Thursday 27 September 2012


Zero Month continues in the New 52 universe as the spotlight falls on the origins and histories of the DC pantheon.  In Green Lantern Corps #0 Guy Gardner’s convoluted back story has been given a trimming.  Green Lantern #0 is another origin story, albeit the debut of earth’s newest GL, Simon Baz (presumably 2814.5!).  Life, however, is a little different here at Green Lantern: New Guardians #0 basecamp. The story of Kyle Rayner continues right where issue #12 left off and also picks up the pieces of the fallout from the Green Lantern Annual #1.  The cover of the book heralds the coming of an updated team which now includes Atrocitus, leader of the Red Lanterns, and Agent Orange himself, Larfleeze.  This image is a little misleading given that the only two characters depicted that actually feature in the issue are Kyle and Star Sapphire, Carol Ferris.  The book opens with Carol and long-time Green Lantern side-kick Tom Kalmaku getting stuck into their day jobs at Ferris Aircraft.  They are disturbed by an inbound Kyle Rayner seeking out Hal Jordan.  It appears to be some sort of New 52 clean up underway here.  Kyle and Carol exchange introductions in a manner that suggests that they knowledge of each other but have never met before.  In the background a TV newsflash alerts them to Hal’s battle with Black Hand and his undead minions as had already played out in last month’s Green Lantern Annual.


Before long Kyle and the transformed Star Sapphire have joined Coast City P.D. holding back zombies on the perimeter of the local cemetery.  This is the first time we have seen Carol in costume since the DC relaunch and the powers that be have elected to attire her in something a little less revealing and a little more practical than before.  The two heroes recall from Blackest Night canon that Green Lantern energy must be combined with another energy from the emotional spectrum to destroy a Black Lantern.  They join their efforts but are eventually overwhelmed by the sheer weight of numbers opposing them.  All seems lost until Kyle whispers a prayer which allows him to unexpectedly tune into the blue energy of hope.  Artist Aaron Kuder produces an emphatic splash page showing a luminescent Kyle destroy his enemy with blue and green beams extending from his power ring in all directions.

There is another lovely little panel just after this in which he recalls the events of New Guardians #3 when he attempted to wield six different coloured power rings at once.  Demonstrating the residual effects of this event his remaining green ring pops and flares with the energies all six emotions, each one forming a different physical shape above his hand.  The next few pages are basically exposition.  Kyle’s ring informs the pair of Hal’s and Sinestro’s apparent deaths while Carol’s ring contests that Hal is still alive.  The Star Sapphire ring can also predict the future, in this case Kyle’s.  Via the well-trodden GL universe technique of an inconclusive vision, Tony Beddard’s script telegraphs his intention to have Kyle master the powers of the whole emotional spectrum.  We see the six versions of the Green Lantern costumed in each of the other Corps’ uniforms.  The artist has tried to make this a visually eye-catching moment but, for me, it is not nearly as strong as the Book of the Black Vision seen in the recent GL main title.  They have basically tried too hard to put Kyle’s twist on the design of each of these uniforms with hugely lacklustre results.

The final page contains an dramatic twist which will have massive consequences for the Star Sapphires in particular.  Their leaders, the Zamorans, have made a pact with the Guardians of the Universe to join their fellow immortals in eliminating all of the lantern Corps including their own followers.  I must admit I did not see this one coming as it rare that the Zamorans and the Guardians agree on anything.

Overall I would consider this book to be a solid read without being in any danger of setting the world alight.  The characterisations ring true and the art is clean.  The zombie scene is pretty well done.  I got a sense of the claustrophobia Kyle faced when he was swarmed by them.  That being said I recall the occupiers of the cemetery as having been defeated thoroughly in the annual by Sinestro’s exploding power battery and I was a bit confused to see them popping  up again here so soon after that book was released.  Instead of being an exciting fresh look at the New Guardians in the way other zero month books have been for their subject matter, this book plods through a good number rehashed and reworked concepts form previous Green Lantern stories over the last five years.

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Construct of the Week #12

Get the point?!
Construct: Arrow

Generated by: Oliver Queen

Appeared in: Green Lantern: Rebirth #4, 2005

Wednesday 19 September 2012

The Oath Maker - Alfred Bester

I was scouring through my back issues of The Green Lantern Corps a few months (reliving the great Flodo Span appearances as it happens) when I stumbled across a very interesting excerpt heading up the letters column of issue 223.  The book, cover dated of April ’88; was entitled The Last Testament of the Green Lantern Corps and it was here that the following obituary appeared:

As the piece quite rightly points out, Bester is best known for his work with classic 1950's sci-fi novels and short stories.  I had not realised that he had worked in the comic book industry.  Between 1942 and 1946 he wrote for an number of publishers working on such famous titles as Phantom, Superman and Green Lantern.

The Lantern of the time, Alan Scott, is best known for his oath, "...And I shall shed my light over dark evil.  For the dark things cannot stand the light, The light of the Green Lantern!", and this is in fact the oath created for the character's first appearance in 1940.  The 'Brightest Day' oath is considered to belong to the Green Lantern Corps who were not created until 1959 and I for one had assumed that that oath was created for especially for Hal Jordan.  I was surprised to find it's existence can be traced to much earlier in the lantern mythos and to a science-fiction writer of world renown.

