Saturday, June 18, 2011

Power Girl

So previously I had mentioned that I had not ready any Power Girl comics because I couldn't bring myself to buy the trades as I tend to read in public at bars and coffeeshops. Power Girl covers tend to be cheesecake to the extreme and I'm not entirely comfortable to be the guy at the end of the bar reading boobcomics. Chalk it up to my own milquetoast nature. Does the number of new readers who would be more likely to heed the siren song of cheesecake outnumber those who are put off by the same? Who knows, but I know I'm amongst the latter, no matter how many positive reviews the title gets.

Then enter the iPad! With DC's digital comics app, I can download a few issues of Power Girl and see what all the fuss is about. So instead of being the weirdo at the end of the bar oogling voluptuous drawings, I can be a, uh, weirdo sitting in the dark on my couch, pale features lit from below by glowing images of voluptuous... dangit.

My previous experiences with Power Girl extend from her time with the JSA, which I liked, and the homage to her in the form of Galetea, a clone of Supergirl, in DCAU's Justice League, which I also enjoyed. The common thread in both of those portrayals is that Power Girl is a person apart, disconnected from the world around her. In one version, she's from another, dead, universe, separated from all that she knows and thrust into a world that is all too familiar. Every little difference she notices just reinforces the notion that she's not from around here. Still, she charges on, fighting for what is right, even though the people she defends are not her own. In the animated version, she's a clone, disconnected from the world around her by her very nature and the agenda of those who control her. She's angry about that and channels that anger into her work and hatred of Supergirl, who has everything she wants (family, friends, the ability to shape her own future).

That's a pretty deep character and one that is done a disservice by cheesecake cleavage shots. But can you really separate Power Girl from the boob window? It was even there in Justice League, so I'm not sure you can. So to reboot her, we need to find a way of staying true to her core concept without sliding into that snowglobe crap I read in Power Girl #1.

Seriously. That was dumb. You don't set up character quirks for the only payoff to be a boob joke.

Anyways, here's my version. Power Girl is the second clone of Superman, following Bizarro, preceding Superboy. The Bizarro version was obviously a bust. Scientists attempted to clone Superman using only his own DNA (or whatever it is that Kryptonians have) and the result sort of doubled back on itself, creating the twisted version of the hero. For their next attempt, Luthor's eggheads, working under the direction of the Cadmus Initiative, attempted to supplement Superman's DNA with that of another species.

And the species they used? Atlantean. Given that the modern day Atlanteans of the Drewniverse are humans who, through magic or mishap I have yet to decide, adapted to underwater living years and years ago, their DNA is extremely flexible. So rather than leap straight into basic human, Power Girl's creators opted instead to use Earth's equivalent of the Universal DNA Donor. While this means that Power Girl may not be as strong or fast as Superman (let's say 90% strength? The Kryptonian Power Ranking goes something like Superman, Bizarro, Supergirl, Power Girl, Superboy - but that can change over time), it does mean that Power Girl is far more resilient. Her Atlantean heritage means that she is better able to adapt to adverse conditions, including Kryptonite exposure, but may have future ramifications we can deal with later. Basically, she can take more of a licking and keep on ticking than Supes, even if she can't quite punch at his weight class.

As for her body? Well, given that she was designed from the ground up by a young supergenius in Luthor's employ, it makes a bit of sense that she was built with the body she's now known for. Gerard Shugel was a 16 year old prodigy whose body was essentially falling apart around him, and though his intellect was vast, he was still a teenage boy, prone to all those secret nerd longings. I wonder if he ever succeeded in creating a better body for himself?

By Issue #1, Power Girl is not a hero and has yet to really reveal herself. Instead, she's living the life of Karen Star, Diplomatic Assistant to the Themysciran Ambassador. She knows about her powers and mission (keep tabs on Wonder Woman, stop her if she gets out of hand), but is completely unaware of her true history (or of all the brainwashed triggers planted in her noggin). Karen just thinks that she was given some sort of super-serum by the US Government to make her strong and fast and that she needs to keep taking it to retain her powers. Actually, the 're-upping' procedure is really about reinforcing the mental controls placed on her to ensure loyalty.

Of course, in time, the Truth Will Out, both regarding Karen's mission in regards to Wonder Woman and then her actual creation story soon after. I figure once Power Girl learns that she is a created being, much like Wonder Woman, the two will be able to build a sort of working friendship from that common factor. After all, Wonder Woman has years of training other strong women, so she'd be a natural to bring Karen up to speed on what it means to be a hero.

As for the chest-window, that's from the suit that Power Girl wore while developing in the tank. It's where various tubes and wires accessed her heart and will be revealed when she and Wonder Woman bust in on the lab she was made in around Issue #14 of Wondy's main title or so. Just as Superman pretty much is flying around in his baby blanket, so will Power Girl be fighting crime in what was essentially hers.

Once she switches over to the side of good, Power Girl will have to spend some time sorting her shit out. She probably won't be up for a comic of her own for awhile, but she can feature in Justice League, Team Up, and Flashback titles. Once she does get to headline, she'll have a built in enemy in the form of the Ultra-Humanite, who once he has a new, powerful body might be looking to obsess/stalk his first One True Love. Her stories should be introspective, more Alias than Empowered, as she has varying levels of success connecting with her Kryptonian and Atlantean "relations" as well as coming to terms with who she is and what she should do with the rest of her life.

And nary a snowglobe shall be in sight.

Friday, June 17, 2011

New Banner

Not only have I bought a notebook where I can scribble about fictional characters on the train in the morning, but now I have an actual banner!

I warned you I couldn't draw. I can barely trace. Still, the digital age is upon us. I even downloaded some DC comics for perusal on my iPad this week.

The future is upon us!

Green Lantern: Emerald Bat and Final Thoughts

So why Barbara Gordon?

Mainly, because I see becoming a Lantern as a good way to keep her momentum of getting out of Batman's shadow. I know I'm immediately thrusting her into Lantern's shadow, but really, is there much shadow there? Looking at the current run, there's a host of setting to play with, but given that we've gone through five "primary" lanterns over the years, we really need a character with some gravitas of her own in the role.

