Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Green Lantern Corps: Recharge

The first thing I thought when I started reading this trade was that I must have missed something. I knew from the unbelievably overrated "Green Lantern: Rebirth" that Hal Jordan was back, and generally aware the Corps followed. It's just that I expected some sort of introduction to the new Corps, and an explanation for why Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner were now on patrol off-world. DC Comics has become so incestuous over the past decade, it seems assumed that everyone is following every aspect of a "family" line. Not the case here.

Despite my initial disorientation, the trade started off well enough. A mystery was afoot, and our heroes going away party on the JLA Watchtower was cute. A new, reluctant Korugarian Corpsman was introduced with an understandable personal conflict. More recruits with ties to longstanding DC continuity offered strong story potential. I was almost reminded of all those wonderful Corps annual short story collections from the 80's, and Steve Englehart's daring run. Then recent revisions began to erode my interest: female Guardians... Parallax... Kyle Rayner as Messianic figure rather than blessed everyman.

Patrick Gleason, whose prior work on Aquaman pleased me much, is even better suited to adventures amongst aliens. Gleason is clearly of the post-Bisley school, and his time inking Doug Mahnke made a lasting impression. However, where Mahnke can't seem to progress past Kev O'Neil and company, Gleason incorporates techniques from influences as diverse as Kelly Jones, Chris Bachalo, Ethan Van Sciver and Larry Stroman. It serves him and the book extremely well, especially considering the further I progressed, the more his art was the only thing keeping me going.

The new characters quickly fell into tired "types," engaged in the unengaging-- a rote paranoid thriller involving mostly forgotten villains. Everything looks cool because of Gleason, but the story is connecting the dots to one cliche after another. Gardner the asshole becomes Gardner the coarse veteran, while Rayner is in the optimistic but otherwise generic hero role. The ante is repeatedly upped, but the plot is so well worn it remains a penny game. By the end, fans old an new will groan at the same old shit, and hopefully question why Geoff Johns and Dave Gibbons deserve one free pass after another based on past glories.

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