Thursday, April 28, 2011

Truth, Justice and the Canadian Way!

Something that just occurred to me.

With all the ruckus over Superman renouncing his American citizenship, has anyone pointed out that one of Superman's co-creators - Joe Shuster - was Canadian and that the great American city of Metropolis was based on his hometown of Toronto?

Just a thought.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Green Arrow #11

BAD THING: There's a few odd moments vis-à-vis the action from panel to panel.

I know we can take it as read that Ollie drew his bow, set an arrow on fire and shot the evil plant monster... but it's still a bit jarring to see Ollie pulling an arrow out of himself in one panel and then see the enemy he is facing on fire in the next panel.

GOOD THING: The direction of Green Arrow this past year - which has been more retrospective than active - has turned off many readers who didn't want to read about an Oliver Queen who was reexamining his motivations and his place in the world. They didn't want to see him confront his inner demons or his fears that he is no better than his scoundrel of a father. They didn't want to see him acknowledge past misdeeds and personal mistakes.

They wanted the Oliver Queen who was, first and foremost, a man of action. They wanted the Oliver Queen who stood up and did what needed to be done and spoke the truths that needed to be said no matter how much they hurt. They wanted The Longbow Hunter. They wanted The Emerald Archer. They wanted A Hero.

With this issue, they finally got him.

From this panel on... we get our Ollie back. And if you've been avoiding the title lately because the mysticism of previous issues isn't your cup of tea, I beg you to check this one out. Because this... this is easily the best Ollie moment we've had in years.

The Final Verdict: With this issue, we finally see a side of Oliver Queen that has been missing for a long while: the man of action and hero. The past few months of introspection were necessary to bring us to this point - the point where the man who will not back down in the face of evil stands up and says "No. Not while I'm here." The Green Arrow we know and love is back... and it's about damn time.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Doctor Who (2011) #4

GOOD THING: Tony Lee sets something up here which is actually a neat little "out" which explains away a lot of the minor little kerfuffles in recent Doctor Who stories. Namely, that there is a sort of temporal grace period before The Universe "accepts" a divergent timeline as "the normal way of things". This allows The Doctor and Rory, faced with the problem of finding a kidnapped Amy in 1888, to go forward in time to where Amy's death is part of a 2011 Ripper Tour of Whitechapel, find out where she was killed and then go back there to stop it.

While this has been hinted at in several stories which involved the characters mucking about with time travel (Father's Day and The Big Bang come to mind), this revelation helps explain way some of the problems caused by more recent stories, such as A Christmas Carol (where The Doctor goes back in time to change a miserly old man into a better person over a chain of Christmas Eves) and the Comic Relief specials Space and Time, in which The Doctor takes advantage of a paradox to solve the problem of what to do when The TARDIS becomes parked inside itself.

BAD THING: The artwork - once again by Tim Hamilton alone - is still bloody awful. It's marginally better this time, with Hamilton seemsing to have finally settled on a standard sense of proportions for Matt Smith's Doctor. Yet we still get random big Anime-style eyes on Amy Pond!

The Final Verdict: Tony Lee's Jack The Ripper mystery comes to a satisfying conclusion. What is more, it actually gives an official (and interesting) out to any future Who writers who wish to play about more with the rules of Space and Time Bill And Ted style. Pity the artwork is still rubbish.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About GL: Emerald Warriors #9 (War Of The Green Lanterns, Part 6)

GOOD THING: With all of the references to classic Green Lantern stories and mythology, it's nice to see something new introduced here. At the very least, I've never heard of any legend regarding the very first Green Lantern or a monster who lives in the heart of the foundries of Oa guarding his ring.

BAD THING: There's a few odd moments with the flow of the story from panel to panel, such as in this moment when John Stewart tries (and fails) to teleport himself and Kyle. Not where Guy and Hal are standing relative to where everyone else is a moment later...

The Final Verdict: The most enjoyable chapter of the series this month. The Lanterns proved to be much more competent with their adopted rings this time around and - while it seems like a distraction from the main story - I enjoyed the scene regarding the ring of the first Green Lantern. The artwork is excellent and the only thing that keeps the book from being perfect are some awkward panel transitions.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Red Sonja: Break The Skin

GOOD THING: As seems to be the trend lately, the art for this Red Sonja special is much better than the art in the monthly title.

