Book Review – Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War

  • Title: Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War
  • Author: Mike Johnson
  • Artist: Angel Hernandez, Alejandro Sanchez, Neil Uyetake
  • Characters: Capt. Kirk, Dr. McCoy, Spock, Scotty, Uhura, Chekov (ST 2009); hal Jordan, Carol Ferris, Saint Walker, Green Lanterns, Sinestro, LarFleeze, Atrocitus, Klingons, Romulans, Gorn
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Publisher: IDW Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 07/10/2017

Star Trek Green Lantern: The Spectrum War crosses the 2009 Star Trek movie with Green Lantern. In DC Comics’ continuity this takes place immediately after Blackest Night. Ganthet enacts the Last Light – sending himself, six power rings, and all the living Lanterns to another universe. And that universe is the Star Trek (reboot) movie universe. After enacting Last Light, the Enterprise finds Ganthet’s skeleton on an airless rogue planet. The skeleton is surrounded by the six rings. The away team takes the skeleton and rings to the Enterprise, where Dr. McCoy makes the rather obvious statement that, “He’s dead, Jim,” however, McCoy also notes that Ganthet is from an unknown species. Meanwhile, Scotty and his friend investigate the rings – exposing them to tachyon radiation. This activates the power rings – three find new people to wield them on the Enterprise, while the other three speed off into space. Chekov is chosen by the Blue Ring of Hope. Dr. McCoy is chosen by the Indigo Ring of Compassion. Uhura is chosen by the Pink Ring of Love and becomes a new Star Sapphire. Then Hal Jordan arrives.

Jordan begins to explain what is going on to Kirk and company. Meanwhile, the other rings have also found new hosts. The Red Ring of Rage choses a Gorn. The Orange Ring of Greed (Avarice) chooses a Romulan. And the Yellow Ring of Fear chooses a Klingon. We also discover that Sinestro, LarFleeze, and Atrocitus have arrived in the Star Trek universe. They find the new members of their respective corps, but insist on being in charge of the new ring wielders.

Meanwhile, Jordan knows the three negative rings have found new owners, so he theorizes that any living Lanterns would have been thrust into the new universe. Star Sapphire Carol Ferris arrives with Saint Walker, who is injured. Dr. McCoy attempts to treat Saint Walker. Carol confirms that Nekkon has also made it into the new universe. And Jordan explains to Kirk that the Lanterns lost their last battle with Nekkon through attrition. In the end, his universe was destroyed.

The Klingons, led by Sinestro attack a Starbase – as does Atrocitus and the Gorn. The Enterprise tries to protect the Starbase – and rescue the survivors – but even with the help of the Lanterns, including the few surviving Green Lanterns, the Enterprise cannot hold off the energy weapons of the Yellow and Red Lanterns. After rescuing the survivors of the Starbase, and receiving strange signals from Vulcan – Kirk orders a strategic retreat.

Nekkon has raised Vulcan from destruction, and it’s citizens, including Spock’s parents are now zombies. Both the Lanterns, especially Hal, and the Enterprise crew realize there isn’t much to be done, and Hal fears this new universe will be destroyed like his home one. However, Kirk asks how they defeated Nekkon the first time. Hal tells the story of Kyle Raynor, the White Lantern, who could combine the power of all the rings in the Emotional Spectrum to create the Life Entity who can destroy Nekkon. While Hal destroys Spock’s (zombie) parents for him, Spock then uses the Life Entity to destroy Nekkon. Without Nekkon, Vulcan is again destroyed, as the Enterprise crew watches from space, with the Lanterns. Meanwhile, without any protection from space – the Klingon, Romulan, and Gorn die in space without their rings. Hal, Carol, Saint Walker, and the other Lanterns stay in the Star Trek universe, each making their own decisions about how to fit in in their new home.

