Saturday, 7 February 2015

Construct of the Week #33

Generated by: Hal Jordan

Construct: $100 bill

Appeared in: Green Lantern #31 (vol.2), 1964

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The Ballad of Two Green Lanterns

In a city known as Gotham, on a world some call Earth Two

A hero leaps into the air to get a better view

Of a cascading meteor on a fiery assault.

He shoots a beam of energy to bring it to a halt.

Mysteriously the shooting star disappeared before his eyes

And left our hero open mouthed at a marvellous surprise.

The hero was Green Lantern, wood the Achilles of his ring.

Until that fiery meteor gave him power over everything.

Immediately he hatched a plan, hesitation he had none

As he cleaved vibratory barriers to the world some call Earth One.

He vowed to find his counterpart, the Green Lantern of this place

And tell him of the meteor that fell to Earth from space.

His friend deserved to hear the news, he was an amazing fellow

But he had a weakness too you see, it was the colour yellow.

Unfortunately when GL arrived all was not as he had thought

His ring had lost control of wood, his journey was for naught.

An answer was required, decided Earth Two’s Alan Scott,

And so his magic power ring revealed an evil plot.

An immortal was the cause of all, Krona was his name.

He had schemed to use Alan’s powers to further his own game.

Krona had been imprisoned for the evil he had done

And could not escape the meteor unless he travelled to Earth One.

He knew that Alan would go at once to try and help his friend

If he could fix his power ring and bring its weakness to an end.

Krona’s plan had worked, of course. He was once again the master,

He set about to plague the world with disaster after disaster.

Hal Jordan, Lantern of Earth One, leapt to action straight away

To stop the winds and floods and quakes as he tried to save the day.

His Earth Two pal was at his side to lend a helping hand,

For our two heroes were mighty brave, with Will at their command.

But this not the end of things, even as the dust began to settle

Krona had one more trick to play to test the Lantern’s mettle.

He unleashed stupendous mental strength and took over Alan’s body

(Perhaps he liked the hero’s garb, so colourful and gaudy!).

I’m sure this is the fight that fans would like to see,

Green Lantern and Green Lantern locked in adversity.

Hal Jordan was much less impressed, he had no wish to duel

His friend from another world; how could Krona be so cruel?

Even so he joined the fray, a duty to fulfil,

He’d beat the villain, free his chum and show the power of Will.

Alas it was not meant to be, Krona was far too clever.

He used his stolen Lantern powers to scupper Hal’s endeavour.

All the while Alan Scott had hid in Jordan’s ring,

He appeared now in the nick of time to take care of everything.

The two Green Lantern’s merged their thoughts, their brains became as one.

Convinced that joined together, they’d see the scoundrel’s scheme undone.

In the end the simple dupe of switching rings was all was needed.

With Krona beat, the world was saved, our heroes had succeeded!

In a city known as Gotham, on a world some call Earth Two

A hero leaps into the air to get a clearer view

Of a burning meteor on a path of mass destruction.

But it’s no match for his Lantern power, an energy ring construction.

I hope you enjoyed my little ballad inspired by the parallel world adventure originally told in Green Lantern #40, (vol. 2), 1965. For more fun and frolics from alternate realities and other worlds please click the links below and join the Super-Blog Team-Up as they introduce you to a myriad of mysterious lands and strange places the like of which you have never seen before!

Amazing Spider-Talk:
Chasing Amazing
The Case Against Spider-Man Reign
Superior Spider-Talk
The Case For Spider-Man Reign

A Tale Of Two Cities On The Edge Of Forever
Things Are a Little Different Around Here...

Firestorm on Infinite Earths -- Countdown Arena

The Ballad of Two Green Lanterns

The Many Worlds of Tesla Strong

Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes
X-Men #141 & 142: Days of Future Past
The Marvel Super Heroes Podcast (i.e. part of Rolled Spine Podcast)
Epic Comics’ Doctor Zero
Marvel & DC's Secret Crossover: Avengers #85–86 (1st Squadron Supreme)
Marvel Comics' Star Comics Line: “Licensed Reality and Parallel Properties”

Altered Reality: The Ultraverse Before and After Black September
The Ghost in the Machine: Robocop versus Terminator
5 Batmen, 1 Superman, ZERO HOUR

Thursday, 25 December 2014

A Traditional Season's Greeting

Christmas and the holiday season is a very traditional time of year when we remember times past and family spread far and wide.

