Archive for doug mahnke

Lasso of Truth – Weekly Comics Round-up: 28th October 2009

Posted in Blackest Night, Comics, DC, Detective Comics, Green Lantern, Superman, Wonder Woman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 28th October, 2009 by Adam Redsell

blackest_night_4

Blackest Night #4
Written by Geoff Johns ǀ Art by Ivan Reis

Geoff Johns imbues this story with all the gravity an epic drama needs.  Ivan Reis drops The Big One with a jaw-dropping splash you have to see.

Verdict: Must have.


detective_858

Detective Comics #858
Written by Greg Rucka ǀ Art by J.H. Williams III, Cully Hamner

Rucka and Williams deepen their entire cast with an extended flashback sequence.  Four years later, Kate Kane is finally coming into focus.  The Question backup feature’s not bad per se; in fact, it’s quite good, but it’s so straight by comparison I just find myself clamouring for more Batwoman.

Verdict: Buy it.


gl_47

Green Lantern #47
Written by Geoff Johns ǀ Art by Doug Mahnke

Johns has been building to these moments for a looong time, and it’s satisfying to see old plot threads finally start to come together.  Green Lantern fans will be giddy at the prospect of a Sinestro/Hal reunion.

Verdict: Must have.


superman_secret_origin_2

Superman: Secret Origin #2
Written by Geoff Johns ǀ Art by Gary Frank

A young Clark Kent meets the Legion of Superheroes, and things don’t seem so lonely anymore.  Johns and Frank remind us what made Superman so inspiring in the first place.  An absolutely joyful reading experience.

Verdict: Must have.


ww_37

Wonder Woman #37
Written by Gail Simone ǀ Art by Bernard Chang

Aaron Lopresti was credited as artist on the cover, so it was more than a little bit jarring to find Bernard Chang’s pencils inside!  His Wonder Woman looks very Greek (as do his other Amazons), which makes sense, but again, a jarring interruption to Lopresti’s elegant work.  Some deliberately provocative T & A as well, which brought down the tone of this otherwise-virtuous book.

Verdict: Check it out.

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Lasso of Truth – Weekly Comics Round-up: 30th September 2009

Posted in Batman, Comics, DC, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 30th September, 2009 by Adam Redsell

lasso_of_truth_6

Lasso of Truth is your weekly guide to what’s hot and what’s not in the DC Universe.  Each week, the Red Baron goes through his comics haul to tell you what’s worth buying and what’s best left alone.

Here’s the key:

Must havethere’s no question, you should buy this great book.
Buy ita high-quality read that won’t disappoint.
Check it outpick it up if you have some extra cash.  May be an acquired taste.
Avoida disappointing read.  Save your money and steer clear.


batman_wg_2

Batman: The Widening Gyre #2
Written by Kevin Smith ǀ Art by Walter Flanagan
The Widening Gyre, despite its wanky title, is shaping up to be an interesting deconstruction of Batman and Bruce Wayne.  Silver St. Cloud’s return to Gotham is a pleasant surprise, and doesn’t feel at all forced.
Verdict: Buy it.


Green Lantern #46

Green Lantern #46
Written by Geoff Johns ǀ Art by Doug Mahnke
The Green Lantern series refocuses on the uneasy alliance between Hal Jordan, Sinestro, and Carol Ferris.  Sinestro returns to Korugar to reclaim his Corps.
Verdict: Must have.


ww_36

Wonder Woman #36
Written by Gail Simone ǀ Art by Aaron Lopresti
Equal parts charm, wit and action, this is Wonder Woman as she always should have been.
Verdict: Must have.

Lasso of Truth – Weekly Comics Round-up: 26th August 2009

Posted in Batman, Batman and Robin, Blackest Night, Comics, DC, Detective Comics, Green Lantern, Superman, Wednesday Comics, Wonder Woman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 2nd September, 2009 by Adam Redsell

lasso_of_truth_2

Lasso of Truth is your weekly guide to what’s hot and what’s not in the DC Universe.  Each week, the Red Baron goes through his comics haul to tell you what’s worth buying and what’s best left alone.

