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The ’90s Revisited – Green Lantern Annual #1

90s_revisited

greenlantern_annual001Diamond Rings

Writer: Gerard Jones
Penciller: Andy Smith
Inks: John Beatty
Letters: Bob Lappan
Colors: Matt Hollingsworth
Editor: Kevin Dooley
Cover Date: 1992
Cover Price: $2.50
Published by: DC Comics

This issue sits weirdly with me right from the cover! Just the cover image alone is rather disturbing. We have the text "…In Blackest Day!" and a large silhouette of a rather sinister/creepy Eclipso…while Hal Jordan delivers one heckuva brutal punch to Star Sapphire, with visible blood flying off her face! There’s also a stylized "G" saying "No More Mister Nice Guy!" One would think from the G that it refers to Guy Gardner…but he is nowhere to be found on the cover! And especially as neither Hal nor Star Sapphire appear to actually BE "eclipsed," it just looks like a total abusive situation that seems flat-out disgusting to me before so much as opening the issue.

We open on a brief scene of Kilowog, John Stewart, and several other Lanterns training/bantering, before they take in some sort of warning that something is hunting Green Lanterns. Turning the page, we get a generic shot of Eclipso on his throne stating "I want Green Lantern." Continuing on we see the dark god is rather Orange Lantern-y 15-16 years before we had Orange Lanterns…he wants all GL has, period. We then see the eclipsed Starman in Times Square pass a black diamond around to cause some Eclipso-y mischief. Ultimately a black diamond makes its way to Guy Gardner who is still incredibly ticked-off at Hal and the GLs. Scene cuts to a scream coming from a house, and then Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) slamming a door open to find a sweating, terrified Carol Ferris, just awoken from a nightmare. We spend a number of pages of Carol conveying the nightmare to Jordan, in the process picking up that there’s a pretty traumatic history involving Star Sapphire as a personality/entity controlling her, maybe still IN her. As Carol goes back to sleep, Jordan muses on his always being "giving" and not getting back, with women in his life…Carol or Arisia. As he looks out a window, we find an eclipsed Guy Gardner stalking the hero. We switch to see Bruce Gordon and his crew on the hunt for this latest black diamond, and then back to Gardner, who does not meet Eclipso’s expectations. No ring, no powers…the villain wants those, not whatever Gardner is now. So he flicks the diamond to be found when Jordan emerges from the dwelling…but he’s so preoccupied he misses it.

Instead, coming out later herself, Carol finds it…and the diamond along with her anger and whatever involving the Sapphire lends itself to Eclipso eclipsing another super-powered individual in the now-twice-possessed Carol/Star Sapphire! As with gaining Rampage’s body in Superman: The Man of Steel Annual #1, Eclipso has a fight on his hands DESPITE eclipsing Carol…he wants Jordan alive, Star Sapphire wants him dead! And Eclipso, while possessing the body is compelled to initially act on the anger that gave him control in the first place. Eclipso/Sapphire unleash some destruction to draw Hal out, and then they fight a bit. "Starman" shows up to "help," but of course "betrays" Jordan, leading to his defeat and Sapphire’s victory…as Bruce Gordon & Crew show up and use a solar generator on Sapphire. This distracts, but doesn’t release her…and then the GL Corps show up, just to be interrupted–seemingly welcomely–by Hal leaping into action. It soon stands clear that he’s been Eclipsed, too, and by the two bodies–Jordan and Ferris–have played out their "revenge fantasies," Eclipso has full control! The GL Corps members attempt to take them on, but to no avail. As the powers of the GL ring and the sapphire cause an explosion, the GLs are knocked out. When they come to, there’s no sign of Jordon or the Sapphire…so they fly off in search and to notify others. We then see that Eclipso got the better of them as the two fly out from under the rubble and the villain prepares to "store" the bodies for later.

I’m not particularly familiar with this era of GL/GLCorps stuff. I’m loosely aware OF some stuff, but while I’ve read both Emerald Dawn minis and possibly the first arc of this iteration of the GL series, I mostly didn’t come to the "modern" GL stuff until a good year or so after this annual, with the Reign of the Supermen tie-in issue (#46 I believe) and then Emerald Twilight in #s 48-50. Other than the fact OF Carol having been or been possessed BY (the?) Star Sapphire(s?), I don’t think I’d really actually READ anything with that as a present-day status quo/issue prior to Johns’ run in the late "aughts" leading up to and during the Blackest Night event.