With this in mind I was struck by the appropriateness of the cover for Green Lantern #18 (vol. 1), 1945.  You couldn't be any more traditional in the Green Lantern universe than Alan Scott and Doiby Dickens, the original Golden-Age GL and his trusty cab driving sidekick.  And while they may not be from Oa, these two are definitely part of the wider Green Lantern family and the inspiration for some of the finest superhero comics ever written.

So from myself and all our contributors here at Flodo's Page, have a Merry Christmas, a wonderful holiday and may 2015 bring the Brightest Day to you, your family and all of your loved ones.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Inebriated Ramblings From Sector 875 (Unedited)

First up, don’t give intoxicating liquids to a gaseous life form… it screws our pharmacology right up!
So here it is.  News flash.  While your world continues to turn, any Green Lantern obsessive will tell you the biggest change in comics since DC’s Flashpoint has just occurred.  March 2015 solicitations are out.  I don’t normally read the solicits but Twitter hooked me up and this is one that I couldn’t ignore….
I buy most of my books in digital these days but print still holds a special, respectful place in my life.  Amongst the few titles that I still collect from my LCS are of course the Lantern books.  The GLU.  Of which there are currently 5.
But come March Green Lantern Corps, Red Lanterns and Green Lantern: New Guardians are all being hailed as final issues.  Gutted to say the least!
I love Green Lantern and Sinestro.  Robert Venditti and Cullen Bunn are both veritable geniuses.  But I ain’t about to enjoy my favourite comic book franchise being compressed by 60%.
In the last year Justin Jordan and Charles Soule have both been legends on GL:NG and RLs.  9 issues out of 10 they have taken the outer extremities of the Lantern universe to new heights and uncharted territories.  Told stories that have never been told before without spitting on the mythos that spawned them.
But for me the biggest loss is Green Lantern Corps.  Van Jensen has been irrepressible on this book.  He is obviously very close to Venditti, the writer on the main Green Lantern title, and the books tie in heavily together and are best read as a cohesive unit.  But they are not the same book.  Van Jensen has done his research.  He knows his main character, John Stewart.  He knows his own created characters, the new Green Lantern recruits.  And he knows the history of the GLC and pulls out character after character that we haven’t seen or heard of in a very long time. He writes action, politic, romance and intrigue with equal clarity. 
At the heart of his writing, whether consciously or not, he swears Corps up and down.
In short folks, DC Comics are going to have to think of something very clever to do to replace this book.  I will not accept that this is just going to be a gap in my life.
'Convergence' is coming.  Another apocalyptical event from publishers that will “change comics forever”.  And I am not being cynical when add the inverted commas because, to be fair, it might.  I just bemoan a little because I hate my favourite books being cancelled.
I have been touting on the interwebs that they might replace the book with something from the past, like an original Golden-Age Alan Scott book.  They might also bring out the long anticipated anthology book that deals with stories from all of the coloured Corps in the style of the much loved Green Lantern Corps Quarterly.  In my heart of hearts I think it is all a publicity stunt and at the very least Green Lantern Corps will return in some form or other.
The GL franchise was never going to sustain 5 books forever.  And I get that.  But it would be a travesty if we had to view everything through the eyes of the main players, Hal and Sinestro, from now on at the expense of the rich story-telling that can be derived from the rest of the expansive Lantern universe.
So cheers to the writers and artists who may (or may not) be leaving our GL family before long.  You will be missed and remembered.  Cheers to all the Fanterns because we know we care.  And I am going to go out on a limb and say cheers to DC Comics too, because I'm superbly confident they are not going to sell us short when it comes to Green Lantern (hint, hint...)  

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Construct of the Week #32

Construct: Punch bag and gloves

Generated by: Hal Jordan

Appeared in: Green Lantern #159 (vol.2), 1982

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

It Ain't Easy Being On The Green Team

What will happen when the most powerful weapon in the universe goes up against the strongest one there is?!  I'm not too sure myself but I do know it won't pretty and I know we are in for one heck of a show!  As the frog said, "It ain't easy being green".  Find out how it all goes down when the Green Goliath meets the Green Gladiator in the Super-Team Family crossover to end all crossovers... Green Lantern vs. The Hulk!!!

...Now that is a comic I want to read.

