From the DC Universe

Some golden oldies from the DC stable.

Green Lantern – Sector 2814 Volume 1

Written by Len Wein, illustrated by Dave Gibbons

This volume collects together issues #172 – 176 and #178 – 181 from the comic, all of which I believe I have somewhere boxed and sealed in mylar baggies, the first of these graphic offerings that I am relatively sure I actually read back in the old days. In the opening tale Hal Jordan confronts the Guardians of Oa who have had him exiled from Earth for a year and demands that he be allowed to return to his home world, which is permitted. In the last tale he’s back on Oa, this time to resign from the Lantern Corps because those mean old Guardians insisted he save a world of billions instead of protecting the woman he loves. In between we have various confrontations with the Shark, the Javelin, and the Demolition Team – the first villain simply because he’s mean, while the others are sicked on the Ferris Aircraft Company where Hal works as a test pilot by a political enemy of the Ferris family. It’s good, solid storytelling, with echoes of something even nastier and Machiavellian going on in the background, but at the same time all pretty much business as usual when the business is super heroics, though I did appreciate the novelty of Hal’s psychic battle with the Shark. The real crux of the book concerns Jordan’s mixed feelings about his role as a Lantern, whether the sacrifices he makes in his personal life because of this are worthwhile. And as far as that goes, while I can see his dilemma I’m far from confident in his solution, and as a side issue rather disgusted with lady friend Carol Ferris for expecting Hal to put her concerns ahead of the lives of a billion or so intelligent beings. I am perhaps taking this all a tad too seriously, but while they might be amplified to the max issues like career vs. true love are the sort of things for which we can all find touchstones in our own lives, making the comic relevant. The artwork is easy on the eye, with some fine delineations of our musclebound hero and his ilk, but at the same time by modern standards it seems rather dated and panel bound, with none of the visual innovation and excitement to be found in the best of these other books.

Wonder Woman – Warkiller

Written by Gail Simone, illustrated by Aaron Lopresti & Bernard Chang

The book opens with WW feeling rather sorry for herself (she has good reason), so she hooks up with Black Canary for empathy and support, and the two of them go off to Asia to break up an underground superhuman fighting ring. Next up she returns to the Amazons’ island home of Themyscira, where Queen Hippolyta has been replaced by Achilles, the Warkiller of the title, at the order of Zeus. A palace faction is plotting to seize power, and the public execution of Wonder Woman/Princess Diana is the central plank of the plan. All’s well that ends well, and even Zeus gets to learn a little humility, with the natural order among the Amazons restored. Yay, Team Amazon! It all feels a bit contrived to me, storytelling on the hoof, with various gods in the machine to forward the plot. I was however impressed by WW’s acceptance of the court’s decision, even though it was blatantly unjust and called for her death and public humiliation – the Socrates gambit, in which the rule of law is put above everything else, though in WW’s case things turned out slightly better than they did for the hemlock quaffing Greek philosopher. And the various twists and turns of the palace revolution were intriguing. On the other side of the coin, the whole gladiatorial super heroics didn’t seem to serve any real purpose, and at the end of the book all we really have is a reinstatement of the status quo. It all looks rather sumptuous on the page though, with some gorgeous artwork and use of colour that on occasion comes close to taking the breath away.

Wonder Woman – Contagion

Written by Gail Simone, illustrated by Nicola Scott & Fernando Dagnino

This is a continuation, more or less, of the above story. In the opening section the offspring of Mars spread lies, bringing civil disorder to the city and turning people against WW, who ends up in a head to head with Power Girl before order is restored. Next up, having defeated members of the Green Lantern Corps, a space borne armada of ships crewed by female warriors decides to attack Earth, and they are led by a former Amazon with a personal grudge against WW. It’s all hands to the pumps as WW leads the defenders in a last ditch bid to save the planet from consumption. There’s rather more substance to this volume than its predecessor. The first part plays out like Matheson’s story ‘The Distributor’ given a mythological grounding and the nation’s capital as a backdrop, and as far as it goes is a message story about how easily bigotry can take root, with the subtext that the good side of human nature will conquer in the end (wish I could believe that). For the second part we have an intriguing nemesis in the fleet of female warriors, which if I’m allowed to mix and match mythos, reads like a cross between the Borg and Galactus. While the ensuing action was gripping, I have to admit not being entirely convinced by the swarm’s lifestyle, which hardly seemed self-sustaining, and was utterly pointless, devoid of any real purpose or meaning, a case of surviving just to survive, but perhaps that was the point, and similarly the scale of their enterprise seemed rather off the credibility chart. Again the artwork dazzled, though seeming a bit more restrained, with more efficient use of panels, than in the previous volume. I liked it, and I may even remember some of it in a month or so. Wonder Woman is rather like the Charmed of the super hero world, easy to like but hard to take seriously.

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