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So I was looking through this DC Sneak Previews freebie:
…which you know came out several years ago, since it actually cover-features superheroes who are (gasp) not in their mid-20s, and featuring previews of the Justice Society of America
mini-series and Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn II
. Of note is the intro to the GL:EDII preview:
…which features this phrase that pays:
a slogan that would have brought attendees to movie houses in droves, should Warner Brothers’ marketing division only have dared to use it. Of course, that would have required a slight rewriting of the film to facilitate its use, but I think we all agree a rewrite for the GL film would not entirely have been out of order.
• • •
In other news:
images from DC Sneak Previews #1 (1991)
So the other day I noticed our Green Lantern back issue section was getting a tad thin, so I did a little restocking. As I did so, I was reminded of that particular storyline in the early 1980s where Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern of Earth, was ordered by that gang of little blue Angry Police Captains to keep an eye on the rest of his assigned space sector instead of just hanging around his home planet all the time.
Thus, starting in issue #151, Hal was exiled from his homeworld and embarked on a series of exciting space adventures that, if memory serves, readers didn’t much care for, and I think didn’t sell all that well (i.e. only achieved sales numbers that Marvel and DC would beg for today).
The “Hal in Space” story more or less wrapped up in issue #171 (Dec. ’83):
…which featured some swell Alex Toth interior art, a “goodbye” of sorts to supporting character Dorine (who featured heavily in this storyline), and a script that was mucked about so much that it got Alan Smithee’d with a pseudonymous credit of “Noel Naive.” (There’s a little about that in the Grand Comics Database entry for this issue.)
And then the next issue, #172, kicked off the new creative team of Len Wein and Dave Gibbons, and all was forgiven, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about.
I’m here to talk about some of those swell Gil Kane covers that popped up on this run. As I was processing some of these back issues for pricing, I was enjoying Kane’s imagery on many of these covers. Kane of course is the artist arguably most associated with the Silver Age version of the character, and ballyhooed as such on this issue early in the space-exile storyline:
Aside from this issue, which also featured Kane interiors, there were seven Kane covers altogether, bunched together at the very end of the run…here they are, all “borrowed” from the Grand Comics Database (except the already pictured #171, scanned from my own collection):
The couple of “generic-y” covers they used, which don’t refer at all to the stories within, have me wondering if they dipped into some inventory images due to deadline issues, budget, not knowing what was actually going to run in the issues, etc. Regardless, those are some great Kane images, making for some attractive-looking comics even if the series itself wasn’t all that well-received at the time. Kane would return with another probably-inventory cover for this deadline-doom reprint issue, and then he’d come back for covers and interiors for the last two issues of the series. (And I think there were some art jobs in annuals somewhere in there as well.)
Anyway, this post was just an entirely transparent attempt to enjoy these covers again, and hopefully some of you enjoyed them as well. Kane’s art definitely flips that nostalgia switch for me.
Also, that “exiled in space” storyline? Only lasted 21 issues. Seemed like it was around forever…but at least it was around long enough to generate this fantastically tasteless cover, which makes it all worth it.
So Rich dropped this in the comments to yesterday’s post:
“I’m interested in Mike’s reaction to the new Alan Scott GL origin in ‘Earth 2.’”
And I have to admit, the first thing that came to mind was the whole “Alan Scott is gay!” hoohar that was in the media, until I realized that bit of business doesn’t have much to do with the origin really. Then there was the second thing that came to mind, the fate of his loved one which I think everyone with a pulse saw coming from a mile away, but, you know, it’s a superhero origin story, good chance someone’s gotta be the “tragic loss” part of it. But I didn’t get why my thoughts specifically were asked after on this particular topic, until I realized:
Oh, yeah, the whole “green” thing, with “green energy” being the embodiment of the Earth’s life force an’ all, like in the Swamp Thing comics, where it’s referred to as “The Green.” And it’s referred to as such in Earth 2
, where some unknown entity states
“The Green has found its champion. And so I must awaken…in the name of the Grey I must rise.”
