Friday, October 9, 2009

Must-Read Books*: Doom Patrol

*The Must-Read nature of these books is determined by Duskdog, who is probably not actually qualified to reliably recommend anything more complicated than dog shampoo. Take this advice at your own risk.

With so many Green Lantern comics coming out right now, you'd think that the last thing I'd want to do would be pick up a brand new title to get interested in. But I did, and I can't remember why I did. And I'm glad.

I had heard hopeful things about Doom Patrol, sure. They have a lot of closet fans, apparently, and the creative team seemed like a good match. But I had never really cared much for them before. They were... eh, well, I didn't dislike them, but I wasn't overly interested in their adventures, either. Similarly, while I've always had a bit of a soft spot for the Metal Men, I wasn't prepared to pay for a brand new title just so I could read the backup story -- particularly considering that the quality of the backup stories in other titles thus far as been pretty... meh.

But OH MY GOD. Only three issues into the series, and I am hooked. Doom Patrol has always had this "we're a family/team of freaks, woe is us" vibe going on, which I always thought was a little whiny considering how many other heroes are out there who are similarly afflicted at various times, but it's very, very well-done here. They can't/don't really live normal lives, and now they've been doing these missions for so long that they're starting not to care about anything, anymore. We're told this overtly by the Chief, but it's shown throughout the story in ways that seem to even surprise the characters. Robotman tries to lead the team, with only moderate success. Elasti-Woman (as she's apparently calling herself now -- finally!) has whole bucketloads of issues that I can't even begin to touch on here. Bumblebee is stuck at tiny size, living in a dollhouse. Negative Man injects humor into every situation... cold, macabre, completely inappropriate humor that makes you wonder what the hell is wrong with him. Mento, well... I won't spoil the latest issue for you if you're interested in what his problem is.

It probably doesn't help, of course, that the Chief is a complete, unrepentant bastard. He has a long, long history of manipulating these people, and while they said back in Teen Titans that they forgave him, it appears to be more of a case of "kick us, beat us, use us -- we just don't care anymore". He uses them, he talks down to them, he even hacks into their personal files (Rita's journal, for one) and one can't help but wonder why they don't just kill him (again) and get it over with. He's definitely getting some points towards "characters I love to hate", and it's really amazing when you think about it, because how often do we get to read about someone who is consistently allied with the good guys, and yet is so obviously a bad guy? Usually the "evil mentor" concept character suddenly gets revealed as evil and goes to the Dark Side, never to be fully redeemed... well, except possibly for at the very last second when the hero needs it most. But for the most part, they're still considered a major villain. The Chief is... neither hero nor villain. The result is an arrogant SOB that you just want to see punched in the face repeatedly, yet you know the characters probably won't.

The villain of this first story arc hasn't really interested me all that much, but it's fine, because I'm far more interested in the psychological developments of the team. I'm sure they're going somewhere with it, and looks like we're going to be seeing more of the creepy Black Hole guy, but I felt more like the mission was just a vehicle by which to show what's going on with the team... and I'm perfectly fine with that. I just hope that the upcoming Blackest Night tie-in issue doesn't ruin the momentum of the book too much. If it keeps the same tone as previous issues, I think it'll be just fine.

Aaaaand, as if Doom Patrol weren't enough, we also have Metal Men as a second feature! Keith Giffen writes both halves of this book, and the completely opposite tones of the two really showcase his talent. While Doom Patrol is dark and psychological (with wonderful pencils by Matthew Clark), Metal Men is light-hearted and downright hilarious. For those of you who are JLI fans, you should know that it's got J.M. DeMatteis, and pencils by Kevin Maguire! His rubbery facial expressions are perfect for the tone of the book, and for the Metal Men themselves, who all have distinct, very pronounced personalities. The government has moved Doc Magnus and his robots to a qiuet suburban town in Illinois, and their neighbors are not too happy about it. Even when the Metal Men aren't busy getting into wacky adventures and try to help out the neighbors to win them over, nothing quite goes as planned. In this book, we learn some important things: The Metal Men are (probably) not toxic to your lawn, robots should never be allowed to drive, and actors are apparently only one electrical shock away from snapping completely.

And the robots' favorite show, "Douglas, Robot-Hunter" has been cancelled! Oh no! (Except every time I see Leonard Ruttman as drawn by Maguire, I can't help but think "Maxwell Lord". It's even funnier if you imagine that it's Max running around in that little skirt firing a blinky toy gun at people. Try it.)

In conclusion: Doom Patrol is currently my favorite non-GL-related book. Yes, even more favorite than Booster Gold at the moment. So give it a try, if you have the budget to try something new!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Because I Don't Talk Often Enough About How Much I Love the Arrow Family...

I completely forgot to post about something that did make me happy last week, especially considering how unhappy I've been with Green Arrow/Black Canary lately: Speedy is back!

Yay! And not only is she back, she's changed her costume, too, and I completely approve. Now she's black and yellow, and it's very striking... and it just so happens to match Dinah's look!

I love Dinah and Mia's sister/mother/daughter/friend relationship (remember when Mia was super pissed and wouldn't talk to Ollie when she found out he cheated on Dinah?) and I like to think the costume change is a nice little nod to the fact that Mia loves and respects her.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I've Got My Eye On You, Indigo-1.

Minor spoilers for Blackest Night #3 below. Nik nak nok!

I'll just be blunt: I don't like or trust the Indigo Tribe.

To be fair, we haven't seen much of them yet. For a long time all we got was a sketch or two, and I'll admit that part of my dislike probably stems from the fact that, when we first got a glimpse of the lady we now know as Indigo-1, I was underwhelmed with her character design. I've seen more than one fan talk about how hot she is, but to me she just looks like yet another generic sorta-bald alien chick like something you'd see on Star Trek. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, of course. I'm just constantly disappointed with the lack of good female characters in the main Green Lantern title (GLC is much better with the additions of Soranik, Iolande, the return of Arisia, adorable and interesting Star Sapphire Miri, etc.) and the fact that, of the leaders of each of the colors of the spectrum, the only other female just so happens to be Hal Jordan's long-time love interest. And of course a main female character being the woman that the main male character is, or once was, or wants to, "get busy" with is about the oldest female character cliche in comics. So I had high hopes for a Corps led by a woman, and it disappoints me a little that I don't like her look, or her personality. (Strong woman is great, but she strikes me as being one of that other type of female cliche -- the strong woman who's sort of cold and aloof). I might yet be proven wrong about that.

And I do like the character designs of the other Tribe members we've seen. Even Skrull-chin guy. But especially little squid guy.

But if the Indigo Tribe's definition of "compassion" is suffocating a wounded Lantern to put him out of his misery without bothering to ask him first (like they seemingly did in Tales of the Corps), I'm not sure that I want what they're pushing. That, coupled with the way they snatched Hal and left his allies alone and willpower-less here in Blackest Night #3 makes me really question what compassion is supposed to be. I assume they took him to go start gathering the other leaders of the other Corps, which would explain how he ends up in space with Carol and Sinestro in his next slated appearance in Green Lantern #46, and that is a very important mission. Yes, I suppose the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. But... a little compassion for the group of people you just left behind to be totally farked, guys? You just told them that they need a Green Lantern and another color in order to have a hope of defeating those Black Lanterns... and then you proceed to not only remove their Green Lantern (push comes to shove, they might be able to find Alan Scott, right? Assuming his ring even works the way they need it to), but you remove yourselves from the picture as well -- and the other spectrum colors are a little harder to find! I guess these days you can't throw a rock in space without hitting a ring-wielder of some color (I like to think that Guy would put it that way), but things are a little different on Earth. There aren't any random Sinestro Corpsmen, or Blue Lanterns, or Red Lanterns, or... well, anything, really. Couldn't they have at least left one of their tribe behind to help, in case the heroes somehow managed to get ahold of Alan?

