Guy Garnder: Collateral Damage

Written and Drawn by Howard Chaykin

Let me beginning with a warning, I am huge fan of the Green Lanterns. But by far my favorite Lantern is one Guy Gardner. What’s that? You don’t know who that is? Shame on you…but for you heathens who don’t know about the Greatest Green Lantern ever read this–> http://community.livejournal.com/superhero_muses/62798.html… it tells you just about everything you need to know about him And then some more for good measure…

Okay now lets talk Collateral Damage…

Its sucks. Period. The end.

Oh I guess I should at least tell you why it sucks.

First let’s talk about the art. Mr. Chaykin, it seems, can only draw one face. So everyone, whether male or female, looks exactly the same. And that is just the beginning of the mess that is called art…after fruitless trying to find samples online I have come up empty-handed, I guess no one wanted to ruin their websites with these horrors.
Alright lets move on to the story.

The premise is that the world of G’Newt home of this green lantern:

His name is G’NOrt  and his world is devastated by the then current interstellar Rann/Thangar War and G’nort wants to the world to end. To do this he brings a Thangar Major and a Rannian Green Lantern Recruit to broker peace. And who does G’nort choose to be the unbiased arbitrator, our faithful Guy Gardner. But during the meeting a group of Tormocks (a group of bad aliens) attack Guy at his home base, a bar called Warriors, and attempt to kill him. Guy calls the peace talks off to go hunt and destroy the Tormocks. And guess what…he succeeds.

There so much wrong with that paragraph and it’s just best to start with the beginning.

As evidenced by the panel I showed you above G’nort is normally characterized by being funny and stupid. While, G’nort is brave and loyal but he is a few pickles shy of a full barrel. But here in Collateral Damage, G’nort is just mean, nasty and grim; the total opposite of his normal characterization. The story throws this contradiction a bone and says ‘that seeing your planet burned to the ground will do that you’ but I’m sorry grim and gritty is not G’nort, that’s for Batman and Judge Dredd.

Then there is the problem with the Rannian and Thangarian negotiators. One is a Major; the other is a Green Lantern Recruit that is questioning herself about continuing with the Corps. Now lets be honest even if this talks went anywhere they still wouldn’t solve anything. Neither one of them has the power nor in any real position to settle peace for either species.

Then we have that interesting question, who in their right mind would choose G’nort to head up these peace talks? Everyone probably knows only the dumb G’nort not the Grim and Gritty one. So why would you choose him to put all of this together. Makes absolutely no sense.

And then the even bigger question, why would G’nort choose Gardner as the peaceful arbitrator? The Guy Gardner as portrayed by Chaykin is an arrogant douche (which is wrong…just read the article I linked to earlier) who must have some unwritten rule that everything he says has to either be a joke or some sexual advance.

Then the fun continuity question of the Warriors bar. In the mini-series Green Lantern: Rebirth (which does correct Gardner characterization by the way) Warriors was destroyed but here it’s rebuilt. Now really this isn’t really a problem until you realize that in the other Green Lantern monthly titles that Warriors wasn’t rebuilt until recently, and that wasn’t on Earth but on Oa, the home planet of the Green Lantern Corps.

And then there is the Tormocks.

But first some history.

In the mid-90’s DC Comics did a little comic called Green Lantern: Emerald Twilight. In this story Hal Jordan (another, and usually the main, Green Lantern) was possessed by the fear entity Parrallax (long story for another time) and destroyed the Green Lantern Corps leaving only one, a young man named Kyle Rayner. DC’s idea was that Only Rayner would be ring-bearer, no one else. Now stripped of his ring Guy Gardner went on search for power in his monthly comic Guy Gardner but to fully understand what happened next lets go the man who did it…

“one day [the editor] tells me that the higher powers didn’t think that Guy should be without powers. He said that heroes without super powers didn’t sell. I argued the point, but in the end DC owned the ball I was playing with, so I had to come up with something. My idea was that Guy would be the manly version of Superman, the last of his kind….

That’s why I came up with him being part of an alien seed planting process that was put into the work thousands of years before. Guy Gardner was the fruition of the most noble race of galactic warriors ever… The Vuldarians.

They came before the Green Lanterns…They were like a mix of “Braveheart meets the Texas Rangers.” The Vuldarians were the greatest warriors the universe has ever seen, bar none. They were the best fighters ever. Mention the word “Vuldarian” to any crummy galactic crook, and they would fill their pants right then. Bad guys would kiss Batman and call him Mommy rather than face a Vuldarian. They were THAT bad!

I just wanted to leave Guy at being the greatest warrior in the DCU… but the powers that be wanted more powers. Arrggh…

This next part you will really groan at. I did.