Also, I like Barbara. Maybe it's because she shares in the Sacred Bond of Library Science as I do, I dunno. I really liked Oracle as a character, but did not like how Barbara got the role. Well, that's not entirely true. Killing Joke is a great comic, I just have problems with a character being crippled forever and ever in a world where you can't go to the local CVS without running into a super genius doctor who also fights crime in her spare time. If Batman could get over having his back broken, Barbara should have been able to get her legs back.

In my mind, Barbara took up the role of Batgirl for love of adventure. Remember that she didn't have years of training under Batman or his cadre of kung-fu consultants, she just said "That looks like fun, my turn!" and threw on a costume. Over time, though, I could see the adventure start to wear away. Maybe it's just proximity to Batman, maybe it's the different quality of criminal that flocks to Gotham, but I can't see being Batgirl being fun for Barbara after awhile.

So in this setting, she was Batgirl for years, but then Something Happened that really drew a line under the seriousness of the role. I'm going to say it's the murder of her mother at the hands of Joker. That's a nice bookend, I think, as it was the death of his parents that brought Bruce to the Bat, so it is the death of a parent that brings Babs away. Being a member of the Bat-family is not something that comes off when you remove the costume, it's a deep psychological taint that sticks with you. It's not a matter of being normal, nobody who dresses up in longjohns and punches muggers really cares about normalcy, but a sense that you're making a difference. Batman has been fighting crime in Gotham for years and rather than cleaning up, in some ways, the city is getting worse.

So Barbara gives up the mantle of Batgirl, telling Bruce he can find another sidekick. Batman is of course disappointed. He knows that there is something within Barbara that wants to do right by the world, to make it a better place, but he's locked into his own idiom and can't see any way for her to do it but as Batgirl.

John Stewart has another way. He's familiar with Batgirl from previous Justice League interactions and Batman team-ups. He sees someone who wants to help, have an innate sense of justice, a wonderful mind (think about all the mental plates she was able to keep spinning as Oracle), and previous experience. The ring sees her as someone who would totally use it. He'll resist at first, but Jim Gordon will eventually come around when Barbara points out that she's just following in his footsteps, becoming a cop. Sure, her beat won't be Gotham, but it was Gotham's criminals that killed her mom. A space alien isn't going to care about her family or personal vendetta. Heck, they probably won't even see anything beyond the ring.

So Barbara will be the junior Green Lantern of sector 2814 by Issue #4 or so. This will give her time to come to grips with who she is and what she wants, but also will give the reader an entry-point into the often dense sci-fi setting that the Lanterns get in to. She'll even be able to make some guest appearances in some of the other Lantern titles. I imagine her costume would be pretty neat, sort of a mix between her old Batgirl outfit and a fresher Lantern look (glowing green cape?). I'd draw it, but as you'll soon see from the banner for this blog I'm doodling, I can't even trace.

So the Lantern titles are:

  • Green Lantern - The base title. John Stewart is the star. (8/52)
  • Tales of the Green Lantern Corps - A more sci-fi title, not set on Earth at all. Hal and Guy (and even Kyle, I guess) make appearances here in these 4-6 issue self-contained stories. These stories can be flashbacks or can join in with whatever the ongoing metaplot is. (9/52)
  • Green Lantern Cadets - A more youth-oriented title. Soap opera inspired by those rows and rows of manga I see at the Barnes & Nobles. More on this at a later time. (10/52)

And there we go! I'll revisit the Lanterns in the future once I start making up some story synopsis. The overall arc would be the slow discovery of the Horrible Truth of the Green Lanterns, but we'll have many parsecs to go before we get there.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Green Lantern: Wearing the Green

Okay, so last time we left off with setting up the Green Lantern Corps and explaining a bit of the machinations of the Council of Oa. I prefer calling them a Council over the more traditional Guardians of the Universe because, well, a council sort of implies wheeling and dealing, secret plots, and the like while Guardians of the Universe looks like it should be nailed up on the clubhouse wall right about the No Girls Allowed sign.

So we know Why the Council distributes superpowerful magic rings across the universe. We know What said rings can do (everything: hard light constructs, flight, universal translator, navigation, force shields, and I bet they can make a mean cup of coffee). But we still need to figure out Who they give them to.

And this is another of my problems with Green Lantern: specifically, Green Lantern's place in the DC universe. If Green Lantern occupied a universe all his own, one without any other non-Lanterned heroes, then the selection process of the ring picking the best and brightest as its next wearer would be fine. However, when Abin Sur crashes into a planet where the likes of Superman and Batman live, why the heck would the ring go to some test pilot? Is it the No Fear thing? Because Superman doesn't strike me as being a fearful guy. Neither does Batman, who if he had fears, conquered them. Name me a person with more willpower than Batman or more innate sense of justice than Superman. And that's not even bringing into play the host of other heroes kicking around Earth.

So keeping in mind that part of the ring's function is to bleed off Ion's excess power, the ideal candidate for being a Green Lantern would be someone who would use the power constantly. That neatly rules out Superman ("I can already fly through space and shoot lasers out of my eyes.Why do I need this ring again?") and Batman ("I'm much more a 'hands on' kind of person, thanks."). Wonder Woman wouldn't want it as she already has her hands full defending Themyscira, plus having the heir to a throne pledge loyalty to space dwarves would be impolitic at best.

So the ring wants someone who will come to rely on it, use it frequently, and buy into the party line about being some sort of guardian of the galaxy. It's not too picky, so it'll go for the closest candidate, not necessarily the best. That sounds like something a show-off military test pilot who happens to be in the right place at the right time can do, right? So I guess Hal Jordan is on board.

Except that Hal Jordan is not 'my' Green Lantern. John Stewart is, thanks to the DCAU Justice League. Guy Gardner is a punch-line (literally, right Bruce? UP HIGH) and Kyle Rayner is an emo wimp with too many '90s entanglements. Alan Scott, I have other plans for.

