Wonder Woman – Season 2 Review

  • Title:  Wonder Woman
  • Season: 2
  • Episodes: 22
  • Discs: 4 (Double-sided)
  • Original Network:  ABC
  • Distribution Network:  Warner Brothers
  • Cast:  Lynda Carter, Lyle Waggoner
  • Format: Standard, Color, DVD, NTSC

The second season of Wonder Woman feels almost like three different seasons. The first ten episodes or so feature an animated opening sequence, though the pilot brings the series into “the present day”. The “present” is 1977. Season 1 was filmed in 1976-1977 and set in 1942, 34 years earlier. Since it is currently 2018, which is 41 years after 1977 – the “present-day” episodes of Wonder Woman feel almost as historic as the episodes from World War II. This means that there are some incongruities of watching an older program: everyone uses payphones, though towards the very end of the season a few car phones show up; cars are rear-wheel drive, long, and handle very badly (there’s a scene with a police car where it fishtails unbelievably – and it isn’t even snowing); and as was common in the 1970s even though the show is technically set in or at least based in Washington, DC, most of the stories take place in Los Angeles and surrounding areas. During the first ten or so episodes Steve and Diana report to Joe Atkinson and receive orders from an unseen voice. It’s all very Charlie’s Angels. After a few transition episodes, where we barely see Steve, Joe retires (or is promoted out of the show) and Steve takes his job. For the middle run of the season, Steve sends Diana Prince, his top agent on various assignments. Finally, at the end of the season, Steve and Diana seem to be taking their assignments from IRAC, a talking computer. At the very least, IRAC will be consulted at least once per episode. IRAC is a talking box of lights, not very impressive looking, and totally unrealistic as a computer. Oh, and my smartphone probably has more computing power. Welcome to the 1970s!

Most of the episodes in the second season of Wonder Woman are very formulaic. Diana and Steve are given an assignment by Joe’s unseen boss, or Steve gives Diana her assignment once he’s promoted, Diana travels to wherever her assignment is – usually California, Diana investigates and finds clues, and at least twice per episode, she spins into Wonder Woman. Diana is kind, courteous, sweet, and gets along well with children and animals. The series has forgotten about her mimic power, but she seems to have the ability to mentally speak to animals, especially horses. Steve is much less sexist in his treatment of Diana – but she runs into sexist attitudes while doing her job as a government intelligence agent. Diana’s reaction is to grin and bear it – which was very common in the 1970s and 1980s.

My favorite episode of the entire season was “The Queen and the Thief”, which is absolutely delightful. Diana is awakened in her apartment early in the morning and spins into Wonder Woman basically to get to work on time for an emergency meeting. When she arrives, she, Joe, and Steve are told notorious jewel thief Evan Robley (David Hedison) has arrived and he’s after the crown jewels of a small country no one has heard of. The country’s new Queen (Juliet Mills) was an American citizen who married the country’s prince and when he died, she became Queen. (Never mind that monarchy doesn’t actually work like that. She’d be a princess by marriage, later a consort to the King (possibly with the title of “queen” but only out of courtesy) and only her children would be in the line of succession, not herself.) Anyway, if the jewels are stolen she will lose her position as Queen and the counts or something will take over. Steve and Diana are despatched immediately undercover to help the Queen and prevent the theft. Steve is almost immediately captured, and Wonder Woman explains to the Queen he’s “safer where he is” and leaves him there. Diana and the Queen then have to ensure the jewels are not stolen, only to discover they’ve been stolen – but the ones that were stolen were paste (fake). Then things get really interesting as the theft, Diana, and the Queen work together to recover the real jewels and expose the Queen’s ambassador (Played to perfection by John Colicos) as the person behind a plot to steal the jewels, expose the Queen, and place his own traditionally-minded puppet on the throne. It sounds like a typical plot for the show, but it’s played with an incredibly light touch, and the Queen and the Theif are excellent guest stars (they need their own show). John Colicos is brilliant as always as the bad guy. And Diana’s involvement is pretty much talking to the Queen to convince her she and Diana Prince, have her interests at heart – and a brilliant jewel-heist scene which takes place in a set that looks like it was borrowed from The Avengers, that’s the British TV series starring Patrick MacNee and Diana Rigg. The episode has a light touch, great costumes and sets, and a brilliant cast. It felt like it should have been a movie with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly (and in some respects was probably inspired by To Catch a Thief). And it was glorious!