At the same time all this power talk was goin’ on, on TV the kid’s show The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was huge. DC said they wanted Guy to be able to morph weapons. That’s like being a manly blues singer and having your agent say you have to sign like some American Idol winner.”

(to follow read the article these are ripped from go here http://westfieldcomics.com/blog/interviews-and-columns/beauology-101-guy-gardner-behind-the-vuldarian-tattoos-part-1/ and here http://westfieldcomics.com/blog/interviews-and-columns/beauology-101-guy-gardner-behind-the-vuldarian-tattoos-part-2/

Enough about WHY it happened…now WHAT did happen.

The Tormocks were the Vuldarians worst and most hated enemies. Thousands of years ago the Tormocks were actually able to defeat them, leaving only a small remnant.

But during Beau Smith’s run (the man quoted earlier,) the finally battle between Guy, the last Vuldarian, and the Tormocks was held. And let’s just say the Tormocks were all dead and buried.

So why in the Sam Hill is there Tormocks attacking Vuldarians in this comic?!?!!?!?!

And then I just have to question why the Tormocks attack Guy in the first place? Following Green Lantern: Rebirth Guy’s human DNA overwrote the Vuldarian DNA making pure human again. So why would the Tormocks bother him? (Okay enough questions, I think you get the point this series is all kinds of messed up.)

Anywho, after the Tormocks attack Guy, he decides that he must follow and destroy them and (for some reason) drags the Thangarian Major, Rannian Recruit and everyone favorite Grim and Gritty Dog Lantern </sarcasm> with him.

And that’s just the list of atrocities from the first issue. The second and final issue things get weirder.

It starts with Guy forgetting he ever wiped out the Tormocks (you would think you would remember that sort of thing) and the Rannian GL having the event backwards (that the Vuldarians wiped out the Tormocks.) This is followed by watching the last Vuldarian dying…again. But then here comes Guy to crash their party and destroys the Tormocks…again.

But wait, what’s this, an urn that contains the DNA signature of over a hundred Vuldarians. Ummmm why?

It makes no sense that the Tormocks would collect this, mainly because you could clone a whole army of Vuldarians again if it fell into the wrong hands. On the other hand, if it was a Vuldarians construct why would the Tormocks let it survive. Who knows.

Then, then an Antimatter Antibody attacks them.

Wait…where did that come from?

The Short answer, the Tormocks weapons are wrecking havoc on the universe, and it responds with this Antibody. But the real tragedy (amongst the many otheres) is that is serves no real purpose in the story other then to show how much Chaykin doesn’t understand how Guy Gardner (should) worl. Chaykin points out that Guy’s ego feeds his willpower and that is the only reason they are even able to escape this “attack.”

And that’s where its ends…well actually there is still the scene back at warriors where once again Guy is hitting on a girl. Fully unnecessary and serves a final nail in Chaykin’s coffin.

The Last Words: The Series Sucks, if you see it walk away slowly and don’t make eye contact. There is absolutely nothing redeemable contained here within, the art is horrible, the dialogue laughably tries to hard to dark and gritty and pretty much any character featured is totally portrayed wrong.

Grade: F-

Ultimate Spider-Man: The Death of Spider-Man

Ultimate Spider-Man: Death of Spider-Man

Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Art Mark Bagley

Way back in the early 2000’s the then Marvel President Bill Jemas envisioned something grand, a rebooting of the Marvel Line of Characters but placed in a separate timeline; divorced from the main Marvel timeline. Jemas argued that there should a younger continuity, something to draw in new readers (what with the recent releases of the first X-Men and Spider-Man movies) and to not bog them down with all of the complex continuity that permeates the old. And so the Ultimate Line of Marvel Comics was birthed.

People who breathed comics claimed that it wasn’t going to work. Old wouldn’t like this new reimagining of their beloved characters and new readers are never a guarantee, just the ideal. Then came Ultimate Spider-Man #1 and the critics were silenced, the fans voted with their money, eventually making Ultimate Spider-Man (USM) the number one selling Spider-Man book, even outselling the flagship Amazing Spider-Man in the main continuity. A lot of the credit is thanks to the writing of Brian Michael Bendis, a noted master of dialogue and who soon became one of the flagship writers of Marvel, shepherding the various Avengers franchises and multiply Marvel events.

Bendis has been writing USM since day one (and continues to this day), and has written every single issue of the over160 issue series. (This is something rarely heard from in comics.) For a good chunk of that time he was joined by artist Mark Bagley. Bendis, the writer, is known for dragging stories out (the first appearance of Spider-Man in Amazing Fantasy was 15 pages long, in Bendis’ retelling he made it into 7 issues,) with many of his issues filled with people standing around talking to each other. But when the man sits down and writes an action piece he blows me away (see the Marvel event Siege.) Mark Bagley, as an artist has this weird thing were he sucks drawing anyone else other then Spider-Man. Put this man on Superman or Batman and I start walking the other way, but Bagley and Spider-Man go together like peanut butter and jelly.