And if you recall your Swamp Thing comics of about, oh, 23 years ago, “The Grey” was an alien fungus-type thingie that Swamp Thing fought against, and you can read more about that on this page. I don’t believe there’s any connection between the Grey in Earth 2 and Swampy’s Grey, but there could very well be a minor connection between the expressions of the Green on both Earth 2 and, um, whatever Earth is the current version of Earth we’re dealing with in our post-Flashpoint DC universe. …I’m just going to assume y’all know what I’m talking about when I write all this stuff, because frankly, looking at it as I write it makes me feel like a crazy person.
Anyway, minor connection between the two, right. Well, we’re still dealing with “The Green” and I’m sure no one writing comics, particularly not James Robinson, is unaware of that particular nomenclature being used by Alan Moore to describe Earth’s life force during his Swamp Thing run. So I guess it’s simply an alternate take on the same sort of thing Moore was getting at, down to the Green choosing a champion to fight on its behalf when necessary.
Another small parallel that I’m inferring in this story is that, near the end of Alan Scott’s interaction with this green energy, he asks it
“…The way you speak. Were you…at one time…were you human?”
The question isn’t answered, but one possible interpretation is that whoever was speaking on behalf of the Green there was in fact a previous champion of the Green, who chose his successor in Alan Scott…who may someday also be absorbed into this life force of the planet, until he too reemerges to chose his own successor. It’s kinda sorta similar to previous Swamp Things retiring to the Parliament of Trees, where they guide the Green from sort of behind the scenes, while a more active champion is their avatar in the world.
Again, I’m sounding like a crazy person. I’m just trying to describe the comics, I swear.
Anyway, yeah, Rich, there are some interesting parallels between what’s going on with Alan Scott in Earth 2 and the saga of the Swamp Thing. I don’t think the twain shall ever meet, but I do think Robinson is writing a knowing reinterpretation of what Moore had put down.
Speaking of Swamp Thing, Swamp Mark popped in with some swampy news in yesterday’s comments, noting that in addition to the coming Animal Man crossover, Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. will be part of the fun for issues #13-#15. And that there will be a small tie-in with Ravagers #5. So, thanks, Swamp Mark, for letting us know. I realize that, as Swamp Thing’s Best Friend, I probably should be a little more on top of reporting what’s going on in Swamp Thing’s world, especially since we now have an ongoing Swamp Thing series again and I shouldn’t just take it for granted. But, you know, I get distracted easily and sometimes I forget. So you all keep nagging me about keeping up with Swamp Thing news…sure, I might grumble a little, but I know it’s only because you folks care. I hope.
Also, as for my being crazy…at least my pal Tim doesn’t think I am. “Probably sane” is very likely the nicest thing I’ll hear about myself this week. Or month. Or…well, I’d better stop there.
So, those odd x-ray superhero t-shirts in the current Diamond Previews, as featured in the latest installment of The End of Civilization?
I believe I’ve found the inspiration for at least the Green Lantern shirt:
Maybe they’ll pull more t-shirt designs from this comic. Like a Brainiac versus Ibis the Invincible image on a nice pastel-colored ring-tee. …But not as skeletons, that’d be weird.
image from Justice League of America #137 (December 1976) by E. Nelson Bridwell, Marty Pasko, Dick Dillin & Frank McLaughlin
Mmm boy, just get a load of those shapely gams…oh, and I guess Zatanna’s legs ain’t half-bad either. Also, GL’s dialogue seems a bit humorously redundant: “This magic is stronger than my ring! My ring is helpless against this magic! I can’t overpower the magic with my ring! My ring, normally very powerful, is powerless against…” ZATANNA: “Enough already, I get it! Geez.”
image from Green Lantern #42 (January 1966) by Gardner Fox, Gil Kane and Sid Greene
So ever since I made my “Green Lantern is a romance book” joke a couple of days ago…
…I now can’t stop reading double-meanings into Hal ‘n’ Sinestro’s adversarial banter.
