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From Green to Red

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In more ways than one, it began with Sinestro. When John Broome and Gil Kane created the red-skinned alien in Green Lantern #7, they hammered home that he was supposed to be Hal Jordan’s evil opposite by giving him a yellow power ring. The ring was capable of doing anything a Green Lantern’s ring could do, only in a yellow hue.

Since yellow was the only color the Green Lantern’s ring could not work on, Sinestro became a pesky, and therefore popular, villain in the series. The bad guy returned often to plague Green Lantern, not only in comics but also in cartoons and TV shows. Ever since Green Lantern #7 hit store shelves in 1961, he and the Hal Jordan Green Lantern have been inextricably linked.

Over the almost 50 years of Green Lantern’s existence, the character’s back story and universe has been fleshed out and expanded. Hal Jordan’s role as a member of a corps of Green Lanterns was developed.   Earth’s Green Lantern was only one of many GL’s across the universe.

The character has also undergone a whole lot of ups and downs in popularity over this time. The first Green Lantern series went from a solo book to a team book as many other Green Lanterns teamed up with Hal. The series was then canceled and rebooted with a new number one. Then Hal was turned evil and replaced by another Earthman (Sinestro played a big part in this storyline, too). Then that series was canceled, Hal was brought back (in a storyline which Sinestro was also involved with in a major way), and yet another new series was created.

That latest series is the one on the shelves now, and Green Lantern is experiencing his greatest popularity in years. And the momentum is still building thanks to a storyline from last year starring, you guessed it, Sinestro.

The Sinestro Corps War storyline ran through Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, and several other titles in 2007. The crossover concerned Sinestro creating his own army consisting of the worst villains in his universe and several alternate ones. Most members were powerful enough on their own, but they also got a copy of Sinestro’s yellow ring.  Whereas the Green Lantern rings were powered by the user’s will power, Sinestro’s corps’ rings were powered by the fear they created. And since the Sinestro Corps contained baddies such as the Anti-Monitor and Superman-Prime, causing fear wasn’t hard.

It is a wonder why nobody thought of this idea sooner. Sinestro was created to be an evil mirror image of Green Lantern. The Green Lantern Corps were around for decades. You’d think someone before Geoff Johns would think of giving Sinestro a corps of his own. But no one did, and Johns took the idea one step farther.

The Sinestro Corps War ended with the revelation that there would be 6 more Corps, one for each of the remaining colors of the rainbow and also black. Green Lantern villainess Star Sapphire became one of the Violet Lanterns, a group powered by love. The Blue Lanterns will be powered by hope. The Orange Lanterns powered by avarice/greed. Indigo Lanterns would be instruments of compassion and the Red Lanterns would be fueled by anger and rage.  

Tomorrow’s Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns #1 ties not only into, naturally, Final Crisis, but also sets the stage for the next big Green Lantern event—“The Blackest Night”—in which the Black Lanterns, whose numbers are composed of deceased members of the DC Universe and show no emotion, will take a big part. The miniseries will also act as a sequel to the Sinestro Corps War as the angry Red Lanterns come after Sinestro looking for revenge.

The multi-colored Lantern concept started by Geoff Johns has made comic fans excited and made Green Lantern a major player at DC. I can’t wait to see how it all works out. 

Also out this week:

Captain America: Theater of War--Operation Zero Point:

You wouldn’t think that it would work out that way, but by killing off Steve Rogers, Marvel has made Captain America more popular than ever. The monthly Captain America title is a consistently good read, and the fans want more. Fortunately, Marvel is going to give them just that.

This one-shot is the first in a series of specials Marvel will be bring us over the next several months. Each issue will be written and drawn by some of Marvel’s best talent and will take stories from various points in the star-spangled soldier’s career. And it’s not just Steve Rogers in the spotlight, it will feature many of the other men to wear the chainmail and hold the shield. 

Daniel and Charles Knauf (W), Mitch Breitweiser   (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. One-Shot.

Hellboy: In the Chapel of Moloch:

Last week, we devoted a large part of the column celebrating Todd McFarlane’s return to Spawn (only to find out that the issue in question will not be coming out, thanks a lot, Image). This week, another legendary creator returns to draw the character that he made famous.

While Mike Mignola has been writing the adventures of Hellboy steadily since he created the character 15 years ago, he hasn’t drawn the character since 2005. That all changes this week as Mignola takes over the art chores for this one-shot special.   Apropos, it deals with an artist who has sequestered himself in a chapel to follow an unholy compulsion to complete his “life’s work”. I wonder if this is a case of art imitating life?

Mike Mignola(W/A), Dark Horse Comics, $2.99. One-Shot.

