Archive for Agent Orange

Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #2

Posted in Blackest Night, Comics, DC, Green Lantern with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 28th July, 2009 by Adam Redsell
"Unnecessary" has never been so entertaining.

"Unnecessary" has never been so entertaining.

Authors: Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi & Ethan Van Sciver
Artists: Eddy Barrows, Gene Ha & Tom Mandrake
Inkers: Ruy José
Colorists: Nei Ruffino & Pete Pantazis
Cover Artists: Ed Benes, Rob Hunter & Nei Ruffino
Variant Cover Artist: Rodolfo Migliari
Letterers: Steve Wands & Sal Cipriano
Editor: Adam Schlagman

Once again, I have to disagree with this book’s detractors.  Tales of the Corps #2, like the first issue, is an entertaining read, and while its connection to Blackest Night proper may not be readily apparent, it fleshes out the players in this War of Light.  The emotional spectrum is an interesting concept in itself, and though the seeds were planted from the very beginning of Geoff Johns’ stellar Green Lantern run, it’s clear that not all avenues have been explored in the rush to get to Blackest Night.  Perhaps it was editorial pressure; perhaps it was fan demand; I don’t know – but if this book affords Johns and his cohort the opportunity to explore this War of Light in greater detail, then I’m all for it.  And if you’re a Green Lantern fan, you’ll be all for it too.

Like the first issue, the opening story is by far the strongest.  “Fly Away” tells the tale of angelic beauty, Princess Bleez, and how she comes to embrace the rage of the Red Lantern Corps.  I wasn’t being flowery when I used the word ‘angelic’ either, Bleez has wings – with feathers – and Johns uses these as a simple narrative device to tell a story of freedom yearned for and ultimately, lost.  Eddy Barrows’ pencils are breathtaking, especially in depicting Bleez and her home planet, Havania.  It just goes to show that when given a full story to work with, Barrows absolutely shines (not that that was ever in doubt in the first place).  It’s not just the beautiful vistas he excels in either; his penchant for gritty, horror-inspired visuals is also on display here.  Credit must also go to Nei Ruffino, whose colours went a long way toward evoking the beauty of Bleez and her planet homeland.  All of this beauty – Bleez’s soft, metallic skin and Havania’s crystalline waterfalls – lends the story a great deal of its power when the Sinestro Corps come to strip it all away.  It’s interesting that Bleez’s turn as a Red Lantern owes more to the Sinestro Corps than it does the Red Lanterns themselves.

The second story, also penned by Johns, centres on Carol Ferris, and how she came to be a Star Sapphire.  “Lost Love” is beautifully drawn by Top 10 artist and co-creator, Gene Ha.  As much as I love any opportunity to enjoy Ha’s artwork, I’m going to have to side with the naysayers here and say that, yes, this story is entirely unnecessary.  We have seen most of this before.  The entire story essentially takes place within the confines of Carol’s cockpit, as she converses with the violet ring.  On comes a series of violet-filtered flashbacks concerning Carol and Hal Jordan’s on-and-off love relationship.  Now that the Star Sapphires have refined their crystals into rings for recruitment purposes, acceptance of the ring is voluntary.  This doesn’t ring true to me – the situation and the conversation itself seem to be a contrivance on Johns’ part to separate this particular instance from the earlier ones – it attempts to rationalise something that isn’t at all rational, and that is Love.  The conversation between Carol and the violet ring is a thinly veiled internal monologue, and it comes off as being rather stilted in the end.

The third and final tale in this collection chronicles the journey of the all-conquering, alien floating head, known as Blume.  Peter Tomasi excels at these kinds of dark, quirky tales, and “Godhead” is no exception.  The malevolent head prowls the universe, hungry for anything of value.  Amidst these flagrant displays of greed and cruelty, Tomasi achieves rare moments of poignancy, as Blume learns the true subjectivity of value and sheer breadth of what is valuable to people.  Blume’s fate as an Orange Lantern construct is a foregone conclusion, but that doesn’t rob this story of its value.

The issue finishes with a two-page featurette from Green Lantern: Rebirth artist Ethan Van Sciver, titled “The Symbols of the Spectrum: How They Came to Be, and What They Represent”, which documents the genesis of the seven symbols we’ve seen in the War of Light.  This is great for Green Lantern fans who want an insight into the creative process that goes into the making of their favourite comic book.

