Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Continuing through the New 52 #1s - Green Lantern/ Red Lantern

I apologize.  I thought I'd do this more quickly.  Well, life happens, people.  Life happens.  We're still talking about all of the New 52 #1's.

I'm now making my way through the Green Lantern family of books.

Green Lantern #1
by Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke

Darn you, Geoff Johns.  Intellectually, I know you're not the world's best writer, but this was actually a fairly solid issue of Green Lantern.  Maybe not a "what is a Green Lantern and let's start from scratch" sort of #1 issue that we could have used for this comic, but...  in all fairness, I gave up on floppies of GL a while ago and have been picking up the trades, so I'm very much behind.  And while I want to know how we got here (and will buy the comics to find out), I never felt completely lost.

Hal was a GL.  He's not.  Now this jerk with a really despicable history, Sinestro, has his ring and Jordan is back on earth trying to remember how people basically go about their day-to-day lives.  And he has no idea.

Its an interesting bit, because my continual complaint about the GL series has been that Johns never slows down to let Hal develop into a real character, or be much more than the handsome fellow wielding the ring.  Frankly, Kyle Rayner has had far more time wrestling with these sorts of things of late than big-time "I've got my own movie" Hal Jordan.

You aren't going to get much out of a Johns comic but what's on the page exactly, but he's still very, very good at turning in comics that are a good, enjoyable read.  Even when you can almost see the gears of what he's doing, right there on the page.

I'd read some negative reviews about this comic, and I sort of have to raise an eyebrow.  It seemed almost as if readers were confused or unwilling to deal with their characters facing any adversity they couldn't punch, in this case:  Hal Jordan's inability to land a job.  But it actually all fits pretty neatly, and, frankly, answers a lot of the questions I'd had about the wobbly set-up Johns seemed to give Hal in the early days of this series.  How the hell WAS he supposed to be in the Air Force during war time and not be on active duty?  Or at least have someone looking for him?

Anyhoo...  its more of Johns on GL.  And given the success of the book prior to the New 52, that's perfectly okay by me.

Red Lantern
by Peter Milligan and Ed Benes

I don't really believe Atrocitus is necessarily a bad character, or even a two-dimensional character, but the concept of being steaming mad all the time?   By the time any writer explores all the nuances of rage, its not really rage anymore.  Already within this first issue, our protagonist has pensive and introspective moments, which seems to push back against the concept of what it means to be blind with rage or fury.

But you can't write that kind of energy level for characters all the time.  It threatens to stick too many characters with, more or less, exactly the same personality and its got nowhere to go.  And deep down, we sort of know that rage isn't really a useful reaction to much of anything.  Its why clever animators have given us Yosemite Sam all these years.

Do I think this book will appeal to young readers looking for vindication (and a nigh-romantic take) on their inability to manage their personal hissy-fits?  That the correct reaction to slights against us is spewing blood to make more blood?    Milligan will have to do a lot more in this book than he did in issue 1 to convince me.

Also, I almost laughed outloud at how sadly watered down Moore's original visions which eventually spawned Atrocitus and others became, and even the excitement of seeing Atrocitus the first times when we see him explaining "I used to be a psychologist".  Sigh.  There are so many things wrong there, and the fact Atrocitus was redesigned into a pink guy with a pointy nose in this book?

Man, Atrocitus, you used to be cool.  Now you're kind of...  like post 1999 Ozzy versus "he bit the head off a bat" Ozzy.

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