Here and there, other episodes of season 2 of Wonder Woman are at least enjoyable, escapist entertainment, largely due to Lynda Carter’s excellent performance as Diana Prince and Wonder Woman. Lyle Waggoner’s Steve Trevor definitely takes a back seat, which is a shame – he has pretty good chemistry with Diana, especially when they are friends and colleagues, and since Diana needs someone to talk to – she’s usually paired with the guest star of the week, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. Unlike season 1, in which the show featured well-known guest stars, season 2 features familiar-looking actors of the 70s and 80s (especially if you watched The Rockford Files), but few “big stars”. And for some reason, a lot of children. No, seriously, several episodes revolve around young kids – which works if the kid can act.

Overall, I enjoyed season 2, but I also found it gets repetitive quickly. I’m going to hold off on watching season 3, but I will watch it at some point. Still recommended, if only for Lynda Carter.

Please also read my Wonder Woman Season 1 Review.

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Book Review – The Hellblazer vol. 2: The Smokeless Fire

  • Title: The Hellblazer vol. 2: The Smokeless Fire
  • Author: Simon Oliver
  • Artist: Davide Fabbri, Philip Tan, José Marzán Jr., Karl Kesel, Carrie Strachan, Elmer Santos, Tony Aviña, Sal Cipriano
  • Line: Rebirth
  • Characters: John Constantine, Mercury
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 07/14/2018

John Constantine and Mercury head to Paris to locate the journal of Jacque Henry, in order to find out more about the D’Jinn. This entire graphic novel is pretty much the search for the McGuffin of Henry’s journal. The flashbacks tell the story of Henry’s journey in the Arabian desert where he encountered the D’Jinn and saw the aftermath of the D’Jinn killing his mate on the same journey. Constantine and Mercury follow leads, fall into traps, and escape while getting closer and closer to the journal. The journal, it turns out, is being guarded by Dante who is guardian to his young sister, Samantha. The D’Jinn go after Dante, but he escapes with Sam and they also go on the run.

Constantine and Mercury eventually meet up with Dante and Sam, but they are followed and confronted by a D’Jinn. Constantine sacrifices himself so Mercury can take the journal, and escape with Dante and Sam. And, of course, Constantine isn’t actually killed by the D’Jinn – he somehow manages to escape, happy to no longer be on the trail of the journal.

Although the summary seems pretty simple, Constantine The Hellblazer is a great book, and this volume, part of DC’s Rebirth line is no exception. I read this story twice and really enjoyed it. I look forward to the next volume.

Please also read my review of The Hellblazer vol. 1: The Poison Truth.

Wonder Woman – Season 1 Review

  • Title:  Wonder Woman
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 13, plus pilot
  • Discs: 5
  • Original Network:  ABC
  • Distribution Network:  Warner Brothers
  • Cast:  Lynda Carter, Lyle Waggoner, Richard Eastham, Beatrice Colen
  • Format: Standard, Color, DVD, NTSC

There are some technical issues first to discuss regarding the DVD set for the first season of Lynda Carter’s TV series version of Wonder Woman. The first season, set during World War II, only has 13 episodes, yet it is spread out on five discs, with only two or three episodes per disc. As this series runs short, only 42 minutes, and is in 3×4 ratio and standard definition – they could have easily put four or five episodes per disc and reduced the number of discs to four. Since the only special feature is a short documentary – everything would fit and the package could be slimmer. Also, the episode menus refer to episodes “on the other side of the disc”, when these are standard single-sided discs and not double-sided ones. And all five discs were stacked on a single spindle. I hate that, it begs for the discs to get scratched or broken. I repackaged mine. The menus and cheap packaging made me wonder if this particular copy was legit, even though I purchased mine at Barnes and Noble during their sale on everything DC last year. Also, the copy quality leaves something to be desired – it really does look like a direct transfer from videotape. In short, if a cleaner, more compact “complete series” was offered, I’d definitely consider replacing this set, even though I seldom replace DVDs I’ve already purchased.