You can’t have your cake and eat it too.  Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps is a great supplementary book to the core Green Lantern series and Blackest Night itself.  You don’t need to read it to understand the events of those two books, but it’s a great read nonetheless.  If it was ‘necessary’ or ‘important’, fans and critics alike would be complaining about how they have to follow yet another book to gain an appreciation of the overall story.  As it stands, though, Tales of the Corps represents the very best kind of tie-in to a comic book event – wholly unnecessary to the progression of the main story, and yet an interesting and entertaining read in its own right.

Advertisements

Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #1

Posted in Blackest Night, Comics, DC, Green Lantern with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 18th July, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Tales of the <i> <ul>Corpse</ul> <p>: get it?</i>

Tales of the Corpse: get it?

“Tales of the Blue Lantern: Saint Walker”
Author: Geoff Johns
Artist: Jerry Ordway
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Cover Artists: Ed Benes, Rob Hunter & Nei Ruffino
Variant Cover Artists: Dave Gibbons & Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Steve Wands
Editor: Adam Schlagman
“Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Mongul: For Your Love”
Author: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Chris Samnee
Colorist: John Kalisz
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Editor: Adam Schlagman
“Tales of the Indigo Tribe”
Author: Geoff Johns
Artist: Rags Morales
Colorist: Nei Ruffino
Letterer: Steve Wands
Editor: Adam Schlagman

When I read a somewhat negative review of Tales of the Corps this week, I couldn’t wait to disagree with it.  Turns out I got my wish.  I heartily recommend this book to Green Lantern fans, Alan Moore fans, and anyone who wants to read three entertaining stories within 25 pages.  It’s not ‘important’ per se, but it *is* entertaining, and it does flesh out the major players in this War of Light; something that I felt had been glossed over in a rush to get to Blackest Night.

The first story is also the strongest story, which opens where Green Lantern #42 left off.  Saint Walker and the Blue Lanterns are fending off an attack from Larfleeze, also known as Agent Orange, on their spiritual homeworld of Odym.  The opening page is a striking collision of blue and orange, and Jerry Ordway’s clean linework and figure depictions are the best I’ve seen from him in a long time.  In fact, I’d like to see future Green Lantern stories drawn by Ordway based on what I’ve seen here.  In these dire moments, Saint Walker’s life flashes before his eyes, and we get to see his journey to Blue Lanterndom.  I’ve always wondered about Walker’s sainthood, and this story really brings those religious aspects to the forefront.  As you’d expect, this is a story of hope against all adversity.  What you might not expect is the moving tale of a man who clings to Hope despite losing everything.  Saint Walker is a proverbial Job, on a dangerous pilgrimage to save his planet and his people.  Saint Walker emerges as so much more than a one-dimensional Polyanna do-gooder; he becomes an undeniable Beacon of Light – an Andy Dufresne, if you will – a hero for the weak and oppressed.  I’m laying on the superlatives, but the quintessential Blue Lantern has easily become my favourite character in this event; there’s something so refreshing about his Definite Goodness in this time where the Green Lanterns are mired in so much grey.  He reminds me of Optimus Prime; an incorruptible force for Good, who’ll fight to the end for all of us.  Look, just buy the book on the strength of this story alone, okay?

On the flipside, Peter Tomasi dabbles in some black humour, as he’s in the habit of doing.  If you’ve read his Black Adam miniseries, you’ll understand why; if not, allow me to spell it out for you: he’s damn good at it.  His track record with Mongul is also sterling, so the result here is to be expected.  This tale of Mongul’s warped childhood is simultaneously harrowing and amusing.  Chris Samnee’s art is rather simplistic, but well-suited to this “kid’s story” nonetheless.  A young Mongul is bored while his father (also Mongul) is out conquering and subjugating.  He watches some of his father’s exploits on “TV”, fantasising about what it would be like to be his father.  So he dresses up in his father’s gear and plays outside with the skeletons.  Pretty soon he gets exactly what he wished for, but just you wait until dad gets home…

The third and final story is a telling exposition of the heretofore mysterious nature of the Indigo Tribe.  Their untranslated speech gives off the feeling of a foreign film, as Geoff Johns allows the beautiful artwork of Rags Morales to tell the story.  Contrary to what its detractors may tell you, this issue reveals quite a bit about the Tribe’s motivations, and the nature of their powers.  You may not know the names of their people or their planet, but by the end you’ll be asking yourself, “what’s in a name, really?

There’s a lot of variety in the breadth of these stories, and all in all, it’s a very entertaining romp through Geoff Johns’ “emotional spectrum”.  If you miss Alan Moore’s Tales of the Green Lantern Corps, you’re in luck; because you’ve just found its spiritual successor.

Green Lantern #42

Posted in Comics, DC, Green Lantern with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 3rd July, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Make it yours.