This is a very enjoyable book. All the characters are in character, and there is a lot of humor. I really liked how it’s pointed out that Hal Jordan and Capt. Kirk are a lot alike. The art is wonderful, with the characters looking very much like the actors from the Star Trek movies and the DC characters looking just as they should. I really liked the full-page covers and the alternate covers in the back of the book. The only negative is at times, this book feels like there are too many characters, so at times it’s a little hard to follow. But the writing and situations feel very much like those in the Star Trek movie universe, and the Green Lantern mythology is very well explained and handled. Highly recommended.

Book Review – Crisis on Infinite Earths

  • Title: Crisis on Infinite Earths
  • Author: Marv Wolfman
  • Artist: George Pérez
  • Characters: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Justice League, et. al.
  • Publication Date: 2001 (this edition), first published 1985
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 8/12/2016

Crisis on Infinite Earths is big, really big, you might think it’s a long walk down to the chemist’s but… No wait, that’s The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but nevertheless this graphic novel is huge. It is really big – in every sense. It’s 364 pages – not including the introduction or the final analysis/review and the sketchbook at the end. Not only is it a lot of pages, but the art style and layout of Crisis on Infinite Earths include many small panels almost crammed onto the individual pages – rather than four or two or a single splash page there are often 9, 11, 14, small panels per page – the effect isn’t that the art is crowded or hard to follow – it’s that there’s so much going on simultaneously that multiple panels are needed to even give a glimpse of the story. This novel is a breathless read.

The story is also huge in every way that a good superhero comics story can be. It features just about every DC superhero – from all the various alternate Earths in the pre-Crisis universe. Earth 1, Earth 2, Earth 3, Earth X, Earth S – those and more are all here – as are their heroes. Every hero from the known (Superman (two of them), Wonder Woman (two of her too), Batman, Aquaman, etc.) to the obscure (Bwana Beast, The Question, Rip Hunter, various magic-users, etc.) is here – at least briefly. And the teams are here too – from the World War 2 Era Freedom Fighters to Doom Patrol, the Justice Society to the Justice League of America, The Green Lantern Corps to the Legion of Super-Heroes. Amazingly, this doesn’t get confusing or overwhelming – the book is skillfully-written to give you at least a name or affiliation for each character, as well as usually defining their powers.

The actual story had a very pragmatic purpose – the DC Universe had gotten very confusing. When you’ve been around since 1932 – that’s bound to happen. And the creative folks at DC were feeling a bit confined by trying to keep everything in continuity or declare a story an “Elseworlds” or “Imaginary Story” (DC’s parlance for alternate universe stories and stories outside the main continuity.) The creatives at DC felt their universe was also intimidating to new readers. Crisis on Infinite Earths was DC’s plan to simplify. Not to quite go back to a clean slate or change everything – but to create a new starting point. Yet for something that had a practical purpose, it’s just an amazing roller coaster ride of a story. It moves. It has sad bits. It has humor. It has moments that will make you gasp. And it the end, it does what was promised: some will live, some will die, the DC Universe will never be the same.

I started with reading DC Comics immediately after Crisis on Infinite Earths – so I didn’t read it in softcover. And it took a long time for this story to be published as a graphic novel. This was my second reading (the first was when I bought it whenever that was) and I was even more impressed. Crisis on Infinite Earths is a “wow” graphic novel. It’s amazing. And it’s something any comics and graphics novel fan needs to read. This novel didn’t just change things at DC – it changed the comics industry forever by showing that a long, complicated, cross-over story that actually changed things could be done and could be both successful and popular. Not to be missed.