Here in this issue, I feel like the Hal/Carol thing comes off as rather contentious and bitter, though I could be reading too much into it. Add to that that we see Hal’s frustrations with stuff with Arisia (who I surely knew nothing about at the time these Annuals were being published) and the whole thing feels a BIT forced. Relevant to the story–Hal’s anger–but like we’re being TOLD a lot more than we’re being SHOWN.

The art’s not bad, though it doesn’t blow me away. It’s good stuff for ’90s GL, and doesn’t feel "off" the way the art in the Man of Steel Annual did; and with Jones on the writing this seems to fit into or play with "continuity" pretty well, rather than just being some "in-name-only" thing mashed against an ongoing series.

Perhaps it’s that this is a 30-year-old story now, and thus I have 30 years of "experience" with comics since then, but with 2022 hindsight this comes off a fairly contrived and forgettable, and though once upon a time I was flabbergasted that Hal Jordan could be seen as stale or boring and need to be moved off the board for the likes of Kyle Rayner, this particular issue’s "vibe" with me is that yeah, I wouldn’t be "sold" on GL stuff from this and I’m a bit hard-pressed to dig much deeper into GL or the series’ mythology on just what I got from this issue.

There’s also the fact that I’ve "sat on" this issue for nearly two weeks…having read it, which was well enough in and of itself…but I just didn’t have any particular desire to synopsize or write ABOUT the issue. As a blogger like this, undertaking this "personal reading project" OF reading all these Eclipso Annuals and writing about each issue as I go along, that’s a bit disheartening and has almost stalled me out 3 "real" chapters in! I do look forward to things picking up, but all the more of the sense that SOME annuals are going to prove far more important than others, possibly with a "core" throughline in a few and some being more "red sky crossover" type than particularly important to the main narrative. At somewhere over double-size but slightly less than triple-size, each annual here represents enough content for at least two issues’ tie-in, perhaps 3-4 with 2022-era "decompression." We get this single issue of the event touching the GL corner of the DCU directly, where present-day this would certainly be at least a 3-issue tie-in mini-series instead of "just" an Annual.

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The ’90s Revisited: Green Lantern #69 – Underworld Unleashed!

90s_revisited

green_lantern_0069Bargains

Writer: Ron Marz
Pencils: Paul Pelletier
Inks: Romeo Tanghal
Colors: Linda Medley
Letters: Albert De Guzman
Associate Editor: Eddie Berganza
Editor: Kevin Dooley
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: December 1995
Cover Price: $1.75

This month, a number of blogs and podcasts have joined together to present #BestEventEver 2018, covering the 1995 event Underworld Unleashed! Beyond my own posts, please check out these other blogs and podcasts for in-depth coverage of the various issues that were part of the event…and join in on further peeks at and discussions of the event on Twitter by joining at hashtags #BestEventEver and #UnderworldReUnleashed!

ITG  |  Resurrections: An Adam Warlock/Thanos Podcast  |  Relatively Geeky Podcast Network  |  The Retroist  |  Chris is on Infinite Earths  |  Cosmic Treadmill  |  The Pop Culture Palace  |  Rolled Spine’s Diana Prince: Wonder Woman Podcast  |  The Idol-Head of Diabolu  |  Justice’s First Dawn  |  Justice Trek: The Podcast


Particularly coming off of Green Lantern #68, this issue definitely feels like I missed something!

…Which, of course…I did! But we’ll get back to that shortly!

The issue opens on Green Lantern–Kyle–returning home quite battered and beaten. He finds Donna Troy–Darkstar–waiting, and she quickly helps him to a couch and begins to tend to his wounds, as he recounts the story of how he wound up in this condition: namely, some big guy named Neron. When tempting Kyle didn’t work, Neron beat the hero within an inch of his life. After some friendly banter, the two prepare to head out to gather other heroes to face Neron. Meanwhile, a couple of police officers notice a light coming from an alley…upon investigation, they find Purgatory (the guy Neron bargained with in #68 and granted power beyond the human’s control, in exchange for destroying Green Lantern). As Purgatory has (thus far) failed to destroy Green Lantern, Neron shows up to threaten his pawn if he doesn’t get results soon. Before Kyle and Donna can leave, Purgatory bursts in, and Kyle engages him in fighting, saying he can hold him off while Donna gets the rest of the building’s residents out to safety. So while Kyle fights, Donna gets all of Kyle’s neighbors out safely. Kyle and Purgatory BOTH regret the attempted help that set things on this path, but Kyle realizes maybe he can win the fight by giving MORE of his GL energy…which first seems to overload Purgatory and revert him to normal…but then he disappears in a green flame, as Neron apparently has claimed him for again failing his end of their bargain. After confirming everyone’s safe and seeming to ignore Donna in the presence of his attractive, toweled neighbor, Kyle flies off to the Justice League satellite to let them know about Neron (though they already know).