BAD THING: The story, while well written, is not the most original piece of work, being an adapation of The Monkey's Paw reworked slightly to make it a more typical cursed Hyborian magical artifact.

The Final Verdict: An enjoyable enough a tale, but hardly a must-read for casual fans of the She Devil With A Sword. The artwork is good and the story is well-written but nothing about it really stands out, either.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Darkwing Duck #11

BAD THING: I think Hotshot and Flygirl (yes, even I had to look up their names) got taken out a little too easily here... even if the method of their defeat was a mirror of what happened in the cartoon...

GOOD THING: Apart from that, this book is more of the same great material we've come to expect.

The Final Verdict: Could have used a little more explanation for Ammonia Pine and the rest of the FOWL villains we see in this issue - not all the kids this book is aimed at have seen the cartoons! Still, this is a fun book for kids of all ages... even if some of the references are only accessible to big kids like me.

And Now For Something Completely Different...

... because if I don't do it, some other Dr. Horrible fan will.

Trump Demands Proof Obama Is Not Superman

NEW HAMPSHIRE - Billionaire mogul and Reality TV star Donald Trump has made waves in recent months, issuing demands for President Barack Obama to produce his birth certificate. Trump, a potential candidate for President in 2012, issued these demands, saying that President Obama must directly answer charges that he is not truly an American Citizen and thus ineligible to serve as President of the United States.

Earlier today at a White House news briefing, President Obama did just that, in a move that was described by White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer as "a bold move that will settle this non-issue once and for all" as well as "any charges that President Obama does not have the best interests of America at heart."

Also earlier today, DC Comics - publisher of periodicals featuring such popular characters and Batman - released the 900th issue of the popular Action Comics title. This comic book featured a story in which Superman - long held up as the defender of Truth, Justice and The American Way, renounced his American citizenship in the face of charges that he wasn't representing the interests of America properly.

Barack Obama, himself a long-time comic fan, was heralded by many as a Superman come to save an endangered America when elected to The Presidency in 2008. Many would hold that these two events occurring on the same day, within hours of one another is an amusing and coincidence and nothing more.

Donald Trump says otherwise.

"The American Comic Book industry has been a well known hide away for liberals, Communists and other anti-American thinkers for many years," Trump asserted in a prepared statement from his corporate jet in New Hampshire. "For years, they have tried to corrupt American children with tales full of half-truths and misleading allegories. And yet, they occasionally will let the truth slip out, as they did in one comic which proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that there is a real Superman and that it is Barack Obama!"

Trump went on to demand that President Obama prove that not only was he not born on the distant planet Krypton but that he also submit to a test to prove that he is faster than a speeding bullet, before being escorted away into a waiting ambulance.

UPDATE: Sarah Palin is expected to call a press conference later this afternoon, to demand answers as to why President Obama did not spin the earth backwards in order to stop the 9-11 attacks. We will report more on this story as events warrant.

John Constantine describes the ending of Brightest Day in one word.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Doctor Who Episode Commentaries Coming Soon!

They are coming. Have no fear. I saw The Impossible Astronaut yesterday and am only waiting for Part Two before writing up something on the whole thing.

"Fake It Better, Granito"

SOURCE: Fake It Better, Granito (To The Tune of 'Take A Letter, Maria')

For those of you fortunate enough to have not heard of Rob Granito, this won't be much of a laugh. For the rest of this, this is a funny little ditty about the most infamous fraud the comic world has seen in recent memory. I'm going to have to check out more of Tom Smith's work.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Doctor Who: A Fairytale Life #1

GOOD THING: American writer Matthew Sturges (who is no stranger to fairy tale comics, having written Jack of Fables for most of it's run) gives us a truly unique idea with this book, as The Eleventh Doctor - charged with the impossible task of finding a fairy tale reality to visit - takes Amy Pond to a futuristic theme park that is basically a Renaissance Festival which spans an entire planet.