On to the series itself. This is the Wonder Woman that I remember watching as a little kid. Even back then, I knew that, at times, it was silly. The pilot has a great guest cast – of comic actors, including Kenneth Mars (The Producers), Henry Gibson (The Blues Brothers and Laugh-In), and Cloris Leachman (Young Frankenstein). It’s somewhat difficult to take actors known for playing “comedy Nazis” seriously. Lynda Carter does her best though – and I must say, the series steadily improves. Every episode of the first season features at least one actor I recognize, and frequently more than one. And it isn’t simply 70s talent either, as actors from the 50s and 60s make guest appearances as well.

Set during World War II, Diana rescues Steve Trevor after his plane crashes on Paradise Island. Diana’s mother, the Queen, played in the pilot by Cloris Leachman (and in the series by Carolyn Jones) holds a contest to choose the Amazon who will escort Steve back to the US. Diana wins the contest and heads back to America. She defeats some Nazis and ends up as Diana Prince, Yeoman First Class in the WAVEs, and secretary to Steve in Military Intelligence at the War Department, which makes her perfectly placed to find out about threats to the US and the world and to protect the country and even the planet as Wonder Woman. Diana’s only friend at the War Department is Etta Candy. Etta is a bit man-crazy, but she has a good heart.

In the first couple of episodes, Diana changes into Wonder Woman by doing a slow spin, ending up with her naval uniform on her arm – which she carefully puts away in a closet or storage locker. Later they sped up the spin and added the explosion – and her clothes disappeared. Diana also, besides her super strength, her magical lasso which forces people to tell the truth, and her bullet-proof bracelets, has the ability to be an incredible mimic – able to exactly duplicate a voice over the phone or a radio. She has her invisible plane as well.

In the first season, episodes range from foiling Nazi plots (many of which involving the Nazis trying to capture Wonder Woman) to the unusual (such as the two-part “Judgment from Outer Space” in which a guy (played by Tim O’Connor of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century) from another galaxy has to determine if Earth should be destroyed or not) to an episode involving cattle rustling in Texas and Wonder Woman at Beauty contests and in Hollywood. The series improves starting with episode four, “The Feminum Mystique”, which introduces Debra Winger as Wonder Girl (Diana’s younger sister, Drusilla) and Carolyn Jones (from The Addams Family television series) as Queen Hippolyta. Although the plot of the two-part episode is similar to earlier ones, with the Nazis out to kidnap Wonder Woman to learn the secret of her bullet-proof bracelets, the story is better developed, and both Drusilla and Hippolyta are wonderful.

The first season of Wonder Woman mixes the silly with great adventure. Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman grows from an innocent, totally perplexed by life in Washington, to a competent, professional woman. When her young sister arrives, she also is innocent and confused – but she learns without becomes harsh or cynical. The stories in the back half of the season tend to be better, with some interesting changes in location (despite the fact that absolutely every place they are looks like Southern California, including Washington, New York, Nazi Germany, Argentina, and Texas). Lynda Carter brings it as Diana – she is kind, thoughtful, understanding and caring – without being overly sweet or a “mary sue” character, which is difficult to pull off. Over time her end of episode speeches improve from sounding like Maxwell Smart’s “if only he could have used his genius for niceness” to something that approaches being more realistic, given this is a show from the 1970s that seems to be aimed at children.

