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Go Green!

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When I was a kid, when the time came to pick a superhero to pretend to be, I always picked Green Lantern. Other kids would pick Superman, thinking he was the most powerful hero they could be, therefore, the coolest. We savvy comic fans knew the truth. Hal Jordan could eat Superman’s lunch.

He had the ultimate weapon—a ring that could make whatever you thought of come into reality. In many of these backyard battles, I took down many a neighbor pretending to be Superman by simply using my “will power” to create a pretend piece of Kryptonite.

So, for me at least, Green Lantern was cool. And I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who thought so.

Green Lantern, in his comic book life, had some ups and downs since that time. Hal Jordan was replaced by John Stewart, and then came back. Guy Gardner was brought in during the Crisis and Green Lantern became a team book. Worse of all, Hal Jordan went crazy, became a mass-murderer, was replaced by a younger, “hipper” guy, and was eventually killed off.

That last period made it hard to be an old-school Green Lantern fan. For many, how Hal Jordan was treated was a travesty. Even after he came back in the guise of the Spectre, fans still weren’t satisfied.

Enter Geoff Johns.  

He did something amazing. He brought Hal Jordan back to life in a way that was believable and not insulting to fans. He also kept Kyle Rayner, that kid who replaced Hal as GL around, establishing an even more amazing task—making both Jordan and Rayner fans happy.

The storyline that brought Hal Jordan back from the dead and made him Green Lantern again was Green Lantern: Rebirth. It also brought back Hal’s biggest enemy Sinestro, who he recently faced off against in the Sinestro War storyline.

These storylines were only the first two parts of a trilogy. The final third, called The Blackest Night, is set to arrive in 2009.

Fans are already chomping at the bit for this final chapter. And can you blame them? The Sinestro War was a classic bad guy/good guy mash up. It had high stakes, the threats were almost insurmountable, and it spanned the entire DC Universe. It was just the type of story comic fans really respond to—and they really did. The storyline was one of the most popular of the last several years.

But until the next installment arrives, Johns will be treating us to a revamping of Hal’s origin. This is, not by a long shot, the first time Hal’s origin has been revamped. As a matter of fact, this time around, they might be adjusting the prior revamp.

This current storyline deals with the first time new Green Lantern Hal encountered the then Green Lantern Sinestro. This was also covered in the second Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn series. Both Emerald Dawn titles came out when DC was doing revamps of all of their most famous characters.

These series added new aspects to the Green Lantern mythos, including having Hal arrested for drunk driving and that Sinestro took part in training him.

The current powers that be at DC have gone on record with statements expressing their displeasure with Emerald Dawn. The fact that they are revisiting the same concepts could mean that some of the more unpopular changes from those series might be adjusted or undone.

This current arc does serve one definite purpose. It does set the stage for The Blackest Night arc and how it will play into the history of Hal Jordan and the entire Green Lantern Corps.

Also out this week:

Blue Beetle #25:

Jaime Reyes has taken the fight directly to the Reach, but the battle has not gone well. His family back on Earth was attacked and is in danger of being killed. Things don’t look so well for Jaime either. He is powerless, shackled, and at the business end of a Reach blaster. Has his one-teen war against the Reach come to an end? Not if some of Earth’s greatest heroes have anything to say about it.

John Rogers run on the series ends with a bang. I am sorry to see him go. He has mixed believable characters, exciting action and laugh-out-loud humor to make Blue Beetle one of the best books on the market. I hope both the creator and character have a long life in comics after this issue.

John Rogers (W), Rafael Albuquerque (A), DC Comics, $2.99.   Ongoing Series.

Transhuman #1:

There have been a bunch of genres popular in other medium that have found a home in comic books—science-fiction, romance, western, and horror, to name a few. Each one has been employed to varying degrees of success.  Now a new, unorthodox style joins the mix. That would be the “mockumentary”.

Yes, the style popularized by such movies as This Is Spinal Tap and Drop Dead Gorgeous makes its way to comics with this series. Written by Jonathan Hickman, the up and coming voice behind The Nightly News and Pax Romana, this title purports to document the rise of superhuman genetic engineering and how it became a feature of everyday life. It should be interesting to see how Hickman pulls this off.

Jonathan Hickman (W), JM Ringuet (A), Image Comics, $3.50. Four-Issue Miniseries.