Naturally - because this is a Doctor Who story - things are not what they seem and The Doctor and Amy soon find themselves in deep, deep trouble.

BAD THING: Good as the story is, the characterization doesn't quite ring true at times. The Eleventh Doctor isn't usually this aware of other people's emotions. And Amy - despite her protests that she is no damsel to be rescued - doesn't really do anything for the whole issue, except complain about how uncomfortable her costume is and serve as the sounding board that The Doctor explains things to.

The Final Verdict: A solid introduction to a novel story concept. The characters seem a bit off at times but not horribly out of character.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Green Lantern Corps #59 (War Of The Green Lanterns, Part 5)

BAD THING: There seems to have been very little coordination between what Tony Bedard wrote in this issue and what Geoff Johns wrote in Part 4. For one thing, Hal derides Kyle's choosing of The Blue Ring Of Hope as a substitute weapon and brings up a very good point as to why using a Blue Lantern Ring against Green Lanterns is a VERY BAD IDEA... even though Hal was the one who let Kyle pick whatever ring he wanted in the last issue! And he didn't feel compelled to say a damn thing about the Blue Lantern weaknesses then, even though he did stop John Stewart from taking up The Orange Ring Of Avarice.

On the bright side, Bedard does a good job of conveying the desperation of the situation and how Hal seems to have lost sight of the fact that not everybody knows the other Corps rings as well as he does... which results in Kyle and John not being battle-ready and Guy being... well, Guy with a ring that feeds upon his Rage.

GOOD THING: That being said, it is nice to see Ganthet call Hal out on how idiotic his plan is... even if I don't entirely agree with his reasons as to precisely WHY it's an idiotic plan.

For instance, Kyle would, I think, be better suited to a Love Ring - given that last issue said he was a lover, not a fighter. And Guy would be better served by taking up the Yellow Ring... or am I the only one who remembers that he was using Sinestro's old ring for a while as a member of the JLA?

The Final Verdict: Some spotty logic and poor coordination between the writers is made up for with a truly surprising twist in the final few pages. An enjoyable issue, despite its' flaws.

Context Is For The Weak!

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Green Lantern #65 (War Of The Green Lanterns, Part 4)

GOOD THING: The interplay between Hal and Guy is played with pretty well, as you throw two men's men against each other... literally, in this scene.

Guy is a little off, but I'm willing to write that off as stress and not Johns going out of his way to make Hal Jordan looking like the most awesome guy ever. Why? Because...

BAD THING: ... Johns allows Hal to make some pretty big mistakes later on in the issue, when he comes up with the plan to use the rings belonging to the other Corps.

While it's gratifying to see that Hal won't be portrayed as being completely perfect (a frequent accusation in Johns' GL work) one still has to wonder...

a) ... why he lets Guy take the Red Ring of Rage when Guy has already admitted to having trouble controlling his anger after having worn the ring once.

b) ...why he refuses to let John take the Orange Ring of Avarice, saying that the power is totally corrupting and soul-destroying... yet he has no trouble with Guy taking the equally destructive Red Ring of Rage?

c) ... why does he allow Kyle to take the Blue Ring of Hope when - he knows first hand - that the Blue Lanterns can't do much save super-charge Green Lantern Rings... which is a very bad thing when you're fighting an army of Green Lanterns?

d) ... why does Hal allow everyone - except John Stewart - to pick the ring they want?

e) ... isn't it a little racist that John Stewart was given The Ring Of The Indigo Tribals?

There's just a TON of Unfortunate Implications all around...

The Final Verdict: The good news is that Hal isn't portrayed as being a totally perfect hero. The bad news is that he shouldn't be THIS stupid and/or much of a jerk.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Note To NYT: Nerdy Girls Exist!

As some of you may have heard, there's a critic at The New York Times, who wrote a review of the new Game of Thrones TV Series. Not only did she somehow manage to get a review published without discussing the plot, the characters, the setting, the design or the acting in said show but she also managed to insult the audience of Sex In The City, fantasy fans in general and female fantasy fans in particular by stating that the whole series is "boys fiction" which no woman could possibly enjoy unless she's watching to oogling all the hot men on the cast.