I immediately took to Twitter to share my find with the masses.  I hailed science-fiction and the comic book as complementary art forms who thrived together in feeding on brilliance.  And then Warren Ellis (yes... THAT Warren Ellis) tweeted me back to conjecture that I didn't know my @rse from my elbow, although he did put it rather more eloquently.  He pointed out that the literary world of the 1950s would shun their fellow creators if it ever became common knowledge that they had worked on the funny pages.  Writers and artists hid behind a multitude of pen names to keep their dirty little secret from getting out.

That said, it is a tribute to Bester that his words have been immortalised so completely over the last 70 years.  Other heroes have a mere word or two in which to express their mission statement.  Green Lantern has a whole verse of poetry with a rhyme and structure so recognisable that it can be imitated and parodied as required to provide oaths for unique characters such as Flodo Span which will still be identifiable against the original.  The words that make up these four short lines have been reworked and reused to spawn countless issues titles, story arc titles and, in recent years, even DC universe crossover events in the form of 'Blackest Night' and 'Brightest Day'.  The legendary Green Lantern willpower is felt behind each utterance.  Wrong-doers do well to take heed - no evil shall be overlooked.  Other superheroes may flex and prioritise but Green Lantern is ever vigilant, shining brightly. In the golden-age of comics Alan Scott brought justice to every corner of the world and his successors, the Green Lantern Corps, continue to bring that same justice to every corner of the universe.

All-American Comics #92, Dec 1947

So I would like to join DC Comics in thanking Alfred Bester for his contribution to Science Fiction and to comics, but more importantly to the moral code of my hero, Green Lantern.

Sunday 16 September 2012

HEY… NEW GUY – Green Lantern Corps #0

The zero month edition of the Green Lantern Corps centres round the origin of Lantern 2814.2, Guy Gardner.  Through two interweaving flashbacks we learn how Guy received his power ring and of his time as a rookie GL.  Up until now Geoff Johns and his fellow creators of the Green Lantern universe have been fairly respectful of all that has come before.  Everything prior to Rebirth basically happened.  Finally with GLC #0 Peter Tomasi is permitted to do a bit of housekeeping and gives some of the more cluttered lantern history a New 52 facelift.
There are a few nods to the original backstory.  His father remains an alcoholic who gave more of his attention to Guy’s brother, a sibling who goes on to join the police force.  But these mainstays are in the minority and some of the changes are pretty emphatic.  In keeping with the recent redesign of the Corps’ deployment Guy has been upgraded from the Hal Jordan’s holiday cover to his bona fide partner as one of pair of lanterns recruited from each sector.  He trained as a rookie and earned his ring through an extraordinary show of will in the heat of battle.  His CV has been completely rewritten to that of a dishonourably discharged police officer.
Where Tomasi et al have done extremely well is in capturing the spirit of Guy Gardner while creating a frame of reference that is much more palatable.  The noble drugs councillor is present in our new Guy’s desire to serve and protect both as a cop and a GL.  The ‘smash heads and ask questions later’ Guy of later years that made him hated by friend and enemy alike is also apparent.  The hot temper that has him destroy his father’s possessions also sees him roar through a pack of armed gangsters on a motorcycle to rescue his injured brother.  And it is the same temper that he converts to willpower to blast away a conquering alien who had slaughtered all of his fellow rookies.  The beam extends not from his ring as you would expect but from his whole body in one massive exploding charge.
At the end of the book as Guy is inducted at a full member of the Corps he cracks his usual sardonic appraisal of the Guardians.  With typical disregard he redesigns the lantern costume to reflect his own peculiar fashion tastes.  In The New 52 timeline this is probably the first instance of a GL stamping his own style on the uniform, a practice that is now widespread among members of the GL Corps.  In the last panels he is introduced to his new sector partner, Hal Jordan, and I had to give a little chuckle of recognition.  Despite the change in status, their former boisterous red blooded rivalry is portrayed from the offset.  Kilowog’s final disapproving grunt sums up the mood perfectly.

Friday 14 September 2012

Construct of the Week #11

Thank me later, boys...

Construct: Noggin Knocker
Generated by: KT21 of the planet Jerome
Appeared in: Green Lantern #187 vol. 2, 1984

Saturday 8 September 2012


Something I have been thinking about a lot recently is, “Why Green Lantern?”  There was a time when I had no favourites and all comic book characters where treated equally.  I’ve always enjoyed the rich history of the genre.  The twists and turns behind the Captain Marvel story are riveting (or should that be Shazam?). The legacy of Stan Lee speaks for itself.  And I was always appreciative of the work that had been done by Gerard Jones, and Alan Moore and many others to build out the Green Lantern universe.