Here’s the key:

Must havethere’s no question, you should buy this great book.
Buy ita high-quality read that won’t disappoint.
Check it outpick it up if you have some extra cash.  May be an acquired taste.
Avoida disappointing read.  Save your money and steer clear.


Day-glo never looked so dark.

Day-glo never looked so dark.

Batman and Robin #3
Author: Grant Morrison
Artist: Frank Quitely
60s camp with a chilling, modern twist, as only Morrison can deliver.
Verdict: Must have.


widening_gyre_1

Batman: The Widening Gyre #1
Author: Kevin Smith
Artist: Walter Flanagan
Here’s the thing with Kevin Smith: when he fails to capture a character’s voice, he replaces it with his own voice.  It’s like a Tarantino film – the actors are really just delivering a conversation Tarantino’s had in his own head.  But for all its character flaws, Widening Gyre remains an entertaining read.  Thankfully he does manage to capture at least one voice: the voice of the rhyming demon Etrigan.
Verdict: Check it out.


bn_titans_1

Blackest Night: Titans #1
Author: J.T. Krul
Artist: Ed Benes
Amounts to little more than a history lesson about characters I don’t care about.  Benes’ artwork is sexy enough – perhaps a little too sexy.  The first truly disappointing Blackest Night title.
Verdict: Avoid.


detective_856

Detective Comics #856
Author: Greg Rucka
Artist: J.H. Williams III
Rucka’s new Bat-villain Alice chews up the scenery in Batwoman’s psychedelic nightmare.  J.H. Williams once again pushes the boundaries of the medium.
Verdict: Must have.


gl_45

Green Lantern #45
Author: Geoff Johns
Artist: Doug Mahnke
Plenty of great moments in this War of Light, but it sacrifices cohesiveness in an effort to cover everything.
Verdict: Buy it.


superman_691

Superman #691
Author: James Robinson
Artist: Renato Guedes
What is essentially the culmination of months of storyboarding comes off as contrived and confusing.
Verdict: Avoid.


jimmy_olsen_2

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen Special #2
Author: James Robinson
Artist: Bernard Chang
Jimmy Olsen investigates the same uninteresting shadowy government conspiracy he’s been investigating for months.  The exorbitant cover price makes it that much more unforgivable.
Verdict: Avoid.


wed_comic_5

Wednesday Comics #8
Authors: Various
Artists: Various
Everybody lifts their game this week to produce what is effectively the best dose of Wednesday Comics yet.
Verdict: Buy it.


ww_35

Wonder Woman #35
Author: Gail Simone
Artist: Aaron Lopresti
Wonder Woman returns to form spectacularly, cagefighting in the underground with Black Canary(!).
Verdict: Buy it.

Green Lantern #44

Posted in Blackest Night, Comics, DC, Green Lantern with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 29th July, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Martian Manhunter is back, and he's mighty pissed off about it.

Martian Manhunter is back, and he's mighty pissed about it.

“Only the Good Die Young”
Author: Geoff Johns
Artist: Doug Mahnke
Inkers: Christian Alamy & Doug Mahnke
Colorist: Randy Mayor
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover Artists: Doug Mahnke, Christian Alamy & Sinc
Variant Cover Artists: Philip Tan, Jonathan Glapion & Nei Ruffino
Associate Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza

Having read more than a few interviews with Geoff Johns and the folks over at DC editorial, I was surprised to learn that unlike the highly successful Sinestro Corps War, Blackest Night would become a DC-wide event in its own book, and that Green Lantern – the book that started it all – would be relegated to second fiddle.

(Now, I have no illusions that this was ever Geoff Johns’ intention in the first place – though I do believe that the Sinestro Corps War was Johns’ successful bid for more creative licence from DC, as well as a reader recruitment drive for Green Lantern – but I do believe this was always intended to be his magnum opus.  The only difference is that this unexpected popularity among the comic book readership and almost unprecedented support from DC editorial has allowed him to evolve this into something with even bigger scope than he had previously imagined.)