Nope. They kidnapped Hal and left Ray, Mera, Barry, and company to what should be (from Indigo's point of view, anyway), an almost certain death. Maybe they'll have a little moment of silence for them -- that would be compassionate, I guess?

My other question is... is compassion really that rare of an emotion? Because despite what a lot of people like to think about the ugliness of the world, I think that most people have quite a bit of compassion in them -- though occasionally they have to be reminded to slow down and think for a minute before they realize what other people are going through.

I dunno, if compassion is that amazingly rare, I think everyone is in trouble. It sounds like something that fits more with Sinestro's view of the universe than I'm comfortable with. After all, isn't he the one that thinks the universe is a horrible, twisted, unforgiving place that needs to be fixed?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Zoomneto, Master of Flashetism

Have you ever been reading a book or comic, or watching a movie, and enjoying it quite a bit, when one simple little detail that shouldn't be important at all just... totally ruins it for you? Or maybe not ruins it, but pulls you momentarily out of that place your mind goes when you're in the middle of following a story?

I was reading the newest issue of Flash: Rebirth the other day, and that happened to me. I've been really enjoying the series so far. It doesn't feel as "epic" as Green Lantern: Rebirth did, and I'm a little leery of the little retcon about Barry's childhood, but I've still really liked most of the developments within and I can't wait to see where it's going next. This issue was no exception.

It's nearing the climax of the series, and Barry and Zoom are having their confrontation at last, which makes me happy. I always liked Zoom as a villain. He's delightfully insane and obsessive, and being from the future, he has knowledge of the past that makes him a serious threat to the Flash family. He reminds me of Sinestro in a lot of ways (and apparently Geoff Johns feels the same way): they're both obsessive (to varying degrees), they both have a lot of history with their respective nemeses, and they're both more intelligent than the hero that somehow constantly thwarts them, too. Barry is a genius, of course, but he's also hopelessly oblivious sometimes, as Zoom points out. And Hal, well... we all know he's got fluff for brains most of the time.

So I'm reading along, all on the edge of my seat, enjoying myself, when something that totally shouldn't bother me happens: Zoom whips his mask off, revealing... medium-length curly white hair.


I know, I know, it's silly. There's nothing wrong with hair like that. It makes Magneto look exceptionally hot, after all, and I am a firm believer that the Master of Magnetism is pretty much the sexy standard to which all villains should hold themselves.

But for some reason, it just... seemed wrong. It looks like something you'd see in a comic from the 90's, and not the sort of haircut you'd see on a guy like Zoom. It just doesn't fit with how I envision him. And that tiny little detail was enough to actually drag me out of my reading experience for a moment.

But the rest of the issue was awesome. MAX MERCURY!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

And the Family Tree Gets Weirder

I'm so pumped right now, I'm not sure how to expend all my energy. Green Lantern #45 was excellent from cover to cover, and leaves all the Corps in the middle of some really bad predicaments. I can't wait to see what happens next!

But of course, being the Sinestro fangirl that I have become (Geoff and Peter, start giving me more Guy scenes so I can rave about him again!), I'm mostly bouncing around because of the unexpected revelation of the identity of Sinestro's lost love.

I'll admit that I am a wee bit disappointed that it wasn't Abin Sur himself. There are so few gay/bi characters in the DCU, or in comics period, that it seems a sad waste to take a character like Sinestro, who has already been shown flirting with a confirmed gay man in canon, and make him out to be straight, after all. Granted, I accept Englehart's explanation that Sinestro would probably say anything to anyone if it meant furthering his goals (or, as he put it, "have sex with someone in Times Square" if it got him what he wanted), but it was the only clue we've ever gotten, and it's not fair to consider a hint like that as a fluke rather than an actual indicator of his true preferences. (After all, if a man flirts with a woman, and assuming there's no contradictory past behavior to go on, no one ever assumes that he's just pretending to be straight, right?)

And of course, he might be interested in both sexes (which would actually be even better, as bisexuals are extremely under-represented in comics), but the sad truth is that, now that we know he likes girls, most writers and fans won't even entertain the possibility that he might also be into men. Even though it seems fairly obvious to me.

Yet, I'm not posting to complain. I'm actually quite happy with this revelation, overall. I feel vindicated! See, I wasn't crazy, after all. There were indications of heartbreak and romantic sparks there, all along! Bu instead of loving Abin, apparently he loved a sister of Abin's that we never knew existed.

Now this is very cool. Arin Sur, as she is named, was apparently quite a pretty lady. So female Ungarans do have hair? I couldn't recall. We only get some brief flashes, but in those brief flashes, we see how they met, and what looks like a death scene in some sort of... place. It's interesting to note that Sinestro is still wearing his Green Lantern costume in that scene, though it's hard to make out any other details. I'm going to assume that we'll get the full story in Secret Origin II, which has only recently been announced. The only thing Geoff really said about it was that it would contain the fall of Sinestro, so I'm really hoping that means he'll be giving us more details about the lady Sinestro loved, even though I'm sure most of it will deal with Hal discovering Sinestro's corruption, etc. (Like something we've read before... Emerald Dawn II, anyone?)

And not only did he love her, apparently, but the loss must still be painful, because when he breaks out of that love crystal, boy is he pissed off. He's usually so calm and collected these days, and before that, his conversation with Carol was quite interesting and insightful even as they traded punches in a fairly evenly-matched manner, but afterwards? Afterwards, he's beating the hell out of her. You can tell that dredging up those memories hurts him, and it looks like it's something he must have been repressing deep inside for years now.

What this issue doesn't address, though, is whether or not Arin Sur is Soranik Natu's mother. She might not be, but considering the way this has all been set up, I would assume that she probably is. And that makes things especially interesting because, if it's true, it means that:

1) Soranik is half Ungaran.
2) Sinestro and Abin may have been not only friends, but possibly also brothers-in-law.
3) Abin Sur was Soranik's uncle.
4) Amon Sur is possibly Sinestro's nephew by marriage.
5) Soranik and Amon are cousins!

I'm also amused by the fact that Sinestro, who we now know has great love in his heart somewhere, and who was able to be encased in a violet crystal for a few seconds before breaking out, at least, could have become the first male Star Sapphire that we know of if only he had stayed in the crystal.

That's right, think about that image for a moment.

Monday, August 24, 2009

What About the Children? Will Somebody Please Think of the Children?!

I realize that the GLC has had their hands full lately. And I realize that, when Kryb was defeated, Kyle and Soranik had a lot on their plate -- the death of KT-21, the new law, the resignation of tons of Lanterns, the birth of the Pree baby, being in love/lying like a big jerkface, etc.

But... did no one think about the babies?

Kryb has been stealing babies from Green Lantern Corps members for some time, you see. And she was probably stealing babies from regular people even before that. And the Corps had to suspect that the babies were still alive, right? After all, the parents were killed in their homes, and the babies taken away -- which implies that Kryb had a reason for keeping those babies alive. Otherwise, why not just kill them immediately?

So when Kryb was captured, why didn't it occur to anyone to find those babies? They didn't even ask her where they were, or what she did with them! They didn't follow up in her home sector. They didn't make any effort whatsoever to save the wee baby children. And neither did the Star Sapphires! They were so busy trying to convert her to love that none of them even thought about some defenseless children? If the Star Sapphires stand for love, you'd think they would stand for all types of love (including that which is inspired by children), not just weepy tragic romance.

And now what we apparently have are children starving to death back on Kryb's little hidey-hole planet because she isn't there to care for them or bring them food. The little rugrats are eating maggots... maybe even eating each other.