Book Review – Time Masters: Vanishing Point

  • Title: Time Masters: Vanishing Point
  • Author: Dan Jurgens
  • Artists: Norm Rapmund
  • Line: Immediately post-Final Crisis
  • Characters: Rip Hunter, Superman, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Booster Gold
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 7/05/2016

I enjoyed Time Masters Vanishing Point but it was neither really how it’s described on the back nor is it much of a tie-in to Flashpoint (the tie-in is limited to one page). In Time Masters Vanishing Point, Rip Hunter recruits a group of heroes (Superman; Green Lantern – Hal Jordan; and Booster Gold) to find Bruce Wayne who has been thrown back in time by Darkseid’s Omega Beams (see DC’s Final Crisis). Batman wasn’t killed in Final Crisis but sent back in time. For that reason I expected Vanishing Point to explain what was going on in Time and the Batman – to be the other half of that story. It’s not, because Rip Hunter and company get distracted during their travels through time and are unable to accomplish their stated mission to rescue Bruce Wayne. Everyone remembers what they are supposed to be doing – but their time travel is about as unpredictable as the TARDIS and they end-up all over the place rather than finding Bruce. I expected a “chase through time” – what I got was actually an innovative time-travel story with characters occasionally saying, pretty much, “But I have another mission I have to get back to”, so to speak.

This novel also includes a lot of background for Rip Hunter, including being raised by time-travelling parents who constantly move him not just from place to place but from time to time. And we learn a lot more about Booster Gold. Booster, in turns out, has hidden depths – he’s not who you think he is. The novel also features a number of characters with ties to Rip Hunter, Booster Gold, or both, including Michelle Carter (Goldstar), Supernova, and Brainiac 5 (briefly). Time Master villains also show up including: Despero, Degaton, and two of the Linear Men (one of whom is a woman).

However, despite all the various characters who appear briefly, and sometimes disappear just as quickly (eg Reverse Flash) – the novel isn’t confusing. Everyone is introduced by name at first appearance, which helps a lot (if nothing else one can always consult Google or Wikipedia to learn more), and it’s clear who is a hero and who is a villain. Also, the plot, which could easily become confusing with so many characters coming and going is actually pretty clear and easy to understand, even with the time travel and the frequent flashbacks (and occasional flash forwards) that flesh out the characters and explain their motivations.

This novel is very much Rip Hunter’s story – who he was, even as a child; who he is – as an adult and Time Master; and who he will be. It’s also a story about Booster Gold. It doesn’t fill in the other side of Time and the Batman unfortunately – we never really see Batman, despite his rescue being the McGuffin of the story.

There is a brief one-page reference to Flashpoint but that’s all – this story is not part of World of Flashpoint. I did enjoy it immensely and I wonder if there are any other graphic novels featuring these characters. Recommended to DC Comics fans, fans of time travel stories and science fiction, and also to anyone who saw CW’s Legends of Tomorrow and wants to learn more about Rip Hunter and the Time Masters.

Book Review – The World of Flashpoint Featuring Green Lantern

  • Title: World of Flashpoint Featuring Green Lantern
  • Author: Adam Schlagman
  • Artists: Pornsak Pichetshote, Marco Castiello, Jeff Lemire
  • Line: Stand Alone Graphic Novel
  • Characters: Green Lantern (Abin Sur), Frankenstein, Oliver Queen, Hal Jordan
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 6/22/2016

The World of Flashpoint Featuring Green Lantern is one of a series of graphic novels that flesh-out the characters introduced in Flashpoint the alternative-universe story in which Barry Allen (the Flash) changes time – much to the the detriment of the world – by saving his mother. As with other graphic novels in this series, this one features four stories.

The first story is the story of Abin Sur Green Lantern of Earth – and I loved it. Abin Sur survives crash landing on Earth, so Hal Jordan never gets the Power Ring. Yet the story gives a great back story for Abin Sur, introduces his planet, and has an awful lot about Sinestro too. The Green Lantern Corps is trapped in a war on two fronts against the Black Lanterns on the one side (yes, Blackest Night not only is still happening but it happens simultaneously to Flashpoint) and the Manhunters on the other. As if having two of the worst Lantern enemies tearing the universe apart isn’t enough, Sinestro decides to interrogate Atroicious – which goes about as well as you’d think. The Guardians, being rather concerned with the state of the Universe also only send Abin Sur to Earth for a simple “find-and-retrieve” mission. Abin Sur, who it turns out, is a really nice guy, gets involved in the mess that is Flashpoint Earth. Sinestro tracks him down and well… things happen that I really don’t want to spoil. Needless to say it’s both satisfying and a great story that in a way makes you sad that Abin Sur died in the “real” DC Universe.

“Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown” – This story would make for a great movie on it’s own. During World War II, a scientist discovers a way to turn normal soldiers into the great gothic creatures of Victorian fiction. The main characters would have all died without some form of treatment, including the scientist’s own daughter, who now resembles the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Also in the group are Frank (Frankenstein’s “Monster”), a werewolf, and a vampire. These “creatures” win the war for the Allies, but after the war they are moth-balled in storage. With Flashpoint, the group escape or are released. There’s a considerable amount of flashbacks and flash forwards to explain who the characters are, and where they came from as they search first for Nina’s father and later to find where she and the rest came from. The story has a great feel to it and mixes the modern and the gothic really well.

“Green Arrow Industries” presents us with an Oliver Queen, CEO of defense firm, Green Arrow Industries who’s precisely the opposite of the Oliver Queen we know from the normal DC Universe. This Oliver resembles the pre-Ironman Tony Stark in more than one way. Oliver steals alien technology, meta-human DNA, super abilities, even weapons like Heatwave’s and Citizen Cold’s guns and weaponizes them, then sells them to the highest bidder. His defense plants start in the US, but he’s recently outsourced them over seas to make even more money. This Oliver has eight children (at least) from various wives and girlfriends and knows none of them. It’s even his own daughter who comes after him for not thinking of the consequences of his actions.

“Hal Jordan” tells the story of what would happen to Jordan without the ring. Now a fighter pilot, still in love with Carol, totally unable to be serious enough to tell her so, and basically a guy who acts like Tom Cruise in Top Gun (not a compliment) Hal is a mess. Although Hal is still a hero in that he, and Carol (also a fighter pilot) are fighting hard in the losing war to save Earth from the Amazon-Aquaman war; Hal needed the steadying influence of the Green Lantern Corps and the ability to be part of something greater to lose his innate selfishness. Hal does, though, volunteer to drop the Green Arrow Industries untested bomb on the Amazons. If you’ve read Flashpoint you know how successful that was.

This is a great graphic novel. The art is consistently excellent. The stories are also a fascinating glimpse into what “might hav been” thanks to Flashpoint. For readers of the series it’s a must read.

The Batman Season 5 Review

  • Series Title:  The Batman
  • Season:  5
  • Episodes:  13
  • Discs:  2
  • Cast:  Rino Romano, Alastair Duncan, Danielle Judovits, Evan Sabara
  • Original Network:  Cartoon Network
  • Production Network:  Warner Brothers (Animation)

The previous season (4) finale introduced the Justice League to The Batman, so it’s fitting that the final season of The Batman features several team-ups. These team-ups also featured the partner superhero’s greatest villain. I enjoyed the team-up episodes very much. The opening two-part story features a team-up between Batman and Superman – verses Lex Luthor. Batman still doesn’t trust Superman – which complicates things, but in the end they both learn how to work together as a team. “Vertigo” features a team-up between Green Arrow and Batman. Initially,  Oliver Queen (the Green Arrow) thinks Bruce Wayne is responsible for the sudden rash of people getting sick in Gotham. Batman has to convince Ollie that Bruce can’t possibly be involved in Count Vertigo’s actions – which was fun, of course. “A Mirror Darkly” features a team-up between Batman and the Flash verses Mirror Master. “Ring Toss” sees Batman and Green Lantern Hal Jordan battling Sinestro. And “What Goes Up” features a team-up between The Batman and Hawkman.

As much as I enjoyed the team-up stories, and I did enjoy them – the solo Batman adventures, well, adventures of Batman, Robin, and sometimes Batgirl, were less enjoyable. They just very much seemed to be the same old thing. Even the two Joker episodes, “Joker Express” and “The Metal Face of Comedy”, though they had interesting ideas behind them, seemed to fall a bit flat. The Joker in The Batman just never had the wonderfully villainous, interesting, and perfect quality of Mark Hamill’s Joker from Batman: The Animated Series and the various follow-up movies.