But still, who am I to argue with tradition? I'm Drew, that's who. Sure, Hal can have his ring. He got it like 2 SUs ago, but has never served as the Green Lantern here on Earth. By Issue #1, he's sort of the Station Manager for multiple sectors, including Earth's 2814. He had a career full of adventures, but now he mainly rides a desk. Guy got a ring too, but he's on Oa, part of one of those specialist teams. He's not one of the Entity-capturing Alphas yet, maybe just the Lantern equivalent of SWAT for now, but his progression through the ranks will be something that happens over the course of the setting.

2814's primary Green Lantern is, of course, John Stewart. He's ex-military with an official background as an Army engineer, but maybe a shadier background in a MacGyver-like Phoenix Foundation. After Hal's success in the Corps, the Oans have been more interested in adding humans to the roster. Maybe it's something about human behavior, maybe it's because there might be an Entity breach near Earth soon, we shall see.

John has been the lead Lantern on Earth for 3/4ths a SU now. In my version of the Lanterns, they don't give a single sector to a single Lantern, they pair them up. His previous junior officer, Kyle Rainer, quit last year, having fallen in love with an alien woman and is now out of the picture, ala Poochie. So now John is out looking for a new human Lantern. After Kyle washed out, he decided that just letting the ring pick whoever it wanted sucked as a way of determining his partner. So he keeps the extra ring in a little force bubble of energy until he can find a good replacement. Hal is aware of this and has, up til now, let it slide. But the lil suits on Oa are starting to get restless and yes I am setting up an 80s style copshow where Hal calls John a loose cannon and John replies that he gets results, Chief.

Anyways, John is under pressure to identify a new Green Lantern. The candidate he has in mind?

Barbara Gordon.

Green Lantern: Quick Link

From The Onion:

'Green Lantern' To Fulfill America's Wish To See Lantern-Based Characters On Big Screen

Funny, but also on point in that though Green Lantern is a upper tier character in the DC Universe, most mainstream folks have only a vague idea who he is.

Is there such thing as a Green Lantern fan from "back in the day"? I don't mean someone who merely likes Green Lantern, but a true die-hard fan with kids named Hal, Guy, and Jade.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Green Lantern: Choices, Choices

In the previous flashback entry, I mentioned how the multitude of Lanterns made it easy to start a movie with a fresh POV character without the need for a long backstory. Unfortunately, this is comics. While Issue #1 may skip on the backstory, I feel that the setting requires a logical framework for future stories to build on. A Showrunner's Bible is needed if you are going to have multiple characters across multiple stories and titles in order to keep things consistent.

And man, is Green Lantern inconsistent or what.

Let's start with the Green Lantern Corps. Who are they, exactly? A bunch of folks from hundreds of worlds, each given a copy of what might be one of the most powerful weapons in the universe. They are guided by a council of wise old babies with massive psychic power and are tasked with something something something.

Seriously. What the hell is the point of the Green Lantern Corps? Broadly, they seem to be depicted one of two ways - either a military force or a police force. On one hand, you have a bunch of Lanterns standing in the way of aggressive alien conquerors, but on the other, you have them tracking down criminals and solving space crimes. Which is it? Being a United Nations Peacekeeper requires a much different skillset than being a member of Interpol.

I can see a scenario where the Council of Oa discovers the green lantern battery and is is like "Okay, with great power comes great responsibility, let's use this power to make a better galaxy." But is the Green Lantern Corps really the best way to do that? If the Corps are going to go the military route and protect weaker planetary civilizations from being rolled over by the strong, then wouldn't they also start to meddle in world politics? So if on the planet Gothax, they notice a dictator with expansionist dreams coming to power, wouldn't they just take him out? But now they're mired in Gothaxian politics! The Corps can't just leave the Iraqis Gothaxians to slide into a bloody civil war of succession, so they have to stick around.

Even if the Corps rules out preemptively taking out threats and instead focuses on protecting the weak and defenseless, there'll be problems. We've seen from the setting that almost anything can be sentient - a tree, a rock, a planet, a color, whatever - so Lanterns would have to get involved constantly in developing societies. "Sorry, we know you were excited for your first moonbase, but it turns out there's a semi-sentient form of moss right where you want lay your foundations. So hands off the moon."

And if the Green Lanterns' goal is to prevent the loss of life and generally make existence better for everyone, why are they not going around sharing wonderful space technology with developing planets? "Hey, we were cruising by and saw you have a lot of people dying from cancer. Here's a beam that cures it. Also, here's a way to turn water in to energy with no pollution. L8er, d00dz!" I mean, I can understand alien societies not being too keen to share their knowledge with others for free, but for a group dedicated to fighting evil and injustice, why not? And what do they do if a planet denies their help? "Okay, Krypton, we won't bother you about your soon-to-explode planet any more."

So the Lanterns be can't a military force. They can't be humanitarian force. Well, they could be Red Cross in Sspppaaaacccce, but who would want to read that? There are only so many times you can tell the story of "Lanterns bring Medical Supplies to needy planet, jerks intervene, battle ensues." I'm reminded of a bit from The West Wing where a character says that to really help Africa, you need to build roads, but nobody wants to because it's boring and expensive.

So I guess they need to be cops? But even then, there are problems. First off, where do they get their authority? Who exactly says that the dander of panda bears is illegal because it's basically PCP for Gothaxians. For the Lanterns to be cops, there needs to be a legislative body somewhere making rules. For them not to be evil, this body would require the participation of the cultures it wishes to pass laws over. This means that multiple societies would have to willingly sign some or all of their autonomy over to the Galactic Congress or whatever. While that might be a hard sell, I guess it has a precedent in Starfleet, so I guess that can work.

Except that means for Green Lantern to have any sort of jurisdiction over Earth, humanity would need to sign up, which totally changes the basic world setting. Which sucks, because there's definitely some meaty story there. Four words: The Wire in space. Think about it. Green Lantern McNulty struggles against the bureaucracy of his own organization as he tries to take down the Qwardsdale gang.

