Best Shots: Green Lantern, Marvels & More

Best Shots: Green Lantern, Marvels...

Green Lantern #38

Greetings! Before we get started, a brief bit. I’m proud to point out that as of this week, Best Shots has been a feature at Newsarama for four years. That’s absolutely mind-boggling to me. My son Connor was only a month old when I prepared the first installment; now he’s explaining to guys at the comic shop that the Iron Patriot is Norman Osborn. And my son Kyle wouldn’t make his first appearance for another 22 months. When we kicked off, it was just me, The Rev. OJ Flow, and Corey Henson; over time, we’ve had about thirty total contributors, with a fairly consistent core of about a dozen or so. Some of the group has moved over to Blog@, some have left to pursue their own thing, and some work for the Bat (okay, Janelle works for the Bat). But I do think that it’s fair to say that we wouldn’t do this if we didn’t, for the most part, have a good time doing it. So thanks for reading. And with that, actually, it’s a pretty light week . . .

One Best Shot Extra this week for those who might have missed it: New Avengers #50

Green Lantern #38

From: DC

Writer: Geoff Johns

Art: Ivan Reis with Oclair Albert Mei Ruffino

Review by Mike Mullins

Issue #38 hops across the universe in frenetic fashion to show Earth, Ysmault, Qward in the Antimatter Universe, Okaara in the Vega System, Oa, and Odym, home of the Blue Lantern Corps. This issue truly feels as if it is building to an epic event, but that event still feels more like the War of Light than Blackest Night, excluding the Origins and Omens entry. As a reader I want both, but the timeframe for Blackest Night seems to indicate that these two potential events will both occur during Blackest Night.

Fortunately for the Rage of the Red Lanterns storyline, the bookends of this arc are far superior to the middle two issues. While the middle two issues had moments to savor and plot points that were cringe-worthy, the finale left me satisfied, ready to devour more Green Lantern, and only questioning one point in the story. As always, the pages were beautiful and Ivan Reis with Oclair Alberts inks and Mei Ruffino’s colors continues to provide some of the best artwork in comics today. Reis is so good because he does not merely draw beautiful pictures, but because he lends an easy to follow story that provides the reader with a clear perspective of the events taking place.

This issue should answer one of the expectations that has popped up across message boards about Hal Jordan collecting one of each ring as Blackest Night approaches. The answer should please most fans.

Green Lantern #38 also delivers on a promise from the previous issue, letting the reader in on the secret of the Blue Lantern rings. Given that Ganthet and Sayd are the leaders of the Blue Lanterns, the limitation of the blue rings is logical, but leads to a few questions. How did Saint Walker reach the Green Lanterns and Sinestro of space in Rage of the Red Lanterns? Why do Walker and Warth still have blue auras once Hal is fully consumed by the power of the red ring?

Once the struggle on Ysmault concludes, the issue sets up the coming arcs of Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, and Blackest Night. A two page spread with Sinestro consolidating his power among the still-loyal Sinestro Corps members and another page covering the Controllers search for the power source for the orange light are well-conceived and executed in moving the story closer to the War of Light.

The Origins and Omens backup features the Star Sapphires and links two of them to John and Hal in a nice vignette. Overall, this is one of the best Origins stories I have read yet, but that may be because it focuses on new events in the lives of characters that will soon impact the title characters.. The Omens page focuses on four scenes related to blackest night, but the hint at addressing Alan Scott’s place in the Green Lantern mythos is the most intriguing, especially since the other three had been hinted at previously.

Marvels: Eye of the Camera #4

Marvels: Eye of the Camera (issues #1-#4)

Written by Kurt Busiek

Art by Jay Anacleto

Colors by Brian Haberlin

From Marvel Comics

Review by Brendan McGuirk

In some ways, there is no easier sell than a sequel. With reputation as a springboard, sequels have build-in audiences, and built-in expectations. It is easy to decide to make a sequel, but it is damn near impossible to do it so well it recaptures the successes of the original.

The first Marvels miniseries was a story of substance in a time when the market was lacking. It used iconic moments in Marvel history to explore the publisher's evolution from the Golden Age, through the Silver. It showcased the exquisite, photo-realistic artwork of painter Alex Ross, and helped to cement his reputation as a preeminent comics' artist. It also catapulted writer Kurt Busiek to stardom. The miniseries displayed many of Busiek's strengths; from his categorical knowledge of fictitious history, to his ability to contextualize that history's broader resonant themes. Rare indeed is the project that puts not only one, but two long-lasting creators on fandom's map.

More than ten years later, Marvels is being revisited, albeit without the talents of Alex Ross. As great a loss as that is, Eye of the Camera is very well served by the emotive art of Jay Anacleto. It fits. Alex Ross' style- posed, iconic, and definitively heroic- lent itself to a story about the Silver Age. His art looked the way we remembered that era. But Marvels ended with the death of Gwen Stacey, and so ended with the close of comics' Silver Age. Eye of the Camera , though, is about the era that followed. It is an era that has yet to be decisively titled, but for the sake of comparison, it was the Dark Age of comics, and Anacleto captures it perfectly with his emotive, nuanced work.

Marvels hero photog Phil Sheldon once again serves as our guide through this portion of Marvel history. In the days that follow the Silver age, Sheldon, and the majority of denizens of the Marvel U, have had the faith in their heroes shook. Corruption, hearsay, and scandal have diminished the once majestic superhero community to little more than tabloid fodder. Where there was once hope and wonder, there is now only disappointment, and Phil Sheldon, as a man who made a career and reputation showing his world its heroes, is living it.