No wonder they're (apparently) shown looking all creepy and angry, dressed in Sinestro Corps uniforms, in that splash page from a few months back. The Green Lantern Corps has forgotten that they existed, and the Star Sapphires don't care. Can we blame them for turning out a little bit twisted?

I really, really want an origin story for Kryb. Why steal babies? Did she lose her own, and now feels driven to kidnap others? Did Sinestro order her to do it? Given the fact that his own child was taken from him, he would probably be well aware of the fear and anguish that losing a child would cause.

More importantly, what does she have planned for them? Surely they can't stay in those little cages forever. She seems to love them, in a twisted sort of way.

Well, whatever it is, she's certainly being made into an interesting character. It's too bad that most people don't seem to think she's as cool as I do, just because she's hideous. The more I think about it, the more I think that she's probably one of the deepest, most interesting Sinestro Corps characters. Though I do like Karu-Sil and Arkillo, and I'm growing to like Tekik, too.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Real Question Is: Who's DUMB Enough to Accept a Star Sapphire Ring?

An interesting discussion over at Green Lantern Butts Forever got me thinking: who is Star Sapphire material?

Kyle loves easily, no doubt. He gets into relationships easily, and he gets serious about them very easily. It seems like a long time to us, but in DCU time, Kyle has really only been around for... three or four years, maybe? And look how many "serious" girlfriends he's had during that time. It's almost Hal-like, except of course that we know that Kyle loves and Hal... well, Hal usually just lusts, but I don't deny that sometimes he thinks he's in love.

And what does Kyle do when he loses a girlfriend? He moves pretty quickly on to the next -- which is good for us, because it means he moves beyond the angst for a while and is happy again.

Now, I'm not saying that it means he doesn't really love. I really think he does. But it's starting to look to me like Kyle needs an emotional crutch to prop himself up with. He admits to Soranik that he's in love with the idea of being in love, which I think is incredibly perceptive character interpretation on Peter Tomasi's part. And there's nothing wrong with that. But damn, he's a needy little artist, isn't he? And he tends to be a little selfish in his grief when bad things happen to those he loves. Not just his girlfriends, either -- look what he did when Terry got beat up! And when his mother died.

I don't think it's a coincidence that Kyle is falling in love with Soranik now, at this particular moment. It hasn't been long since he lost Jade, then he lost his mom, and he feels responsible for killing Jack T. Chance... and almost immediately after he finally has some time on his hands after the Sinestro Corps War, what does he do? Start flirting with Soranik.

Kyle's a sweetie. He feels emotion strongly (which IMHO makes him a better candidate for wielding various other rings than Hal, who doesn't seem to feel anything very deeply or for very long), and he has a lot of love to give. But I also think he's more of an emotional mess than the other three Lanterns combined right now. He's needy and sort of high maintenance... and you know, I can't imagine Soranik putting up with a needy boyfriend for very long. She has a lot of her daddy in her -- she's generally pretty no-nonsense when it comes to everything except her ring, and while she has infinite amounts of patience to complete difficult tasks, she doesn't seem to have a lot of patience for people.

Then again, I might be misjudging her completely, as she's been pretty supportive of Kyle's giant "I'M SO SAD" finger-painting project so far. It's still very early in their relationship, though, so maybe she's still got on some rose-colored glasses?

I really hope they're not setting Kyle up to be a Star Sapphire by rushing him into this relationship with Soranik. If something happens to her, he'll certainly have great loss in his heart because that's how he always takes tragedy. Does the fact that it happens all the time make it less genuine? No, I don't think so... but then we have Guy to think about.

Kyle and Guy are actually a lot alike in that they feel emotion very strongly and take loss very hard, but they deal with it in different ways. Kyle moves on to the next girl, because like I said, he seems to need to be in a relationship to be emotionally fulfilled. They save him from depression.

Guy behaves a little more strangely. Think about it. You'd think that a man like Guy, who makes no secret of his appreciation for women and isn't shy about flirting with them (sometimes inappropriately), would spend more time with one on his arm, or in his bed, as the case may be. But after Tora died, he stayed pretty lonely. He had that one relationship with Bea, but Bea was really only a step away from Tora, and she was certainly someone who could identify with his grief. I think, deep down, they really felt something for each other, but I don't think that Guy would have gone for her initially if she had been some other random person rather than Tora's best friend, because he wasn't ready to turn his back on Tora completely even though she was dead.

Guy loves easily, too, but he doesn't fall in love easily, nor does he let go of it easily. He loves deeper than Kyle does, maybe because, for him, love has never been easy to gain. Kyle is a loveable sort of guy -- hell, even Batman likes him, and that says a lot! Guy, on the other hand, has always struggled with rejection. His parents loved him second-best, he did everything on his own and had no one to rely on but himself, Kari shacked up with Hal just when Guy needed her most, Hal and the other Lanterns turned their backs on him when he finally got his ring and got into their little club (granted, it was because he was brain damaged and obnoxious), the Justice League couldn't stand him, tried to kick him out, and actually rejoiced when he lost his ring, etc.

For Guy, love is something you have to work for, and something you fail to achieve more often than not. When you find it, it's rare and special, and something you don't let go of unless someone pries it out of your cold dead fingers. When Tora died, Guy wasn't emotionally devastated the way Kyle always is, because Guy is a survivor first and foremost. If there's one thing he does know how to do, it's how to keep going even when it hurts so bad that you don't want to. But he certainly felt the loss badly enough that he didn't really bother trying to move on to another woman who wasn't deeply connected to Tora for a long time. Letting go was a struggle.

And obviously he never really did manage it. When Tora came back and he finally got back together with her, the first thing he did was pour his heart out to her without shame or hesitation. And then he wanted to move their relationship up to the next level (though perhaps not quite the level Tora had in mind) the very next time they got together. Losing her again would certainly leave great loss in his heart.

So could Guy or Kyle wield a Star Sapphire ring? I think they both could. I think the difference would be in whether or not they accepted the ring when it showed up to claim them. Guy, even in his moment of great loss, would probably be a lot more skeptical of a violet ring. He's a pro at dealing with pain by now, and he doesn't look for a quick fix in the form of something that he already doesn't trust. However, it would be perfectly in character for Kyle to accept it, because that's what Kyle does -- he escapes, does ill-advised things, and desperately searches for something to fill that hole in his heart, which the violet ring promises it will do.

Then end result?

Kyle in a Star Sapphire man-thong and Guy slapping him in the face until he comes to his senses.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Things I Do With My Hands

I've been told by more than one person that they're surprised that I'm not a smoker, just because I'm constantly doing things with my hands. If there's a pen close by, I'm clicking it, if there's a pencil, I'm doodling, if there's a ruler, I'm slapping myself with it, if there's a ball, I'm tossing it around...

So maybe it's no surprise that I'm a creative person, just by virtue of the fact that I have to do something constructive with my hands so that I don't destroy the stuff around me! I think the whole reason I started writing is because I can't stand the sight of a blank piece of paper. I have to fill it with something -- either words or pictures -- and I like words better.

My muse has been on vacation lately, but these things go in cycles with me. If I'm not writing, it's a pretty safe bet that I'm obsessing over something else. I thought my very small readership here might be interested in seeing what I've been doing lately.

Behold my latest project!

Yes, that's Guy Gardner as Warrior, and I'm very proud of him. There are tons of very nice customs around on the internet, and lots of great customizers on the GLC message boards, and they inspired me to try some of my own. Guy isn't my first, actually, but he's my newest and I just finished him tonight.

Everybody knows that Guy gets all the Lantern ladies!

