Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lanterns and Atoms

Two of my most recent TPB selections have been the first collection of the All-New Atom series, reprinting the first six issues and a story from a Secret Files & Origins issue, and Green Lantern: No Fear, a collection reprinting the first 6 issues of that series with a Secret Files & Origins issue thrown in for good measure.

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I was never all that interested in The All-New Atom when it debuted despite having an interest in the character. The artwork by John Byrne piqued my curiosity, and the fact that it was based on concepts developed by Grant Morrison got it onto my radar, but the writing of Gail Simone has absolutely never drawn me in. Regardless of what she is writing, I just can't get sucked in like so many people I know can. I feel like she's missing something narratively. Every time I pick up something she's written, I feel like the connective tissue was left out, for some reason I can't quite put together.

So, I can't say as I was surprised by my reaction to these issues. So much of it seemed derivative, tired, and trying too damn hard to be clever. The basic concepts are there, and under the guidance of another writer it's possible they would have played out more effectively, but the whole magic vs. science war fell pretty flat for me. Oddly enough, I did like the artwork by Byrne quite a bit. I think this is probably the best work that he's done in years. The last time I enjoyed his work quite this much was when he was writing and drawing Jack Kirby's New Gods. The only Byrne-related disappointment was the fact that he only drew three issues and the Secret Files story. What's up with that? Was his assignment on this book stunt casting or did he get tired and want to move on? I'd be curious to find out.

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Next on the list is the relaunch, post-Rebirth, of the Hal Jordan Green Lantern series. This is another book that I passed on when it debuted, mostly because I wasn't too terribly interested in seeing Hal Jordan reintegrated into the DC Continuity. Granted, Geoff Johns is a competent writer, and I've always loved the work of Carlos Pacheco, but it still wasn't enough of a draw until I could read it from a library copy with only an investment of time to lose.

Since I've mentioned my love for Pacheco's work already I'll start this review off with another "what the hell?" to basically echo the sentiments in my Atom review regarding Byrne's departure after three issues. Same deal here. Pacheco is around to bring back the Manhunters and then bails to let Ethan van Sciver take over as penciller. Now, van Sciver is a competent artist but not what I signed on for when I decided to read this trade. Seeing as how he was the artist on the Rebirth mini that reintroduced Hal, I'm guessing the Pacheco gig was another bit of stunt casting to get the book out of the gate, but I'm still feeling totally ripped off by both of these series and they are not even my regular schtick. There is a Darwyn Cooke illustrated prologue, which was originally published in a Secret Files issue, and it's a joy to look at. Especially seeing him adding a little Gil Kane flare in the earlier parts of his story. A nice little story, too, giving you some background on the Jordan character.

That's a good segue to talking about Geoff Johns, I guess, seeing as he's probably the strongest thing about these issues. I wasn't totally engaged by the whole story with the Manhunters coming back and then Hector Hammond, The Shark, and some Gremlins drop by to make Hal's life miserable, but I did like the quieter character moments with Hal, the new lady pilot whose name I forget, the other Lanterns and his Air Force subplot. Not enough to actively go out and seek this book on my local comic shop's rack, but I can't say I regret reading them. I think the main problem with these issues is clarity. After issue three, for example, the Manhunters essentially disappear without any reasonable sort of resolution until you find out in issue six that they're being packed away in a hanger by the Air Force with the rest of the characters and artifacts of the story. A little rushed, perhaps, for my tastes, or maybe I just need to be reading the other GL related titles to really clue in to the pacing and vibe of the whole thing. Either way, I probably won't be looking in on this series again for the forseeable future.

And with that, I take my leave.



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