All of this brings us to Bendis’ capstone; “Death of Spider-Man.” Norman Osborn aka Green Goblin, thought dead by everyone who doesn’t work for SHIELD escapes from SHIELD with Doctor Octopus, Electro, Vulture, Sandman, and Kraven. But as luck would have it (for them at least) the Ultimates are at war is Nick Fury’s rogue Avengers squad (looooooong story.) When Doc Ock refuses to help Osborn kill Peter Parker (alter-ego of Spider-Man) Osborn as Green Goblin and mashes Ock’s face into mush, on live TV. Mary Jane warns Parker via phone call that the Green Goblin is back and probably is going to be hunting him. Returning to his house Peter sends Aunt May and Gwen Stacy away, leaves a note for Johnny “Human Torch” Storm and Iceman (both of whom are staying at the Parker House, another long story) to get out of dodge. With his family and friends taken care of Spider-Man goes to help with the war between the Avengers and the Ultimates and, during the fighting, takes a bullet for CaptainAmerica. Awakening with everyone gone he limps home to find the Sinister Five in his front yard and an unconscious Human Torch and Iceman.

Alone, he fights the five villains. A returned Aunt May shots Electro with a pistol, whose resulting explosion knocks out all of them except the Green Goblin. It time for the final rodeo, but Peter is losing badly, until Mary Jane rams a truck into the Goblin. Using the broken truck (and some super spider-strength) Parker smashes ole Greenie a few times until it explodes. The Green Goblin is finally down, but so is Peter Parker. Cradled in Aunt May arms he tells her that he may not have been able to save Uncle Ben but he was able save her and with that Spider-Man dies.

That ending packs a solid emotional punch, while the rest of it, on the other hand is kind of meh honestly. For a man renowned for his dialogue, they were many clunky lines. Also, Bendis packs in a lot of moments where you just know the hero is going to die soon (it’s kind of like someone saying in a movie that they are going to retire soon, you just know he is going down first.) CaptainAmericagiving Peter a speech about how he doesn’t fight like he knows he might die or how many times we have characters say how much they love each other. While all great scenes they just stand out as obvious pieces of foreshadowing. The action could have been better plotted, the removal of most of the villains hinged on Aunt May killing (I guess, the comic doesn’t confirm or deny this) Electro. Basically the only villain Spider-Man actually defeats is Green Goblin, and there is some question whether the last panel shows that Green Goblin is dead or in fact alive.

If that is the case then, besides killing Peter Parker, what did this accomplish? Yes,  Marvel and Bendis are relaunching Ultimate Spider-Man with a new man in the suit, so I guess some of the old villains will be back to fight the new guy, but-what was the point of this? Shock? Tears? Money? Bendis claims that he just wanted to move the Ultimate universe further from the main universe. I guess I can buy that, somewhat. Buy why couldn’t Parker actually beat any of his villains, that would have been cool to see instead of just seeing Electro explode and suddenly no villains.

Death of Spider-Man, while its ending was the emotional gut punch it needed to be was simply disappointing. It could have been a ton better. Mark Bagley’s art though has never been better. Hopefully your new Spider-Man works Bendis, if not then at least bring Peter back to life tastefully. But just know, you killed him to well those last few pages.

Flashpoint

Flashpoint
Written by Geoff Johns, Art by Andy Kubert

Flashpoint is a DC Comics event centered around Barry Allen, as known as the superhero the Flash and Batman.

It all begins when one day Barry wakes up to find himself in a new and distinctly alternate timeline, one far different then the he knew. Wonder Woman and Aquaman are at war. Hal Jordan never got his Green Lantern Ring. Superman landed not in Smallville but in Metropolis, causing millions of deaths and has been locked away by the government. In Gotham a Batman reigns, but more violent and troubled then the one Barry remembers. Cyborg is the most respected hero of the World. And as for the Flash, well there never was a Flash.

Powerless but with memories of the old timeline, Barry is shocked to discover his mother is still alive. She had years prior been killed by Barry’s mortal enemy, the Reverse-Flash but now she is alive again. Barry decides to visit the Batman to get answers and discovers that its not Bruce Wayne behind the mask, but instead it is Thomas Wayne, Bruce’s father.

In fear of ever-escalating war between Aquaman’s Atlanteans and Wonder Woman’s Amazonians Cyborg tries to gather the heroes to defeat their coming threat. But without Batman on Board none want to have anything to do with it.