Guy is made from a random wrestling figure that I picked up at my local comic shop for the grand sum of one dollar, with a head from a Maximum Aggression Matt Striker figure,a nd lots of sculpey and painting! The head the original figure came with was sort of blah, and I don't ever want Guy to have a generic expression on his face, so when I saw this head I knew it had to be him. I love the grin.

Arisia is made from a Rising Stars Chandra body with a DC Direct Armory Nightwing (Power Girl in disguise) alternate head that had to have a lot of work done to make it fit properly on the neck. The choker is sculpted. And that tiny Lantern symbol on it is a pain in the butt to paint.

Soranik Natu is made from an Infinite Crisis Wonder Girl body with a JSA Hawkgirl head. Pretty straightforward custom.

And, if anyone was curious, here's a pic of my current Green Lantern toy collection! I have a couple more figures that aren't up yet -- the tiny statue of Sinestro that just came out, for one, and my old style bowlcut Guy Gardner is on the shelf below these with his JLI teammates.

The top shelf is obviously Hal versus Sinestro, with my favorite super homoerotic pic in the background. The bottom shelf is the rest of the Corps, minus the tiny figures (Minimates, etc.) which will no longer fit on the shelf.

Scattered among the mass-produced GLs on the bottom shelf are quite a few customs. Soranik Natu, Arisia, Brin (the little horse guy), Penn Maricc, Sodam Yat, Star Sapphire Miri Riam and Morro are all customized by me. Vath Sarn, Charlie Vickers, Evil Star, Graf Toren, and Gleen are by Last Galaxy. Arkiss Chummuck and Katma Tui are by an unknown artist -- I won them on Ebay a while back and can't recall the customizer's name. If anyone is interested in seeing better shots of any of them, let me know -- I know they're hard to pick out in the pic here.

I'm working on several more at the moment. Probably next to be finished will be Karu-Sil, Emerald Twilight Sinestro, and Maxwell Lord!

I'm trying to resist the urge to make a "Max shoots Ted" diorama, since I also have a nice Blue Beetle figure now.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Why I Love Soranik Natu... Um, I Mean, Patrick Gleason.

I don't hate any of the "regular" GL artists. I love Ivan Reis's work and will miss him greatly. Philip Tan's current run on GL has been okay -- not bad, but I think his beautiful pencils suffer a lot from the comic book coloring process. I am not a huge fan of Ethan Van Sciver, not because his artwork is bad or anything like that, but it just doesn't do anything special for me.

But there's a lot of dislike for Patrick Gleason on various message boards that I frequent, which makes me sad. I love Gleason's art!

I realize that he has a bit of a quirky style that seems to be one of those "either you like it or you don't" styles. Occasionally there have been panels that seem a little off to me, but overall, I love his style and I love his work. Yet there seem to be quite a few fans who don't care for it, even going so far as to say that his art is ruining an otherwise good book.

I suppose I should be grateful at least that they recognize what a good book GLC is, when too many people are overlooking it in favor of the main GL book (which has been hit and miss for me this year). Peter Tomasi has been writing a dynamite team book, blending the Blackest Night plot elements in with the other story threads seamlessly, and making me care about every single Green Lantern on the page. It's no secret that Guy is my favorite GL, and he hasn't had much to do lately, so it's a testament to the creative team's abilities that I'm still enjoying the book so much even though my favorite character is taking a bit of a backseat right now. And I think that Gleason's art is a big part of my enjoyment, too.

So while combing my back issues for examples of why I love his art so much, I came to a realization. I already knew that I love the way he draws Guy -- tons of personality in every panel he appears in! -- but you know who else looks absolutely yummy under Gleason's hand?

Yes, Soranik Natu is both beautiful and adorable, isn't she? There are a ton of characters in this book, ranging from a (soon-to-be-undead) fly to a lizard-man to a planet to God-knows-what, and all of them look good, but Natu's design is just wonderful! I love the "I'm a professional" short hair, and the costume that's both modern and very classy. I love the facial expressions he gives her -- ranging from "tired" to "Love you, Kyle!" to "I'M GONNA KICK YOUR ASS!". I love the way he uses her hair to show her current condition, like above, where it's all messy and kind of flat because she's cute and tired. When she means business, it's all spiky. How many artists actually show their characters' hair in disarray? Not nearly enough, in my opinion.

What a snarl! You'll note that here, and in other close-ups, it seems that Soranik has violet eyes. Hmm, I had never noticed until now.

Determined pout.

I think I have a girlcrush.

And as for Mr. Gleason? There's only one thing I don't like about him: he doesn't do nearly enough conventions, so I might never get those dozen convention sketches and autographs that I want!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Back From the Con...

Back from North Carolina, and happily carting in loads of stuff that I bought at HeroesCon 2009 I've been to a lot of cons, both larger and smaller than this one, and I've attended HeroesCon nearly every year since 1992, but I have to gush about how amazing it was this year because of Blackest Night.

The big question for me on Saturday morning (I skipped Friday and visited friends instead) was: which of my geeky comic t-shirts should I wear? In the end, I decided that I was feeling greedy and wore my Orange Lantern shirt, and I'm glad I did. HeroesCon was like one giant War of Light! I've never seen so many Lantern shirts in one place before. Every time I looked, there was someone else: Green Lanterns, Red Lanterns, Blue Lanterns, Black Lanterns! The place was just bursting with GL pride! All weekend long, I was hearing "Hey, nice shirt!" and saying the same to other folks. Some people really got into it, too: more than once, someone with an Orange Lantern shirt grabbed something I was looking at and said "MINE!", then we'd both laugh and go our separate ways. I saw two different people actually wearing a full Green Lantern costume, and when two guys in Blue Lantern shirts walked up to one of them, he looked at his ring and said "Power levels 200 percent! Thanks!". Probably half a dozen people stopped me to ask me what the hell was up with all these rainbow t-shirts, and then of course I had to explain it to them. I'm almost positive that the single vendor who was smart enough to stock these shirts at the con probably sold a ton of them to people who didn't even know what they were for and just wanted to get in on the weirdness. (For my part, I already had Orange, Indigo, and both the Sinestro Corps shirts, and I finally picked up the Blue and Red shirts here, but they sold out of Black and Star Sapphire on Friday! Curses!) It was a Lantern-fan's paradise, and I can only imagine how awesome SDCC will be for those who get to go.

I also attended the DC Nation panel on Saturday, which Ethan Van Sciver happened to be a part of. Obviously they couldn't tell us much about Blackest Night, but Ethan did tease us with the knowledge that he's supposed to be designing a very important Black Lantern character for the cover of Blackest Night #4. The entire panel seemed very excited about the event, and we also got to see (from a distance) the first issue of Wednesday Comics, which seems very cool. It actually folds out to resemble a newspaper! The possibility of an Aquaman: Rebirth was discussed (Martian Manhunter and Firestorm Rebirth ideas were also bandied about), but Ethan was very clear about the fact that right now he and Geoff are concerned solely with GL and Flash, and there weren't any plans for anything else yet. Someone asked what was going to happen to Bart Allen, and the answer was "Flash: Rebirth is going to make you very happy."

My favorite moment, though, was when a guy sitting a few rows back from me asked if there might be a possibility of another ongoing Guy Gardner series. They wouldn't answer us with a yea or nay, but Ethan said (I'm paraphrasing from memory here, hope I don't totally misquote him) that everyone knows that Green Lantern is red-hot right now, and it's still going to be huge coming out of Blackest Night, and "two Green Lantern books aren't enough".

Now of course I'd buy a Guy solo book in a heartbeat, but it doesn't really make much sense to give him one considering that he (sort-of) stars in GLC. So even if that doesn't pan out, I'm still stoked about the idea that Ethan, at least, seems to think that a third GL book of some sort would be a good idea. I'd love an ongoing Quarterly like they used to have, or perhaps even a monthly tales of the GLC in the same vein.

