So for the first time in maybe half a year I was able to buy myself a few new books after some “purging” of hardcover novels at Half Priced Books. I’ve spent the last several days with my nose buried in them and instead of spending hours writing up separate entries I decided to just lay out my thoughts right here all in one go.
Green Lantern: Revenge of the Green Lanterns
Initially my interest in the various Lantern Corps and their collective mythos was sparked when I got my hands on the Blackest Night. After devouring that I found myself more than a little curious about the Green Lanterns. Geoff Johns was the writer on the Blackest Night collected edition I had so I searched out a good starting point with him at the helm of the Green Lantern series. I started with Green Lantern: Rebirth and have since been coming back whenever I need this particular itch scratched.
As for this book, all I can say is it wasn’t bad. The first two issues about Green Lantern and Green Arrow battling Mongul and Mongal were kind of weak overall. The third issue guest-starred Batman and was a nice continuation of the broken relationship between Hal and Bruce. It was a real treat for me to see two of my favorite DC characters working together without the “noise” of the other Justice League members in the fray. Also I’ll admit to geeking a little when Batman slipped a power ring on for the briefest of moments.
At this point the book the story jumps to after the post-Infinite Crisis “One Year Later” era and becomes largely about Hal and Guy Gardner disobeying the Guardians in an effort to find the “lost” Lanterns that have been thought dead since the era when Hal was Parallax. This is where the book really finds its stride and I found myself unable to put it down.
Definitely worth checking out if, like me, you missed out on these early days of Geoff Johns as the writer for Green Lantern.
Red Lanterns: Death of the Red Lanterns
As much as I love the Red Lantern Corps I have to admit that their solo series is far from the best out there. This is a shame because if I were to put together a list of my 50 favorite characters several Red Lanterns make the cut (Atrocitus, Bleez, Dex-Starr, etc) and I’d love to see them in a series as good as their better known Green counterparts.
This second volume is not as good as the much less inconsistent first book. Much of the first book was dedicated to giving insight into who the various Red Lanterns were as well as showing the origins of the human Red Lantern known as Rankorr. It also established one of the less satisfying parts of this book, the rift between Atrocitus and Bleez. The bickering between the two erupts into a quick and underwhelming battle between their factions that ends quickly and without resolution. Add to that the lengthy bit with Stormwatch taking center stage and the pacing of the book was hurt so much so that the truly interesting events with Bleez on Zamaron and Atrocitus and Rankorr facing Abysmus couldn’t make up for it.
Overall I enjoyed the book but I’d be a fool if I said it was anywhere near as good as the Green Lantern book was.
Justice League: Forever Heroes
Set during the absolutely amazing Forever Evil event, this book was a mixed bag of awesome and middle of the road. Large portions of the book deal with fleshing out the origin stories of the Crime Syndicate. It was a real joy to read how opposite the origins of Ultraman, Owl Man and the like were compared to Superman, Batman and so on.
The final half or so of the book deals with Cyborg, newly rebuilt, as he tries to find a way to thwart the Crime Syndicate and shut down his former mechanical half operating as Grid. He does this with the help of the Metal Men, a group of metallic, free-thinking androids who while moderately entertaining are simply not the Justice League.
This book was good, again not as good as earlier entries in the New 52 Justice League (namely Volumes 1 and 3) but still something I’m glad I picked up. The origins of the Crime Syndicate alone made me wish DC would put out a series about them and them alone, Earth-3 intrigues me even more than Earth-2 does, especially if Geoff Johns is at the helm making it as strong as his Justice League run has been.
Batman and Robin: Requiem for Damian
Absolutely hands down my favorite book of this bunch. Peter J. Tomasi has been brilliant during his run with Batman and Robin and it continues here. Set in the immediate aftermath of the events of Batman Inc: Gotham’s Most Wanted, we see Batman at his lowest having lost it all. The book kicks off with an issue titled “Undone”, a beautifully drawn “silent” issue with nary a spoken word or sound effect on the page.