Unfortunately this little beauty has never seen the printed page and probably never will because the striking cover above is the brainchild of the very talented artist and comic fan, Ross Pearsall.   Ross publishes a blog called Super-Team Family ...The Lost Issues where he takes that well-known collision of Photoshop and geek culture to a whole new level.  To put it bluntly, the man has "mad skills".

Originally inspired by superhero team-ups in DC Comics' The Brave And The Bold and in Marvel Two-In-One, Ross's unbridled imagination brings together some of the greatest and most unlikely pairings in comic books and beyond, the likes of which you have never seen before.  Literally.  For, as the name suggests, these are The Lost Issues.  The team-ups that could have been, or should have been, or in some cases definitely SHOULDN'T have been.  Ross creates covers for stories that the fans want to see but for reasons, legal or otherwise, have never happened in the real world of comics publishing.

You're damn right I want to see Hal Jordan go up against The Hulk!  And I've never wanted anything more than I want to know what happened when Guy 'my way or the highway' Gardner met Cliff 'I make this rocket look good' Secord.  The cosmic battle between the Kree's Captain Mar-vell and the Green Lantern Corps is a story that could make a whole event in itself.

I've picked out some of my favourite Green Lantern covers from the Super-Team Family collection for this feature but you really owe it to yourself to take a look at the blog in it's entirety.  Ross has been creating these mash-up covers since 2011 and has been publishing a new image every single day for the last two years!  There are literally thousands of covers to peruse and there is something to catch the eye of fans of all types.  Comic books, sci-fi and fantasy, cartoons, even TV and box-office films all get the magic Lost Issues treatment.

While the Super-Team Family covers are often hilarious (anyone up for Ch'p and Squirrel Girl?) and undoubtedly cool beyond measure (you know you want to see Silver Surfer vs. Darth Vader!), they are also something of an education in the history of comic book art.  Wherever possible Ross has listed the names of the artists he has taken images from or worked in the style of.  The blog's labelling function groups posts both by character and also, less obviously, by artist.  So if your thing is Frank Miller and you always wanted to know what Robin looks like on a Daredevil cover your dreams are only a click away.  Personally, I can thoroughly recommend an examination of the many wonderful homages to Neal Adams if you have 20 minutes or so to spare! 

You can check out the whole collection at the  Super-Team Family ...The Lost Issues blog, or follow Ross Pearsall on Twitter, @RossPearsall.  If you are interested in hearing Ross talk about how the blog came about or where he gets his inspiration from to keep coming up with fresh superhero team-ups day after day you can listen to his live interview on the Blog Talk Radio programme, Clobberin' Time.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

A Curious Combination

Mark Twain famously said, “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations."

Impossible or not, I think I am on fairly safe ground to conjecture that the majority of ideas are routinely revisited in the world of comics.  Whether it is the retelling of an origin story, the resurrection of a formerly dead character, or the passing of said character's legacy on to the next generation, we all love to see elements from our favourite stories invoked in new material.  As I understand it both DC Comics and Marvel intend to take this approach to the extreme in 2015, overtly referencing a whole of host previously published storyarcs as the basis of each of their latest company-wide events.

At the other end of the scale to this are the little tricks and eye-catching gimmicks that innocently resurface every so often as comic book writers attempt to tap into the timeless essence of their chosen muse.  I stumbled across one such oddity not long ago while I was researching the earliest appearances of the Justice League of America.

Have a look at the delightful panel below from Justice League of America #3, vol.1 (1961) showing Hal Jordan think quickly to save the city from certain disaster.  He creates giant humanoid constructs with his power ring to prevent damaged sky-scrapers from falling and crushing the population below.

We can all agree this is a fantastic bit of ring-slinging from Hal which must have been very exciting for fans to read back in the early sixties.

Jump forward then exactly 50 years into the future and take a gander at this next wonderful double page spread which graced the pages of Green Lantern: New Guardians #1 (2011).

Note the collapsing building and falling crane destined to annihilate the terrified city dwellers below.  Note our green-clad hero swooping down from the sky to mount a daring rescue, and most importantly, note the big, green giants stretching their huge arms around the plummeting debris to halt its catastrophic descent.

It's the same concept in both panels!  Yes, the 2011 version has been considerably fleshed out and updated to entertain a more demanding 21st century audience (3 years on and I am still struck by the beauty and energy of the artwork) but when you boil right down to it, it is the same idea appearing in both comic books. 