Heck, at this point I'd read an ongoing title featuring the other Corps (or whatever is left of the characters at the end of Blackest Night even if the other Corps end up collapsing).

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Redemption of Sinestro?

Originally posted by me on the Green Lantern Corps Message Board in response to a topic about whether or not we might see Sinestro "redeemed" in the aftermath of Blackest Night (the idea was that maybe we would find out that he was possessed by an entity all along):

I realize I'm in the minority here, but I wouldn't mind seeing Sinestro redeemed in some way. The problem is that no matter how it was done, it would just feel too contrived. As someone said, he was created to be a bad guy, and I'm not sure anyone could ever accept an alternate explanation for his behavior. And it would only be a matter of time before another writer came along and decided the whole thing was stupid and retconned the retcon so that he was really evil all along, after all.

So yeah, I don't think it would work. :(

I desperately want to see some stories about Sinestro when he was a rookie GL. It's not really fair that we only know him as the maniac he is now because we have no way to compare (and no, just saying "Oh, he was the greatest Green Lantern at one time" doesn't really give us a clear picture of the man he used to be). Was he ever young and hopeful and gung-ho to make a difference in the universe... sort of like a rookie cop who later becomes jaded and cynical? Only instead of giving up and becoming numb, he decided he could do it better his way? Or was he always just a power-hungry jerk with phenomenal will?

One of the few things I like about Emerald Twilight is Sinestro's narration before he appears to fight Hal. If I recall correctly, there's a part where he's talking about all the things you do as a GL, and then one day you start to ask yourself "What has this ring done for me?". That's a very natural response to living a dangerous life serving others, I think. Power alone is enough to corrupt, but the temptation must be even worse when you're not just powerful -- you're putting your neck on the line every single day. And people being what they are, the public probably comes across as a bunch of ungrateful wretches most of the time.

I'm actually surprised that more GLs haven't gone bad. Maybe none have been as delusional, or had the will to be as powerful, as Sinestro, but I suspect that more than one GL out there uses his power for personal gain in small ways.

It has also occurred to me that we don't know anything about how Korugar was run before Sinestro took control of it. It's all relative. I mean, think about it this way (and I realize this is a super over-simplification of the Civil War, but bear with me in my metaphor here): if the south had won the American Civil War, what do you suppose the history books would say about Abraham Lincoln? If you try to make sweeping changes to a society too quickly, or before it's ready to accept them, you're reviled.

So what if the status quo on Korugar was something like America two hundred years ago, and Sinestro's "despotism" was in taking control of the government and freeing the slaves, giving women the vote, and making it illegal to put orphans to work for twelve-hour days in factories? Sure, he's still a dictator and it was still wrong (and definitely against GL rules) to use/abuse his power to take control, but it does change the perspective a little.

I'm not saying any of that is true or even an option or anything -- I just like to look at things from every possible angle. And either way, he's still a mass murderer and terrorist, so none of that would wipe it all clean.

Sorry, Sin. I love you, but you're still dirty.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Not Much Happening Today

Lacey Fiddlesticks is sick. She was sniffling a little last night, and today when I came home she was lying on my bed wheezing and sneezing and just generally being snuffly. I'm sure it's nothing serious -- seems to just be a cold. I'm holding her, and if she isn't any better by Monday, I'll take her to the vet. And her eighth birthday is this week, too!

Casting rumblings: Green Lantern is currently slated for release on December 17th 2010, and a couple of sites have reported that WB has offered the role of Hal Jordan to Chris Pine. It may or may not be true, and he may or may not take the part, but I have mixed feelings about him as Hal. For one thing, he's going to be playing a young James T. Kirk in Star Trek, which is a pretty similar role to Hal. Think about it -- they're both young, handsome, rebellious men whose fathers died doing something heroic, both end up joining an intergalactic peacekeeping force, both end up taking over when their predecessor dies, and both become big heroes who dig alien chicks. But I think I was hoping for a casting choice that seemed a little less obvious. I don't want people to look at Hal and think Kirk.

And you know, I was already calling those random Green Lanterns who show up in background panels "red shirts" because you just know they're there for cannon fodder. Geoff Johns sure does love to kill him some Lanterns.

I'm dying to find out who gets all the roles, though. Hopefully we'll find out soon, because they're supposed to start filming in September!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Why Hal and Sinestro Should Not Play With Pointy Objects

I am an Ebay fanatic. And I also have a love for knick-knacks and quirky things, and a certain few searches that I do every day. So yeah, I'm one of those strange people who, if I see that someone is selling, say, a Green Lantern shotglass, I will buy it in a heartbeat. (Yes, I have a Green Lantern shotglass. Two different ones, actually.) I like art, too. I go to conventions mostly for the character sketches, and I don't mind if they're done by artists that no one has heard of because I like seeing different interpretations of characters. So when I'm searching for my favorite characters on Ebay and come across art of them that I've never seen before, I usually decide that I have to have it.

I really liked the look of this particular print, so I bid on it and won it a few weeks ago. It's signed by the artist, who is someone I've never heard of, and I was not disappointed by it when I actually got it in the mail. It's beautiful in real life -- the photo doesn't do it justice at all. The colors are gorgeous, the details are much more vivid, and the stars in the background seem to sparkle. I love it and would have gladly paid far more than the mere few dollars that I did.

But you know what I like best about it?

The unintentional homoeroticism.

Observe (and forgive me for using the pic from Ebay -- my scanner isn't working and I don't have a digital camera):

Okay, okay. When you actually see the real print, you realize that they're crossing swords down there, and that Hal's is a simple longsword like something a fantasy knight would use, while Sinestro's is more like a rapier with a complex hilt whose details you can't see in this small picture. I really appreciate those picky details, because those are appropriate sword choices considering the way the two of them think. This whole picture is full of interesting symbolism like that -- from the really obvious choice of bird and snake to the way Hal is bracing himself with his other hand and has taken a defensive posture while Sinestro is having no difficulty attacking while using just one.

But still... every time I look at this, the gutter-minded twelve-year-old deep inside me can't help but giggle.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Adventures of Abin Sur and Sinestro

So I'm looking forward to a Sinestro/Abin Sur reunion of some sort, even if Abin has to be a rotting zombie when it happens.

I can't help it. I love it when villains are given some depth, and giving them dead friends is a good way to do it. I like the dynamic Johns has gone for -- Sinestro as Hal's mentor is something, and Abin as Sinestro's mentor is something more to build on. Honestly, can you imagine Sinestro actually respecting someone the way he seems to respect Abin? Or being friendly with someone? He considers (or once did) Hal as his friend, but even when they were getting along Sinestro was barely civil to him. Was it different with Abin? I mean, did they... I dunno, go out and drink beers together, or whatever Korugarians and Ungarans do with their best buds? I guess the "no hanging out in other GLs sectors" thing probably put a damper on that, but they obviously had contact with each other, even if only through their rings.

It begs a few questions. For one, did Abin Sur know how strictly Sinestro was keeping order in his home sector? Sinestro never believed that his way of ruling was wrong, so I can't imagine him keeping it secret when he's talking to someone he considers a friend. You know:

Abin: "Wow, you wouldn't believe the week I've had. Between riots on Flipflop 7 and the evacuation of that unstable planet in the Sparkly System, I've barely had time to take a nap, let alone file a report. So how are things out in 1417?"

"Oh, you know, more of the usual. Some idiot tossed a Jolly Rancher wrapper on my pristine sidewalk, and I had to bitchslap him through a building."


Sinestro: "Also, my wife left me. So I decided to outlaw divorce."