Savage #1:

Take one shoe salesman who is tired of measuring smelly, sweaty feet all day. Add one monster hunter who deals with claws and teeth his whole life as he takes down the creatures of the night. These are two types of people who don’t really seem to have a lot in common. But sometimes, two entirely random people are brought together by the strangest things. Like, say, a war between a pack of werewolves and the mythical Big Foot.  Wars between horrible monsters make strange bedfellows.

It’s another unique look at horror, which means usually that Steve Niles is involved somehow. And he is a co-plotter on this miniseries. So you know the story will be twisted and probably pretty good.

Jeff Frank, Steve Niles & Dan Wickline (W), Mike Mayhew (A), Image/Shadowline Comics, $3.50. Four-Issue Miniseries.

Sheena: Queen of the Jungle: Dark Rising #1:

It seems like various and sundry publishers in the past few years have been trying to revive the trend of scantily clad women hanging out in jungles. Marvel gave us several Shanna the She Devil series and Dynamite puts out the occasional Jungle Girl title. But the hardiest of the bunch is the one who has been around the longest, the 66 year old Sheena, Queen of the Jungle.

Devil’s Due presents its second Sheena miniseries. Hollywood screenwriter Steven E. De Souza is back, with Todd Livingston replacing Robert Rodi this time around. This series finds Sheena in a concrete jungle instead of a wild one. But we soon find out that you can take the girl out of the jungle, but you can’t take the jungle out of the girl. Because a mystery draws her back to the place she feels most at home.

Steven E. De Souza & Todd Livingston (W), Joe Abraham (A), Devil’s Due Publishing, $3.50. Three-Issue Miniseries.

Checkmate #31:

Checkmate and Chimera have tracked the last of the mystical beasts to China and are now about to make their last stand. But this creature is much stronger than all the rest, and the entrance of someone from Chimera’s life as Adam Sharp   might jeopardize the fight—and lead to the destruction of the world as we know it!

It looks like the question I asked back in May has finally been answered; Bruce Jones was brought on to ease Checkmate into cancellation. And ease he did as his arc took the once great book completely away from what made it great—moving from shadowy espionage to a military-created superhero title—and made the eventual cancellation a sort of mercy killing. I don’t know if DC has any plans for Jones’ Chimera character but I know I do—avoiding it at all costs! 

Bruce Jones (W), Manuel Garcia (A), DC Comics, $2.99. Final Issue.

Garth Ennis' Battlefields: The Night Witches #1:

Dynamite really came through for Garth Ennis. When Ennis’ The Boys got too hot for DC/Wildstorm to handle, the publisher stepped in and gave the controversial series a new home. The fans were happy and I’m sure Ennis and artist Darick Robertson were happy.

I guess the partnership between author and publisher was beneficial enough for both parties because Dynamite is the home to Ennis’ next miniseries. The author returns to one of his many fields of expertise—aerial military combat. But this time, it is a tale with a unique twist. The Night Witches of the title are a female squadron of pilots who are doing night raids during 1942. It’s a circumstance where facing death is bad but facing capture is worse.

Garth Ennis (W), Russ Braun (A), Dynamite Entertainment, $2.99. Three-Issue Miniseries.

Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes #1:

The one thing you can say about the Ellis/Bianchi era on Astonishing X-Men is that it has kept consistent with what has come before. The Whedon/Cassaday run had you waiting months between issues, and the Ellis/Bianchi run has you waiting months between issues (no Astonishing X-mens are solicited for October, November or December).

But the new tandem has an advantage in that Warren Ellis would be able to write a miniseries to keep AX-M fans sated until Simone Bianchi can finish the next issue. This two-issue miniseries ties in to the first part of the creators’ run on the main title and acts as a complement to that storyline. If you look at it that way, it’s like the main title isn’t delayed at all!

Warren Ellis (W), Alan Davis & Adi Granov (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Two-Issue Miniseries.

Zen: Intergalactic Ninja #0:

Zen: The Intergalactic Ninja has had a long and surprisingly resilient life. Created in 1987 by Steve Stern and Dan Cote, the character has survived the jump to four different publishers, out lasted at least two of them, and has had an amazing array of talent work on him over the years, including Mike Mignola, Ross Andru, Sam Keith and Jae Lee.

Lee returns to do covers for this issue, which is written by another current comic heavyweight, Joe Casey. Casey is set to do a complete reimagining of the character for its new series which will start in earnest in December. The new direction involves Zen becoming a mercenary for hire. But how does this reconcile with his teachings and how can his conscience deal with killing people for money?     

Joe Casey (W), Joe Abraham (A), Devil’s Due Publishing, $.99. Ongoing Series.

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William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife Jennifer. He also is the comic review editor for PopMatters and is the comic book movie editor for Film Buff Online. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

 

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