The finale for Season 5, and of the series, “Lost Heroes”, is a team-up of the entire Justice League. One by one the super-powered members (Superman, Flash, Green Arrow, Hawkman, and Martian Manhunter) are kidnapped. It’s up to the non-super-powered members, Batman and Green Arrow to rescue the rest of the League and find-out what’s going on. And what’s going on is that the Joining are back thanks to Hugo Strange. It’s a good story, and I enjoyed very, very much how Batman and Green Arrow worked together. The Joining were an interesting extra-terrestrial villain in the final of last season and it was worth it to see them return.

However, there is one little problem with the Justice League as shown in this iteration. And that is – its an all-male League. No Wonder Woman. No Black Canary. No Hawkgirl. I seriously have a problem with this. The Justice League has always included female members. Wonder Woman is one of the original seven. Even the precursor to the Justice League of America, the Justice Society – included women. And Black Canary (Oliver Queen’s wife, girlfriend, or ex-wife depending on the timeline) was the second-in-charge of the late 1980s – early 1990s Justice League behind Batman. Since Batman tended to be busy – Black Canary ran the League. As much as I really liked the team-ups in the Batman, I felt there was something seriously wrong with not including any female superheroes – at all – in the Justice League. This series is from 2008 – there’s absolutely no excuse to completely exclude women (except Batgirl) from the series.

Green Lantern the Animated Series

  • Series Title: Green Lantern:  The Animated Series
  • Season:  1 (Complete Series)
  • Date:  2011 -2013
  • Episodes:  26
  • Discs:  2 (Blu-Ray)
  • Cast:  Josh Keaton, Kevin Michael Richardson, Jason Spisak, Grey Griffin
  • Original Network:  Cartoon Network
  • Production Network:  Warner Brothers Animation 

In brightest day, in darkest night, no evil shall escape my sight…

Green Lantern:  The Animated Series is animated using CGI, which frankly took me awhile to get used to when I originally saw this show on Cartoon Network in 2011. Even re-watching the show now, it still took me several episodes to get used to the animation style. To me, it was like watching moving action figures – everything, especially the people, was just too smooth. However, that isn’t to say the animation is bad – it’s just different than traditional animation, and for me, it took me awhile to get used to it.

However, this series is really good – and I wish it had lasted more than a season. The first half of the series, which is conveniently all on Disc One in the Blu-Ray set, has Hal Jordon and Drill Sergeant Kilowog, borrowing the Guardians of Oa’s new spaceship The Intercepter, and speeding off to Frontier Space to confront the Red Lantern Corps who have been killing Frontier Green Lanterns at will. The Interceptor has an artificial intelligence at its core, which Hal quickly names Aya. Razor, a former Red Lantern, who – appalled at the destruction he’s caused at the behast of the Red Lantern dictator Atrocitus, joins Hal and Kilowog as the Interceptor’s crew. Aya also constructs a robot self, so she can physically move around.

Hal, Kilowog, Razor, and Aya meet the Star Sapphires, the Blue Lantern, St. Walker, Mogo, and have adventures in Frontier Space. However, the majority of the continuing plotline for the first half of the season is the confrontation with the Red Lanterns and Atrocitus.

Disc Two starts with Hal returning to Earth. There, he discovers his girlfriend, Carol Ferris, has moved on, even giving away his job as a test pilot at Ferris Air. During a disaster, Hal meets the new Green Lantern of Earth, Guy Garner. Returning to Oa, Hal is promoted to the Green Lantern Corps Honor Guard. He meets other Corps members including Chip (the Chipmunk Lantern), Tomar-Re, Chaselon, and others. Tomar-Re begins to train Hal in his new duties, when a new crisis occurs – the Rise of the Manhunters. Created by the Guardians as their first attempt at an inter-galactic police force, the Manhunters originally went rogue and destroyed many worlds in Frontier Space after deciding all creatures with emotions must be killed. It was the Manhunter destruction that caused Atrocitus to form the Red Lanterns to destroy the Green Lanterns and Oa. Hal rescues Aya from a Guardian science cell with help from Chip, and Hal and Kilowog set off to try to stop the Manhunters. They find Razor studying with St. Walker and they are off.