Overall, though there are technical issues with the actual DVD set, and at times this show plays like a comedy or parody of the Superhero genre, considering when it was made – it is still worth watching and enjoyable to watch. Because season 1 is set during the war and everyone is in uniform, it looks less dated than other programs from the 1970s – though it is also very obviously set and backlot-bound. Lynda Carter is awesome in this. Lyle Waggoner is wonderfully dippy as Steve. Steve Trevor is incredibly dumb in this (he reminds me of the Ghostbusters (2017) secretary), though by the last couple of episodes of the season he’s not quite so stupid. Still, he spends a lot of time getting knocked out, kidnapped, tied up, and dropped into traps – so Wonder Woman can rescue him. I like Diana’s friend, Etta, even though she gets to do very little.

Wonder Woman was made in the 1970s – the same time as Charlie’s Angels and the Bionic Woman, and it some ways it reminds me of those shows more than any superhero TV show or film from now. Even the sound effect for Wonder Woman using her super strength is similar to the Bionic Woman. Still, this show is worth watching if you remember when it was made. Recommended with minor reservations.

 

Book Review – Bombshells vol. 2: Allies

  • Title: Bombshells vol. 2: Allies
  • Author: Marguerite Bennett
  • Artists: Mirka Andolfo, Laura Braga, Sandy Jarrell, ML Sanapo, Juan Albarran, Marguerite Sauvage, J. Nanjan (colors), Wendy Broome (colors), Jeremy Lawson (colors), Wes Abbott (letters)
  • Characters: Batwoman, Wonder Woman, Mera (Aqua Woman), Zatanna, John Constantine, Amanda Waller, Stargirl, Supergirl (Kara Starikov)
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 06/23/2018

**Spoiler Alert** Bombshells, a series based on World War II-era Bombshell-style statues (don’t judge), is an incredibly good series. Volume 2 opens with the Smoak family being evicted from their tenement apartment by a racist landlord who doesn’t want Jews and their “illegal immigrant” family in his building. The Batgirls, a group of young women, arrive to help young Felicity and her family escape, taking them to a safe house to start over. I believe this is the first time we’ve seen the CW’s Arrow’s Felicity Smoak in the DC Universe – even if it is in a historical timeline.

The Batgirls are leaving when one spots a corrupt cop, who’s rounding up young children and handing them over to an orphanage for payments. One of the Batgirls recognizes the name of the orphanage as being the one she and her brother were sent to – a prison for kids. She got out and intended to apply for guardianship of her brother as soon as she was old enough. They run into two more young women, both of whom have connections with the orphanage and organize a break-in.

Upon entering the orphanage, they find horrible conditions – children forced to work in a basement sweatshop – creating instruments of war, a headmistress who is a racist xenophobe who supports the Axis and is sending her weapons to them – and a horrific giant war robot to boot. But the Batgirls succeed in releasing all the children. The next day, one of the new Batgirls, Bette Kane, takes her majority at her family’s company – she clears out people like her aunt who ran the evil orphanage, and promises her company will help Gotham – from building real affordable housing to re-settle refugees from the horrors in Europe to helping unfortunates in the city, and beyond.

Meanwhile, in Greece – Steve Trevor and Wonder Woman confront Baroness Paula von Gunther and her Tenebrae troops.

Stargirl learns from her mother who her father really was – a British Lord who did a tour of Russia in 1923. Kortni’s mother met him in St. Peterburg and the two fell in love. But their relationship wasn’t approved of – the young Lord returned to England, and Kortni’s mother was sent to Siberia where she met and fell in love with Kortni’s adoptive father. The flashback panels are beautifully drawn and colored. This comes up because Kortni’s mother has heard from her father and wants her to meet him. Kara feels a bit left out in all this – but wants to be happy for her sister. Kortni, who now knows her name is Courtney Elizabeth Whitmore, meets her father, Samuel Whitmore. But Samuel Whitmore has grown rich by selling arms. Furthermore, he must have had an inkling of his daughter’s existence – because he has a pink princess room for her, filled with toys. Kortni is having none of it, though, because she was an experienced fighter, even before joining the Bombshells. When Whitmore threatens to keep Kortni locked-up to “keep her safe” she rebels and leaves to find her sister.

