Best Shots Reviews: EMERALD WARRIORS #1, BPRD: HELL #1

DC COMICS Jumps Into $3.99 32 Pagers

Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #1

Written by Peter J. Tomasi

Art by Fernando Pasarin, Cam Smith and Randy Mayor

Lettering by Steve Wands

Published by DC Comics

Review by David Pepose

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In a lot of ways, Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors is DC's big gamble for the overall structure publishing lineup -- in a world where perennial icon Wonder Woman can't even support two titles, can the universe's finest ringslingers support three?

And the weird part about this first issue is, the jury's still out. Without the driving mythology of the flagship title, and the universe of character options with Green Lantern Corps, you can tell by the end of this first issue that while it's got some strong craft to it, there still is some light that could be shed on what the high concept and mission statement of this book is all about.

In a lot of ways, writer Peter J. Tomasi is sort of left on a storytelling desert island here -- he doesn't quite have the infinite number of characters that he had with Green Lantern Corps, but he manages to make the most out of his favorite ringslinger, the irascible Guy Gardner. Tomasi really does pull out all the stops as far as his imagination with the ring, giving Guy some great moments, whether its speeding upside-down a runaway starcruiser on a neon green motorcycle or pulling out a giant green baseball bat to swat his errant target. But what shines most about Tomasi's writing isn't his power constructs, but his ease with Gardner's voice -- he's like an angry Ben Grimm, but with more heat than gruff. "I'm all broken up about their skinned knees," he says after he saves some irate hostages, "But I find a little shock and awe usually works better than a happy face and a cookie when it comes to getting the job done."

Meanwhile, artist Fernando Pasarin is an interesting study -- between this and his work on Brightest Day, he definitely maintains that solid, widescreen sort of visual format that's been all over the Green Lantern lineup. While inker Cam Smith gives him more of a heavier Butch Guice feel, Pasarin really excels with the facial expressions -- perhaps no surprise they all come from Guy Gardner, and those scenes are the ones that run electric. Surprisingly, Pasarin works best when he's working in close quarters, like the ominous shadow that falls over Gardner's face when he goes for a swing -- other sequences, however, he isn't quite able to play the action to the hilt, with his composition occasionally making some details unclear. Where things feel a little sterile, however, is the alien worlds Pasarin builds -- it's just a little too clean, a little too conventional, whereas a little bit more edge would really help catch your eye.

But while Tomasi can turn everything that's green into gold, you feel like he could shine some more light on the general plot and mission statement of this book. Obviously the seminal moment of this series has happened off-camera -- in fact, they happened in another book -- and while Tomasi goes to some great lengths to establish the tone of the Green Lantern universe, I'd imagine it'd be pretty difficult for new readers to leap on board with the heavy continuity here. (For example, the last page had no impact on me, because I couldn't tell you who the character was. And I'm a regular Lantern fan -- imagine what'll happen for a newbie!) And ultimately, that accessibility -- that accessibility that the hotheaded Guy Gardner embodies, even if the recent history around him doesn't -- is what'll make or break this title. If this book can give readers a bit more of a gist of what kind of story they're into, it'll be easier for them to justify putting down the long green for more of DC's top space cops.

BPRD: Hell on Earth - New World #1

Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi

Art by Guy Davis and Dave Stewart

Lettering by Clem Robins

Published by Dark Horse

Review by Lan Pitts

Monster on the loose! People are vanishing in this small town! Time to call Scoob and the Gang! Wait, no, that's not right. We need the BPRD. Mike Mignola, arguably the biggest name in supernatural comics, and this top-notch team of John Arcudi, Guy Davis, and Dave Stewart once again take us for an exciting ride with the BPRD gang. Though, this time around, there's something a bit different. It is indeed a new world and a new direction for these characters. After the conclusion of BPRD: King of Fear, the BPRD is reconstructed and overseen by the United Nations. Oy.

Now, this isn't a deviation from what we've come to expect and love from these creators and characters. It's interesting to see how the BPRD is dealing with the massive amounts of red tape and litigation. The first issue doesn't really build a plot as it does play catch-up, but there are hints of something big to come. I love how Mignola and Arcudi established the fear of Americans over the funding of BPRD by the U.N., again just whispers and nudges of what we can expect later on.

Guy Davis is one of my favorite artists of all-time. His comic style is distinguishable and animated and has been the image that I have in my mind whenever I see or talk about Hellboy and such. Dave Stewart's colors over Davis' art just plain works. It's a more laid back style compared to say his work on Detective Comics, but more in tune with what he did on New Frontier. The cityscape is bright and busy, and the woods Abe's wanders into have a spooky and macabre vibe.

If you're a fan of the series, go ahead and pick this up. However, if you're rusty on these adventures or characters, I'd recommend checking out previous installments because it doesn't really feel like a good pick-up point or is as accessible despite the dossier in the front. What this issue really needed was a full-on first page of "Last Time on BPRD..." sort of deal. I just worry that fans who want to get into it will feel lost.

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