Archive for Alan Moore

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.

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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Century: 1910 #1

Posted in Comics, Knockabout, LXG, Top Shelf with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 25th May, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Alan Moore: The Musical

Alan Moore: The Musical

“What Keeps Mankind Alive?”
Author: Alan Moore
Artist: Kevin O’Neill
Letterer: Todd Klein
Colorist: Ben Dimagmaliw
Editor: Chris Staros

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Century: 1910 #1 is Alan Moore: The Musical.  In his continuing experiments with the comic book form, Alan Moore has taken his trademark lyricism and cranked it to eleven, for better or worse.  As the first installment in this new era of LXG, it begins with apocalyptic visions of the future, and most of these are conveyed in song.  Moore fans will appreciate subtle references to his earlier work, including, but probably not restricted to Watchmen, From Hell and perhaps even Green Lantern.  They’re not necessary to your enjoyment of the story, but they serve as little easter eggs to enhance it for those that do.  The most obvious connections I made were to the League’s investigation into the Whitechapel slayings of 1888 (From Hell), and the prostitute’s prophetic Song of the Black Raider (Tales of the Black Freighter, Watchmen).

Unfortunately, I had a lot more trouble placing the characters in this incarnation of the League.  At first, the only familiar face was that of Mina Murray, who hadn’t aged a day since 1898.  Then there was Captain Nemo, on his death-bed.  The rest of the team weren’t familiar to me at all – Carnacki the ghost-hunter, Orlando the immortal hermaphrodite, and Raffles the master thief – the only one I could latch onto was Captain Nemo’s estranged daughter, Janni, who arrives in London under the name of Jenny Diver.  It wasn’t until I read Moore’s fake serial back-up “Minions of the Moon” (by ‘Josh Thomas’) that I realised Allan Quartermain Jr was in fact Allan Quartermain Sr, albeit after a dip in the Fountain of Youth.  I didn’t make this realisation earlier because his role in Century: 1910 is reduced to nothing more than a bit-part, which is a sad thing to this LXG fan.  I couldn’t ‘get’ who these characters were, and I was blaming myself for it.  I felt as though there was a gap in my knowledge  – admittedly, I hadn’t read all the appendices in Volume II, nor have I read The Black Dossier – but surely this couldn’t be expected of me, let alone any potential new readers.  Perhaps I was bringing too much baggage to the table, expecting a classic Quartermain/ Mina/Nemo League story, instead of a clean slate (here I am, still willing to blame myself before Moore).  Either way, for LXG fans, I’m almost inclined to recommend reading “Minions of the Moon” first to give yourself a bit of background.

Probably the most fleshed-out characters were Janni and Orlando.  Janni is a hard-headed woman, angered by her own father’s stubbornness, who runs [swims] away from home to escape from Nemo’s shadow.  She’d rather forge her own path in London’s shadow than assume her father’s mantle.  Orlando is casually detached by the trappings of timelessness, mysteriously devoid of the wisdom of experience or duality, always eager to brag of his/her brushes with fame, and concerned chiefly with the pursuit of base pleasures.  (In case you couldn’t tell, I didn’t particularly like Orlando, but he was an interesting character nonetheless.)

What was familiar, however, was Kevin O’Neill’s inextricable artwork.  O’Neill’s art is as integral to the League as Moore’s writing: no-one else is fit to draw it.  This really hits home when the Nautilus re-surfaces (for the fans).  He makes even the mundane streets of London seem interesting.  He gives every panel a dark secret.

Century: 1910 #1 opens with Carnacki’s dream visions of bloodshed on the waterfront and a secret cabal of magicians conspiring to conceive a Moonchild to usher in the Apocalypse.  Mina believes it may somehow be connected with the upcoming coronation of King George the Fifth.  From there, it only gets weirder, and having read “Minions of the Moon” at its conclusion, I suspect the weirdest chapters are yet to come.  Based on Moore’s statements and Top Shelf’s solicitations, this will be an epic of space and time.

As a first chapter, this is a real slow-burner, but I can’t help but feel this is going somewhere big.  LXG fans will be intrigued by this new entry, but newcomers should check out the first two volumes first.

The Dark Knight Cram School: The Greatest Batbooks of All Time.