Meanwhile, Mera is called to investigate a disturbance under the sea – it’s a Kraken-like creature, with god-like powers, and it’s in league with the Tenebrae. Mera fights and nearly loses but is rescued by Supergirl. They proceed to London, along with the other Bombshells to stop the Tenebrae attack on the city (the Tenebrae allies include the Kraken, Edward Nygma, the Baroness, and the like). Even Zatanna helps, although still stuck in the Joker’s Cabaret in Berlin – with encouragement from rabbit-form John Constantine, using her magic to win the battle for the Allies. The Bombshells succeed – but not without cost. Mera is missing, presumed dead, and also lost her powers by attacking the Titan Kraken, Kortni sacrifices herself to save her sister, and although Zatanna’s spell works – she and John are caught by the Joker’s daughter. At first, it appears she strangles rabbit-John. But John is rescued – and both he and Zatanna lose their powers.

Bombshells is a wonderful book – great story, great takes on the characters, a wonderful ode to female empowerment. But the book also has beautiful art throughout, especially on the full-page splash pages, and incredible, incredible color. I’m enjoying this series very much.

Highly recommended.

Read my review of Bombshells vol. 1: Enlisted.

Batman The Brave and the Bold Season 3

  • Series Title:  Batman the Brave and the Bold
  • Season:  3
  • Episodes:  13
  • Discs:  1 (Blu-Ray)
  • Cast:  Diedrich Bader
  • Original Network:  Cartoon Network
  • Production Network:  Warner Brothers (Animation)

The third season of Batman The Brave and the Bold introduces the JLI – Justice League International, including Fire and Ice, Booster Gold and Blue Beetle, Martian Manhunter, Plastic Man, Guy Gardner’s Green Lantern and others. However, I thought the characterizations were off a bit – Ice is really dumb, Fire is a sexpot, etc. Still, there’s some fun to be had with the show now being much more of an ensemble piece – and more traditional DC Heroes also make appearances including Superman, Wonder Woman, and the ever-present Aquaman.

The format for Batman The Brave and the Bold includes a short and then the main story. The shorts are completely disconnected from the main story and give the series a chance to really dig into the DC vaults when finding characters to showcase. Many of the shorts are extremely effective. We also get to hear Aquaman sing – twice, first in presenting the theme tune to his sitcom, “The Currys of Atlantis” (one of the opening shorts), and then again when he sings to a de-powered Capt. Atom, “The Rousing Song of Heroism”. Both are a trip – and quite wonderful. Season 3 also includes Vigilante singing “The Ballad of Batman” in an opening short that is essentially a music video. I enjoyed the music of this series.

The regular stories have a great deal of humor, though, at times, it feels like the creators have run out of ideas. But, on the other hand, there are still some very wacky, out there, extremely humorous episodes and I definitely enjoyed that.

The penultimate episode consists of four shorts, and no real Batman story at all. They are amusing in their own way, but not Batman. The final episode is a Bat-Mite story. I’ve never really liked Bat-Mite, but this breaking the fourth wall story as Bat-Mite decides that BTBATB has “jumped the shark” and needs to be canceled so Batman can go back to being dark and brooding, has some fun bits – and Ambush Bug. It’s definitely amusing to have a television show dedicate it’s last episode to getting itself canceled.

Overall, Batman the Brave and the Bold, although uneven throughout it’s run, has some classic moments, and it is worth getting the entire series, including the third season.

Read my review of Batman the Brave and the Bold Season 1.

Read my review of Batman the Brave and the Bold Season 2.