Now, I don't need to say anything about how stupid and insulting this is on every level. Fellow Fanzing alumnus Alan Kistler has written a lovely rebuttal to the original article that I think you all should read. But since I've seen a lot of anger raised over this issue... I figure we could all use a good laugh.

And I remembered this video from a few years ago that dealt with this very topic of the existence of nerdy girls existing. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Birds Of Prey #11

GOOD THING: Long-time Birds of Prey fans have been clamoring for a return of the weird romance between anti-hero Huntress and anti-villain Catman. And boy do we ever get it!

Gail Simone manages the impossible here. First, she has given us a self-contained story - which is as rare as unicorns in these days of writing for the trade!

Next, she has crafted this entire story based upon fan demand, centered around an old plot-point... and yet somehow made that story completely accessible to newer readers who never read the stories where the two started to romance one another!

Finally, she gives us a truly surprising twist ending that makes perfect sense given the characters involved, avoiding the trap so many lesser writers fall into so easily regarding a sudden reveal on the last page of the mystery.

This may not be the a perfect comic book story... but it's damned close.

BAD THING: For the most part, the artwork is good, but some pages come off as a little too posed and too much like a pin-up poster. In this page, for instance, Huntress appears to be - as the nature show hosts would put it - "presenting rearly".

This may be a subtle sub-textual commentary on Helena's desires manifesting unconsciously through her body language in the heat of battle... but I doubt it.

The Final Verdict: Easily the best self-contained single-issue story Gail Simone has ever written and a perfect introduction to Birds of Prey for you poor, unfortunate souls who aren't reading this book already. Read it! Love it! The Starman has spoken.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About The Dresden Files: Fool Moon #1

BAD THING: The artwork of this book is flawed in certain respects. While the character design is good (damn near perfect, in fact), the execution leaves a bit to be desired.

For instance, Kim - the low level mage who comes to Harry for advice on a binding circle in the opening scene of the comic - is described as being a "tall woman, buxom and lovely" in the original book. Kim is indeed buxom. She is so buxom, in fact her head is the size of just ONE of her breasts!

The artist also seems to have a problem with lower torsos. Specifically, women's hips, the region where the legs meet the rest of the body and any clothing involving said region. Consider Murphy in the picture below and whether or not the Chicago PD has the loosest dress code in the world if it lets a female detective wear low-rider jeans on the job.

GOOD THING: As I said earlier, ignoring precisely how the characters are drawn, the character design is spot on. Fans of the original books will have nothing to complain about in regards to Murphy being too tall (she's barely 5'0"), Harry being too short (he's somewhere over 6'6") or the Alphas NOT looking like a group of freshman college students who haven't quite finished going through puberty.

The Final Verdict: An enjoyable introduction to the world of wizard detective Harry Dresden for those comics fans who haven't yet seen the original graphic novel adaptation of Storm Front or read the original books. The only flaw is that some of the anatomy in the artwork is s a bit odd despite the actual character designs being spot on.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Secret Six #32

GOOD THING: I don't believe anyone ever requested an explanation for just why Ragdoll is so messed up, even by the standards of villainy in the DC Universe. And yet, with this issue, Gail Simone has given us one - Ragdoll is one of the "lucky" few to be born without a soul.

It's an interesting and wholly logical turn of events, which raises several interesting questions and opens up several potential story ideas. Given that the original Ragdoll was a cult-leader who was recruited by dark powers after his death, it doesn't seem unreasonable that his son might have similar connections. Indeed, one wonders if this may lead to an appearance by the soulless sorcerer anti-hero Faust or if there was some connection between the original Ragdoll and Felix Faust.

BAD THING: The subplot with Liana being kidnapped by a religious fanatic is barely given any time at all in this issue. In fact, we only see her for one page!

If this were being written by any writer other than Gail Simone, I'd be very worried and make some comment on how Liana has become so marginalized as a character that not even her own love interest can be arsed to care about her being potential fridge bait. As it is, this whole subplot is a testament as to how powerful a writer Simone is that we can be made to feel so deeply about a character who is, in essence, a disposable girlfriend... even to the character that she's dating!

