Monday, August 28, 2023

Green Arrow #4 (November, 2010)

Like Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow was one of the longest lived DC super-heroes to have the fewest comics available under his own name. Prior to 1988, Oliver Queen had only starred in two mini-series, though the latter led into his most successful book to date, lasting 137 issues plus 7 annuals and a #1,000,000. Admittedly, his son Connor Hawke was the titular star after #100, because Queen was killed, and got the boy's book cancelled ahead of his resurrection in a new series. No, that return from the dead had nothing to do with Blackest Night... except it was enabled by Hal Jordan, and Ollie was briefly a Black Lantern, and his next, least "ongoing" series spun directly out of Brightest Day with related branding. So yeah, they're sort of related after all.

This volume would only make it 15 issues, from two distinct creative teams. Ultimately, it was more of a spin-off twelve issue maxi-series that tacked-on a three issue filler arc to run out the clock until the New 52. As best as I can piece together while reading as little as possible and not actually caring, a magical star-shaped forest sprung up overnight as part of Brightest Day. Oliver Queen, a guy that if I recall correctly was once elected mayor of Star City, seems to just up and decides to live in the park to protect this forest. A dude with mental health issues, escaped from an asylum in the aftermath of Justice League: Cry for Justice, joins him in LARPing as Galahad, and a supporting cast of Merry Men slowly gather. Again, a dozen of these issues had such prominent Brightest Day branding that they might as well rename the series Brightest Day Green Arrow, and the Ryan Sook White Lantern mural variant covers included Martian Manhunter on Green Arrow #3, but J'Onn doesn't actually appear until #4, and it's terrible.

You see, this was one of those exceedingly literal crossovers where pretty much the exact same sequence of events and dialogue are replicated in two books by different artists, with dubious writer credits. That can be mildly amusing if both books come out in the same week, so you buy them together and can compare side-by-side. Except Green Arrow #4 came out nearly a month after Brightest Day #9, so you're just like "didn't I read this already?" Actually, they serve to point out each others' weaknesses. The Brightest Day version gives more information about what's happening and has better jokes, so the Green Arrow version feels longer because less of interest is happening across many pages. Meanwhile, the art in Brightest Day is by a bigger name, but he's clearly blown his deadline and hacks out most of his pages in a manner so poor and unprofessional as to give DC a black eye for publishing them. That said, the Green Arrow art is basic super-hero fare, lacking the ominous mood, and it can't be fun to spend much of your month drawing the karaoke version of another recent comic. Oh, and then the second half of the issue is Ollie doing Green Arrow stuff, because the cover-featured crossover has so little to say with no true impact on either hero's ongoing narratives. That's why I had to vamp here instead of actually discussing the crossover itself... next week. Sucker.

"Strangers in the Night" was by J.T. Krul, Diogenes Neves, and Vicente Cifuentes, aside from the stuff generated for another title. I will say that the painted cover by Mauro Cascioli was leagues better than the one David Finch did for Brightest Day, though they both embarrass the lame Phillip Tan variant cover for #4. Neves' fundamentals aren't really there, so there was a time when he'd have been on a nice looking indie book, and could make the leap to the pros someday if he kept at it. The style over substance '90s really blew up the old standards, and in the modern comics art scene, I'd probably be begging for this caliber of work. Today they just bury everything under computer coloring.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Brightest Day #8 (Late October, 2010)

After J'Onn J'Onzz was resurrected in Blackest Night, he attempted to reintegrate slowly while terraforming Mars. However, he was haunted by visions of choking Saul Erdel, which led to the retcon of his origin to being the second Martian teleported to Earth by the scientist. Relying pretty much solely on telepathy during this investigation, the "Sleuth from Outer Space" determined that this Martian was a serial killer of humans. Still struggling with after-effects from his time as a Black Lantern, J'Onzz sought out to the only other Martian he could confirm as on Earth, M'gann M'orzz. "Miss Martian" had been fatally assaulted, surviving only through J'Onzz's sudden manifestation of White Lantern life energies.