I have no clue if the New Guardians creative team of Tony Bedard and Tyler Kirkham gave any thought to their historic Justice League predecessors, Gardner Fox and Mike Secowsky.  I sincerely doubt it.  But I like to think the idea first popped into heads of those silver-age creators back in 1961 and floated around in the ether for a good many years until it passed through Mark Twain's mental kaleidoscope to be turned and transformed into a new and very curious combination.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Happy Rebirthday! (The First Day of the Rest of my Life)

27 October 2004.  Although I didn’t realise it at the time, this date heralded the biggest world changing event in my life outside of my wedding day and the births of my children.  For it was on this day that DC Comics released Green Lantern: Rebirth #1, the first issue in a six issue story recounting Hal Jordan’s return to the role of Green Lantern. My life and the long-suffering patience of my family can be divided into two parts – ‘Before Rebirth’ and ‘After Rebirth’.  Before Rebirth I was a young twenty something with a wide range of hobbies and interests, one of which happened to be reading comics.  In fact, I enjoying reading standard text novels far more and I got a lot of my superhero fix from reading novelizations of comic book stories such as Death of Superman.  If anyone asked, my favourite heroes where Batman and Punisher “because those guys were dark and they didn’t need superpowers to get the job done”.  Then Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver came along and nonchalantly tossed a phenomenon right there in my lap.  From that moment forwards I have been an obsessive.  Obsessed with comic books in general, and more importantly, obsessed with all things Green Lantern.  Check out some of the other posts on this blog if you don’t believe me!

The funny thing is, Hal Jordan isn’t even my favourite Green Lantern.   He isn’t even my favourite Green Lantern from Earth (that honour goes to John Stewart), or indeed my second favourite (Kyle Rayner).  But the book itself unleashed something within me that cannot be quelled or sedated.  I’m not going to try and tell you the story contained with the pages of Green Lantern: Rebirth.  I know my fellow GL blogger Myron Rumsey of The Blog of Oa intends to publish a celebratory post today as well.  Myron is a die-hard Hal fan and I admire his writing and his blog very much and expect he has provided an exceptional recap of the book that I can piggyback on.  So stop, go read his post and make sure you come back here when you are finished.  Ok then… welcome back.

What I do want to tell you about is why Rebirth lit the touch paper within me that quickly became an everlasting green flame.  First I have to tackle the art.  When it comes to getting under the skin of Green Lantern, Ethan Van Sciver is untouchable.  There are actually a few artists out there who I probably like more, Ivan Reis being one of them.  But Reis nor anybody else could have done justice to this book like Van Sciver did.  I can imagine Geoff Johns’ receiving his artist’s pages through the mail and thinking “Wow, I kind of thought I knew what I was trying to say here but Ethan just nailed it better than I had even imagined possible”.  Let me home in on one specific concept to demonstrate what I mean.   With Hal back in the green there are now four Green Lanterns from Earth.  In another creative team’s hands they could all be said to wield the same power – ring energy is ring energy, right?  No.  As Johns tells us, each Lantern’s power is influenced and enhanced by his own personality.  It is all very well to write this in a script but Van Sciver went to town on the concept and brought it to life in a way that I think has not been replicated since.  John Stewart is an architect, a designer, he builds his constructs in minute detail.  Guy Gardner is a wild force and his constructs burn and flare just as he does.  Without even reading the narrative textboxes we already know from the art alone how each GL thinks.  What fuels them.  How they look at the world.  To capture that emotion in such a unique way is, I think, one reason why Rebirth should be considered some of the best art that comic books have to offer.

And if that weren’t enough there is always this…

…and this…

…and this…

…and this.