Barry tells Thomas Wayne what had happened originally the night that Bruce had died; Bruce had survived, Thomas, wishes for this ‘better’ universe and agrees to help the Flash. Upon the room of the decaying ruins of Wayne Manor the Flash recreates the accident that created his powers in the beginning.

His powers returned Barry Allen and Batman go to get Superman, along the way gaining the help of Cyborg. Deep below Metropolis the Three find Subject 1 (we would know him as Superman), a sick and pale man. But after the breaking him free Superman just escapes, leaving them behind. Batman agrees with Cyborg to help lead the Heroes in fighting the Atlanteans/Amazonians in what is left of Europe.

The Battle for the World Begins. And there on the Battlefield the Flash finds the man he holds responsible for this degrading world, the Reverse-Flash. But the Reverse-Flash has a secret, he didn’t do it! It was Barry Allen, the Flash himself.

Stricken with grief Barry Allen had gone back through time in hopes of stopping the Reverse-Flash from killing his mom. And he succeeded, and “like a bullet through a windshield” the Flash broke time, fracturing it. But in so doing the also freed the Reverse-Flash, no more was he tied to the Flash, no more does he have to keep the Flash alive for himself to exist. Now he is a paradox, now he can finally kill the Flash. But, the main rule in warfare is to never stop moving. The Batman, using an Amazonian sword stabs the Reverse-Flash and tells Barry to fix this.

The Flash leaves the battle and visits his mother, explaining to her what he has done. She tells him to fix it; all these people shouldn’t have died just for her. Tearfully the Flash re-enters time and stops himself from stopping the Reverse-Flash. But as he returns to the present the Flash watches as three timelines merge into one. A New world welcomes the Flash, a New DC Universe.

And so we witness the birth of the DCnU. Some things are the same, some are wholly different. But now, let’s have a history lesson.

The first time that the DCU was fully rebooted was in 1986 with the event Crisis on Infinite Earths. Worlds lived, worlds died, and the universe was never the same.  Coming of the first Crisis most (if not) all DC Characters were rebooted. Superman’s story was retold by John Byrne, Batman’s origin was retold by Frank Miller in Batman: Year One, Wonder Woman was rebuilt by George Perez. The list goes on and at first things seemed to be working. The Crisis had made things easier for new readers to jump on board. But soon cracks started to form. About 10 years after the Crisis DC released Zero Hour: Crisis In Time.

While not being a full frontal reboot like Crisis, Zero Hour instead it just reformatted the timeline to clean up the supposed issues. But really Zero Hour didn’t take; its band-aids peeled off and tossed aside. Finally in 2005, on the 20th Anniversary of Crisis on Infinite Earths came Infinite Crisis. While billed as a reboot comic it didn’t really reboot much. In fact they never clearly stated just what had been rebooted. Sure some stories came after its changes, but stuff still fell back into their old patterns. So in 2008 came Final Crisis.

Oh, Final Crisis, the beautiful mess as I call it. The more I research into it the more I come away with the conclusion that DC set this bad boy up to fail. First, against the wishes of the author, the actually showed the war of the gods of New Genesis and Apokolips (Grant Morrison wanted you to come in after the war to find that evil had won.) Then there was the weekly comic book series Countdown to Final Crisis which was to set everything in order for Final Crisis (But honestly it didn’t, it just made things even murkier.) Then those goof-balls actually made him change his ending. It turns out that it was suppose to be Final Crisis that was to reboot the DC Universe, not Flashpoint. But some top guys shot it down because they felt that they had “just did a reboot with Infinite Crisis.” (If you ever do read Final Crisis, keep this last tidbit in mind, stuff start making sense, at least better sense, if you remember this attempt by DC to screw their writers.)

Okay rant over.

Anyways, Final Crisis didn’t reboot anything, and the aftermath of the event was very limited. So limited was it that in fact that it almost felt like it didn’t happen.
But then, the big guy who shot down the reboot of the Universe with Final Crisis stepped down. It was now open game on the continuity. And so we come to Flashpoint.

Flashpoint is, honestly, well written. At times I wondered why we wasting pages on some stuff (really it just to show the new world of Flashpoint) and there is one scene that I felt could have been shorter and wouldn’t have wasted pages, but other then that it was in fact very tightly written. The art is also well worth the price of admission, but then again I would marry Kubert art if I could.

But does Flashpoint work as a reboot?

So far I would have to say yes. It plausible showed how it happened. No Superboy-Prime punching a wall (don’t ask) or a power mad old Green Lantern or a dying Darkseid dragging us into a universal pit. A superhero (who has time-traveled before) attempts to save his mother from dying, now that makes sense.

Only time (haha) will tell whether of not it actually works not though.