Busiek is unparalleled in his ability to perfectly distill comics' zeitgeist, both through his character arcs and his choices of iconic moments to include. When it comes to placing the era, he leaves little room for doubt; recapturing perhaps the second most famed death in the history of Marvel Comics. This inclusion dramatically drives home the themes of loss of faith and ideals, mortality, and rising anxiety. As in his creator owned series, Astro City, he uses comics to generate a commentary on comics. By exploring about how an audience recalls a period, he compartmentalizes those periods, and extrapolates the greater arc it suggests. Them's is some big words to talk about the funnybooks, but as the work strives to categorize entire eras of comics' history, its ambition demands evaluation.

It is hard to imagine this book coming out even five years ago. Time and separation was needed to move beyond the Dark Age, to the frustrating-to-classify “Modern Age,” so readers could cultivate their own opinions on the defining characteristics of the era. Busiek and Anacleto's Marvels is different from the original, but it delivers on its promise. It takes readers to a world of rising complexity and moral ambiguity, and searches for hope. It is a tale only comics can tell.


She-Hulk #38 (Marvel; Reviewed by Brian Andersen): Fare thee well, sweet She-Hulk! You and your green greatness were the whole reason I started reading comic books in the first place (I can still remember seeing your face on the spinner racks in 7 Eleven in all your big-haired hotness back when you were in the Fantastic Four. *Sigh* My first comic book love). Alas, your solo book’s been cancelled (again, for like the 4th freaking time) and your future remains in question. Will you rebound in the Avengers? Hulk? Fantastic Four? Or slowly fade away as the All New – do we really need a new – Savage She-Hulk pops up in the Marvel U. Reading this issue, like any fantastically written comic by Peter David, is as action packed, emotionally gripping, and thought provoking as any top-notch cable series on TV today. In this excellent issue alone we have She-Hulk struggling to forgive her Skrull friend (for placing a mind-probing chip in her head), to She-Hulk’s internal struggle as to whether or not she should return to her old lawyery life at her glamorous law firm, to She-Hulk struggling to risk her freedom, her hero status, and her superhero lady-friends all in an effort to save said Skrull-gal-pal from being dissected - while still alive! So much drama, so much amazing characterization - and mucho buckets of fabulously funny cheesy humor - all rolled up in one, consistently awesome comic book: that’s now been cancelled! (*sniff*.) So goodbye, dear Shulkie, may you turn up again somewhere fabulous, so that you can show Marvel just how viable and important you are!

Blue Beetle #36 (DC; Reviewed by Erich): Sadly, this marks the final issue of Blue Beetle. And that just pisses me off more than I can say on Newsarama. From the get go, the tale of Jaime Reyes has been a fun one. The idea of a teenager getting super powers, fighting crime and/or super villains, all without falling into the trap of teen angst, was a refreshing thing. He was able to build up a network of friends and confidants, his family knew about the powers, and he had a girlfriend. Sadly, as the series ends, not everybody gets the happy ending they deserve. The battle with the KDRA ends up becoming one of those tragic life lessons that all heroes seem to have to go thru. Keith Geffen, John Rogers and Cully Hamner gave us the character. Matt Sturges and Rafael Albuquerque brought his exploits to their conclusion in his solo book. To all of them, I say Thank You. It sucks that Blue Beetle has come to an end, but I'm glad we had the last three years to enjoy the book.

Justice Society of America #24 (DC Comics; review by Rev. O.J. Flow): Damn. Just when I thought the door was closed on the S&M version of Mary Marvel from Final Crisis, Geoff Johns goes and drags her into his JSA swan song. Hopefully it's because he plans on fixing her ASAP. It is, after all, what he's good at, fixing characters in serious need of rehab. Equally in need of some TLC is Isis, surprisingly more vindictive and loveless coming off her recent revival. Shoot, if her agenda is enough to rattle Black Adam, you know it's trouble. I do like how Johns, along with artist Jerry Ordway, have revisited the Power of Shazam! epic from years past (man, this took me back to college) to reestablish the the Marvel Family status quo, though I wish Johns' last JSA story was more for the benefit of the team than essentially some guest stars. With only two more issues under Johns' stewardship, you want it to count, right? For good or for bad, the future of the team looks compelling, as upcoming writer Matthew Sturges gets the opportunity to lay some foundation by way of an "Origins & Omens" backup. I wish we'd get to find out who's handling art to support Sturges and Bill Willingham, but they can't go wrong with Fernando Pasarin. If this is any indication, the creative transition could be a painless one for fans of this book.

Double Shot: The New Avengers #50 (Marvel; by Troy): You know, I really enjoyed this issue. From the titular team’s alternating anger and befuddlement at the public debut of the “Dark Avengers” to the logical use of Spider-Woman as double-agent to the big swerve with exactly who wound up fighting whom, it was clear that Bendis was having a ball. It also helps tremendously that the book had a couple of artists who can bring some flow to the fight scenes; there was more kinetic design sense in that one bit of Iron Fist flipping and punching than Yu brought to most of his work on this title. The portrayal of Norman Osborn in particular seemed to really move this one along, but very little beat that opening sequence of the New Avengers in an uproar (particularly Luke Cage’s “Ah @#$%, you know who they are? Those are the @#$%@#Sing Thunderbolts” and Spider-Man’s entire running commentary).

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