But it was only when I came across a particular mini-series eight years ago that I realised that this was the one for me. Green Lantern: Rebirth written by Geoff Johns and pencilled by Ethan Van Sciver put it all back together again.  This was the creative team that managed to take Hal Jordan, Kyle Rayner, John Stewart and even Guy Gardner and put them ALL back into a GL uniform.  Rebirth said, “This is the old, and this is the new, and this… is the very, very old.  Well guess what?  You can have them all.  All of these things happened, they are all important and they can all co-exist.  And by the way, this isn’t going to be like anything you’ve seen before.”  And I was caught like a moth in the thrall of a bright green light.  All I wanted to do was learn more and more about the Corps and its illustrious creators. 

Which brings us to Green Lantern Annual  #1.  The old team is back.  29 pages to feast your eyes and imagination on a story where the intimate stands shoulder to shoulder with the epic.  Followed by another 6 earth-shattering pages by Johns and Pete Woods.

Before we dive into the book properly a nod must be given to the cover of this annual.  The famous Green Lantern symbol shines from a pitch black background oozing and dripping with thick blood-like blobs.  This is obviously a tribute to the Death of Superman cover back in the nineties, a point that certainly doesn’t bode well for our GL heroes.

The book opens with lightning fast recap of over a billion years of history from the Guardians of the Universe.  For new readers this can be summarised as “Lots happened and we’re not nice guys anymore.”  The Guardians have decided to eradicate free will from the universe.   And they are not the only rotten apple in the barrel.  Hal Jordan has been buried alive by Black Hand.  Van Sciver captures the claustrophobic intensity perfectly in these pages as Hal claws his way up out of the mud and the earth.
The script puts a new twist on essential elements of the Green Lantern continuity.  We share in Hal’s revulsion as Black Hand tries to resurrect his father’s corpse and desecrates the hero’s most traumatic memory.  And the Guardians backstory is given exploration as we learn how they imprisoned the First Lantern eons ago, leaving some of their brethren locked away to ensure he remains captive.  We don’t find out much about the prisoner in this book aside from the fact he is immensely powerful, perhaps even more so than his captors.  A battle between the two Maltusan factions demonstrates how far the Guardians have gone in their madness.  Essentially they are fighting their ancient selves.

Hal and Sinestro demonstrate why they earned their Green Lantern rings in the first place as the action flips back to the cemetery in Coast City.  They take on the Black Lantern with fists and a spade before willing a final spark of energy from their drained rings to transport Sinestro’s battery from Korugar.  Ethan Van Sciver’s art comes into its own as it always did when showing the GLs at full charge, energy leaping from them in all directions.

The strong connection between Geoff John’s and his artist is obvious.  The layouts in the annual are imperative to the story telling process.  The action is pushed along swiftly in concise but detailed panels as the Guardians retrieve the First Lantern and discover Hal and Sinestro‘s battle with Black Hand.  As they arrive on the scene in person to take control of Hand and imbue him with their own power.  This is laid out in a beautifully constructed page with the individual panels taking the form of beams emanating from the villain’s super-charged head.

The Green Lantern’s are sucked into Black Hand’s ring and apparently killed.  Their rings recognise them both as deceased and fuse back together before flying off to locate a sentient replacement.  Meanwhile Hand is transported by the Guardians to the First Lantern’s former prison and will remain there as their pawn until they should require his services again.   The tale ends with the Guardians declaring death to all of the Green Lantern Corps and the rise of the Third Army.

Although my heart is crying out for more Van Sciver, I can appreciate the benefit of switching up the artists in the book’s Epilogue with Pete Woods taking over on pencils.  The story of The First Soldier begins with a beautiful sunrise slowly revealing the carnage at the Coast City cemetery.  Displaced corpses surround the Guardians who care not a jot.  They gather around the first lantern and siphon off his power for their own dastardly purpose.  Their skin bubbles unable to contain the raw energy crackling through the air.  The dialogue is sparse with magnitude of the scene speaking for itself.  In a sequence strongly reminiscent of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein the Guardians use the stolen energy to conjure up a horrific life form to do their bidding.

An unfortunate police officer stumbles upon them and is immediately transformed into a second demonic soldier.  (Ironically the debates I witnessed on Twitter recently ALL appear to be correct – the Third Army recruits are both a creation of the Guardians and transformed everyday people).  The diminutive immortals send the soldiers off to conscript further numbers to their ranks both on Earth and across the universe.  The final panel foretells the inevitable war that lies ahead and casts an ominous final glance on the First Lantern.  Even hidden in shadow a huge sense of power is captured in his depiction and I am sure he will have a major role to play in the adventures that lie ahead.


Green Lantern Annual #1 was a strong book in that it brought a level of conclusion to the Black Hand story that had gone before while capably acting as an attention grabbing hook for the forthcoming Third Army crossover event.  By bringing back together the team that gave birth to the modern era of the Green Lantern, DC Comics have ensured that the spirit lying at the core of these books and these characters is faithfully maintained.  As well as this, coming as it did as the fifth lantern title released in August, the publisher has shown the greatest respect to the reader by producing a work that is undeniably worth the extra five bucks spending money.  If only we could say these things about all of our comics.