Thursday, June 3, 2004

Green Lantern #177 - A Review

Written by: Ron Marz
Penciled by: Luke Ross
Inked by: Rodney Ramos
Colored by: Moose Baumann
Lettered by: Jared K. Fletcher
Editor: Peter Tomasi
Publisher: DC Comics

The last time I reviewed Green Lantern, my final thought was a hope that this book would maintain the same level of quality and attention to the details of the past which were such a strength of the Raab run on this title. With all due respect to Mr. Raab, Marz has not only upheld that level of quality: he has surpassed it and reminded me of what got me to reading Green Lantern in the first place.

After narrowly escaping a death ordered by the Guardians “to maintain a balance”, Kyle Rayner has returned home after a year in space where he was trying to reform The Green Lantern Corps with what can only be called a certain amount of success. Sadly, the homecoming has been anything but warm so far, with Kyle finding his girlfriend (the super-heroine Jade) is now seeing another man and that his position in the Justice League has been well-maintained by his chosen replacement, John Stewart. Now, Kyle is struggling to find a place for himself in a world where everything he thought he was coming back to is gone, trying to find an answer to the ultimate question: Why am I here and what do I have to live for?

Kyle gets little time for self-introspection, though. Long-time enemy Sonar shows up, sparking another fight and an internal monologue where Kyle wonders why HE always has to be the one to fight such a relative lightweight villain. And then Jade shows up, wanting to talk about where things stand: a talk that Kyle enjoys only slightly less than the prospect of having to beat up Sonar AGAIN. And in the background, a mysterious figure arranges for the mass-murdering, Green Lantern hating Fatality to be released from prison on one condition: kill Kyle Rayner.

Marz peppers this story with references to stories past for long-time readers, without ever making things in accessible to newer readers. In the last issue, for example, Kyle came home to hear someone in the shower. He recalled how he first met Jade when she broke into his apartment to use his shower and was expecting it to be then girlfriend Donna Troy. The joke is repeated, with Kyle finding Jade’s new boyfriend in the shower instead of her. Marz also manages to neatly explain way different artists renderings of Sonar, explaining that the reason Sonar’s machine components look different every time Kyle fights him is because he is always upgrading his equipment. And I may be one of the few people in the world who will recognize “Norman”, the head of security at The Slab as the former assistant to Mister Miracle in his quick cameo, but it is a nice Easter Egg for those of us in the know.

The art is excellent, with the comic looking downright cinematic at some points. Rodney Ramos does a good job with shadows and shading, particularly in the opening scenes with Fatality being escorted out of prison and into the waiting vehicle with the shadowy figure. Ross’s pencils are crisp and clear, highly detailed without feeling cluttered. And he meets the measure by which all Green Lantern pencilers are judged and draws some darned impressive ring projections including a giant Chinese dragon, a fighting gorilla. Perhaps most impressive is the dragon-shaped subway train, in which Kyle makes his grand entrance to battle Sonar.

Overall, the book is in good, well-practiced hands. My only complaint, and this has nothing to do with the book itself, is that I’m going to have to spend the next year listening to the Kyle haters chuckle and snort about how the end is near and death is certain. Never mind that Ron Marz said Kyle doesn’t die in this story. Geoff Johns said Kyle isn’t going to die in “Rebirth”.

Still, I suppose the HEATers and the trolls can have their fun. I’ll just satisfy myself with reading a good book.

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