Posted in Batman, Comics, DC, Detective Comics, film, JLA, The Dark Knight with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 14th May, 2009 by Adam Redsell

To celebrate the birth of Bat-Shark Repellent, I thought I’d lend my expertise to you all by recommending the Greatest Batbooks of All Time. I’ve made no secret of the fact that my comic book collection threatens to swallow my entire bedroom, so rest assured – I’ve read a lot of Batman. So if you’re looking for a good jumping-on point for the Caped Crusader, you’ve come to the right place. Here goes…


16. Batman: Venom

This story marks the second time Batman is broken, this time by addiction to a performance enhancing drug known as Venom. Venom has an almost surreal quality, but the story takes a very Bond-like turn when the Batman hunts down his tormentors. And yes, Bat-shark-repellent is involved!

15. Superman: Red Son

While not a Batbook per sé, Red Son features the coolest iteration of the Batman that you’ll ever see. It’s also one of the greatest Superman stories you’ll ever read. It’s an Elseworlds tale [i.e. outside of continuity] that poses the question: what if Kal-El landed in Russia instead of America? It further poses the question, how would a Russian Batman react to a superhuman Communist dictator?

14. Batman: The Man Who Laughs

A menacing Joker tale by veteran Ed Brubaker. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if his interpretation of the villain informed Heath Ledger’s performance.

13. Batman & the Monster Men

A young and naive Batman faces off against the abominations of Dr Hugo Strange. Written and drawn by the legendary Grendel creator Matt Wagner.

12. Batman & the Mad Monk

Matt Wagner returns for a supernatural romp through Batman’s past. It’s pulp and spectacle with a modern touch.

11. Son of the Demon

Batman marries the daughter of his greatest foe, Ra’s Al Ghul. The Bat and the Demon must work together to stop a terrorist threat, for Talia’s sake and the world’s. A controversial tale that has recently come into play in a big way.

10. Batman: Black & White Volumes 1 & 2

A series of Batman vignettes by comic book greats and mainstays, all in black and white. It’s amazing how much story they can cram within a few pages. A great laugh and a great deconstruction of the character. Pick up Volume 3 if you’re keen, it’s just not quite as good as the first two volumes.

9. Batman: Blind Justice

A surprising amount of material has been mined from Blind Justice to bring you Batman Begins, and this is chiefly because it is the authority on Bruce Wayne. It’s funny considering the author is none other than Batman screenwriter Sam Hamm. Never has Batman’s alter-ego [or past] been shaped so definitively. Believe it or not, Henri Ducard and Ra’s Al Ghul are two separate people. It’s a pity about the kooky mind-control, though.

8. Batman: Gothic

It’s surprising just how well Batman goes with the supernatural. Trust Grant Morrison to pull it off [and he continues to do so now!]. Everything about this tale is gothic, especially the art of Klaus Janson.

7. Batman: Year 100

Year 100 takes place in a dystopian future Gotham, which is eerily similar to the old Gotham: a dark place full of crooked cops. Batman is once again a wanted outlaw, though the authorities prefer to deny his existence altogether. Paul Pope’s gritty and brutal future is believable, and reminiscent of Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men. A great read with no strings attached.

6. Batman: The Cult

One of the greatest bat-villains was a one-and-done character, Deacon Blackfire. Criminals are being brutally murdered, while the homeless disappear from the streets of Gotham. He defeats the Batman in the worst possible way: by breaking his spirit. Another supernatural Bat-story written to great effect by comics stalwart Jim Starlin. Jason Todd (the second Robin) has never been so likable than in this book, which is surprising.

5. Arkham Asylum

Once again Grant Morrison gives supernatural depth to the Batman mythos, this time to his rogues’ accidental lair: Arkham Asylum. Batman’s greatest foes have taken the house hostage, challenging him to a game of wits. The Batman accepts, but he soon finds that the building has a life of its own. Drenched in symbology, each page is hand-painted by the legendary Dave McKean.

4. The Killing Joke

The Greatest Joker Story Ever Told. If there was ever a book to read before seeing Dark Knight, this is it. Comics legend Alan Moore proposes a possible origin for Batman’s arch-nemesis. Short and sweet.

3. The Long Halloween/Dark Victory

Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale team up for one of the greatest Bat-mysteries ever told. Batman must sift through his rogues gallery to solve the mystery of the Holiday killer. The fall of the Falcone crime family; the definitive Two-Face origin story; the origin of Robin – it’s all here and it’s all told beautifully in a true marriage of word and picture.