As of this typing, I’ve not yet actually read the main Underworld Unleashed mini itself, as I wanted to approach the tie-in issues strictly as tie-ins, intentionally withOUT the context of the main series. How do they read if one is just reading the regular ongoing series without buying into some event mini-series?

From one issue to the next, this feels a bit choppy, and definitely that I missed something. And editor’s notes direct me as a reader to the Underworld Unleashed mini-series, which I feel I can "assume" picks Kyle up from #68 of his series, advances things, and then he stumbles off to come back into his own series here in #69. As a comics reader and understanding that sort of flow, it makes sense logically, though does leave me wondering at Donna not being part of things. The fact that Neron makes an appearance here, "re-igniting" Purgatory into action, combined with Kyle relating to Donna what he’d faced makes this feel much more like an actual TIE-IN to the event, worthy and justified in carrying the event logo on the cover…where the previous issue (especially by comparison) would seem to have been served better not as a tie-in itself but as a reflection of what actual continuity in a shared universe looks like, where events from something big going on in one part of the comics universe can ripple outward and impact other characters and their stories without having those stories themselves actually moving the event’s story forward.

The story for this issue works well for me, and really is another strong issue in and of itself. Though I feel I’ve missed stuff, I would consciously expect that of pretty much any single-issue comic I’d read in isolation, as it’s not the only comic to exist. We get to see forward development of Kyle here as he’s continued to learn about his powers, what he can and can’t do, the nature of willpower, and self-recognizes the impact things have had on him as he’s now TWICE had to resist the temptation to have Alex artificially brought back (and it feels odd that a simple image of a closed refrigerator conveys so much!). We have a quasi-complete "episode" in this issue, with Purgatory bursting onto the scene…that gets us to "the fight" or main conflict, while Donna "meets" the neighbors (which gives readers a bit of a sense of others immediately, directly impacted by threats on Kyle and his own apartment). Fight/defeat Purgatory, save all the neighbors: a two-pronged conflict/goal of the issue, with both technically accomplished in this issue. That those are contained within sequences showing this to be a chapter in something larger serves that side of things well, keeping the ongoing narrative of this title moving as well as keeping Kyle moving through the crossover and likely at least prodding readers to look to other issues for additional story on top of this title. I like it, myself…but the structure and approach won’t be for everyone.

Visually, I like the issue overall. It’s recognizably Green Lantern, specifically Kyle, and definitely "feels" like a ’90s comics, especially something to the character design for Purgatory…and even Neron himself. I do not particularly appreciate the cover, though, as it shows Kyle engulfed in green flame–presumably to suggest, in this case, Neron’s–cradling the battered, broken body of Donna–Darkstar. Yet, within the issue, it’s Kyle that’s been beaten badly, and Donna who faces HIS battered body. From the cover alone I’d expect this issue to contain a fight with Neron that leaves Donna in bad shape–not because she’s a woman, but because Neron would hurt Kyle. Of course, the misleading nature could be a play on the actuality–reversing the roles–or it might be something not specifically referenced here that I’d better understand after reading the main Underworld Unleashed event mini. Whatever the case, I’m good with the art in and of itself.

On the whole, as a more-than-20-years-old comic from the 1990s and not being anything particularly "key," I would consider this a bargain-bin sort of issue…not bad to get from a bargain bin, but certainly nothing to pay any premium price for. Based on what I know on a larger "meta" level for this title and the characters (more than two decades later) I think this issue probably works best as part of a run of these early/first couple years of Kyle as GL, making the best of the surfeit of ’90s crossovers and events. Given Kyle does not himself face Neron in this issue, and the Justice League already knows things are going on…this issue doesn’t seem essential to the event itself, though it expands on and shows what Kyle is up to in addition to his appearance in the event mini itself.


Again, please check out these other sites for additional, more in-depth coverage of the various other issues–including the main event mini itself–for Underworld Unleashed!

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