Thursday, June 14, 2012

Good Reviews for recent Comic Book Publications

EARTH 2 #2   - 9/10

You've no doubt heard by now that Green Lantern is gay.  Interestingly, the DC Universe has run just a tad bit behind in the new trend of catering (pandering...?) to the LGBT community, while Marvel has had minor mutant Northstar outed for quite some time, and soon to be married (to a black human!).  The reaction from the Evangelical community to these announcements was almost as predictable as the cascade of reactions from internet trolls.  In all seriousness though, the sudden surge of "newsworthiness" of a comic book character's sexual orientation seems to have come about in the tumult of a cultural zeitgeist where many serious civil rights issues, mostly centered around marriage between homosexuals, are playing themselves out in political arenas.  This trend has come to a dramatic head with the latest issue of Earth 2, where a character (Alan Scott, no longer a World War II relic) proposes to his lover Sam.  James Robinson heads up the script, taking the Alan Scott character he's loved for so long ("old universe" issues of JLA written by Robinson gave ample stage-time to "the original Green Lantern's" convoluted family, including his gay son Obsidian, now clearly null and void), while Nicola and Trevor Scott move the story along at a brisk pace with clean crisp artwork.  Overall, the plot in this parallel universe seems to be portioning  itself out, the previous issue seeing the death of DC's "Big Three", and this issue featuring the dying god Mercury transferring his superspeed to shiftless loser Jay Garrick. The proposal of marriage comes only at the end of this issue, immediately followed by cliffhanger catastrophe.  This revamps the whole idea of "Golden Age" DC heroes as relevant to the standards and practices of a tolerant tomorrow, which is of course today.

RED LANTERNS #10  - 9/10

For whatever reason, the DC New 52 saw fit to give The Red Lanterns and Stormwatch their own series in the universal reboot. This has not been a bad thing, in most aspects.  With Peter Milligan and Miguel Sepulveda (both extremely talented individuals with proven track records) teaming up on scripts and art, respectively, this issue of Red Lanterns crosses over with the previous week's installment of Stormwatch #9 quite nicely.  One part slugfest (Midnighter punches a cat) and one part progressive character development (Atrocitus is not the one note character he once seemed), this expands the scope of these relatively "unknown" titles and gives more depth and dimension to the potential "cosmic" impacts as yet unexplored (outside of Green Lantern titles, gearing up to a major forthcoming showdown with the Guardians of the Universe) within the New 52.  Pacing is solid, and the two part story wraps up neatly, leaving the future wide open for further engagements. As with all titles floating in cosmic flotsam and jetsam, these two are best served when they ground their storylines in concrete character development.  And of course... epic fight scenes.

SWAMP THING #10  - 9/10

The fantastic world developed over the past year within Swamp Thing has expanded rather well from the mythos developed during the legendary Alan Moore years.  To a great extent, we have series writer Scott Snyder to thank for that.  Yanick Paquette's art, a fluid organic complication, lent itself to the progress of the series popularity, but we can see Francesco Francavilla's art has played a crucial part in this issue... adding a texture to a beautifully colored flatness, akin to Darwyn Cooke, with old greenjeans returning from a desert war with the Rot (and Lord of the Rot, Sethe).  This issue features the official return of Anton Arcane, the arch-villain of Alec Holland and friends in times gone past.  The build up for all of this is a matter of course, and the story's pacing matches the ambitions of the creative team.  We almost catch our breaths after the epic arc that brought us to this point, and we can see that the Parliment of Trees, torched and hacked and rotted through at roughly the same time as Alec Holland's brutal chainsaw murder, have been revived as saplings.  Needless to say, Abigail Arcane will be facing off in a Rot-infused family reunion next issue, and further down the line we can expect connections to the Animal Man series finally (after much build up) resolve.


This issue, written by J.M. Dematteis, with art from Richard Elson, deals with troublesome and very abstract cosmic forces set to undo all of creation, plunging Infinity into Oblivion.  Pulling plots from beyond the scope of most fanboy's memories, Thor teams up with The Silver Surfer to curtail an invasion from Outwhere by The Other, playing the long con game-within-a-game devised, potentially, by The Other's counterpart and polar opposition, The Scrier.  Old times with Jim Starlin and the cosmic Marvel pantheon are faintly conjured, and an especially nice spot is where the Scrier calls forth thousands of parallel reality Thors and Surfers to rally against The Other... but the high power levels involved deflate most possibilities for reader relation, and in certain areas the vast scope makes dialogue fall somewhat flat.  Self-contained, as Annuals often are, the story still feels constrained, but for anyone more interested in flash over substance it's a rollicking good time.

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