Also, I am tempted to start a “Swamp Thing Confessions” Tumblr which is just pictures of me reading Swamp Thing comics, each with the caption “I like reading Swamp Thing comics.” Because surely that’s confessional enough.
image from Green Lantern #125 (February 1980) by Denny O’Neil, Joe Staton and Frank McLaughlin
…presumably with the optional middle finger, since that part of the hand is conveniently off-panel:
I will pay one American dollar for this scene to be in the next Green Lantern movie. Should another one get made within the next few decades, of course.
from Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn II #6 (September 1991) by Kieth Giffen, Gerard Jones, M.D. Bright & Romeo Tanghal
Okay, I may be paraphrasing the quote slightly, but the title of this post points at what I think was the main problem with this film, and perhaps why it’s not performing quite up to some folks’ expectations…though a $53 million dollar weekend (or $70 million, including the international take) seems okay to me, and writing it off a flop already, as everyone seems anxious to do, seems to be jumping the gun just a little. Let’s see how it does over the week or so…and more importantly, how it continues to do internationally, since that seems to be saving a lot of films’ bacons lately. (‘Course, if it takes in, like, $5 million next weekend, you may be on to something.)
Anyway, enough money talk…was the film any good?
Well…sorta. I liked a lot of it, some of it was…unpleasant, and essentially undermining the whole venture was a fatal conceptual flaw to the film that may have proven to be its undoing. It was enjoyable if shallow, with a thin plot that barely held the film together, and when the end comes you can’t help but think “wait…that was it?”
Lemme get into some SPOILERS after this pic of Ryan Reynolds looking befuddled…SPOILERS end after the Sinestro image farther down the post:
- The main problem with the film is this: nobody cares about the primary menace, a big glowing cloud of evil (which has a face, at least, unlike a certain other film‘s big cloud of evil) that’s tied into the whole Green Lantern/Guardians mythology, and all that talk about “the yellow color of evil” and “the green of will” and blah blah blah no one gives a shit.
They were partway on the right track, with Hal Jordan as the new fish-out-of-water recruit, which allows us to learn along with Hal about the Green Lantern Corps. But seriously…you’ve got Sinestro right there. A plot involving the corruption of power and fall into evil of Sinestro, with only Hal to stop him, would be a conflict of a more personal and relatable nature than the impending menace of the Giant Special Effect.
Okay, that’s essentially the story from the direct-to-DVD animated film Green Lantern: First Flight, and I know I’ve complained about the trope of having the superhero’s main villain be a bigger, badder version of himself…but it’s a missed opportunity to have such a well-cast and performed Sinestro (played by Mark Strong) and not have him as your primary antagonist. (We are given a brief teaser in an after-movie/mid-credits bonus scene, where Sinestro dons the yellow ring…enticing, and further reminder that I would have rather watched that story than the one we got.)
I realize this is a very fanboyish thing to do, to complain that they should have done this story instead of that story, but this seems like such an obvious thing I really wonder why they made this decision. With any luck, maybe the film will make just enough to get us the sequel they so obviously set up for.
- There is a lot to like, despite my misgivings about the, well, entire structure of the film. I thought the film was well-cast…I already mentioned Strong as Sinestro, and Ryan Reynolds made a pretty good Hal Jordan. Geoffrey Rush, as the voice of Tomar-Re, made that character far more entertaining than I expected him to be. Taika Waititi as Hal’s pal Tom gave us some nice humorous counterpoint to the whole Green Lantern business.
- Speaking of Tom, I did appreciate that bit of business when Hal demonstrates the ring to him and Tom shouts “you’re a superhero!” I like that the concept of superheroes is a known one in this film’s world (not that I think there are other superheroes there, just that it exists as a pop culture thing, as in the real world), instead of the title character being the very first time the very idea of a “superhero” was ever conceived.