Which would be awesome. Let's save that for an Elseworlds story, Green Lantern: Blackest Noir. "Omarfleeze comin', yo!"

So back to where the hell does the Green Lantern Corps get the authority to do what it does without causing major interplanetary incidents?

Well, there's the rings. Those suckers are powerful enough that they bring authority with them wherever they go.

Except they make no sense. Chalk me up as a member of the "Willpower is not an emotion" brigade. The whole emotional spectrum stuff of recent Green Lantern comics is, in a word, dumb. It'd be one thing if that it was mentioned and then glossed over and forgotten, but by the time you have a rainbow of different rings each fueled by different emotions in totally different ways, things are off the rails. Okay, so if you have a ring that is powered by some mystical spark of creation and that power is shaped by the wearer's emotion, then you need to be consistent about it. Rage works. So does Love and Hope. Fear? Mmaaaybe, but does that mean the wearer has to be scared? No? Only cause fear? So if nobody is scared of them, does the power fail? That must suck when flying between planets.

And let's not get started on Life and Death.

Anyways, let's get started on our version. We'll keep one or two of the concepts of the Emotional Spectrum. First that there are multiple flavors of Lanterns and second that the powers of these flavors stem from vast unknowable cosmic beings. Except rather than these cosmic beings being created in response to life (Red Rage born of the first murder, Green Willpower of the first step, etc), these things are straight up Lovecraftian horrors leftover from the initial act of creation. They are not alive or exist in any sense that wouldn't cost you major SAN loss. When the Big Bang turned on the light of the multiverse, these entities were the roaches caught out on the kitchen floor.

Half-formed and trapped between existence and non-existence, these entities went mad. In their rage they fought each other, the stronger devouring the weaker. Entire realities were wiped out in their struggles. When the first of the entities broke into the reality that is the Drewniverse, the Oan scientist Krona spearheaded the effort to contain it before it destroyed everything. It took years and many lives, but eventually the Oans did it, managing to contain the entity, known as Ion, in a prison.

Problem is, these entities are still awash with the power of creation. No prison can hold them because in time they'd simply swell beyond its capacity to contain them. So the Oans needed a way to bleed off their power.

Thus the rings. That's why each Lantern's ring has to 'recharge' - it's a way of bleeding the pressure on the main battery-prison, like bailing out a sinking boat. They do it by bucketfuls rather than just hooking a pump up to it because if they do the latter, there's a chance Ion can escape. Of course, once Ion broke through, other entities were bound to arrive. In its initial form, the Lantern Corps were tasked with rounding these beings up and containing them (intergalactic Ghostbusters!). Smaller ones could be tossed into the main power battery where Ion would eat them up. Maybe this act of feeding Ion "tamed" it a bit?

So now the Oans have a reason to give out power rings to everyone (bleed off Ion's power) and send the ringbearers out and about all over the galaxy (keep watch for new breaches). However, being jealous of the power of harnessing these entities, the Oans give their agents a cover story. In the Drewniverse, this cover story basically makes the Lanterns a sort of intergalactic cross between the Texas Rangers and the Knights Hospitaller. They are tasked with setting up in a sector, keeping tabs on what's going on, and responding to any threats. What constitutes a "threat" is kept deliberately broad so as not to tip the Oan's tiny blue hands as to what they are really looking for. Given that even a small Entity showing up would be like Cthulhu rising from watery R'leyh, it's pretty fair to say that a Lantern would try to intervene.

Should an Entity show up, the Lantern would report it in as a matter of normal protocol. When that happens, the Council of Oa would task a team of specialists to assist. Of course, in order to keep up the charade, there would be other types of specialists that could be called in depending on the situation. Need to stop an interplanetary war? Diplomatic Corps. Crazy space cultists threatening to sacrifice a moonbase if they don't get their way? Call in negotiator Lantern D'hani R'homan.

The secret of the main green lantern power battery is known only to the remaining members of the Council of Oa and maybe a few high ranking Lanterns. There are others out there that know the secret too, maybe even a few who have managed to capture an Entity of their own. Because the technology behind the pokeball lantern battery might be different for each trapped Entity, this explains why other Lantern Corps' rings manifest their powers in other ways. It has nothing to do with emotion. The size/power of the captured Entity merely determines how many rings its prison can support. So Larfleeze's captured Ophidian may be tiny compared to Ion, but one on one, Agent Orange should have the same amount of power as any Green Lantern.

So why go into all this backstory? Because the eventual discovery of the truth about the rings, the pulling back the curtains of how reality works, will be the overarching plot of the Green Lantern lines. You'll get hints of it when dealing with Sinestro, for sure, and maybe even Hector Hammond's big brain was an accidental mutation that allowed him to tap into an Entity somewhere.

Also, I feel it helps answer some of the nagging questions I've always had about Green Lantern.

Next up, more questions as I get into the identity and character of Earth's Emerald Knight and how the Green Lanterns interact with the other heroes of the Drewniverse.

Green Lantern: Blackest Night

[So today, I'm starting in on the Green Lantern. While doing my normal commute-brainstorming, I realized I have more questions than answers about Lantern and the Corps. So while I get my thoughts together, here's a Golden Oldie from my old blog. This was a movie brief I wrote in 2008 as my own version of the then-announced Green Lantern movie.

Judging by the trailers, I think I might have come out ahead here.]

One nice thing about Green Lantern is that (like the other major DC character of the Silver Age, the Flash) the hero’s job has been performed by many different characters over the years. This provides a great opportunity to have a new-to-all-of-this point of view character the audience can identify with without the need for an origin story and training-wheels villain.