Abin: "..."

Sinestro: "She'll be eligible for parole in sixty years."

Abin: "...Did you stop taking your medication again?"

But seriously. I think it's touching that, when Abin is in his ship headed for Earth and is talking to Sinestro, Sinestro offers to come help him even though they both know perfectly well that Abin is doing something that will likely get him kicked out of the Corps if he gets caught at it. Freeing Atrocitus wasn't something the Guardians would look kindly on. And it makes me wonder if the Guardians even realized that Atrocitus was loose because of something Abin did. After all, Abin was dead, Hal was stupid, and Sinestro quite pointedly didn't mention anything about it when explaining what he was doing on Earth. He just said he was helping take Atrocitus back into custody, that's all. And I know the ring is supposed to record everything, but that doesn't always appear to be true (if it even was back then).

You'd think getting killed doing something against the rules, because of a prophecy that he wasn't supposed to talk about let alone act on, would have lost Abin his spot in the GL crypts or something. Sort of a posthumous dishonorable discharge? Or maybe, because he was dead anyway, they didn't think it was worth quibbling over.

And look at the expression on Sinestro's face when his ring makes contact with Hal/Abin's and Abin's image appears to give him his final message. D'aww! He looks like he's going to cry!

One thing I've wondered, though: at the end of Secret Origin, when the Guardians are dressing down Hal and Sinestro for fraternizing, one of them mentions that this is the second time that Sinestro has defied them with a Green Lantern from 2814. So Sinestro and Abin got in trouble together at some point in the past? We know that Sinestro got suspended as a rookie for questioning the Guardians, but he made no mention of Abin Sur being involved in that particular incident. (Maybe that's what got Abin assigned to be his mentor in the first place?) I suppose they could be referring to that, but it seems odd that, if they were, Sinestro didn't say "oh yes, Abin Sur and I got suspended..." when he was telling Hal about the incident.

So what did Abin and Sinestro actually do? What are these shenanigans that we don't know about? And why do I think that I could probably read an entire series of nothing but Abin and rookie Sinestro perpetuating these shenanigans?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Blackest Night Predictions

Well, I've been away for the past week -- visited some good friends, saw Elton John and Billy Joel in concert again, saw Watchmen (YAY!), and generally had a good time. It's nice to get away every now and again.

So now that I'm catching up on what I missed while I was gone, the question of individual predictions for The Blackest Night has come up. Here's what I think.

1. We'll see Sinestro as a Green Lantern again. As awesome as I think it would be if he became one permanently, I don't see that happening -- more likely he'll end up sacrificing himself or some other such heroic but sad (to me) thing.

2. Black Lantern Abin Sur's presence will mess with Hal and Sinestro's heads, but he'll end up as a good guy again somehow. Maybe even all the dead GL Black Lanterns will turn against whoever is the power behind the Black Lanterns in the end, thus sacrificing their own "life" (such as it is).

3. Laira will be redeemed somehow (possibly through #2, but Hal will have a hand in it somehow).

4. We've already seen Hal wield multiple rings, but I think he'll end up with most, if not all, of them by the time the whole thing is over and done with.

5. Sinestro will mop the floor with Mongul, but Mongul will remain a player in the storyline somehow. Maybe with another Corps?

6. I'm worried that something bad is going to happen to Guy. There's a little voice in my head that fears the worst, but another part says that they've built up the Guy/Tora thing too much to just kill him off... maybe he'll die but end up alive again by the end of Blackest Night.

7. Hector Hammond = Orange Lantern.

8. Even more obvious than #7 - the Blue Lanterns are going to die.

9. have nothing to support this one, really, but I have this feeling in my gut that something bad is going to happen to Korugar.

10. Nekron. Yeah.

I have a lot of other thoughts rattling around in my head right now so I'll likely post an addendum to this some other day. Probably after GLC this week.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Is Kilowog a Potty-Mouth?

None of my real-life friends are Green Lantern fans.

Most of the people I know don't read comics at all, but put up with my obsession good-naturedly enough (after all, they have their vices, too -- many of which also involve fictional buttocks, so they can't throw stones). The few I do know who read comics read only Marvel, with the exception of a single guy who is a total Batman fanatic. Which, since everyone probably knows how I feel about Bats, is interesting when we get together. Incidentally, he is also my polar opposite on most political and social issues, too. The only thing we agree on are music (classic rock) and cats (awesome)!

But in the past year or two, given the way Green Lantern has become popular again, I've been getting asked a lot of questions that I'm usually only all too happy to answer. Lately, it's a lot of "So what's up with the Blackest Night thing?" from people who are starting to hear the buzz. Sometimes, it's "What happened to that kid?" meaning Kyle, who was probably the star of GL the last time they browsed an issue years back. I lent my copy of Secret Origin to a friend who's now getting interested, and I've gotten tons of good questions from him, including one that didn't really occur to me because I'm reading from a different perspective: "I thought Sinestro was a bad guy. Now I'm confused." (Okay, so that wasn't a question, but it got a lot of answers out of me anyway!)

But the one question I should have thought about before but hadn't really was this: "So... what's a 'poozer', anyway?"


What is a poozer? Kilowog seems to use the word in a lot of different contexts.

Manly-man friendship: "Sit down and have a drink, poozer."
Drill sergeant mode: "Awright, poozers, line up!"
Calling out the enemy: "You poozers are toast!"

Sometimes it's not even a noun: "Get the poozin' ball!"

I'll be honest. I can only think of one word in the English language that can be twisted into use in so many different ways. And it's not a nice one. While I'm sure that the more likely explanation is that "poozer" doesn't really mean anything at all, or just plain doesn't have an equivalent in our silly backwater Earth languages, it's more fun to think that Kilowog is cursing like a sailor at every opportunity, isn't it?

The day he says "Pooze you!" to someone is the day I start using it, too.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

How NOT to Convinct and Execute a Renegade Green Lantern

So SallyP over at Green Lantern Butts Forever brought up some interesting points about Korugar, the Zamarons, and the execution of Sinestro (the first time), and it got me thinking about some things -- enough that I got a craving to read those issues again, and I'm really glad I did.

Specifically, I'm talking about The Green Lantern Corps #222: "The Last Testament of Sinestro", which tells the story of the trial itself. I'm not going to do an in-depth review because I'm lazy today, but there are a whole lot of things that I find interesting about it.

The story is narrated by Sinestro himself, which is an interesting and effective decision on the part of Steve Englehart (whom I've always felt indifferent about as a writer up until now). It's not very often that we get to see things from the villain's point of view -- it's unusual enough that DC just made a whole big event out of something like that just last month, remember. It isn't so much that he's telling the story (other than a short flashback at the beginning to how he got his ring and how he later fell from grace), but rather that we're seeing his thoughts about what's happening around him as the panels and dialogue show us the Green Lanterns gathering to decide his fate.

But think about that for a minute. What we're reading, as we flip through these pages, are the thoughts and feelings of a soon-to-be-condemned man during his own trial and subsequent execution. That's deep. That's scary.

But what's most scary about it is Sinestro's tone throughout the whole thing. It exemplifies those character traits of his that Geoff Johns has latched onto in the past few years to make him into such an amazing villain. Even in the midst of this trial, even when the death verdict comes across, Sinestro never, for even an instant, gives even a hint that he believes he's done anything wrong. He's not sorry, not even a tiny bit. He's bored with the whole proceeding before it even begins. And he's arrogant to the point of madness. He dismisses their concern for their friends, and laughs at their efforts to come to a majority decision. Even after the death verdict is passed he believes, right up until the very last moment of his life, that they won't actually go through with it.