The Final Verdict: An amazing issue that gives us a lot more insight into the character of Ragdoll than I ever thought possible. The only real downside is that the subplot involving Scandal Savage's current love interest is given the bare minimum of page time and is not so much a subplot as it is a footnote.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

'Green Lantern' Footage Released At WonderCon!

URL If The Player Doesn't Work For You:

Okay... this? This is AWESOME!

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Doctor Who (2011) #3

GOOD THING: As in last issue, there's a lot of great character moments here. I love how Rory - who tends to be portrayed as a bit of an idiot depending on the writer - is actually fairly adept at coming up with plausable excuses on the fly. Shame he's trying to pull the wool over the eyes of someone who can't be affected by psychic paper... but Rory almost doesn't seem to need it.

BAD THING: As in last issue, the art is bloody awful. Whereas Richard Rayner's art looked like watercolors that had coffee spilled on them, Tim Hamilton (the third artist on last month's issue, who did only the final page) has given us work that doesn't appear to have been inked at all. Everything is very sketchy and - like Rayner - Hamilton doesn't seem any idea how to make Amy Pond look attractive or draw Matt Smith's features consistently.

The Final Verdict: As in last issue, a great story is ruined by terrible artwork. You'd expect better of a story in which The Doctor faces Jack The Ripper.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Green Arrow #10

BAD THING: Ollie's become a supporting character in his own book. He even says as much at the start of the issue that his only purpose lately is protecting Galahad.

When they announced Ollie was getting his own solo title in the wake of Brightest Day, I'd hoped we'd be getting a lot more of the action we'd seen early on, with a hunted Ollie robbing the corrupt rich of Star City to provide for the neglected poor. But the subplot involving the power in the forest has completely subverted that for what seems like far too long.

GOOD THING: Thankfully, Galahad is an engaging character and the information we learn about his past... his true past, apparently... is finally giving us some answers, preventing the mystery from being as drawn out as it could have been.

The Final Verdict: There's not nearly as much Ollie fighting fat-cats as I would like. Still, the subplot involving Galahad and his connection to the forest does seem to be reaching resolution and the focus seems to be coming back around to Ollie, so I can ride this out for another issue before passing final judgement.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Jimmy Olsen: One-Shot

GOOD THING: This story perfectly captures the utter insanity of the original Jimmy Olsen comics but filters it through the post-modern Sterling Silver Age viewpoint to create something that acknowledge the crazy past of DC Comics while vaunting it as something cool to be lived up to.

Why does this comic work so well? I think it's because Nick Spencer realizes two things that a lot of writers and comic fans don't.

First, that Jimmy Olsen is to Superman what Robin is to Batman. He is the avenue your average dorky comic-reading fanboy took into that world of Superman as a child. He's the younger, more foolish character that is probably what we'd be like if we were friends with Batman or Superman and were trying to help them out. This has become less important over the years as Jimmy and Dick Grayson were aged up and Jimmy was either made into an older action hero figure or a dorky boy hostage depending on who was writing Superman at the time.

Second, that Jimmy Olsen was the Peter Parker before Peter Parker. And never mind the photographer angle - I'm talking sheer dumb luck. Jimmy Olsen was a well-meaning trouble magnet and a total geek. And yet he still somehow managed to attract some very attractive women despite having continual girlfriend troubles. Really, the only difference between Peter and Jimmy is that Jimmy had to cope with all the super-villains and gangsters coming after him without the benefit of superpowers 90% of the time.

All of that comes into play in this book. Jimmy is the everyman. Sure, he knows a lot of famous and important people and he is exposed to fantastic wonders on a near daily basis. But deep down he's still the nerd who thinks bowties are cool that likes to stay at home and play video games in his underwear.

There's not really any one thing I can point at that makes this book amazing apart from that. It's all the little touches. Like Jimmy Olsen having a nemesis who is a junior executive at LexCorp who aspires to be the next Lex Luthor like Jimmy wants to be Superman. It's story ideas like Jimmy Olsen having to save the Earth from a group of hedonistic aliens by convincing them that Metropolis is the most boring city in the universe. And it's nods to the continuity like having Jimmy's current love interest be Chloe Sullivan - apparently an import from the Smallville TV show who was just brought into the mainstream DCU with this story.