2. Batman: Year One

Frank Miller redefines the Batman for a new era. Make no mistake, the Batman of Year One is the Batman we know and love today. The definitive Batman origin story, Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham to wage his personal war on crime. Gritty, dark, and grounded, Batfilm enthusiasts have this book to thank for its rich source material.

1. The Dark Knight Returns

Before Miller wrote his beginning, he wrote [and drew] the Batman’s end. A retired Bruce Wayne must don the cape and cowl once more to reclaim the streets of Gotham from Violence and Unreason. Without a doubt the Greatest Batman Story Ever Told, and one of the greatest graphic novels ever written.

Honourable Mentions
This is a list of other Batbooks that are still worth a read for Batfans, but have not been included in ‘The List’ for reasons I will state below:

Batman: Knightfall Part One – Broken Bat
Knightfall is like the Rocky movies: a great overall story arc, but the execution leaves a little to be desired. The chapters written by Chuck Dixon are pretty good (especially the moving finale), but most of the fill-in stories are abhorrent. Nonetheless, an important chapter of Batman’s life, though it suffers from the trappings of 90s event books and B-list villains. Bane puts the Batman through his paces, letting his entire rogues gallery loose upon Gotham. He breaks his spirit and then his back.

Batman: Nine Lives
A cinema-style noir murder mystery and a damn fine Elseworlds tale. It just feels a little dry, and the Batman takes a while to surface.

Batman: Thrillkiller
Again, this is a great Elseworlds tale, starring Batgirl and Robin, this time in the early 60s. Each panel is painted beautifully, but Batman’s glaring absence is once again noted for most of this tale.

JLA: Tower of Babel
A pretty good Justice League story with one tiny problem: Mark Waid’s Batman is a prick. This was the era of the know-it-all Batman – the House M.D. of comics, if you will – never explaining the methods behind his madness until the very end. Ra’s Al Ghul [you’ll hear his name a lot] procures Batman’s secret files to use them against his allies.

Tales of the Demon
If you can get past the West-ian campiness you’ll enjoy some of the greatest Ra’s Al Ghul stories ever written.

Strange Apparitions
Such an apt title for such a strange book. Following the death of Dr Hugo Strange, this story proves once again that the Bat mixes well with the supernatural. But if you can’t handle a little West-ness, you might want to steer clear.

A Death in the Family
An extremely imporant chapter in Batman’s life, but pretty poorly executed. The fact that the ending was voted for only cheapens the emotional impact.

Gotham by Gaslight
Another Elseworlds tale that suffers from not enough Batman. Batman must hunt down Jack the Ripper before it’s too late, but when Bruce Wayne is suspected, things go arye. The identity of the infamous serial killer is a little disappointing, especially when you compare the mystery as a whole to Alan Moore’s From Hell.

Hush
Hush amounts to nothing more than a gorgeous fangasm, really. Still a good read, up until the ‘big reveal’ at least. It’s still a pretty fun ride through Batman’s gallery of rogues and allies.

Batman & Dracula: Red Rain
The Batman must become a bat-man to protect Gotham from its bloodthirsty tormentor. It’s a pretty decent Elseworlds tale with a great idea behind it, Moench just doesn’t get as much mileage out of it as I had hoped.

Batman: Child Of Dreams
A Japanese take on the Batman, author Kia Asamiya actually deconstructs Japanese culture better than the character himself. This is essentially Batman for a new audience (the Japanese), so it’s understandable that many of the ideas presented are well-worn. It’s still well-executed and an intriguing read, nonetheless.

Death and the Maidens
Greg Rucka cooks up a storm within the Al Ghul family, building up a new heir and Bat-villain in Nyssa Al Ghul. But to kill a man who has resurrected himself time and again with such apparent finality – it’s a little hard to swallow – and with Ra’s’ recent resurrection last year, it all feels a little ineffectual. It is Greg Rucka and Klaus Janson, though, and you can’t blame them for trying.

So that does it for me – if want to dive headfirst into the Batman mythos, check out the books I’ve recommended above. If you want to go further, give the others a try – I’ve been a little harsh on them – they’re not the greatest, but they’re still enjoyable reads. I also highly recommend Grant Morrison’s current run on Batman, but be warned – it’s extremely zany, and requires a lot of background knowledge to follow.

What about you? Do you fancy yourself a fellow Bat-fan? Have I left out your favourite Batbook? If so, gimme some hell!

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.