Sunday, January 21, 2007

Everybody Loves Hal, Lois Lane and Oracle Spar Over Lunch, Supernova Unmasks

Hello readers,
Here’s our pics for the week of Jan. 17. Enjoy.

Green Lantern #16

The Upshot from DC Comics: Part 4 of "Wanted: Hal Jordan," guest-starring The Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott, Green Arrow, Arsenal and more! A fugitive on the run for murder, Hal Jordan must find the man who holds the key to his innocence: John Stewart. But what happens if John's cover is blown? And what bizarre alien presence has he discovered? Plus, more on the Guardians' mysterious mission.

As regular readers of FanBoyWonder may have noticed, we have not been pleased with this title for quite some time--right about the time it became a de-facto bi-monthly comic book. Call us old school but we are of the mind that a monthly comic book title should say…come out monthly as in 12 times a year spaced out in approximately 30 day increments.

But apologists for the deadline challenged artists and writers claim that the extra time is needed to ensure “quality” and that a better product will be the end result.

That argument isn’t going to be resolved here today but let us enter into evidence the issue description above--directly from DC Comics. As eagle-eyed observes may have noted, the issue described by DC and the story actually delivered has varied widely over the past couple issues.

This issue again has no mention of Green Lantern John Stewart (don’t even get us started on that), no mention of the “Guardians’ mysterious mission” and Hal sure isn’t running from an accused murder charge.

Bait and Switch? Well yes. Why? Perhaps because of this book’s frequent lateness forced writer Geoff Johns to abbreviate the story? Or perhaps an over-booked (pun-intended) Johns simply lost track of where this particular story line was going and he punted.

Regardless of the why--here’s the result. We had picked issue 16 expecting for it to pick up where issue 15 had left off--the JLA appearing on the scene to take Green Lantern in for illegally entering Russia (again). But now his “friends” are here to help.

Well at least we get to see the entire JLA together for the first time, more than what’s going on in Justice League of America. We also get to see Alan Scott, the Golden Age Green Lantern.

But instead of a confrontation, both the League and Scott fall all over themselves to “understand” poor Hal. He’s created another international incident, he’s forced the League to fight with the Rocket Reds--who are defending their own sovereign territory, and otherwise made a mess of things and all Alan Scott can say is “Tell me how can we help.”

To wit Hal orders 1) Take the Global Guardians to the Martian Manhunter so they can get their minds unscrambled; 2) Pull his strings with Checkmate to clear his name with the United Nations and 3) “Apologize for me.” And of course he will. Because everybody loves Hal so Hal gets a pass.

We really feel cheated. Johns had spent many issues building things up to what was an interesting concept--Green Lantern is assigned to protect the planet Earth but many of the planet’s nation-states don’t want his help or his presence within their borders--he goes where he feels he has to, borders be damned. The aforementioned nation-states declare him an outlaw enemy.

So instead Johns (again) hit’s the easy button, gets Hal out of this plotline and where do we go from here? The son of Hal Jordan’s predecessor has got himself a case of ring-envy and he aims to assume his father’s job as a Green Lantern by killing Jordan. (yawn) Worse than uninspired, it’s not even original. Dave Gibbons in Green Lantern Corps played out a similar story line months ago.

On the art: Ivan Reis’ pencils with Oclair Albert’s inks are quite good--it’s a visually appealing issue no doubt about it. A tribute to what one can do when given twice the allotted time to draw a “monthly” issue. We’re sure the trade-paper-back (TPB) readers in Barnes and Noble sipping their lattes will be quite pleased.

Birds of Prey #102

The Upshot from DC Comics: Misfit tries desperately to undo the damage she's caused in Oracle's command center while the rest of the Birds struggle to overcome a true life-and-death situation. Also, just how much does Lois Lane know about Oracle's operation?

We haven’t read any of the Superman books for a number of years now and as a result, we really don’t know the Lois Lane character that well anymore so given that and given the highly fluid, ever-changing story continuity in the DC Universe, we weren’t sure what to make of the Lois Lane who stopped by to “chat” with Barbara Gordon.

As the wife of Superman, isn’t she plugged into the hero community? Does she know everyone else’s secret identity or does her husband keep her in the dark as to specifics? In recent year’s we have read stories that have hinted at both, so through no fault of writer Gail Simone, we were having trouble from the start that Oracle was endanger of being outed by this particular reporter.

But to Simone’s credit, she still manages to infuse tension as the reporter and the would-be news-subject verbally joust. Simone beautifully captures the “velvet glove” verbal combat of the two women as amid small talk, they probe each others weaknesses, jab and block.

It’s clear Lois has been tipped off to SOMETHING by Spy Smasher but it’s not clear how much she knows. Barbara holds her own but Lois clearly had the initiative and the element of surprise on her side.

The art team of Nicola Scott and Doug Hazlewood work brilliantly here by not only producing great visuals but it’s the little touches--Barbara’s hand shaking as she lifts her fork--that adds to the tension of the “chat.”

We don’t know Lois well enough anymore to know if she was affecting the part of the celebrity journalist to keep Barbara off balance or if that’s who Lois is these days--but to us it was a throw back to the John Byrne Man of Steel era where his Lois was an unlikable premadonna who endlessly railed on her co-worker Clark Kent (pre-secret identity reveal) because he stole “her” interview with Superman from her.

Meanwhile, as the Birds fight their way out of Spy Smasher’s trap--thanks to a key distraction by Misfit, we’re starting to come around to the one-time “new Batgirl.” We like the fact that Simone has chosen to keep Misfit something of a mystery for now…draw it out slowly.

And we are definitely enjoying the appearance of Manhunter in these pages. Whether or not her own title is green lit beyond it’s current five-issue reparative, we would be very happy to see Manhunter continue as a Bird of Prey.

52 Week 36

The Upshot from DC Comics: The New Year begins with the deadliest day Metropolis has ever seen — and by the end of the month a villain will stand revealed, a hero will fall in the outer reaches of the galaxy…and the reveal of Supernova will deepen his mysteries even further. Plus The Origin of Firestorm by Waid and Jamal Igle.

Even if the cover hadn’t given it away, we were not at all shocked to find out that Supernova was the previously believed to be deceased Booster Gold in disguise. The fact that Booster and Nova had been in public together before Booster’s “death” did not deter us knowing Booster’s time-travel background.

Actually, we were a tad surprised to find it was Booster--Michael Jon Carter--himself, as we thought it could be Booster’s 21st century ancestor Daniel Carter--who we last saw being tossed bodily by Skeets into a time-vortex set for a one-way trip to the end of time or some such.

Well at least things are getting interesting now--even as we shake our head at the worst cliché in the universe employed as Booster “stalls” Skeets by spoon feeding him and the readers just how he escaped death and assumed his Supernova disguise.


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