BAD THING: Really, the only bad thing about this book is that thanks to it originally being published as a series of back-up strips in Action Comics and DC Comics apparently not realizing what they were sitting on until recently, Nick Spenser has been allowed to slip between the cracks and sign an exclusive contract with Marvel. So unless there's some kind of miracle, we're not going to see any more Jimmy Olsen stories like this.

The Final Verdict: Some are already calling this the best comic of 2010 or 2011, depending on whether or not you count this collection as an original work. Either way, I'm calling it a must read for anyone who loves good comics. We need more books like this.

Crossovers That Should Not Happen: Conan Vs. The Muddlefoots!

All blame for this idea goes to djt2445

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About King Conan: The Scarlet Citadel #2

BAD THING: Truman deviates a bit from Howard's text in this chapter. In the original Robert E. Howard story, Conan's jailer recognizes him from his days as a pirate as the man indirectly responsible for the death of his brother. While he is identified as a eunuch by the narrator, no reference is made to it in the dialogue of the scene. So it is somewhat jarring to see this extra bit of motivation added to the jailer's hatred of Conan and his threat to do more than kill Conan.

I can understand why Truman made this change as the original text of this scene was filled with some commentary and description that would be racist by today's standards. The problem is that having the jailer refer to Conan as "your kind" rather than "white men" is little better and the whole scene could honestly lose the reference to the jailer being offended by Conan's attempts to bribe him... particularly since he was the one who started demanding money to release him in the first place!

GOOD THING: All issues of just how acceptable it is to alter the original text in an adaptation aside, the action does flow very well here. And artist Tomas Giorello has an amazing gift for capturing expression, managing to do well what few artists even attempt - a frightened Conan.

The Final Verdict: While some may debate the appropriateness of adding in references to castration that were not in the original story, it cannot be denied that this comic is a fast-paced, well-illustrated tale of Conan regardless of how you feel about how it was adapted.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About GL: Emerald Warriors #8 (War Of The Green Lanterns, Part 3)

BAD THING: Am I the only one disturbed that things are being set up - once again - for the four Green Lanterns of Earth to be the big damn heroes who save everyone? In Part 2, Ganthet all but sacrificed himself to keep John Stewart and Kyle Rayner from falling under Parallax's corruption or being killed by the enslaved Green Lanterns. Here, Kilowog takes Guy out of the fight, taking himself out of the picture for the time being while telling Guy to figure out what's going on.

It's true to form for Kilowog to want to keep an eye on his fellow Lanterns, even at risk to himself. But it would be nice if he were included in one of these big multi-part adventures without seeming like the token alien.

GOOD THING: The centerpiece of the issue - the fight between Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner - is a thing of beauty, wonderfully illustrated and carefully written. Tomasi draws upon the bad blood in the characters' past, letting it spill over into the current conflict.

The Final Verdict: One of the best fights in Green Lantern history, as Hal and Guy go at it, rings-a-blazing. The only downside is I can't help but be mildly annoyed that - thus far - it seems like the Boys From Earth are going to save everyone. Again.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Green Lantern Corps #58 (War Of The Green Lanterns, Part 2)

GOOD THING: The first two pages do a good job of summing up the lives of John Stewart and Kyle Rayner for any new readers who might be jumping into the series with this issue.

In fact, I think this may be the first time they've tried to reconcile John's original background with the military service that was introduced after it was decided that John Stewart in the Justice League cartoon should be an ex-Marine and that the idea should be carried over into the main DC Universe.

These pages also do a good job of summing up the fears that drive both Kyle and John and the common ground they share, despite their differing backgrounds with Kyle being a natural artist who became a warrior and John being a fighter who learned how to create.

BAD THING: That being said, the fight where John and Kyle turn on each other seems really forced in light of that common ground. If not for Ganthet's intervention, the two might well have killed each other which seems a bit unlikely to me given how capable John and Kyle have been in overcoming their fears over losing loved ones in the past.