- While I liked Peter Sarsgaard as Hector Hammond, who gave the character some creepily-humorous personality, I found myself put off by the grotesque screeching that the character did too often. That was just…kinda gross, really. But the bits with Hammond using his newfound telepathic powers to further alienate himself by discovering, say, what his father really thought of him, were nicely done. And by the time they showed him in the wheelchair, near the climax of the film, I really thought, just for a second, they were going to give us the immobilized super-giant-head Hector Hammond from the comics. Ah, well.
- Blake Lively made a good Carol Ferris, Hal’s boss and former girlfriend, with her best bit being her reaction to Green Lantern showing up on her balcony and not being fooled for long by Hal’s get-up. In fact, that whole scene was probably one of the best in the film, undercutting the whole “secret identity” cliché in amusing fashion.
- Come to think of it, the best bits of the film were the character interactions, far more than the “making things with light” special-effect showcases. Hal talking to his nephew, Hal remembering his father’s last flight, Tom giving Hal crap about being responsible, Hector realizing his failures, Hal meeting with – and being trained by – the other Green Lanterns, the frisson between Sinestro and this upstart human Lantern who took the place of his friend Abin Sur…heck, even Hal meeting Abin Sur, as brief as it was, carried more weight than all that other Parallax business.
And seeing Hal argue with the Guardians, even briefly…that, almost more than anything else, felt like seeing the comic directly translated to the screen.
- I’m still kind of weirded out that I just saw a major Hollywood movie that featured Kilowog as a character. This is not the future I was expecting.
- Should probably note something about the CGI costumes, since such a big deal was made out them. Thought they worked out okay…a little busy, but not distractingly so, and they did successfully give the impression of the amount of power the Green Lanterns were wielding. However, Hal’s mask never seemed not awkward, for some reason.
And the actual power ring stuff itself…I am very glad they used the rings power to make things and not just to shoot green lasers, even if the Hot Wheels-esque car track in the helicopter rescue scene was just a tad over the top (even if nicely foreshadowed by the toy car track sequence in the nephew’s bedroom). Happy to see big green ring-constructed fists punching things. No big green catcher’s mitts, but maybe next time.
- Favorite moment of the evening…after the extra mid-credits scene with Sinestro, I overheard someone else in the theater exclaiming “I knew that he wasn’t any good!” A guy with the name “Sinestro” turned out to be bad…who knew?
Not quite up there with the time when, after Fellowship of the Ring was over, hearing someone in the theater say in disbelief “wait…there’s gonna be another movie?” but it’s close.
In conclusion, I thought it was a brave choice to kill off Hal Jordan and bring in the power team of Medphyll and Ch’p to take over the film franchise.
But seriously, while there was a lot to like in the film, it seemed like a huge missed opportunity to go with the plot they did. I liked the character stuff far more than the special effects hoohar, and if they had built the story’s primary conflict around the characters (like, oh, say, Hal versus Sinestro), we might have had a better film. And there still would have been room for the special effects, too, I’m sure.
…linking to the reaction of noted biologist and skeptic PZ Myers to Alan Moore speaking about magic. Thought some of you out there might find that interesting.
Speaking of Moore, a couple of his stories were adapted in the recently-released Green Lantern: Emerald Knights animated moviewhich I just watched last night. “Mogo Doesn’t Socialize” makes it through more or less intact, but “Tygers” (the Abin Sur one, illustrated by Kevin O’Neill) is only barely recognizable, having been thoroughly reworked to meet the demands of the movie’s overarching plot. Nothing of the original’s impact makes it into the final product. Otherwise, the film was okay…it’s neat seeing all the Green Lanterns in action (and what must be, what, the sixth or seventh redesign for Kilowog?), but it’s a shame that Special Guest Ultimate Menace Krona didn’t get much to do other than be large and roar a lot. I think I would have rather seen this Krona-centric story made into a movie. But, you know, no one ever asked me.
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