Make it yours.

“Agent Orange: Part Four”
Author: Geoff Johns
Artists: Philip Tan & Eddy Barrows
Inkers: Jonathan Glapion & Ruy Jose
Colorists: Nei Ruffino & Rod Reis
Cover Artists: Philip Tan, Jonathan Glapion & Nei Ruffino
Variant Cover Artists: Eddy Barrows & Nei Ruffino

Another month, another great issue of Green Lantern.  Can we all agree that Geoff Johns is the greatest Green Lantern writer that ever lived?  I don’t feel too audacious for making such a claim.  Four years and he’s never skipped a beat, in my opinion.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the artwork in this issue (or the one before, for that matter).  It’s not awful by any means, but the phrase “too many cooks spoil the broth” springs to mind.  I’d happily read a full issue of Green Lantern drawn by either Philip Tan or Eddy Barrows – in fact, I quite enjoyed Philip Tan’s solo work in issue 40 – but the constant switching really pulled me out of the book.  The fact that there’s also two inkers and two colorists doesn’t help, either.  As far as I can determine, Eddy Barrow’s horror-inspired pencils are employed for the Agent Orange scenes, while Philip Tan handles the outer space duties and the Star Sapphire scenes (but don’t quote me on that).  Even then, it can be difficult to determine, which is probably where the multiple inkers and colorists come into play.  Some of the panels appear to be hand-painted; and again, while I wouldn’t mind seeing a full issue of this, the patchwork-style approach really didn’t work for me.  Again, I stress: individually these artists are great, and the colours are as vibrant as I’d expect from a Green Lantern book, but this series needs to regain a consistency of artistic vision and approach.  I can only hope that artistic duties are being shared out now, while Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis and Doug Mahnke work ahead on future issues – certainly Johns has indicated in interviews that he is several issues ahead on the writing side of things.

The cover art, while cool, is also more than a bit misleading.  Firstly, I love the way Agent Orange (and in this case, Hal) is always depicted clutching the orange power battery like a child that doesn’t want to share his toys.  But Hal’s flirtations with the colours of the emotional spectrum have been all too brief thus far (save for the blue ring), and this occasion is no exception.  Like his scrape with the Red Lanterns beforehand, Hal’s encounter with the orange light is almost dismissed out of hand just when things started to get interesting.  I for one would have loved to have seen the emotional colour spectrum explored in greater detail prior to Blackest Night – which is better than it dragging – but I can’t help but feel we’re being rushed to Blackest Night.  I would quite happily see more of this War of Light played out as a comic book event in its own right.  I want to see the full repercussions of Hal Jordan holding the orange power battery; I want to see Hal put through the ringer as a Red Lantern and the fallout that proceeds from that.  Perhaps I’m just a cosmic sadist.

Having said all that, I can certainly see why Johns didn’t take that route – after all, it took him over a year to undo the effects of the “Parallax Debacle”, unravel the proceeding cover-up attempts, and restore Hal Jordan’s honour – why undo all that hard work?  There’s another reason for it, and I think it is this: Hal Jordan is the only being in the universe equipped to deal with this conflict in the emotional spectrum.  I’ll go one further: I think Hal represents the Yin-Yang of the entire emotional spectrum.  I think he will become the White Lantern, if only for a brief period.  He will prove to be the only being capable and experienced enough to control all colours in the emotional spectrum, and these ‘tastes’ of the other colours will prepare him for that role.  He will become this series’ Neo, so to speak.

I’ll go out on another limb: the role of the Guardians in the Green Lantern Corps will change forever, if not vanish altogether.  We will see the Guardians step back and embrace their individuality; embrace and acknowledge the full emotional spectrum.

None of these things are stated by the book; but it’s a book that makes you wonder where it all leads; it’s a book that intrigues through the use of foreshadowing; it’s a book so brimming with excitement that you honestly believe nothing is sacred, and anything can happen.  And trust me, anything does happen in this issue.

I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Green Lantern #40

Posted in Comics, DC, Green Lantern with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 12th May, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Looks can be deceiving.

Looks can be deceiving.

Author: Geoff Johns
Artist: Philip Tan
Inker: Jonathan Glapion
Colorist: Nei Ruffino
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover Artists: Tan, Glapion and Ruffino
Alternate Cover Artist: Rodolfo Migliari
Associate Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
“Tales of the Orange Lanterns: Weed Killer” Artist: Rafael Albuquerque

Let’s start with the cover.  ‘Prelude to Blackest Night.’  Okay.  ‘Green Lantern vs. Agent Orange.’  Now, that’s a little bit misleading.  Sorry folks, but Hal Jordan won’t be fighting Agent Orange in this issue.  That’s not to say that Green Lantern #40 isn’t already packed with exciting stuff, but the cover art is probably more indicative of what will happen next issue.