The Final Verdict: A good issue, despite the central conflict being somewhat forced. Despite this, everyone remains true to character and the action doesn't suffer for it.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Green Lantern #64 (War Of The Green Lanterns, Part 1)

GOOD THING: Geoff Johns is frequently credited as a "Master Storyteller" on the backs of his graphic novels. Issues like this one show why that label isn't marketing hyperbole. Quite a lot happens in this book that changes the rules and the current status quo of the Green Lantern universe but Johns has been setting things into motion for a while now in the main Green Lantern title. This makes the changes seem more the result of a calculated, criminal plan than the sudden arbitrary whim of a writer wishing to shake things up, which is a difficult trick to pull off.

The net effect of this issue is that Hal Jordan, who was already wanted for questioning regarding his apparent alliance with hostile members of the other Lantern Corps, is left without any allies at all. The rest of the Lantern Corps leaders are trapped inside a Black Lantern artifact. The remaining Guardians of the Universe are captured by Korona and forced to serve as vessels for the various Emotional Entities that exemplify the seven powers. And the rest of the Green Lantern Corps (as far Hal knows) have been taken over by Parallax.

BAD THING: It is a minor thing, but it seems somewhat out of character for Salaak to be quite so gung-ho about capturing Hal for trial and not giving him a chance to explain himself, particularly in light (no pun intended) of there having just been a big explosion and several other power rings falling on the ground in front of Hal just seconds before they arrived.

While Salaak has always been portrayed as being very orderly and rules-obsessed (small wonder then he was chosen to act as mission control and Seneschal for The Guardians) he's also been portrayed as being loyal to The Corps even above the Guardians and trusting his fellow Lanterns to do the right thing.

The Final Verdict: An excellent start to the latest Green Lantern Corps saga.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Queen Sonja #15

GOOD THING: We get a lot of great insights into Sonja's past and character here, as in the previous issues of this story. Here we see her first true adventure as Red Sonja as her first love dies and Sonja turns her vengeance upon the guards of the city and her treacherous mentor, the thief-wizard Jubal

BAD THING: The artwork. Dear Tarim, the artwork! Bad enough that it still looks sketchy and under-inked. Now there's continuity problems on top of everything else, with Sonja's slavegirl costume mysteriously spawning the shoulder pads and torc her traditional chainmail bikini costume always had.

I was willing to allow for the possibility that she added on to the outfit later, perhaps paying someone to have the extra armor added onto the halter. But the writing completely eliminates that possibility as Sonja visits her criminal contact and we find out that the multi-page reign of terror we see depicted on the earlier pages all took place over the course of one morning!

The Final Verdict: The artwork problems of previous issues continue unabated, made worse by continuity issues that make it seem that Sonja's slavegirl disguise from previous issues has magically sprouted armored shoulder pads! Still, the story is lively and does much to offer insight into Sonja's character.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Red Sonja: Deluge

GOOD THING: Chris Bolson gives us some of the best artwork we've seen in a Red Sonja book in quite some time. His work is detailed, without being over-lined and the colorist Wellinton Marcal does an excellent job in highlighting that detail.

On top of everything else, Bolson actually understands how women's clothing works and that a woman's breasts have to be supported - not just covered up - and he actually draws a chainmail bikini that, while not practical, at least looks plausible as something that could be actually be worn for more than two minutes at a time.

BAD THING: The deus ex machina at the end - in in which Sonja's horse, swallowed up by a living sink-hole in the first part of the story, somehow survives and is delivered to her somewhat unharmed - strains all credibility. Particularly in the Hyborian setting where gods and spirits are not generally that kind or generous.

Incidentally, I get the feeling I've seen this story before but I can't quite place it. Does anyone out there better versed in Chinese or Japanese folklore than me know any stories about a corrupt monk who steals from his temple and becomes a gambling lord/whoremonger?

The Final Verdict:Great artwork and a good story, marred only by a completely unbelievable deus ex machina at the end. Still worth a read if you're a fan of good fantasy and Red Sonja in particular, though.