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Review: Justice League of America #6

If you had the fear that Trinity War was only going to be Civil War II with heroes fighting heroes ad nauseam, rest easy. In Justice League of America #6, the event’s second chapter, writer Geoff Johns pulls back and lets recent happenings soak in for the crime fighters.
 
Two things are especially in the minds of the Justice League: the forced manslaughter of Doctor Light by Superman and the ramifications of an actual Pandora’s Box releasing evils upon the world (again, as example, see the Man of Steel).
 
The interpretation of both these happenstances allows for a great juxtaposition between the League’s own “trinity”: Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.
 
Indeed, it is these personal interpretations that eventually leads Diana to Justice League Dark, forming yet another trinity in this multi-faceted event.
 
I applaud the manner in which Johns is handling the death of Doctor Light. Supes is losing none of his heroism; indeed, it is his well-respected heroism (even among the JLA members) that brings the constant shock element.
 
The exchange between Superman and Martian Manhunter is especially interesting, letting the reader know that even the characters of the New 52 have past histories.
 
Of course, of special interest is the use of the Trinity of Sin: Pandora, Phantom Stranger and the Question. The latter as the narrator of Parts 1 and 2 has been very effective. Pandora was a catalyst for the Superman shocker. And it seems the Stranger has yet to make an appearance.
 
The arrival of Doug Mahnke to the JLA brings the best and most competent art yet, letting the action flow smoothly and really strengthens Johns’ character moments.
 
All in all, a great second chapter in DC’s biggest crossover in the New 52. Let’s hope Justice League Dark #22 fares as well.
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Advanced Review: Green Lantern #17

 

Slowly but surely, as Geoff Johns’ sad swansong issue of Green Lantern approaches, we start to see the snippets of genius and continuity well before New 52 drifting into the storyline of the First Lantern.

And there comes a moment when the First Lantern is musing to Ganthet (but really himself) in #17 that we may just know who this First Lantern is, despite the name he calls himself.

Johns’ Third Army story really slipped comfortably into the First Lantern tale because one was really the prologue of the other. And while our various Lanterns and various Guardians are trying to make sense of the current situation, newbie Simon Baz is getting all the attention and making all the discoveries, including the whereabouts of Hal Jordan and Sinestro.

I don’t think you are in Detroit anymore, Simon!

Well, Baz isn’t making all the discoveries as Volthoom (very Gardner Fox!) takes a stroll down the Life and Times of Ganthet Lane. He wants to recreate the past and see his own birth, but he does not have the power yet. That is where the danger of the First Lantern enters and also puts the survivors of our heroes in trouble.

I am certainly interested in what Johns has planned for these entrapped extra Guardians and how they will fit into the eventual Scheme of Things, if at all. Meanwhile, it was nice to see the original Black Hand, at least for a second. But I hope Simon does not choose that set of duds as his current outfit is great, IMHO.

Keeping up with this cosmic story has been harder than many of Johns’ epics, but I am hanging on ‘til either Crack of Doom or the coming of the new creative team. Any which way you turn, the latter will have some mighty big shoes to fill.

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Advanced Review: Green Lantern #16

 

Some learn from Sinestro. Some learn from Kilowog. Our hero, the new Green Lantern Simon Baz, is learning to be a Green Lantern … from a squirrel.

And it works!

So deep is the mythos in Green Lantern and so beloved is B’dg, the chipmunk-like Green Lantern of Space Sector 1014, that it is absolutely logical that some abnormal form of life would be Baz’s first introduction to Lantern-dom. Hal, after all, had the humanoid birdman Tomar-Re (more on that later!).

During Simon’s attempts to unlock that message that has been buzzing about in his ring – really two messages intertwined, one from Hal, one from Thal – B’dg teaches him the meaning of his lantern and its harnessing of will power across the DCU, the importance of keeping his ring charged, the pocket universe every ring-slinger has for his lantern, and that squirrels on Earth apparently do talk!

All through this, in the back of Simon’s mind, is his comatose brother-in-law and the guilt he carries for that situation. Before heading into space with B’dg, before rescuing a troubled Guy Gardner (what other kind is there?), Simon uses the ring and his will in an attempt to heal his brother-in-law.

B’dg pleads with Baz that the ring does not work this way: it cannot heal in this fashion, it cannot raise the dead. Still, Simon battles on, and … well, that would be telling. Suffice it to say Baz and B’dg head for Guy’s rescue with smiles on their faces and the reader has a tear or two in their eye (I did).

Meanwhile, in the Dead Zone, who should that mysterious personage facing Hal and Sinestro be but … the deceased but very animated humanoid birdman Tomar-Re! It seems the Dead are as much in objection to the coming of the First Lantern as Hal and Thal are.

Geoff Johns outdoes himself in one of those odd cosmic sagas that does indeed take place on Earth. As usual, the art by Doug Mahnke and his Greek chorus of inkers and colorists delivers the prettiest book on the shelves this week, all while telling an Earth-centric story in cosmic terms, not an easy thing to do (as we have seen in another Universe).

