Saturday, July 14, 2012

Green Lantern Vol. 2 Revenge of the Green Lanterns Trade Paperback Review

Green Lantern Vol. 2 - Revenge of the Green Lanterns
DC Comics
Softcover Trade Paperback
176 pages
$14.99 (2008)
$19.99 (2006) Hardcover
ISBN 9781401209605

Contributors: Geoff Johns, Carlos Pacheco, Ivan Reis, Ethan Van Sciver, Marc Campos, Jesus Merino, Prentiss Rollins, W. Moose Baumann, Rob Leigh, and Simone Bianchi

Reprints: Green Lantern #7-13

Synopsis: Hal Jordan has reestablished his life in the slowly rebuilding Coast City.  He rejoined the air force in order to fly test planes again and even convinced his brother (and only surviving relative) to move his family into town.  Too bad he's been too busy as Earth's prime Green Lantern to pay them a visit.  Green Arrow is visiting to catch up with Hal since they were road buddies back in the day.  They get a call about Mongul touching down in the mid-west and rush to check it out.  The current Mongul is the son of the original who was responsible for annihilating Coast City and its two million inhabitants.  The death of his home town sent Hal spiraling out of control and ruined his life.  For Hal this fight is personal.

A little recap on why some Green Lanterns
might be pissed at Hal Jordan
Mongul's son wants revenge on the planet which claimed his father's life and has brought a breed of parasitic plants in order to enslave the Earth's population.  Now only Green Lantern and Green Arrow stand in his way!  When they are confronted with their hearts' desires will either be able to resist the perfect life?  Oh yeah, Infinite Crisis is happening too and this is a side story.  What is Infinite Crisis you ask?  That is one long explanation and it doesn't actually matter to this story one bit.  Also, Mongul has a sister and she's not very pretty, but she does want to stop him from usurping her father's legacy.

There's a new Tattooed Man on the loose in Gotham City.  Green Lantern gets called in to help by Batman, but he's still holding a grudge after Hal went mental under the influence of the Parallax entity.  A team-up with Batman is tough enough when he doesn't overtly hate your guts!  Hal offers Batman a chance to try on the ring and see what it feels like to possess one of the most powerful weapons in the universe.

Fast forward one year after the events of Infinite Crisis and the disappearances of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.  Green Lantern is catching flack from the United Nations for crossing international borders to take down super-powered threats.  Hal doesn't care about planetary borders when he works on a cosmic scale, but a team called the Global Guardians vows to take him down if it happens again!  We get flashbacks  of Hal's past year and an incident where his flight team gets shot down in former Soviet airspace.  Hal never wears his ring while flying to avoid having an unfair advantage over other pilots and keep himself honest.  He could have used it that day as the team gets captured and held hostage by hostiles.

Yeah, Tomar-Tu might be holding a
little grudge there
In the present day, Hal finds a crash-landed Tomar Tu - a former Green Lantern and presumed dead after Hal, as Parallax, stripped him of his ring and left him floating in space.  Hal returns to Oa and demands the Guardians let him launch a mission to Tomar Tu's point of origin to find out if other Green Lanterns are alive. They forbid him, but Guy Gardner (another human Green Lantern) accompanies him to Sector 3601 - outside the appointed jurisdiction of the Green Lantern Corps.

Hal and Guy find a shocking mystery and stumble upon a devious trap!  What does all this have to do with the Cyborg Superman?  Why do the Green Lanterns want revenge?  What is the Sinestro Corps?

Pros: Good overall writing by Johns, great art throughout the stories (Ivan Reis surprised me with the caliber of his art here), Batman getting to try on the ring was a classic moment, I liked the buildup of Hal's civilian life, revenge story was pretty darn epic, nice progression to Manhunters after they were reintroduced in first volume, nice covers by Bianchi

Cons: Manhunters were a bit too easily dispatched, Green Arrow team-up story was boring with nothing new (hated the final resolution between Mongul and his sister), three different art styles

Mike Tells It Straight: Revenge of the Green Lanterns is a great follow up to No Fear and really builds momentum for this Green Lantern reboot title.  We get a mixed bag of three stories which were set within the confines of some major DC Universe-spanning events - Infinite Crisis and One Year Later (OYL).  I think Johns did an excellent job of aligning Hal Jordan's adventures to these constraints.  I didn't feel the Green Arrow team-up versus Mongul was a good story - just a rehash of an old Alan Moore story with a predictable ending (not counting the ridiculous final scene with Mongul's sister).
When did Cyborg Superman get a nose?