Well, I’m happy to report that not only is Blackest Night more tightly conceived and consistent quality-wise than Sinestro Corps War was (if that’s even possible) thus far, Green Lantern #44, like Green Lantern #43 feels like a bonafide continuation of the Blackest Night story, albeit told in a more Green Lantern-centric manner.  I don’t know about you, but I kind of expected the events of Blackest Night to be confined to Blackest Night, and that Green Lantern would focus on the War of Light in outer space.  That this issue defied those expectations is not at all a bad thing, though I fail to see how anyone could read Blackest Night exclusively and glean even half of what the regular Green Lantern reader will.  Take my advice, newcomers: you need to be reading both.  You probably don’t even need to be told; chances are, if you’ve had a taste of Blackest Night, you’ll be hungry for more; so let me assure you right now, that you’ll get plenty more in Green Lantern #44.  It seems fairly obvious to me that Johns rolled with this editorial structure simply so he could tell more story in a shorter span of time.  Twenty-five issues of Blackest Night might be “wearing out its welcome”, but an issue of Blackest Night and Green Lantern each month for twelve months doesn’t seem as much of a stretch.

From the opening page, it’s clear that Johns and Mahnke are having heaps of fun with this story.  Johns knows these characters better than anyone, with plenty tips-of-the-hat for longtime DC fans.  Even the humble Choco cookie – Martian Manhunter’s favourite imitation Oreo snack – is imbued with rich symbolism.  It takes some serious skill to take one of the kookier elements of DC’s repertoire and turn it into something genuinely chilling.  As the cover art suggests, Martian Manhunter rises from his tomb as the first Black Lantern (well, sorta), and boy, is it cool!  Doug Mahnke was born to draw this kind of stuff.

This issue picks up where Blackest Night #1 left off, in Gotham Cemetery with Hal Jordan and the Flash.  Unfortunately, Johns dusts off the annoying little recap caption, informing us *yet again* that Hal Jordan is the Green Lantern of Sector 2814!  I thought it was assumed that Green Lantern fans would be reading this, Geoff, and everyone else would be reading Blackest Night!  You didn’t need to tell us the last few times, why do you need to tell us now?

Nerd-rage aside, it’s great to see the Martian Manhunter back, albeit in an undead capacity.  Johns is a bigger DC fan than all of us, and you can tell he’s playing with his favourite toys.  Don’t get me wrong, though, Johns remains reverent to the source material; and it soon becomes clear that the Black Lanterns are not mindless zombies; rather, they retain their original personalities.  This provides the emotional backdrop for Johns’ storytelling; dead heroes are returning, and those closest to them are forced to confront their deaths, and their worst failures, all over again.  There’s a harsh truth to everything J’onn J’onzz says, and yet it is apparent he is possessed by dark forces beyond his control.

What follows is a piece of the most interesting superhero fisticuffs I’ve seen – and one of the best Martian Manhunter stories I’ve read – in quite a while.  I’ve always thought that Martian Manhunter would make a formidable foe, and Black Lantern Manhunter doesn’t disappoint here.  It makes me wonder how he ever could have died in the first place.  It seems to me that Johns’ chief goal here is to remind us just how much we loved these characters, and just how well they can be written; enough to make us pray for a real resurrection.

Meanwhile in the Oa Citadel, Scar reveals the dark purpose of the Black Lantern Corps, with strong hints towards future events affecting the coloured Corps.  I don’t want to give too much away, but next issue should finally see John Stewart’s turn in the lead Lantern role…

Can’t wait for the next one!

Green Lantern #43

Posted in Blackest Night, Comics, DC, Green Lantern with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 19th July, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Dark and brilliant.

Dark and brilliant.

“Blackest Night Prologue: Tale of the Black Lantern”
Author: Geoff Johns
Artist: Doug Mahnke
Inker: Christian Alamy
Colorist: Randy Mayor
Cover Artists: Doug Mahnke, Christian Alamy & Alex Sinclair
Variant Cover Artists: Eddy Barrows & Nei Ruffino
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Associate Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza

Green Lantern #43 is a great many things.  It’s an end to the too-many-cooks-spoil-the-broth approach of the last few issues, it’s a Blackest Night #-1 if we are to subscribe to negative numbering, and it’s a Black Hand: Secret Origins of sorts.  That is to say that Green Lantern #43 is consistent in both art and narrative; the events take place before those we saw in Blackest Night #0; and the story revisits events we saw in the Secret Origins storyline, this time to explore the origin of one who will surely be Green Lantern’s most compelling villain, William Hand.

