Monday, January 29, 2024

Brightest Day #24 (Late June, 2011)

The ultimate purpose of the events involving our heroes post-resurrection is revealed to be making a new Swamp Thing out of the reanimated corpse of Alec Holland. The elementals are absorbed into the new giant Swamp Thing so that they could… make it breathe fire once and then swiftly kill the new giant Black Lantern Swamp Thing? Which was made out of… whichever version of Swamp Thing had been in continuity since 1972? There were obscure continuity barriers between the stories published by mainstream DC and the mature readers Vertigo imprint, but seemingly whichever Swamp Thing fans had supported across hundreds of solo comic issues and forty-odd years was hand-waved away in a handful of underwhelming panels? Plus, the multiple-artist approach that worked for an anthology series buckles when forced to illustrate one continuous narrative and they can't even keep the Swamp Things straight. Immediately after reintroducing the 80s/90s comic model Swamp Things, they revert to the '70s/first movie design. It could have been interesting (and meta) to have the two versions fight, but this is simply editorial incompetence and cognitive dissonance. And if you don't agree-- didn't we just have a mega event by much of this same production team that introduced and established Black Lanterns as unkillable outside of exposure to energies from the emotional spectrum? And Black Lantern Swamp Thing had a climactic… stabbing with a sharp stick? Yeah, yeah, preceded by fire and White Lantern energy, but the splash page finale is all about being stabbity.

With the primary threat resolved in something like 15 story pages, with about 5 devoted to the actual fight (depending on how you count splashes,) this extra-sized conclusion has Lord of the Rings-level coda action. The re-deadened Deadman's undying romance with Dove. Hawk's being the sole failure among all the resurrected with vague unresolved consequences. A missing Hawkwoman with a raging, inconsolable Hawkman. Nods to all the lame, tenuous tie-in comics. The weak Aquaman thread that the same creative team won't bother with during his relaunch. Swamp Thing executing the board of an oil company. The longest surviving Vertigo mature readers series put down so a neutered John Constantine can team-up with Batman and join a freakin' Justice League. A ticking time clock toward the Firestorm Matrix detonating to destroy the entire universe.

One of the defining aspects of this era of DC Comics was reverting the status quo of its heroes to a modernized version of the Silver Age. Swamp Thing didn't exist until the Bronze Age, but this appears to be the same approach. Telling though that Geoff Johns, whose major successes at DC were often dependent on expanding upon concepts originated by Alan Moore, was not involved in a relaunch of Swamp Thing that would seem to reset the character to a point before Moore's influence. There's also the whole "mass murderer of corporate polluters" angle, which had been done at times in Swamp Thing comics, but never took as a sustainable method. The Eco-Punisher take didn't survive the follow-up mini-series, what with the immediate reboot for the New 52 ongoing series. Actually, that may be one of Johns' greatest legacies in comics-- year+ long maxi-series spanning a dozen or more issues involving top shelf talent intended to guide the future of the DC Universe that are immediately cut off at the knees in some form of line-wide reboot that negates the intended effects.

This isn't a problem for J'Onn J'Onzz. The entire purpose of his arc was to permanently sever the connection of the Manhunter from Mars from… um… Mars. His whole thing in comics. So the Alien Earthen Atlas (everyone's elemental powers of five minutes went away) has fully committed to his adopted world, and uses his intangibility to remove the inoperable splinter from Melissa Erdel's brain. Sure she's lost nearly sixty years of her life and is still a badly scarred elderly woman with mental issues near the end of her life who was left in that state until now by an incurious Sleuth from Outer Space Colorado's negligence, but I guess it's never too late to make amends? Like how Melissa apologized for kidnapping J'Onn, and he just smiled and said, "You didn't steal my life. You and your father gave me one." Sure. Melissa was part of this one story that was mostly about creating and building up a new villainess that doesn't survive the story, and The Denver Manhunter is the one lead who has no set-up for a follow-up, essentially acknowledging that it had the least creative and audience support. But now J'Onn can hang out at Mount Hope Senior Home with an old lady mentally stunted in at most her twenties with a decades old frame of reference going into her twilight. What a life.

This untitled thing was by writers Peter J. Tomasi & Geoff Johns, with art by Patrick Gleason and Ivan Reis on the Mile High Marvel, and a bunch of other dudes on the rest.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Brightest Day #23 (Early June, 2011)

Having accepted a new role as Earth's elemental heroes in service to the Life Entity, Martian Manhunter bonds with... er... earth, Firestorm fire (doesn't have fire powers, but see also J'Onn J'Onzz), Aquaman water, and the Hawks wind. They are meant to combat the corrupted Avatar of the Green, Swamp Thing, who has been possessed by the Black Lantern power battery, or something. No way are you convincing me that this story was planned out from the beginning. The final stand will take place around the Star City forest, and also the reanimated corpse of Alec Holland will be on hand to negate one of the best loved Alan Moore stories of all time. Hell of a way to say thanks for providing the foundation for most of your career, Johns.

"Rise and Fall" was by writers Peter J. Tomasi & Geoff Johns, with art by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, & company. I tried to get back to this over the holidays, but every time I went to log into the blog or read the last chapters, I heard a cracking sound in my soul. Sorry folks, but I'm feeling better now (despite actually being sick in bed for much of this weekend.)