That said, we do need to start with some action. So we open on Space, circa 1969. One of the Apollo Saturn Vs blasts out of the atmosphere into the void, jettisoning its final rocket stage. There it drifts over the big, blue marble. Point of view shifts to inside the capsule as several crew-cut crewmen (Their nametags read Morgan, Haley, and Ryan) work their way through various checklists to make sure everything’s go. “Looks like there’s some ice debris from Gibbet’s Comet ahead. Let’s run through the punchlist quick so we can steer around it.” Check check check check hey-waitaminute! Something is wrong! The trajectory is all off! If we don’t fix it, we’ll get sucked back into the atmosphere and burn up!

The astronauts fiddle with controls but something isn’t working. One of the thrusters is blocked and can’t move. The capsule starts to spin. “Look out the window and tell me if you can see anything!” shouts Morgan. Ryan looks out the window back at a thruster and he sees something all right – a metallic creature that appears to be a cross between a frog and a scorpion!

“There’s something out there! Something out th-!”

A green flash of light fills the window.

A man surrounded by a nimbus of green energy charges straight into the scorpofrogbot. He makes pretty quick work of the thing, although it does swipe at him with its red laser tail sting. The sting does seem to cut through the green energy a bit, but not so much as to actually wound. It would take a whole swarm of them to be an actual threat.

You know, like the swarm that’s lurking in that ice field the astronauts are drifting towards. Whoops.
So we get our opening battle. It’s Hal Jordan vs Scorpofrogbots. He has to fight them as they spring from ice chunk to ice chunk using wolf pack tactics. At one point, Hal gets tossed at the drifting capsule and ends up bumping in to it, face pressing against a porthole. Morgan recognizes him. “Hal?” The Green Lantern winks and goes back to the fight.

He wins, of course, and goes back to the capsule to make sure the astronauts are okay. He seals the entry hatch with green energy and actually pokes his head inside. He and Morgan obviously know each other and Morgan is shocked to see him. Apparently, Hal Jordan has been MIA for some time. Hal says he’s got a new job that’s been keeping him pretty busy and if Morgan could do him a solid and make sure not to mention any of this to the government, he’d appreciate it. Morgan agrees and the astronauts head off back on course, saying that the difficulty was just from steering around an ice chunk.

Hal Jordan floats in space and watches them drift off.

Roll Credits

So we come back to the modern day with Kyle Rayner out on a date. He’s dressed to his best, but is obviously out of place in a fancy restaurant. He’s nervous, but his date is very attractive, so that’s understandable. We also learn that he’s been ducking his girlfriend for the past several weeks and is paying for all this to try to make up for it. “You can finally afford a place like this?” Girlfriend asks, “Well, I guess there are some benefits to your new job.”

Kyle laughs nervously. “Yeah, well, with all the travel I have to do, everything’s covered, so I don’t have to spend anything. And seeing how I’m too busy to shop for me..”

“..and me..”

“..and you.. I’ve got some extra money on hand. Maybe I’ll start a 401k.”

“Look at you, Kyle Rayner, International Consultant. All grown up. I’m so glad that you stopped drawing those cartoons. There wasn’t any money there, and the people you worked with were all weirdoes.”

“Yeah, well…”

The waiter arrives and they order. She goes down the list, obviously looking for the most expensive stuff on the menu. Kyle doesn’t want her to order an expensive bottle of wine, saying that he’s on call and shouldn’t drink, but she goes and orders anyways. The dinner progresses slowly. She’s gabbing on and on about stuff that Kyle’s not really interested in (What her friends are doing, what clothes he should buy, etc.). He’s bored and staring out the window, looking down over the city.

A green streak flashes out over the city skyline. Kyle’s attention is locked on and he’s paying even less attention to his date. She’s not happy about this, of course. She demands his attention and gets it. Mostly. As she scolds him, the green streak comes closer. Closer. Eventually there’s a guy in green floating outside the window, just beyond her field of vision. He gives the universal Guy Signs for “ditch her, let’s go.” Kyle pauses a moment, trying to decide. Eventually he decides Space Bros before Needy Hos and stands up, saying that he has to go. He’s been, uh, paged. She doesn’t believe any of it (Your phone didn’t even ring!) but he’s already on his way out. She follows him, making a scene, squawking about almost everything he does (Why are you taking the stairs? Why are you going up? Why are you going to the roof?).

Eventually, Kyle can’t take it anymore. “Listen,” he says, starting to glow green himself, “I think we should see other people.”

Girlfriend’s brain is stuck between the fact that Kyle’s clothes are changing into some sort of green uniform and that she’s being dumped. “What?”

“It’s not you, it’s me. I just can’t give you the time you need.”

“So you’re dumping me?”

“Hoo-yeah,” Kyle sighs in relief. “Now, I have to go, so…”

She gets hysterical as he flies off, shouting how that he’ll never be anything and that she’s been sleeping with Ted Kord for the past two months anyways.

The other Green Lantern flies up next to Kyle. “Took you long enough.”

The two Lanterns have a discussion about what it means to Lantern and how it impacts their lives. Not having lasting relationships is fine with Guy Gardner, but Kyle really hopes to meet someone who can like him for who he is and understand what it is he does. Guy says that when Kyle’s been at this as long as he has, he’ll change his tune. Kyle points out that Guy’s only been at this a few years longer than Kyle. Guy reminds Kyle that when the Old Man retires in a few months, he’ll be the head Lantern of this sector, so those years do count. So we learn that the Lanterns are set up like patrol cops – one sarge and one rookie – who patrol certain beats.

Anyways, the reason that soon-to-be-top-cop Guy came to get Kyle is that the Old Man, picked up some disturbing news from HQ. A big bad that he faced years ago is coming back to Earth and this time, it seems to mean business.

‘So what are you waiting for? Race you there,” says Kyle as he blasts ahead. Guy whoops and follows. We get an action scene of the two chasing and dodging each other, sometimes using their rings to make road blocks and the like. They eventually are whizzing down a highway, going so fast that the Groom Lake/Area 51 Trespassers-Will-Be-Shot sign gets blown off its post.

We meet the Old Man, who is, of course, Hal Jordan. He’s aged well since we last saw him before the credits rolled. He’s looking at some old picture of himself with a black guy in Green Lantern outfits when the boys come in – showing that he’s kind of wistful for the old days.

