It’s another whopper of a week in comics, so we’re back to two part pull lists. In part one, we’ll look at the books from DC, Valiant, and IDW. Includes GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #13, SWORD OF SORCERY #1, WOMANTHOLOGY: SPACE #2, and HARBINGER #5. Part two examines the offerings from Marvel.
In a bit of irony – and indeed, this is actually ironic instead of fake overused ironic – GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #13 acts more like a zero issue than the actual zero issue. Way back in issue one we learned how Kyle Rayner came to possess a GL ring in an abbreviated retread of his origin back in the nineties. Here new readers learn more about the struggling artist turned superhero’s previous love. The one that got shoved in the refrigerator.
It’s times like these I regret my chosen field of expertise simply because of how horrible and bizarre it can be at its worst.
More importantly, however, is that after the events of the aforementioned zero issue, Star Sapphire Carol Farris deduced that Kyle’s contact with the various lantern rings gave him the ability to tune to their energy frequencies. As such, they’re currently trying to help him do so with all the colors of the emotional spectrum. And having basically mastered the ability to channel Hope at will – owing probably to his time wearing a Blue Lantern Ring – he must now work on the others.
Insert obligatory Atrocitus cameo! He’s brought in to teach Kyle how to utilize his latent rage. It goes about as well as you can imagine.
Despite my somewhat misgivings about making Kyle more of a Mary Sue – in practice if not in intention – I liked this issue. I got into reading the Green Lantern books well after Hal Jordan and the rest of the Green Lantern Corps came back into prominence, so I never got a chance to connect with Kyle in particular. I’ve never had anything against him, he was just not my favorite of the Earth Green Lanterns. So it’s good to get a peek into his psyche; learn what makes him tick.
Plus, the chance to see an Omni Lantern again is what keeps me riveted to this series.
SWORD OF SORCERY #1 is a first here on the Weekly Pull in that it’s the first number one issue of a series I’ve talked about that wasn’t in a First Impressions. For those people who very likely missed the zero issue, Amy Winston just turned seventeen and her mother’s birthday gift is them going into a magical world where everyone wants them dead. The magical world has a proper name, but I can’t be asked to remember it, so we’re calling it Gemworld.
Also Amy kills a guy (in self defense), and the trauma of having done so is brought up for maybe two pages and promptly never again mentioned. Missed opportunity for character development if I do say so myself.
In addition to seeing more of Amy’s villain aunt Lady Mordiel, we’re introduced to two new gem houses: minor House Citrine, and major House Diamond. The former remains loyal to Lady Graciel, Amy’s mother, while the latter is shown to be filled with backstabbing opportunists with white and black hair, and just want to wait to side with whoever wins the inevitable inter-house power struggle that will result from the return of Lady Graciel and her heir.
It’s a good continuation of the previous issue, though it’s ever more clear that people will pick up this series from this issue and be confused. The cost of starting from zero.
And of course the backup story continues with the seemingly post-fall of civilization retelling of Beowolf. Our young narrator brings the super soldier Beowolf to his master’s Mead Hall, stopping on the way to kill some “Iron Trolls”. They are so obviously hunter killer robots left to rot after the apocalypse. It’s here we learn two things: 1) Beowolf’s yellow eye gives him tactical information about targets, and 2) the eyes tell us the audience that this story is set firmly in the DC universe. Which kind of puts every story set in it from here on in a different light, knowing that at some point in the future all the superheroes will botch things up and the world will end.
It’s almost as bad as DC One Million, which said that the distant future (farther than the Legion Era) is a glorious utopia. Killed drama dead, it did.
Next is WOMANTHOLOGY: SPACE #2, which is more concentrated than the first issue. It begins with a story by Blair Butler and Alicia Fernandez, whose title is in Russian and thus I can’t transpose the title. It’s a (presumably true; I’m unfamiliar with the Soviet space program) account of Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. Not much to say other than it being a biopic.
Next is “The Agency” by Joelle Sellner and Jean Kang, which is unique of the stories in Womanthology Space for two reasons: 1) it’s not set in space or centered on space, and 2) it’s by far my least favorite story in the miniseries thus far. I’m not sure what it is that turns me off, though I can possibly attribute it to attempting to be comedic with a premise that should be from a horror story.
Basically, a woman working in an office finds her co-workers shedding body parts due to biological tampering from aliens. It takes a really cavalier attitude towards the deaths and horrible transformations of several people. At least it’s short. In fact that’s an advantage of this anthology format: if a story doesn’t hold up, there’s always the next one.
Speaking of, the next story is “All Cats Are Quantum”, by Ellise Heiskell and Maarta Laiho. It’s about how alien races require cats – which for some reason appear all over the universe in some form – in order to travel the vast expanses of space. Now that I think of it, the last issue had at least one story with cats in it. I’m sensing a pattern here.
Lastly is not really a comic, so much as an experiment in writing. “How-to” by Devin Grayson is a script, and also a story. It uses the script form to provide an example on how to wrote scripts for television/movies/comics, while also telling a brief narrative that’s really of little importance. But it also has a cat in it. Maybe there is a pattern.
Last for today is HARBINGER #5, and I’ve even got a better cover for it than previous issues. Turns out I somehow got the alternate covers that, instead of having symbolic and apprapose covers, just had characters’ faces on them.
Peter Stancheck, exhausted by the rigorous training at the Harbinger Foundation, wanted to see how his only friend Joe. Only for him to discover he’d died in a squalled tenement of a drug overdose, from a needle Joe would never have used. The entire death was orchestrated by the Foundation, and Peter saw through the deception almost immediately.
Naturally, he’s royally pissed off. At the Foundation, everyone in it, and especially at its leader Toyo Harada.
One of the things I found tiresome in previous installments was the prospect of a standard school setting. Here this prospect is taken behind the woodshed and shot, as Peter storms the Foundation in his rage and insights a massive fight. Well, after holding his own against the Foundation’s resident power nullifier. Let’s just say Hidden Moon won’t be eating out of that mouth anytime soon.
No doubt Valiant intended it, but regardless of the collateral damage Peter wrecks on the Foundation and its staff/students, I fully feel they had it coming. After all, it’s all well and good to claim wanting the best for the world. It’s another entirely to murder their most powerful neophyte and expect him to take it well. Or rather, to expect him not to ask questions. Peter is many things, but stupid is not really one of them.
Not that he’s all on his own. It would seem not everyone in the Foundation’s employ equally see Harada as a benevolent force for good who can do no wrong. And now a being with the potential for greater power even than him is angry as all hell. This is going to be great. I should prep the popcorn for the next issue. This series is really hitting its stride now that we’ve got a definite conflict going.
What do you think? Is Harbinger shaping up to be as good a series as we’d hoped? Does the prospect of a Green Lantern with command over all the colors of the spectrum seem like a good idea? Did DC shoot itself in the foot by saying without ambiguity that the DC universe eventually goes medieval on us? Should our comics anthology series be filled with experimental text pieces? Are cats shaping up to be a running theme of Womanthology: Space? Leave your comments below.