Book Review – Red Hood and the Outlaws vol. 3 Bizarro Reborn

  • Title: Red Hood and the Outlaws vol. 3: Bizarro Reborn
  • Author: Scott Lobdell
  • Artist: Dexter Soy, Tyler Kirkham, Joe Bennett, Sean Parsons, Sergio Sandoval, Juan Albarran, Veronica Gandini, Michael Atiyeh, Arif Prianto, Blond, Taylor Esposito
  • Line: Rebirth
  • Characters: Red Hood (Jason Todd), Artemis (of the Amazons), Bizarro (Superman’s clone)
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 5/16/2018

Picking up from where the last volume left off, with Bizarro dying – Red Hood (Jason Todd) and Artemis decide they are willing to try anything in an attempt to save Bizarro – so they take him to Lex Luther. Not only does Luthor save Bizarro but the cure causes Bizarro to become a genius intellect. We eventually learn that not only did Luthor use artificial Kryptonite to cure Bizarro – but Bizarro took some of it and is using it to keep himself fit and to increase his intellect. This reminded me of the original The Outer Limits story, “The Sixth Finger”.

Once he is cured, Bizarro becomes the strategic head of the Outlaws, something Jason and Artemis don’t actually mind, at all. They are at times surprised, such as when Bizarro reveals his secret headquarters above Gotham, or his teleport device (for lack of a better term), but neither Jason or Artemis are great planners, so “smart Bizarro” actually adds to their team. And he doesn’t really seem to have a hidden agenda, so all is going well.

The rest of the book pairs the Outlaws with other groups. Amanda Waller gets the Outlaws hauled in on false charges so she can have them sent to Belle Reve prison. Once there, she immediately sends them out on a mission with the Suicide Squad. The mission confirms Bizarro’s new gifts – and is a rousing success.

Batwoman and the rest of the Batfamily show up for one story in this collection, largely discovering Bizarro’s invisible HQ above Gotham. Since it’s largely a slug-fest, and only sets up the info about the new HQ, the only question I had was why Kate (Kane aka Batwoman) didn’t know that Jason was working with Bruce Wayne’s blessing. Jason has been working undercover to break up Gotham’s gangs (such as Black Mask’s gang) since Issue One of this series. But Batwoman, Batwing, etc. act as if Red Hood really was a criminal. Jason is still staying true to the general Bat vow to not kill – something Kate herself actually breaks, so what’s the deal?

Jason and company also face off against Queen Bee, who is defeated by Bizarro. And Artemis meets Creeper, but he quickly leaves when he fails to join the Outlaws. They face off against The Beast (formerly KGBeast, now a free agent), but that also doesn’t really go anywhere in terms of plot.

Finally, this collection includes the Red Hood and the Outlaws Annual #1, at the end of the book. I actually loved the story – a circus blows into town, and Jason, Artemis, Bizarro, and special guest, Dick Grayson, investigate undercover. It’s a sweet story – from Jason admitting he had once seen Dick perform in the circus, to Bizarro falling for the bearded girl, to art and flavor of the panels. They stop the KGB beast. The only problem with the Annual is the placement – the story is set earlier in time so it probably should have come first in the collection, not last. But it’s a stand-alone story, largely, so it still works.

I really enjoyed this collection. It’s a bit more on the tragic and action-oriented side than other volumes, with less humor – but it’s still a great read. Recommended.

Read my review of Red Hood and the Outlaws vol. 1: Dark Trinity.

Read my review of Red Hood and the Outlaws vol. 2: Who is Artemis.

Book Review – Green Lantern Earth One vol. 1

  • Title: Green Lantern Earth One vol. 1
  • Author: Corinna Bechko & Gabriel Hardman
  • Artists: Gabriel Hardman, Jordan Boyd (colors), Simon Bowland (letters)
  • Characters: Hal Jordan, Kilowog, Green Lanterns
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 05/12/2018

Green Lantern Earth 1 is a stand-alone graphic novel outside the current DC Comics continuity. It’s an Elseworlds novel, what DC calls it’s “what if” stories. In this story, in a dark future where NASA has been taken over by a for-profit corporation, all exploration, and scientific discovery have halted, and space stations have been weaponized and used by corporations to target Earth populations that don’t tow the line – Hal Jordan has left NASA and now works for Ferris Galactic. He’s part of a crew trying to find mineral deposits on an asteroid. While he and his partner, Volkov, are working, they get the word – a rival corporation has found a deposit – which is likely to terminate Ferris Galactic’s contract. Hal, still cautiously optimistic, continues to explore the asteroid he’s on, despite his partner telling him it’s not worth it. Hal and his partner discover a crashed spaceship, with a non-working Manhunter aboard. A few minutes later, they find the desiccated body of Amin Sur.