The Batman story was awesome and Johns snuck it in there before the whole OYL curtain came down.  Great interaction between two classic heroes who needed some kind of reconciliation after Hal's stint as Parallax.

The main storyline (revenge!) brought Hal back into space for an epic adventure.  This one was an impressive storyline to address another of Hal's major transgressions as Parallax when he defeated a bunch of Lanterns, stole their rings, and then left them for dead in space.  The art by Reis was spectacular as he channeled Bryan Hitch with both widescreen scope and attention to detail.  I like the idea of Cyborg Superman as a GL villain - Superman already has Bizarro, does he really need a cyborg version of himself too?  Very solid cosmic action and strengthening the foundation of Hal Jordan's return.  Highly recommended and I'm looking forward to the next volume.

TO BUY and Recommendations:

Sunday, July 8, 2012

100 Bullets Vol. 5 The Counterfifth Detective Trade Paperback Review

100 Bullets Vol. 5 - The Counterfifth Detective
DC Comics - Vertigo
Softcover Trade Paperback
144 pages
$12.95 (2003)
ISBN 9781563899485

Contributors: Brian Azzarello, Eduardo Risso, Dave Johnson, Trish Mulvihill, Digital Chameleon, and Clem Robins

Reprints: 100 Bullets #31-36

Synopsis: Milo Garrett is having a bad day.  He's in the hospital after getting his face rearranged (complete with a head covered in bandages), is a hard-luck/hard-drinking private dick who got stiffed on his last job, and just had a visit from an old guy named Agent Graves.  Now he has a briefcase filled with evidence of the person who mucked up his life, an untraceable gun, one hundred untraceable bullets, and a guarantee he won't be prosecuted if he uses any of it.
I loved this showdown at a coffee shop
between Milo and Lono

Things might just be looking up as Milo heads over to the art dealer who double-crossed him.  Nix that, someone got to the art dealer first and put him six feet under.  Now Milo has to use his usually liquored-up detective skills to trace the faint leads of an art theft back to the parties involved.  One happens to be a rich blonde named Megan Dietrich with a penchant for high-stakes double-dealing.  Another is a gorgeous Italian named Echo Memoria.

Unfortunately the third is a bruiser named Lono with a permanent finger on the kill switch.  Something just doesn't feel right about the whole caper and Milo can't seem to piece it together.  Strange memories are surfacing and he begins to question his very identity.  What secret could be buried behind the bandages and will it be too late to figure it out?

Pros: Good plot and pacing by Azzarello, excellent art by Risso, good covers by Johnson, collection is one single story (instead of a string of smaller stories), offbeat crime noir story starring a hardboiled detective, plenty of drinking and sex, nudity, Milo is a boob man, great reveal on Milo's secret, complicated ending

Cons: Dialogue and narrative were riddled with puns and it got old a few issues into the storyline, slightly confusing ending (probably on purpose though)

Echo meets up with Milo after another
hospital stay (seems to be a habit)
Mike Tells It Straight: The fifth (get it, Counterfifth?) collection of 100 Bullets and we get another full length story (the last one was Vol. 3 Hang Up on the Hang Low which won an Eisner).  Azzarello gives us his take on a very standard crime noir story featuring a hardboiled detective.  The main character's head is covered in bandages (reminiscent of The Unknown Soldier also by DC Comics) and all of the narrative/dialogue was essentially one long pun.  This style felt gimmicky and slows down the story as the reader must pause to decipher the puns each few seconds.  I didn't like it after a few issues and it kept up until the very last panel.  Whatever Azzarello was trying to accomplish I hope he never does it again.

Risso's art was awesome and Johnson's covers interesting - a solid visual entry.  This collection is fifth in the series and readers need to have read the previous volumes to fully understand the story.  I've got to say this collection is probably my least favorite so far due to the puns and the fact the story really doesn't progress much in terms of Graves or The Trust.  It was a decent crime noir story, but nothing special this time.  I'm moving on to the next volume and giving this one a courtesy flush.

TO BUY and Recommendations: