Sunday, August 28, 2011

DC Retroactive: Green Lantern – The 90s #1 - A Review

Synchronicity - it’s more than the title of an album by The Police. It’s the force of coincidence. It’s hearing a word spoken out-loud at the exact instance you read the same word. It’s the call out of the blue from the old friend you were just thinking about. I mention this because of the role synchronicity has in this review.

I created this blog both as an archive for my old writings on comic books and a springboard from which to write about a variety of new subjects. Old and New. Past and Future. Looking Back and Moving Forward. And I thought to myself how fitting it would be symbolically if the first comic review of My Geeky Geeky Ways were to echo that theme in some fashion

How fortunate that the invisible hand of fate has seen fit to give me such a book in a title that just came out this week - DC Retroactive: Green Lantern – The 90s #1. This title is doubly fitting: not only because the DC Retroactive Series was based around the concept of allowing classic creative teams to work once more with characters they worked with previously but because as I’ve noted before, the first book I ever bought when I first became interested in comics was a Green Lantern title by Ron Marz.

That is synchronicity in action, my friends.

There’s always a danger with nostalgia that a second glance might not match up with your memories. How many of us have watched an old cartoon from our youth and been left wondering what we ever saw in it? Thankfully, there are no such dangers with this book.

The story is a real treat for old-time Green Lantern fans, being set not too long after Marz’s last multi-issue Green Lantern story (GL Volume 3, Issues #120-124), where Kyle Rayner was kidnapped by The Controllers (Think The Guardians Of The Universe, only more fascist) and nearly converted into one of their shock-troops. One of those shock-troops, a young man named Martin Van Wyck (a.k.a. Effigy) attacks the JLA Watchtower and it’s up to Kyle to bring the villainous pyromancer to justice.

Marz’s writing is as good as it ever was, with his take on Kyle Rayner being instantly sympathetic and relatable to new readers. The action and dialogue flow well, with Kyle’s status - at the time of this story – as the last Green Lantern in the entire universe being established smoothly through Kyle’s internal monologue as he wishes that he had some way of calling for back-up.

Marz even manages to tie up a loose end from the plot of his original Green Lantern run. At the end of the original Marz story, Effigy was left a brainwashed pawn of The Controllers, marooned in deep space. Months later, after a new writer took over the title, Effigy was back on Earth with no explanation. This story, while not giving us the details of exactly how Effigy overcame his brainwashing, does explain just how he was able to return to Earth. It’s a nice little treat for those fans who remember the original story.

The art is just as amazing as I remember, too. The one thing I think most of us remember from the Green Lantern stories of the time was how amazing and intricate the constructs looked when Darryl Banks was doing the pencils. I don’t know what artist Darryl Banks has been up to over the past few years and information on-line is similarly sketchy (no pun intended) but we can only hope that DC Comics will offer him a regular position on a book sometime soon.

The one downside to this book is the $4.99 price tag. The second half of the book reprints a classic Marz/Banks story from the 1990s (GL Vol. 3, #78, to be precise) which most die-hard Green Lantern fans like myself are already likely to own. Mind you, it IS a good story but it does burn my gut to have to buy it a second time just to get the new material.

On the other hand, the price is less than the cost of two full comics and the issue reprinted is a good jumping-on issue for new readers. It’s also a story that has never been collected in any of the previous Green Lantern trades, making this book a great deal for newbie Green Lantern fans. So maybe the old men like me can bite our tongues, open our wallets and be thankful that some of the material that got us into the game is being passed on to the next generation.

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