Hop on board “Rise of the Third Army” here so when the First Lantern returns, you will have your ring charged and ready to go!  

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Advanced Review: Green Lantern #15

 

The saga of Simon Baz continues, the inhumanly ugly Third Army finally arrives in Michigan, Hal and Sinestro find out they are actually deceased, and the dramatic return of B’dg the Flying Squirrel!

Writer Geoff Johns insists on having us get our fill of “Rise of the Third Army” from the other Lantern books — and a fine job most are doing, especially New Guardians – while for the nonce we reading Green Lantern are basically sticking with Baz as he works his way up from suspected terrorist to JLA member, I assume.

Baz certainly does have some close calls here, but none like you would think. The closest cosmic one is with B’dg, the Green Lantern (squirrel) of Space Sector 1014 who is searching for Hal with news, probably of the Guardians’ spread of the Third Army.

We also have a vignette with Hal and Thaal as they continue to make their way around in the dark following the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come from A Christmas Carol. Leave it to these two geniuses to finally figure out they are in Death’s Garden as of now, not in Black Hand’s ring.

Meanwhile, the other Lanterns of the cosmos are very much aware of the spreading Third Army, but the ghoulies seem to be getting weaker as their influence spreads across the universe. This causes the Smurfs to summon even more power from the long-suffering First Lantern, who is no fan of the Guardians to start out. This can only lead to some type of confrontation down the line.

Doug Mahnke and his chorus of inkers still turn out the prettiest book on the stands, with major kudos toward that goal also going to colorist Alex Sinclair. It ain’t easy being all-green.

I love Baz as a character but I buy Green Lantern for Hal, not Sinestro and not Baz. Can we bring our old pal Hal back into his own title so that I can enjoy these cosmic capers again more easily?

Let’s say it all together: Bring back Hal!

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Advanced Review: Green Lantern #14

As the Guardians of the Universe continue their mad plans to snuff the Green Lanterns, the Rise of the Third Army continues – well, kinda – in Green Lantern #14.

Yes, we re in deep space on two occasions: First to see the mad Guardians debate the wisdom of their plan with the First Lantern and hear his (?) views on said invasion, and secondly to see a new development with the imprisoned “Other” Guardians, whose leader rises at the hands of … the Black Hand!

Amid those, there are sprinkled panels where the zombie-like Third Army continues its assault … somewhere.

Scribe Geoff Johns continues to delight and amaze me as the seeds he has sown have grown to fruition in GL despite the relaunch and the increased number of books now in the Lantern lineup.

But as cosmic as the story was this issue, the lion’s share of the action takes place on good ol’ Sol-IIIin the land called Michiganas a superbly sensible Baz decides quite maturely not to take on the Justice League: “… You’re Superman. Even if I knew how to use this ring, you’d kick my ass by yourself,” says the new Green Lantern.

Unfortunately, the ring is not as sensible and explodes when Batman tries to remove it, even with Baz’s approval. That sets the tone for the action of the issue, and how we learn how smart and sly this new Lantern is. Very admirable, and I cannot wait to see him in JLA.

There is also a very juicy slice of darkness where we encounter Hal Jordan and Sinestro, who are just kind of wandering around like NYC citizens in a blackout. (No looting, though.) We then meet someone who apparently has plans for Sinestro. The end line by Hal is priceless, but I will leave that for your savoring.

Again, Doug Mahnke and his Greek Chorus of inkers and colorists make the read seamless and the mag the prettiest book on the shelf.

Another fine issue by a fine cosmic combo.

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Advanced Review: Green Lantern #0

First, there was all the hype regarding the reexamining of the Alan Scott character. Then last week we saw “the kiss heard around the world” as Superman and Wonder Woman locked lips! This week is Geoff Johns’ turn to generate hype for the DC Universe! The introduction of a new Green Lantern is never an easy task, especially when it revolves around such a hot button issue such as religion.

When the first pictures arose of Simon Baz, the new GL, there was already people up in arms regarding the fact he was holding a gun. But when it was revealed he was Arab-American — it became an intensely more heated discussion. 

Geoff Johns has crafted many outstanding tales for the entirety of the DC Universe and Green Lantern #0 is more of the same. He has created a character that, not only will be controversial, but has a depth and range that far outreaches the shackles laid upon him by the public over his religion. Empathetic and jarring, the tale follows Simon from an innocent youth to criminal intentions in his adulthood, making him nothing short of a questionable “hero.” And therein lies the intrigue! Johns tale is littered with enigmas, from Baz’s past to his current stressful situation, the reader is bombarded with an array of winding questions that leave you craving more. 

Insightful, and well paced, Johns has broken through the walls of the status quo, creating a character that may not be worthy of the power he is bestowed but has the heart and drive to. An everyman that is just trying to do right by his family, and we can all empathize with that.

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