His arrogance is also his undoing, of course. Sinestro knows that killing him will be the end of the Corps, because he found out that little tidbit of information by skulking around a Korugarian political meeting of some sort back when he was a Green Lantern. He even offers to tell them the secret -- if they'll let him go first. But they don't go for it, and rather than just say it, he tries to bargain until it's too late and he's being blasted dead. Ow.

But look at the trial, too. Sinestro thinks it's a farce, and after reading the issue a few times, I'm actually inclined to agree with him.

It's presided over by the Old-Timer, the only Guardian (okay, ex-Guardian) left since the little blue men departed this universe to do their little blue baby-bop. This is the same fellow who was supposed to whip Guy Gardner into shape after the Crisis, and who would later go insane and form the Mosaic. He seems sane enough here, with the exception of two decisions:

Prosecution: Kilowog
Defense: Katma Tui


On the surface, it seems like a sound enough decision. He's picked two veteran Lanterns, both of whom are known and trusted by their peers, and who have had multiple run-ins with Sinestro. And Katma is Korugarian, which might perhaps give her some insight into how the accused thinks and what his motivations are.

But the whole catalyst for this trial was the destruction of Kilowog's homeworld (again). John and Katma and Arisia swore to 'Wog that they would seek trial for Sinestro as soon as possible, and they did -- even to the point of putting aside some other, more pressing matters, such as Ch'p's defection and the fallout from the Millenium crossover. I suppose, from a certain perspective, it makes sense for the person most hurt by the defendant to be the one prosecuting, but it seems a bad decision overall. Kilowog was practically mad with grief only a couple of issues ago. And his decision is already made -- he came in the door thirsty for blood. When Skirl expresses disbelief that they're even considering execution, Kilowog's reply is "You got it!"

But that I can forgive more than Katma as Sinestro's defender. Even she protests. "But-- I despise him especially, because he is of my race!" This was written before the Emerald Dawn retcons, but Sinestro's history as a dictator-like ruler of Korugar is established within this very issue, too, so to say that she has issues with him is an understatement. She hates him. Later on she expresses a grumbly, almost childlike sort of reluctance to defend him. Like I said, this is before Emerald Dawn, but looking back on it from a modern perspective, knowing what he now know about Sinestro's first trial, makes this even stranger. Katma Tui fought to overthrow him on Korugar. She testified against him in the trial that stripped him of his ring. She's lost to her own homeworld forever because of the legacy he's left behind. And she's supposed to defend him here?

And when the time comes, she fails him utterly. She has no rebuttal to the case presented against him. Not a word. It could even be argued that she hurts his case by blurting out exactly what she feels: "There is nothing anyone can say to that!" I promise it doesn't do your client any good to let on to the jury that even his defense attorney thinks he's guilty as sin and deserves to die.

The Old-Timer's reasoning behind his choice is that Katma's integrity is legendary. And in any other trial, I'd say she'd make an excellent lawyer. She's smart, she's honest, she can be very business-like when the situation demands it, and her peers respect her.

What's curious, and most relevant to the Blackest Night the Corps is facing now, is what the Old-Timer has to say is response to her protests: "You can place your intelligence before your emotions -- which is what will be required of everyone here!"

D'oh! That's exactly what the Guardians are trying to force the entire Corps to do right now. Proof once again that they don't, nor have they ever, understood how powerful emotions are to mortals. And look how it panned out for them last time!

The vote itself is interesting, too. The Lanterns are instructed to make a decision individually, then beam their vote into the CPB, which will then announce the collective decision (the assumption is that it will go with a majority vote).

So, how did each individual Lantern vote? We don't know! We know that the majority chose death, but what about Hal? What about John and Katma and Arisia?

This is a burning question to me. I think it's safe to assume that Kilowog went with death, as he was practically foaming at the mouth for it. I'm going to guess, from little things she said and did in this issue, that Arisia also voted death, though we can't know for sure. Katma? I'll go with death, though she was obviously really torn up about her inability to defend Sinestro there at the end. It seems that she really wanted to be able to say something for him, but just couldn't think of a single thing. (This is why I find Katma to be such a wonderfully deep character.) John? Hard to say, he could have gone either way.

But Hal? Earlier in the issue, Sinestro seems certain that Hal would never vote to kill him, but who can really say? Though I'm inclined to think that, in this case, Sinestro was right. Hal was unusually silent throughout this issue, and the few times he did speak, it was to say something that expressed his reluctance to go as far as execution. He even says at one point that he flat-out doesn't want to kill Sinestro -- but then, he was also acknowledging that such a thing might be necessary, so he might have voted for it anyway. But somehow I doubt it.

And while I realize that they were making this a decision for the entire Corps, does it seem a little wrong to anyone else that Kilowog and a handful of others who had already openly expressed their desires before ever even hearing the trial be allowed to vote? I recently had the dubious pleasure of sitting on a jury for a murder trial, and we were questioned up one side and down the other about any pre-existing prejudices, or situations from our past that might make it hard for us to judge based solely on the facts. We weren't even allowed to discuss the case with our fellow jurors until the entire case had been presented, because we weren't supposed to form opinions until after we'd seen and heard everything. I'm not sure that giving a jury spot to someone whose entire race had been obliterated by the defendant was a particularly just idea.

I have to wonder now, too, how much of the execution itself was responsible for Hal's later grim-and-gritty stage that led up to his full-on Parallax possession. A small group of the Green Lanterns themselves carry out the death order with their own rings. (How could they even do that? I thought they couldn't kill with them...) They stand around Sinestro in a circle, raise their rings, and fire all at once.

Can you imagine how that must have felt to an angst-bunny like Hal? He just killed a man with (practically) his bare hands. While staring him right in the eyes. A man who, we now know, was someone he considered a friend and mentor once-upon-a-time. How badly did this weigh on Hal? How often did he think about it later, when he was travelling across America alone? Or when Katma died because she had no way to defend herself from Star Sapphire? Or when Parallax was slowly but surely whittling away at him?

In a way, what happens next with Salakk showing up and the Corps being destroyed is almost anti-climatic and detracts from what should have been emotional fallout rather than tangible, physical fallout. I'm not going to argue that Sinestro didn't deserve to die, because what he did to Bolovax Vik alone was reprehensible, not to mention all the other things he had done.

But that's not really the point to a superhero, is it?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Secret of Sinestro = Bondage, Drugs, and Assorted Kink?

So the other day I was going on about Green Lantern v.2 #124, and honestly, it's too good not to share with the world (Korugarian sex kinks, people!), so bear with me while I inflict this madness upon you. Behold -- "The Secret of Sinestro!"

Yeah... I think it's pretty obvious that the "secret of Sinestro", according to this cover, isn't exactly much of a secret -- Sinestro wants to tie Hal down and then fondle him inappropriately with yellow tendrils. The women? Pfft, just overcompensation while he tries to make the whole thing look very cool and villainous and totally Not Gay For Hal. (And yes, that's Carol Ferris and Kari Limbo that Sinestro is pulling the pimp-daddy act with.)

For the record, this is my favorite Green Lantern cover ever.

The story itself is a pretty entertaining one. Ollie and Hal are having yet another lover's quarr-- I mean, manly friendship fight -- over the fact that Hal went all lone wolf and wouldn't let Ollie go to Qward with him last issue. ("He and I just need to be apart for a while!" Hal says later. Yeah, that's what he tells his girlfriends when they get too serious, too.) Kari Limbo has just recently left Hal to get back together with the comatose body of Guy Gardner, so Carol Ferris is back in the picture again -- insisting that Hal call her "Miss Ferris" again, though. They're all hanging out with Pieface at the opening of the New Age Museum, a museum dedicated to honoring mankind's achievements in space flight, when Sinestro shows up and takes offense at the very idea of humans honoring their crappy space-traveling achievements. He has a tantrum, sets all the displays on fire, destroys the building, and then zips right back out again while Hal saves the innocent bystanders.