Hal lays out the problem. An old interstellar threat from the Old Days has returned. This was a problem that he and his old partner faced back in 69/70, but it looks like it’ll be worse this time. Hal goes into a bit of this history of the Lanterns, explaining that they were actually the second attempt at an intergalactic peace force. The first was the Manhunters, a group of robots built to enforce law and order. Problem was, the robots eventually concluded that the best way to make sure everyone was safe and secure was to become tyrants and try to take over the universe and put it under lockdown. Whoops. The Lantern Corps was put together to put them down and after years and years of conflict, they did so, thus assuming the role of guardians of the galaxy.

However, the Manhunters (probably should change the name to one less goofy. Let’s call them the M’kar, which means Manhunter in Oan) were down, but they were not out. They retreated to the galactic rim and rebuilt their strength. From there, they began a series of raids and incursions, testing and probing the Lanterns over the years. That’s what he faced in 69 – a scouting party.

Those scouts were quickly followed by some actual M’kar, big angry humanoid robots. Our flashback changes to Hal fighting them off with the help of his partner, who for the moment we only see as a green, glowing flash in the distance.

“We won,” Hal says, “But the cost was high. Every few months we’d have to do it all over again when the next raiding party came out by the Western Spiral Arm. Eventually, it became too much. My partner headed off to the Rim to face them on their home turf. The raids stopped, but he never came back. I wish I had-“
Alarms go off. Enough talking, time for action!

A M’kar vessel has just dropped out of hyperspace near Mars. This one is pretty big, more than just a raiding vessel. It looks like it will take all three Lanterns to stop it!

So we get a big fight scene. Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, and Kyle Rayner versus a M’kar Dominator ship. This ship is a big one and it’s releasing a slew of drones and robots and scorpofrogbots into the area around Mars. The three Lanterns have to work together to defeat the ship and prevent the drones from drilling into the Martian surface. Hal quickly explains that if those drones get in and tap a vein of ore, they’ll be able to produce new robots only a stone’s throw away from Earth!

It should be noted how different the three Lanterns’ fighting styles are. Hal’s ring use is pretty sophisticated and the things he creates have a certain 60s chromed flair to them. Think about the lines on a classic Mustang or Thunderbird. He tends to fight at range with the ring, sending out Nike-swoosh-like blasts to slice through robots. Guy is almost the polar opposite. He’s all hand to hand and power. He wades into clumps of robots and pummels them to bits. His aura should be the brightest, but also the roughest. No actual recognizable shapes for Guy. If he needs to blast something at range, it’s just a comet of green energy, not a big green fist or anything. Kyle is fast an precise. He’s darting an and amongst the robots, using scalpel like blasts to depower them. He does create objects, complicated ones, and uses them to engage at range. No big floating swords or anything, but we can see green glowing copies of the scorpofrogbots getting behind enemy lines and causing havoc.

Of course, just when it looks like the boys are winning, everything goes wrong. An upgraded version of the standard Manhunter appears and it seems to have ring-like powers of its own coming from some sort of power staff! It gets the drop on Hal and, enveloping him in yellow energy, takes off with him. Guy and Kyle try to follow, but those drones are starting to land on the surface and they have to turn back to clean things up.

That done, the boys return to base distraught. They are understandably upset at leaving a man behind. Both want to go after Hal to rescue him, but of course, the Oan they have to report in to (small blue Grey Alien more than small blue Dungeon Master from the D&D cartoon) via a vid screen won’t let them. They can leave their post, it says. Abandoning his sector is what made Hal’s first partner disappear and they can’t risk losing another Lantern to the M’Kar. Besides, Earth would be defenseless.

“If one Lantern shut down the M’Kar for 30 years, imagine what three could do,” says a passionate Kyle to the little alien, “We head out, rescue Hal, and put an end to this menace once and for all. You can send some back-up to watch Earth until we get back.”

“No. You must understand. It is forbidden.”

“No, you must understand. We lost a friend out there. We can’t just abandon him. We’re not robots blindly following directives. We make choices to do what’s right, and right now we’re making the choice to go save our friend.”

The Oan considers and acquiesces. “Very well. We send in some Lantern Reserves to watch Earth. But know, Kyle Rayner, if you fail, your entire world may suffer for it.”

“Then I guess we won’t fail.” Fade out.

Cut to Hal who is being tortured by M’Kar. He’s strapped to a table with scorpofrogbots clasping his limbs and head. Several M’kar, including the one with the power staff, are standing over him. Bolts of yellow energy are being blasted into him. He grits his teeth with every blast. “Whatever you want from me, you won’t get it!” he calls out.

The lead M’kar replies, its voice a dread modulation of tones, “We only want you to suffer, Lantern. We have that.” More bolts of energy. His ring is removed.

Eventually, Hal is dumped into a holding tank. He’s burned and scarred and in a lot of pain, but still conscious. He lies on his back, fading in and out of consciousness. A voice can be heard, murmuring, ranting? “In brightest day, in blackest night, No evil shall escape my sight. Let those who worship evil’s might, Beware my power…Green Lantern’s light!” as he passes out.

“So you have finally come to rescue me,” rasps the voice from the shadowy corner of the tank. “It only took you 30 years. I thought I trained you to be more… efficient.” A figure in tattered rags emerges from the shadows. It is human-looking, but its skin is a pinkish-purple and its forehead is pretty big. Stringy black hair hangs down around a bald pate.

Sinestro, you’re alive!” exclaims Hal.

“No thanks to you! Where have you been all these years, Jordan? Why did you abandon me?”

“I couldn’t leave my post, I-“


“I had orders.”

“Orders? You had orders to leave me here to rot in this mechanical hell for thirty of your years?”

“I couldn’t, I had responsibilities, a duty to the Corps.”

“You had a duty to your partner too!” roars Sinestro, striking Hal across the face.