The remaining issues have a variety of guest-stars helping or confronting Batman in his search for answers. We see Frankenstein from S.H.A.D.E., Batgirl (sans-Bat emblem on her chest), Red Hood, Red Robin, Catwoman and Nightwing, each encountering Bruce in different ways as he struggles to cope with his loss and they struggle with the broken trust from the Death of the Family arc. Also introduced for the first time (to my knowledge anyway) outside of the Miller-verse (or Earth-31) is Carrie Kelly. Another intriguing point in these issues are the short segments with Two-Face, obviously building towards something.
The final issue serves as a brilliant bookend to silent opening, letting us see that Bruce is not the only one broken by the tragedy. All in all a brilliant and touching book that builds so well on what has happened that it really makes it hard for me not to run out and find the next volume right this minute.
Suicide Squad: Walled In
I truly fell in love with this series at the start of its New 52 run with Adam Glass (TV’s Supernatural) at the helm. Glass ran the first three volumes and they were instant favorites amongst my ever growing collection. When Glass stepped down after the third volume I remained hopeful for the series as they were keeping the characters I loved so much (namely Deadshot and Harley) and appeared to be continuing on with his arc.
Volume four was largely a very weak entry, helmed by Ales Kot at first and finished by Matt Kindt (neither of whom I’d encountered before). Unfortunately Volume five (still helmed by Kindt) continues this trend, a largely disappointing volume that falls short of the potential it possessed.
The first issue of the book (written by Jim Zub) is frankly a throwaway story that in my opinion added nothing to the story apart from a little insight into who Amanda Waller is. I have no idea when in the timeline of events it occurs but the very next issue jumps right into the events set in motion during Forever Evil. Waller is trapped in Belle Reve and appears to have sent out two teams, one consisting of former Task Force X members and the other consisting of Power Girl, Steele and others.
Of course things are never quite what they seem and we are given some good scenes within the course of the story. Where the story is hurt (for me anyway) is that Kindt doesn’t seem to follow the continuity of his own work. Maybe it’s minor for some but when I see something like a character communicating via text on a screen in one issue and in the very next issue he is able to speak and be spoken too with not a bit of explanation or when an item that two separate teams were sent away for is described as being stored in Belle Reve all along I feel like the storytelling has gotten sloppy (not to mention that the series seems to have forgotten about the serum that was such a pivotal plot point but has since disappeared from their list of concerns).
Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed this book despite its shortcomings and not being as strong as the first three volumes (and if I’m honest while still disappointing it was better than volume four). This wrapped up the New 52 Suicide Squad as the next volume begins the series again with the New Suicide Squad branding, starting again at Issue 1 and I’m interested in seeing where the “new” team will go.
Avengers vs X-men
This is something I’ve long been dying to read. After a lengthy hiatus from comics I jumped back into the Marvel universe a few months into the Marvel Now branding and was shocked by some of the developments, developments I later found resulting from the AvX story. When I stumbled upon this gem amongst the shelves at HPB I had to pick it up.
For those unfamiliar with the story, the gist of it is that the Phoenix is returning and Cyclops views its return as the sign of a new age for the nearly extinct mutant race. The Avengers view its return as a threat and attempt to stop it. Predictably all hell breaks loose and hero fights hero for the length of the book.
While the artwork was not my favorite (something that seems to happen a lot with Marvel and increasingly with DC) I really enjoyed the story (although I was annoyed by a number of two page spreads that placed panels in the middle making them impossible to look at). I love it whenever heroes and former allies duke it out so seeing the two sides here, two of my favorite hero teams mind you, go at it was a blast for me.
Having read a bit of the Marvel Now line I wasn’t surprised by how the story played out but it was great to finally get the full story and see it with my own eyes.
Definitely a must read for fans of Marvel who may not have checked things out in a while.