefully, choosing to focus mostly on the four spacebound human Lanterns: Hal, John, Guy, and Kyle. Each of these is a strong enough character to carry his own book (and they all have) so it feels especially powerful to see them all in action together. Old favorites like Kilowog and Salaak and Mogo get plenty of screen time in this series. Add in appearances from two separate groups of Guardians as well as the other six Lantern Corps and you start to get an idea of the impressive breadth of this tale.
I especially like how Venditti sets apart the four main lanterns in their personalities and reactions. John has gained a more commanding voice, handing out tactical assignments to the others, while Kyle is a team player who likes to lighten tense situations with witty one-liners (“Your humble-brag could use more humble”). Hal trusts his gut and Guy always leads with his fists. In a comic filled with so many different alien races it is nice to see that the humans aren’t all written the same.
The plots are naturally expansive. While Batman is solving a double homicide, the Green Lanterns are fighting epic battles to save planets, their power rings warping reality as they create out of thin air. Venditti has gotten a chance to play with so many of the classic Green Lantern concepts and is adding a few keepers of his own. The artwork and colors of this series have been phenomenal, with a slim green aura radiating around each Lantern.
The current story is called “Twilight of the Guardians.” And so far it has delivered.
- After reading Doomsday Clock #2 twice, including the world-building news articles at the back, I’ve decided that I like it. The main gist of the story is that when Dr. Manhattan left the Watchmen world he jumped over to the DC universe. In this issue, a fugitive Ozymandias and the new Rorschach make the jump as well to locate him. Geoff Johns knowns how to pace a story and build an unfolding mystery. The Marionette and The Mime are fun new characters to explore and I am very curious what their son has to do with Veidt’s mission. I have some guesses about where the story is headed and where they will find Dr. Manhattan, probably all incorrect.
- Hawkman Found #1 provides more questions than answers as Hawkman tries to piece together the blurred aspects of his life (good luck with that). It’s one of those books that feels more like an advertisement for another book. Hawkman wakes up in a strange place, fights an evil version of himself, and then falls right into the next issue of Dark Nights Metal. It’s a pretty book by Bryan Hitch and the Jeff Lemire story isn’t poorly written by any means, but you wouldn’t miss out on anything important if you skipped it. Tie-ins, am I right?
- After the previous issue’s use of the villain Prometheus, Justice League of America #21 includes yet another character concept from the Grant Morrison JLA days: Aztek, “The Ultimate Man”. Except this time he’s a woman. And she’s not happy with The Ray’s return to Vanity City. While I had plenty of problems with the way Prometheus was used, I quite enjoyed this new version of Aztek. She mentions that she has improved the armor, but we don’t see her do much more than punch bad guys in this issue. Hopefully we’ll get to see more of her and her powers soon.
- We’re almost at the end of Nightwing: The New Order, which uses superpowers as a stand-in for the things that cause fundamental disagreements among friends and family. The series deals with complicated issues, introducing both sides of the debate without declaring a clear moral high ground. Every character has a completely logical and rational reason for holding the opinions they do, and are surprised when others see the world differently. How this one could have a happy ending, I can’t imagine. Please let this have a happy ending.
- It’s always nice to see the Rogues together for the holidays. In The Flash #37, Barry Allen walks (well, runs) right into the trap they’ve been laying under his nose since he arrived at Iron Heights Penitentiary. They’ve been running the city from inside the prison with the guards none the wiser. And it looks like the immediate plan is for Captain Cold to give Flash a beating.
- In Wonder Woman #37, it’s a family affair as Diana and her father Zeus face off against Darkseid and his daughter Grail. You know, there aren’t a lot of Wonder Woman vs Darkseid stories…Darkseid usually fights Batman or Superman. The pairing in this story seems more natural; old gods versus new gods. As the cover promises, we finally get to see Darkseid returned to his full power, and boy does he look terrifying. The DC universe just got a lot more dangerous.
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