Ah-so. So that’s what happened to Hal’s partner. More of the truth starts to come out. Sinestro almost took down the M’Kar once and for all, but he couldn’t do it alone. If Hal had come out with him, against Oa’s wishes, they could have won. Instead, Sinestro was captured and has been tortured for the past 30 years. He alludes to ‘doing what it took to survive’ and does not know what became of his ring. Eventually, Hal is taken away again for more torture, only this time, there are two M’Kar with power staves. He makes the connection that those staves are made from Lantern rings (the ring is at the tip of the staff), but that’s impossible, unless…

Oh, right. 30 years of torture.

So Guy and Kyle make it to the Rim just in time to interrupt another fun session of Torture Hal Jordan. A big fight begins, this time just Guy and Kyle versus the entire M’kar homebase, plus two power staff-wielding Manhunters. It is a big fight, full of yellow-versus-green punching and blasting. There’s no color weakness to the rings in my universe.

Meanwhile, while the Manhunters are distracted, Hal takes advantage and tries to do what he should have done years ago – rescue Sinestro. He makes it back down to the holding cell and manages to get past a few scorpofrogbots – it’s a lot harder without his ring! Sinestro has to guide Hal through the mess of corridors, in theory to get to some sort of escape pod.

Of course, Sinestro doesn’t take Hal that way, but instead takes him into the heart of the base. There, they find the power source for the two staves. Hal notices that it looks a lot like the rings’ power source on Oa. There’s also something glowing in the center of the yellow concentration of pulsing power. Another ring? Who knows. Hal starts to ask about it, but gets clunked on the head from behind by Sinestro, who’s babbling now. He talks about how he traded information on how the rings work in exchange for an end to the pain. And how those robotic fools were so intent on taking back the power rings of Oa that they felt were theirs, stolen from them by the Lanterns, that they never even noticed what he was building right beneath their sensors this entire time. A new ring, a more powerful ring with a more powerful power source.

Of course, nobody needs to know about this new ring until Sinestro is ready to strike. Luckily, there’s a convenient hero here to give his life for the Corps, destroying the base and any evidence of Sinestro’s existence. He starts dialing and punching buttons and doing Science Stuff.

Meanwhile, in space, the Lanterns are losing. The two M’kar with power staves, plus the entire armada, are just too much for them. The fight continues, but it’s just getting worse and worse. Eventually, one of the staved M’kar gets the drop on Guy, who’s pretty winded and weak. It lowers its staff to do him in execution-style, but Kyle streaks across, doing the whole ‘NNNnnooooooo!!!’ thing. Kyle, whose shields have more power at the moment then Guy’s takes the hit, saving his friend. But now he’s in just as bad shape and the other M’kar is approaching. The two robots gloat about how they will lead a might revolution against the fools of Oa and will remake the universe in their image, yadda yadda yadda. Foolish humans, there’s no way you can win!

But then the base blows up. The staves power down.

“Hal!” gasps Guy. He starts to rush off to see if he can rescue his mentor.

“Score one for us foolish humans,” says Kyle as he brings the remaining power of his ring to bear, destroying the two robots.

Of course, it’s a Pyrrhic victory. Guy returns with Hal, who is dead.

“He died saving the galaxy.” Fade out.

We come back up on a funeral for Hal. Kyle and Guy are there, of course, as are some various other normal people, like an older version of Morgan from the opening. Two other guests of note are a black guy with a military bearing (from the picture Hal was looking at earlier) and a, uh, green chick. They were the reserves sent in to help cover Earth while Hal, Guy, and Kyle were off saving the universe. Jon gives Guy his promotion to this sector’s Green Lantern, while Jade gives Kyle the eye. “Don’t hesitate to call us if you need anything. We’ll come running,” says Jon. “Yes,” agrees Jade, winking at Kyle, “We’ll come.”

And on that bit of sad innuendo we end. Kyle takes off into space and flies around a bit before the credits roll.

Of course, if you stick around after the credits, you get treated to another flying man. Instead of the green glowing flying man lifting up off the ground like we just saw, this is a yellow glowing flying man landing on the ground. Sinestro has come to some alien planet, his yellow ring blazing. “My name is Sinestro,” he says as curious aliens gather around, “And you may begin to worship me now.” There is a huge flash of yellow light and the movie ends.

[So there you go. Re-reading this,  I think my views on the Lanterns have not changed much, but with all the multi-colored ring shenanigans that have occurred since 2008, who knows.]

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Quick Link

Saw this on Comics Alliance, had to share:

DC Universe, Year 1000

This is the sort of thing the Elseworlds title I mentioned in the last post would cover.

The Trinity: Afterword

So in spending the past several days thinking about DC's Holy Trinity of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, I've come to a couple of conclusions:

First, no matter what you do, these are benchmark characters. Even Wonder Woman, perhaps the least of the three, exists in the pantheon of popular culture and therefore cannot be changed too dramatically and maintain the hope of attracting new, mainstream readers. Basically, if my wife, whose interest in comics has been half-halfheartedly limited crossover works from other media (Buffy, Supernatural, Troublemaker) or works involving members of My Chemical Romance, is able to name the character, describe the powers, and recognize the costume, then that's it. Those are the powers. That's the costume. No electric Superman, no Batman with a fire sword, no Mod-der Woman.

Second, each of these characters approach heroism in a different way. Superman is very much of the "with great power comes great responsibility" mindset, even to the point of believing that everyone has great power within him. He's a hero because that's the only logical outcome of having these powers. Batman is the most selfish of heroes. He acts out of the need to prove himself, to himself. The murder of his parents was a formative moment, sure. Without it, his energies would probably not have been directed toward fighting crime. Wonder Woman straddles the middle-ground between them as the reluctant hero. From the moment of her birth, she was destined to do great things. There is, I think, more weight on Wonder Woman's shoulders than the other two as she was born to lead.