It would be all too easy to dismiss some of these scenes as simple re-treads of stories faithful Green Lantern readers have read at least twice by now, but Johns has put yet another interesting spin on past events, unpacking for us something that was probably there all along.  I am of course referring to Sinestro and Hal Jordan’s first confrontation with now-Red-Lantern Atrocitus.  I have to admit, as much as I tried to tuck this little tidbit away for future reference, I had all but forgotten William Hand’s presence at this pivotal scene.  That’s kind of the point, though: everyone‘s forgotten about William Hand, and he [Geoff Johns] is making it his business to remind us just who he is, and how foolish we were to ignore him in the first place.  It’s incredibly interesting just how much each of these major players have evolved since then.  Sinestro, no longer a Green Lantern – former Sinestro Corps leader at that – is now the most-wanted war criminal in the universe.  Atrocitus, one of the sole survivors of the massacre of Sector 666, then-prophet of the Blackest Night, is now leader of the Red Lanterns.  Hal Jordan – let’s just say he’s seen a lot of changes over the last two decades.  And William Hand, once a disturbed boy with a disconnected childhood, is now the resurrected Black Hand and avatar of the Black Lanterns.  That all of this is coming full circle is further testament to Geoff Johns as writer and Master Chess Player.

“Tale of the Black Lantern” shows us William Hand’s journey from son of a coroner to undead supervillain is not an excuse, rather an explanation of how he came to be this way.  As you’d expect, the tale is very dark in the telling, both literally and visually.  Mahnke, as he has proven in the pages of Final Crisis (another book he rescued from artistic inconsistency), is consistently good at horror-inspired visuals.  His pencils are simultaneously gritty and clean, which is to say there are *a lot of* lines, but each one seems purposeful and deliberate in its placement.  While I can’t help but wonder whether Eddy Barrows could have accomplished similar feats, I know deep down in my heart of hearts that it couldn’t have been this confident.

The only real criticism I can level at this book is that it isn’t really about Green Lantern – in fact, he only ever appears in the aforementioned scene – it probably should have flown under the Blackest Night banner proper.  That’s all null and void in the face of one inescapable fact: this story is critical, both to future events in Green Lantern and Blackest Night.  Besides, I’ve long since given up questioning Geoff Johns’ storytelling choices – he’s proven time and time again that he’s at least three steps ahead of us all.

Only one thing remains to be gleaned from all of this: if you’re a comic book fan, you need to be reading Green Lantern and you need to be reading Blackest Night.

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.

Blackest Night #0

Posted in Comics, Green Lantern with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 2nd May, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Pretty bright for the "Blackest Night", huh?

Pretty bright for the 'Blackest Night', huh?

Author: Geoff Johns
Artists: Ivan Reis & Doug Mahnke

Now I’m all agitated.  Moving in my seat.  Blackest Night #0, is a real tease, so mission accomplished.  It’s probably the most cleverly disguised ad since DC Universe #0.  Oh, and it’s free, so I can pretty much recommend it to you straight away.  For one solitary day in the year, it’s costing DC money for you to read a comic, so make the most of it.

The cover art’s pretty nice – it’s just a pity they had to put that garish ‘FREE COMIC BOOK DAY’ at the top, and the ugly blank white rectangle in the bottom right corner reminding us that yes, again, it is free.  Not all the free comics today were uglified in this manner, but all the DC ones were.  It even has a barcode – I don’t quite understand that.  Why take stock of a free item?  Anyway, it’s free.