Thankfully, everything else about the cover art is very indicative of what you can expect to see inside this issue.  And that is brilliant comic action depicted by the art team of Tan, Glapion and Ruffino.  It’s good to see the full complement of inker, colorist and letterer credited on the splash page of this issue, because I don’t think their roles could possibly be overstated in making Green Lantern the quality title it has been from month to month since 2004.  It’s amazing to see the book that used to be characterised by green and green only grow into what is essentially the most colourful series on comic store shelves, month-in month-out.  The book opens with purple, moving on to green and blue, and then of course, orange.  The brilliant colours and pencil work on the cover are consistent throughout the entire story.  Philip Tan’s pencils are dynamic and perfectly suited to the breakneck action that fills these pages.  Take the cover art alone, for instance: Agent Orange grips Hal Jordan’s neck possessively; a hungry reptilian maw burning from his other hand; Hal threshes in frustration, his green constructs shattering on his opponent’s chest.  It really says all you need to know about the character and his insatiable thirst for more.  The unsung hero of Green Lantern comics is of course the letterer (in this case Rob Leigh), whose ring transmissions and ring commands are always interesting to look at.  All of these elements work together to generate the atmosphere that is unmistakably Green Lantern.

Geoff Johns must have heeded our general weariness for Hal Jordan’s narrative recaps in the opening of every single Green Lantern issue, instead shifting them to the sixth and seventh pages!  Newsflash, Geoff: an annoying narrative recap is still an annoying narrative recap, even if it comes five or six pages later!  Imagine how this is going to read in a trade!  I can count ten out of sixteen caption boxes that this glorious two-page splash could have done without.  While I understand the desire to get new readers up to speed, especially those who may have jumped on board for Blackest Night, there’s got to be a more economic way of doing it.  In fact, most of the dialogue contains enough incidental information to get by.  Luckily there’s enough action unfolding on-page that it doesn’t really slow things down.

The opening story snippet hints at big things to come for John Stewart, which is interesting, considering this book’s one-eyed focus on Hal Jordan since Rebirth.  It stands to reason that Lantern Stewart would have his time to shine – Green Lantern Corps centres around Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner – so he has been without a comic book home for quite some time.  In fact, I seem to remember an interview with Geoff Johns last year indicating that Green Lantern would focus on the adventures of Hal and John, while the support book deals with Kyle and Guy.  I guess that time is now.

It’s all happening in the Vega system at the moment, which should excite fans of Alan Moore.  Johns himself must be a huge Alan Moore fan – just about every single issue up to now seems to contain at least one tip of the hat to his Tales of the Green Lantern Corps.  The beleagured Guardians introduce a fourth new law to the Book of Oa, and it’s refreshing to finally see some resistance to all this revisionism from within the ranks.  The Guardians themselves embark on a mission, and so we’re starting to see a more interventionist creed taking root here.  Hal Jordan is a nerd’s dream come true as he struggles to reconcile his blue ring’s powers with his green ring.  The blue ring gives us a glimpse of Hal Jordan’s deepest hopes, which hints at a possible future.  I’m starting to see the setup here, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone with further details.

Once again we see Larfleeze (Agent Orange) gripping the orange power battery in his cave.  I love this depiction of the character; his posture says “MINE!”  Thanks again to Philip Tan.

Unfortunately, the core story caps off at 18-pages, and we have a backup feature to conclude.  The good news is that it’s still entertaining and very Moore-ian.  The bad news is the change of artist – not because Rafael Albuquerque’s art is unwelcome; in fact it’s quite good – it just makes the overall product feel a little inconsistent.  The four-page story is titled “Tales of the Orange Lanterns: Weed Killer”, and narrates the origin of Glomulus, one of the orange constructs that debuted four pages earlier.  You may remember Albuquerque’s work on Blue Beetle (though judging by the sales figures, probably not!), and it’s actually well-suited to this type of story.  It’s just that I would have preferred to see this and other stories like it in a separate tie-in, to make room for the main feature.  It does flesh out the character, but it feels a little strange, given that Glomulus is essentially dead, and lives only as a construct within Agent Orange’s power battery (as do all the Orange Lanterns).

All in all, we have a pretty juicy issue of Green Lantern to dig into this month, even without the cover’s promised match-up.