Gunplay #1:

This week, the winner of The 2007 Comic Book Challenge comes to us from Platinum Studios.

Abner is a Buffalo Soldier with a problem—he is saddled with a cursed gun. The demonic firearm compels him to kill one person per day or else inflicts upon him an unspeakable physical pain. Luckily, the Old West has a lot of people in need of killing.

But a release from his curse appears in the personage of a boy he’s never met. But how can the child help him when the boy is wrestling with a painful secret of his own?

Up and coming creators Jorge Vega and Dominic Vivona are joined for this preview by one of the best writers in comics. Black Panther & Quantum and Woody writer Priest provides back up story further chronicling the adventures of Abner.

Jorge Vega & Priest (W), Dominic Vivona (A), Platinum Studios Comics, $.99. Preview Issue.

Deepak Chopra’s Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment #1:

Buddha is an icon figure who has affected the lives of millions of people around the world. Much is known about his life, but much is still a mystery. Deepak Chopra tried to delve into these unknown aspects of Buddha’s life in his 2007 New York Times bestselling novel, Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment. It was a fictionalized account of the philosopher’s rise as a leader and fleshed out a little more about his life and times.

Now, that novel is being adapted into comics in a new ongoing series from Virgin Comics (naturally). Written by Joshua Dysart (Swamp Thing) with art by Harshvardhan Kadam, the series aims to put the legendary spiritualist in historical context and make him more accessible to a whole new audience. 

Joshua Dysart (W), Harshvardhan Kadam (A), Virgin Comics, $3.99.  Ongoing Series.

Mighty Avengers #11:

Mark Bagley has always been synonymous with Marvel Comics. He famously got his start at Marvel by winning the 1983 Marvel Try-Out contest. From there he moved on to jump starting the first New Warriors series, a long run on Amazing Spider-Man, helped co-create (with Kurt Busiek) Thunderbolts, and entered a record-breaking collaboration with Brian Michael Bendis on Ultimate Spider-Man.

But now, that connection is at an end. Bagley signed an exclusive contract with DC Comics, and will be working with Busiek again on the company’s much hyped Trinity weekly series. This issue marks Bagley’s last regular comic book work for Marvel.

In this day and age, the longevity of Bagley’s employment at Marvel is truly extraordinary. This is an end of an era, and therefore, must be noted.

Brian Michael Bendis (W), Mark Bagley (A), Marvel Comics, $2.99. Ongoing Series.

Kolchak: Tales of the Night Stalker of the Living Dead #1:

In the world of horror, there are two legendary properties that all true fans know and love—Night of the Living Dead and Kolchak: The Night Stalker.

The first’s influence is wide ranging and immense. Take a look around your comic shop or video store. See all those movies and comics featuring zombies? They wouldn’t be there without George Romero’s 1968 cult film. Kolchak, however, never rose above a cult status. While he is remembered for a TV series that lasted only one year, that series garnered a legion of devoted fans.

Now, Moonstone unites both properties in a new miniseries, albeit unofficially. Kolchak goes to “Georges Corner, Nebraska” (get it?) to cover a festival pageant only to find a situation much like the one Pittsburgh faced in the Night of the Living Dead.  Horror fans must be in heaven!

Christopher Mills (W), Tim Hamilton (A), Moonstone Books, $3.99. Three-Issue Miniseries.

Return of the Gremlins #1:

Another cult property makes its return to comics this week, although it is quite different from either Night of the Living Dead or Kolchak: The Night Stalker.

In 1943, Walt Disney hired Royal Air Force pilot Roald Dahl to write a children’s book about lovable creatures that were responsible for all sorts of mechanical problems on military airplanes. The characters were called Gremlins and it was Dahl’s first book. Dahl went on to a legendary career as a writer, and the Gremlins went on to a cult cache in the hearts of a whole bunch of children.

In 2006, Dark Horse restored the original book and reprinted it for a whole new generation. Now, the company returns to the property with this miniseries.

Mike Richardson (W), Dean Yeagle (A), Dark Horse Comics, $2.99. Three-Issue Miniseries.

###

William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife Jennifer. He also writes periodic comic reviews for PopMatters, is a weekly contributor to Film Buff Online and writes title descriptions for Human Computing’s Comicbase collection management software. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

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