This issue consists of a story snippet with art by Ivan Reis, a letter from Geoff Johns, and some profile pages with art by Doug Mahnke.  The story is deftly scribed by Geoff Johns as always, and Ivan Reis’ art is (somewhat) spectacular as always.  It’s a little bit subdued (hence the ‘somewhat’), because obviously it’s a prologue and no real action.  The story opens as always with a narrative caption from Hal Jordan telling us that he’s an officer of the Green Lantern Corps and that Space Sector 2814 is his space-cop beat.  (Hey Johns, can you quit doing that?  I know you’ve got a lot of new readers picking this up because it’s Blackest Night and it’s free and all, but I also know that you’ll do it again, and I’ve read that damn caption on a monthly basis for the last four years!  We KNOW who he is, we KNOW he’s Green Lantern – that’s why he’s GLOWING GREEN in a GREEN UNIFORM with a GREEN RING, and that’s why we bought a comic with ‘GREEN LANTERN’ on the cover!)  From here, it becomes pretty clear who Johns intends to resurrect for this mega-event.  I’ll give you a hint: the entire issue plays out in Gotham Cemetery.  How doubly appropriate.

Rise from your Grave!

Rise from your Grave!

(I also figured out a couple of weeks ago that Earth-2 Superman would be a resurrect-ee, thanks to the tactless ad for the Blackest Night action figures, which also features in this issue.  This begs the (loaded) question, with all these superheroes rising from the dead all zombie-like, will they be full-blown villains, and if so, is that desecration?  I can’t imagine Geoff Johns desecrating any superhero, much less the likes of Batman, Aquaman, or even Martian Manhunter.  Tell you what, I’ll just assume there’s more to it and we’ll move on, ‘kay?)

Hal Jordan and Barry Allen (the second Flash) have a pleasant little chat over a gravestone, discussing their respective deaths, which is all very strange to this mortal reader.  (Is there any major DC superhero that hasn’t died?  I think Wonder Woman may be the only one, and she’s kind of…arbitrarily major.)  Something sinister is going on in the background (literally), though, of course.  It’s a cemetery at night, what did you expect?  The ending is pretty te[ase]rrific.

A letter from the man himself follows explaining how he wanted to tell this story from the get-go and it wasn’t really intended to be an ‘event’ as such, and you know what?  I believe him – I’m just not sure DC does.  I re-read his Lantern run a few months back, and there’s plenty of foreshadowing going on back there (one could argue it goes back as far as Alan Moore).   It sounds like Geoff’s trying to assure people that this thing won’t run away from him, that it’s still his story, and still under his control.  And I *sort of* believe him.  The checklist on the back page kind of contradicts this a little – 6 titles a month – but still, it’s not exactly Tie-in City.

The profile pages are nice and pretty, and serve as little fact files on each of the Corps.  Does anyone honestly believe that indigo is a legitimate colour, much less an important stripe of the rainbow?  Between the Blue Lanterns’ hope and the Star Sapphires’ love, I can’t even begin to imagine how Johns will squeeze this Indigo Tribe (compassion) between the two and give them an actual purpose.  (It’s the only group in this war of light that hasn’t been revealed yet, so I guess I’ll just assume again, shall I?)  Each Corps’ profile details their represented emotion, homeworld, history, powers and weaknesses.  I wonder if this is the kind of thing Johns used to pitch the idea to DC originally.  Probably they just handed him the keys to the city after Rebirth and he didn’t need to pitch it at all.  Nerds will have fun trying to recognise all of the arms reaching out of the ground on the Black Lantern page.

Mongul, where are you?

Mongul, where are you?

Anyway, very informative, but there were a couple of niggling things.  One being the omission of Mongul from the Sinestro Corps page.  I wonder what that means, or was I not paying attention somewhere?  Well, Mongul’s cool and he should be in the Corps.  The other thing being how damn mathematical all the weaknesses are.  They have ‘rules’ that remind me of schoolyard fare: ‘the orange rings can’t drain the blue rings, and the blue rings beat the red rings, but the blue rings don’t work unless they’re with the green rings, and the yellow rings beat the green rings, but not the blue rings.’  And I’m the king of the castle and you’re the dirty rascal.

Like I said, though, I assume there’s more to it.  Did I mention it’s free?