So that’s the art.  But, let’s face it, Green Lantern: Rebirth would not exist at all if it were not for the brilliant and unusual mind of Geoff Johns.  My obsession is entirely borne out this writer’s own obsession.  He opened me up to a history that I had never really considered before.  I started reading Green Lantern on and off through the Kyle Rayner era.  Kyle was my guy, he was young and essentially cool but with a touch of the Peter Parkers about him.  I was well aware that he was the latest in a long legacy but I didn’t really give it much thought.  With Johns arrival on the book I could think of nothing else.  I know it has been said elsewhere but it should not be underestimated the risk that Geoff Johns took when he brought Hal back.  He could have gone down the traditional comic book route of retconning all that came before out of existence.  He didn’t.  Johns took every bit of mythology from every era of GL.  Golden-Age, Silver-Age, Bronze-Age, Modern-Age.  He took them all and threw them all into the mixing pot.  He gave it a stir, blended the ingredients together a little, and poured out the glorious creation that is Green Lantern: Rebirth.  And not only did he manage to hold on to the essence of the last 60 odd years of the character’s portrayal in comics and bring back the most famous iteration of said character in a move that many thought was impossible; hindsight shows that he also sewed the seeds for the next ten years of his unrivalled story-telling.  Wonderful stories like The Sinestro Corps War and Blackest Night have their origins right here in Rebirth.

I’ve written other blogs about how much I like to scrutinise both the real and imagined history of Green Lantern.  It appeals to the geek in me.  Is there a hardcore comic book fan that doesn’t spend hours deliberating over continuity and who begat who, killed who and brought who and who back to life?  It was Johns that opened my eyes to the endless possibilities that Green Lantern mythos contained for just this activity.  Sure I’d read quite a bit of Kyle’s run and had come across Hal and the rest here and there, mostly via Justice League but I hadn’t sat down and blown my mind with a billion years of continuity.  And I hadn’t respected how much ground Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps had covered, even in the last twenty or thirty years, until Geoff Johns tied it all up in to one neat little package for me.

So that’s the history bit.  Green Lantern: Rebirth has it in spades and I love it.  But that’s not the main attraction.  The real reason I hold Rebirth as one of the finest comic books ever written is the feeling it gives me every time I read it.  The characters contained within these pages are the very definition of ‘superhero’.  In the face of the untold adversity they stand tall.  In the shadow of evil they burn brightly.  In the space of these six issues the Green Lanterns come together to combat two of the greatest enemies they have ever had to contend with, namely Parallax and Sinestro.  They show valour akin to knights of old.  Strength worthy of ancient Greek titans.  Ferocity reminiscent of Viking warriors.  And an unswayable determination matched only by mighty modern champion himself, Superman.  In short, the heroes of GL:Rebirth  are truly the stuff of legend.  And let me assure you, as if there was any doubt, the bad guys get well and truly beaten!

There are a dozens of scenes I could point to illustrate my meaning more clearly.  Hal Jordan battling for his soul against Parallax and Spectre at the same time as both entities fought to possess him will always stick out in my mind.  Green Arrow donning a power ring and mustering all of his will to construct a single arrow of green energy and drive it into the chest of Sinestro is another.  And if my respect for Green Arrow was raised measurably through this act, my respect for Green Lanterns and the effort it takes to use the ring every day was raised a thousand fold.  Guy Gardner purging his Vuldarian DNA.  John Stewart standing up for his beliefs against a disapproving Justice League and taking down the aforementioned Superman with a pinpoint accurate beam of energy.  The list goes on and on.

As well as establishing the individual traits that make each character remarkable, all of these vignettes share a common subtext which can be boiled down to two words, ‘The Corps’.  This was a concept that had been essentially missing from all the Green Lantern titles I had read in recent years.  I’d read team books like Justice League, or the more nurturing Teen Titans.  I’d followed team-ups and crossovers were allies band together against a mutual foe.  But I had never read a book that stirred within me a sense of unity like I experienced reading Rebirth.  This was something I wanted to be a part of and to read more of.  Geoff Johns understood that Green Lanterns aren’t just a legacy of characters sharing the same name.  For all of their differences they are bound as closely as any blood-tie.  And together they will face down anybody.  His Lanterns don’t reel off their oath in secret, charging their rings in some hidden broom cupboard.  They roar it proudly in the field of battle, standing side by side with their fellow Corpsmen and revelling in the association.  “Beware our power…”

Frankly, I’ll never look back.  Hundreds of unwritten issues awaited me.  Hours of trawling back-issue bins.  Literally thousands of pounds of hardcovers, trade papers backs, variant covers, T-Shirts, prints, cups, caps, figures, belt buckles and DVDs featured in my newly discovered life. …And one crazy little blog that I am pretty damn proud of!   On 27 October 2004 a bright green light was switched on and it has been shining over my universe ever since.

Oh, and that guy Batman I professed to love so much, the dark shadow of superhero comics?  Well…

Beware their power, Green Lantern's light!