Despite ample evidence, J'Onzz refused to concede that there was another surviving Green Martian who was responsible for the recent bloodshed until M'gann urged him to enter her memories psychically. "I'm opening myself to you-- my mind to yours, J'Onn. Be me..." The assault was recounted in first person perspective, with the yet unnamed Green brushing off Miss Martian's attempts to defend herself telepathically, through laser vision, and physically. The Green's psychic prowess was considerably more than "a Martian toddler," and was offended to discover that under M'gann Green facade was a "warmongering... loathsome... vile... WHITE MARTIAN!" The Green asserted that no White could ever be a "true companion," and that she had as much in common with "him" as she did the rock Miss Martian was being bashed against. "I LEAVE YOU TO DIE HERE ALONE!"

J'Onn J'Onzz and M'gann M'orzz united their... sigh... psychic abilities to detect a "telepathic black hole... in the center of... Start City," which the Manhunter flies to alone. It's not like he hasn't demonstrated a blinding bias in this case, or has access to a super-heroine under no other current obligations who might have a vested interest in confronting her attempted murderer. Never mind that this new player so overpowered Miss Martian that it's reasonable to assume even the Alien Atlas might need assistance. Do I hate comic books? Some days.

"Defiance" was by writers Peter J. Tomasi & Geoff Johns, with art by Patrick Gleason & company.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

DC Universe Online Legends #1 (Early April, 2011)

Pretty much every DC title featured preview pages for this series, a tie-in to the just released massively multiplayer online role-playing game. It didn't enjoy the same impact or longevity as Injustice: Gods Among Us, but DC Universe Online saw staggard platform releases through 2019, and to my knowledge is still being supported. Anyway, Martian Manhunter was on those preview pages, or at least his corpse was. Lex Luthor had finally defeated the majority of Earth's metahumans, and killed Superman with a Kryptonite spear. Yeah, it's a safe assumption that this was where Zack Snyder got it from. Lex was helped by Brainiac, who of course betrayed him and began planning the world's destruction, once it was processed by his Exobytes. Are you sleepy? I am. This bedtime story is all too familiar...

"Legendary" was by writers Marv Wolfman & Tony Bedard, pencils by Howard Porter & Adriana Melo, inks by John Livesay & Norman Lee. At least a classic JLA artist was involved.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Brightest Day #7 (Early October, 2010)

Cradling the critically injured M'gann M'orzz, J'Onn J'Onzz urged her to open her mind to him, allowing him to give her strength for survival. Yeah, I don't know how that's supposed to work, either. Anyway, in the Deadman (and Hawk & Dove, I guess) part of the book, the Life Entity had begun showing all the resurrected characters the reason that they had been returned: "save the cheerleader, save the world." Oh wait-- that was Heroes. Actually, everybody got their own cryptic and arbitrary assignments. As it happened, in this exact and fortuitous moment, White Lantern Martian Manhunter received his: "BURN IT. BURN IT DOWN. BURN ALL OF IT." Now if there's one thing no Martian should be in favor of, it's arson. I mean, certainly creating wildfires specifically would be bad, but did they even have forests on Mars? No seriously, I was drawing swipes on notebook paper in middle school science class-- did they though?

Besides setting up a side quest in a tenuous crossover to help relaunch Green Arrow in a solo title, J'Onn's brief switch to a white costume came with the bonus of completely healing Miss Martian. What a convenient resolution to a cliffhanger in the two pages the Manhunter was allotted this fortnight! I'm sure M'gann is instantly relieved of any psychological trauma from nearly being murdered because a serial killer didn't want any conceivable* competition for becoming J'Onn's babymama. Which isn't a disgusting subplot to begin with, right?

* See what I did there? Wink, wink. "The Secret of Life" was by writers Peter J. Tomasi & Geoff Johns, with art by Patrick Gleason & company. The art was pretty phoned in, so I guess Pat used up his monthly allotment of awesome sauce last issue.