Archive for Keith Giffen

Blackest Night #1

Posted in Blackest Night, Comics, DC, Green Lantern with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 20th July, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Black is the new Green.

Black is the new Green.

Author: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ivan Reis
Inker: Oclair Albert
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano
Associate Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Cover Artists: Ivan Reis, Oclair Albert & Alex Sinclair
Alternate Cover Artists: Ethan Van Sciver & Hi-Fi

If you had of told Dan DiDio four years ago that Green Lantern, under Geoff Johns’ guidance, would not only stand shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Batman and Superman in stature and following, but would also spawn the biggest comic book event of 2009, he probably would have slapped you twice and thrown you to the Crises.  Well, that was then, and this is now, and let me tell you, I was more than excited to be opening the first issue of Blackest Night proper.  In fact, I can’t remember ever being this excited for a comic book event in all my years of reading comics (which I’ll admit, is not very long at all compared to some).  Well, it turns out that all that anticipation is paying off in spades, and that Blackest Night is every bit the bee’s knees it promised to be.

Naturally, Blackest Night #1 picks up where Blackest Night #0 left off, in Gotham Cemetery.  It’s a dark and stormy night, and Black Hand ushers in the Age of Dark and Stormy Nights with a decidedly sick and twisted invocation.  The first thing I noticed about this issue was, damn, it’s great to have Ivan Reis back on a Green Lantern book.  Then of course I noticed the striking visuals, the epic presentation, et cetera, but honestly, there’s so much going on here that I really don’t know where to start.

This book is a great jumping-on point for newcomers, but they’ll also find a lot to digest here; while long-term Green Lantern and DC Comics readers have plenty of Easter eggs to scour through.  Sure, there’s a fair bit of background that the DC faithful will already know, but Johns is clearly highlighting which parts to pay attention to (and believe me, there’s a lot to pay attention to) and fleshing them out to augment the emotional impact of future events.  It’s actually surprising to see which untended plot threads he does highlight – without giving too much away – fans of Keith Giffen’s Justice League will no doubt be intrigued by the developments they see here.  It’s pretty clear by the end of this issue that Blackest Night represents his life’s work, drawing on every major DC storyline he’s had a hand in, from JSA to Hawkman to Infinite Crisis to 52 and everything in between right up to Flash: Rebirth.  Perhaps contrary to his original plans (though not by much), Blackest Night encompasses the entire DC Universe (or is it ‘Multiverse’?).  That is to say that its scope is far greater than just the Green Lantern universe – which is already massive thanks to Johns – and centres upon his two no-doubt-favourite heroes, Hal Jordan (Green Lantern) and Barry Allen (The Flash), as our anchors to this epic tale.

The core of this super-sized issue takes place appropriately on the anniversary of Superman’s death; once a national day of mourning, now a day used to honour fallen superheroes.  Geoff Johns has stated in interviews that this issue mentions all the major players in this storyline, and I believe it – many names are checked by the mourners, which may as well be a roll call for the Black Lantern Corps – some are expected, though many may surprise you.  In point of fact, the first Black Lanterns to reveal themselves surprised the hell out of me, and their first dark deeds shocked me all the more, due in no small part to Ivan Reis’ grisly depiction.

It’s getting very dark in the DC Universe, and I, for one, am loving it.

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Booster Gold #20

Posted in Booster Gold, Comics, DC with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 26th May, 2009 by Adam Redsell
You'd be surpised how few Commies are actually in this.

You'd be surprised how few Commies are actually in this.

“1952 Pickup”
Author: Keith Giffen
Artists: Patrick Oliffe & Dan Jurgens
Inkers: Norm Rapmund & Rodney Ramos
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Assistant Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover Artist: Jurgens & Rapmund

I stopped reading Booster Gold after lucky issue 13.  That’s two issues after Geoff Johns left the book, which yielded a noticeable drop in quality.  All the while Dan Jurgens continued to draw Booster – which was great, seeing as he created the character – but writing duties were passed to less accomplished writers, and at one point, Jurgens had to draw and write.  I thought it was only a matter of time before this once illustrious series got the axe.  Not yet, it seems.

When I noticed Keith Giffen’s name credited on the front cover (along with Jurgens’) of issue 20, I decided now might be the right time to climb back into the chronosphere with Booster Gold and Rip Hunter.  After all, Giffen has quite a pedigree when it comes to Booster Gold.  Booster was in Giffen’s hilarious incarnation of the Justice League.  Giffen also did the page breakdowns for my favourite ‘event’ comic, 52, in which Booster was a major character.  But most importantly, Giffen has a reputation for witty dialogue.

He doesn’t disappoint in that regard – Booster’s a smartass as always and Rip’s a time-wearied cynic as expected – although I was missing the presence of his robotic encyclopaedia, Skeets (perhaps there wasn’t room for three smartasses in Giffen’s story).  When I stopped reading the title, Booster’s sister had just joined the crew, which was an interesting development, so it was sad to see that she had already been dispensed with (or maybe she’s just on an adventure with Skeets).  The issue kicks off with an amusing verbal skirmish between Booster and Rip,

In Booster Gold #20, Rip’s time machine stalls ‘somewhere to the left of yesterday’, and Booster decides to pass the time by visiting the [relatively] peaceful 50s.  He, of course, gets more than he bargains for when he journeys to 1952.  Hoping for Las Vegas, he lands instead in the Nevada desert, near the small town of Mosely, population 265, but more importantly, near a top-secret rocket launch site.  Booster, oblivious to the ‘anti-cape’ laws of the time, flies to the nearest servo [Americans read: gas station] for directions to Sin City.  What he gets instead is the ‘FBI’, who actually turn out to be none other than Sergeant Rock and the Suicide Squad.  They blackmail Booster into stopping one of the world’s first manned space flights, because the project is headed by a deep cover Soviet scientist.  Booster is happy to oblige when he realises the first successful manned space flight wasn’t to occur until a decade later.  Everybody wins.  (This, of course, leads to some witty banter between Booster and Sgt. Rock.)

This issue was pretty entertaining.  Probably the biggest disappointment was the guest art by Patrick Oliffe.  It’s not bad per se, but the characters’ faces lacked detail at times, and Jurgens’ Booster just can’t be matched.  It probably would have fared better had the issue not been book-ended by Dan Jurgens’ illustrations.  It just lacked consistency given the differences in style and ability.  Of course, I would have preferred that Jurgens drew the whole thing, but obviously there were time constraints there.

When all is said and done, Booster #20 is a simple, yet enjoyable one-shot.  Whether or not you’ll enjoy this issue is wholly dependent on what you value most in a comic book – the writing, which is great, or the art, which is good in places, and merely *okay* in others.  If you enjoy Keith Giffen’s ear for dialogue and *a spot of* Dan Jurgens’ art, then by all means, have a read.