A message comes through from Ferris Galactic – the contract’s been terminated, they are going back to Earth, and no one will get their bonus. Volkov finds a green lantern and power ring – but it doesn’t exactly go well. First, the alien spaceship explodes from the sheer power of the lantern. This exposes the Manhunter to sunlight – which powers it up. Volkov and Hal make it to their lander, but something is seriously wrong. The lander doesn’t make it back to the Ferris Galactic ship. Volkov is killed in the explosion. The Ring seeks Hal, providing him with a shield so he can survive in space. Hal barely defeats the Manhunter on instinct. He has no idea what’s going on. Meanwhile, Ferris Galactic has decided he’s a liability – the radiation surrounding him is a risk, and he can’t be brought abroad their ship.

Hal wakes up in a hospital on Bolovax Vel, under the care of Kilowog, a Green Lantern and hospital tech. Kilowog starts to fill Hal in on galactic events. Once, the Green Lantern Corps were the police force of the galaxy. But the Guardians feared they were becoming too strong – so they built the Manhunters, which destroyed the Green Lanterns and Oa, the planet at the center of the Galaxy where the Guardians lived. All of this was so long ago, though, that Kilowog is a bit fuzzy on the details. He says the Rings are heirlooms, passed down through families. Some of the rings no longer work, others only work at a fraction of their original power, since the Great Lantern on Oa was destroyed. Kilowog also, when he’s forced to by events, admits his planet is totally isolationist. No one can leave the planet, and no other species is allowed on the planet. He helped Hal because he was a Lantern – even though he knew it was against the law. Of course, he informs Hal of this as the planetary police are closing in.

Hal and Kilowog leave the planet and set out on a quest to find out more about the Green Lanterns, the Guardians, Oa, the Manhunters, and to unite other Lanterns. Everyone tells them slightly different stories – some blaming the Guardians for the rise of the Manhunters. As Hal tries to put it all together and figure out who to believe, he and Kilowog are captured. They end up separated, but as slaves on Oa – slaves to the Manhunters. Hal, though, gets a message from one of the last surviving Guardians. He discovers that the Great Lantern wasn’t destroyed, it’s encased in an energy-damping dome that prevents its energy from reaching the galaxy and the rings.

Hal sends out a recruiting message, asking for help in attacking the dome. Some Lanterns actually think destroying the planet would be worth it – but Hal doesn’t want the slaves harmed. He finds a better way. The army of Lanterns destroys the dome and they are able to power their rings. Arista is nominated as leader of the new rag-tag Corps. Hal goes with Kilowag to his home planet to start him on the path of overthrowing the corrupt military coup government and bring the planet into the fold. Hal – heads back to Earth, and Ferris Galactic, for, essentially, the same reasons.

Green Lantern is usually a bright, hopeful book – full of space adventure, diverse characters, and fun. This book is dark. The first half of the book has very little dialogue, and dark panels set the stage. As the story opens up, we start to see the familiar green Lantern light – but completely out of control and dangerous. Hal isn’t the confident (some would say over-confident) hero Lantern we know so well – he’s a broken man, trying to do his best. Yet Hal still becomes a hero, because he’s the one who will find the Lantern on Oa and he’s the one who unites the few Lanterns and helps them to elect their own leader. Hal, it seems, will bring hope to the universe. So, ultimately, this is a good start to what may be a very different, and hard-hitting, but ultimately hopeful SF series.

Recommended. (Not for younger readers).