Third, you can't have these three go off reservation. Superman can't ditch his duties to go on walkabout. Batman can't die/travel through time. Wonder Woman can't snap someone's neck on TV and thus go into hiding/prison. The DC universe needs these three to be consistently active to maintain not only sales (in the case of Supes and Bats), but a sense of forward momentum. This means their adventures post Issue #1 in the Drewniverse need to be scripted out and measured. These three cannot participate in an event that changes everything forever and ever. Superman cannot die, Batman's back will stay straight, Wonder Woman will not be a fugitive. Also, a watchful eye must be kept on power creep. Batman cannot punch out the Devil in Issue #3 because, well, after beating up Satan, where else is there to go that won't seem anticlimactic?

Fourth, because these are the three best known DC characters (although Green Lantern is creeping up there, but he's got hassles of his own), they are the best chance for introducing new readers to the world.

So assuming that I get the same number of #1s that Actual DC is getting in September, here's how I'll spend the first batch:

  • Three central comics: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. These are the baseline, ongoing titles. I picture these titles as the core of the Drewniverse - these are the comics that move the football. (3/52)
  • Three Adventure Comics: Action Comics, Detective Comics, and All Star Comics. These should be relatively self-contained, single issue stories featuring Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Generally stand alone comics, these should rarely touch on ongoing metaplots or the like. Ideally, they would be aimed at a slightly younger audience. Think DC Animated Universe, not Brave and the Bold. (6/52)
  • One ongoing Elseworlds title: 4-6 issue story arcs detailing the What Ifs. This is in part to let writers let off a bit of creative steam that's normally kept sealed away due to the third dictum above. Plus, I like What If stories. (7/52)

Of course, the Trinity will not just be limited to these seven titles. No doubt they'll crop up in Justice League title(s?) or as supporting characters in their own family's ongoing series (Robin, Supergirl, etc.)

So where to from here? We can either take a look at the next tier of DC heroes (Lantern, Flash) or branch out into the associated characters' titles/stories mentioned in the Trinity (Robin, Batgirl, Supergirl, Superboy, etc.). Tell me, gentle reader (or Google scraping bot), where you'd like to go.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Trinity: Wonder Woman - Part 2

So here we go with Part 2 of the Wonder Woman reboot.

So thanks to the magic powers of a day off and way too much caffeine, I went on at length regarding the pre-history of Wonder Woman. Reading back, it looks like I was rubbing the Folgers directly on my gums, so I'll recap in brief who our Wonder Woman is.

Wonder Woman is magical warrior woman from a mist-shrouded island rooted in Greek myth. She was created to be an heir to the throne, to maintain the status quo of the island, and to help guide her people into the future. She is super strong, super durable, immune to disease and age, and doesn't even need to eat. She can speak/understand all languages and even talk to animals. She has magical items that include a lasso that makes people tell the truth, bracers that can deflect projectiles where ever she wants, and a belt that lets her fly. She is hundreds of years old and is schooled in tactics, strategy, combat, and all the other trappings of rulership.

And she doesn't want any of it.

Now, I don't mean that our Wonder Woman is a whiny emo character ("I didn't ask to be sculpted from clay, Mom!" SLAMSDOOR) or someone who would really even shirk her responsibilities. It's sort of like if you are invited to a dinner party you don't really want to go to, but you really should because these people are friends of your wife she hasn't seen in awhile, but even then she's not all that into it and would rather stay home and just get a movie or something. But no, because you are Good People, you go to the godamn party determined to make the best of it.

That's how Diana sees her future. She knows she has to do it for the good of her people, but considering that once she takes the job it'll pretty much be forever (downside to being an immortal queen), she'd rather put it off as long as possible. So when the mists start to fade early and unexpectedly, thus allowing an American pilot to crash land there, Diana leaps at the chance to get off the island. Her reasoning is pretty simple: she won't be able to leave once she becomes Queen and needs to get a broader worldview if she's going to be a good leader. Though is strained her relationship with her mom a bit, she gets the go ahead and hitches a ride back to the USA with Steve Trevor.

Her official mission is to represent Themyscira on the world stage, as it will uncloak completely pretty soon and it looks like the modern world would actually wake up and take notice. Steve Trevor brought with him reports of Superman and Batman, so there's also a bit of concern that the gods are walking the earth again, which might explain why the island is starting to emerge from the mists a few generations early. Given their first encounter with the modern age was a military jet crash landing on the beach, the Themyscirans are also interested in Wonder Woman kicking a bit of ass publicly so the rest of the world knows not to mess with them.

So Wonder Woman shows up in the DC Universe maybe six months to a year after Batman. Rather than being tied to a city like Metropolis or Gotham, she's a character on the move. She has to do the diplomat thing, after all. We'll let her keep Steve Trevor as her US Gov't supplied "handler" but we'll also give her a personal assistant (And I'm seriously tempted to make that assistant Barbara Gordon - we'll get more into that in Wither Batgirl? in a few days/weeks) and other associated staff.

Leading up to Issue #1, Wonder Woman spends most of her time doing the diplomatic thing, stopping to help fight injustice along the way. But more and more, she's been giving Steve the slip to head out and do her thing on her own. "Wherever I go, I only see the best or the worst of people. Either it's a city dressed up on its best behavior, or its a wasteland of war or famine. How can I learn what the modern world is like from that alone?"

Wonder Woman is a curious person and the constant vague diplomatic answers she gets to her honest questions must chafe quite a bit. Plus, by being escorted by a member of the American military, she feels like she isn't representing herself or her people very well. More like she's just being paraded around like a missile rolling through Red Square.

Plus, she's starting to Notice Things, bits of weirdnesses from the Age of Myth that seem to be slipping through to the modern day. That has to somehow be tied in to Themyscira emerging from the mists early, right? Is modern man even able to deal with that sort of thing? What happens if another Titan frees itself from its mountain prison and storms into Istanbul? And wait, wasn't that another Amazon she just saw at the edge of the crowd? What's up with that?

And that's about it for Wonder Woman. I'll get more into how the Trinity interacts with each other and details of the actual comics they each will appear in in the final installment of the Trinity reboot.