Archive for rebirth

The Flash: Rebirth #4

Posted in Comics, DC, Flash with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 29th August, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Art Team Assemble!

Art Team Assemble!

“Flash Facts”
Author: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Colorist: Brian Miller (Hi-Fi)
Cover Artists: Ethan Van Sciver and Brian Miller
Associate Editor: Chris Conroy
Editor: Joey Cavalieri

Flash: Rebirth #4 is an all-encompassing, high-stakes drama, filled with big revelations, but be forewarned: it’ll do yer head in.  Geoff Johns, DC continuity surgeon, takes his scalpel to the entire Flash mythos, and while I can’t say the operation went altogether smoothly, the end result is more than satisfactory.  Indeed, some of the revelations went right over my head, even with the help of Max Mercury’s pseudo-science, and some dense exposition from series villain, Professor Eobard Thawne (a.k.a. the Reverse-Flash).  Johns’ retcons and repairs are a little more obvious than what we’ve come to expect  from him in recent times, recalling his earlier, clumsier [but still enjoyable] works.  Perhaps a better analogy, then, would be that of the band-aid.  “This will only hurt a little bit”, Johns assures as he quickly rips it off.  There’s an implicit trust between Geoff Johns and his readership – that everything will come good in the end – and considering the health of the Green Lantern property, I think it’s entirely justified.

Thankfully, the aforementioned revelations are imparted during an action-packed battle between Barry Allen and the Reverse-Flash.  I have to hand it to the creative team here, Reverse-Flash is absolutely menacing.  Ethan Van Sciver draws him like a hate-filled god, colorist Brian Miller makes his eyes burn like cigarettes, and Rob Leigh makes his speech bubbles crackle with static electricity.  This lends a weight and an urgency to the epic story, and one gets the feeling that the Speed Force will never be the same again.  Van Sciver’s pencils are once again beautifully detailed, while Miller’s bold reds and yellows are absolutely breathtaking.  In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this is the best looking book I’ve read this week.

Johns’ characterisations are spot-on.  He deftly juggles the entire Flash family and an ensemble cast of super-speedsters, giving each of them a unique voice.  I knew next to nothing about Max Mercury prior to reading this issue, but I came away with an appreciation of who he is and where he fits in the DC pantheon.  It’s also good to see Bart Allen get his wit back – he seemed to have lost it after his own rebirth – and embrace his original role as Kid Flash.  Ethan Van Sciver also did an excellent job of differentiating Wally West from Barry Allen – their identical Flash costumes had posed a problem until now – through a clever story device.

Rebirth #4 may have stumbled off the starting block, but it certainly came through with the goods.

The Flash: Rebirth #2

Posted in Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 20th May, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Something's afoot in the Speed Force...

Something's afoot in the Speed Force...

Author: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Cover Artists: Ethan Van Sciver, Carmine Infantino & Alex Sinclair
Variant Cover Artists: Ethan Van Sciver & Alex Sinclair
Assistant Editor: Chris Conroy
Editor: Joey Cavaleri

Holy Shit.

The shock twist in this issue of Flash: Rebirth had me absolutely floored.  Sure, I considered the outside possibility of these events unfolding, and the hints were certainly there from issue 1, but damn if this doesn’t feel like a brave direction for The Flash.

It’s tempting to write this off as one of those ‘fan’ what if? moments – remembering Johns has had both Batman and a de-powered Superman flirt with Green Lanternism during his tenure with DC – but far too much has been done that can’t be undone for that to be the case.  Sorry for being so damn coy, but I really want you to experience what I experienced when I read it.  I’ll tell you this much: no, Barry Allen does not become a Green Lantern.  He doesn’t become a Black Lantern either, but with all of these themes of death and rebirth across the board, I can’t help but wonder whether Johns’ brainchildren will intersect.

In every corner of the Flashes’ world, from Gorilla City to the Balkan Mountains and back to Central City, Rebirth #2 really gave me the sensation that something big was brewing in the Speed Force, and indeed, the DC Universe.  I can’t help but sense Grant Morrison’s influence in all of this – the quick cuts, the bold moves, the cinematic style – all of these things lend the story a weight; a significance.

Sure, it’s a little continuity-intensive at times – the quick cuts and flashbacks may prove difficult for newcomers to keep up with – but you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, and if Geoff Johns proved one thing with Green Lantern’s own Rebirth, it’s this: there WILL be growing pains, but the outcome will be well worth it.  Those with rose-coloured lenses remember Green Lantern: Rebirth fondly (and rightly so), but they too easily forget the occasional awkwardness and intensive continuity inherent in the project.

It’s necessary.

Take heart, fans, Geoff Johns is THE continuity doctor: leave a mess on the carpet, and he’ll turn it into art, like Pro Hart.

Speaking of art, Ethan Van Sciver’s is brilliant as always.  He’s far and away, one of the best artists in the biz.  His panel layouts and spectacular splash pages contribute a great deal to the book’s cinematic feel.  His linework is clean and detailed.  His characters are expressive; his backgrounds are meticulous and never boring to look at.  Check out the water effects on page 6 – the detail is just mind-boggling.  Oh yeah, and Iris is HOT.

The track record’s there: Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver are a great comic partnership, and if this issue is any indication, they’re cooking up another storm of Rebirth proportions.

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.