We get a moment of rare Hal intelligence when he observes that it isn't like Sinestro to blow shit up and not hang around to see the results of his handywork, followed immediately by a moment of Hal stupidity when he decides that Sinestro must have finally slipped into insanity. Wait, so... if he's just now insane, what has he been for the past twenty years he's been appearing in your comic before this, Hal? Just a little flustered? And Hal can't figure out why Sinestro hates him so much. I'm a little surprised that it didn't occur to Hal to wonder about it until just now... and the logic behind it is so very Hal-like. "He... doesn't like me? He obviously must be insane!"

Hal decides that, even though Sinestro could be"anywhere in this universe -- or in Qward!" the best place to start his needle-in-a-haystack search is Korugar. Which is actually... a very good guess, but a guess nonetheless. He dials up Katma Tui, who is sympathetic to his cause but is forbidden to do anything to Sinestro because Korugarian law says that she can't harm him if he hasn't harmed Korugar -- and all his recent crimes have been over in 2814, so he's not her problem. She does, however, inform Hal that Sinestro's dad operates a Null Chamber nearby, so it stands to reason that he might be hiding out with dad.

What's a Null Chamber, you might ask? Katma describes it as "something such as your Earthly opium-den -- illegal in the city but permitted here" and when Hal enters it, it's described as "a gloomy place full of strange smells and low murmurs". There are lots of half-naked Korugarians floating in the air, suspended by these weird yellow energy-beams. Sinestro's dad (who looks exactly like Sinestro, only with grey hair, a sexy long purple robe, and a Fu Manchu 'stache that isn't quite as Truly Dapper as his son's) explains the process to him -- the yellow null rays drain their vital force away, which... kills them. But apparently not all the way, because eventually (when their money runs out, I assume), he revives them. And people pay him for this, because "to taste death is the ultimate pleasure to a Korugarian!"

...So. Sinestro's dad peddles the Korugarian equivalent of erotic asphyxiation. This explains a lot.

As soon as Hal starts getting nosey about his son, though, dad snatches him up in yellow beams that, of course, Hal's Green Lantern ring is useless against. But... surprise! Sinestro's dad rips off his own face, to reveal that it was Sinestro himself all along! Dad really is in the room, too, though... floating in the null rays, addicted to the same pleasure he's been selling. (This also explains a lot. No wonder Sinny is messed up in the head. Dad kills himself for pleasure all the time.)

Hal is helpless in the grip of the null rays. He can use his ring, but Sinestro just shrugs off his attacks. And Hal is starting to feel sort of... happy. Apparently slow erotic suicide works on humans, too, because he starts to relax and enjoy himself, seeing the faces of Carol and Kari (and Sinestro watches all this with a little too much pleasure -- maybe watching is his thing?). Maybe Kari's stupid cheating face is what snaps Hal out of it, because he wakes up enough to send a super secret plea for help (in Morse Code) to Katma Tui and then gets Sinestro talking to stall for time. So why does Sinestro hate Hal? Because he can't get at the Guardians, he says, so he beats up on Hal instead. But why blow up stuff on Earth? Because Earth represents Hal, who represents the Guardians, and that's reason enough, apparently. Hal calls him insane, which seriously pisses Sinestro off -- why, he'll kill Hal right now instead of letting him have a nice slow pleasurable death!

Then Katma shows up and blows up the null ray generator, freeing Hal and all the dying junkies. Sinestro, still pissed off, knocks her out, and what follows is actually a lot of fun to watch: Hal proceeds to beat down Sinestro with his bare fists, just like he will do again much later at the end of the Sinestro Corps War. And Sinestro saves himself by...

Throwing a junkie chick at Hal.

Yes, a pretty young female addict stumbles into the fray, and Sinestro literally throws her on top of Hal -- proving that Sinestro, at least, understands what makes Hal tick even if Hal is still confused about what Sinestro is all about. Hal, of course, is distracted long enough for Sinestro to make his weird foldy getaway back to Qward.

Katma is not above pointing out to Hal that he did something stupid, by the way -- he sent his signal to her in Morse Code, forgetting that she wouldn't have the foggiest idea what all those dots and dashes were supposed to mean. And worse, he had just used the ring's real signalling capabilities not ten minutes earlier when he contacted her the first time! Oh Hal. You're dumb and Katma knows it. That's why, when Hal kisses her cheek, she tells him she's not like Earth women and kissing means nothing to her. (Korugarians don't kiss? I wonder what they do? Choke each other? Wait... yes, they probably do, given the evidence we've just seen.)

Obviously there's a lot of things about this issue that I find interesting.

First, Sinestro is established to have a father and a sister at this point, which is very unusual for Silver Age villains. It adds a tiny bit of depth to the character that most baddies back then lacked, even though neither sis nor dad were given names or ever showed up again.

Second, we learn a lot of interesting things about Korugar and its inhabitants here. According to Hal in this issue, Korugar is the only inhabited planet in its solar system, and Whonere is the only city on the whole planet (other sources list Korugar City as the capital, but I've seen Whonere mentioned before as well, and I can't recall if the name of the city has been mentioned in Green Lantern Corps recently so I don't know what's currently canon about this). The terrain surrounding Whonere appears to be desert-like, which... actually fits my personal vision of Korugar, but I can't say if that's a coincidence or because I've been remembering this comic for all these years and just haven't realized it. All the male Korugarians depicted here have the same receding hairline as Sinestro, which is insanely funny -- almost as funny as the fact that they all wear purple for some reason.

What interests me more, though, is the fact that this is a culture that gets pleasure from the experience of death. You'll recall that Recharge established specifically that death rites are very important to Korugarians, too. So I wonder if there aren't some cultural ideas about death that could possibly be significant for Sinestro, Soranik, and/or Katma (who is almost sure to be a Black Lantern) come Blackest Night? Normally I'd say no way, but Geoff Johns is just about the only writer I could imagine who is enough of a detail and continuity nerd to remember this lone issue and bring the subject up again.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Breaking News: Jailbreak at the Wiener State Pen!

Today is a beautiful day in middle Tennessee. 70 degrees, shining sun, bright blue sky... and of course, I'm off work, which makes any day that much spiffier. So I thought I'd take a little time this afternoon to clean out my car and then reward myself with an extra trip to the comic shop to pick up those old Green Lantern issues I once had and can no longer find now that I suddenly have the urge to read them again. (I knew I was remembering right. Sinestro's dad looks like Vincent Price and deals in Korugarian sleaze! More on that tomorrow, likely.)

But when I got home, what did I see? Lacey Fiddlesticks running around by the trashcan outside the house! Lacey is one of my two rescue dachshunds, and she had never really been outside a crate before I adopted her, let alone outside in the big wide world alone! Of course I nearly had a heart-attack trying to gently coax her to me without chasing her. Meanwhile she's running around terrified, sniffing everything with her tail tucked between her legs, refusing to answer to her name (she's still in training and off-leash recall is a big problem for her), refusing even to look at me half the time... finally I got her cornered by the back fence and she rolled over onto her back in submission, giving me a chance to snatch her up quick!

Examining the back fence, I noticed that someone (I'm sure it was Lacey) had dug a hole underneath. So there were another few minutes of panic as I ran into the house to make sure my other dogs were all accounted for, and they were. But right now I'm sitting here with all of them safely in the bedroom, door shut, doggie-door shut for extra protection, and my heart is still running a mile a minute.

Wiener dogs, until further notice, you are GROUNDED.

...Whew, I think I need some of that null-ray that Sinestro's dad was peddling.