I liked the second half of the season better, though there are a couple of episodes in the first half that are favorites, notably the episode that introduces Mogo and St. Walker. Overall, GL:TAS is an enjoyable, action-filled series. The majority of it takes place in space, and introduces a number of people, species, planets, and situations. This show draws from the rich history of the classic Green Lantern Corps of DC Comics. It’s well-worth watching. The Blu-ray package, although it lacks special features, is much more convenient than the previous DVD release which broke the series into multiple releases.

Recommended, especially to DC comics fans.

Green Lantern Emerald Knights

  • Title: Green Lantern Emerald Knights
  • Voice Director: Andrea Romano
  • Date: 2011
  • Studio: Warner Brothers Animation
  • Genre: Action, SF
  • Cast: Nathan Fillion, Jason Isaacs, Elisabeth Moss, Henry Rollins, Arnold Vosloo
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, Animation
  • DVD Format:  R1, NTSC

“He held the first construct, no longer a scribe, now a warrior, the First Lantern.”— Hal Jordan, Narrating

“When you shape the light of your ring, you walk in the footsteps of the First Lantern.”— Hal Jordan, Narrating

Emerald Knights is really six short stories interwoven into an arc-plot. Each of the separate stories are written and directed by different people, though this is part of the DC Animated Universe, so Bruce Timm produces and Andrea Romano is the voice director for the entire thing. The stories are pulled directly from the DC’s Green Lantern Corps comic books. I loved the movie. In many ways, I liked it better than the live-action Green Lantern movie, which was only so-so. This film really showcased the rich history of the Green Lanterns, bringing in several characters and plot lines. And because Hal is telling these tales to Arisia, a new Green Lantern recruit, it’s like he’s explaining the history to the audience. Nathan Fillion does an excellent job of playing an older, more experienced, Hal — who still remembers his younger days and wishes to help a fellow recruit get her feet under her.

The six stories are:

  • The First Lantern
  • Kilowog (based on “New Blood”)
  • Mogo Doesn’t Socialize
  • Abin Sur (based on “Tygers”)
  • Emerald Knights
  • Laira (based on “What Price Honor?”

My favorite in terms of pure story was “The First Lantern”, just because it was so awesome to see how the Lanterns first came to be — and I love how Avro wasn’t willing to give up, and thus figured out how the rings were supposed to be used. I also loved the visual image used to show the first Lantern’s ring being handed down from Lantern to Lantern throughout the centuries, and finally to Abin Sur and from him to Hal. That was awesome!

“Mogo Doesn’t Socialize” was amusing. It’s a great story, and probably would have had more impact if I hadn’t had it spoiled for me.

“Kilowog” gives background and a bit more of a human side to the Lanterns’ drill sergeant by showing us his own drill sergeant. Still, it’s the same old “new recruit is terrorized by the drill sergeant but learns to love the tough love approach” story we’ve seen many times before.

“Abin Sur” is weird because it shows he and Sinestro working together, and also the criminal that Abin Sur arrests and jails makes several predictions, which I’m guessing come true in the GL continuity. Abin Sur, of course, doesn’t believe the predictions, especially of Sinestro, his dear friend, going rogue.

“Laira” is probably the darkest of the stories — but it’s fascinating and highly, highly enjoyable. I really liked that one too.

Finally, “Emerald Knights” is the name of the wrap-around story and the finale. Yes, it’s excellent. The entire film is extremely well done, enjoyable, and I just loved it. I highly, highly recommend this movie.

Recommendation: See it!
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars